Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's A Done Deal: Peyton Manning To The Broncos

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Manning will be calling Denver his new home for the next five years, pending health. The future Hall of Famer
 turned down San Francisco, Tennessee, and Arizona to become the Broncos next starting quarterback.

In what seems to be one of the most unique two-week stretches in NFL history, future Hall of Famer and four-time MVP, Peyton Manning, has signed with the Denver Broncos. The move comes just a week after Manning was cut by the Indianapolis Colts.

 The Broncos and Manning wrapped up the deal yesterday, agreeing on a five-year, $96 million contract. The contract does have a few conditions, all based around the superstar's health. The star quarterback will be forced to take physical before the 2013 season in order to lock him in for 2013 and 2014.

Other teams that pursued Manning were the Titans, 49'ers, and Cardinals. Some think that Manning chose the Broncos over the other teams, not for talent, but because of his relationship with Broncos vice president of football operations, John Elway.

Maybe Manning chose the Broncos because of Denver's air. It has been proven that footballs travels farther in Denver because of the air in such high altitude. Critics have been complaining about Manning's arm strength, so a little gust of wind could help him complete long throws down the field. On the other hand, Manning will be playing outside in cold weather, after spending his whole career in domes.

Manning is used to playing alongside pro-bowl wide receivers like Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, but his newest targets will be Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Along with Manning in the backfield will be running back Willis McGahee. Not the most dangerous offense in the league, but Manning is known for giving wide receivers names, like Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. If anyone can turn Thomas and Decker into pro-bowlers, it's Peyton.

Now that the Broncos have found their starting quarterback for the next five years (pending health), what do they do with that other guy who went 7-4 as a starter last season?

Yes, I'm talking about Tim Tebow.

It looks like the two teams that could land Tebow are the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jets actually completed a trade for Tebow earlier today, but it was nullified due to complications in the contract. Although the Jets and Jags seem to be the two biggest suitors for Tebow, the Patriots, Packers, and Dolphins could all make surprise offers.

As we know, the AFC West is a toss up every year (that's why they call it the Wild Wild West). The Chiefs have had a pretty good offseason and could compete at full strength next year. The Raiders were a win away from making their first playoff appearance in ten years, and let's not forget the San Diego Chargers, who seem to be the favorite every year out of the AFC West. The Broncos will head into the season as the frontrunners, but anything can happen out West.

Only time will tell though. Did Denver make the right move by bringing in Manning and kicking out Tebow, or will karma come back to haunt the Broncos?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

NBA Trade Deadline Winners/Losers

(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Dwight seems to be happy with Orlando for now. The Magic are currently
third in the Eastern Conference with a 29-16 record. 

Although the Magic retained the deadline's grand prize, there were still a good number of trades involving stars from across the league.

Winner: Magic- Clearly the biggest winner of the week, maybe even the year, the Magic kept on to Dwight Howard for at least one more season. Let's all forget about the commotion he caused, and just think about how the Magic could upset the Bulls or Heat, and make another run into the NBA Finals. No player dominates their position better than Dwight. While their are many point guards, shooting guards, and forwards who compete for #1, no one can compete with Dwight for the league's best center (Bynum is getting their, but still isn't close). If the Magic make a deep run in the playoffs, Dwight will probably sign a new contract, and ask them to bring in some help, but even if the Magic lose early, they still can trade him at next year's deadline.

Winner: Bucks- The Bucks and Warriors pulled off the first trade of the week, when they sent Stephen Jackson and Andrew Bogut to Golden State in return for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown. This trade definitely makes the Bucks a better team. First, with Andrew Bogut out for extended time, Ellis provides instant offense for this team, and also gives them a dynamic backcourt of Ellis and Jennings. Additionally, the Bucks freed of cap space so they could sign Ersan Ilyasova, who has had a standout year this season. Upfront the Bucks already had Gooden and Ilyasova, so their was no need to hold onto the overpaid and injured Bogut.

Loser: Warriors- Why would the Warriors want another overpaid big man when they already have David Lee and Andris Biedrins? Look, I understand why Golden State made this move (to tank the season and retain their draft pick if it falls to #7 or worse, because if not Utah owns it), but I still think they could have gotten more for Monta than just Andrew Bogut. Right now it looks like the Warriors will need to lose a few more games before they can be projected as the #7 pick (NBA uses a lottery technique to set draft order). Before the season, it looked like the Warriors were making progress, but now it looks like they have to start all over again.

Loser: Sixers- Why would a team that already has four guys that can play shooting guard (ET, Iggy, Jodie Meeks and Lou Williams) trade FOR another shooting guard, while giving up a talented prospect who plays on the post, where the Sixers lack depth? It makes no sense to me. Pre-deadline, the chatter around the league was that the Sixers would move either Evan Turner or Andre Iguodala for a combination of picks, size, and skill. Philadelphia went the opposite direction, and instead acquired Sam Young for the rights of Ricky S├ínchez. Not a great move, but we will see how this turns out.

Loser: Pacers- Indiana has been playing great basketball this season, and many still think this team is one star away from seriously contending in the East. But as the deadline approached, the Pacers didn't look to bring in a veteran star. Instead they traded for Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa is a great player, but not what this team needs. The Pacers needed a scorer, not another lock down defender. Good news is they gave up practically nothing for him (a 2nd round pick), but bad news is that they are still going to be a four-eight seed in the playoffs for the next few years.

Winner: Lakers- Although it was sad to see Derek Fisher leave the Lakers, it was time. The Lakers made great upgrades at point guard and big man depth by adding Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill. Sessions will add quick offense, and excitement off the bench (for now), while Hill will allow Pau and Bynum to get more rest. The Lakers didn't add Michael Beasley, but made two small moves that can pay off big in the future.

Wash: Nets- The Nets didn't get Howard, but at least they got some help for now. The Nets acquired Gerald Wallace, who is the league's most underrated and under-appreciated player in the league, for practically nothing. He is a defense and hustle player first, who can also score on the other end (that's why they call him Crash). Now the Nets will have a starting five of Williams-Brooks-Wallace-Humphries-Lopez...not that bad at all. We don't know if that supporting cast will be good enough to keep D-Will, but it will definitely win some games in the latter half of this season.

Winner: Rockets- Houston added a veteran big man in Marcus Camby for a few unproven young players and a draft pick. The Rockets haven't played great basketball since the break, but Camby can add some leadership and talent to this team. The Rockets are currently a seven seed in the West, so Camby will help them hold that spot in a very competitive conference.

Winner: Wizards- The Wizards acquired Nene and a draft pick for Javale McGee, which is a pretty big upgrade at center. McGee is fun to watch, but Nene is clearly the better player. John Wall will have a guy to go to in the post, who can also run the pick and roll offense. Washington has had a terrible season, but they are definitely moving in the right direction.

Loser: Nuggets- Why would the Nuggets want to break up their great chemistry to add a player who is worse, and more problematic than the player they originally had? They traded their longest tenured player (maybe even star player) for a guy who will put up 12 points and nine rebounds a night. If the Nuggets slip out of the playoffs, you know why.

Winner: Clippers- The Clippers didn't make any big moves, but they got the shooting guard they needed for nothing. Los Angeles has needed a big upgrade at shooting guard ever since Chauncey Billups went down with an injury. The Clippers didn't get Ray Allen, but they did a get a young scorer for free. A rare, great move by the Clippers' front office.

Losers: Celtics and Knicks- The Celtics and Knicks have had very disappointing seasons, yet neither made moves at the deadline. For the Celtics, there were plenty of moves that could have been done. They could have gotten rid of Rondo, who appears to not be gelling with his teammates, or they could have traded their veterans (Allen, Pierce, Garnett) for younger talent and picks. The Knicks' only move this week was to fire coach Mike D'Antoni. Not sure if the Knicks needed a player change, but the coaching move seems to be working fine (2-0 since Woodson became interim Head Coach).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

2012 March Madness Bracket

Let me know what you guys think of my bracket. It's perfect as of now, then again, we are only six games in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AFC East Draft Profile: New England Patriots

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Gronk and the Patriots won't need to change up the roster too much this offseason, but a few
upgrades at certain positions can definitely give the Patriots the final pieces to the puzzle.

The AFC champion New England Patriots were just minutes away from winning their fourth Super Bowl with Tom Brady under center, but a few unlucky breaks were what separated them from the Giants. Many fans believed the Patriots were the most talented team in the league last year, and expect them to upgrade at certain positions rather than change around the whole roster this offseason.

2011 Record: 13-3, 1st in AFC East

Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Tight End, Nose Tackle, Inside Linebacker, Cornerback, Free Safety

It's true, the Patriots don't have many flaws. Tom Brady will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and for all we know, he still has plenty of years left in the tank. Brady has great options to throw the ball to in Wes Welker, and the dynamic tight end duo composed of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Scoring is not a problem for the Patriots, as they finish near the top of the scoring charts every season. Even the Patriots defense, which receives the most criticism, isn't that bad. Vince Wilfork is a nightmare for any offensive linemen, while Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich also pressure opposing quarterbacks. In the secondary, the Patriots always have a breakout guy, whether it's Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, or Kyle Arrington. Again, this team doesn't need much help, as they are the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII.

Weaknesses: Running Back, Offensive Line, Defensive Ends, Linebacker Depth

For most teams, weaknesses are huge problems that opposing teams try to bring out against them, but for the Patriots, weaknesses are just a step down from perfection. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has never fumbled the ball in his career, but might not return to the Patriots next season. Either way, the Patriots could afford to add some depth at running back, especially a young, speedy player like Oregon's LaMichael James. Also, there's no better way to prolong Tom Brady's career than to keep him healthy. That starts with the offensive line. Nate Solder is the only linemen who will be under 30 years old throughout the season. Plus, it never hurts to have young linemen learn from some of the best. On the defensive end, the Patriots could upgrade at a few spots. While Wilfork does a great job, the Patriots need to apply more pressure from their ends. Additionally, adding depth at linebacker would be another good idea. Finally, the Patriots need to make their secondary better. For all the turnovers they create, they give up just as many big plays. The Patriots need to work on not giving up plays of 20+ yards next season.

Possible Options with 1st round pick (27th and 31st overall): Andre Branch, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler, LaMichael James

Branch- The outside linebacker makes perfect sense from what I was saying earlier about applying pressure from the outside. So much of opposing offensive line's focus is on the middle of the field, so that will open up holes for guys like Branch to make plays. 

Konz- Both Konz and Zeitler were dominant on the Wisconsin offensive line last year. As usual, these Wisconsin limenen are huge, but also quick with their hands and feet. Don't be surprised if the Patriots go with an offensive linemen, since their current line is old. Remember Patriots fans, drafting linemen just helps out Tom Brady's career even more.

LaMichael James- This pick is more of a creative pick than a realistic one, but would still make sense for the Patriots. Adding a star running back to the Patriots would also make Brady's life easier, but James adds more to a team than just running the ball. He could be used on special teams and also catch balls in the open James has flown under the radar surprisingly, but I still think he would make a great NFL player if he can stay healthy.

What the Patriots need in later picks (assuming they take Konz and Branch): More OL, OLB, RB, S, WR

Recap: I can't stress it enough that the Patriots are so close to returning to the Super Bowl next season. All this team needs is to upgrade a few positions, and they'll be golden come next season. As long as Tom Brady can stay out of Bernard Pollard's way, this team should have no problems.

Monday, March 12, 2012

AFC East Draft Profile: New York Jets

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
The Jets are invested in Mark Sanchez after signing him to a contract extension.  If the Jets want
to make the signing pay off, they need to bring in some help for Sanchez.

Long time no see! After a three week hiatus composed of February vacation and SAT prep, I'm back with another team draft profile. Following the Jets will come the Patriots, and that will wrap up my coverage for NFL Draft Insiders ( Anyways, about those Jets. After another year of bold predictions, midseason drama, and a disappointing ending, the Jets season ended in turmoil. They seem to have almost all the pieces to the puzzle, but are missing the last part. Hopefully for the Jets, they can pull off some good offseason moves and finally win the title they have been yapping about for the past three years.

2011 Record: 8-8, 2nd in AFC East

Strengths: Tight End, Left Tackle, Center, Defensive Tackle, Outside Linebacker, Cornerbacks

The Jets have a great starting foundation to be an elite team in the NFL. When healthy, the offensive line is great, but that isn't always the case. The fact that Shonn Greene still gets carries is because of how good the offensive line is. Dustin Keller is also turning into a stud at tight end, and seems to be Sanchez's favorite target. On defense, Sione Pouha, who the Jets recently resigned to a three-year deal, adds pressure up front, while Pace and Maybin add pressure from the outside. And of course, the Jets have a great secondary led by Darrelle Revis. Overall, the Jets have a fantastic defense, and that is usually what keeps them in games. The big problem for the Jets is their production on offense, and that is what they need to address this offseason.

Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receivers, Middle Linebacker, Safeties

Even though Mark Sanchez recently signed a contract extension, he is still the same old Mark Sanchez who throws more passes to the ground than to his receivers. If the Jets want to be considered serious, they need to put points on the board! How do they expect to do that with a sub-par quarterback, two not so great running backs, and a wide-receiving core made up of the two most notorious wide receivers in the league. Here's what the Jets need to do. Keep Sanchez (have no choice) but get rid of Tomlinson and Greene. Go with a young running back who can add some excitement to the team, while taking pressure off of Sanchez to throw the ball. Also, the Jets need to bring in a big named wide receiver to help out Sanchez even more. On defense, the Jets need to replace Bart Scott at middle linebacker, but also need to address some help to the secondary. As proven last season, Revis can't do it all, and needs some help especially from the safeties. I know injuries are partly to blame, but it shouldn't be that hard to have three guys cover half of the field (Revis shuts down the other side). Again, Jets are really close to becoming serious contenders but their weaknesses really bring out the worst in them.

Possible Options with 1st round pick (16th overall): Trent Richardson, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, Luke Kuechly

Richardson- I know the Jets are worried about his knee problems, but Richardson would be the best player available for the Jets. They seriously need to reform their running game, and who's a better choice than the only running back projected to go in the first round? Richardson is a better version than Mark Ingram- a physical running back who also has impressive speed. If I was GM Mike Tannenbaum, I'd be all over Ingram at workouts.

Floyd/Wright- Floyd and Wright are the two next best wide receiver prospects after Justin Blackmon. Personally, I think Floyd would be better, because much of Wrights success is attributed to RG3, who is a much better passer than Sanchez. Floyd is used to playing in a much more traditional setup, and could really help Sanchez. He combines size with speed and athleticism and could even turn out to be better than Justin Blackmon, who is starting to receive criticism for his size.

Kuechly- The Boston College linebacker has been all over team profiles, but that is because he has an incredible work ethic, as well as excellent team leadership, personality, and could play in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Not sure if Kuechly will fall to the Jets, but if available, the Jets would have a Bart Scott replacement immediately. Other guys to consider if Kuechly is not available are Melvin Ingram, Courtey Upshaw, or Nick Perry.

What the Jets need in later picks (assuming they take Floyd): Running Back, Quarterback, Offensive Line depth, Middle Linebacker, Free Safety

Recap: The Jets had an off year, and will need to have an impressive offseason to get back to where they were two years ago. If the Jets can make the adjustments they need, they might find themselves in the AFC Championship Game again. Only time will tell if this team can make it big, or will have a painful collapse that will cause Sanchez, Rex, and maybe even Revis to leave.