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Part 2: What does WNST stand for & what journalistic value do we have in Baltimore in 2011 and beyond?

Posted on 03 May 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s impossible to address anything that has happened at WNST in our 13 years of existence without talking about the deterioration of the Orioles, the orange fan base and the interest and passion surrounding baseball in our community. And conversely, what would we be – as a company or as a sports town – without the emergence and consistent excellence of the Baltimore Ravens?

We launched WNST-AM 1570 in the summer of 1998, when the Ravens were “the other team” in Baltimore. In our entire existence as an entity, the Orioles have yet to play a meaningful summer baseball game. Not one game!

To think that hasn’t done incredible damage to our community and my business would be to just not understand the premise of what we’ve always tried to do – create enthusiasm and support and interest and passion for Baltimore sports.

Our perceived “war” with the Orioles is legendary and we’re proud of everything we’ve ever said or done in regard to protesting 14 years of losing, insolence and lack of civic courtesy shown by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. And every time they continue to do stupid things as an organization – and they do them so shamelessly and publicly – we’re gonna call them out on it and give the Baltimore sports fans the truth. They have done nothing to warrant “patience” or “a hall pass” on anything they do given the sheer pettiness and mean-spiritedness they’ve invoked in so many ways in the community over the past decade and a half.

Just last week, they were welcoming Red Sox and Yankees fans into the Inner Harbor in a way that’s so obviously flawed that I can’t believe it can be cogently debated. Can you imagine the Ravens selling Roethlisberger and Ward jerseys in the Ravens gift shops? Can you imagine the Ravens giving Penguins playoff updates on the scoreboard during TV timeouts so the Steelers’ fans would feel at home?

The Orioles have been pandering to visiting fans for a full decade and now wonder why “real Orioles fans” wouldn’t rush back down there, pay a fortune to see the Red Sox and Yankees and “paint the Yard orange.”

But, again, to some homers and blind loyalists, we’re just “a little too hard on the Orioles.”

To be honest, the 14 years of losing and our insistence on telling the absolute truth about why they lose so much “has been a little hard on me.” But it beats the alternate in our minds, which our competitors are seemingly always happy to do: take a check from the team and look the other way.

It’s painful when any Baltimorean would think that I would ever want anything but prosperity for the Orioles, despite the damage this ownership has done to me and my family and my employees and partners with the consistent losing on the field and in the community with lost revenue for countless businesses around the metropolitan Baltimore area. There’s nothing that would make my life better than a truly competitive baseball team.

But, someone in this community has to be honest and hold local sports decision makers accountable in 2011 and if there’s anything I’ve really learned in 20 years of education in the local media and journalism is how incestuously corrupt it all is. The “partnerships” and money flowing back and forth and the same “media intimidation” President Obama spoke of on Saturday night at his annual press dinner in Washington, D.C. is enough to make me sick. And for the most part, it’s all controlled and profited from by mainly out-of-town conglomerates who have no more respect or stake in our community than that of their employees, who come to Baltimore from elsewhere and refer to our home as “your town.”

How much do I love the Orioles?

I’ve written a 19-chapter book about my love of baseball. Find anyone else in Baltimore who’s done that? Find anyone else in the media who has shed light on what’s happened here since 1997 and explained the tens of millions of dollars of civic damage the Orioles demise has cost the community – from beer to hotels, from restaurants at the Inner Harbor to the tax base lost when 3 million people per summer disappear from the downtown on summer nights?

And, honestly, if WNST is best known for defending the honor of Baltimore’s good name via sports and saying that 14 years of baseball awfulness

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Billick: Here’s my Mock for tonight’s NFL Draft

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Brian Billick

It is important to note, this is a mock draft suggesting the picks that I would make if I were the general manager of each team.  I took into consideration the team needs, scheme, medical and/or character concerns, etc…and coupled that with my best available board.

There are differing approaches that clubs utilizing prepare for and during the NFL Draft.  For the Colts, general manager Bill Polian has the final say.  In New England, its head coach Bill Belichick.  For Baltimore, Ozzie Newsome uses are more collective approach.

Because each approach has yielded excellent results, it is very difficult to argue that each style is any better than the next.  No matter who has the final say during the draft process, there is always one thing in common each and every year.  It never goes exactly as planned….

  1. Carolina: Patrick Peterson – He has been the best player on my board since before the combine and nothing has dissuaded me of that.  Carolina has a need at virtually every position, so why not start with the best player in the draft.
  2. Denver: Marcell Dareus – Dareus provides instant improvement for the second worst rush defense in the league.  They automatically improve the pass rush with the return of Elvis Dumerveil.
  3. Buffalo: Blaine Gabbert – He is a potential franchise quarterback that can learn from Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he won’t help them win right away.
  4. Cincinnati: A.J. Green – With Green, both Owens and Chad Johnson are expendable, and Green is a future star. Maybe this will be enough to convince Palmer to play, if not, they address the quarterback vacancy through free agency.
  5. Arizona: Von Miller – The Cardinals would covet Blaine Gabbert here, but with him off the board, they will immediately upgrade their pass rush with Von Miller off the edge.
  6. Cleveland: Julio Jones – Cleveland may have the worst receiving corps in the entire league, and Jones gives them an immediate upgrade.  Jones runs the best intermediate routes in the draft and will be a tough over the middle option for Colt McCoy.
  7. San Francisco: Prince Amukamara – With Nate Clements and the addition of Amukamara, the 49ers will have bookend press cover corners.
  8. Tennessee: Nick Fairley – If they question his work ethic, Fairley’s former DL coach from Auburn is right down the hall.  If Tracy Rocker gives the thumbs up, this will be the obvious pick.
  9. Dallas: Anthony Castonzo – Smith’s potential may have a higher ceiling, but Castonzo gives them a consistent presence from day one.
  10. Washington: Cam Newton – Newton gives them instant playmaking ability and will probably win them some games with his legs. Three years from now, they realize they have no consistency and are back to where they started.
  11. Houston: J.J. Watt – With Wade Phillips’ transition to the 34 defense, either Cam Jordan or Watt make sense here.  I give them the bigger, stronger Watt.
  12. Minnesota: Robert Quinn – He is the best pass rusher in the draft from the defensive end position and Minnesota’s scheme will allow him to play his natural position.  CB is also a need, but as a cover-2 team, they find value in the later rounds of the draft.
  13. Detroit: Tyron Smith – Whether its Smith or Castonzo, Detroit needs to protect its franchise quarterback.  Whoever Dallas leaves on the board will be the pick in Detroit.
  14. St. Louis: Aldon Smith – St. Louis would love to see Julio Jones drop to them, instead, they will upgrade their pass rush with Aldon Smith.  The Rams will now have to address the WR position in the second round.
  15. Miami: Mark Ingram – All three running backs in Miami are free agents, and Ingram is the best RB in the draft.  Interior OL is an option here, but I like the Heisman winner with this pick.
  16. Jacksonville: Ryan Kerrigan – Kerrigan is scheme diverse and Jacksonville has played both a 34 and 43 defense over the last two seasons.
  17. New England: Gabe Carimi – Carimi could start immediately at right tackle, but could also be kicked inside to guard.  New England loves this type of versatility along the offensive line.
  18. San Diego: Cameron Jordan – Jordan is the most experienced 5-tech in the draft.  This card gets turned in quickly.
  19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey – He can play guard immediately and provide the versatility to play center if needed.
  20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn – Bowers could be an option here, but his medical concerns are greater than that of Clayborn.
  21. Kansas City: Nate Solder – Kansas City could also go with a defensive lineman or a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali, but Solder gives them better value with this pick.
  22. Indianapolis: Derrek Sherrod – Sherrod has the best finesse game of all the tackles in this draft.  He will be protecting Manning’s blind-side for the remainder of his career.
  23. Philadelphia: Corey Liuget – The value of Liuget here outweighs the need along the offensive line.
  24. New Orleans: Da’Quan Bowers – How does New Orleans justify taking the medical gamble in Bowers?  The same way they did with Drew Brees when few other clubs were willing.
  25. Seattle: Mohammad Wilkerson – With free agency looming, Seattle will shore up its defensive line with the versatile Wilkerson.
  26. Baltimore: Jimmy Smith – Reminiscent of the Chris McCallister era in Baltimore, John Harbaugh will rely on his senior leadership in the locker room to help Smith transition as a professional.
  27. Atlanta: Justin Houston – The hometown kid will provide a pass rush opposite the aging John Abraham, and then he eventually replaces him.
  28. New England:  Cam Heyward– Trading back is an obvious option here, but if they stay in this position, Cam Heyward provides them with depth along the front line.
  29. Chicago: Danny Watkins – Before they look to replace Tommy Harris, Chicago needs to upgrade their offensive line.  To do so, they take the best available offensive lineman, no matter if he’s a guard or tackle, and that leaves them with Watkins.
  30. New York Jets: Phil Taylor – Rex Ryan loves space eating defensive tackles, and he will draft one in Phil Taylor.  Taylor replaces the aging and oft-injured Kris Jenkins.
  31. Pittsburgh: Aaron Williams – Williams will be a better safety in the NFL, but he will play nickel immediately in Pittsburgh and give them instant depth in the secondary and push for a starting role.
  32. Green Bay: Mikel LeShoure – Outside linebacker is a real possibility here, but I grade LeShoure higher than Akeem Ayers.  They finally get a stable backfield with a healthy Ryan Grant and the addition of LeShoure.

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Mallett Must Mature Mentally Both On and Off the Field

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Outside of Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett is the most intriguing quarterback in the draft.  His talent is obvious.  He has a huge arm, and the skill-set to make all the throws in the NFL.  As far as physically talent, outside of foot agility, he has all the tools to be successful at the next level.

Mallett will need to mature most on the mental side of the game.  For a professional athlete, especially a franchise quarterback, this mental maturation process is both off the field and on the field.  Off the field, his character has been dissected and his unwillingness to answer drug related questions at the NFL Combine only fueled the fire.  To me, this is awfully reminiscent of Ryan Leaf as he struggled to find his way in the NFL.  I hope that Mallett can mature and handle the media attention that goes along with being a professional quarterback, right now, i questions if he can.

On the field, his mental development needs to occur in the film room.  On tape, he missed blitzing schemes in which his lineman were out manned and he needed to throw the ball “hot”.  He will be counted on the check out of plays that are already set up to fail just by the pre-snap alignment of the defense.  He will need to read elaborate coverage schemes by NFL defenses, and make good decisions as Pro Bowl pass rushers are in his face.  In order to do all these things, he will need to spend hours and hours in film study and commit himself to nothing other than football season after season.  I am not sure he is mentally prepared for that right now.

Again, he has all the physical skills needed to be successful, and maybe is the most pro-ready quarterback just from a physical attributes perspective.  He played in a pro-style offense at Arkansas, and the throws he made as an amateur will translate very well at the next level.   I would like to see him develop lighter feet in the pocket and use his size like Ben Roethlisberger to make it difficult to bring him down in the pocket.

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Cam Newton is Truly Unique College Player, But…

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Just like last year’s draft could have been dubbed the “Tim Tebow Invitational”, the 2011 draft has similar buzz regarding Cam Newton.  There is absolutely without a doubt, no question about it, that Cam Newton is an extraordinary athlete and a truly unique college football player, but his skills haven’t translated well into the NFL game in recent history.

It is no secret that Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks have struggled to be successful at the next level, and I have a feeling that Newton will have those same struggles.  When you look at the history of the NFL, a quarterback with his skill-set has yet to win a Super Bowl championship.  Yes, I do think that he can bring immediate excitement and playmaking ability to a team, but in the long run, he will have to develop his pocket presence and look to make plays with his arm rather than his legs.  You can look at Vince Young as a recent example with the Tennessee Titans drafting him with the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.  At that time, general manager Floyd Reese was quoted: ““Last night at 11:35, I was on my knees praying … he will rewrite the position. This guy physically is such a combination of arms and legs”.  Well, Young hardly rewrote the quarterback position, and in fact, just 5 years later, he most likely won’t even be on the Titans roster.

In all fairness to Cam Newton, he has better throwing action than both Young and Tim Tebow and he is much more NFL ready than both prospects were in their respective draft years.  As I mentioned when analyzing Blaine Gabbert, the college spread offense makes it very difficult to estimate how ones games with translate into the NFL, and with Newton it is even more difficult.  He has only 292 passing attempts on his resume, and as one quarterback coach recently told me, only about 10% of throws in a spread offense are comparable to NFL style routes.  That means that we are asking a club to play this young man almost 50 million dollars based off game analysis of just 30 throws.

Finally, as has been discussed over and over, Newton’s off the field problems are a major red flag to me.  With football being the ultimate team sport, having a quarterback with a diva mentality, makes its very difficult for team cohesion.  He obviously proved he can win at Auburn, but the NFL is very different, full of former college superstars.  With his “icon and entertainer” comments, and his pre-draft media only workout, he will need to check his ego at the locker room door.

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Blaine Gabbert is Best QB in QB Needy Draft

Posted on 19 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is the best quarterback in an Alex Smith like draft.  He may not be a franchise quarterback from the very first start, but because of the lack of overall quarterback talent in the draft, and with free agency being delayed, teams may be forced into drafting Gabbert as the savior of their franchise.

Gabbert is an outstanding athlete that shows great leadership and intelligence on the field, but he is inconsistent in his mechanics and doesn’t throw an overly impressive deep ball.  I do like the fact that he can make plays with his legs and doesn’t have to have both feet set to get good zip on the ball, but in todays NFL with teams stretching the field vertically, having a better deep ball would definitely make him even more attractive.  He does have a slight hitch in his throwing motion that if removed, would allow for a much quicker release of the ball.

Coming from the spread offense, many times, a quarterback is only given a single read or, at the most, two routes to read before pulling it down and running.  This is true for Gabbert as well, so him being able to read the defense and go all the way through his route progressions and even dumping the ball off to a check down tight end or running back will be a great maturation in his game.  When compared to Cam Newton, who is also drawing attention as the first quarterback to be selected, Gabbert has a total of 933 passing attempts to evaluate on tape to Newton’s 292 (12 of them coming from his time at Florida in 2007 and 2008).  Having that bigger body of work, makes me more comfortable in determining how his game will translate to the NFL and deciding if he can make all the NFL style throws.

I have heard other comparing Gabbert to Matt Ryan, but I struggle to crown him franchise ready from day 1 like Matt Ryan was.  I think he can get there, but there will be much more of a transition period.  Specific to this year’s draft, I do think he is worthy of consideration for the first overall pick, but I think Carolina would be better off going with a defensive stalwart.  To me, Gabbert makes most sense at three overall to Buffalo or five to Arizona.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 18 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator Fighting Championships 42 (Saturday 9pm from Concho, OK live on MTV2); Arena Football: AFL Kansas City Command @ Chicago Rush (Friday 8pm from Chicago live on NFL Network); Soccer: MLS-New York Red Bulls @ DC United (Thursday 8pm from RFK Stadium live on ESPN2); Tennis: ATP Barcelona Open BancSabadell (Friday 6:30am, Saturday & Sunday 4pm from Barcelona on Tennis Channel); Golf: PGA Tour The Heritage (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Hilton Head, SC); Champions Tour Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (Friday 12:30pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 1pm live on CBS. All golf from Savannah, GA)

10. Rush (Friday 7:30pm 1st Mariner Arena); Coheed and Cambria (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live, Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Crack The Sky (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Rooney (Wednesday 7pm Bourbon Street); John Popper & The Duskray Troubadours (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head On Stage, Thursday 8:30pm State Theatre), Bret Michaels (Thursday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Michael McDonald (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Charlie Sheen (Tuesday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Stephen Kellogg (Friday 8:30pm Jammin’ Java-Vienna); Soulive (Saturday 9pm State Theatre); Local H (Sunday 8:30pm Rock & Roll Hotel), J Roddy Walston & The Business (Wednesday 8:30pm Rock & Roll Hotel); Saliva (Monday 7pm Jaxx); Gorillaz “The Fall” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I’m ABSOLUTELY done with the Charlie Sheen fascination. I’m done even with the morbid curiosity. Unless he’s donning a Cleveland Indians jersey and hurling fastballs, I’m simply not interested.

I AM interested however in a Charm City appearance by the holy trinity…

Love Blues Traveler? You’re a good American. I loved Blues Traveler myself and will absolutely admit that I’m all in on John Popper’s new project…

Want to hear something that TOTALLY kicks ass? Here are Soulive and Robert Randolph doing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”…

I’m not sure if anyone is still in the band, but I know Local H at least USED to be pretty awesome…

9. Glenn Clark’s Easter Plans (Sunday)

Here’s what I know. I DEMANDED Cadbury Cream Eggs Benedict from my girlfriend last year and she failed. It had better not happen again…


This is proof that God exists…I think.

8. Mortal Kombat available on Playstation3/XBox360 (Tuesday)

11 year old Glenn Clark is FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW.

If Streetfighter Turbo comes next, I might be in full blown panic mode.

While we’re on the subject of video games, how many folks do you know that are Grand Champions in NFL Blitz 2000?

The answer is at least one.


7. College Football: Navy Blue-Gold Spring Game (Friday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on CBS Sports)

I won’t be able to make it out to Annapolis Friday night, but I do have a couple of thoughts related to College Football.

1-Alabama fans have to be at least a LITTLE embarrassed by the Nick Saban statue that was unveiled in Tuscaloosa, right? Of course, the more embarrassing part is that I’m SURE this means Auburn is rushing to get a Gene Chizik statue erected too.

2-Cliff Tucker is trying is hand as a receiver for the Maryland football team now that the whole hoops thing is over, huh? Seems like a good option, but I feel as though maybe I would have gone with Competitive Cheer…


6. NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals-New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics (Game 2 Tuesday 7pm from Boston live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 7pm from New York live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 3:30pm from New York live on ABC); Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic (Game 2 Tuesday 7:30pm from Orlando live on NBA TV, Game 3 Friday 8pm from Atlanta live on ESPN2, Game 4 Sunday 7pm from Atlanta live on TNT); Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers (Game 3 Thursday 7pm from Indianapolis live on NBA TV, Game 4 Saturday 2:30pm from Indianapolis live on TNT); Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers (Game 3 Thursday 8pm from Philadelphia live on TNT, Game 4 Sunday 1pm from Philadelphia live on ABC); Western Conference Quarterfinals-Portland Trailblazers vs. Dallas Mavericks (Game 2 Tuesday 9:30pm from Dallas live on TNT, Game 3 Thursday 10:30 from Portland live on TNT, Game 4 Saturday 5pm from Portland live on TNT, Game 5 Monday from Dallas TBD); Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Game 2 Wednesday 8pm from Oklahoma City live on TNT, Game 3 Saturday 10pm from Denver live on ESPN, Game 4 Monday 10:30pm from Denver live on TNT); Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs (Game 2 Wednesday 8:30pm from San Antonio live on NBA TV, Game 3 Saturday 7:30pm from Memphis live on ESPN, Game 4 Monday from Memphis TBD); New Orleans Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Game 2 Wednesday 10:30pm from Los Angeles live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 9:30pm from New Orleans live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 9:30pm from New Orleans live on TNT)

Let’s be honest…NBA basketball is AWFUL in the regular season and just sorta okay in the playoffs.

But Dwyane Wade and Jalen Rose (and Kyle Korver) did some pretty impressive things over the weekend…

5. NHL Playoffs: Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers Game 4 (Wednesday 7pm from New York live on Comcast SportsNet & VERSUS), New York Rangers @ Washington Capitals Game 5 (Saturday 3pm from Verizon Center live on NBC), Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers Game 6 if necessary (Monday TBD from New York live on Comcast SportsNet)

I know there are a few folks in Baltimore who have gone to the dark side and are rooting for the hockey team down in the Nation’s Capital.

That’s their choice…I won’t judge them. Much. I MIGHT however buy them a new Washington Redskins shirt to wear this football season while we’re all donning purple at M&T Bank Stadium.

To those that are still on the fence, I encourage you to root for the Rangers. If you’re not familiar with Sean Avery, let me introduce you to a few young ladies who ARE familiar with Mr. Avery…

Hilary Rhoda


Elisha Cuthbert


Lake Bell


And “Stacy’s Mom” herself, Rachel Hunter


You seriously don’t think this guy is worth rooting for?!?!?

4. Charm City Heroes (Friday-Saturday Pikesville Hilton)

With no offense to Frank Robinson, Mike Curtis, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Roberto Alomar, Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Brian Roberts, Buck Showalter or anyone else scheduled to attend this event (holy hell that’s quite the list), it’s not complete.

I mean…seriously…how about our city’s greatest Olympic champion?


Could anything say “hero” more than that picture?!?!?

3. Ravens Pre-Draft Luncheon (Tuesday 12:45pm 1 Winning Drive, airing 5:30pm on AM1570 WNST), Brian Billick Live! Pre-NFL Draft Show (Tuesday 7pm Mother’s Federal Hill)

I guess the excitement surrounding the NFL Draft has been a bit dampened because of the lockout. But that’s only because we haven’t spent time watching NFL DRAFT PORN!

I want all of them.

2. Boxing: Top Rank-Roberto Marroquin vs. Frankie Leal (Saturday 11pm from Thackerville, OK live on Fox Sports Net nationally, Comcast SportsNet locally); Joseph Agbeko vs. Abner Mares (Saturday 10:30pm from Los Angeles live on Showtime); Friday Night Fights: Breidis Prescott vs. Bayan Jargal (Friday 8pm from Uncasville, CT live on ESPN2)

Of course this makes the list because Ravens S Tom Zbikowski is scheduled to fight on the undercard of the Marroquin-Leal fight.

By the way, if you haven’t seen “The Fighter”, you might as well just admit you hate America. How AWESOME is this clip?

1. College Lacrosse: Navy @ Johns Hopkins (Saturday 8pm from Homewood Field live on ESPNU); Hobart @ Loyola (Saturday 12pm from Ridley Athletic Complex live on ABC2/ESPN3.com); Vermont @ UMBC (Saturday 1pm UMBC Stadium); ACC Lacrosse Tournament: Maryland vs. North Carolina (Friday 5pm from Durham, NC live on TheACC.com), ACC Championship Game (Sunday 3:30pm from Durham, NC live on Comcast SportsNet); CAC Tournament: St. Mary’s @ Stevenson (Wednesday 4pm Caves Athletic Complex), CAC Championship Game (Sunday 2pm from Caves Athletic Complex if Stevenson wins Wednesday)

I’ve posted this before I’m sure. I don’t care. Suck it, UNC!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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Alabama’s Mark Ingram is Best RB in 2011

Posted on 12 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Alabama’s Mark Ingram is considered by many as the top running back in this year’s draft.  He isn’t going to wow anyone with his size, speed, and physical skill-set, but he runs hard and with a purpose.  His running style is actually very comparable to Emmit Smith.

Ingram is a patient runner that shows great vision, staying behind his blockers before shooting through an opening.  He has nifty footwork and change of direction in tight spaces that make it very difficult to get a clean hit on him.  He uses jukes and cutback lanes well to set up blocks and creates running lanes down the field.  Ingram runs “angry” and stays behind his pads, ensuring that he falls forward for a couple more yards after contact.  His uses his low enter of gravity to run with a strong base and a powerful stride.  Even when watching him run the forty-yard dash, he runs with high knees and uses his big powerful thighs.  Throughout the rest of this month, he will be on a mission to prove to teams that he can protect the passer in the backfield, and also have the hands to check out in the flat and be a threat in the passing game as well.

While Mark Ingram may be the best overall running back prospect available in the draft, teams will be evaluating his against the “value” they could get in later rounds.  With passing systems becoming much more prevalent in the NFL, the value of the first round running back may becoming extinct.

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How will the Ravens Approach 2011 NFL Draft?

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Nobody does a better job assembling personnel than Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens.  Their record, particularly in the early rounds, is nearly perfect even though they are typically choosing in the bottom half of the first round.  Players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ben Grubbs and Todd Heap all were acquired in this familiar territory.  As is normal, they have the 26th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Outside of the fact that they are an aging team, they’re only a couple of areas that need to be addressed heading into the draft.  Haloti Ngata is the most dominant inside defensive linemen in the league and has already been franchised.  They also would like to keep unrestricted free agent defensive back Chris Carr and safety Dawan Landry.

Even with that, new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano would probably like to shore up his secondary and find an edge pass rusher to compliment Pro-Bowler Terrell Suggs.

Offensively, the Ravens biggest need is one that has typically been a bust in Ravens’ draft history.  Their top four outside receivers, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte Stallworth have all been acquired outside of the draft.

Those two rare first round busts were Travis Taylor, the tenth pick in 2000, and Mark Clayton, who was the 22nd pick in 2005. Third rounders Yamon Figurs and Devard Darling have not faired any better. The Ravens have been among the leagues worst at generating explosive plays and need to find some.

They might also consider drafting a center to eventually replace Matt Birk or should they lose fullback LeRon McClain to free agency, they may need to address that position in later rounds.

The Ravens get a scheduling break this season with their NFC Divisional foes coming out of the West, but do have to face the dangerous AFC South along with games versus the Jets and on the road against the Chargers.

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Luke Stocker is Well-Rounded TE Prospect

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Tennessee’s Luke Stocker reminds me of another former Volunteer, Jason Witten.  Witten may be a better athlete overall, but they have similar body types and playing styles.

Stocker isn’t ever going to run by a defender on the field, but he is an effective short yardage, move the chains type of receiver.  He has surprisingly soft hands and is a reliable target.  Similar to Witten, his routes aren’t always going to be crisp with a snap in and out of the break, but he will use his body positioning to get the defender on his back and box him out for the catch.  He is a smart player that knows when he is the “hot” receiver and needs to turn quickly for the ball, he also picks up stunts and blitz packages well in pass protection on the line of scrimmage.  Stocker will make his money securing the edge and being a sixth lineman, but in turn, will be a huge factor in the play action game.

Stocker is probably the best all around tight-end in this draft, but isn’t going to give you explosive plays like Kyle Rudolph.  He isn’t a down field threat in the passing game, but will be a consistent performer in all phases of the game.  I look for him to be the second tight end selected at the NFL draft – most likely in the late second or early third round.

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Kyle Rudolph is Best TE Draft Prospect

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Brian Billick

Despite Kyle Rudolph’s injury plagued 2010 season, he is still the best available tight end is this year’s draft.  At the NFL Combine, he measured in at 6’6 1/8 and 259 pounds, but those same injuries limited his participation the remainder of the week.

Rudolph was a three year starter at Notre Dame and holds the single-game receiving yards record, gaining 164 yards against Michigan.  On tape, he shows soft hands with a natural ability to come down with the catch on a consistent basis.  He goes up and battles for jump balls at their highest point and uses his 6’6 frame to shield out defenders.  He is an excellent route runner for his size and makes sharp cuts to create separation from man-to-man coverage.  Rudolph has the versatility to line up on the line of scrimmage, in the slot, or even in the backfield to create mismatch opportunities for the offense.  He will need to continue to work on his inline blocking technique to stay balanced and hold the point of attack, but I do like the effort and competitive nature he brings to the blocking aspect of his game.

Overall, Rudolph is the best tight end in a fairly decent year of talent.  He will give teams more of a well rounded option rather than a scheme specific tight end such as D.J. Williams or Lance Kendricks.  I compare the potential and playing style of Kyle Rudolph to John Carlson or Rob Gronkowski, both of which are the future of the tight end position.

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