Tag Archives: Vanderbilt

2012 NFL Draft: Act Two

Day 2 of the NFL Draft proved just as active Day 1 with trades up and down the two rounds. And, the two local squads flipped their tactics from Day 1 to Day 2. The Packers made two trades to grab two guys they covet, while the Vikes sat back, relaxed, and let a good player fall to them. Let’s take a look at how the two local squads fared.

Green Bay Packers 

Entering the 2012 NFL Draft, the Packers needed players at all levels on defense. With their first three picks, the Packers added a quality player to all three levels on defense. After landing an uber-talented, athletic freak in Nick Perry, the Packers needed to add some DL and secondary help on day two. As we discussed, armed with too many draft picks, it was time for TT to make a move and jump up in the 2nd round to get a player that falls. As if he read the article (and why wouldn’t he have?), TT did exactly that, TWICE, in the second round.

Sitting with the 59th selection, TT moved up to the 51st selection to select the falling Jerel Worth, DT from Sparty. Worthy is a mammoth of an individual, standing at 6’2″ and 308 lbs., who also can run the 40-yard dash in 5.08 seconds. He has tremendous get-off, known for his ability to anticipate the snap and wreak havoc in the backfield. He’s strong, powerful, and quick. Basically, he’s exactly what the Packers need on the defensive line.

Of course, he wouldn’t have been a second-round pick with this background if there weren’t some red flags. Worthy, like many big defensive lineman, had a tendency to take plays off in college. He flashes some dominance and then disappears for stretches at a time. And the downside to his get-off is that he was often flagged for offsides last season. You can be sure opposing offenses will take note and work on Worthy with the hard-count. Despite these few red flags, Worthy was absolutely the right player to trade up and target. He cost only the Packers 4th round selection – which is not a huge loss considering the Packers have two compensatory picks in the 4th round still. TT’s decision to move up was also well-timed as two other defensive linemen followed the Worthy pick, including Devon Still, the other Big Ten DL that was linked to the Packers. Worthy was the best prospect of that group, and a coup for the Packers to get in the middle of round 2.

Not resting on his laurels, TT moved back into round 2 when he dealt the 3rd and 5th rd. picks to The Hoodie for the 62nd overall selection. TT plucked Casey Hayward, CB from Vanderbilt. Hayward is 5’11”, 185 lbs., and runs a 4.57 40-yard dash. Mike Mayock, NFL.com’s draft guru, calls Hayward an instinctive corner, and has the second-best hands in the draft for a corner, behind the no. 6 overall selection, Morris Claiborne, which is backed up by his 7 INT’s last season. One more encouraging stat is that opposing offenses completed only 19.5% of the passes thrown his way, which is even more impressive considering he played in the SEC. Hayward’s downside is that he is limited in his man-to-man coverage skills. His overall speed is only average, which will cause him to struggle keeping up with the speedy, twitchy type WR’s – think Percy Harvin. But, he plays well in zone coverage, reads the Quarterback well, and trusts his instincts. Again, TT anticipated what would happen well, and jumped up to get Hayward before a couple other CB’s were selected, including one by the Vikings.

Realizing the need to grab quality players at critical positions, TT broke away from his M.O. and traded up to get two players that filled major voids. Packers fans should be thrilled with what TT accomplished with these two picks to go along with Nick Perry. The defense should be vastly improved. As a result, don’t be surprised if you see Greg Jennings do this (go to the :18 mark) early in the season because with these three picks, TT may have re-established the Packers defense as a top-end defense that can get them back to the Super Bowl.

Minnesota Vikings

Well, if the first round of the 2012 NFL was an overwhelming success for Viking fans, then, the 2nd and 3rd rounds were a disappointing return to the norm. In previous drafts, like many other bewildered/clueless GMs, the Vikings brass have spoon fed the notion that they got the guy they wanted. In the third round of this year’s draft, that meant the selection of UCF cornerback, Josh Robinson.

Robinson is an explosive athlete and, with the right coaching, could be a top end DB. The raw talent is definitely there. Unfortunately, this coaching staff does not have a great track record for coaching up the secondary. Plus, many draft experts have noted that Robinson was a great fit for a secondary that employs a scheme with an emphasis on man-t0-man defenses. This is the kind of guy to put on an island. His skill set (i.e. football smarts) might not transfer well to the Cover 2 that the Vikes try to run. This could be an issue. Instead of trying to trade up, Rick “The Schemin'” Spielman decided to stand pat and take the guy they wanted.

Unfortunately, this meant passing up on two or three guys who might have been  better fits for the Vikes. For instance, both Houston and the Hoodie were willing to trade out of the latter part of the second round. It likely would have only taken one of the fourth round picks that the Vikes had to move up and grab either Casey Hayward (that is right, THAT Casey Hayward), Rueben Randle (a WR with first round talent playing in a run-first system), or Trumaine Johnson (the guy STL took right before the Vikes). Hayward and Johnson were allegedly perfect fits for the Cover 2 scheme. Randle was exactly the kind of game-changing WR that could give a much needed boost to what could best be described as a one-man show. His skills, while unproven, were of the first round variety. And, he was only drafted a few positions before Robinson was taken. Yet, the Vikes laid back. Waiting for the guy they wanted.

Now, if there are talented, potential starters in the 4th round that the Vikings brass are targeting (think another offensive lineman and additional defensive backs), then maybe it was right to relax and wait for Robinson to come to them. However, if Robinson cannot be coached up, one of those guys who could not spell C-A-T if you spotted him the C and the A, or, if there are no hidden gems in the fourth round, then it will be a wasted opportunity to not repeat the successful strategy from round one, where the Vikes leveraged later round picks into higher picks in the current rounds.

In economics, there is a theory of evaluation simply known as the opportunity cost – the balance between scarcity and choice. For the Vikings, opportunity cost means weighing the scarcity of getting a guy like Rueben or Hayward, against the choice of keeping their 4th round picks. Ultimately, the maturation of Josh Robinson is going to determine whether the team made the right choice. Though, the opportunity cost that the Packers paid in the first round by not drafting Hightower or Upshaw might be exactly the same as the opportunity cost that could cost the Vikings a solid stater like Randle or Hayward.

Stay tuned for more on the final rounds on Saturday. That is, when things get really testy.

We Goin Sizzla! We Goin Sizzla!

It is hard god-damn work being this good!

After trouncing the Montana Grizzlies in the first round (reminder, 60 teams don’t get a first-round bye), the Badgers were walking around Albuquerque flapping their gums: “That’s just too easy!” “No, no, no, that shit is TOO EASY!” Drubbing Montana 73-49 is cause for such celebration. The 24-point victory is the largest margin of victory ever in the Big Dance for the Badgers.

The Badgers played one of their most complete games of the season, controlling the game on both ends of the floor, and really never stalling on the offensive side – an achilles heel for parts of the season. In typical Badger basketball fashion, they had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5:1), shot 48% from the field, including 10-19 from beyond the arc, and shut down the Grizzlies, holding them to just 38% shooting and only 3 treys. And most importantly, the Badgers controlled the boards, holding a 32 to 19 edge. But, let’s be honest here, the Grizzlies were clearly over-matched. This is what the Badgers are supposed to do – albeit a 24 point victory is more than what’s expected. The Badgers need to have this complete performance Saturday to make it through to the second weekend.

Standing in their way from Sweet 16 glory is the SEC Tournament champs (where they knocked off the prohibitive favorite for the national championship – Kentucky NBAers). Vanderbilt took care of the geniuses at Harvard in 79-70 fashion. Vandy seemed to have the game in control with a double-digit lead for most of the game. Then, Harvard solved for X and figured out how to attack Vandy, closing the game to 5 points with little over a minute to go before falling short. Vandy shot 54% from the field, made 8 three’s, and controlled the boards with a 35 to 22 edge. Something to consider, though, is Vandy turned the ball over 16 times – a stat Bo Ryan is sure to highlight to the squad during preparation.

The Commodores entered the season no. 7 in the country, but struggled out of the gates going 6-4. Their stud center – Festus Ezeli – was suspended the first six games for NCAA rules violations (accepted improper gifts) and then was injured even before the suspension was over, delaying his return a few more weeks. Soon after his return, Vandy started putting things together, and closed the season with its impressive run through the SEC tourney. They boast a strong inside-outside game with Ezeli and John Jenkins, one of the better snipers from outside in the country.

Vandy is a popular bracket buster in many office/friendly/gambling pools. I, for one, picked Vandy to the Final Four. They are the hotter team, coming into this game with a level of confidence Sydney Deane would be proud of. We know White Men Can’t Jump (just watch the Badgers play for further proof), but if the Badgers do advance to the Sweet Sixteen, well, We Goin Sizzla! We Goin Sizzla! (go to 2:53 spot).

Badgers’ Big Dance – 1st Round Preview

Even NOLA may struggle containing Badgers fans!

Like he’s done every other year, Bo Ryan has led the Badg to the Big Dance, gaining a 4-seed in the difficult East Region. Traveling to Albuquerque, the Badg face the Montana Grizzlies, winners of the Big Sky conference. Sconnie is currently nine point favorites according to those that know a thing or two about these sort of things – or to put it another way, know how to make money off us. Even as the 4-seed, things won’t be easy for the Badg to make a run in the Big Dance.

Montana comes into this game hot: winning 14 straight and 20 of their last 21. They average 70.6 ppg while giving up 61.7 ppg. Their RPI is 75 and have a “strength” of schedule of 215. Needless to say, they haven’t been pushed too much this season. Conversely, the Badg average 64 ppg and give up just 53 ppg on an absurd 38% shooting percentage – some exciting ball if you ask me! The Badg’s RPI is 22 and had the 18th hardest schedule. Clearly, these stats justify the Badg’s nine-point favorite position.

The game itself will be a battle of wills. The Grizzlies are a fast-paced team and can make it rain from the outside, even with a 7-foot center. Meanwhile, well, there is nothing fast about the Badgers game. They play a slow-it-down game, sporting a defense that is one of the best in the nation. The Grizz will need to establish the pace of play in order to stand a fighting chance. And if the Grizz aren’t making their shots, they will be in trouble because they are one of the worst rebounding teams, averaging a paltry 33 boards per game – good for 249th in the country (yes, that means there are more than 249 Division 1 teams in the country).

On defense, the Badg may see something familiar in their foe. The Grizz are a stout defense that likes to shut down the long-ball. They play a constantly switching, man-to-man system that is aimed at taking away the three-point shot. Of course, the Badg’s swing offense “thrives” on the three-ball. They really don’t have a low-post presence. Berggren can play down there, but often gets caught beyond the arc. The Badg cannot afford to get in an offensive lull like they have been prone to do this season. As the saying goes, defense leads to offense. And if the Badg struggle for a while and give the Grizz some hope, Cinderella may be making an appearance against the Badg in the first round – again (I refuse to call it the second round because what tournament gives 60 teams a first-round bye?!?!).

Prediction: Badgers escape and cover the spread for those that want to know (meaning run to Vegas and bet big on The Grizz covering). Badgers have too much experience and are battle-tested. Don’t get your hopes up though for an exciting Big Dance classic. Given the defensive propensities in these two teams, the game itself will likely be offensive to watch. But, such is Bo Ryan ball at times and the results justify the means.

After taking care of business against Montana, the Badg will become the underdog the rest of the way through the bracket. Assuming they face Vanderbilt, the Badg will be in a dog-fight. Look for a second-round preview when the Badg advance.