Thursday, July 14, 2016

Deflate Gate - The Case Against Tom Brady

The Case Against Tom Brady

Or, Why The Ideal Gas Law is a Crock
Mike Bara

Since January of 2015, shortly before Super Bowl 49, football fans have been dealing with something called “Deflategate,” the accusation that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew of and/or directed a scheme to deflate footballs used by the Patriots in NFL football games. Specifically, the game in question was the 2015 AFC Championship Game played in New England’s Gillette Stadium in January, 2015. After an investigation (The “Wells Report”) determined that it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” of a scheme by his equipment managers to deflate footballs below the 12.5 PSI minimum allowed by NFL rules, Brady was suspended without pay for the first 4 games of the 2015 NFL season. The Patriots were also fined $1 million dollars and docked two draft picks, including a highly valuable 1st round pick which would have been the 29th overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft. After a private meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that he would not oppose the penalties imposed by the commissioner. Brady’s appeal to the commissioner, Roger Goodell, was subsequently denied. The union, the NFL Players Association, then went to federal court where a judge with well-known union ties, Richard Berman, overturned the suspension on several legal technicalities. Among these was that Brady should have been specifically informed that illegally tampering with the equipment used in NFL football games was regarded as “cheating.” Berman’s decision was widely criticized by legal scholars as biased and legally baseless, and in late April, 2016 it was overturned on appeal by a 3-judge panel which agreed with the NFL that it had no legal basis in fact. That decision was upheld on appeal on July 12th, 2016. Neither of the court cases dealt with the evidence that Brady had knowingly engaged in a conspiracy to deflate the footballs, only with whether he had received a “fair hearing” from the commissioner. Brady and the NFLPA have stated they will appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court but as things stand his 4-game suspension has been reinstated and will be served the first four weeks of the 2016 NFL season.

Shortly after the story broke on the Sunday night after the 2015 AFCCG, Brady held a press conference commonly known as the “Pinocchio briefing” in which he seemed nervous and agitated but denied any wrongdoing in vague, leagal-esque terms. Asked directly if he was a cheater, Brady replied meekly, “I don’t believe so.” That is legalese for “yeah I did it but I don’t think you can catch me.”

After the press conference, ESPN’s Mark Brunnell, a former Pro Bowl quarterback, said flatly “I did not believe him.” Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Dan Marino also stated they did not find his denials credible, pointing out that NFL quarterbacks always know everything about their equipment, especially game balls, and can easily tell the difference in a ball deflated by even 1 PSI below the spec. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe concurred.

In order to understand the implications of a football icon like Tom Brady being accused of such an act, it is necessary to consider just what the impact of his actions were on the game itself. Brady engaging in a conspiracy to deflate footballs is at least on a par with Lance Armstrong’s blood doping and steroid use in the sport of endurance cycling. Deflated footballs create a significant competitive advantage for the team using them. This is especially true in cold weather games where Brady has excelled since the deflation scheme was implemented, which I argue was the 2007 season. Deflated footballs are easier to grip, throw and catch and much easier to hold on to, drastically reducing the risk of fumbling. Those that argue that even if Brady was part of the conspiracy, it was “no big deal” are simply wrong. It is a major advantage and almost certainly affected the outcome of many close games the Patriots played in the last 8 years. It is no different than if the first down chains used when the Patriots had the ball were only 9 yards long instead of 10. It adds up to a huge if not decisive edge over the course of a game, season and career.

It should also be noted, for the record, that the Patriots have a long history in the Bellichick/Kraft/Brady era of cheating. They were also fined and docked a 1st-round pick in 2008 for the Spygate scandal, and Belichick was officially fined $500,000 — the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's then-87-year history, and the maximum permitted under league rules. The Patriots were also fined $250,000. The Patriots were also reported to have secretly spied on the St. Louis Rams final walk through practice before Super Bowl XXXVI (36), and Rams QB and 2-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner has stated repeatedly that he believe the accusations to be true. So a deflation scheme such as the one alleged by the NFL would not at all be out of character for the Patriots.
In addition, proof that Brady tampered with equipment could create a legal nightmare for a host of reasons, the least of which is that bettors who lost money on games in which deflated footballs were used could potentially sue casinos, teams or the NFL itself over their losses. So to pretend that it’s no big deal is silly. If it’s no big deal, why doesn’t Brady just accept his suspension, continue his denials and move on?

UPDATE: Brady has now withdrawn his appeals and will serve his suspension for the first 4 weeks of the 2016 NFL. He has continued to deny wrong doing in vague, legal-esque terms.

Opening Statement
I will show in this essay that Tom Brady had the motive, means and opportunity to hatch the scheme he is accused of by the NFL. The evidence that he knew about and probably initiated a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the NFL spec of 12.5 PSI at least reaches the civil standard of “a preponderance of the evidence.” In fact, I also believe it goes well beyond the criminal standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Patriots’ fans of course have already proven that they have a different standard of “reasonable” than most human beings. I am not writing this to convince them. This essay is aimed at the unbiased reader, who I am confident will come to the same conclusions that I did from the beginning: Brady’s a cheater.

I will also not shy away from the so-called “science” arguments that the footballs simply deflated “naturally.” The longest (and first) section in this essay will deal with the application (or in this case, misapplication) of the so-called “Ideal Gas Law,” which I will show simply cannot account for the condition of the Patriots footballs that day.  I ask the reader to stay with me through that section, which will necessarily get a bit technical.
Finally, I will show that not only were the footballs for 2014 AFCCG tampered with, this scheme was most likely in use for more than 8-years, and may in fact have indirectly contributed to the Patriots 2011 Super Bowl XLVI (46) loss to the New York Giants.
So with that, let’s begin…

The Evidence

The case against Tom Brady will deal with 6 key points which indicate his guilt. These 6 lines of evidence are:

1.       Brady preferred deflated footballs

2.       Brady led the charge to let QBs “prep” their own game balls

3.       Brady’s performance drastically improved after getting access to the game balls

4.       Brady’s fumbles reduced drastically from his first 5 years in the NFL to the last 8 (after deflation)

5.       Tests show the “Ideal Gas Law” is not a factor in measurements.

6.       Brady destroyed evidence sought by NFL investigators.

Part 1 - The “Ideal Gas Law” Argument
(Note: This section includes excerpts from the “Deflategate” Wikipedia article)

Shortly after Brady was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Patriots coach Bill Bellicheck argued at a press conference that footballs could deflate naturally due to “physics.” He was obviously fed this information by the Patriots organization, as demonstrated by his fumbling answers when questioned about it. A few months later, Patriots owner Robert Kraft introduced something called the “Ideal Gas Law” during Brady’s appeal. In these court papers, economists under Kraft’s employ argued that the footballs used by the Patriots had deflated naturally due to temperature.
First, it’s important to understand exactly what the Ideal Gas “Law” is vs. what it is not. It is not a scientific "Law" of any kind, despite its name. According to Wikipedia, “The ideal gas law is the equation of state of a HYPOTHETICAL ideal gas. It is a good APPROXIMATION of the behavior of many gases under many conditions, although it has several LIMITATIONS.”
So far from being a scientific “Law,” as scientifically ignorant defenders of Brady like Mike Florio of Pro FootballTalk have repeatedly claimed, it is merely a hypothetical approximation of how certain “ideal gasses” (which the air in a football is NOT) MIGHT behave under “ideal” laboratory conditions (which a football stadium is not). But the misapplication of it in this case has led some people (mostly Patriots fans) to conclude that the Patriots footballs somehow deflated all by themselves in a balmy 52 degree football stadium. Let’s look at exactly what the arguments, measurements and a little common sense show us.

The first thing to understand is exactly how the measurements were taken and what they showed. It is not certain what the exact pressure was of the footballs set by referee Walt Anderson prior to the game, but it is well known that Brady and the Patriots preferred the ball inflated to the lower end of the spec at 12.5 PSI, and this was always accommodated by the officials working Patriots football games. There is no known preference expressed by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on football PSI. Given these facts and the recollections of referee Anderson, it is safe to assume that ALL of the Patriots footballs were inflated to 12.5 PSI. The Colts footballs were logically inflated to somewhere between 12.5 and 13 PSI. Following the distribution of the footballs to the two teams, video evidence showed Patriots equipment manager Jim McNally taking the approved and correctly inflated game balls into a locked bathroom for at least 90 seconds before taking them to the field of play. It has been well established that this is more than enough time to have stuck an air pump needle into all 12 of the Patriots footballs and deflate them below the 12.5 PSI minimum.

Former NFL official Mark Baltz later told Sports Illustrated that he had suspected McNally of tampering with footballs for years and had reported him to the NFL  “six or eight years ago,” for the behavior but as far as he knew, the NFL had never followed up on the investigation. Baltz said McNally would request the game footballs “way, way before” locker-room attendants were supposed to receive them.  “If he could get them 10 or 15 minutes before he was supposed to get them, instead of the usual two minutes before the game—and there were some crews that let him do that—he would do it,“ Baltz said. “I wouldn’t let him take them early, and I think he eventually figured that out because he stopped asking for a while. I probably did 10 or 15 games up there [in Foxboro] and those first few times, he’d always ask. I always thought it was very suspicious.”

After Brady was intercepted late in the first half of the game, the Colts complained to the game officials and the game balls were tested in the locker room at halftime.
Two gauges were used in taking the halftime measurements requested by the Colts. One was a calibrated “non-logo” gauge, which was the one used to test the balls prior to the game, and the other was a second non-calibrated “logo gauge” which had the NFL logo on it. The Logo Gauge was found to consistently run at least 0.35 psi above the (accurately calibrated) non-Logo gauge, but both were determined to be extremely consistent and precise. In particular, the Logo gauge is inaccurate (it runs high) but is precise (it consistently runs high by the same amount every time), and therefore can be used as additional confirmation that the non-Logo measurement is correct (with the exception of Colts ball #3, below). Wells has stated that he believes that referees Blakeman and Prioleau used the Non-Logo and Logo gauges respectively in the Patriots halftime tests, and that the two of them switched gauges with each other for the Colts halftime test. It is also established that there was a transcription error on Colts ball #3 which led to a flip-flop of the logo gauge and non-logo gauge measurements, which I have corrected in this table.

Because the logo gauge runs consistently high and was not calibrated, we will deal only with the calibrated non-logo gauge results for our analysis, although I have included both as a reference.

There are multiple lines of reasoning which show that the Patriots footballs were deflated by intentional human intervention, and not because of the so-called “Ideal Gas Law.”

First, if the so-called “Ideal Gas Law” could account for the deflation of the Patriots footballs, then that would be reflected in the comparison with the Colts footballs, i.e. both sets of balls would have deflated by roughly the same amount.

However, when we check the Colts footballs, they measure 12.325 PSI on average. That is only 0.175 below the minimum spec set by the NFL of 12.5 PSI. In other words, less than one-quarter PSI below the spec. By contrast, ALL 11 of the Patriots footballs measured well below 12 PSI on the same gauge within minutes or seconds of the Colts balls being measured. The Patriots footballs average only 11.1 PSI, more than 1.4 PSI below the minimum spec. Another way to look at it is that the Colts footballs were below spec by 1.4%, while the Patriots footballs were somehow deflated by 11.2%

Let me repeat that: The Patriots footballs were deflated below spec by an average of 11.2 percent.

If we assume that all of the Colts footballs were actually inflated to 13 PSI (which the referees have indicated is to the best of their recollection), then we get an average deflation of .675 PSI, a little over one-half PSI, but still far below the Patriots average of 1.4 PSI (11.2%). Even in this best case scenario for Brady and the Patriots, the Colts footballs deflated by only 5.19%, as compared to the Patriots deflation of 11.2%. In order for the Colts footballs to have deflated "naturally" by the same amount as the Patriots, NFL officials would have had to OVERINFLATE them by 0.38 PSI over the NFL maximum of 13.5 PSI. We can safely assume they did no such thing.

All we know for certain is that the Colts balls would have been somewhere between 12.5 PSI and 13 PSI. So the 0.675 PSI number is a best case scenario for Ideal Gas Law deflation. It could be only 0.175 PSI, which is within the margin of error.

It should also be noted that the 1.4% deflation below spec that the Colts footballs measured to could be due completely to margin of error in the measurements or the fact that the balls were wet, which can effect inflation to a minute degree...

Like around 1.4 %.

To put it another way, the Colts footballs deflated by far less than the Patriots footballs. This single established fact is de-facto PROOF that the Ideal Gas "Law" cannot account for the deflation levels of the Patriots footballs.
The argument has been made by Patriots fans that under the IGL, the balls would have rapidly re-inflated in the warmth of the locker room. They make the assertion that because the Colts footballs were tested last, they were re-inflated more than the Patriots footballs. This is however easily falsified by simply examining the chart below, which shows the actual halftime measurements. Note that the last 3 Patriots footballs tested are all well below 11 PSI, and in fact ball #10, at 10.5 PSI, is the lowest pressure measurement recorded by either gauge. Since these measurements were done only perhaps a minute or even seconds before the Colts balls were measured, this effectively falsifies the assertion that locker room temperature affected the Patriots measurements more than the Colts.

Patriots Ball
Non-Logo, calibrated
Logo, not calibrated

Colts ball
Logo, not calibrated
Non-Logo, calibrated

Another way to look at it is illustrated in this helpful chart. Only 1 Patriots football even came close to the 12.5 PSI minimum.
Chart showing Patriots football inflation levels as measured at halftime of the 2014 AFC Championship Game. Red dots indicate the LOGO gauge, blue dots the (calibrated) non-logo gauge.

Another factor which discounts the so-called “Ideal Gas Law” theory is the question of variability. It is well established that all of the Patriots footballs were inflated to 12.5 PSI before the game. If the IGL was actually a factor, it would not only apply equally to both the Colts and Patriots footballs (it does not, see below) but it would also, within a very narrow band, apply equally to all of the Patriots footballs. To give one example, it is hard for a temperature-based theory to explain why Patriots ball #2 tested fully 0.6 psi lower than Patriots ball #1, when both ball #1 and #2 started before the game at the same psi. If temperature is the major factor, the Patriots PSI should stay roughly the same, or gradually increase, as subsequent balls are tested; instead, the PSI of the footballs changed substantially from one ball to the next. In fact, the difference between the least and most deflated Patriots footballs was 1.35 PSI, a variation of almost 12% between the 2 footballs. This variation by itself is enough to completely discredit the “Ideal Gas Law” theory. It should also be noted that if the deflation were actually caused by needles being stuck into the balls, this sort of variation is exactly what one would expect to see.

But of course, there’s more.

Of the 11 Patriots footballs tested on the calibrated non-logo gauge, ALL 11 measurements were below spec by at least 0.65 PSI, well beyond the margin of error for the calibrated gauge. In fact, NONE of the Patriots footballs were even over 12 PSI much less the 12.5 PSI minimum standard on the calibrated “non-logo” gauge. And, ONLY ONE was above 12 PSI on the non-calibrated “logo-gauge.” This gives an average of 11.1 PSI for the 11 footballs tested, and an average of 1.4 PSI below the minimum spec of 12.5 PSI for the 11 footballs tested. As we have already established, the maximum deflation under the so-called “Ideal Gas Law” is 0.675 PSI, as demonstrated by the Colts footballs, which we can be certain were not tampered with. Even in the “best case” IGL scenario, there is 0.725 PSI deflation in the Patriots footballs which cannot be accounted for. Another way to look at it is that fully half of the deflation of the Patriots footballs simply cannot be accounted for by natural means.

Given all this, we can safely reach the following conclusions:

1.      The so-called “Ideal Gas Law” cannot account for the deflation of the Patriots footballs, even under the most generous scenario.

2.      The remaining deflation MUST have been caused by human intervention, i.e. an equipment guy nicknamed “The Deflator” taking the balls into a locked room and sticking needles in them.

I wish to say here flatly that I do not believe temperature or the so-called “Ideal Gas Law” accounts for ANY of the deflation of the Patriots footballs. After the balls were re-inflated at half time, none of them lost any pressure at all. This, along with the other lines of evidence cited above, falsifies the Ideal Gas Law scenario.

Point 2 - Brady's Known Preference For Deflated Footballs

Tom Brady
It has been firmly established that Tom Brady preferred low inflation on the footballs he used. When questioned at his appeal hearing, Brady evaded direct questioning on his preference for low inflation of footballs at least 12 times. He repeatedly stated that he had never concerned himself with football inflation.
“Ball pressure has been so inconsequential, I hadn’t even thought about that.”
"It (ball pressure) was something that never crossed my mind."
"I never have thought about the ball, the air pressure in a football.”
In fact, these are all lies. Brady admitted in 2011 that he liked his footballs to be as deflated as possible.
Brady told WEEI-AM on Nov. 14, 2011, via, "When Gronk scores -- it was like his eighth touchdown of the year -- he spikes the ball and he deflates the ball. I love that, because I like the deflated ball." The ESPN Boston radio station has subsequently attempted to delete the recording of the interview, which was once linked here
Despite the Boston radio station's attempt to scrub the interview from the internet, it is clear that Brady had a preference for deflated footballs, and his evasive answers under questioning by the NFL are an attempt to hide that fact. This falls in the category of MOTIVE.

Point 3 - Brady led the charge to let QBs “prep” their own Game Balls

In 2006 Brady (and to a lesser extent Payton Manning) lobbied the NFL for a rules change which would allow visiting teams to prep their own footballs prior to games. Brady was quoted in the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel at the time as saying “The thing is, every quarterback likes it a little bit different. Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin, some like them a little more new, some like them really broken in.”

Brady was successful in his lobbying efforts and gained access to the Patriots game balls for the 2007 season. Previously the home team had control of the footballs used in all NFL games.

Looking at Brady's stat lines, it's easy to see why he lobbied so hard for this change. Prior to the 2007 season, Brady was actually a fairly mediocre (to use Richard Sherman's favorite word) quarterback. In his first six NFL seasons, Brady made the Pro Bowl 3 times (but never first team All-Pro), threw 147 touchdown passes and was on 3 Super Bowl winning teams. He was Super Bowl MVP in the 2001 and 2003 seasons. However, he was never league MVP during any of these seasons and had a passer rating of just 74.2. As a comparison, Trent Dilfer has a career passer rating of 70.2. Brady also had 121 turnovers in his first six NFL seasons, 43 fumbles and 78 interceptions. In fact, he never had less than 12 interceptions in any full season as a starter.

After the 2007 season (excluding 2008 when he only played part of one game because of a knee injury), when Brady had obtained access to the footballs so he could "prep" (i.e. deflate) them, his numbers exploded. In 2007 alone, he threw 50 touchdown passes, 22 more than his previous career high of 28. In the next 8 seasons before being caught in the ongoing deflation scheme, Brady threw for more than 30 TDs five times. His completion percentage from 2001-2006  is 61.9%, with a then career best of 63.9% in 2001. After gaining access to the footballs in 2007, his completion percentage jumps to 64.81%, with a career high of 68.9% in 2007, a full five percentage points above his high-water mark established in the pre-deflation era.

In the seven full seasons in 2007-2014 deflation era , Brady threw for 245 touchdowns. Compare this once again to the mere 147 he threw in his first six full seasons from 2001-2006.

Brady's turnovers also dramatically dropped in the 2007-2014 deflation era. After accounting for 121 turnovers in the 6 year pre-deflation era, he had only 91 in the 7-year deflation era, 65 interceptions and only 26 fumbles.

Brady's overall passer rating also jumped in the deflation era. After a Dilfer-like 70.4 passer rating from 2001-2006, Brady soared to a Hall of Fame level of 101.91.

So after the 2007 rules change to allow Brady access to the footballs before games, his touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating all skyrocketed, while his turnovers plummeted. It isn't difficult to figure out why. Deflating the footballs allowed Brady to grip the ball better, throw it more accurately and hang on to it better when taking a hit. It seems indisputable that his ascent from mediocrity to Hall of Famer was at least partially, if not primarily, fueled by illegally altering footballs.

In short, after deflation, he was the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). Before deflation, he was Trent Dilfer.

Next - The Fumbles...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Seahawks Boys 2016 2 Round Mock Draft

Round 1

1. Los Angeles Rams (from Tennessee Titans) - Jared Goff, QB, Cal - Everybody says it's Goff, so it's Goff.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Cleveland Browns) - Carson Wentz, QB, N. Dakota St. - Everybody says it's Wentz, so it's Wentz.
3. San Diego Chargers - Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss - Chargers can't trade out of #3 so they're stuck taking the best OL prospect in the draft. Big help for Phillip Rivers, who can't continue to take hits like he has the last few years.
4. Dallas Cowboys - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State - Cowboys see Elliott as a transformational player who could give them back their offensive identity. Plenty of pass rushers in rounds 2 and 3 for them to grab.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame - Stanley is the best player left on the board, and allows the Jags to unload disappointing former #2 overall pick Luke Jokel, perhaps to the Seahawks.
6. Baltimore Ravens - DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon - Speaking of teams that need to recapture their identity... Bosa and Myles Jack are too big a risk for this pick.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Myles Jack, LB, UCLA - Teams that are desperate at corner will try to trade into this spot for Ramsey but if the 49ers keep this pick I don't think they take him. The great defenses of the Harbaugh era were built on the linebacker play, and Jack could give them the dynamic play maker they need. 49ers are desperate enough to take the health risk.
8. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles through Miami Dolphins) Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State - I think if things fall this way the Browns swap out of this pick with Tampa Bay or another team that might want Ramsey and take the "safe" pick in Bosa. I also think Bosa will be a bust, like most Browns draft picks. Bosa is not the athlete some people think he is and teams know that, so he slides.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida St. - Bucs swap with Cleveland or the 49ers to get their guy. He's a marketable local guy, but he slides because teams have concerns about his playmaking abilities. He still sneaks into the top 10.
10. New York Giants - Jack Conklin, OT, Mich St. - Giants have struggled at LT for years, and Conklin is a solid prospect who should shore things up and give Eli Manning that extra second he needs to make plays downfield.
11. Chicago Bears - Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama - Bears are desperate for playmakers everywhere, and they may as well start with ultra-reliable Ragland in the middle of their defense.
12. New Orleans Saints - Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio St. - The Saints are historically bad on defense and need help everywhere. They hope Lee gives them a dynamic, Ryan Shazier type to attack teams on the edge.
13. Miami Dolphins (from Philadelphia Eagles) - Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida - Dolphins dump Brett Grimes because of off-field issues and come back and take Hargreaves to fill the spot.
14. Oakland Raiders - Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville - Raiders were one of the worst against the run last year, and need Rankins to come in and occupy blockers inside so Kalil Mack and Bruce Irvin can make plays.
15. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) - Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama - Titans need to invest in QB Marcus Mariota and getting somebody to block for him is a key to that. Kelly is a 10-year starter and probably 5-time Pro Bowler waiting to happen, so he's a good start. This will be kind of a shocker because of the undervaluing of the center position, but it shouldn't be.
16. Detroit Lions - A'Shawn Robinson - DT, Alabama - Lions defense has never been the same since they passed on Aaron Donald in 2014 to take a tight end and let N'domikong Suh and Nick Fairley get away. Robinson will the first building block to replace those mistakes.
17. Atlanta Falcons - Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia - Falcons need speed off the edge to get to the passer in the worst way. Floyd might be the guy they need.
18. Indianapolis Colts - Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio St. - Everybody knows the Colts need OL help, which is why the Titans snapped up Kelly 3 picks before this. Colts have to settle for Decker, who should nevertheless improve things up front for Andrew Luck.
19. Buffalo Bills - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis - Bills need lots of defensive help but they have never settled on a QB and Lynch makes sense for them. Besides, they know the Jets covet Lynch. And yes, Rex Ryan IS that petty.
20. New York Jets - Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss - Jets defense is based up front and it seems likely they will part ways with Muhammed Wilkerson, so Nkemdiche is a good fit. Potentially dynamic player with some character red flags. They could draft Nkemdiche and then rescind the franchise tag on Wilkerson.
21. Washington Redskins - Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson - Redskins need to generate a better pass rush, and Lawson represents value here in the lower 3rd of round 1.
22. Houston Texans - Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss - It's no secret what the Texans top need is, and Treadwell can provide a threat opposite DeAndre Hopkins. A new toy for Brock Osweiler to play with....
23. Minnesota Vikings - Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor - The run on WR's officially begins. Coleman can fly, but can Teddy actually throw the ball that far?
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Josh Doctson, WR, TCU - Bengals need a wideout too.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers -Eli Apple, DB, Ohio ST. - Stealers need DB help really, really bad.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana - RT is Seahawks #1 need, and Spriggs fills it amply and could eventually slide to LT if need be.
27. Green Bay Packers - Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame - Let's face it, this is a reach but Packers WR's sucked last year and even with Jordy Nelson back, they are slow as molasses in the Wisconsin winter. They roll the dice at the end of round-1 and hope his speed gives them the dynamic element they lack.
28. Kansas City Chiefs - Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky - Spence gives the Chiefs another pass rusher in case Justin Houston's knee doesn't come around.
29. New England Patriots* (*Forfeited, caught cheating).
29. Arizona Cardinals - Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson - Cardinals claim they solved their pass rushing problem with the trade for Chandler Jones. They didn't.
30. Carolina Panthers - William Jackson III, CB, Houston - With Josh Norman gone, corner is a gaping hole in the Panthers overrated defense.
31. Denver Broncos - Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama - Broncos sit still and pick up a replacement for the departed Malik Jackson.

Round 2

Pick (overall)
1 (32). Cleveland Browns - Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas St. - After losing Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz along the OL, the Browns begin the rebuilding process.
2 (33). Tennessee Titans - Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama - After helping the OL in round-1, the Titans secure a ground game with the powerful Henry.
3 (34). Dallas Cowboys - Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma ST. - After getting a RB in round-1 the Cowboys reach a bit for edge help here.
4 (35). San Diego Chargers - Vernon Butler , DT, Louisiana Tech - Chargers go OL/DL with their 1st two picks.
5 (36). Baltimore Ravens - Germain Ifedi, OT, A&M - Ravens fill the void left when they lost Kelechi Osemele to the Raiders.
6 (37). San Francisco 49ers - Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio St. - 49ers have no one to throw to.
7 (38). Jacksonville Jaguars - Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson - Jags need help on the back end of their defense.
8 (39). Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor - Billings can team inside with Anthony McCoy.
9 (40). New York Giants - Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt - Giants need a threat opposite Odell Beckham Jr.
10 (41). Chicago Bears - Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas - Cutler could use an big target over the middle, You know, like Greg Olson.
11 (42). Miami Dolphins - Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida - Now it's time to replace Olivier Vernon.
12 (43). Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams through Philadelphia Eagles) - Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA - Titans switch to the defensive side of the ball and cash-in on the run on DT's.
13 (44). Oakland Raiders - Devontae Booker, RB, Utah - Raiders don't have a 20 carry a game RB. They do now.
14 (45). Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) - Le'Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech - Titans need two pieces on the OL not one.
15 (46). Detroit Lions - Keanu Neal, SS, Florida - All the WRs worth taking this high are gone, so they Lions go with some DB help.
16 (47). New Orleans Saints - Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford - Defense is the biggest need but so is the OL.
17 (48). Indianapolis Colts - Su'a Cravens - SS, USC - Colts get some safety help for the back four.
18 (49). Buffalo Bills - Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise St. - Like I said before, Bills need defensive help.
19 (50). Atlanta Falcons - Chris Jones, DT, Miss. St. Falcons double down on D in the 1st two rounds.
20 (51). New York Jets - Connor Cook, QB, Mich. St. - Jets need to develop a long term answer at QB.
21 (52). Houston Texans - Karl Joseph, SS, West Virginia - Texans go defense in round-2.
 22 (53). Washington Redskins - Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn - After going edge guy in round-1, Redskins go to the strength of this draft in round-2. Kirk Cousins will like that.
23 (54). Minnesota Vikings - Vonn Bell, SS, Ohio State - Vikings kinda suck at safety.
24 (55). Cincinnati Bengals - Kendall Fuller, CB, Va, Tech - Bengals could always use help on the back end to keep the defense strong.
25 (56). Seattle Seahawks - Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State - Hargrave will the Seahawks the inside pass rush they covet.
26 (57). Green Bay Packers - Kentrell Brothers, ILB, Missouri - Having Brothers should allow the Packers to move Clay Matthews and his aching vagina out to OLB, where he gets hit less.
27 (58). Pittsburgh Steelers - Sean Davis, CB, Maryland - Stealers need DB help so bad, they may as well take two.
28 (59). Kansas City Chiefs - Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio St. - Chiefs lack weapons on offense. Miller may give them one.
29 (60). New England Patriots - Joe Dahl, OG. Washington State - Cheaters get a really, really good football player who might eventually be a LT.
30 (61). New England Patriots (from Arizona Cardinals) - Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State - Cheaters replace Chandler Jones with the pick they got for him.
31 (62). Carolina Panthers - Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor - They needed an upgrade at corner even WITH Josh Norman, so they go CB 1-2 in this draft.
32 (63). Denver Broncos - Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State - Broncos have a need so they take a flyer on a QB.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Seahawks 2016 Mock Draft 1.0

With the 2016 NFL draft fast approaching, it's time to take a look at who the Seahawks will be looking at starting next Thursday. As always, the Seahawks would love to trade out of the late first round at #26, and that's the most likely scenario. They also like to surprise everyone with their picks, so guessing what John Schneider and Pete Carroll will do is always problematic. There's a yuge gap in the 4th-5th round area between picks #124 and #171, so I expect at least one trade back to fill that gap somehow. There are also strong rumors that they will trade a 2017 pick to Jacksonville for offensive tackle Luke Joekel, and if that happens it messes up the draft board scenarios big time. But for now, we have to assume that they will keep all their picks and take a look at who they might go for with their nine selections.

Round 1 - #26 -  Jason Spriggs, OT Indiana - The Seahawks biggest need is RT, and Spriggs has great explosiveness and athleticism for a big man. He has that mean streak you look for in a drive blocking RT, and could slide over to LT if the Gary Gilliam experiment is a failure. Alabama C Ryan Kelly would be the pick if he were here, but I think he'll be gone by #26.

Round 2 - #56 - Javon Hargrave, DT South Carolina State - The Seahawks #2 need after a RT is an inside pass rusher to help pressure QBs a bit more, and Hargrave had 13.5 sacks as a senior against small school competition. He fits the mold the Seahawks are looking for ideally, comparing well to current Seahawk Jordan Hill, who if healthy, can team with Hargrave for a solid 1-2 inside punch for the Seahawks. If all the best pass rushers are gone, WSU's Joe Dahl will merit some consideration here as the Seahawks go 1-2 on the OL.

Round 3 - #90 - Justin Simmons, FS/CB Boston College - CB is not really a need for the Seahawks but Simmons is a Richard Sherman look-alike in terms of length and workout numbers. He is viewed as a FS by most teams but could be the starter opposite Sherman by year two if he takes to coaching the way Sherm did. If he pans out as a starting CB opposite Sherman, Seahawks can move Jeremy Lane inside to cover the slot and be scary good in the LOB.

Round 3 - #97 (Compensatory Pick) - Connor McGovern OG/C - Missouri - McGovern is very strong and could compete with Justin Britt for the starting LG spot right away. Eventually, he looks to be moved to center, but for the moment he'll be a paragon of strength on the inside.

Round 4 - #124 - Tyler Ervin, RB San Jose State - Irvin is a small, super quick scat back with great instincts. With C-Mike and Rawls in front of him, he'll slide right as in as the 3rd down back catching balls out of the backfield and killing teams on draw plays.

Round 5 - #171 (Compensatory Pick) - Travis Feeney, OLB Washington - Crazy athletic but skinny OLB prospect who is great in coverage and a huge hitter on special teams. Seahawks will use him in that capacity at first and then move him to SAM OLB to take some of Bruce Irvin's old snaps. Also has great quickness of the edge and may get some snaps there as well as the season rolls on.

Round 6 - #215 (Compensatory Pick) - Victor Ochi, OLB Stony Brook - Ochi is a pure edge rush guy who was muy productive as a small school player, but he more than held his own against top competition in the East/West Shrine game. He hasn't played standing up so it's unlikely he'll be used to replace Bruce Irvin's snaps at the SAM spot. He's more of a traditional LEO pass rusher in the Chris Clemmons mold. A real bargain at this pick.

Round 7 - #225 - Geronimo Allison, WR Illinois - Seahawks got this pick from the Cowboys in the Christine Michael trade, so this is a bonus selection. Allison is the big receiver the Seahawks are always looking for, with good hands and serviceable speed in the low 4.6's for a big man. Very competitive and a fierce blocker, he could give Russell Wilson another big target in the Red Zone.

Round 7 - #247 - Vincent Valentine, DT Nebraska - With so many great DTs in this deep draft, the Seahawks may as well grab two of them. Valentine is more of a 1-tech NT than Hargrave, and will compete with Sealver Siliga for the backstop role on running downs. Has a very quick and powerful initial burst and the kind of workout numbers the Seahawks love.

So I have the Seahawks taking 2 OL's, 2 OLB's, 2 DT's (a 1 technique and a 3 technique) an RB and a WR. A #3 TE is also a consideration, but I expect the Seahawks to look for one as an UDFA. Of the guys I've listed, the Seahawks have shown actual interest in Spriggs, Simmons, McGovern, Irvin and Feeney. Hargrave, Ochi, Allison and Valentine are just my speculation based on what the Seahawks typically look for. If the draft came out looking something like this I'd be very happy. We'll see what they do in the end.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

First 2016 Seahawk Boy Mock Draft

NFL Mock Draft - 3/20/2016
Round 1
1. Tennessee Titans

Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss: Titans need to protect last year's #2 overall pick Marcus Mariota and Tunsil, who is the best LT prospect in years, is a great place to start. Taylor Lewan and Tunsil should give the Titans a strong set of bookends going forward. Defensive needs can be addressed at the top of round two.
2. Cleveland Browns

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: Everybody knows Browns need a QB in the worst way and Wentz is the best in this class. They feigned interest in swapping 1st rounders with 49ers for Colin Kaepernick but that is likely a smoke screen to keep another QB hungry team from swooping in and taking Wentz out from under them.
3. San Diego Chargers

Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Chargers need to protect Philip Rivers better but they were also near the bottom of the league in pass rush pressures and sacks. Bosa could theoretically improve a lackluster group and dramatically impact the productivity and spirit of the defense of a downtrodden team.
4. Dallas Cowboys

 Jalen Ramsey, FS, Florida State: Cowboys should absolutely take Goff here but they continue to be delusional in thinking that Romo will stay healthy and that they are Super Bowl contenders, so they pass on the QB of the future to take Ramsey. His lack of big plays is worrisome, but he gives the Cowboys an elite athlete they have lacked in the secondary for years.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA: Jags offense is coming along nicely but Gus Bradley's defense is a weak spot and Jack gives them a big playmaker. If 2015 1st round pick Dante Fowler can bounce back from ACL surgery, Jaguars front 7 might be in business. 
6. Baltimore Ravens

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame: The Ravens lost Kelechi Osemele in free agency and bounce right back by adding Stanley in the draft. Protecting Joe Flacco is priority 1, and the long, strong Stanley can step in for Eugene Monroe at LT if need be. 
7. San Francisco 49ers

Jared Goff, QB, California: Personally, I think the 49ers are going to have to move up to get Goff, because if they don't, some QB hungry team like the Texans or Rams will jump in front of them and take him. After the Colin Kaepernick nightmare of the last few years Goff and Blaine Gabbert should at least give them some consistency and stability. Unfortunately, their head coach is Chip Kelly.
8. Philadelphia Eagles

DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon: The Eagles need help all over the defense, and Buckner will give them size and presence off the edge. The smallish corners that fall here aren't what they need so they go with a front seven guy instead.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama: The Bucs need a new guy to team with Gerald McCoy, who isn't getting any younger. The tandem of Reed and McCoy could allow the Bucs to pressure teams up the middle, something they really could not do last year.
10. NY Giants

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: Hargreaves is small but fierce, a bit of a Josh Norman type and the Giants had the worst pass defense in the league last year. Drafting him is the first step toward mediocrity, which would be a major upgrade over last year.
11. Chicago Bears

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss: The Bears need to find somebody to pair with Alshon Jeffery at WR for Jay Cutler to be effective, and last years' #1 pick Kevin White has bust written all over him. Treadwell is big and physical, like Jeffery and may take over for him if he leaves in free agency in a another year.
12. New Orleans Saints

Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State: The Saints are looking for long, tall corners and after giving up on Brandon Browner, Apple is an ideal replacement. 2 or 3 more drafts and the Saints might be respectable on defense again. 
13. Miami Dolphins

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State: The Dolphins need some impact defenders after letting Olivier Vernon go, but they made a big play for Broncos RB CJ Anderson in free agency, and Elliott is a much better player than he is. He will give the Dolphins a solid running game to compliment Ryan Tannehill's less-than-breathtaking passing game. Should be a solid, productive Matt Forte type for at least 5 years. 
14. Oakland Raiders

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson: Raiders will be hard pressed to pass on a player like Ohio State's Darron Lee here, but they just signed Bruce Irvin to play the SAM so they may as well add to the secondary. Alexander is smallish at 5-10", but he can learn the NFL game from the slot and then slide into disappointment DJ Haden's spot when his contract expires next year. Raiders are slowly building a really solid defense under DC Ken Norton Jr.
15. Los Angeles Rams

Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis: Every year the Rams make noise about being a good team, and every year they finish with a losing record. The problem is that their coach is Jeff Fisher and they have no quarterback. Lynch is nowhere near worth this pick but Rams have no choice.
16. Detroit Lions

Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor: The Lions have never recovered from passing on Aaron Donald in favor of TE Eric Ebron in the 2014 draft. Now rather than take the DT they need they are forced to reach for a replacement for the now retired Calvin Johnson. Coleman will give them enough of a threat to keep the double teams off Golden Tate, at least.  
17. Atlanta Falcons

Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State: Falcons coach Dan Quinn would probably like to add a run-stuffing DT here, but there will be a bunch available later and Lee has already fallen too far. A Ryan Shazier/Bruce Irvin type of athlete, Lee will energize a slow, poorly defending Atlanta unit. Expect them to add more DL help on the 2nd day of the draft but Lee gives them a guy who can make plays in space.
18. Indianapolis Colts

Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State: The Colts desperately need to afford Andrew Luck better protection and Conklin is an solid LT for their line. They can add a center in round 2 and make a big jump up in terms of their pass protection. Keeping Luck in one piece will be the best thing they can do for their offense.
19. Buffalo Bills

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville : Rankins gives the Bills a strong inside presence without the risk of a guy like Robert Nkemdiche. Rex needs to hit a home run for his defense and Rankins will solidify the middle.
20. NY Jets

Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia: The best edge guy available in this part of the draft and the Jets certainly saw what happens to Tom Brady when you pressure him. Floyd will give the Jets defense some desperately needed outside athleticism.
21. Washington Redskins

A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: Redskins need some big bodies inside to stop the run. Robinson is more athletic inside than his Alabama teammate Jarran Reed and will make more plays in the backfield.
22. Houston Texans

Josh Doctson, WR, TCU: Texans made a big investment in Brock Osweiler and now must give him some talent to work with. WR Deandre Hopkins gets double teamed way to much and the big, talented Doctson should be able to take away some of that pressure.
23. Minnesota Vikings

Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame: Vikings need to help game manager Teddy Bridgewater any way they can, and with the OL addressed already in free agency they reach a bit for Fuller, a speedy downfield player who can give Teddy a target, at least. Whether Teddy can hit him with a pass is another question.
24. Cincinnati Bengals

Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss: With the Bengals caught on the outside looking in on the WRs, they have two options with this pick: replace Andre Smith with one of the tackles available or make the strong defense even stronger. They go with the big, disruptive Nkemdiche. Yes there are character questions, but it's the Bengals.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers

William Jackson III, CB, Houston: Steelers need all kinds of secondary help and Jackson is one piece of it. Don't be surprised if they take DBs 1-2 in this draft. The need is that desperate.
26. Seattle Seahawks

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama: Seahawks most glaring need is on the OL, and while one of the tackles is tempting, Kelly is an instant starter and 10-year Pro Bowler waiting to happen. His strength and presence inside will allow Russell Wilson to step up to avoid inside pressure, a luxury he lacked even with the overrated Max Unger starting. Could be a Pro Bowl player in his rookie year.
27. Green Bay Packers

Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama: Everybody knows the Packers need speed at WR and better protection up front for Aaron Rodgers, but drafting Ragland allows them the luxury of moving Clay "My Vagina Hurts" Matthews back outside where he can rush the passer against smaller linemen and running backs.
28. Kansas City Chiefs

Derek Henry, RB, Alabama: Chiefs have already addressed DL and OL in free agency, so adding the huge and explosive Henry to the backfield allows them to squeeze or move on from the oft-injured Jamaal Charles. Cutting Charles would clear $5.3 million off their tight cap situation, and he will be a monster in cold weather in December.
28(A) New England Patriots
29. Arizona Cardinals

 Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor: The Cardinals have only drafted one Pro Bowl player in the 4 years since Steve Keim became the GM, but Billings slides to them and he may the 2nd. Lost in all the concern about the edge rush was the drop-off in Calais Campbell's play in the second half of the season, and he may be nearing the end. Billings will shore up  the Cardinals defense up against the run and provide some youthful energy inside. He probably replaces Campbell when the team moves on from him in 2017.
30. Carolina Panthers

Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson : The Panthers improved their rotation at defensive end by re-signing veteran Charles Johnson to a one-year deal, but they still need edge speed to keep their defense going. Lawson has slipped too far already and is a local product who can be eased into a rotation with Johnson and Kony Ealy.
31. Denver Broncos

Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State: Yes, they have no quarterback, but replacing Malik Jackson on the inside pass rush may be a higher priority. Ogbah can play inside or outside and fill a variety of roles on the Broncos defense, which is still their strength.

Other Seahawks Picks
2. (56) Le'Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: Clark is a 3 year starter at LT and could compete for a starting job right away. He's huge and has the kind of athletic feet that the Seahawks love.
3. (90) Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State: Big DT with good feet who can join the DL rotation and replace Brandon Mebane eventually.
3. (97) Travis Feeny, OLB, Washington: Hybrid OLB/Edge rusher type to replace Bruce Irvin. Special teams monster.
4. (124) Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State: Speed 3rd down back to compliment Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael.
5. (171)  Victor Ochi, OLB, Stony Brook State: Another athletic Edge/OLB hybrid that projects well at the NFL level. A special teams player who can add some weight and become part of the pass rush package.
6. (215) Joe Dahl, OT/OG, Washington State: Vastly underrated LT/OG prospect who can play inside or outside at the NFL level. SOTD.
7. (225) Elijah Shumate, SS, Notre Dame: Kam Chancellor insurance.
7. (245) Jake McGee, TE, Florida: TE3 to challenge for a roster spot.