SPORTS w/The Jock 4-21

photo: AMELIA HUTCHERSON
photo: AMELIA HUTCHERSON
photo: AMELIA HUTCHERSON
photo: AMELIA HUTCHERSON
photo: AMELIA HUTCHERSON

by Tom Weppel
NFL DRAFT
By the end of this weekend, all 32 NFL teams will have done their drafting, including the Jaguars. We will have heard all kinds of commentary by plenty of so-called ‘experts’, giving us their thoughts on who can and will be a great player, and who might possibly be a bust.
We will also have seen how a number of outlets have given us their draft grades, based on their total haul of players. And you know what? By this time next year, we will have completely forgotten who gave what letter grade to whichever team for whom they drafted LAST year!
And so therein lies the significance (or underlying lack there of!) of the hoopla surrounding the NFL Draft. Each year, there is simply a ton of talk that goes into people trying to figure out what teams should draft which players. People talk about who has a ‘great upside’, who is a ‘sleeper’, and who could possibly be an ‘impact’ player immediately. Seriously…how many people watched Lions #1 pick Matthew Stafford play last season? The Lions were never on national TV. And even though DirecTV and the NFL Sunday Ticket are available, along with all the local sports bars, not many people were very interested in the former Georgia QB and his trials and tribulations throughout his first season in the League. Of course, he ended up with a bad shoulder that hindered the latter part of his season. But recently, we have not heard much about Stafford at all, from his time as being the #1 guy chosen last year by the Lions.
This year, the Rams are most likely taking Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford with their #1 pick. For all intents, its been proven that one player…even a highly-rated QB…cannot turn an entire NFL team around on his own. He needs good coaching, and a cadre of talent surrounding him, in order to come thru, win games, and become successful.
So, keep that in mind when following this years’ NFL Draft. Even though it seems to get more prominent, flashier, and entertaining, the bottom line is that it takes a lot of work, from young players, veterans, and coaches, to go from being a bad NFL team, to a good one.
One other note…while I have all the respect in the world for NFL scouts, coaches, and GM’s, I think its fair to say good players come from all sorts of places…even the lower rounds. I always like to remember that Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady was a 6th Round choice in 2000 out of Michigan!
Meanwhile, the Jags will bring in a host of kids (yes, they are still, indeed KIDS!) and start with mini-camps and strength and conditioning drills, all to start gearing up for their Training Camp in July. We’ll see who they’ve drafted and signed to compete for spots on the final roster…
Some interesting quirks about the Jaguars’ game schedule this year…they play three of their first four games at home…they also play four of their last six on the road…they play their three Division opponents at home first, before playing them again all on the road…they play three straight games (including two home games) starting at 4 p.m…based on records of teams from last season, the Jaguars have the fifth toughest schedule in the League…every game they play from October 24th on starts at 1 p.m…
NBA/NHL PLAYOFFS
While the first round playoffs continue in both the NBA and NHL, its interesting how most of the NBA favorites are taking care of their business in their respective series, while the higher seeds in the NHL are struggling.
In the NBA, we see the Cavaliers, Magic, Hawks, and Celtics winning their games rather convincingly, while the Lakers and Mavericks are playing well in the West. These stronger clubs are playing well, and should win their first round series to move forward.
Then you look at the NHL, and you see teams like the #7 seed Philadelphia Flyers and #6 seed Los Angeles Kings creating a strong possibility of upsets. It shows us how NHL teams can get on a roll, especially with solid goaltending, and move forward in the postseason.

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