Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Friday, April 28, 2017

The 2017 NFL Draft: Look For OSU's Curtis Sam-"I Am Available"-uel In Round 2 Or 3

Congratulations to Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Gareon Conley upon their first round selections in the 2017 NFL Draft.  Each of these young men have represented Ohio State football very well, and I am confident that each of them will keep working hard to do their very best to have successful professional careers...#GoBucks










The NFL Draft resumes at 7pm, with the second and third rounds this evening.  Other Buckeyes who should have their names called tonight include Curtis Samuel, Raekwon McMillan, and Pat Elflein.  Of the three names I have listed, it would not be surprising if Elflein is still available when the third day of the NFL Draft resumes on April 29th, as Elflein plays a position that is not traditionally a premium during the NFL Draft.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The 2017 NFL Draft ~ Minnich's Mini Mock Draft

Everything I have heard or read online is that this first round may be the most difficult to forecast, and that is squarely upon the Cleveland Browns.  For the record, I am holding out hope for a trade with New England at pick 12 that will nab the Browns Jimmy Garoppolo, but I realize that this is extremely remote.  Nonetheless, below are my projections on what the first twelve picks may look like.

For the record...I am hoping Daryl Ruiter is correct, and this comes to pass (See tweet below)




    1. CLE:  Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
    2. SF:  Jamal Adams, S, LSU
    3. CHI:  Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
    4. JAX:  Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
    5. CLE (trade from TEN):  Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
    6. NYJ:  Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
    7. LAC:  Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
    8. CAR:  Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
    9. CIN:  Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabam
    10. BUF:  OJ Howard, TE, Alabama (the player I want with the 2nd first round pick)
    11. NO:  Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
    12. TEN:  Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Bonus:  IF Cleveland can pull off a trade for Garoppolo with NE at pick 12, the Patriots may be looking at Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The 2017 NFL Draft: Why The Browns Should Look Back At The Kosar Era For Their QB Solution

The NFL Draft has long been one of my favorite events to watch and analyze.  I remember pestering my parents to get cable when I was ten years old, wanting to be able to watch the NFL Draft on ESPN.  I vividly recall the intrigue of Bernie Kosar in 1985 manipulating the system to allow the Browns to pick Kosar in the NFL Supplemental Draft.  And of course, I have my fondest memories of interning with the Washington Redskins during the summer of 1996, giving me first-hand experience on what life as a NFL scout could have been like for me, if I had decided to stay with that career course.

Ever since the Cleveland Browns came back to the NFL in 1999, the team has been mired in the basement of their division, unable to make positive progress.  While blame can be laid in multiple areas for the team's failures (ownership impatience, poor coaching/front office hires), the common theme always comes back to the Browns being unable to find a quality quarterback, the critical position for long-term NFL success.

North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky is the latest rumored quarterback target of the Browns.  Like Bernie Kosar, Trubisky grew up in the Cleveland area (Mentor), dreaming of playing for the Browns - who wouldn't want to come home and become a hero in their hometown?  As a boy, I used to pretend being Brian Sipe, pulling out a miraculous victory in the closing seconds.  I can completely relate to Trubisky wanting to be a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Browns fans can lament the number of first round draft choices invested through the years ~ 1999, with Tim Couch as the first pick of the new Browns.  Brady Quinn in 2007, who grew up a Browns fan in Dublin, Ohio.  Brandon Weeden in 2012.  And in 2014, I exclaimed a number of profane phrases that I won't repeat when the Browns selected...him.  😡

While I understand that the Browns need a quarterback, and can understand why the fans want to draft a quarterback in the first round...I am here to say - don't do it.

Please hear me out.  This has nothing to do with Mitchell Trubisky, or Deshaun Watson, or anyone else who may be on the board when the Browns pick.

The reality is none, and I do mean, none of these quarterbacks, are truly worth a first round draft choice.  Trubisky has long-term potential, but only has thirteen starts to his college career.  Watson has winning intangibles, but is coming out of an offense that has not traditionally translated to immediate ability to play well in the NFL.  And those are just two examples from this draft class.

Think about Baltimore.  For years, the Ravens tried, and tried, and tried to solve their quarterback woes, until finally being successful with the selection of Joe Flacco in 2008.  What did the Ravens do in all of those other years, without Flacco?  Draft the best player available - Ed Reed in 2002.  Terrell Suggs in 2003.  Haloti Ngata in 2006 (a player the Browns could have had themselves, but I digress).

How about Pittsburgh?  Yes, the Steelers picked Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, but the Steelers were like the Ravens, picking the best player available in the years preceding Roethlisberger - Casey Hampton in 2001.  Troy Polamalu in 2003.

The quarterback is key, but the Browns have forced the issue so many times.  Just pick the best player, and the team can get better in all areas.  A case in point - Bernie Kosar struggled as a rookie in 1985, but the Browns had a strong defense that kept the team in the game.  As Kosar improved in 1986, that is when the team took off, and became a Super Bowl contender.

For those of you saying that the Browns made a significant move to acquire Bernie Kosar in 1985, that is correct.  Here is the point - Kosar had demonstrated on the playing field his worthiness of the significant investment that the Browns had made in him, having won a national championship as a redshirt freshman in 1983.  Kosar had played in a pro-style offense at the University of Miami that had truly prepared him for the NFL, while the quarterbacks in this year's draft class all are coming from spread offenses that will require any and all of them to sit significantly before they are ready to play for the team that selects them.

In a selection process where there are truly no guarantees for future greatness, why not just go for the seemingly best option, versus reaching for a lesser player, just to fulfill a need?  All the Browns need to do is look into their past, and think about how the team had a stretch of greatness that had the city enthralled with football.  There are truly no sure things in the NFL Draft, but sometimes a team can position themselves to be competitive by just taking the best player when the opportunity presents itself.  Here's to hoping that the Browns have that mindset when the NFL Draft begins at 8pm on Thursday night.

(For those of you who are curious ~ yes, I will offer up a mini-mock draft as it gets closer to 8pm)






Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: A Tour Of Redemption – Wide Receivers Preview

“In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest.” ~ William McKinley
 
I have to give some props to President McKinley.  Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.

To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement.  While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let’s be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.
 
As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year’s Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so.  Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football began in Columbus on March 7th.




For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

1st – Wide Receivers

Players Lost:  WR Noah Brown (early entrant to the 2017 NFL Draft), WR Corey Smith, WR Alex Stump (transfer to Vanderbilt at the beginning of 2017 spring practice), WR James Clark (6th year transfer to Virginia Tech for the 2017 season)

Returning Players/Incoming Players: K.J. Hill (Redshirt Sophomore), Parris Campbell (Redshirt Junior), Terry McLaurin (Redshirt Junior), Johnnie Dixon (Redshirt Junior),Binjimen Victor (Sophomore), Austin Mack (Sophomore), Brendon White (Freshman), Trevon Grimes (Freshman), Jaylen Harris (Freshman), Elijah Gardiner (Freshman)

A few things to keep in mind for this position group…

  • Stop me if you have heard this before ~ Parris Campbell is having an outstanding spring, and Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer is raving about it.  Excuse me if I have some well-deserved guarded skepticism about Campbell until the regular season commences.
  • Here is another one ~ Johnnie Dixon is healthy, and able to participate.  As this article points out, “This isn’t the first time Dixon has been healthy during the spring with hopes of contributing the following fall. To this point, though, his body hasn’t been able to hold up or sidestep setbacks for long enough to see the field.”
  • The player who I believe has demonstrated the most consistency within the wide receiver corps is K.J. Hill.  Hill scored the first receiving touchdown of the 2016 season, and may receive opportunities at both wide receiver and the ‘H’ Back positions for the Buckeyes.
  • Terry McLaurin has had a solid spring, but to this point, McLaurin has not been able to consistently produce upon the field as a wide receiver.  McLaurin’s career statistics = 11 receptions for 114 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
  • Binjimen Victor seemed to emerge during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, but is seemingly holding himself back with inconsistent performances and effort.  When asked what Victor can accomplish as a football player, Coach Meyer stated, “Anything he wants…That’s how good he is. He’s not good yet, that’s just how talented he is.”
  • Austin Mack was the talk of the program last season as an early enrollee freshman, but Mack was only able to contribute with 2 receptions in 2016.
  • Brendon White enrolled early for 2017, but may wind up moving to linebacker down the road.  White’s probable contributions in 2017 will probably be on the special teams units.
  • Trevon Grimes is coming off an ACL injury that may limit his participation in 2017.  Even if Grimes is able to play this season, it would not be surprising if the coaching staff decides to ease Grimes into the lineup throughout the season.
  • Jaylen Harris and Elijah Gardiner are not yet on campus, and it remains to be seen if either will be able to contribute in 2017.
  • The optimist in me is excited about the arrival of new coaches in Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, to spur the Ohio State offense to expand beyond its self-imposed conservative approach.  The pessimist in me sees the returning talent, and knows that Campbell, McLaurin, and Dixon have all had opportunities in the past, and none of the aforementioned players were able to do much with those chances.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note.  Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

2017 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: A Tour Of Redemption – Offensive Line Preview

"In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest." ~ William McKinley

I have to give some props to President McKinley.  Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.

To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement.  While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let's be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.

As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year's Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so.  Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football began in Columbus on March 7th.




For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

2nd - Offensive Line

Players Lost:  C Pat Elflein, OL Evan Lisle (transfer to Duke for 2017 season), OL Kyle Trout (transfer to Cincinnati for 2017 season), OL Tyler Gerald (left team at beginning of 2017 spring practice)

Returning Players/Incoming Players: LT Jamarco Jones (Senior), LG Michael Jordan (Sophomore), C Billy Price (Redshirt Senior), RT Isaiah Prince (Junior), G Demetrius Knox (Redshirt Junior), C Brady Taylor (Redshirt Junior), OT Kevin Feder (Redshirt Sophomore), OT Joshua Alabi (Redshirt Sophomore), G Matthew Burrell (Redshirt Sophomore), OT Branden Bowen (Redshirt Sophomore), C Jack Wohlabaugh (Redshirt Freshman), G Gavin Cupp (Redshirt Freshman), OT Malcolm Pridgeon (JUCO Redshirt Junior), G Josh Myers (Freshman), G Wyatt Davis (Freshman), OT Thayer Munford (Freshman)

A few things to keep in mind for this position group...

  • Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer was very blunt and direct about the current status of the offensive line after the spring practice on April 4th.  Pointing out recruiting misses, and how true freshmen should not be starting at Ohio State, are part of the reason why I have listed this position group as the second position group that I am concerned about heading into the 2017 season.
  • Demetrius Knox is presently starting at right guard.  Considering the hype that surrounds true freshman Wyatt Davis, it will bear watching if Knox is the starter when Ohio State travels to Indiana on August 31st.
  • While I understand the logic of moving Billy Price from guard to center, I wonder if there was any thought of promoting Brady Taylor or Jack Wohlabaugh to center after the 2016 season.
  • Am I the only one surprised that Malcolm Pridgeon has not been more of a factor along the offensive line?
  • Going back to the first bullet point, the stated recruiting misses paint a different perspective of former Ohio State offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Ed Warriner.  On one hand, Warriner has been credited with the development of players such as Taylor Decker, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, and Andrew Norwell.  On the other, Warriner was on the staff when Ohio State was able to land talented recruits such as Matthew Burrell and Branden Bowen; neither Burrell or Bowen have been able to emerge as starters yet.  Did Warriner have a poor eye for talent?  That does not make sense, as just about every major program in the country wanted those same players.
  • If Ohio State has another inconsistent year along the offensive line, could Greg Studrawa be on the hot seat?  After all, that would make two straight years of poor offensive line play, and Studrawa would be the common denominator in those years.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note.  Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion.