published Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

5 at 10: Draft week, Braves rally, and a little best and worst

Don't forget Friday's mailbag; we have a couple of open spots. From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

Draft Week is here. 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:

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

Deboman — T. Richardson/Cordy Glenn/D. Hightower/K. Zeitler/Packers/Emil Igwenagu

Mrs. 5-at-10 — Richardson/Stephon Gilmore/Hightower/Osemele/Buffalo/Vontaze Burfict

scole023 — Richardson/Courtney Upshaw/Hightower/Massie/Green Bay/Lennon Creer

ThatIDoKnow — Claiborne/Gilmore/Jonathan Adams/Joe Looney/Chicago/Brandon Moseley

OTWatcher — Richardson/Kirkpatrick/Stephen Hill/Schwartz/Tennessee/Kellen Moore

Side notes: We had a mock first round in today's paper and a column on B.J. Coleman being on the cusp of reaching his dream. Plus, we'll be on SportTalk around 4 today with friends of the show Quake, Cowboy Joe and Dr. B (he's a doctor after all, and we need to ask him if it's Dr. B or Dr. B without the period like Dr Pepper). We feel pretty certain the draft may come up.

As we get closer to this year's draft, one of the things that makes this so appealing is the "reality TV" aspect of it (well, except this is real TV rather than scripted Reality TV, but you get the idea). There is real human emotion playing out in front us, and it's not anything any of these elite players can be prepared for. They play thousands of games and learn to deal with stress and pressure and the magnitude of the moment on the field, but in the draft room or watching on TV, the unknown and the uncertainty make anything possible. That said, the first two picks are such a certainty, that you can't even bet on them in Vegas. That ladies and gentleman is a lead-pipe lock.

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  • photo
    LSU's Morris Claiborne intercepts a pass meant for Tennessee's Da'Rick Rogers at Neyland Stadium in October.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Secondary concerns

The closer to the first round we get, the more teams' needs and players strengths and weaknesses become as familiar as their logos and their numbers. This is especially true for the teams looking to add a defensive back, a position that has increased in draft value in recent years because of the pass-first, pass-always nature of the (cue Ron Jaworksi) NATIONAL Football League.

We know that Tampa Bay would love to add Morris Clairborne. We know Carolina will be tempted by Stephon Gilmore at No. 9. We know Mark Barron is the top safety on the board and Dallas would love, Love, LOVE to land him at No. 14. We know these things. But there may be several teams making moves to find ways to move up to get some of the more talented defensive backs.

Consider this: We also know that finding elite secondary success rarely can be had at secondary levels, too. Look at the nine defensive backs (Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2011 draft, made it as a kick returner) that made the 2011 All-Pro team. Eric Weddle was the only one of the nine that was not a first-round pick and he was a second-round selection (37th overall in 2007).

Charles Woodson (No. 4 overall in 1998), Darrelle Revis (14th in 2007) Troy Polamalu (16th in 2003), Johnathan Joseph (24th in 2006), Carlos Rogers (9th in 2005), Ed Reed (24th in 2002) and Earl Thomas (14th in 2010). By our math, the nine defensive backs named to the 2011 All-Pro first- or second-team were picked on average with the 17th overall selection.

With that in mind here are our top 10 defensive backs entering this draft:

1) CB Morris Claiborne, LSU

2) S Mark Barron, Alabama

3) CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

4) CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

5) CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

6) S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

7) CB Trumaine Johnson, Montana

8) CB Brandon Boykin, Georgia

9) CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida

10) S Brandon Taylor, LSU

————

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones, left, passes third-base coach Brian Snitker after hitting a home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Braves rally and rebound

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. We're still with it.

Atlanta rewarded its followers back East on Tuesday with a 4-3 win capped with Martin Prado's two-out, two-strike game-winning triple to center in the top of the ninth. It was highlighted by Chipper Jones homering on his 40th birthday.

Couple of three things of note: The Braves continue to work counts — seeing 160 pitches Tuesday night; Tyler Pastornicky went 3-for-3, which is nice, and scored the game-winning run; Craig Kimbrel is super nasty, like Rosie O'Donnell in a bikini nasty, and struck out the side Tuesday for his sixth save. Kimbrel is 6-for-6 in save chances and has 12 strikeouts in seven innings.

It was a good night for Johnny Braves Fans.

It was also a good night to be Cory Gearrin, the former Rhea County High star who was recalled from the minors after the Braves demoted Jair Jurrjens late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. Gearrin is a useful bullpen piece.

Jurrjens, however, might be useful as a furniture mover right now. Maybe. He has gone from arguably deserving to be the NL starter in the All-Star game last July to run-maker. He can't get the cat out right now. His fastball's up, his curveball's hanging — in the show they're ripping him.

The question for Jurrjens is whether it's mental, physical or talent-related. In the sabermetrics culture of baseball today, we can remember reading something about Jurrjens we found interesting after he started last year so great. After beating Colorado on July 6, Jurrjens was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA. He was 1-3 with an ERA of 5.73 in his final seven starts of 2011 before shutting it down with a knee injury. The sabermetrics breakdown noted that Jurrjens fly ball-to-ground ball ratio was so startling high that despite his great record and ERA, that the stats suggested he was living on borrowed time and getting so many fly-ball outs would eventually turn into fly-ball hits and worse fly-ball home runs. (Yes, we know you're thinking, "Fly-ball home runs?" like there's ground-ball home runs. Just move along. Nothing to see here. Zip it Spy.)

Those stats appeared to be prophetic. He surrendered five homers in his 16 starts before the all-star break and he surrendered nine homers in his final seven starts of 2011 and five more in his four starts this year before being sent down.

It's tough to know whether it's new-fangled stats, confidence, lingering knee issues or even a metaphysical rationale that he and Dan Uggla can be good at the same time (think about it, Uggla was junk before July 5, and after that he was unstoppable; Jurrjens is the reverse of that). Even worse it's tougher to know if this thing with JJ is fixable.

————

This and that

— Friend of the show inuyasha23 was in attendance in Arlington last night for the Rangers-Yankees showdown and the coming out party for Yu Darvish. Here's a short version of his report "But as the saying goes, "you really had to be there!" Yu not only stepped up with 10 strikeouts in his debut against the Yankees, but two were against Jeter and A-Rod themselves. The one against Jeter during the top of the 7th had the entire stadium on their feet. ... One thing we "locals" down here got to watch was the post-game interview with Yu talking about the game. His arm was mega-wrapped. Also, fast fact: Tonight's game was the first shutout the Rangers had against the Yankees since 2000. Assuming Yu doesn't burn out due to the four man rotation, he's going to be such an asset during the season." That's good intel right there.

— Our SEC ace David Paschall sat through the entire 150-minute SEC teleconference Tuesday. You know why? Well, he's an SEC football junkie — he has a problem — and he did it for you, good reader. Get his takes on the chat here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/25/missouri-am-fans-pumped-for-sec-play/ and here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/apr/25/auburn-makes-progress-on-offensive-identity/. The latter of those stories leads with Auburn looking to sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier, and we'll toss it out there that we believe that kid is going to be good.

— Metta World Peace was suspended for seven games for his elbow that dropped James Harden on Sunday. Seems fair, we suppose. We're just really happy we decided to name the 5-at-10 tot after his grandfather. We were really close to going with Metta World Peace Greeson, but that would have caused some confusion, huh?

— Looks like the BCS folks are starting to shape their view of the four-team playoff system that seems destined to be a reality sooner rather than later. Reports from the meetings Tuesday between college football's power brokers have the plan with the semifinal games at neutral sites and being played closer to New Year's Day. Granted the details need polishing and there's no way it could go into effect until 2014, but it appears college football is so far down the playoff road there is no turning back. Seems time to toss out, "Be careful what you wish for," huh?

— Here are some crazy betting odds from friend of the show RJ Bell of pregame.com:

20 percent chance four QBs will be drafted in round one;

72 percent chance five or more Alabama players will be drafted in round one;

It's even money Miami will draft Ryan Tannehill No. 8 overall Thursday;

The over/under draft spot for Oklahoma State quarterback is around 39;

68 percent chance that Trent Richardson is the only running back drafted in the first round.

————

Today's question

We figure some of this will come up on SportTalk later today, but let's throw this out there for the group. Here's our 5-at-10 fill in the blank draft test, and remember, unlike the Wonderlic test there are no wrong answers (which would make Morris Claiborne smile since he got a less than stellar 4 out of 50 on the Wonderlic, the cognitive ability test knowledge test used at the combine).

Best draft pick?

Worst draft pick?

Best single draft for an NFL team?

Worst single draft for an NFL team?

Favorite draft memory?

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.
sportsfan said...

Hey Jay. I understand you might love the draft. If so, who are the top 3 Brady Quinn candidates that may sit for an embarrassingly extended period during the draft this year?

April 25, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Sportsfan —

Thanks for swinging by and feel free to drop by anytime — as they say in Animal House... "Don't cost nothing."

Great question.

Here are the names of the players that will reportedly attend this year's draft:

Mark Barron S Alabama

Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State

Michael Brockers DT Louisiana State

Morris Claiborne CB Louisiana State

Quinton Coples DE North Carolina

Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State

Coby Fleener TE Stanford

Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame

Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina

Cordy Glenn OL Georgia

Robert Griffin III QB Baylor

Dont’a Hightower LB Alabama

Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech

Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina

Matt Kalil T Southern California

Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama

Andrew Luck QB Stanford

Shea McClellin LB Boise State

Nick Perry DE Southern California

Dontari Poe DT Memphis

Rueben Randle WR Louisiana State

Trent Richardson RB Alabama

Devon Still DT Penn State

Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M

Courtney Upshaw LB Alabama

Kendall Wright WR Baylor

Of that group, Devon Still and Rueben Randle figure to be almost certain to need to book a room in NYC for Thursday night so they can come back for the second and third rounds on Friday.

As for the projected high-to-mid first-rounders that could start sliding and never look back, what happens if the Dolphins don't take Ryan Tannehill at No. 8. The Panthers (Cam Newton) are 9th, the Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick) are 10th. And if Seattle doesn't take him at No. 12 the free fall could be big.

Same for Michael Floyd, who likely is headed to Arizona, but if the Cards have a chance to take Riley Reiff Floyd could fall quickly.

There a few complete wildcards that could completely alter the path of this draft, too.

— 5-at-10

April 25, 2012 at 11:46 a.m.
chas9 said...

Happy Birthday to the second best Larry ever. What's wrong with JJ? And take back Freddie's Golden Glove.

April 25, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring,

I can only provide the highs and lows from Oakland...

Best draft pick? Bo Jackson

Worst draft pick? Jamarcus Russell, Todd Marinovvch

Worst single draft for an NFL team? Pick any Al Davis draft stocked with more athletes and speed hawks than players.

Favorite draft memory?

Drafting Russell, Getting rid of Russell

April 25, 2012 at 2:41 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Jay, I wanted to thank you for your comment about "Rosie O'Donnell in a bikini." My breakfast wasnt sitting too well, and it was nice to get it up. Pre-she-ate-cha.

NFL network has been going nuts on Top 10 countdowns that are draft related this week. They have had some pretty interesting ones that will pull you in. Their take on the best draft for any team had some thinkers. '65 Bears draft had Butkus and Gale Sayers in the same class. Two guys that are still described as the standard comparison points for greatest at their position. Then the '74 Steelers had four HOFer's in their class. Not too shabby.

Worst pick ever is a toss up. Ryan Leaf....Jamarcus Russell....equally awful. Mmmm....purple drank.

Best Pick? Patriots had to burn a sixth round pick for Brady. Not bad for what they have been getting out of him. Question. Why is his hair always so greasy? Is that a good thing? Do women like that these days? If I grow my hair out and shave twice a month will the super models come flocking?

April 25, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Who's on your sports Larry Mt. Rushmore: Holmes, Bird, Jones and ????

FE to the C —

Russell gets our vote for the single worst pick in draft history. Especially considering what was in the 2007 class, with a Hall of Fame WR (Calvin Johnson), T (Joe Thomas), RB (Adrian Peterson, before the injury), MLB (Patrick Willis) and CB (Darrelle Revis).

And spending a fourth-rounder on Bo may have been the best.

Mr. 962 —

Anything we can do to help the ball club. And if that made you toss your breakfast, it's officially the most emotional reaction Rosie has ever drawn from someone with a Y chromosome.

The 1974 Steelers has to be the best. Four HoFs in one class — and a group that anchored a four-time Super Bowl championship team — is through the roof. The 1991-92 Cowboys may have put the two best back-to-back drafts together.

While Brady may have been the best value ever, the Patriots got lucky. Of course, luck plays a huge role in the draft.

And dude, with or without the greasy hair, everyone knows the super models are flocking to you anyway.

— 5-at-10

April 25, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.
jgreeson said...

More contests entries:

CelticVol — Morris Claiborne/Stephon Gilmore/Fletcher Cox/Harrison Smith/Tampa Bay Bucs/Janzen Jackson

TFP's golf ace David Uchiyama — Claiborne/Dont'a Hightower/Shea McClennin/Devon Still/Buffalo/Blair Walsh

SportTalk's Quake (who demanded that we include is "Defending Champ") — Trent Richardson/Whitney Mercilus/Mike Adams/Vinny Curry/Pittsburgh Steelers (heart pick)/Dale Moss

WarEagle — Richardson/Poe/Hightower/Zeitler/Seattle/Neiko Thorpe

Believer — Richardson/Kirkpatrick/Jonathan Martin/TE from Clemson/St. Louis/Tim Benford

— 5-at-10

April 25, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Its good to see someone finally takes notice to tall gangly pale kids. Ladies, take note.

Also, nice call on Jurrjens getting rejuggled in the order yesterday. Dont know if we thought he would fall that far out, but you called it all the same.

So that leaves Jamie Moyer for you to risk life and limb to get a hit against. I heard a stat on the radio the other day that he had thrown to 8% of the hitters in MLB, not this years MLB rosters, the history of the league. Of course this was on Cowherd's show, and he openly talks about his drinking habits on the air, so keep that in mind. Plus 64% of all statistics are made up.

April 25, 2012 at 3:30 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

If that Moyer stat is true, it's FAN-tastic. Wow.

Thought of our fourth Larry of the Mt. Rushmore of Larrys:

Bird, Holmes, Jones and Munson. And that's a strong group of legends in one name. (We almost went with Lawrence "Larry" Taylor, but then we realized that no one called him Larry. Ever.)

— 5-at-10

April 25, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

Don't know about sports, but best Larry ever is Larry, brother of Moe and Curly. Second best is Chipper. Then Larry, brother of Daryl and Daryl. Fourth is Bird. Holmes doesn't make the cut. Nor does the cable guy.

April 25, 2012 at 4:24 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Mmmph mmmnhph mmmphhmmph.

OK, so I sound like Kenny from "South Park." But somebody bigger'n me tol' me to zip it. So I did.

I will now close the window. Will cut down on the air flow in here because it's ... you know where I'm going with this. And I probably won't watch a lot, or any, of the draft. In the vein of it is what is, they will draft whom they draft. And frankly, this year, I'm just not feeling the draft. The Falcons could use some O and D line help. The Patriots need Eli's Kryptonite. The Jags need ... well, the Jets got him. So I guess I'm covered.

April 25, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

J-E-T-S

So much funny stuff on this. Mel Kiper with the classic line "It's obvious to me right now that the Jets just don't understand what the draft is all about (Jeff Lageman, 89). One of the fans, "Everybody said if Marino was around at that time they'd take Marino, obviously the Jets know something the people up here don't" (Ken O'Brien, 83); Random fan: OHHHH NOOOOO! (Roger Vick?, 87); the whole audience, "We want Sapp! (Kyle Brady, 95). Plus Giants fans laughing it up throughout and completely demoralized Jets fans. The one with his head in his hands at the end sums up the franchise.

April 26, 2012 at 1:04 a.m.
shawntheweaver said...

I like reading your articles and to see your analysis about draft picks. Though I may not agree with you on many of your opinions, like your breakdown on some teams and players, I do appreciate the perspective. It takes many years of experience to be able to analyse the games so well.

Shawn - http://www.brandenberryamishfurniture.com/blog

May 15, 2012 at 11:44 p.m.
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