Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the best draft rumor at this point is that the Lions want out of the second spot. It's possible -- not likely, I stress, but possible -- that Detroit might jump out of the second pick and grab the best available offensive tackle wherever they land ... that is if it signs New Orleans restricted free-agent defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove before the draft. The Lions need a tackle of the future badly and coach Jim Schwartz thinks he can get the kind of knifing presence inside from Hargrove. Again, I'm not saying it's likely, but I believe it is an option for the Lions.
(UPDATE: Hargrove signed a $1.2 million offer sheet Monday to stay in New Orleans.)
2. I think if I were in Vegas, I'd put my money on the first five picks in the draft being Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Russell Okung and Bryan Bulaga. The McNabb deal takes Clausen out of the top five, most likely.
3. I think the hidden player in the Browns-Eagles deal Friday might just be a factor in Philadelphia. His name is Alex Hall, a seventh-round pick from St. Augustine (N.C.) College in 2008 by then-Cleveland GM Phil Savage.
Savage believes Hall got short-shrift by the Mangini coaching staff, and when Savage got hired by the Eagles as a scout, he got his brain picked by the Eagles staff, and here comes Hall.
I recall writing about the Browns' offseason in 2008, detailing how Cleveland found this kid from a nowhere football school. Here's what I wrote in an offseason team diary three days before the 2008 draft:
This was crazy. Instead of huddling with his gathered scouts in Berea and massaging the draft board, Savage hopped a 10 a.m. flight to Baltimore, rented a car, drove 24 miles to Prince George's Community College, set up four orange cones on a chewed-up open field, and shook hands with one of the most marginal prospects in the 2008 draft: St. Augustine (N.C.) College outside linebacker Alex Hall.
The draft was three days away, and here was Savage, looking at a player he might take in the seventh round, or try to sign as a longshot free-agent. Why? Because Savage trusts his scouts, and one of his pups on the staff, 25-year-old scout Bobby Vega, told him this was the one second-day guy of the linebackers he scouted who could make an impact this year and eventually -- possibly -- be the bookend pass-rusher to Kamerion Wimbley the Browns needed.
Savage had watched some tape and seen production and good speed (26 sacks in three small-college seasons), but now, before committing a precious pick to Hall, needed to see him. Savage placed a football at the end of the line of cones and asked Hall to run in S-curves through the cones and back. Hall ran through the cones, and without being told scooped up the ball in full stride and ran back. The athleticism stunned Savage. He didn't need to see anything else. Vega was right. Hall had a chance to fill a Cleveland void, and he might last 'til the seventh round.
Under coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Hall had some modest success as a rookie -- three sacks -- but was a non-factor after the coaching change to Mangini. "He was productive a couple of years ago and didn't have much of an opportunity last year,'' said Philly GM Howie Roseman. Hall, at about 254 pounds, will be tried as a strongside linebacker for the Eagles, competing with Moise Fokou. Clearly, the Eagles have a need that Hall will have a chance to fill.
4. I think the Raiders now have to look at salvaging JaMarcus Russell and getting Bruce Gradkowski healthy enough to challenge him for the job in training camp, now that McNabb is out of the picture. I see Gradkowski winning the job in camp.
5. I think I believe Shaun Rogers. I think he didn't mean to have that loaded (licensed) gun in his carry-on when he went through airport security. A stupid mistake, if you ask me.
6. I think the interesting thing about Dallas cutting Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin for far cheaper alternatives (The Cowboys saved $13.1 million this year by firing the two vets) sort of flies in the face of everyone who said Jerry Jones would be one of the owners who pulls a George Steinbrenner and spends jillions to better his team. Unless Jones steals a couple of good restricted free agents for very big money, which I doubt, he's on the way to a smaller payroll in an uncapped year than he had in a capped one.
7. I think Willie Parker will work the hardest of three backs in Washington (Larry Johnson and Clinton Portis being the others), but that's not going to guarantee him the starting job under Mike Shanahan.
8. I think I'm laughing at everyone who thinks the Chargers are taking some precipitous drop in 2010. They're still three games better than any team in the AFC West. They have two very good picks in the draft (28 and 40), and they haven't lost a cornerstone player in free agency or trade. I don't consider Antonio Cromartie a cornerstone player anymore.
9. I think if the Seahawks have a chance, they'll be hard-pressed to pass on Bryan Bulaga. The GM, John Schneider, loves him.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Stole time in the last week for two of my top 20 movies of all time: The Princess Bride (I love Andre the Giant and Wallace Shawn, and Billy Crystal's love of the mutton, tomato and lettuce sandwich is a killer) and Parenthood (Mary Steenburgen's good from start to finish, as is Jason Robards).
b. Let me lend my incompetent picks for the baseball races: American League -- New York, Minnesota, Seattle; Tampa Bay the Wild Card. National League -- Atlanta, St. Louis, Colorado; Philadelphia the Wild Card. World Series: Tampa Bay over Atlanta.
c. MVPs? Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki. Cy Youngs? Felix Hernandez, Matt Cain. Rookies of the Year? Brian Matusz, Jason Heyward.
d. Don't kill me if you see me at Fenway. Just calling it the races the way I see them. I don't think the Red Sox have enough offense, and the bullpen may be weaker than the fans think. I still think it's absurd that Sox fans got sold a bill of goods on what a bad defensive player Jason Bay was last year. The team will miss that horrible glove this year, I can tell you that. David Ortiz-Adrian Beltre-J.D. Drew 5-6-7? I've got my doubts.
e. Coffeenerdness: The Starbucks close by the IUP campus in Indiana, Pa., is certainly a friendly, inviting place. But it would help to get the drinks right. Two for two wrong in a 20-hour visit.
f. This is the first year as a native Nutmegger that I have no interest in the women's basketball tournament. Usually I find time to root for the Huskies, and it's a shame that either they're way too good or the rivals are just too lousy. It'd be one thing if they were winning narrowly; but games have to be competitions. Average margin of victory this year (including Sunday night's win over Baylor): 35.6 points. Closest game this year: 12 points. Margins of first five games in this tournament: 46, 54, 38, 40, 20. Enough. Make the game competitive, somehow, and I'll be back.
g. If you have a copy of the Sunday New York Times -- or you can click on this link -- you'll see one of the cutest kids in recent history, and a cool story by sportscaster Dave Revsine on father-daughter bonding around the Chicago White Sox.
h. I'll take Duke tonight, regrettably. Who wouldn't love to see the Butler do it? Butler can win by playing great defense beyond the three-point line, but I just don't think the Bulldogs can do it and stay out of foul trouble for 40 minutes.
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