published Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

5 at 10: Draft week, Braves fall and Hall of Famers

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

Draft Week is here. We're pretty pumped. We love the draft. You know this.

Last week we broke down the offensive prospects in this class. This week, let's do the defense. But before we get started, we must do a little housecleaning. First, here are the rules for our second-annual We Love the Draft pick contest:

• First SEC player picked (FYI — this does not include Texas A&M and Missouri, thanks for the catch, StuckinKent)

• First Titans pick (No. 20 overall right now)

• First Steelers pick (No. 24 overall right now)

• First Falcons pick (23rd pick of the second round right now)

• What team picks B.J. Coleman?

One point for each with the following tie-breaker: Who is Mr. Irrelevant, the title reserved for the final pick of the draft? (If you get this right, you'll get a special prize, but if there's a tie between entries, the pick closest to last will break the tie.) Remember, if one of the teams above trades down, then it's still the first Titans pick whether it's No. 20 overall or No. 200. Winner will get some Braves tickets, deal? (Last year friend of the show Quake of SportTalk fame won this contest and got some Braves-Phillies tickets if memory serves.)

Here are the early entries:

  • photo
    Alabama's Trent Richardson celebrates after the BCS National Championship college football game against LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama won 21-0. AP Photo/Dave Martin)

5-at-10 — Trent Richardson/Dre Kirkpatrick/Donta Hightower/Jeff Allen/Pittsburgh/Drew Butler

McPell — RIchardson/Kirkpatrick/Kendall Wright/Mitchell Schwartz/Denver/Jake Gdowski

LaughingBoy — Richardson/Kirkpatrick/Hightower/Bobbie Massie/Arizona/Randy Bullock

Fred — Morris Claiborne/Kirkpatrick/Hightower/Kelechi Osemele/Denver/Blair Walsh

(We have a few more but we're running short on time. We'll post them later this morning.)

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Defensive strength

We have covered almost all of the positions in this draft, and today we move to linebacker.

There is not a top-five elite player like Von Miller last year, but there are several good-to-great players that will go in the first round Thursday.

Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is a terrific player with Pro Bowl instincts and better than anticipated measurables. He'll likely be the first linebacker to go, and he could go in the top 10. We love Dont'a Hightower for a slew of reasons: First, he learned to play linebacker in Nick Saban's system; second, he learned to be a defensive leader in Nick Saban's system; third he's almost 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds and can make plays; and finally, we loved Hightower in the Police Academy movies, so there has to be some good karma there. (If Hightower falls to Pittsburgh at No. 24, the Steelers need to sprint their card to the commissioner.)

(Side note: Both of those guys are middle linebackers, and the premium on the versatile 4-3 end/3-4 outside linebacker makes the classification of a lot of guys difficult. You could make an argument that Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw and Chandler Jones may be linebackers, but we had them at defensive end Monday.)

Here's our top 10 linebackers, and there are some super-athletic guys (Zach Brown, Bruce Irvin) that can be had in the second and third rounds that have the tools to be solid-to-strong NFL players:

1) Luke Kuechly, Boston College

2) Dont'a Hightower, Alabama

3) Shea McClellin, Boise State

4) Lavonte David, Nebraska

5) Zach Brown, North Carolina

6) Bruce Irvin, West Virginia

7) Mychal Kenricks, Cal

8) Sean Spence, Miami

9) Nigel Bradham, FSU

10) Bobby Wagner, Utah State

————

  • photo
    Los Angeles Dodgers' Juan Uribe watches his two-run single against the Atlanta Braves during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Monday, April 23, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Dodgers thump Braves

We made a commitment to stay up and give you our view of the Braves-Dodgers games this week, since they are on the West Coast and starting (and ending) so late. (Side note: That's one of the reasons we're dragging a little bit this morning. Bear with us, we're starting to feel the mojo. Clear eyes, full coffee cup, can't lose.)

Slew of tidbits to report from last night's Braves game:

First, Freddie Freeman will be a gold glove winner in the very near future. Dude made an insane pick on a first-inning throw from Dan Uggla to complete a double play. The degree of difficulty on Freeman's dig was off the charts.

Second, it's early and the season is long and you have to trust it, but each of these teams looks like they could be around the top all year. The Dodgers have a better than you'd expect lineup and Matt Kemp...

Third, sweet buckets of Babe Ruth's backwash, Matt Kemp is slap killing it right now. Dude had two singles and a walk in three official at-bats and its hitting .460. Yes, .460. His only out was a scorched line drive that Martin Prado snagged at third.

Fourth, Jair Jurrjens is incredibly hittable. In fact, if the 5-at-10 was forced to risk life or limb on getting a hit against a big-league pitcher, the list goes: Jamie Moyer, Jair Jurrjens, RA Dickey. (And one more start like Monday for JJ — three innings, five runs, nine hits and ZERO strikeouts — and we may have to re-juggle the order.)

Fifth, we all giggled at the Braves signing 128-year-old Livan Hernandez, but Fredi G used him perfectly last night. Livan pitched four-plus innings in a game the Braves trailed 5-1 quickly. Sure he allowed two runs, but any measure the Braves take to take stress off the back end of the bullpen is a good measure, be it in the fourth inning or the seventh.

Finally, David Ross is the best backup catcher since Rube in Major League II. Dude hit a long homer and threw out two of three Dodgers that tried to steal a base. Ross has made three starts since April 11 and despite the rust, he's 5-for-11 with three RBIs in those three starts. Crazy.

That is all. (Oh yeah, the Braves lost 7-2. Talk about burying the lead. Wow, the TFP sports editor would flip if this was an actual story or something.)

————

This and that

— Our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown had a nice sit-down with Vols head football coach Derek Dooley. The first of many stories from their chat can be found here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/24/tennessee-vols-coach-derek-dooley-sees-upswing/. This quote from Dooley, who is 11-14 entering his third season in Knoxville, was particularly telling: "I think you look at the offensive line as sort of a microcosm of where we were and where we are. When I got here, they had a combined three starts, and now they have a combined 99 starts going into the season. That's going to give you a chance, a much better chance, to go out there and compete." There's a lot of truth in that. There's also a lot of truth in the fact that competing — with a blend of winning, too — better come this fall.

— OK, who's running the New Orleans Saints? Dr. Evil? This is re-gosh-dog-diculous. After getting thumped on the knuckles with the NFL's nuclear ruler after Bounty-Gate, the NFL will send it's version of Jack Bauer and the boys to the Big Easy to investigate stories that the Saints general manager Mickey Loomis could eavesdrop on opposing teams. Seriously? Here's the ESPN story on it http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/7846290/new-orleans-saints-mickey-loomis-eavesdrop-opposing-coaches-home-games. Loomis, of course will miss the first eight games of the 2012 season for his role in Bounty-Gate. Here's saying he probably should not make plans for returning for Game No. 9. The Saints denied the allegations, of course. All the Saints need now is a tank of sharks with lasers strapped to their heads. Here's saying that Loomis may go from NFL GM to WWE "manager" real soon. Maybe he can draw on the Dr. Evil line, and remember "Well it's true! It's true! You're semi-evil. You're quasi-evil. You're the margarine of evil. You're the Diet Coke of evil. Just one calorie, not evil enough."

— Arkansas hired John L. Smith for the next 10 months, paying the former Arkansas assistant $850,000 to leave Weber State and try to uncloak the drain left in Bobby Petrino's wake of 25-year-old volleyball players, motorcycle wrecks, cover-ups and potential sexual harassment suits. Good luck John T., and we need more famous people with middle initials. Hey, Craig T. Nelson was brilliant as "Coach," Tom T. Hall is a country music Hall of Famer, and we can't forget about Mr. T. Mr. T is the Babe Ruth of famous initials. He's Mr. T, who played B.A. Baracus on the A-Team. Duh.

————

Today's question

Watching the Yankees last night — Derek Jeter is a hitting machine, gang — the announcers talked about how there could very well be six Hall of Famers on this New York roster. Jeter and Mariano Rivera are no-brainers. A-Rod is in once the steroid hurdle is cleared. CC Sabathia and Robinson Cano look the part and are on track as long as they keep pace. And then there's Andruw Jones. Yes, that Andruw Jones, who has 422 homers, 152 steals and 10 gold gloves.

Let's play some Hall of Fame what ifs....

Andruw Jones?

Paul Pierce?

Terrell Owens?

Mark Martin?

Answer these four with a yeah or nay, and we'll re-up the list later today. And yes, this will be a regular endeavor.

Discuss.

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.
chas9 said...

Storyteller Tom T. Hall is a strong start to a great category. For the Mt. Rushmore, add George W. Bush, Richard M. Nixon, and World B Free. Some would argue for Harry S (not S.) Truman. JFK doesn't make it because he was called John Fitzgerald Kennedy more often than John F. Kennedy. In the honorific plus initial category, the Rushmore is Mr. T, Dr. J, Coach K, and (joint entry) Mr. & Mrs. C from Happy Days. Saved by the Bell's Mr. B and Mayberry's Aunt B are runners-up.

April 24, 2012 at 10:42 a.m.
lucky14bama said...

Hate to do it to you Greeson, but isn't it John L. Smith. And Andruw is absolutely in!! I still miss those diving in base hits he took away from folks on a nightly basis!!

April 24, 2012 at 12:22 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

I pity the fool that don't remember that Mr. T. also played Clubber Lang in Rocky III. Hey, it's a sports film and a great one at that.

"Eye of the tiger, Rocky. Eye of the tiger."

April 24, 2012 at 12:36 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Thanks. We didn't even mean to initiate an initial discussion. But you know us — we're game.

All of the ones you mentioned are great. GREAT.

Harry S and W have arguably the most famous middle initial.

JFK would be the full monogram winner of the category.

Mr. and Mrs. C would be the couples winner.

Our Rushmore: Mr. T, Dr. J (great call), F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest T. Bass (we went here over Aunt Bea because he's a NUT)

— 5-at-10

April 24, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
jgreeson said...

L14B —

No sweat, and you are spot on. It has been changed.

Our Hall of Fame ballot of those listed above:

Jones — yes

Pierce — yes

T.O. — maybe

Martin — no

JProctor —

Clubber Lang is on the short list of great movie villains. He, Johnny and the Corba Kai, Blaine and a few other great 80s villains are all-timers.

— 5-at-10

April 24, 2012 at 12:58 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You know how hard it is to get ready for work when you flip on the TV (avoiding all things Sportscenter) and you hear, before 10 a.m. ...

"First rule of fight club..."

What about World B. Free? Or John C. Reilly (even though he's an actor)? Does U.L. Washington count? Man this half 29 from Baldino's sure is tasty. Where was I?

as for the list -

50-50. His late career offensive slide does not help and there are few guys in the Hall because of their defense. As for the others, yes, yes and yes. How can you be the Celtics' all-time leading scorer and not be in the Hall?

April 24, 2012 at 1:02 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Jones better batter better in the time he has left. 500 homers and 2500 hits may not be the requirement, but making these numbers is essential to compensate for his .256 at the plate, lifetime.

April 24, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
deboman said...

Hall of fame voting is brutal for those on the fence. Jones- More than likely not, those MLB HOF voters are a bit fickle and he didn’t really linger in the upper echelon long enough and his numbers reflect that. Didn’t realize he was still on option in NY. Pierce- Yes, can’t pass Larry and not get in. Larry Legend was good and anyone that can supplant him is doing something exceptional. t.o. – one of those players that succeeded despite himself. And have to admit, I would REALLY want to hear where he goes with the speech.
Martin- probably not, but he’s probably got another 20 or so years of racin’ left so you never know.

And for an initial that seems to jump out at me, how about ole Buford T. Justice. Granted, fictional, but one helluva character.

For the Pick ‘em, Pick ‘em I’ll go…(in order listed above) T. Richardson, Cordy Glenn, D. Hightower, K. Zeitler, Packers, Emil Igwenagu

April 24, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

We can see Jones being 50-50.

As for Pierce, we have him in, but being the C's leading scorer is some what misleading. Pierce played in the shot-clock era and on some very average Boston teams that had to have some one score for them. Antoine Walker is a top five ppg guy for the C's from that same era.

No way on Mark Martin. No points title. No Daytona 500.

FE to the C —

One thing Andruw has in his corner is that he has never been linked to steroids (sausage links yes, especially in his Dodgers days, steroids not so much), so that 450-or-so homer total looks a lot better.

Was glad to hear Reece is starting to get some offers. The Eagles may have some real success slinging it around come August.

— 5-at-10

April 24, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Deboman —

Want to commend you on the Buford T. Justice suggestion. It's not often we ex post facto a Rushmore, but we'll sub F. Scott for Buford T.

Call us Southern — heck call us redneck. Whatever, but there's not way we're leaving off the Sheriff.

"We'll have a Diablo Sandwich and a Dr Pepper. To go."

"How about some hush puppies, Daddy?"

— 5-at-10

April 24, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang —

Next round of Hall of Fame names:

Brian Dawkins?

Pedro Martinez?

Pedro from Napolean Dynamite?

Dale Jr.?

Discuss.

— 5-at-10

April 24, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
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