Gamecocks at the NFL Combine

February 26, 2013

Below are a summary of the South Carolina Gamecocks that participated at the 2013 NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

PLAYER

40-YARD DASH

BENCH PRESS

VERTICAL JUMP

BROAD JUMP

3-CONE DRILL

20-YARD SHUTTLE

60-YARD SHUTTLE

TE-Justice Cunningham

4.94

DNP

31.5

116.0

7.12

4.45

11.88

RB-Marcus Lattimore

DNP

LB-DeVonte Holloman

4.76

15

33.0

113.0

7.30

4.26

DNP

OL-T.J. Johnson

5.33

32

25.5

96.0

7.83

4.74

DNP

WR-Ace Sanders

4.58

7

32.0

117.0

6.81

4.37

11.29

S-D.J. Swearinger

4.67

17

37.0

124.0

DNP

DNP

DNP

DL-Devin Taylor

4.72

14

35.0

128.0

DNP

DNP

DNP

Source:  NFL.com

For all of the players, there is room for improvement at the Gamecocks’ Pro Day and the players’ individual workouts.  There were good performances in some drills, but no player had an overall impressive workout.

Each player could use to decrease their 40-yard dash time.  Of all the players, Ace Sanders’ 40-yard dash time is the most disappointing.

Devin Taylor impressed scouts and coaches at the NFL Combine with his athleticism, but it would help his draft status if he can show a little more strength.

Justice Cunningham’s numbers were also good, but he will definitely need to show that he can do all the things a tight end does.

T.J. Johnson will only help himself if he can prove he is versatile enough to play all the positions on the offensive line.  It also helps that he played center.

DeVonte Holloman is an intriguing prospect, as he enters the draft as a linebacker.  He played some safety and the SPUR position for the Gamecocks, which brought Holloman more into a linebacker’s position in a traditional defense.

D.J. Swearinger has the tools, but his numbers were so-so, and he will need to prove that some of his antics this past season are a thing of the past.  An NFL coach will only give you so many chances.

Players also have to go through the interview process with teams.  For some, it’s a good thing those aren’t publicized.  For others, it puts the foot in the door to get a shot at the NFL.

Unless someone has a spectacular workout before the draft, don’t expect any Gamecocks’ players to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.  The two main candidates to be taken first of the Gamecocks will be either Taylor or Marcus Lattimore, likely on day two (second and third rounds), or early on day three.

An updated NFL mock draft will be coming soon, now that the 2013 NFL Combine is complete.

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2013 NASCAR Preview: Trying to Predict with a lot of Unknowns

February 22, 2013

This weekend starts the real NASCAR season, after fans got a preview with the Sprint Unlimited last weekend.  All three NASCAR national touring series have their first points event this weekend at the Daytona International Speedway.

There are so many stories entering this 2013 season, many of them involving the Sprint Cup Series.  2013 is the first year using the ‘Gen-6’ car, Danica-mania reaches the Sprint Cup Series full-time, and television coverage negotiations will take place.

The new ‘Gen-6’ car is designed to take NASCAR back to its roots.  While continuing an emphasis on safety, the new car is designed to look more like the show room model at any car dealership in the country.  Fans and casual viewers should be able to identify a cars make, just by looking at it.  The hope is that it is a return to what wins on Sunday, sells on Monday.

The unknown is how well this car will race and affect the overall on-track product.  While it is tough to tell at Daytona, the next few weeks will be critical in seeing what the racing looks like.

After running the full Nationwide Series schedule and a part-time Cup schedule in 2012, Danica Patrick moves to the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2013.  While people differ on how well she will do, there is little doubt that she can drive a race car.  The only question, can she compete?

What she does allow is for the media to jump on this topic as a regular discussion.  The reason:  people want to hear about this, and it makes for a good story.  This is no more evident than her winning the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500.  People want to know about Danica.

Now, people also want to look into her personal life.  Just before the season began, the relationship between Patrick and fellow Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went public.  This has now created the dynamic of how they will race each other and what happens if they break up.  This is an interesting topic, because this has never come up before (that we know of).

The final big topic in 2013 is the upcoming television negotiations.  The current deal runs through the 2014 season.  FOX has already re-signed long-term for coverage of the first part of the Cup schedule and the Camping World Truck Series.  ESPN and TNT have not.

That is one of the reasons this season is so critical.  Ratings are not good, race attendance is not good.  These networks want to make sure they are getting a return on their investment.  It’s one of the reasons, whether you love it or hate it, the Danica Patrick story will stick around.

Depending on who you talk to, you get a different story on where the negotiations are, and who is all involved.  NBC and CBS could also jump into the negotiations for the rest of the Sprint Cup schedule and Nationwide Series.

Now for predictions in each series:

2013 Sprint Cup Series

Champion:  Denny Hamlin

Don’t be surprised though if:  Jeff Gordon

Breakthrough Driver:  Joey Logano

You would kind of think it’s weird to have Jeff Gordon in the underdog category, but it has been a struggle some for the four-time champion.  There have been flashes of THE old Jeff Gordon, but there have also been times of AN old Jeff Gordon.  There is no denying that he knows how to win races, but it has been awhile since he’s put an entire, consistent season together.

Denny Hamlin is in a position to finally grab what has been eluding him.  He has been so close, and more importantly, he’s learned how to lose a championship.  Ever since his then-Busch Series (now-Nationwide) debut at Darlington several years ago, where he finished in the top-10, I’ve known that this guy would be successful.  He finally gets the job done.

Former Gibbs-teammate Joey Logano moves to Penske Racing and is now a teammate of defending champion Brad Keselowski.  Logano is finally out from the shadow of replacing Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing, and should break-out in 2013.  Again, there is no denying that Logano can drive a race car.

2013 Nationwide Series

Champion:  Austin Dillon

Don’t be surprised though if:  Brian Vickers

Breakthrough Driver:  Michael Annett

If Austin Dillon’s career path tells us anything, it is that his second full season in a series, is usually the one he wins it all.  Dillon was a contender for the championship in 2012 down until the end.  The grandson of legendary car owner Richard Childress should be able to take his experience of losing a championship last year, to win it this year.

Brian Vickers returns to the Nationwide Series in 2013, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.  Many people forget the Vickers is a past series champion, winning it ten years ago when he was just 20-years old.  Vickers was extremely competitive in a limited schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Cup Series last year, making expectations high for the veteran driver.  He will again run a limited schedule for Waltrip, in the car primarily driven by Mark Martin.

Michael Annett went to Daytona last year with a team that formed in the days before the season started.  As the season went on, the Richard Petty Motorsports team and driver continued to get stronger and run more consistently.  Don’t be surprised if Annett wins a race or two, and is contending for the 2013 championship.

2013 Camping World Truck Series

Champion:  Ty Dillon

Don’t be surprised though if:  James Buescher

Breakthrough Driver:  Joey Coulter

Ty Dillon, Austin’s younger brother, might actually be the better brother.  He is entering his second season in the Truck Series, and learned last year how to lose a championship.  Now that he has the experience, it could be a big year for Ty.

It does seem weird to put the defending series champion, James Buescher, in the dark horse category.  However, one of the hardest things to do is to win back-to-back championships.  Surprisingly, Buescher announced he would run a full schedule again in NASCAR’s third tier series, despite winning the championship.  Based on some past drivers, it doesn’t hurt to be well seasoned, before making a leap to the next series.

It’s kind of hard to get a fair deal when you are a driver on a team who also has the owner’s grandson on it.  That is the situation where Joey Coulter found himself.  This year he moves over to Kyle Busch Motorsports to run its flagship No. 18.  Coulter showed flashes of his talent last season, and now being the leading driver, and not in the shadow of Ty Dillon, it should be a great season for Coulter.

There you have it, predictions on all three series, before the first green flag of a points event drops in 2013.


2013 NFL Mock Draft – 2nd Edition

February 19, 2013

With the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis beginning at the end of the week, it is a good time to update my edition of the NFL Mock Draft.

There are some slight changes, based on some off-the-field issues that have popped up in the last few weeks.

If I ran an NFL team right now, I would be dreading this year’s draft.  I would not want to have a top pick, simply because there is so little difference in talent, that I could draft someone with equal talent on day two or three, without having to pay as much.  It is a moving target as to who might be the first overall pick.  Hopefully, the NFL Scouting Combine will provide some separation.

Again, I don’t have West Virginia QB Geno Smith in the first round.  Like before, I do believe that he will get picked in the first round, but I don’t account for trades.  Even with the injury concerns, I still believe Southern California QB Matt Barkley is better suited for NFL success.

First Round:

#1 – Kansas City Chiefs – T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

#2 – Jacksonville Jaguars – G Chance Warmack, Alabama

#3 – Oakland Raiders – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

#4 – Philadelphia Eagles – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

#5 – Detroit Lions – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

#6 – Cleveland Browns – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

#7 – Arizona Cardinals – QB Matt Barkley, Southern California

#8 – Buffalo Bills – DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

#9 – New York Jets – T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

#10 – Tennessee Titans – DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU

#11 – San Diego Chargers – T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

#12 – Miami Dolphins – WR Keenan Allen, California

#13 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

#14 – Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

#15 – New Orleans Saints – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

#16 – St. Louis Rams – T D.J. Fluker, Alabama

#17 – Pittsburgh Steelers – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

#18 – Dallas Cowboys – DE Datone Jones, UCLA

#19 – New York Giants – DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

#20 – Chicago Bears – G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

#21 – Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

#22 – St. Louis Rams (from Washington– DT Jesse Williams, Alabama

#23 – Minnesota Vikings – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

#24 – Indianapolis Colts – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

#25 – Seattle Seahawks – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon

#26 – Green Bay Packers – RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama

#27 – Houston Texans – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

#28 – Denver Broncos – DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

#29 – New England Patriots – DT John Jenkins, Georgia

#30 – Atlanta Falcons – DE Alex Okafor, Texas

#31 – San Francisco 49ers – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

#32 – Baltimore Ravens – ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

Just a reminder, I compiled this completely on my own, and any likeness to any of the real experts is purely coincidental.  If you care to broadcast or re-post this, please at least give credit, to where credit is due.


2013 NFL Mock Draft – 1st Edition

February 10, 2013

***For the 2nd edition of the 2013 NFL Mock Draft…CLICK HERE***

The promise has come true, as the first edition of the 2013 NFL Mock Draft is released.

Now this is based on my interpretation, and not copying some other professional prognosticator.

This is a very weak draft, and thus it might allow teams to wait until later rounds to take players at specific positions.

The one big difference you might see is the absence of a certain quarterback.  West Virginia QB Geno Smith has a lot of skills, and that might be more of where the league is going.  However, of the top quarterbacks, Southern Cal QB Matt Barkley is the better prospect.

Now, I do believe Smith gets picked up in the first round, but based on the teams right now, he is not in the mock draft.  But there will be some team that will jump back into day one of the draft to pick him up.

First Round:

#1 – Kansas City Chiefs – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

#2 – Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

#3 – Oakland Raiders – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

#4 – Philadelphia Eagles – T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

#5 – Detroit Lions – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

#6 – Cleveland Browns – DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU

#7 – Arizona Cardinals – QB Matt Barkley, Southern California

#8 – Buffalo Bills – DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

#9 – New York Jets – G Chance Warmack, Alabama

#10 – Tennessee Titans – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas

#11 – San Diego Chargers – T Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

#12 – Miami Dolphins – T Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

#13 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington

#14 – Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

#15 – New Orleans Saints – OLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia

#16 – St. Louis Rams – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

#17 – Pittsburgh Steelers – WR Keenan Allen, California

#18 – Dallas Cowboys – G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

#19 – New York Giants – DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU

#20 – Chicago Bears – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida

#21 – Cincinnati Bengals – DE Datone Jones, UCLA

#22 – St. Louis Rams (from Washington– T D.J. Fluker, Alabama

#23 – Minnesota Vikings – DT Jesse Williams, Alabama

#24 – Indianapolis Colts – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

#25 – Seattle Seahawks – TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

#26 – Green Bay Packers – DE Alex Okafor, Texas

#27 – Houston Texans – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

#28 – Denver Broncos – DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State

#29 – New England Patriots – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon

#30 – Atlanta Falcons – DE Sam Montgomery, LSU

#31 – San Francisco 49ers – DT John Jenkins, Georgia

#32 – Baltimore Ravens – ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

Just a reminder, I compiled this completely on my own, and any likeness to any of the real experts is purely coincidental.  If you care to broadcast or re-post this, please at least give credit, to where credit is due.


Super Bowl XLVII Pick: San Francisco Has a Little More

February 1, 2013

As the countdown to Super Bowl XLVII reaches its final hours, fans of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are making their final arguments for why their team is better.

Players and coaches are putting the final touches on the game-plan they hope is the best one, or at least the winning one.

It is also the last pick of the NFL season, and everyone, including myself, is hopeful to go out on a winning note.

Conference Championship Picks:  1-1 (.500)

Playoffs Overall:  5-5 (.500)

Season Overall:  177-88-1

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers

Why Baltimore Will Win?  Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco continues his strong play in the postseason.  Flacco has looked like the best quarterback in the NFL, a title he gave himself before the season.  Baltimore also manages to run a balanced attack against a great 49ers’ defense, with an emphasis on utilizing RB Ray Rice both running and receiving.   The Ravens’ defense, led by the retiring LB Ray Lewis, rises up to the challenge of stopping 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick, making him one-dimensional.

Why San Francisco Will Win?  The 49ers’ manage to do everything just a little better.  Baltimore’s defense makes a play, San Francisco follows with a bigger play.  Flacco manages a deep pass, Kaepernick follows with a big run.  Much like Baltimore, the 49ers’ effectively use RB Frank Gore to take pressure off of its young quarterback.  The young, athletic linebackers for San Francisco fly to the ball and limit the Ravens’ offense from moving the ball.  K David Akers steps up big and finally makes a clutch field goal.

Final Thoughts?  While on paper this game appears to be very even, San Francisco is just a little better.  San Francisco has a slightly more dynamic offense and a slightly more athletic defense.  The 49ers also have the coaching edge.  Both Jim and John Harbaugh are two of the top coaches in the NFL.  However, Jim might be willing to take a few more risks (and has the luxury to do so with the players he has), than John does.  Last, but not least, San Francisco just doesn’t lose Super Bowls (to be fair, Baltimore hasn’t either, but it has only been in one compared to San Francisco’s five.)

Final Score?  San Francisco 49ers 24, Baltimore Ravens 20