published Monday, April 16th, 2012

5 at 10: NFL draft, Spring football and the Braves

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

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    Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, center, and fullback Geoff Meinken (10) celebrate after Luck scored a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Stanford won 56-48 in overtime. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

NFL draft

OK, let's go ahead and get this out of the way: We love the draft; you know this.

OK, now that we're done with the formalities, let's get to BID-ness. Last year we let the draft sneak up on us without proper previews.

Not this time. We'll start with position-by-position heading into next Thursday's first round. That gives us nine days for breakdowns and such.

Today's topic — quarterbacks:

Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III make this a special class of quarterbacks, and those will be the first two names off the board. They also have more pressure than any two rookie quarterbacks in recent memory. Luck is only the guy the Colts cut Peyton Manning for, and Washington mortgaged its future by dealing three first-round picks for the chance to take RG III No. 2. Those are some pretty high stakes.

And the questions do not end there.

Somehow, a strange combination of buzz, potential and overall quarterback need has propelled Ryan Tannehill firmly into the top 10 of this year's draft. When the season ended, most avid college football fans had little idea where Tannehill played never mind that there would be teams looking to deal first-round picks to be his future home. Whatever, but we think Ryan Tannehill is more Ryan Leaf than Matt Ryan.

The early run on quarterbacks has moved Brandon Weeden into a possible late first-rounder. Do what? Weeden, the former Oklahoma State quarterback who you may be more familiar with using his nickname, Chris Wienke 2.0, is a 28-year-old former minor league baseball player who put up huge stats in a high-octane offense throwing to the best college wide receiver since Calvin Johnson. No thanks. Plus, unless you think Weeden is ready to play right now, why draft him. If he sits for a three years learning the system he'll be in his early 30s before he ever starts a game.

We love the two guys at the top, and think Luck and RGIII are stars waiting to shine. We'll pass on Tannehill and Weeden. There are a lot of familiar names but not a great deal of depth in this class this year. When the next tier of QBs is highlighted by "projects" Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley, it's hard to get overly jazzed. In fact after the first three — and we're not anti-Tannehill per se as much as we're anti-spending a mid-to-high first-rounder on Tannehill — it's really kind of a hodgepodge. Here's our top 10 QBs:

1) Andrew Luck, Stanford (a huge star in the making and his stint on Jon Gruden's QB show was every bit as good as expected and maybe better)

2) RG III, Baylor

3) Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

4) Kirk Cousins, Michigan State

5) Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

6) Brock Osweiler, Arizona State

7) B.J. Coleman, UTC

8) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin

9) Nick Foles, Arizona

10) Dominique Davis, East Carolina

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    Tennessee coach Derek Dooley watches his team during spring NCAA college football practice, Thursday, March 29, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

College football

We're planning on writing a column on college football for Tuesday's TFP, so we may discuss this more come tomorrow.

That said, there were a slew of spring games this weekend and a few more are on tap for this Saturday, including the Vols' Orange-and-White game.

Here's a few of our observations:

Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier apparently has made big-time strides, and the rising-sophomore looked sharp in Saturday's A-Day game. That's huge news for Johnny Tigers/War Eagle Fans everywhere, since this Auburn team has a lot of quality pieces in a lot of places but a huge question mark at quarterback.

Alabama freshman-to-be T.J. Yelden jumpstarted monster expectations with a monster spring game. The early enrollee had close to 100 yards rushing and close to 100 more receiving. And yes, he should be getting ready for prom instead of torching one of the most talent-laden defenses in college football. Yes, the kid has a bright future.

Georgia concluded its spring with a nice showing from running back Isaiah Crowell among others. This is a season of high hopes for Johnny Bulldogs Fans — well as long as they can stay off the suspended list — and the fact that Aaron Murray is taking snaps gives the Bulldogs a chance against everyone.

UT's spring has been a mix of Da'Rick's Da'Drama, the promise of positives with Justin Hunter's return and a mixture of new coaches and new defensive schemes. That said, these Vols have a few legit NFL-bound players on the defensive side of the ball. A.J. Johnson is one of those guys. Brian Randolph is one of those guys. Darrington Sentimore could be one of those guys. UT just needs to find a few more.

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    Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward, left, slides safely across home plate to score as Houston Astros catcher Chris Snyder (18) waits for the throw during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 10, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    Photo by Associated Press

Braves trending in other direction

Well, that's a little more enjoyable, right?

Since Chipper Jones made his debut in Houston — and hit a homer — the Braves have won five in a row. Jones homered again Sunday, a three-run shot in his first home game of the season, and will turn 40 a week from Tuesday.

We all agreed on how much more comfortable Jason Heyward looks, and we all got to see Saturday night how much of a weapon Craig Kimbrel can be. (Recap: Bases loaded with one out, Braves up a run and Kimbrel mixes 97 mph heaters with sliders that bend like frisbees and finishes the game with back-to-back strikeouts.) Want a stat that is kind of eye-popping right now and could really grow: Heyward is .091 in Braves' losses and is hitting .444 in Braves' wins.

That said, here's what we take away from the three-game sweep of Milwaukee this weekend: Friday night the Braves built a five-run lead, gave it back in a rare bad outing from Eric O'Flaherty and still rallied for a 10-8 win with two runs in the eighth. Hey, it's impossibly early and it's April and all of that, but some games mean more than others.

Remember a couple of years ago when Brooks Conrad's grand slam capped an improbable rally and how that game felt like something special. We had that feeling Friday night.

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This and that

— Greg Biffle is putting on a show. He went to Texas with the points lead and came out with his first win of the season. Biffle is threatening to run away with this thing — he has a 19 point lead over Matt Kenseth and Dale Jr. (Side note: The headline "Fear the Biff" is scary on a lot of fronts, including the memory of Biff Tanner from "Back to the Future." Biff Tanner was a quality 1980s villain. That is all.)

— By now he may have already addressed this, but Kevin Youkilis had his heart questioned by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Yes, that Kevin Youkilis, who has played through pain, been a mainstay in the quagmire that is the Red Sox clubhouse in recent years and is coming off injury. And yes, it's that Bobby Valentine, who has been part manager/part circus act at every stop (how could we forget the time he got ejected and sneaked back into the dugout with fake glasses and mustache) and is all of 10 days into his Red Sox managerial career. Wow, think this is going to be a long season in Boston or what?

— How about those Preds? We thought losing home ice on Friday was going to be tough to overcome, but your Nashville Predators needed less than 48 hours to snatch it back from perennial playoff hurdle Detroit. The Preds have a few guys who skating their blades off right now — and most of them have far too many consonants in their names — but goalie Pekka Rinne is light's out right now. If we all agree that quarterback is the most important position in sports, goalie in hockey is in the conversation for second-most important. Plus, a hot keeper can carry a hockey club a long way in the postseason.

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Today's question(s)

As always, it's an Open Mic Monday, but here's something to get you started.

Former Florida Gators star and NBA first-rounder Dwayne Schintzius died Sunday from complications from leukemia. He was 43, and that's much too early to die.

Reading about him, the 5-at-10 did not realize that he had a nine-year NBA career, he is the only man with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks in SEC history and he scored 1,624 points to rank fifth in Florida history.

We do remember his trademark hairdo. Well. In fact, in honor of Schintzius, who also had a prominent role in the basketball movie "Eddie," we'll ask two questions.

First, which athlete had the most distinctive hairdo? Schintzius' mullet has to be top three right? It had a special name — the Lobster mullet — and it was a major player in an SI feature. In fact here's our top three in no specific order: Schintzius' Lobster mullet, Oscar Gamble's amazing Afro (that thing was so big it made you wonder how he got a batting helmet on) and Troy Polamalu's thing (dude has it insured for $1 million — seriously).

Second, which athlete had the best sports-related cameo in a movie? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "Airplane" and former big league pitcher Pete Vuckovich as Clu Haywood in "Major League" (this could be the winner since Vuckovich won the 1982 Cy Young and we all know that Haywood won the triple crown and led the league in most offensive cateogries, including nose hair) are the clear front-runners. From there Schintzius is in a big pack that includes a lot of acting former athletes.

Whatcha' got?

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Stewwie said...

Good call on the list of QB prospects.

I was slightly disappointed with Gruden's camp show with Luck. Some things were good but Gruden went on and on about that one play formation...what was it...x spider, y banana...or something like that?

Then he asked about 4,793 times the same question to Luck..."Who was open on that play?" Luck replies, "The fullback." I was just hoping they'd finally get on with something else! I like both Gruden and Luck, but I wish they had done this episode better.

April 16, 2012 at 11:40 a.m.
jgreeson said...

It had to be Stew —

We can appreciate that. It was almost like Gruden was trying super hard to find a fault and that was the only one he had. That said, Luck was able to draw everything that Gruden threw his way and when Luck was hitting him with the architect terms... Wow. Dude's borderline too smart to play football.

It will be interesting to see if Case Keenum or Kellen Moore get drafted and if so how they fare.

— 5-at-10

April 16, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Gotta go with O.J. as Nordberg in the "Top Gun" franchise.

Rik Smits had a nice junior mullet working back in the day (somethign must have gotten lost in the translation from the Dutch). Dr. J had quite the 'fro years back, too. Then again, I am not the expert on hair I once was.

April 16, 2012 at 1:10 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

And I will re-state my aversion to Bobby Valentine as manager of the Red Sox. Way to throw Youk under the bus, Bobby V. As Pedrioa says, "that might work in Japan. That's not how we do things here." And then he left Bard in two batters too long (after nearly 110 pitches, for a guy just starting to be a starter), and he issued a bases-loaded walk for the only run of the game. Way to manage there, Bobby.

April 16, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

O.J. was an actor by then, so that's too rich for this category. That's more of the Jim Brown territory.

Now Reggie Jackson playing Reggie Jackson who was trying to kill the Queen is a perfect example.

And Booby V. is... well that was not a spelling error right there. Booby will be lucky to make it through the year. Hey, throwing Carl Crawford under the bus is fine — big free agent bust is fine. But Youk? Dude player six weeks injured last year.

— 5-at-10

April 16, 2012 at 2:47 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Dennis Rodman's hair captured many eyes during his tenure in the NBA. If he had taken greater advantage of the marketing capabilities that NASCAR and Euro Soccer capitalize with advertising, he may not being in the debt that he is today. What would a beer company pay to dye their logo on the Worm's head per game?

As for the cameo, Cam Neely as Sea Bass in Dumb and Dumber has to be up there. That or Keith Hernadez as himself in Seinfeld. The two part Seinfeld episode is as close to a cinematic masterpiece as youre going to get.

"Who's the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker?"

April 16, 2012 at 2:53 p.m.
Blueoval said...

Randy Johnson and John Daly both come to mind. Both had awful hair back in the day.

Saw Weeds article this morning (good article by the way) on Gruden. My brother in law is a high school head coach and attended the UT clinic Gruden spoke at. He really liked Gruden and said the clinic was one of the best he's been to in years in Knoxville.

April 16, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You wanna go Brett Fav-ruh in "There's Something About Mary"?

Curt Schilling got lambasted for saying a couple of weeks ago that Bobby V already had lost the clubhouse. Um, maybe the big righty was a little more prescient than anyone could have considered.

April 16, 2012 at 3:11 p.m.
deboman said...

Pekka Rinne is a beast. Poile has been able to build a strong team in front of him that is helping win some tight games against Detroit, but the Preds would be having lots of trouble without Rinne standing on his head. Guess it would be unfair to point out a hockey player with an over the top mullet, but the early Jaromir Jagr years were phenomenal.

Liked the QB list and am also looking forward to see how Kellen Moore fares in the draft- lots of wins but was it system, competition, or QB. Am also puzzled at the ranking of Weeden by the talking heads. Sure he is older and more mature and that plays well at the college level, but as I remember , that has never translated into success on the pro level. Weinke did okay, but was never considered more than an average QB, if that. And let’s just hope that the only thing that Tannehill shares with Leaf is a first name.

April 16, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Rinne was outstanding in the final minutes against the Red Wings yesterday. I swear some of those guys have been around long enough they played with Gordie Howe and the Production Line (another great thing about hockey - great nicknames for your top lines. The Production Line in Detroit. The French Connection in Buffalo. The Triple Crown Line for the LA Kings. The Kraut Line in Boston, pre World War II, with Schmidt, Dumart and Bauer).

April 16, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

Welcome to the show, and talk about goinjg yard in your debut. Sea Bass was awesome. Well-played indeed. And the Mr. Hernandez episode is a hugely underrated Seinfeld in large part because of the "Back and to the left; back and to the left" scene recreating the magic loogie theory.

(Although Hernandez has lost big-time cool points for his spots on the Just for Men commercials. "No play for Mr. Grey.")

And cutting messages and patterns into hair dos could be a whole different discussion.

BlueOval —

There are a lot of mullets that deserved to be discussed. And Jaromir Jagr's is an all-timer along with Randy Johnson's and John Daly's. Mitch Williams had a big-boy mullet too. And Mark Wohlers.

We're officially in the Gruden Fan Club. As Uncle Buck would say, it's in the books.

Spy —

Now you're cooking with Crisco. Favre is a definite. "Franks and Beans; Beans and Franks."

Booby is a bad mix of Buttermaker from Bad News Bears, Trey Wilson's character from Bull Durhman, Roger Dorn from Major League and Ted McGinity's character from Major League III: Back in the Minors (don't act like you haven't seen it).

Deboman —

Another big time debut in the comments section. Took your advice and watched some hockey Sunday. The Preds dominated the first two periods — played inspired and were way more aggressive. Like the cut of their gib to be frank. (And just saw you Jagr mullet reference — yes sir that was money.)

— 5-at-10

April 16, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

The Kraut Line? Seriously. Who doled out that nickname? Archie Bunker?

— 5-at-10

April 16, 2012 at 3:47 p.m.
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