Not every team can make the blockbuster move. Not every team needs to either. No trade short of acquiring Lebron and ’94 Shaq is going to make the Brooklyn Nets a contender. For all the teams that aren’t in the running to land a Cousins, George, or Butler, there are moves still to be made for the future. Throughout the league are a number of high pedigree lottery talents sitting unused on benches that are ripe for the picking. If I was a team without a direction or a hope, I would kick the tires on these guys and see if they could be had for a song. Quite often, a real talent needs only to be moved to the correct situation to finally reach their potential.

C Alex Len – Phoenix Suns 2013 Draft #5 Age 23

Len’s an interesting case. He’s a restricted free agent in the upcoming offseason. Phoenix is pretty heavily committed to both Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss meaning the 23 year old 7-footer might not be in their long term plans. He’s currently playing 19.6 minutes a game and putting up 7.5./6.1 with a hair over a block per game. He’s shooting 50% from the field. None of these numbers jump off the paper. But he’s athletic, young, and given his high percentage at the line (73%), there are reasons to think that he’s worth a shot. 7’1” athletes who can shoot still have a place in the league. Just a question of whether you think he’s better than Meyers Leonard.

SG Ben McLemore – Sacramento Kings 2013 Draft #7 Age 24

McLemore gets the Kings asterisk. He gets drafted as a scoring SG a year after the Kings use a lottery pick on a scoring SG (Stauskas). This year he’s been a complete non-factor for the dumpster fire currently burning in Sacramento. 18 minutes a game to the tune of 6.6 points and a staggering 0.8 assists. That being said…. anyone playing for the Kings has to be graded on a curve. The team is a fire in a disaster in a war zone. At the end of the day, McLemore is a 6’5” wing shooting 37% from 3 and having a lottery pedigree. Might be worth a flyer if you think you can wash the Kings stench off him like Tim Robbins being deloused when he got to Shawshank.

PF/SF Anthony Bennett 2013 Draft #1 Age 23

Ha. Just kidding.

PG Dante Exum – Utah Jazz 2014 Draft #6 Age 21

The Jazz’s current resurgence has come despite getting a net zero from the 6th pick in the ’14 draft. The Aussie was a great unknown coming into the draft and was primarily picked for his massive potential. The Jazz thought they were getting a 6’6” athlete who could play both guard positions and man their point position for years to come. Instead, Exum can’t even crack the rotation. He’s getting 18.5 minutes but 6.2/1.8/1.6 is a whole lot of nothing. Biggest issue with Exum is a ghastly 27% mark from deep. On a team committed to playing Favors/Gobert in the frontcourt, a point guard who can’t stretch the floor is not feasible. The Jazz have needs and perhaps the young point guard could be had for a more usable piece. Are we at a point where a guard who can’t shoot has no value? He’s 21. It’s too early to think he’s a bust.

PF Noah Vonleh – Portland Trailblazers 2014 Draft #9 Age 21

Poor Noah can’t even find the court. His season numbers got up to 13.2 minutes a game but only because of injuries to the guys slotted ahead of him. Even given opportunity, he’s been a disaster. He can’t score, rebound, or defend. The pick was questionable at the time and he has done precisely nothing to prove people wrong. Let’s not forget the fact that Vonleh was a central piece to the trade that sent Nic Batum from Portland to Charlotte. Batum isn’t a superstar but he’s a solid NBA rotation player, which is far more than can be said for Vonleh. The only potentially redeeming statistic coming from Vonleh is his shooting 35% from deep, suggesting he might find a role as a stretch four off of someone’s bench.

SG Mario Hezonja – Orlando Magic 2016 Draft #5 Age 21

Could probably sneak a couple different members of the Magic on this list but Hezonja is the highest profile. A 6’8” wing who can shoot and defend. He’s 21 years old. Playing for a lottery team. And yet he can’t seem to touch the court or carve out a niche. Every team needs a stockpile of long wings who can shoot and play D. Bill Simmons threw out in a recent podcast that he expects Hezonja to disappear overseas for 6 or 7 years only to reemerge as a rotation player for the Spurs during their 2025 title run. It’s certainly a plausible career path but I fail to see why a team like Brooklyn or Phoenix wouldn’t be interested in taking a run at him. Orlando’s steadfast reluctance to give him minutes (11.4mpg) would suggest he could be had for the right price.

SF Stanley Johnson – Detroit Pistons 2016 Draft #8 Age 22

Another 3 and D type athlete nailed to the bench on a struggling team. It’s certainly a red flag that Stan Van Gundy hasn’t been able to get much production out of the former college standout but the potential has to be there. Awe-inspiringly terrible shooting (39/30/65) has glued Johnson to the bench. There’s still a lot to like about Johnson. He’s a plus defender and does a nice job of filling up the box score even if his shot isn’t falling (which typically… it’s not). He was an elite scorer in college and still has great athleticism and motor. I find it hard to see him not carving out a niche as a rotation player, even as the glue guy on a second unit. He could just as believably turn into a Gerald Wallace type given his similar build and athleticism, though one would hope his 3pt shot would be better than Wallace’s. The fact that the Spurs were rumored to be pursuing Johnson proves that he is absolutely worthwhile and should be targeted by everyone. The Spurs are never wrong.

Living in a Glass House

Posted: November 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

Many of us have found ourselves in a similar situation… sitting and smiling after our most recent fantasy trade. Admiring the shiny new toy we acquired for spare parts, low end draft picks, and members of the Washington Redskins. But we all do so knowing our happiness will be soon gone. Wherever transaction based happiness rears its ugly head… our Deputy Commissioner will be there to punch it in the testicles. Armed only with his personal guile, a truckload of Sub-Reddit forums, and a career that allows him to present his complaints in essay form while most of us toil at a 9 to 5 job, he selflessly commits himself to making sure that none of us ever think we possibly made a fair or intelligent trade. At this point a stern glance is enough for any of us to sheepishly remove our waiver claim.

Now many of us have resorted to executing our trades late in the night… away from the hopefully closed eyes of our watchful Deputy Commish, in the hope that we delay our Reddit flogging til the morning, and perhaps sleep a night thinking that acquiring Megatron for two busts and a future first was an intelligent trade. His army of redditorsredditersreditards? His army of people with too much time on their hands will continue to stand as his army of transaction oppression. But we need not sit idly by under their negativity. We can exist in a league where the 14 player trade Sheed is currently negotiating goes thru without a complaint or a judgement. Where I can start Josh McCown without ridicule because apparently my team all has kidneys made of fucking tissue paper and god dammit fuck my team. Where Orion and I can make a trade and the judgement is left unvocalized, since whoever we trade will clearly be pulled into a career destroying vortex of suck. And where Pete can trade for a player and not be mocked for his lack of clairvoyance in realizing he’d be cut the next day (we’ll miss you F-Jax).

Let us rise up! Let us claim that whoever casts the first stone has not done thine own stupid ass shit in this league. For judgement must be given by someone who has not done the same. Or done things like these:

1. A bizarre habit of picking players up only to immediately drop them in a sort of weird ADHD approach to free agency. Unless of course he does it just to push them to waivers so that other people can’t add them. Which is like… dickish. Except it doesn’t seem that this evil could possibly be his motive, given #2 and #3.

Best examples (recently): Antwon Blake, Marcel Reese, Michael Wilhoite, Malcolm Floyd

2. Applying this strategy to players that have literally zero chance of playing for him in the near future, only to immediately drop them, as if he didnt notice the massive red cross out next to their name and thought they were just sitting on the waiver wire due to oversight. Like say, if someone was suspended and was not able to play.

Best example: Justin Blackmon. He hasnt played since 2013 and was denied reinstatement.

3. Scouring the waiver wire for sleepers who will turn out to be useful for his team… only to consistently release the few viable waiver guys right back into the the free agent pool, even being sure to double down on some that he is really sure won’t help his team.

Best examples: Gary Barnidge, Dion Lewis, Willie Snead, Antonio Andrews, Stefon Diggs (twice!)

4. Trades that seem to violate every rule that he bestows upon us in egregious fashion, based on value assessments that would make Matthew Berry’s brain hurt. Victor Cruz might be dead (no seriously, I’m becoming worried that he might be legitimately dead), but that doesnt mean we get to forget that he traded away Brandon Marshall (19.6ppg this year) and LeGarrette Blount (12.2ppg with 17 last week) with him for the services of Knowshon Moreno and Jarvis Landry. He did turn Landry into a 1st rounder, but then drafted DeVante Adams, who he subsequently traded for Dion Lewis (who he already had for free but dropped) mere days after he suffered a season ending torn ACL. Knowshon Moreno is probably working at a Five Guys somewhere in the greater Miami area. There was also the questionable Giovani Bernard deal, and the potentially disastrous Justin Forsett trade, which he doubled down on by putting his chips on the table for Jonathon Stewart since starting two RBs in their 30s has never not worked out. I personally liked some of his trades and would’ve made them myself (even if I would never approve of having a ginger as my quarterback). But most of what he has done has failed to match up with the set of standards he holds us lowly mortals to in our trades.

5. A weird sidegame apparently going on between him and Sheed where they keep including the same exact players in deals and seeing if anyone will notice. Bowski acquired John Brown off the waiver wire (a nice pickup) then turned him into Sammie Coates (later cut by Bowski to make room for the subject of #7) and Matt Jones. Then Rashad Jennings gets involved, with Brown coming back alongside Andre Williams in deal #2. I hope Brown rented rather than bought, because he was then shipped out again (alongside Williams) for Joique Bell as the primary return. Then to complete the circle: Jennings, Jones, and Williams ALL headed back to Sheed in the Forsett deal. Apparently its a sneaky game of Go Fish and trying to keep track makes my brain hurt.

6. But thats not the end of his odd familiarity! Chris should really offer frequent flyer miles since he’s shuffling guys in and out so often that it becomes literally dizzying to try and follow. I begin to wonder if you can even consider someone a retread after the 4th time you dropped and re-added them. Are they the free agency equivalent of a late night booty call, where scouring the waiver wire has produced no winners, but the trigger finger was itchy and at least he knows they don’t have herpes? I really would like to know if any one of these guys has actually gotten a start, or if they are just left in the package for future “value” like a Sid Bream starting lineup from 1990.

Best examples: James White (4x), Michael Dyer (4x), Our #7

7. Steve/Stevie Johnson. I’m not sure it matters which name he is currently going by; this is apparently Bowski’s binkie. Perhaps this is the sinister strategy I referenced earlier, where Chris needs Stevie to constantly be on waivers, lest anyone else be allowed to have him. Like an ex that never moved on, I have to imagine Stevie’s Buffalo years must’ve been good to Bowski. We all know its tough to let go bud. But 6 different times you’ve added him in the last year and a half. Many of them fleeting; immediately dropping him again for some shiny new waiver claim (who you also probably dropped right away). The late night calls just to hang up; driving by his house late at night just to see who he’s with; stalking his facebook page to make sure he’s still a “free agent”? You gotta let Stevie go. Its time.

What’s Up With Doc?

Posted: December 13, 2013 in NBA, T's Posts

Last night I watched Doc Rivers’ big return to the FleetCenter (as we’ve discussed before, I refuse to call it the Boston Garden. It’s the FleetCenter). Doc got a big ovation, the ComCast guys spoke reverently of him, and the Clippers rallied to beat an overachieving Celtics team that is somehow STILL in 1st place in their god-awful division. There’s zero point in talking about the game. It was a matchup of teams from opposite coasts with opposite season goals and certainly not a playoff preview of any kind. It was a singularly interesting plot for a midweek NBA game in early December. But in New England, the return of Rivers was a huge deal. Maybe being mired in a surprisingly enjoyable rebuild season magnifies non-basketball storylines, for this was a HUGE deal to the local talking heads.

I don’t need to sit here and rehash the hours of conversation about Doc’s role in banner 17, or about his connection with the City of Boston. It’s a fine way to build up a mediocre game, but not really worth actually discussing. There was a notion raised that was met with general disgust. A suggestion met with instant disagreement. A caller said that Doc Rivers should be booed for the way that he left. The hosts may have ignored the idea, but why? Isn’t that a legitimate viewpoint? Fans viciously booed Ray Allen for leaving at the end of his contract but don’t seem to mind that Doc Rivers forced his way out of a 5-year deal that he had just signed? Doc seems to get a pass, and the best reason I seem to be able to garner is that he is a great coach who brought the team a title during a prolonged drought, thus he will always be beloved. And I only have one question to counter that… Are we sure Doc Rivers is a good coach?

Any New England resident or Celtics fan abroad that happened upon this just clicked out of the site. Doc Rivers is a master motivator and manager of personalities and he draws up wonderful out of bounds plays. He ended the Celtics title drought and kept them competitive for years after! He’s a saint! So for those of you left reading, I ask again. Are we sure he is a good coach? When did he become a good coach? He won Coach of the Year in Orlando, burned out, and was fired a year later. He took a talented Celtics team to the playoffs in ’05 only to get outplayed and knocked out by a badly undermanned Pacers team then mudded thru two legitimately bad seasons (including an 18 game losing streak during the tanktastic ’06/’07 season). The Big 3 dropped in his lap and as I recalled, nobody thought he was a good coach. Fans were worried he was going to screw up the potential championship. And he nearly did. Doc’s classic coaching deficiencies were readily on display that year: he has strange and even baffling substitution patters that feature too many players in bizarre combinations at pivotal times. He seemed a stepped slow adjusting to matchups or creating mismatches. He was the master of the clogged-toilet offense at the end of quarters and in close games, and it was dreadful to watch. And he manipulated the media better than anyone we’ve seen, and usually managed to subtlety blame players or refs for the teams shortcomings. He nearly messed up the championship with his overplaying of Sam Cassell, even as Cassell clanked 20 footers in crunch time. That team had the Big 3, Rondo, PJ Brown, James Posey, Perk, Glen Davis, and Cassell. They coached themselves! That’s a hungry team of professionals trying to win a ring. All Doc needed to do was stay out of the way. And he barely did that. Yet then all of a sudden he’s a great coach? What changed? (For a great explanation of the Doc effect that year, read the Sports Guys take on it http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/080514)

Boston didn’t win another title. That one spectacular year didn’t turn the Celtics into some dynasty. Sure, they made the Finals and lost in a game 7. But that’s still a loss. Bizarre Rondo relations and an increasingly anemic offense over the years didn’t seem to tarnish Doc’s reputation. Isn’t a terrible and boring offense somewhat the coach’s fault? Mike Brown got deservingly killed for how horrendous Cleveland’s offensive scheme was during Lebron’s final days there. Why did Doc have to answer questions about how the age of the team was the problem, or Rondo’s being afraid to get fouled, or various nagging injuries. Shouldn’t he have been held responsible for it, at least to some extent? He never took the time to protect KG and Pierce (and Allen) from the rigors of the regular season like Popovich does with Duncan. And he never coached Rondo into the type of player who could allow him to protect the aging Big Three. Furthermore, there have been hints that he was among those responsible for the rift with Ray Allen. Are we sure… that he’s a good coach?

Now he’s in LA. And he has a good team, and he’s going to win a bunch of games. He’s replacing a coaching abomination in Dunleavy, yet we aren’t sure yet if the team is even better. The Clippers are going to win games because they have CP3. He is a 40 win guy. By that, I mean that Chris Paul is going to win 40+ games if he has even replacement level guys around him. Guys like Durant and Paul George are 40 win guys. Lebron is probably the only 50 win guy right now. In 2007/2008, KG was a 50 win guy. The Clips went 56-26 last year. They lost Grant Hill but added much needed shooting with JJ Redick and Jared Dudley to help Paul. Yet they’re about the same team as last year. There was a lot of rhetoric about the end of Lob City and the evolution of the team as a defensive presence and playoff mainstay. Yet there problems are the same. They still don’t have a defined unit to finish the game. They still have difficulty finding a substitution rhythm. And their offense late in games is still a clogged toilet. Doc is just lucky enough to have one of the five best plumbers in the game today. Every late game possession seems to be “CP3 makes something happen” and little else.

On Wednesday night, the Clippers beat a bad team while playing 12 guys and not figuring out until the final moments that nobody on that Celtics team could handle high pick-n-rolls with Paul if someone OTHER than Blake or DeAndre was the roll man. CP3 doing Chris Paul things and Jamal Crawford going en-fuego from 3pt land in the final moments saved Doc’s homecoming. And I still couldn’t figure out if he’s actually a good coach.

Greg Oden to the Heat. Kinda makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? A discussion that occurred about a week before the signing was little more than a few guys weighing in on where we thought he was going to end up, and what was the best situation for him. I was adamantly in the pro-Miami camp for Oden for a variety of reasons. Do I look brilliant now? Not really since everyone pretty much knew he was going there. But don’t steal my thunder. I can’t remember a transaction in professional sports that had such a spectrum of possible outcomes. On the one hand, this could be completely irrelevant and have ZERO bearing on the eventual outcome of the season. Or… this could be the perfect fit for Oden to rejuvenate his career and begin anew. I’m optimistically leaning towards the latter.

When Oden was examining the teams that were interested in him, I was thoroughly confused by some of the organizations that appeared on the list. For Oden, going to a New Orleans or a Sacramento would be an unmitigated disaster. He’s a former franchise savior; a number one overall pick; a 7 foot game-changer. Putting him on a 20 win team is going to put an unreal amount of pressure on him to recover and perform. Oden’s people, if they had any sense of his situation, should have steered him away from those franchises with any influence that they had. Instead of being a franchise saver for a crap franchise, he’s just another player on a championship level team.

Oden steps into a defending NBA Champion roster. He steps in as a borderline rotation guy who has a very specific job for his specific skillset. If you are Miami, you want Oden to fulfill three roles. You want him to rebound, to be 7 feet tall / protect the rim, and to finish at the basket. That’s it. That’s what Greg Oden needs to do to have a “successful” season with the Heat. Once he is healthy, and that is the first and biggest hurdle to overcome, Oden should be told, in no uncertain terms, that for the 12-14 minutes he’s on the court, he needs to try to block every shot that he sees and grab every rebound that’s remotely near him. I don’t care if you foul out every single game; that’s your only job. That and to meander around by the hoop with his hands up, catch the ball, then dunk the ball. Easy-ish job if you are a 7 footer.

If anyone is currently doubting that Oden can succeed at this… let’s remember something. He’s a former #1 overall pick. A franchise savior. Yes, an injury plagued disaster tale of epic proportions. But let’s not dwell on that. Ben Wallace. Joel Anthony. Anderson Varejao (before he got better and became an actual NBA player). Those three were made into actual offensive threats by playing alongside Lebron. Because that’s the mitigating factor. Those three scored because they stood near the hoop and finished when Lebron passed to them. And the occasional offensive rebound. Those three are complete wastes on the offensive end. Oden is 7 feet tall and a much better finisher in terms of touch around the basket. He may have lost some of his athleticism thru the injuries, but those two skills should be relatively unaffected. It’s playing alongside Lebron that can peak his value. So many of the points scored by those three mentioned above come from Lebron drive & dish plays, post/cut passes from Lebron (or Wade, also a willing passer), and offensive rebounds created by a foray into the lane by The King. How many times have you heard an announcer or analyst discuss Lebron making the game easier for teammates to play?

Truth be told, anything Oden contributed on the offensive end is really a bonus. His job is to fit a role that has been lacking heavily on the Miami juggernauts. Let’s use Joel Anthony as a case study. In his big Miami year (in 11-12 he started 51 games for the eventual NBA Champions before losing most of his minutes last season to small ball lineups), Anthony was a legitimate contributor, putting up 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Nearly two of those rebounds came on the offensive end each game. And anyone who watched those games can vaguely remember five or six times each game that Anthony would keep a ball alive on the offensive glass without getting statistical credit. Is there any reason to think that a healthy* (huge asterisk since its the great glass-ankled elephant in the room that I’ve refused to really address in the column) Oden can’t do what Anthony did? Meanwhile, the great downside of Anthony was his lack of height (listed at only 6’9”) and anything resembling an offensive game (discussed in the previous paragraph). Oden certainly doesn’t lack height, and finally gives Miami someone to throw at the Gasols, Drummonds, and Hibberts of the world. Would Roy Hibbert score as well against Miami with Oden leaning on him for 16 minutes a game? Certainly a better matchup than Battier trying to front him. At the very least, couldn’t he become what Kendrick Perkins is for OKC, if with the caveat that he only plays in the situations where he fits. (Scotty Brooks’ insistence on playing Perk in games where he has no business being involved is such a story in and of itself that it’s almost too much to reference. But I did so anyway).

Let’s not forget the other side of this coin. Isn’t this a coup for Miami? A back to back defending champion with the best player on the planet at the height of his powers… just added a 7 foot former #1 overall pick who is 25 years old for pennies on the dollar. Sure, he’s made Sam Bowie look durable over his first five seasons (or… one season… that he actually played), but isn’t that the kind of chance that you are happy to take? If he stays hurt or never pans out, who cares? It was a 12th man spot that they used to let Dexter Pittman occupy (even as he spilled out at the waist over into the 11th and 13th spots). Can a healthy Oden give them 5 and 6 with 2 blocks? Why not? And wouldn’t that be a great addition to the Heat? That’s the underlying factor. What other team could Oden have signed with (besides maybe San Antonio) where a 5/6/2 season would be considered successful and push the “comeback” storylines? 5/6/2 on New Orleans is a disaster; 5/6/2 on Miami could be a key part of a title run. If Oden is playing 12-16 meaningful minutes eigh months from now and defending Roy Hibbert in that epic clash between Indy/Miami that we should get this year… wasn’t this the best signing of the offseason? Or he slips on a Miami boardwalk and explodes his knee like a bad game of Jenga. Again… there’s a lot in play here.

1 Chiefs

Luke Joeckel – OT   (Texas A&M)

With Brandon Albert on the trade block, the Chiefs need to find someone to protect Alex Smith (who they traded a high second round pick for). Luke Joeckel is their man. Joeckel won’t wow you with athleticism, but his quick feet and technical approach gives him the ability to man the Chief left tackle position for years. He doesn’t wow you as a #1 pick, but he’s an absolute lock and comes into the league 100% NFL ready.

2 Jaguars

Dion Jordan – OLB   (Oregon)

The top talent in the draft and an easy choice for the Jags. Jordan’s combination of pass rushing ability and coverage skills make him a matchup nightmare for any offense. Could be the first in a long line of defense players with this build, as he could become the kryponite to the growing trend of TE’s and WRs who shop in the Big & Tall department.

3 Raiders

Shariff Floyd – DT   (Florida)

A disruptive force, Floyd has the potential for a Warren Sapp like career and would fill a major need inside for the Raiders. After losing Desmond Bryant, Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour this offseason, the Raiders need some young blood on the interior of their defense and Floyd will give them exactly that.

4 Eagles-

Geno Smith – QB   (West Virginia)

Can’t win in the NFL without an elite QB, and with Chip Kelly and all the offseason additions coming in I don’t expect the Eagles to be picking this high again next year, so they grab their guy here. Geno Smith gets a lot of hate but he’s a smart and talented football player who could thrive under Chip Kelly. With Michael Vick already in the fold, they can afford to let Smith sit for a year and learn the new system, while still giving him opportunity to steal the job from Vick and have a Cam Newton-like impact.

5 Lions

Eric Fisher – OT   (Central Michigan)

No brainer. The Lions have to protect Matt Stafford if they want to be an elite football team and Fisher is the best player available. Paring Fisher and last years first round pick Riley Reiff would give the Lions a very good young tackle pairing that can, hopefully, keep Matt Stafford upright for the next ten years

6 Browns

Ziggy Anash – DE   (BYU)

The Browns have a lot of issues and are in a perfect spot to trade down with someone who wants Lane Johnson (if the price is right). But if they get stuck here, Ziggy Anash should be the pick. Raw but extremely talented, Anash dominated the Senior Bowl and if all goes according to plan he would give the Browns an elite pass rushing DE to go along with their rapidly improving defense.

7 Cardinals

Lane Johnson – OT   (Oklahoma)

Dream scenario for the Cards.They needed an OT and they got one. Johnson hasn’t been playing in the trenches too long but his upside is through the roof thanks to elite quickness and athleticism. He has the ability to protect the blindside of whoever is playing quarterback for the Cardinals for years to come. (T’s 2 Cents: Unfortunately that QB will probably suck.)

8 Bills

Ryan Nassib – QB   (Syracuse)

Worst kept secret in the draft. College coach goes to a QB needy team; match made in heaven. Seems way too high for Nassib, but Locker and Ponder went higher than expected in their draft years. All it takes is for one guy to love him; who better than his college coach.

9 Jets

Tavon Austin – WR   (West Virginia)

If Mark Sanchez is going to succeed he needs weapons. By adding Tavon Austin, it gives the Jets a potentially elite slot receiver who also has the ability to stretch the field. Also Austin and Stephen Hill give the jets a nice young receiver duo to build around next year when they get a new coach and QB.

10 Titans

Jonathan Cooper – G   (North Carolina)

The Titans were off to a good start by signing Andy Levitre this offseason, but more work is needed for a team that’s going to see JJ Watt twice a year for the foreseeable future. That’s why Cooper is a perfect fit. His elite athleticism and quickness will fit perfectly with the Titans running game and help Chris Johnson to get back to being the game-changing back he once was.

11 Chargers

DJ Fluker – OT   (Alabama)

The Chargers O-line is terrible and if they want to compete in the AFC West they’ll need to fix it. Fluker is a mountain of a tackle with long arms and a wide base; he has the ability to succeed as a right or left tackle. Needs to work on pass protection but absolutely has the potential to be a high caliber tackle in the NFL over his career.

12 Dolphins

Star Lotulelei – DT   (Utah)

The Dolphins invested a lot of money to improve their team this offseason, and with no elite player at a major position of need, the Dolphins should go with the best player available in Lotulelei. He’s a perfect fit in their new 4-3 defense and gives the dolphins an insurance policy in case they can’t get a long term deal worked out with Randy Starks.

13 Jets

Tyler Eifert – TE    (Notre Dame)

Like I said before, Sanchez needs weapons if he’s going to succeed and Eifert will give them a great red zone weapon to go along with Steven Hill and a great young nucleus of offensive skill position players to build around. I expect this to be both Rex’s and Sanchez’s last year in the big apple and a tandem of Hill and Austin on the outside and Eifert over the middle would set up mighty nicely if the Jets were to land Teddy Bridewater or Johnny Football next year. Would also make it easier to recruit a high profile coach, like Jon Gruden, if he had that young offense to work with. (2 more cents from T: Drafting better receivers to play with Sanchez is like putting nice curtains up in a crack house)

14 Panthers

Sheldon Richardson – DT   (Missouri)

The best player availible at their biggest need, the Panthers are lucky to have Richardson fall right into their laps. His addition will allow the Panthers to get more pressure up the middle as well as help keep blockers off of Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly.

15 Saints

Barkevious Mingo DE/OLB   (LSU)

The Saints desperately need to get more athletic up front and LSU’s Mingo will do exactly that. A tall lean athlete, Mingo has the ability to rush the passer or drop into coverage and is a good fit for the Saints return to the 3-4 defense. There are question about his ability to hold up versus the rigors of an NFL season, but the Saints are willing to take the risk on a potentially elite pass rusher. (T: Careful about the natural tendency to overrate guys with AWESOME names)

16 Rams

Chance Warmack – G   (Alabama)

Sam Bradford’s in Heaven. First Jake Long, now Chance Warmack; the Rams went from a suspect O-line to a good/potentially great one in two moves. Warmack is one of the top pure football players in this draft but he falls due to many teams switching to zone blocking schemes and how NFL people value guards. Warmack and Long could form a devistating duo on the left side for the Rams.

17 Steelers

Alec Ogeltree – LB   (Georgia)

I know everyone says it should be Jarvis Jones, but I’m an Ogeltree guy and think he has potential to be an outstanding linebacker in the NFL. Outside or inside, Ogeltree can do it all: stop the run, rush the passer or cover TE’s. He’s one stop shopping for a modern NFL linebacker. If not for all the off field issues he’d go top ten, but Ogeltree’s loss is the Steelers gain as he should pair with Lawrence Timmons to form a devistating duo on the inside.

18 Cowboys

Kenny Vaccaro – S   (Texas)

With none of the top O-lineman available, the Cowboys stay close to home and pick up Vaccaro from Texas. A do it all safety, Vaccaro should team with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne to give the Cowboys a much improved secondary.

19 Giants

DJ Hayden – CB   (Houston)

It seems like the Giants have needed a corner forever, and now they finally get one who will fit Tom Coughlin’s style of play. A bit of a surprise because he goes before Miliner, DJ Hayden is a tough cover corner excels at man to man coverage. His willingness to mix it up in the run game as well as jam WRs at the line make him a great fit for the Giants defensive scheme.

20 Bears

Dee Miliner – CB   (Alabama)

Hoping for Ogeltree to fall here, the Bears have to go to plan B and pick a guy who most thought would be gone in the top ten. With Charles Tillman turning 32, the Bears need to infuse some youth into their secondary and Miliner is as good a place to start as any. He’s a big tall corner who has the ability to reroute recievers at the line as well as use his hands to get off blocks to help in the run game. Miliner falls due to questions about his ability to stay healthy long term.

21 Bengals

Xavier Rhodes – CB/S   (Florida State)

Corner isn’t a top need for the Bengals but safety is, and lucky for them Rhodes can do both. A tall physical corner who excels in press man, the transition to safety should be easy for Rhodes and he’ll give the Bengals the ability to roll him up to cover slot recievers when teams go five wide. Also gives them an insurance policy in case Terrance Newman and Adam Jones are not as effective as they were last year.

22 Rams

Cordarrelle Patterson – WR   (Tennessee)

Jeff Fisher has always been willing to take risks in the draft and Patterson is just another in a long line of them. A classic boom or bust prospect, Patterson will either make you look like a genius or a fool. With the size, speed and athleticism to be an elite WR in the NFL, Patterson needs to prove he can learn an NFL playbook and that his one year at Tennessesse wasn’t a fluke.

23 Vikings

Desmond Trufant – CB   (Washington)

When you’re in a division with the Packers, effective defensive back depth is absolutely essential. Trufant’s ability to matchup outside or in the slot make him the perfect corner to shadow the Randall Cobb’s of the world. Also brings some toughness on the outside in run support and will fight hard for the ball in the air.

24 Colts

Jarvis Jones – DE/OLB    (Georgia)

Once considered the top player in the entire draft, Jones falls due to concerns about his health and athleticism. Hugely productive at Georgia, Jones led the nation in sacks, forced fumbles and tackles for loss last year, but was also forced to transfer from USC because of a neck injury USC trainers deemed too serious to continue playing football. Could end up the steal of the draft or just another hugely productive college pass rusher who just couldnt make the transition to the NFL; time will tell. I wouldn’t bet against him, though, and hope that his draft day slide will keep him motivated.

25 Vikings

Sylvester Williams – DT   (North Carolina)

The Vikings are getting old along their defensive line and Sylvester Williams would be a great fit for the Vikings 4-3 defense. While they have more pressing needs, Williams will serve as a long term replacement for Kevin Williams and also be able to help generate a better pass rush up the middle.

DISCLAIMER

I expect two of the following picks to be traded to QB needy teams for Matt Barkley and EJ Manuel. It’s a great draft to pick up extra picks and you have three teams that are notorious for moving around in the draft (Pats, Packers, Ravens) picking within the next six picks. Its a recipe for a few trade rapes if you ask me, so watch your b-holes Browns, Cardinal and Jags fans.

26 Packers

Eddie Lacy – RB   (Alabama)

Eddie Lacy destroyed Notre Dame’s defense in the national title game and it vaulted him all the way to the first round. A powerful runner, Lacy would rather run through defenders than around but also show some wiggle in open space. A decent reciever out of the back field, a RB like Lacy is the only thing missing from this Packers offense. (T: LENDALE WHITE ALERT!!!)

27 Texans

Justin Hunter – WR   (Tennessee)

With elite athleticism and ball skills, Justin Hunter would be a perfect understudy/compliment to Andre Johnson. Six-four with long arms, Hunter can win jump balls and has the speed to stretch the field but needs to work on his route running and work ethic to reach his potential and be a big time reciever in the NFL.

28 Broncos

Bjoren Warner – DE   (Florida State)

The Broncos have a glaring need for a pass rushing defensive end and Bjoren Warner looks to be a good fit. Once considered a top ten pick, Warner fell due to concerns about his football knowledge and a motor that runs hot and cold. Having only played football for a short time, Warner’s issues are easily fixed with good coaching. Could end up the one of the steals of the draft.

29 Patriots

Datone Jones – DE/DT    (UCLA)

A perfect fit for the Patriots scheme, Datone Jones has the versatility that Bill Belichick loves. With the ability to play a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end, Jones would give the Pats another weapon along their defensive front and team with Armond Armstead to improve the pass rush up the middle and add more speed and quickness to a young and improving defense.

30 Falcons

Tank Carradine – DE    (Florida State)

Would have gone much higher had he not torn his ACL late in the season. Carradine is a natural 4-3 end and a potentially perfect replacement for John Abraham. A bit of a one year wonder, Carradine was on his way to All-American honors before the knee injury ended his season. Not expected to be able to work out before the draft, Carradine has impressed during positonal drills well also showing off elite measurables and impressing teams with his football knowledge during the interview process.  (T: Always fun to root for a guy named Tank… just seems 100% more likely to succeed than a guy named Bjoren unless we’re talking about tennis or figure skating)

31 49ers

Eric Reid – S   (LSU)

A great fit for the 49ers, Reid is an aggressive safety who has good closing speed and is not afraid to mix it up in the run game. Can be a bit over aggressive at times leading to him being out of position. If Reid learns to become a more disciplined football player, he could make the 49ers forget about Goldson pretty quick.

32 Ravens

Matt Elam – S   (Florida)

Its either Elam or T’eo and after watching the national championship game I just can’t see Manti going in the first round, so the Ravens go with Elam to potentially replace Ed Reed. An emotional safety who likes to deliver the big hit, Elam looks to be the perfect Raven. Questions about his size allow Elam to fall this far but if he learns to play more north and south against the run rather the east to west, he could end up being the top safety in this draft.