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Maryland Hosts Villanova In Top 10 Showdown

Posted on 17 March 2012 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, MD. - The eight-ranked Maryland men’s lacrosse team plays host to a top 10 showdown when #10 Villanova comes to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium for a 1 p.m. start on March 17.

• Maryland (4-1, 1-0 ACC) is coming off of a 17-4 victory over Marist last Saturday that saw Terp goalie Niko Amato give up just two goals in 52:47 of work with 13 saves. Joe Cummings had a natural hat trick in the game’s first 3:21 to get the offense off to a fast start. Jay Carlson scored a career-best four goals for the Terrapins.

• For the season, the Terps are led offensively by Cummings, who has 14 points on a team-leading 10 goals along with four assists. Close behind is junior All-America midfielder John Haus with 13 points on seven goals and a team-best six assists. Defensively, Amato has stopped 63.3 percent of the shots put on goal by opponents and has a 6.03 goals-against average. Junior long pole Jesse Bernhardt leads the team with 11 caused turnovers and is tied for the team lead with 21 groundballs.

• The Wildcats are 4-2 on the year after dropping a 14-8 decision to No. 15 Princeton on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Villanova is experienced at the offensive end of the field with two seniors and two juniors among its top four goal-scorers. Junior attackman Jack Rice leads the team with 14 goals, while junior attackman Will Casertano is the team-leader in points with 20 on eight goals and 12 assists. Senior Dan Gutierrez has played every minute in cage for the Wildcats and has a 49.2 save percentage and a 10.32 goals-against average.

The Count Down
10 … Since 2002 Maryland has won 86 of the 93 games in which the Terps have scored 10 or more goals for a .925 winning percentage.
9 … Maryland is 103-23 in games since 2002 when it allows nine goals or less, for an .817 winning percentage.
8 … The Terps are eighth in the nation in scoring offense this season with 12.4 goals per game.
7 … Maryland has failed on just seven clears so far in 2012 (92/99, .929)
6 … This is just the sixth-ever meeting between the Terps and the Wildcats.
5 … Maryland is ranked fifth in the nation is scoring defense, man-up offense and caused turnovers per game.
4 … Jay Carlson had his first career four-goal game vs. Marist.
3 … Niko Amato is third in the NCAA with a .633 save percentage.
2 … Jesse Bernhardt now has two career two-assist games after tallying two assists vs. Marist.
1 … Three Terps - Joe LoCascio, Charlie Raffa and David Solomon - scored their first career goals vs. Marist.

Coaching Match-Up
• John Tillman is in his fifth season as a head coach, and second with the Terps, with a 37-25 career record for a 59.7 winning percentage. Tillman is 17-6 (.739) as Maryland’s head coach. He had a 20-19 record in three seasons as the head coach at Harvard.

• Michael Corrado is in his sixth season season as a head coach, all at Villanova, and is 48-35 (.578).


Series History vs. Villanova
• Maryland is 5-0 in the all-time series with Villanova. This will be the first-ever meeting between the Terps and the Wildcats since 1998. Maryland and Villanova played each season from 1994-98.

• The 1998 meeting was the season-opener and the Terps came away with a 18-5 victory. Four Maryland players finished with three points apiece, led by Kevin Pasqualina’s first career hat trick. Kevin Healy played the first 47 minutes in cage for the Terps and finished with six saves.

Going Purple
· Once again this season, the Terps will be wearing purple “MY” stickers, to show their support for the fight against pancreatic cancer, which touched everyone in the Maryland lacrosse family last season with the passing of Maria Young on April 17.

· This past fall the Terps, Maryland alums and family and friends came together for the inaugural Forever Young Walk/Run for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness. More on Ms. Young and her amazing story can be found here: Forever Young.

· If you’re interested in more information about the Lustgarten Foundation, including how to make a donation, click here to visit the foundation’s website. You can also get more information on pancreatic cancer at CurePC.org.

In case you’re wondering here are some facts about pancreatic cancer from the American Cancer Society:
· More than 43,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer present each year
· There are more than 36,000 deaths from pancreatic cancer each year
· The lifetime risk of having pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 71.
· The risk is about the same for both men and women.


Going Gray
· Maryland players will also be wearing gray stickers with the number 42 in honor of Zack Wholley’s father, John, who passed away from brain cancer on August 28, 2011.

· If you’re interested in more information, please visit the National Brain Tumor Society website.

In case you’re wondering here are some facts about brain and spinal cord tumors from the American Cancer Society:
· About 22,910 malignant tumors of the brain or spinal cord (12,630 in males and 10,280 in females) will be diagnosed. These numbers would likely be much higher if benign tumors were also included.
· About 13,700 people (7,720 males and 5,980 females) will die from these tumors.
· Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is about one in 150 for a man and one in 185 for a woman.


Get To 10 And Win
• One axiom of lacrosse is that if you score 10 goals or more your chances of winning are pretty good. Well, a look at the results since 2002 shows that when Maryland scores 10 or more goals there’s not just a pretty good chance the Terrapins will win; it’s an almost certainty. Since 2002 Maryland has won 86 of the 93 games in which the Terps have scored 10 or more goals for a .925 winning percentage.

· The Terps scored 11 vs. Johns Hopkins on April 16, 2011, but the Blue Jays won the game in overtime, 12-11. On April 3 of last season the Terps lost to No. 1 Virginia by a final of 11-10, giving Maryland its only loss when scoring 10 or more goals in 2010. In 2009 the Terps lost to Georgetown, 13-10 on Feb. 21 and lost again when scoring 10 in the ACC Semifinals in a 16-10 defeat at North Carolina. Prior to that, Maryland had not lost when scoring 10 or more goals since dropping an 11-10 decision to Virginia in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C. The Terrapins got to 10 goals in the 100th game against Johns Hopkins, but the Blue Jays took the game 14-10. Virginia is the only team to beat the Terps twice when allowing 10 or more goals. The Wahoos did it first in 2002 with another 11-10 decision..

Holding Opponents To Single-Digits
• The Terps have been extremely impressive (winning 92.5 percent of its games since 2002) when it scores 10 or more goals, they have been nearly as impressive when holding opponents to less than 10 goals during that span.

• Since 2002 Maryland is 103-23 in games, for a .817 winning percentage, when it has held opponents under 10 goals. The Terps have played 167 total games since 2002. Maryland has held opponents to nine goals or less 75.4 percent of the time.


Youth Is Served
• Maryland started two sophomores (Michael Ehrhardt and Brian Cooper) and a freshman (Goran Murray) at close defense in the 2012 season-opening win over Hartford. The last time Maryland’s defense had two sophomore and one freshman starting was 2005 when sophomores Steve Whittenberg and Ray Megill started alongside freshman Joe Cinosky. The first game that group started together was April 23, 2005 at Fairfield (a 9-6 Terrapin win).

• Goran Murray became the first Maryland freshman to start at close defense in a season opener since 2008 when Max Schmidt started in an 11-6 win at Georgetown.


Face-Off Firsts
• Junior Curtis Holmes’ 19-of-20 (.950) performance facing-off vs. Hartford in the 2012 season opener is just the fifth time since 2000 that a Maryland face-off man has won at least 90% of his draws with at least 10 attempts.

• Holmes joins Andy Claxton and Brian Haggerty as the only Terps with multiple games of 19 or more face-off wins. Claxton did it three times (27 at Towson in 1991, 21 vs. Duke in 1991 and 19 at Brown in 1991), while Haggerty did it twice (20 vs. Butler in 1998 and 19 vs. Virginia in 1998). Holmes had 20 wins vs. Georgetown last season to go along with his 19 vs. the Hawks, which makes him the only Terp to win 19 or more face-offs in different seasons.

• The last 90% performance was in 2008 when Bryn Holmes, Curtis’ older brother, won 9-of-10 face-offs at Mount St. Mary’s.

• The last time a Terp faced-off with a winning percentage above 90% was on March 21, 2006 when David Tamberrino won 12-of-13 in a 14-2 win over Dartmouth.

Best Face-Off Performances Since 2000
Curtis Holmes - 19/20 (.950) vs. Hartford 2/18/12
Brian Carroll - 12/13 (.923) at Delaware 3/17/01
Davin Tamberrino – 12/13 (.923) vs. Dartmouth 3/21/06
Jeremy Pastula - 11/12 (.917) at Towson 3/8/03
Bryn Holmes - 9/10 (.900) at Mount St. Mary’s 2/26/08
Bryn Holmes - 12/14 (.857) vs. Presbyterian 2/13/09
Brian Carroll - 11/13 (.846) vs. Mount St. Mary’s 2/26/02
Bryn Holmes - 11/13 (.846) vs. Air Force 2/14/09
Ryan Moran - 10/12 (.833) vs. Bucknell 3/11/03
Will Dalton - 18/22 (.818) vs. Vermont 2/20/07
Curtis Holmes - 17/21 (.810) vs. Detroit Mercy 2/19/11


First-Time Opponents
• Maryland has played 78 different opponents in its 87 seasons. The 2012 season added Hartford (a 12-6 win on 2/18) and will add Marist (3/10) to that list. In the Terps’ 78 first-time meetings Maryland is 74-4 (.949) in those games. Adelphi (12-13, 1982), Army (0-3, 1923), Syracuse (3-10, 1927) and Yale (3-5, 1925) are the only schools to beat the Terps the first time the schools met on a lacrosse field.


Maryland In Season Openers
• Maryland has a 83-3-1 (.960) lifetime record in season openers dating back to the 1924 season. The Terps have won their last 19 openers and 26 of the last 27, with the only loss coming to Duke in 1993, when they fell to Duke 9-5 on March 6.

• After losing their 1925 opener to Yale, 5-3, the Terps went on to win 40 consecutive season openers from 1926 through 1967. The streak was broken when Maryland tied Princeton, 6-6, in the 1968 opener. Following the deadlock, Maryland went on to win its next 14 openers, giving the Terps a 54-0-1 record over a 57-year span (Maryland did not field a team in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II.)

19 Straight in Season Openers
• After beating Hartford to open the 2012 season the Terps have an 19-game winning streak in season openers. Five of those wins came against Villanova (1994-98) and the last nine over Denver, Mount St. Mary’s, Air Force, Hobart, Duke, Georgetown (four times), Bellarmine (twice), Presbyterian, Detroit Mercy and Hartford. Over the 19-year stretch, Maryland outscored its foes 267-99 (an average score of 14.1-5.2) in those games.

· The Terps have not allowed more than seven goals to any opponent in a season opener over the last 18 years. Maryland has not allowed an opponent to score 10 or more goals in a season opener since Syracuse beat the Terps, 16-13 on March 9, 1983.

Consecutive 10-Win Seasons
· The 11-9 victory over Duke on April 24, 2011 was the 10th of the year for Maryland, giving it nine straight seasons with double-digit wins. (Special thanks to Patrick Stevens of the D1Scourse.com).

· How does that stack up against the rest of the college lacrosse programs? Take a look at programs with at least five-straight 10-win seasons:
Maryland (9): 2011 (13-5), 2010 (12-4), 2009 (10-7), 2008 (10-6), 2007 (10-6), 2006 (12-5), 2005 (11-6), 2004 (13-3), 2003 (12-4)
Cornell (7): 2011 (12-3), 2010 (12-6), 2009 (11-3), 2008 (11-4), 2007 (15-1), 2006 (11-3), 2005 (11-3)
Virginia (7): 2011 (13-5), 2010 (16-2), 2009 (14-2), 2008 (14-4), 2007 (12-4), 2006 (17-0), 2005 (11-4)
Notre Dame (6): 2011 (11-3), 2010 (10-7), 2009 (15-1), 2008 (14-3), 2007 (11-4), 2006 (10-5)
Duke (5): 2011 (14-6), 2010 (16-4), 2009 (15-4), 2008 (18-2), 2007 ( 17-3)
Siena (5): 2011 (13-5), 2010 (12-5), 2009 (12-6), 2008 (10-6), 2007 (10-6)


The 700 Club
· Maryland’s 15-6 victory over Penn on April 14, 2009 was the program’s 700th victory in 84 seasons of varsity men’s lacrosse. The Terps join Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Navy and Army as the only programs with 700 or more Division I wins.

· Two things that make Maryland’s accomplishment all the more impressive is that the Terps reached the 700-win plateau in just their 84th season. Only Syracuse reached win No. 700 in as few seasons, but it took the Orange 53 more games than Maryland. In fact, Maryland needed only 940 games to reach 700 wins and only Johns Hopkins needed fewer games (932) to hit the historic number, but the Blue Jays did so in their 105th season.

Terps’ 87th Season Of Lacrosse
· The Terps boast an all-time record of 732-247-4 (.746), dating back to the first varsity team in 1924 (a team was not fielded in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II). Maryland has finished every one of its previous 85 seasons with a .500 or better record, including last season when the Terps went 10-6. The program reached the 700-win milestone with a 15-6 victory over Penn on April 14, 2009 at Ludwig Field.

· During the decade of the 2000s, Maryland went 111-49 for a .694 win percentage, making it the winningest decade in Terrapin lacrosse history. In the decade of the 1990s, Maryland posted a 95-47 record. The .669 winning percentage matched Maryland’s win percentage of the 1980s when the Terps went 83-41 and also compiled a .669 win percentage. So far, Maryland is 25-9 in the 2010′s for a .735 winning percentage.


A Family Affair
· Many school’s refer to their sports programs as families, but the Maryland men’s lacrosse program is truely a family affair. Since 2002, the Terps have had 13 sets of brothers, including three on this season’s roster, don the red and black together for at least one season.

Harry & Thomas Alford: 2004-05-06-07
Jake & Jesse Bernhardt: 2010-11-12
Justin & Owen Blye: 2009-10-11
Brian & Kevin Cooper: 2011-12
Billy & Bobby Gribbin: 2012
Brendan & Ian Healy: 2003-04-05
Bryn & Curtis Holmes: 2010
Bryn & Travis Holmes: 2007
Dan & Mike LaMonica: 2002
Chris & Willy Passavia: 2002-03
Brian & Michael Phipps: 2007
Max & Xander Ritz: 2005-06
Mark & Michael White: 2008-09-10-11

Three Taken In MLL Draft
· Three University of Maryland men’s lacrosse seniors were selected in the 2012 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Collegiate Draft. Midfielder Jake Bernhardt was the highest pick, being selected with the 12th overall selection by the Hamilton Nationals. Midfielder/attackman Joe Cummings was the next Terp taken, going 17th overall to the Rochester Rattlers (his rights have since been traded to the Chesapeake Bayhawks). Midfielder Drew Snider went 45th overall by the Bayhawks.


2012 Team Captains
· Five players have been named team captains for the 2012 season. The quintet, which was selected by a combination of team vote and coaches’ input, consists of seniors Jake Bernhardt, Joe Cummings and Drew Snider and juniors Jesse Bernhardt and Owen Blye. Blye and Jesse Bernhardt are the first pair of juniors to be named team captains since Bob Ott and Randy Ratliff were among four captains in 1978.

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Quick Ravens draft thoughts

Posted on 26 February 2012 by John West

As I have watched several days of NFL Combine, I had to lift my head up because my wife has turned on the Oscars Red Carpet Live Crap. I thought “What a perfect opportunity to write some thoughts about the Draft and the Ravens”. So here we go.

The first thing you do when reviewing the Ravens as a team going into the draft is to look at their roster and listen, actually listen, to Ozzie. With 2 months to go before the draft, we have entered “Everybody is Lying” season. But for now I will take Ozzie at his word.

We have our QB for next year and many years to come. End the Peyton Manning question here in Baltimore. Joe Flacco is our QB and that is that. AND we are damn lucky to have him.

Ray Rice is about to have the franchise tag placed on him and that will translate into a long term deal. I am looking forward to the next 5 to 8 years of these two leading the Ravens. With Ricky Williams retiring, the Ravens might address the backup running back position in the draft, but I don’t it. Ozzie just said he is willing to let rookie Anthony Allen have the chance to earn the backup spot. And don’t forget it wasn’t until right before camp last year before the Ravens signed Ricky to be the back up and I would not be surprised if the Ravens didn’t wait until right before camp begins. My guess is the Ravens might give Clinton Portis a shot. Just a guess.

The TE position is one where I don’t think the Ravens will address at all in the draft.

The WR position is a much discussed draft need, and one I simply do not agree with. The Baltimore Ravens have NEVER had a top 2 receiver core better than they do now with veteran “Q” and rookie speedster Torrey Smith. I love these 2 as the Ravens top 2 receivers. If the Ravens want to draft a big, tall WR in the later rounds to compete with Laquan Williams and Tanden Doss, than great. However I don’t want the Ravens to reach for a WR, and I doubt Ozzie will do that. So I think the Ravens might draft a WR late in the draft. Also, I would not be shocked if they didn’t draft any WR and maybe sign a veteran late in the process. In fact, I would not be opposed to the Ravens bringing in Randy Moss to see if he can earn a spot on this roster.

The big offensive need that can and should be addressed in this draft is the offensive line. The Ravens have Marshal Yanda locked up for many years. He has played RT and RG. Those has been some discussion about moving him to LG if(I mean when) Ben Grubbs leave via free agency. I like it. Michael Oher is a real good tackle and he appears to have found a home on the right side of the line. I suggest the Ravens let him stay there. Bryant McKinnie was signed late and came in and did a fabulous job as the LT last year. I think he has at least 1 really good year left in him. The Ravens drafted a massive kid a couple of years ago named Ramon Harewood to play tackle. He has spent 2 years on the injured list, but I think that if he is fully healed then he can easily back up both tackle positions next year and may even develop into a starter. The news broke over the weekend that center Matt Birk does not want to retire. That’s great but Matt has all his best years behind him. I think the Ravens inability to get critical short yardage gains all year long can be directly linked to the subtle and continual downgraded play of Matt Birk. I love Matt, but his best years were yesterday. The Ravens also have rookie Jah Reid coming back for his second season. He was drafted as a RT but there has been a lot of discussion about him playing LG.

Now we have some problems. Ben Grubbs is probably leaving, backup veteran Andre Gurode was just on a one year contract. And again Matt Birk is no answer as the starting center. Fortunately the interior offensive line position is the single deepest position in this year’s draft. I would not be surprised if the Ravens draft 2 interior linemen and maybe even with their first pick, number 29 overall. If they did that it would have to be for Wisconsin center Peter Konz. Peter is a 10 year starting center in the NFL waiting to find a home. The word on Peter Konz is that he “plays like a Raven”. We will NEVER go wrong making selections like this.

I think the Ravens will go another direction with their first pick and will have to tap into this drafts depth and take several interior linemen later in the draft. I like Mike Brewster from Ohio State, David Molk from Michigan, Lucas Nix and Chris Jacabson from Pitt, Ben Jones from Georgia, Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin and William Vlachos from Alabama. This kind of draft strategy has been employed by Ozzie for a long time and I expect nothing different this year.

As the draft process moves ahead I will be posting a lot of updates as I love this part of the year.

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Harbaugh talks Ed Reed and 2012 with Glenn & Nestor in Indy

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Harbaugh talks Ed Reed and 2012 with Glenn & Nestor in Indy

Posted on 24 February 2012 by WNSTV

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Terps Williams: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

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Terps Williams: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Posted on 03 May 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

As the lingering excitement caused by the Terps spring football game last weekend and the beginning of the Randy Edsall era now dissipates temporarily, Terps fans can look ahead to this weekend, specifically May 8th for an indication of what’s to come for the basketball program. That’s because this Sunday, is the last day that college basketball players who have declared for the NBA draft but not hired agents can withdraw their names and return to college basketball for another season. The NBA actually grants players until June 13th to make the decision, but the NCAA will only recognize the eligibility of the players who withdraw before this Sunday’s deadline.

If I had to bet, guess or gauge from the rumors that have surrounded the situation since Jordan Williams elected to throw his own name into the proverbial ring of the NBA draft, I’d say that Williams has played his last game as a Terp. By Sunday we’ll all know for sure.

 

I’ve been tough on Williams draft prospects while remaining high on his potential contributions at the college level going forward. At the college level he’s a gifted and strong post presence with soft hands and an uncanny ability to get position for rebounds and to finish at the rim. As a pro, he’s undersized with questionable strength. His range is limited, with few if any consistent back to the basket weapons, his potential in a heavy pick and roll offense is limited by his inability to shoot from outside or to make opportunities for himself off the dribble. Although his hands are soft, I don’t think they’re big, as Williams rarely controls the ball one handed and rarely finishes strong. The lay-up opportunities available to Williams at the college level will be few and far between in the pros, he’ll have to dunk more to be a finisher at the next level. Significant minutes in an 82-game schedule would likely thin Williams’ frame out in a hurry adding to concerns about his strength and his ability to maintain it. At the end of the day, he’ll have his work cut out for him in trying to convince NBA execs that he’s worth a spot on their roster much less in their rotation.

 

All of that said however, most of those things are unlikely to change anytime soon under any circumstances and especially while Williams is cast as an unnatural 5 in an under stocked Terps frontcourt. And while the timing given the impending lockout may seem less than ideal for most, that may be what makes it ideal for Williams to jump now. If all or most of the bantered about prospects elect to remain in college, as many have already decided to do, then as a result you’d have to believe that Williams best chance at getting drafted highly (or at all) would be now, while the getting is good. That would be even truer if labor peace projects to change the minds of most of those who stay next year. In simple terms this year’s draft is as weak as the draft projects to be for the next few years, while next year’s draft could already be shaping up as one of the strongest.

 

If Williams ultimately projects to be a Lonnie Baxter type, he’ll make some money and likely have a more storied European career than he will in the NBA anyway…and there’s nothing wrong with that. If he too is already resigned to that reality then a chance to sneak into the draft and relevance, along with the chance to begin developing as a pro and as a natural 4, in that role, as a 4 in the pros…somewhere, makes sense now for seemingly every reason. If so, then the decision will be an easy one, although none too easy on fans of the Terps.

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Pining for Lawrence Phillips…15 Years Later

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Pining for Lawrence Phillips…15 Years Later

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

As the Orioles look to pile onto the Red Sox and attempt to complete a 3-game sweep on Thursday, I had a funny and half joking conversation on one of the local message boards yesterday about the fair-weather nature of Red Sox fans and their inability to fill Camden Yards even halfway this week. While there are plenty of good reasons to explain the less than stellar turnout and a certain amount of onus on Orioles’ fans for the attendance woes, there’s no denying that Boston fans can be a fickle bunch.

I was reminded of the way that their fans acted in 2004 during that now storied ALCS comeback. I remembered the way that they booed Johnny Damon and David Ortiz and others, of how they chanted for “Po-key” Reese when Mark Bellhorn came to the plate; and the signs at the ballpark “I Can’t Believe I Fell For This Again” and worse. While it felt like the players almost deserved to win at that point (and as the Red Sox were still seen as basically harmless) I was always quietly disappointed that they never proclaimed their disappointment in the dissidents among their fans.

 

In fairness all fan bases have their share of irrational, knee-jerk reactors, the Red Sox just seem to have more of them. Either way, it’s doubtful you’d find many (or any for that matter) in their fan base now that would own up to trashing the club during their most storied run. Likewise there were plenty of O’s fans, once upon a time, clamoring for Eddie Murray to be shown the door, yet they too are near impossible to find these days.

 

So in the interest of full disclosure, and after an extremely roundabout lead in to get there, I have an NFL draft related confession to make. When the Ravens endeavored into their first draft ever, with so much still uncertain about the makeup of the team, and long before the evolution of a phrase like “In Oz We Trust”, I was amongst those disappointed when the team passed on Lawrence Phillips. I wasn’t alone though. Although it’d be tough to find evidence of it today, fans and experts alike took to criticizing the Ravens for passing on the flashy running back for the much safer yet less glamorous Jon Ogden.

 

With that draft and 14 more in the books and the benefit of hindsight, it may be time to admit as JO prepares his Hall of Fame speech and Lawrence Phillips prepares his prison bunk, that I may have been Wr-r-r-r…

 

Whether or not the Ravens were ever tempted to take Phillips is anyone’s guess. At the time it was widely accepted that the team couldn’t afford any more bad publicity in the aftermath of their controversial move from Cleveland. Whatever the logic behind their picks ultimately was, the end result set the tone for the franchise for more than a decade to come; taking the safer route landed the Ravens sure fire Hall of Famers with their two first round picks, and one of the greatest punt returners arguably of all time too…and DeRon Jenkins.

 

Given the Ravens results in the last 2 drafts, one might surmise that for very different reasons, they’ll be looking to go the safe route again, especially without the ability to keep tabs on guys if the lockout continues. If they find themselves looking at Jimmy Smith still on the board at 26, that decision will likely get a lot tougher.

 

At 26, the pick that netted Ray Lewis in that ’96 draft, the Ravens might feel pretty good about their synergy at least. And since the league announced on Wednesday that Peter Boulware would be on hand on Friday to present the Ravens second round pick, coincidentally #58 overall (Boulware’s jersey #) the energy about this draft just feels good for the Ravens.

 

No matter how high fans hopes may be for this 2011 draft however, it seems that 1996 was a once in a lifetime scenario. The bar will have to be set somewhere below that. How about just one sure fire Hall of Famer?

 

And maybe a shutdown corner…

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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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RESULTS OF THE 2011 WWE DRAFT

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Shawn Credle

UPDATE – Results of the 2011 WWE Draft:

1. JOHN CENA TO SMACKDOWN: This selection as the first pick of the Draft shocked everyone, as many thought that if this were to happen, it would have been the last pick of the night. Turns out that everyone was right (more to come later).

2. REY MYSTERIO TO RAW: WWE decided to try the Mysterio/RAW marriage once again. The first time they tried in 2008, it didn’t go very well. The Hispanic audience loved SmackDown, and loved watching Rey Mysterio on it. WWE just signed a new Hispanic Superstar that they see will take the place of Mysterio. Because of that, what happens later in the draft is in direct response to this.

3. RANDY ORTON TO SMACKDOWN: With Edge retiring, it was expected that either John Cena or Randy Orton was going to SmackDown. But not both. At this point in the draft, that is exactly what happened. SmackDown has never been considered as the dominate brand. With Orton and Cena on SmackDown, it suddenly became just that. However, that wouldn’t last long.

4. MARK HENRY TO SMACKDOWN: Henry has been basically non-existent on Raw. A move to SmackDown was needed for Henry. In years past, SmackDown has provided Henry a chance to shine, and even main event on occasion. With this trade, and heel turn (which occurred during the main event of Raw Monday night), Henry will get another chance to shine.

5. SIN CARA TO SMACKDOWN: As stated above, the Hispanic audience loves SmackDown. Now, SmackDown has the biggest Superstar from Mexico. The move will also give the production staff a better way to showcase Sin Cara. The Mexican Superstar is still not comfortable in a WWE ring. The production crew can now edit any mistakes made until Sin Cara is able to perform flawlessly in that ring.

6. BIG SHOW TO RAW: Very interesting pick here as one-half of the WWE Tag Team Champions has been drafted. Will that mean that the other half (Kane) will be drafted in the Supplemental Draft as well? And, if not, what is the status of the WWE Tag Team Championship? Right now, the Tag Champs can appear on both brands. But, if the lineup stays the same, once Kane & The Big Show lose the titles, they will split as team.

7. ALBERTO DEL RIO TO RAW: SmackDown’s #1 Bad Guy is on Raw. And that’s bad news for him, as he will get lost in the “heel” shuffle, with CM Punk and WWE Champion The Miz already there. Maybe the Supplemental Draft will send one of these three to SmackDown.

8. JOHN CENA TO RAW: For the first time, a Superstar has been drafted twice. As a member of the SmackDown roster, Cena was eligible to be drafted back to Raw. However, with it never happening before, the expectation was that someone else would get drafted. That didn’t happen here. This move has left fans wondering why did they waste two picks on Cena in the first place. In 2004, Triple H was drafted to SmackDown. He was traded back for Booker T and The Dudley Boyz. The WWE Creative staff could have done the same scenario here, and it would have come off better than having Cena being drafted, only to return two hours later.

Christian stands to benefit the most here, as his opponent, Alberto Del Rio, was drafted to Raw. With no one from the WWE Title match (Miz, Cena, and Morrison) drafted to SmackDown, The creative team may have shown its’ hand here. A big swerve could be planned too. But expect Christian to walk out of Extreme Rules this Sunday, with his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship (unless they actually do a trade, which will send Alberto Del Rio back to SmackDown, just like they did with HHH in 2004).

Overall, this draft, as usual, helped RAW. But, it also helped Randy Orton, as he will be the top guy on SmackDown. Don’t look for him to be the World Champion just yet.

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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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