June 1, 2014
WWE Payback Should Be Good… I Hope.

On Sunday night in Chicago, Illinois, the WWE holds another pay per view in “Payback”. After having a solid pay per view with Extreme Rules, the company hopes to do a good job with one of their annual May event’s. But the task could be difficult with the limited role of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan (out indefinitely with a neck injury). Too make up for the absence of Bryan and his title, the WWE has put a lot of focus on the match between Evolution and The Shield.

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This rivalry between the two, powerful groups has been going on for two months now and we could possibly see the end of it, come Sunday. Every week, each group has the chance to one up each other via brutal attacks and attention grabbing promo’s. In terms of who will or should win this match, both group’s have their reasons. For The Shield, getting another PPV win over Evolution would be a big deal. For one, you’re talking about beating a group filled with former world champions again on the pay per view stage. Two, this will make them look stronger than before and three, it could take them to another stratosphere in the WWE, if they shut the show at Payback. And while those reasons are good, you have to consider what’s at stake for Evolution.

What was the point of bringing them back, if all they would do is lose at two straight par per views? Seeing them return was great but even I’m going to say, Evolution is getting a bit boring. Their limousine entrance doesn’t have the same effect anymore. Their promo’s don’t keep my attention like it did in 2003. Having Evolution lose on Sunday, would be a big mistake IMO. I think The Shield has been built so good, that a PPV loss won’t affect them at all. The program can end on Sunday and they would be just fine. Evolution on the other hand wouldn’t. That’s why I think they need to win for the sake of story-lines and etc. Even though Evolution vs. The Shield is known as the main event, there is another match that holds a lot of value and can dictate the success of Payback. And that’s John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt.  

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These two men will (hopefully) end their rivalry at Payback in a Last Man Standing match. After two pay per view matches at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules, this could be the third and final match between these two. And if that’s the case, we have a very interesting decision in our hand’s. In a scenario, where this is the tie breaker, what will be the story of this match? Will Bray and John go toe to toe with limited to no interference? How can either man look strong in defeat? What is the plan for each guy, moving forward? And with those question’s, I don’t think Sunday will be the last match between these two. At this point, the WWE is better off continuing this rivalry for another month. That’s probably something, the WWE Universe doesn’t want to see, but the company could be forced to do. It’s not like they have a lot of options with Bryan’s injury, Lesnar’s pending return at SummerSlam and Batista’s near departure to promote a new movie. 

In terms of picking a winner, I think Bray Wyatt should win regardless of the scenario, they’re facing. Like always in a match against a big time star, the young guy could use a win. Two, if he beats Cena in convincing fashion, this will build him up some more. And three, a loss doesn’t harm Cena in the short or long term. He is John Cena for christ sake! But if Cena wins, the WWE better have a plan in place where the match is excellent and Bray doesn’t look weak in the aftermath. I’m really intrigued by this match folks! When it comes to the rest of this card, there’s only two other matches that’s somewhat important to this show’s success; and that’s Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Champion) for the United State Championship and RVD vs. Bad News Barrett (Champion) for the Intercontinental Championship.

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Matches such as Big E vs. Rusev or Paige vs. Alicia Foxx is just filler’s and don’t matter to the average fan. But the IC and US Title matches will. Cesaro and Sheamus have the chance to put on a good, physical match between two superstars who have world title aspirations. Another thing, this match can do is put more value in the secondary title’s and that’s something the WWE needs BADLY. As for RVD vs. Bad News Barrett, this match could go anyway. It could be disappointing or surprisingly good. Really depends on the story of the match and how much time, they’re given. In all, I expect Payback to be a very solid PPV. Even though there’s the distraction of CM Punk and his return (which is VERY, VERY UNLIKELY), the company still has the chance to keep the fan’s attention as we go into summer. Let’s just hope the best!

May 20, 2014
The #AST Star System… #LetThemEarnIt

Enough with the superstar talk. The All Star talk. The “want to take credit away for not winning” talk. Seeing these type of conversations on Twitter, TV and other platforms is getting very annoying, so I decided to come up with my very own ranking system. The purpose? To correctly put most of today’s players at the level, they’re at based on several factors, my system has. Those factors are…

Star Power -

Is he a face of the league? Your team? Would you pay money to watch him play?

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Skill Set -

Is he a complete player or close to it? Does something or everything extremely well? Continues to improve?

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Individual and Team Success -

Has he played at a high level for any period of time? Does he stand out? Does his team benefit from his success, because they’re playing at a high level too?

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Leadership and other intangibles -

Does he make his teammates better? Is he clutch? Is he reliable? Do I really want him on my team? Can he be a Batman and not a Robin? 

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And with these factors in hand, I’m going to place some of today’s stars at the level, I think they’re at. Let’s get started! 

1. Hall of Famer - Players who played at a high level for a very long time, have accomplished so much and are close to the end of their career. Their production/role is starting to diminish at this point. 

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As you already saw, a Hall of Famer in my system is someone who has been at the top for a very long time. Whether it was because of rings, production or star power, they were on top of the league and have gone through every single level there is. IMO, the two players that are primary examples of Hall of Famer’s is Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Since 1995 (KG) and 1997 (Duncan), both players have controlled the league in more ways than one. After dominating at such a high level, their production and role has diminished in recent years. Other players that qualify is Kobe Bryant (because of his injury status) along with Dirk Nowitzki (still a productive player but his best days are behind him). 

2. Superstar - A face of the league. Without question, the face of your franchise. Marketability is through the roof. Someone who is simply better than the competition and proves it year after year. Production at worst is good because it’s usually outstanding. He’s the type of player, that can go to a bad team and turned them around instantly. His current or past teams was good because of him. In other words, they’re just special. They also receive the most love, hate and pressure. 

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The debate over who’s a superstar has gotten stronger in recent year’s, thanks to Twitter and Skip Bayless. It seems as if everybody’s definition of superstar is different these days. Well for me, it’s been the same since I first watched basketball. There is a difference between a superstar and everybody else. You know it and I know it. Even the players know it. They are the guys that represent this league. They are the guys that represent their team. On close to every single night, they are the best player on the floor and can do things most of us can’t. In other words, they are the best. When I think of a superstar, I think of LeBron, KD and Chris Paul, because they represent each factor of my system and have been doing so for years. The proof is in the pudding. IMO, the other players that qualify for this level is a healthy Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Dwayne Wade (from time to time). 

3. All Star - Is not a superstar but still a good player and better than most. Some All Star’s are very good and close to being a superstar. They put up good numbers and have been consistent for a while. No worst than the second best player on their team. Is capable of taking over a game. Not a face of the league but are of their team’s. An All Star doesn’t have the same responsibilities of an superstar but when they do, it’s once in a while. 

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Being a All Star isn’t a bad thing. It’s still good to be one because you’re in a class of your own. You’re not better than a superstar, but against the majority of the league, you are. You can still do thing’s, most can’t. But even at that level, you’re a couple of notches below a superstar. Most don’t do the things, a superstar does on a nightly basis. Their resume isn’t as packed as a superstar’s. They rarely had to handled the type of pressure, superstars had to carry from their entrance in the league. In some cases, they haven’t won like a superstar either. But with that said, there are more than a few All Star’s in the NBA. Examples? Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Steph Curry, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge. Keep in mind, there’s plenty of guys that are worthy of this title and deserve to have it. Even if, they don’t have all the factors. 

4. Star - A title reserved for the young players. It’s a player who for the first time in his career, put together a season that benefited himself and his team. His production was consistent throughout along with his development.

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By my definition of a star, I think of young players such as John Wall, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and DeMar DoRozan. Those guys all have something in common regarding their production and development. For the first time in their career, it not only befitted themselves but their team’s (all of their squad’s made the playoffs this season). A star is someone who via League Pass, national televised games or social media, introduces himself to the basketball world with a great game. Us in this world recognize this and put him on our radar. But unlike All Star’s, Superstar’s and the Hall of Famer’s, they don’t deal with pressure on a nightly basis. They’re not a face of the league; well at least not yet. These guys still have ways to go before they can be considered an All Star or better. 

May 7, 2014
The Official #AST Mock Draft! (2nd Round)

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33. The Houston Texans select… Derek Carr, QB from Fresno State.

It would definitely be crazy if twelve years later, the younger Carr ended up a Texan. But I have a feeling it would be different this time. The Texans have a talented supporting cast along with coaching staff, that would allow Carr to be successful from Day One. He has a very good arm, a high IQ and good size. 

34. The Washington Redskins select… Chris Borland, ILB from Wisconsin. 

I really enjoyed studying Borland man. He is my type of linebacker. Fast enough to play side to side but strong enough to play up the middle. He is going to be a starter in this league for a long time.

35. The Cleveland Browns select… Cody Latimer, WR from Indiana.

The Browns finally find that receiver to pair with Josh Gordon. Latimer should be able to grab that #2 WR spot and flourish from the start. Possess a good skill set and size (6-3 and 215) that will make a tough match up against opposing DB’s. 

36. The Oakland Raiders select… Jerry Attaocho, OLB from Georgia Tech.

I understand Oakland signed Tuck and Woodley for a reason, but keep in mind Tuck and Woodley are older players who have battled injuries in recent seasons. I know Jerry is just a pass rusher at the moment, but Oakland can desperately use him. And please remember this one thing: They play Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and Phillip Rivers SIX TIMES a year. They’ll need some pass rushers vs. them.

37. The Atlanta Falcons select… Dee Ford, DE/OLB from Auburn.

Outside of Osi, I can’t think of another pass rusher on the Falcons roster. Getting a guy like Ford who excels in that area, will be great for them. Especially when you consider they face Cam Newton and Drew Brees four times a year.

38. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select… Xaiver Su’a Filo, OG from UCLA.

He’s the best guard in the class due to his consistency and versatility. At this spot, it will come down between him, Yankey and Bonito. 

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39. The Jacksonville Jaguars select… AJ McCarron, QB from Alabama.

I believe in the second and third round’s, we will see a run of quarterback’s come off the board. I like McCarron in Jacksonville, but I think he fits what Gus Bradley wants in a QB and he brings a new dynamic. The dynamic of a competitive and successful winner who wants to get better everyday. Plus AJ doesn’t face that pressure of starting right away with Chad Henne there.

40. The Minnesota Vikings select… LaMarcus Joyner, CB/S from Florida St.

I think new head coach Mike Zimmer will really like Joyner. Joyner is a versatile defender who fits in the mold of Tyrann Matheiu. Is he a corner, is he a safety? No he is just a good football player who can do a lot of things.

41. The Buffalo Bills select… Cyrus Kouandjo, OT from Alabama.

I already gave EJ a new weapon in TE Eric Ebron. Now it’s time to give him some projection, by adding the big fella from Alabama. I think this is another good pick just based on value alone. Some considered Cyrus to be a first round tackle in the late teen’s. I just filled two big needs!

42. The Tennessee Titans select…Carlos Hyde, RB from Ohio State.

The Titans depth chart at RB is pretty much filled with nobodies. Seriously. With the departure of Chris Johnson, they need a new face back there that can carry the load. Carlos Hyde is the perfect man for that job.

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43. The New York Giants select… Jace Amaro, TE from Texas Tech.

Amaro can be a primary reason, Eli Manning has a bounce back season in 2014. He has good speed, can play inside and out and will give their offense a new look. The Giants offense can use more versatility to be honest.

44. The St. Louis Rams select… Deone Bucannon, S from Washington St.

I really like this selection for St. Louis. Not only do they fill a need, but they get a good player that is filled with potential. Can play the run and pass very well and is a hard hitter. Also has good size.

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45. The Detroit Lions select… Anthony Barr, OLB from UCLA.

Even though I wasn’t impressed with his tape, I couldn’t deny the fact, he can rush the passer. He does that very well and Detroit can use another pass rusher.

46. The Pittsburgh Steelers select… Pierre Desir, CB from Lindenwood.

The Steelers could have in various directions with this selection, but I decided to go corner. Desir fits the mold of the new CB in today’s NFL and has the potential to be a long term starter.

47. The Dallas Cowboys select… Jimmie Ward, S from Northern Illinois.

Dallas already fulfilled one need by getting Early in the 1st and they can fulfill an second by getting Ward in the second round. Ward is a all around safety who can bring versatility and consistency, to a Cowboys secondary that badly needs it.

48. The Baltimore Ravens select… Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB from Nebraska.

Baptiste can definitely come in and fill a need in Baltimore. Outside of Jimmy Smith, the CB position is older and lacking some talent because of Corey Graham’ departure. They’re getting a good player and filling a big need. Doesn’t’ get much better than that.

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49. The New York Jets select… Austin Seferian Jenkins, TE from Washington.

I really like Seferian-Jenkins’ size and the versatility, he brings to the Jets. He is a good blocker, good pass catcher and fast enough to control the middle of the field. Like I said earlier when discussing the Brandin Cooks pick, this Jets offense should be lethal in 2014.

50. The Miami Dolphins select… Joel Bitonio, OT/G from Nevada.

Even though people have been saying Bitonio will move inside to play guard, I think he should stay at tackle. I think he’s very solid there and can be a starter for sure. But regardless of what happens, Miami fills a big need and added a player who gives them some flexibility. 

51. The Chicago Bears select… Timmy Jernigan, DT from Florida State.

This would be such a good pickup for the Bears. Jernigan by all accounts is a first round talent, but there is a good chance he could fall in the second round. If so the Bears can draft him, add depth to their d-line and develop him properly.

52. The Arizona Cardinals select… Demarcus Lawrence, OLB from Boise State.

I gave the Cardinals their future franchise quarterback in Round 1 and now it’s time to improve their pass rush. Demarcus will excel as a pass rushing specialist in passing situations. And when you consider how John Abraham is getting older (34), it’s time for Arizona to add a new pass rusher in the mix.

53. The Green Bay Packers select… Troy Niklas, TE from Notre Dame.

When looking at the Packers needs, one that is usually over-looked is their need at tight end. Jermichael Finley is a free agent and considered injury prone. The current depth chart at TE isn’t too promising. So I expect the Packers to address this need within the first three rounds. And why not grab a a big target like Niklas? He can be a good threat in the red zone and control the middle of the field.

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54. The Philadelphia Eagles select… Kyle Van Noy, OLB from BYU. 

Kyle Van Noy is a really solid football player who can add a few things, to the Eagles. Brings the right versatility to the team along with attitude. He doesn’t excel at one thing, but he is solid in all areas. This will be a good pick up based on talent AND value.

55. The Cincinnati Bengals select… Marcus Martin, C from USC.

The opinions on QB Andy Dalton are split but at the end of the day, he IS the starting quarterback of the Bengals. And with that said, the Bengals need to protect their now franchise quarterback. Getting the best center in the Draft in Martin will do that. He is a good pass protector and solid run blocker.

56. The San Francisco 49ers select… Allen Robinson, WR from Penn State.

I already addressed the 49ers’ other need at CB, so I will give Kaepernick a new weapon by adding Robinson. The 6-3, 210 Pound Robinson is solid in all areas. He is good after the catch, has enough speed to go down field and his route running is improving.  

57. The San Diego Chargers select… Russell Bodine, C from North Carolina.

Outside linebacker. Wide receiver. Cornerback. Offensive Lineman. The Chargers have a few options to address. But after improving their secondary with the selection of Verrett, I decided to draft the second best center off my board in Bodine. He will help solidify an improving offensive line and can be a future starter. 

58. The New Orleans Saints select… Keith McGill, CB from Utah.

When you look at McGill, Desir and any other CB that’s over 6-2, just think Richard Sherman. Because of Sherman and the Seahawks, teams across the league are looking for bigger corners and McGill fits the profile. 6-3 and 211 Pounds with an improving skill-set. New Orleans will definitely say yes to that. 

59. The Indianapolis Colts select… Weston Richberg, OG/C from Colorado St.

Speaking as a Colts fan and as a draft analyst, I really like this pick. Richberg is a solid prospect who can bring much needed consistency along with flexibility to a struggling offensive line. I take a lot of comfort in that… and so does Andrew Luck =).

60. The Carolina Panthers select… Ja’Wuan James, OT from Tennessee.

I gave Cam a new weapon in the first round. Now it’s time to give him some protection with this selection of James. Between him and his former teammate Antonio Richardson, I thought he was by far the better tackle. He is more consistent, has shown flashes of dominance and better footwork to me.

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61. The San Francisco 49ers select… Louis Nix III, DT from Notre Dame. 

The 49ers draft room should be jumping for joy if this happened. Nix III is a first round caliber talent who might fall down the board, for a few reasons. So getting him here is a great pick. When you add the talent factor along with the fact, their best DE/DT Justin Smith is getting older (34), getting Nix makes perfect sense.

62. The New England Patriots select… Bishop Sankley, RB from Washington.

If the Patriots draft Sankley, I might say out loud “GOT DAMN”. Sankley is a really good football player. He is a good runner, regardless of the direction he’s going, is explosive in and out of cuts and catch very well. QB Tom Brady will find a way to turn him into a weapon. You better believe that.

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63. The Denver Broncos select… Jarvis Landry, WR from LSU.

If you’re a team that has Peyton Manning at quarterback, there’s no way, you go a few rounds without adding a weapon to his weaponry. I can speak from personal experience. I know a lot of people were caught up in Landry’s 40 Time but in the end, he is a good player. I really like his toughness along with catching ability and route running. I think he is a Peyton Manning type of receiver. 

64. The Seattle Seahawks select… Martavis Bryant, WR from Clemson.

They do have Doug Baldwin, Percy Harvin and the returning Sidney Rice at WR, but they need more than that. They need another weapon that can stretch the field and do a lot of things with the ball. I think Martavis is the right guy. And add along his size (6-3 and 211 Pounds) and you’re talking about a game changer. 

May 7, 2014
The Official #AST Two Round Mock Draft! (First Round Only)

Here I present to you, the official #AST Two Round Mock Draft. With two post’s, I will do selections for the first two rounds. In this one, I’m going to do the entire first round. With each selection, I will explain why I chose that player. I hope you enjoy it and please remember to share and comment. Let the Draft begin!

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1. The Houston Texans select… Khalil Mack, OLB From Buffalo.

This selection might surprise some but I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened on the 8th. Clowney is the superior athlete, but I think Mack is a much better player and fit for defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s scheme. Romeo’s defense is all about versatility and Mack fits in just fine as a hybrid OLB/DE who can stop the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage when needed. Think about those Patriot defenses from 2001-2004. It was all about versatility, especially with the linebackers. 

2. The St. Louis Rams select… Sammy Watkins, WR from Clemson.

We know St. Louis wants to improve it’s pass protection in order to keep QB Sam Bradford upright, but I really couldn’t convince myself to pick any of the top three tackles at this spot. So my other option? Pick the best WR in this draft and give Bradford the weapon, he’s never had. You are oh, so very welcome St. Louis!

3. The Jacksonville Jaguars select… Jadeveon Clowney, DE from South Carolina. 

You can officially stop wondering how long Clowney will fall because this is it. If Clowney was available, there is no way on God’s Green Earth, Jacksonville will pass on him. With a defensive minded coach in Gus Bradley along with a huge need for a offensive or defensive game changer, Clowney is there to have at this spot. 

4. The Cleveland Browns select… Greg Robinson, OT from Auburn.

I really had a HARD time with this selection, but in the end I felt Robinson was the right pick. Even though the Browns’ offensive line is already filled with key starters, you can never have enough lineman in the NFL. Also, I just wasn’t able to convince myself to draft a quarterback at this spot. I think Cleveland will address that later in the first possibly. 

5. The Oakland Raiders select… Taylor Lewan, OT from Michigan.

The Raiders defense should be improved in 2014, if Justin Tuck and LaMar Woodley stay healthy so I’m addressing other needs. I know a lot of people have Robinson and Matthews as the top two tackles, but I like Lewan better than Matthews. Lewan is more physical, can contribute to the run game and turn into something special. You’re welcome Oakland.

6. The Atlanta Falcons select… Jake Matthews, OT from Texas A&M.

IMO, Atlanta decides to address their biggest need with a big time player in Matthews. He is a better pass blocker than run blocker, but considering the team we’re talking about, that is just fine. Matthews should be a mainstay in Atlanta for a long time.

7. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select… Mike Evans, WR from Texas A&M.

Tampa Bay can go in so many directions with this pick, but I think drafting a WR is a obvious choice. With Mike Williams traded to Buffalo and their #1 WR Vincent Jackson getting older, Tampa Bay needs to add a new weapon to their offense. Here comes WR Mike Evans, who at 6-5 and 232 Pounds will give Glennon, McCown or somebody else a fun option to throw too starting next year. 

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8. The Minnesota Vikings select… Teddy Bridgewater, QB from Louisville.

Let me guess, you were expecting Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel at this spot? Welp you’re wrong. Listen, I hear and see the reports on Bridgewater’s decline and the “concerns” scouts and teams have. But that doesn’t affect me honestly. In the end, Bridgewater is still the best QB I’ve studied all year from this Draft. Whether he starts right away or not, doesn’t matter. The Vikings found their franchise quarterback and Teddy’s game along with personality easily translates to the next level. 

9. The Buffalo Bills select… Eric Ebron, TE from North Carolina.

The Bills have two major needs that could be addressed in this round: Offensive tackle and tight end. But considering how my three best tackles are gone and the 4th best one (Zach Martin at 14th) is a bit of a reach, I decided to address the other serious need at tight end. Adding a complete tight end like Ebron, will give this offense a new dynamic and improve it immediately.

10. The Detroit Lions select… Calvin Pryor, S from Louisville.

This could be one of the those picks, where the draft analysts are saying “reached” all night. Detroit definitely has some options to go elsewhere, but no need was greater than safety. Calvin Pryor is the #1 Safety on my board and brings a great skill-set to the Lions. Hits hard, plays hard and does enough in pass coverage.

11. The Tennessee Titans select… Darqueze Dennard, CB from Mich. State. 

Tennessee could go in another direction (quarterback), but I think that would be a huge risk. Cornerback is their biggest need since Pro Bowl CB Alterraun Verner left the team in March. Dennard is the #1 CB on my board and he is for many reasons: He can play man, presses WR’s very well, has fluid hips and create turnover’s. In a division with Andrew Luck, the Titans need a player like that!

12. The New York Giants select… Aaron Donald, DT from Pittsburgh.

The last few picks have been tough but this one wasn’t. If there’s anything we know about the Giants, is that most of their success occurs when they have a good defensive line. Having Donald in the middle to control it, will improve the Giants defense dramatically. 

13. The St. Louis Rams select… Zach Martin, OT from Notre Dame. 

If this happens, the Rams might be the biggest winners that night. Not only they addressed one big need but they fulfilled the other! They got their game changing WR at #2 in Watkins and a starting caliber tackle in Martin at #13. At that point, the Draft could be a considered a success for the Rams. 

14. The Chicago Bears select… Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S from Alabama.

Chicago either has talent or depth at every other position beside safety. That changes by drafting Clinton Dix. Ha Ha is good in pass coverage and does enough to help the run defense. The Bears will fill a big need here.

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15. The Pittsburgh Steelers select… Odell Beckham Jr, WR from LSU.

The Steelers is a franchise that’s known for their defense. I get that. Legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau loves new talent on that side of the ball. I get that. But you know, who would love to see some new talent? Star QB Ben Roethlisberger. With the departures of Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery in recent off-season’s, the need for a wide receiver has grown a lot. So why not draft one of the most electrifying receivers, that this class has to offer? 

16. The Dallas Cowboys select… Kony Early, DE from Missouri.

This could be the surprise pick of the night, but the Cowboys will fill a big need. With DeMarcus Ware gone, they need a OLB/DE who can be their pass rushing specialist and Kony is that guy. He has great size at 6-4 and 273 Pounds. can rush the passer and stop the run with no problems. Early is the #2 DE on my board and #22 overall.

17. The Baltimore Ravens select… Morgan Moses, OT from Virginia. 

I had a harder time than LeBron James making this decision. Just based on needs and how the Draft plays out, the Ravens can go in many directions with this pick. But in the end, I decided to select Moses and fulfill a critical need. Some might say, this is too high to take him, but the guy had a good season in 2013 and a even better draft process starting in January. In a way, he is worthy of the 17th overall pick.

18. The New York Jets select… Brandin Cooks, WR from Oregon State.

After struggling with the 17th Pick, life was much easier when I got to 18. As long as Rex Ryan is coach, you don’t have to worry about their defense. Rex will find a way to take anybody and put them in the right position to succeed. But offense? That’s a different story. Getting Cooks will take this offense to another level. With him and Decker operating on the outside and a stack backfield led by CJ2K, the Jets offense could be lethal next year.

19. The Miami Dolphins select… CJ Mosley, ILB from Alabama.

Let me say this: Out of all the Dolphins’ needs, linebacker is at the end of the list. But with the right selection, it can improve the team immediately. ILB CJ Mosley will give this team, a star in the making and a future leader for their defense. Prospects at their other needs (RT, G, CB, TE) just wasn’t worth picking at this spot. But CJ was!

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20. The Arizona Cardinals select… Blake Bortles, QB from UCF.

The Cardinals could easily draft a linebacker, safety or offensive tackle at this spot. And if they did, I wouldn’t blame them. But the problem is, I don’t think anybody worth the pick will be around at this time. That’s when drafting a quarterback becomes a option. With the uncertainty surrounding this quarterback class, I’m willing to guarantee two of the big three, will be available at this spot. And if it happens to be Blake Bortles, then Arizona should select him. He fits the mold of what Bruce Arians wants in a QB and when you factor in current starting QB Carson Palmer’s age (35), it makes sense for them to draft him.

21. The Green Bay Packers select… Ryan Shazier, OLB from Ohio State.

I understand the Packers are set at OLB position with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, but they’re not at ILB. Getting a good, athletic linebacker like Shazier and moving him inside will improve this defense instantly. Shazier has enough experience playing both inside and outside, and when you think about the talent he’s surround with, this is a very good fit. 

22. The Philadelphia Eagles select… Kelvin Benjamin, WR from Florida State.

Some of the recent mock’s, have the Eagles selecting between WR’s Jordan Matthews and Marquise Lee but I’m a bigger fan of Kelvin Benjamin. I think Kelvin has a lot of potential because of what he brings to the table: Great size (6-5 and 240 Pounds), good hands, good jumping ability and the flexibility to play in any slot on the field. If he stays in good shape, then this could be a good pairing between Kelvin and the Eagles.

23. The Kansas City Chiefs select… Marquise Lee, WR from USC.

IMO, the Chiefs are in a desperate need for a wide receiver. Outside of Dwyane Bowe (who has still underachieved in his career), the Chiefs don’t have a capable play-maker in their receiver core. That is when Marquise Lee comes in. He is the not the fastest guy at his position, but in terms of route running ability, catching ability and consistency, Lee is up there with the best of them.  

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24. The Cincinnati Bengals select… Justin Gilbert, CB from Oklahoma St.

At this point, we should start seeing corner’s fly off the board. Gilbert is the #2 CB on my board and fills a big need for the Bengals. With him there along Terrence Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and a healthy Leon Hall, the Bengals secondary could be elite in 2014.

25. The San Diego Chargers select… Jason Verrett, CB from TCU.

Even though Verrett is the 4th Best CB on my board, I think he has the second most potential out of anybody at his position. He is very physical at the LOS, excels in man coverage, can force turnover’s and has fluid movements in his hips and ankles. Considering how SD plays in a division that has Peyton Manning, Alex Smith and now Matt Schaub, they should grab a good corner early.

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26. The Cleveland Browns select… Johnny Manziel, QB from Texas A&M.

The roof of Radio City Music Hall might blow off, if Manziel becomes a Brown. I think this is a great spot to pick him, if you’re Cleveland. As much as I like Manziel, I still believe picking him at #4 is incredibly too high. Also I don’t think any team below Cleveland, will be interested in trading back up, considering the caliber of quarterback’s available in the second and below rounds. Manziel is a future face of the franchise who brings them great play-making ability and personality. It would be a good night in Cleveland.

27. The New Orleans Saints select… Jordan Matthews, WR from Vanderbilt.

The Saints have had a pretty solid off-season and I think they’ll continue, by having a good draft. Most of their needs are already filled or don’t have a lot of value, so at this point, it’s about finding the best player available. I think Jordan Matthews will turn into a key contributor in a New Orleans passing attack that could use more weapons. We know about Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, but the rest of their receiver core is still a question mark. Getting Matthews right here is a good pick.

28. The Carolina Panthers select… Davante Adams, WR from Fresno State.

It’s crazy how many needs, the Panthers have that can be considered “serious”. Wide receiver, tackle, cornerback and more. But IMO, no need is more important than wide receiver right now. In a division that is featured with teams that have incredible weaponry, the Panthers have to keep up. I like Adams’ size along with skills and I think he can be a good fit in Carolina. 

29. The New England Patriots select… Ra’Shede Hageman, DT from Minnesota.

We know New England was able to keep Vince Wilfork. Good for them. But that doesn’t mean, their need up front is fixed. New England needs another big up front and Ra’Shede is the right guy. Not only that, but Ra’Shede possess great size (6-5 and 310 Pounds) and great potential. New England has to grab him here.

30. The San Francisco 49ers select… Kyle Fuller, CB from Virginia.

Making a decision here was interesting. I could have went wide receiver but my top guys were gone, so I decided to take a CB. Most don’t realize it but the CB position is weak for San Fran, at the moment. Carlos Rogers left to go to Oakland and the current guys are either back-ups or soon to be free agents. Getting Fuller, who can start from Day One and be there in the long term, is a good look for them. 

31. The Denver Broncos select… Bradley Roby, CB from Ohio State.

Just like San Francisco, the Broncos can go in either direction at #31. Their two most important needs is at middle linebacker and corner. If I had to decide which need is more important, I would go with CB. Outside of Talib, Denver’s secondary is very shaky at the moment. DRC left in free agency, Chris Harris Jr is recovering from a torn ACL and there is literally no depth behind them. Getting a player like Roby, who is very gifted physically and has the right skill set, would be a great choice for Denver. 

32. The Seattle Seahawks select… Stephen Tuitt, DE from Notre Dame.

One of the main reasons, Seattle won the Super Bowl last season was because of great depth in their defensive line. Getting Tuitt would be good for them. Has good size, good motor and can play the run and pass very well. 

April 28, 2014
Part 2 of The Official #AST Big Board (The Last Thirty Two)

Here is the remainder of the list. Some of these players have first round potential but are very likely to be selected in Day Two or beyond. Enjoy! 

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33. ILB Chris Borland from Wisconsin.

34. OG Zavier Su’a Filo from UCLA.

35. WR Davante Adams from Fresno State.

36. QB Derek Carr from Fresno State.

37. WR Jordan Matthews from Vanderbilt.

38. DE/OLB Dee Ford from Auburn.

39. TE Jace Amaro from Texas Tech.

40. RB Carlos Hyde from Ohio State.

41. C Marcus Martin from USC.

42. CB/S LaMarcus Joyner from Florida State.

43. OLB Demarcus Lawrence from Boise State.

44. OLB Anthony Barr from UCLA.

45. QB AJ McCarron from Alabama.

46. CB Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. 

47. DT Daquan Jones from Penn State.

48. DE Scott Crichton from Oregon State.

49. OG David Yankey from Stanford.

50. S Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois.

51. C Russell Bodine from North Carolina.

52. OT Cyrus Kouandjo from Alabama.

53. RB Tre Mason from Auburn.

54. WR Jarvis Laundry from LSU.

55. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins from Washington. 

56. WR Allen Robinson from Penn State.

57. OG/C Weston Richberg from Colorado State.

58. RB Bishop Sankey from Washington.

59. QB Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois.

60. TE Troy Niklas from Notre Dame.

61. OT Joel Bitonio from Nevada.

62. OT Morgan Moses from Virginia. 

63. OG Gabe Jackson from Mississippi.

64. OLB/DE Trent Murphy from Stanford. 

10:04am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZwfRGy1EMEs-u
  
Filed under: 2014 nfl draft ast big board 
April 28, 2014
The Official #AST Big Board (The First Thirty Two)

Here is the first (and last) edition of the #AST Big Board. After two long months, my evaluating process of the 2014 Draft Class is over. It was a very grueling process but I’m happy I did it and I hope you enjoyed the ranking’s, I released throughout. My Big Board will consist of the top sixty four players from this year’s Draft and will be separated into two post’s (The first one will be for the first 32)

The most important thing, I want to say before you start reading is that these rankings, do not indicate where I think they’ll be drafted. I’m ranking them based on what I saw on tape. Now I hope you enjoy it and please remember feedback is greatly appreciated! 

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(The first 32. The guys who I consider to be legitimate first round talent.)

1. DE Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina.

2. OLB Khalil Mack from Buffalo.

3. WR Sammy Watkins from Clemson.

4. OT Greg Robinson from Auburn.

5. OT Taylor Lewan from Michigan.

6. WR Mike Evans from Texas A&M.

7. OT Jake Matthews from Texas A&M.

8. QB Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville.

9. QB Blake Bortles from UCF.

10. QB Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M.

11. WR Brandin Cooks from Oregon State.

12. WR Odell Beckham Jr from LSU.

13. DT Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh.

14. OT Zach Martin from Norte Dame.

15. TE Eric Ebron from North Carolina.

16. CB Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State.

17. S Calvin Pryor from Louisville.

18. S Ha Ha Clinton Dix from Alabama.

19. ILB CJ Mosley from Alabama.

20. DT Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota.

21. DT Louis Nix III from Notre Dame. 

22. DE Kony Early from Missouri.

23. WR Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State.

24. CB Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State. 

25. CB Bradley Roby from Ohio State.

26. OLB Ryan Shazier from Ohio State.

27. WR Marquise Lee from USC.

28. CB Jason Verrett from TCU.

29. S Deone Bucannon from Washington State.

30. OLB Jerry Attaochu from Georgia Tech.

31. DT Timmy Jernigan from Florida State.

32. DE Stephen Tuitt from Notre Dame. 

10:03am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZwfRGy1EMEqQL
  
Filed under: 2014 nfl draft big board ast 
April 27, 2014
#AST Defensive Back Ranking’s

Hey everybody, I am back with my final set ranking’s of the 2014 NFL Draft. I spent the last few days, studying the CB and Safety classes and decided to rank them together (Hence the defensive back ranking’s title). I hope you enjoy them and please be on the look out, for the first and only edition of the #AST Big Board. Peace!

1. CB Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State -

This might surprise some people since S Ha Ha Clinton Dix is considered the best DB in the Draft, but I’m in favor of Dennard. Dennard is a corner that can start from Day One and become a immediate contributor. Can play on man or off and still be successful. Also has fluid hits and the ability to force turnover’s. I like him a lot.

2. S Calvin Pryor from Louisville -

This choice might even surprise more people but again I’m in favor of another player over Clinton Dix. IMO Pryor can be what Bob Sanders was when healthy on the Colts. A safety that can cover many holes on a defense, hits hard, sets the tone and displays enough range to defend the pass. Calvin also plays at a faster speed than Clinton. He is my type of safety.

3. S Ha Ha Clinton Dix from Alabama -

I guess the world is okay after all with Clinton Dix finally being ranked lol. Don’t get me wrong, I like Clinton Dix and I think he can play, but I was more impressed with Dennard and Pryor. Does Ha Ha possess a lot of traits you want to see in a defensive player? Absolutely. I just wished he played faster and becomes more of a force near the LOS. Still a first round talent by a more than a mile. 

4. CB Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State -

Justin is a physically gifted DB. Even though he gets beat too often, his speed allows him to recover in no time. He is a bit stiff in the hips and can work on his transition ability along with cover skills, but he is a excellent ball hawk. Has a lot of potential.

5. CB Bradley Roby from Ohio State -

When it comes to potential and being physically gifted, Roby ranks close to 1st among those at his position. He runs a 4.39 40, is very quick in short space, can reach top end speed quickly and he LOVES to hit. Whether it’s man or zone, I think he can excel on the next level. Depends on the team that selects and whether he can mature. He does have a lot of character issues. 

6. S Deone Bucannon from Washington State -

A hard hitting safety that has the potential to be a complete player on the next level. Has good size at 6’1 and 211 Pounds.

7. CB Jason Verrett from TCU -

A very good cover corner that is limited by his size and injury concerns. Is able to help in run support.

8. CB LaMarcus Joyner from Florida State -

Is a CB that is capable of playing safety. Helps in run support and is solid in pass coverage.

9. S Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois -

A solid overall player. Doesn’t excel in one area but he does enough to contribute to your defense. In the right scheme, he can be a quality starter in the NFL.

10. CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska -

Another solid player who can do a lot of things. Use to play WR and then switched positions. 

April 24, 2014
Even though the season is four and a half months away, the NFL never fails to keep it’s fans attention. With the official schedule released last night, there has been plenty of talk regarding which games to look forward too. Well here at #AST, we decided to come up with a list of 17 Games that should receive a lot of attention. I hope you enjoy it!

1. Packers at Seahawks in Week 1 on Opening Night -
Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers. The banner being released in front of The 12th Man. Memories of the “Fail Mary” game. Need more reasons to watch? Exactly…


2. Colts at Broncos in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football -
The Present vs. The Future as these two powerhouse’s take battle. As Denver looks to start their season off right, the young and emerging Colts look to do the same and prove a point to the football world. Did I also mention we get to see Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning? Should be a lot of fun in the Mile High that night.


3. Steelers at Ravens in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football -
These Steelers/Ravens match ups are always intense and come down to the end. But this rivalry got a whole lot better as the Ravens added veteran WR Steve Smith to the mix. His intensity should only take this game to another level.


4. Broncos at Seahawks in Week 4 at 4:25 PM on CBS -
The rematch of last year’s Super Bowl. As the first quarter of the new season comes to a end, this will be a great test for both team’s. Especially Denver. Can they get revenge or will Seattle beat them AGAIN?


5. 49ers at Broncos in Week 7 on Sunday Night Football -
There is no denying this match up. The entire football world will be watching as these two perennial Super Bowl contenders face off. Statement game it is.


6. Packers at Saints in Week 8 on Sunday Night Football -
On the prime time stage, we get to see the two of the NFL’s most prolific offense’s play against each other on the fast track known as the Superdome. Over or under on 70 combined points?

7. Jets at Chiefs in Week 9 at 1 PM on CBS -
This may surprise you but I’m looking forward to this match up. Around this time, both teams could be competing for a playoff spot and this can affect their playoff standing’s come late December. Also this game can be a classic offense vs. defense match up and one of the rare times, Rex Ryan and Andy Reid coach against each other. 


8. Broncos at Patriots in Week 9 at 4:25 PM on CBS.
Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning for the 16th Time of their career. That alone should make you watch this game.


9. 49ers at Saints in Week 10 at 1 PM on FOX -
New Orleans hasn’t been nice to San Francisco as of late. They lost Super Bowl 47 there along with a very close game to the hometown Saints last season. Maybe the third time is a charm?


10. Cardinals at Seahawks in Week 12 at 4:05 PM on FOX -
This can be a game with heavy playoff implications right here. Also keep in mind, Arizona gave Seattle their only loss at home last season. I’m 100% sure, Pete Carroll won’t forget to tell his guys that.


11. 49ers at Seahawks in Week 13 on Thanksgiving Night on NBC -
Barring anything serious, every football fan in America will be happy on Thanksgiving Night because of this match up. When you think of a big game with “everything on the line”, 49ers/Seahawks qualifies as such. 


12. Chargers at Ravens in Week 13 at 1 PM on CBS - 
This could be a Game of the Year candidate in all seriousness. Two AFC teams that can be fighting for playoff spots and are talented in a lot of positions. Phillip Rivers vs. Joe Flacco is a wild card match up. Either it can really good or really bad. I’m looking forward to it haha. 


13. Steelers at Bengals in Week 14 at 1 PM on CBS -
The AFC North is one of the few divisions in football that isn’t determined until very late in the season. This match up is the reason why. Whoever wins usually gets a lot of momentum and goes to the playoffs. The loser goes to home in a couple of weeks. 


14. 49ers at Seahawks Part II in Week 15 at 4:25 PM on FOX -
We return to the scene of last year’s NFC Championship Game and this will be the second time in three weeks, both teams play each other. That and more reasons make this a big game. 


15. Cowboys at Eagles in Week 15 on Sunday Night Football -
Another December where the Cowboys collapse or they will finally over come it. I expect these two teams to be the best in the NFC East, so this game will have a lot of value. Just like I said about the AFC North, the NFC East is also a division that isn’t decided till late. 


16. Patriots at Jets in Week 16 at 1 PM on CBS -
The scene at MetLife on what could be a very cold day will be amazing to watch. Former Jets star CB Darrelle Revis will return to the place, he once called home as a new member of the hated Patriots. What could make this game more interesting? If the Jets are competing with New England for the division title… OH BABY! 


17. Lions at Packers in Week 17 at 1 PM on FOX -
The NFC North is filled with plenty possibilities so who knows what can happen. Maybe this game will decid the winner of the division? Maybe it’s can determine who will grab the final playoff spot? And if it comes down to the Packers and Lions, then we are in for a treat as fans. Trust me on that. 

Even though the season is four and a half months away, the NFL never fails to keep it’s fans attention. With the official schedule released last night, there has been plenty of talk regarding which games to look forward too. Well here at #AST, we decided to come up with a list of 17 Games that should receive a lot of attention. I hope you enjoy it!

1. Packers at Seahawks in Week 1 on Opening Night -

Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers. The banner being released in front of The 12th Man. Memories of the “Fail Mary” game. Need more reasons to watch? Exactly…

2. Colts at Broncos in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football -

The Present vs. The Future as these two powerhouse’s take battle. As Denver looks to start their season off right, the young and emerging Colts look to do the same and prove a point to the football world. Did I also mention we get to see Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning? Should be a lot of fun in the Mile High that night.

3. Steelers at Ravens in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football -

These Steelers/Ravens match ups are always intense and come down to the end. But this rivalry got a whole lot better as the Ravens added veteran WR Steve Smith to the mix. His intensity should only take this game to another level.

4. Broncos at Seahawks in Week 4 at 4:25 PM on CBS -

The rematch of last year’s Super Bowl. As the first quarter of the new season comes to a end, this will be a great test for both team’s. Especially Denver. Can they get revenge or will Seattle beat them AGAIN?

5. 49ers at Broncos in Week 7 on Sunday Night Football -

There is no denying this match up. The entire football world will be watching as these two perennial Super Bowl contenders face off. Statement game it is.

6. Packers at Saints in Week 8 on Sunday Night Football -

On the prime time stage, we get to see the two of the NFL’s most prolific offense’s play against each other on the fast track known as the Superdome. Over or under on 70 combined points?

7. Jets at Chiefs in Week 9 at 1 PM on CBS -

This may surprise you but I’m looking forward to this match up. Around this time, both teams could be competing for a playoff spot and this can affect their playoff standing’s come late December. Also this game can be a classic offense vs. defense match up and one of the rare times, Rex Ryan and Andy Reid coach against each other. 

8. Broncos at Patriots in Week 9 at 4:25 PM on CBS.

Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning for the 16th Time of their career. That alone should make you watch this game.

9. 49ers at Saints in Week 10 at 1 PM on FOX -

New Orleans hasn’t been nice to San Francisco as of late. They lost Super Bowl 47 there along with a very close game to the hometown Saints last season. Maybe the third time is a charm?

10. Cardinals at Seahawks in Week 12 at 4:05 PM on FOX -

This can be a game with heavy playoff implications right here. Also keep in mind, Arizona gave Seattle their only loss at home last season. I’m 100% sure, Pete Carroll won’t forget to tell his guys that.

11. 49ers at Seahawks in Week 13 on Thanksgiving Night on NBC -

Barring anything serious, every football fan in America will be happy on Thanksgiving Night because of this match up. When you think of a big game with “everything on the line”, 49ers/Seahawks qualifies as such. 

12. Chargers at Ravens in Week 13 at 1 PM on CBS - 

This could be a Game of the Year candidate in all seriousness. Two AFC teams that can be fighting for playoff spots and are talented in a lot of positions. Phillip Rivers vs. Joe Flacco is a wild card match up. Either it can really good or really bad. I’m looking forward to it haha. 

13. Steelers at Bengals in Week 14 at 1 PM on CBS -

The AFC North is one of the few divisions in football that isn’t determined until very late in the season. This match up is the reason why. Whoever wins usually gets a lot of momentum and goes to the playoffs. The loser goes to home in a couple of weeks. 

14. 49ers at Seahawks Part II in Week 15 at 4:25 PM on FOX -

We return to the scene of last year’s NFC Championship Game and this will be the second time in three weeks, both teams play each other. That and more reasons make this a big game. 

15. Cowboys at Eagles in Week 15 on Sunday Night Football -

Another December where the Cowboys collapse or they will finally over come it. I expect these two teams to be the best in the NFC East, so this game will have a lot of value. Just like I said about the AFC North, the NFC East is also a division that isn’t decided till late. 

16. Patriots at Jets in Week 16 at 1 PM on CBS -

The scene at MetLife on what could be a very cold day will be amazing to watch. Former Jets star CB Darrelle Revis will return to the place, he once called home as a new member of the hated Patriots. What could make this game more interesting? If the Jets are competing with New England for the division title… OH BABY! 

17. Lions at Packers in Week 17 at 1 PM on FOX -

The NFC North is filled with plenty possibilities so who knows what can happen. Maybe this game will decid the winner of the division? Maybe it’s can determine who will grab the final playoff spot? And if it comes down to the Packers and Lions, then we are in for a treat as fans. Trust me on that. 

April 23, 2014
#ASTDraft Outside Linebacker Ranking’s

#ASTDraft is back with another set of ranking’s and this time it’s about the outside linebacker position. I spent a few days studying the ten best from this position and I hope you enjoy it. Expect the official #ASTDraft Mock to come out soon! 

1. OLB Khalil Mack from Buffalo -

I know a lot of people consider Clowney to be the best defensive player in the draft but Mack has a legit case for that claim. I was actually more impressed watching Mack than Clowney. I saw a player that has enough athletic ability/strength but is a really good football player. Khalil can rush the passer with various moves, drop back in coverage and just plays the game the right way. I think, I just convinced myself that Mack is the best defensive player in the Draft.

2. OLB Ryan Shazier from Ohio State -

Shazier would make for a very solid linebacker on the next level. Athletic enough to play side to side and strong enough to handle any situation up the middle. I mentioned his athleticism because it’s pretty good. Has fluid hip’s and his first step is quick. Definitely has what it takes to be a starting linebacker in the NFL.

3. OLB Jerry Attaochu from Georgia Tech -

This could surprise some people but I really like Jerry. Yes he is only a pure pass rusher, but this guy can be something special on the next level. His pass rushing ability was the best, I seen from anybody at his position and his athleticism is similar to Shazier’s. Another thing, I like about him is his ability to rush inside or outside despite his stance. 

4. OLB Anthony Barr from UCLA -

I think Barr is a solid prospect but I wasn’t impressed. He is above average when it comes to his tackling ability and he can be much better in other area’s. He’s not a natural when it comes to stopping the run or defending the pass. IMO, he needs to be in a solid scheme that has either good coaching, good talent or a mixture of both.

5. OLB DeMarcus Lawerence from Boise State -

I liked what I saw from DeMarcus on tape. I think he can turn into a good player based on which team drafts him. He can defend both the run and pass very well, but he will make his money by turning into a pass rushing specialist. Has the right size, skill set and motor to be one.

(6-10 is the average and below prospects at this position. Late Day 2 and Day 3 picks). 

6. OLB Kyle Van Noy from BYU.

7. OLB/DE Trent Murphy from Stanford.

8. OLB Adrian Hubbard from Alabama.

9. OLB Telvin Smith from Florida State.

10. OLB Christian Jones from Florida State. 

April 19, 2014
My #NBAPlayoffs First Round Predictions…

Eastern Conference First Round -

(1) Pacers beat (8) Hawks in five games.

(5) Wizards beat (4) Bulls in six games.

(3) Raptors beat (6) Nets in seven games.

(2) Heat beat. (7) Bobcats in five games.

Western Conference First Round -

(1) Spurs beat (8) Mavericks in five games.

(4) Rockets beat (5) Trail Blazers in six games.

(3) Clippers beat (6) Warriors in six games.

(2) Thunder beat (7) Grizzlies in five games.

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