Thursday, April 26, 2012

Draft Preview (part 3 of 3)

For the last day and a half, I thought I was going to get out of actually writing the third installment of the draft preview series. I had it all lined up: my colleague, Herman Munster, an avid NFL fan who does happen to like the draft, was going to write a guest blog where he takes a sort of point-counterpoint approach to debunking the claims that I made in part one. You know, he was going to prove that the NFL Draft doesn't suck, how it's actually really cool that it will be around 1 am when the first round finally wraps up, and that Mel Kiper is good guy. Not only would it have been a fascinating debate, but it also would have gotten me off the hook for part three. Alas, Herman Munster got lazy and reneged on his agreement, which now leaves me unsuccessfully scrambling for new material like I'm Seth MacFarlane. Speaking of which, the latest Family Guy preview implies that Peter and Quagmire will possibly have sex with each other in the upcoming episode. Now, Family Guy became unwatchable for me about three years back, and after 12 seasons or so it stands to reason that the well of plot lines is running pretty thin, but the lack of creativity and pathethic attempt at shock value gets worse and worse with every episode these days. I don't think anyone would argue if MacFarlane went out and said (years ago), "You know what? We had a pretty good run. I can't think of any new good ideas. What do you say we just shut er' down and let syndication of re-runs carry us off into the sunset so we can turn our creative focus to something different?"  At this point, an FGs writers' meeting must consist of little more than, "Alright, which characters haven't either gotten in a big fight or had sex with each other yet? Gender and coherence being irrelevant."

Anyway, with Munster out of the picture, I suppose the show must go on. After all, a promise is a promise Lieu-tenent Daaan!

Here are a few last minute happenings that may be of some interest to DTLs draft enthusiasts:


According to the 11th hour rumor mill, DTLs brass is trying to trade up to get a pick in the top 15, which they would use to take a defensive back, possibly Stephen Gilmore of Chouth Charolina. If Gilmore has received any tip-offs that he might become a Lion in about 5 hours, he isn't letting on.
[*Disclaimer: The following quote was taken from the Free Press, so bear in mind that it's probably either been taken out of context, or is just flat out incorrect.]
      "I haven't heard anything from Detroit, but that don't mean anything," said Gilmore. "I talked to them a lot at the combine. I didn't talk to them none after that, but that don't mean nothing because most of the teams that don't talk to you end up drafting you."

While I admire Gilmore's elegant use of the quadruple negative (grammar's equivalent of hitting for the cycle), his final comment leads me to believe that he doesn't quite understand how the draft actually works. Most of the teams that don't talk to you end up drafting you? Allow me to do the Jon Stewart goofy half-smile while staring into the camera for about the next four seconds.
"Hey Gilmore...only ONE team is allowed to draft each player...what you just passed off as common knowledge is in fact a procedural impossibility...just the way you never got into the NHL...ya' jack-ass!!"


After the events of yesterday, it might not be a bad idea for Mayhew to follow through on my ESPN Football Franchise Mode strategy of getting a lightning fast receiver in one of the later rounds, hoping that he'll develop into a breakout star. Despite my voting 20 times for Cam Newton (which is 20 more times than I've ever voted for a public official), Calvin still came away as the new poster boy for Madden '13. As we all know, being on the cover of the Madden video games is akin to being the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts: bad things happen. People say the position is cursed. Congratulations to Calvin for being really good, and popular, and muscular and whatnot, but am I the only who things that this might be a ploy orchestrated by the Saints to make bad things happen to the Lions? Was Mickey Loomis up on his computer for the past week, repeatedly voting for Calvin and using his illegal two-way spy device to talk to his cronies and convince them to do the same? Now I'm not saying I'm one of them conspiracy theorists, but I do know two things: (1) there were some awfully fishy happenings surrounding 9/11 (2) the last time a Lions player was supposed to be on the cover of Madden, he never played another game in the NFL. Just a few backyard sessions of Pass Defender with Scott Mitchell and Herman Moore.

If there's anyone powerful enough to reverse the Madden Curse, it's gotta be the Amazing Great. But just in case, I'd kind of like to get all Al Gore and request a recount for any votes cast in the state of Louisiana.


For those of you choosing to celebrate the 2012 NFL Draft, all I ask is that you stay safe, and shoot me a quick text when the Lions make a new pick every six hours or so.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Draft Preview (part 2 of 3): "The Lions should draft Woody Dantzler!"

A piece of evidence was brought to my attention earlier today [see here], suggesting that Mel Kiper Jr. not only reads my blog, but has also suddenly become self-conscious about his trademark slicked-back Tall Hair look. Who says that everything you read on Twitter is garbage?

In fact, I recently began entertaining the idea of opening my own Twitter account. I figured I haven't been acting Narcissistic enough over the past month or so, and tweeting could be just what the doctor ordered to make up some of that lost ground. To add fuel to the fire, loyal Bromolyte Nitch suggests that I give live Twitter updates (is there any other kind?) with my thoughts on each Lions draft pick as they happen this coming week. Seemed like a great idea at the time. However, blessed as I am with the ability of foresight, I began to envision what my Twitter account would eventually become if I went through with this: after a honeymoon period of a week or so where my tweets are chock full of depth, philosophy, and intellect (maybe an Edgar Allen Poe quote or two), it would quickly deteriorate into something more in the ballpark of, "aww man, jus took a wickd dump! reminds me of 1 dat @Nitch had back in college! #FECES! #HOLIDAY DINNER AT THE DORMS!"...
With that in mind, it's safe to say that I've put any more thoughts of a Twitter account on hold, at least for the time being.

Okay, time to shift gears. The two most exciting parts of the NFL offseason are almost here at last: the draft, and the beginning of NFL-sanctioned Organized Team Activities! And in order to put off talking about the draft for a little bit longer, let's talk about OTAs first.

OTAs, of course, are those special team bonding activities that take place in the months before training camp starts. It's okay if you've never heard of them before; I never had heard of them either until a few years ago, when the ESPN Bottom Line reported that Brent Favre hadn't been attending them for the Vikings. So what exactly is an OTA? Think little things, just some good clean fun to really bring everyone together before practice starts, like the memorable tug-of-war games at the annual Bengals staff picnic, or the New York Jets cramming into Mark Sanchez's living room every Wednesday night to share a bowl of popcorn and watch Friends DVDs. And to keep their football skills sharp during the OTA period, who can forget about those spirited games of Pass Defender?!

For those who don't know, Pass Defender is a classic backyard football game played with three players, each taking turns as the thrower, catcher, and defender (pass defender, to be specific). Bromolyte Big Mitchy claims to have invented this game circa 1999, but I'm actually fairly certain that it was first invented sometime in 1906, the year in which the forward pass was legalized, making "Smear the Queer" obsolete. In Pass Defender, the offense has four downs to score a TD; if they do indeed score, both offensive players get a point. If the the defender stops them, he gets a point. Turnovers are worth two. First to ten wins. Now in our backyard football primes, it was usually myself, Big Mitchy, and Bitts playing this game, but we threw an exciting twist into the game when Ahh Chreese W. joined us after school one day, adding a pass rusher to the equation. I really thought that Chris's presence could revolutionize the game of Pass Defender as we knew it; unfortunately, he got expelled from school a week later for threatening to shoot up the place and we never saw him again. True story.

Now that we're all up to speed on OTAs and the nuances of Pass Defender, I suppose I can't put off talking about the draft for any longer. So then, who should the Lions get? Ten years ago, my friend TS thought he had the answer. With a triumphant wave of the index finger, TS was convinced that with the 3rd overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft, "the Lions should draft Woody Dantzler!"  You may or may not remember the former dual-threat quarterback from Clemson, and he didn't end up getting picked by the Lions, or anyone else in entire draft. The moral of the story here is that projecting specific players that your team should pick, especially when your knowledge of the situation borders on non-existent, is not a very good idea, and it only makes you an easy target for satire in the future. So than rather than try to pinpoint specific players that may not even be available by the 23rd pick, I'll give a round-by-round rundown of the positions that I would like to see the DTLs pick. My following mock draft all goes to shit if the Lions trade away any of their picks on draft day(s), which they probably will.  I hate the draft.

First Round (23rd pick overall): In my mind, it has to be an offensive lineman, preferably a tackle. On paper, cornerback may seem like a more pressing concern (especially considering the play of the secondary in the Week 17 debacle against the Packers and the playoff massacre by the Bounty-Hunting Eavesdropping Cheaters but for the franchise to succeed long-term, the priority needs to be finding a way to keep their potential Hall of Fame quarterback *as long as injuries don't derail him* healthy. A good O-line can't prevent everything, but it can prevent a lot of things, keeping in mind that the NFC North also happens to have the best and most vicious defensive linemen in the entire league.

Second Round (54th overall): Cornerback. Get the best cornerback available on Tall Hair's Big Board, make him a starter from day one, and ensure that Aaron Berry will never see the field again and can go back to being broke and miserable. Dre Kirkpatrick from 'Bama would fit the bill, but he'll probably be gone by this point. I'd have liked to see the Lions reunite Prince Amukamara with Big Dom last year, but they went with the high-risk/high-reward Fairley Oddparent instead. The jury is still out for Fairley (both on the field and in his marijuana possession case).

Third Round (85th overall): Honestly, I wouldn't mind seeing either another O-lineman or another cornerback with this pick. Depth in those positions is sorely lacking at this point, plus it increases the odds that at least one of them will end up being a star. The D-Line is basically set, the receivers and tight ends are set, and the running backs would be if they got healthy and stopped chewing weed in the offeason, so those position groups aren't a draft priority. With the amount of injuries (and poor play) from the secondary last year, I lean towards getting another corner.

Fourth Round (117th overall): I have no idea what kind of negotiations are happening with Shaun Hill's contract, but if they aren't going well, I would use this pick to grab a (hopefully) solid backup quarterback. You never know when the Saints assistant coaches will explicitly instruct them to try and injure Staff's ACL, bad news if it happens. Shauny did a solid job in 2010 when forced into duty, but if it's going to require big bucks to keep him, they might be better off with someone different and less expensive. For kicks, I'll toss a potential name in here for someone who I wouldn't mind having and is likely to be available: Kellen Moore. Now I don't like the Boise States one bit, and Moore is undersized and has a relatively weak arm, but make no mistake, the guy is a good football player. If not for numerous embarrassing last-second field goal gorfings, Boise State would have gone undefeated THREE years in a row, all with Moore as the starting QB. He's a guy that lives and breathes football, rarely turns the ball over, throws with excellent accuracy, and thrives in clutch situations, exactly what you would want out of a backup QB. As an added bonus, he played for three years with Titus Young, so they already have that chemistry built up.

Rounds 5 through 7: When I played Franchise Mode in ESPN football, I always used my late round picks to get the absolute fastest players remaining in the draft, usually receivers. This sometimes backfired on me, as I would have a guy with a 97 speed rating and 24 hands fumbling every other kickoff return. Other times it would pay off big time, as I would put a speed demon at tight end, watch a linebacker hopelessly try to guard him on pass plays, and suddenly my 6th round draft is a pro-bowler (getting selected to the Pro Bowl, not a professional bowler). On that note, Chris Forcier of the legendary Forcier Family supposedly ran a faster time on his 40 than Robert Griffin III. So... yeah.

As long as I'm conjecturing the DTLs drafting a Forcier, they might as well go all the way and try to add Bitch Rod to the coaching staff. How is Stafford at running the spread option?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NFL Draft Preview (Part 1 of 3)

Did you know? The NFL Draft is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. That isn't very interesting.

It wouldn't do much good to hide the truth at this point, so I'll start things off with full disclosure: I don't like the NFL Draft very much. You could even say that I dislike the NFL Draft. The rest of this post will pretty much be me explaining why, as well as meditating on the contradiction of devoting three entire blog entries to the overblown spectacle that I've come to despise over the years. I've come up with three main bullet points here, in no particular order, to illustrate my distate. Enjoy.


Why are people so interested in the Scouting Combine, the week-long evaluation meat market that takes place 2 full months before the draft, yet somehow determines which round everyone will be drafted in?

Is it the thinly-veiled homoeroticism of old ugly men gawking at young attractive men in skin-tight spandex, before uncontrollably gushing over the astonishing feats that each can perform with his body? Is it the cruel irony of how these "experts" can diligently scrutinize four years of game film, yet still can't decide whether Robert Griffin III is good at football or not until they get a good look at his ass in spandex and see how many chin-ups he can do? As an aside, I find it annoying that football people still insist on referring to game footage as "tape" or "film". For those of you who have been living under Mel Kiper's hair for the last decade, the vast majority of video is captured digitally nowadays. But I digress, back to the combine...

As a DTLs fan, is it really worth getting excited about to hear that prospective O-lineman Matt Kalil had a solid showing in the 3 Cone Drill? So the guy ate a lot of ice cream, big deal. And this kind of crap gets top story news on SportsCenter! I apologize to all you combine enthusiasts out there, but I honestly can do without ESPN taking a week of my time to let me know who the Lions might choose two months from now, provided that none of the 22 teams in line ahead of them snatch the guy up first. Did someone say ESPN?

ESPN/Mel "Tall Hair" Kiper Jr.

Round-the-clock coverage on SportsCenter prior to the draft ranks third on my list of ESPN's most unforgivable football-related sins, behind cancelling "Playmakers" after one season (a vastly underrated fictional show starring Moe from Smart Guy) and introducing "First Person Football" mode to the ESPN Football video game. Am I seriously in the minority by actually wanting to watch sports highlights from the previous night, you know,  basketball 'Slam-jams' and what-not,  as I eat my Apple Cinnamon Cheerios each morning? The answer to my rhetorical question is YES, I am in the minority. Instead, what people seem to prefer is watching  non-athletes "Tall Hair" Kiper and Todd McShay on split screen, literally screaming at each other for four minutes straight, because Tall Hair more or less disagreed with McShay's assessment of Ryan Tannehill.

Without exaggeration, ESPN has now spent a solid three months devoting SportsCenter segments to a stupid DRAFT. Allow me to get all Allen Iverson for a few sentences here, because it's not like we're talking about some big championship game coming up...it's a DRAFT. It's not like somebody just scored a big touchdown in the closing seconds of a heated rivalry game...it's a DRAFT. We're not getting a behind the scenes look at what's happening in Iraq, or being prepared for the coming presidential election; a bunch of suits are telling us what they think might happen, in a football DRAFT.


On April 17th, 1999, I was mildly disappointed that had that my little league baseball practice conflicted with the first round of the NFL Draft, and I would have to miss out on seeing all the new guys that the Lions were going to add to the team. After all, practice was about two hours long, and I figure, since an NFL game lasts about three hours, it would probably take much less time for the commissioner to read off a bunch of names. That's fairly sound reasoning, no?

Needless to say, I was misinformed. I got home from fielding weak grounders that my coach/attorney shanked in my general direction, only to find that the Lions hadn't even made their first pick yet. "Are you kidding me?", I asked my stuffed animals. "What have they been doing all this time??" You see, unbeknownst to me, each team was given 15 minutes to waste before calling out the name of their new player. Only 8 picks had been made in the two hours that I had been away, and I was back just in time to pretend that I knew who Chris Claiborne was. At the conclusion of the two day ordeal, the DTLs had also picked up Sedrick Irvin (from Michigan State, Michael Irvin's smaller, weaker nephew or something) and Aaron Gibson (famous at Wisconsin for his inability to keep his weight below 390).

That 1999 Draft is a microcosm of what draft day has meant to me over the years: You get a few guys that you've never heard of, but "Tall Hair" Kiper says they're real good, a few guys that you've hated for four years because they went to MSU, but now you have to cheer for them, and then there's a few more guys with no chance to ever make the team anyway, so you just forget about them. And it's gotten worse since 1999. Instead of two full days of this garbage, now it's FOUR full days. I never thought I would see the day that a sports channel does a prime time broadcast, and four days of coverage, to what amounts to nothing more than a glorified board meeting. Board meetings suck, as does the NFL Draft, as does "Tall Hair" Kiper.

So then, why in tarnations am I dedicating a three part series on my site to something that I strongly dislike? Because, (a) apparently, that's what you idiots want, and (b) because it's not the idea of the Draft that I despise per se, so much as the unnecessarily prolonged spectacle that it's become. It is kind of interesting to see which new young guys could eventually become stars for your favorite team. However, I'm perfectly content just reading it in the paper on Monday morning, I don't need three months to prepare for it, and four days to witness it.

My next entry will be spent fantasizing about the great players that will all probably be gone before the 23rd pick.

In other news, I had a dream the other night in which the Lions won a close game in their season opener, and Jason Hanson gave me a signed game ball afterwards. Then, in a bizarre twist, he did a tomahawk dunk on a nearby basketball hoop. Simply put, the Best in the Business.