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NFL – Mock Draft 2019

12 Apr

This is the fourth annual Rayonsports mock NFL draft, and once again  we’ll produce three rounds of selections for all 32 teams. Every year there are trades that affect the choices of some of the teams, but we will make our choices with the team’s standing in the draft as of today. Here are our predictions of how the first three rounds will go:

 

Round One

 

kylermurray

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

 

1. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Murray (QB, Oklahoma) – there are very few experts who don’t think this will happen, and we agree with the majority. Murray is too dynamic of a talent and too good of a match for new Cardinal coach Kliff Kingsbury.

2. San Francisco 49ers – Nick Bosa (Edge, Ohio State) – if Arizona does follow through and pick Murray, the Niners will race to the stage with their pick of the Buckeye defender.

3. New York Jets – Josh Allen (Edge, Kentucky) – “edge rusher” is the new position that’s in vogue in the NFL now. The Jets grab a good one, who they hope will harass his namesake in Buffalo, along with the rest of the AFC East, for years to come.

4. Oakland Raiders – Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama) – the Raider defense was a sieve in their lost season of 2018 and coach Jon Gruden chooses a stout interior lineman to help shore up that unit.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devin White (LB, LSU) – new head man Bruce Arians is an offensive-minded coach, but decides to shore up his defense with his top pick, seeing the need to compete in a division featuring Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton.

6. New York Giants – Jawaan Taylor (T, Florida) – although they need to consider a future quarterback, with a pair of first round picks the G-men go with the best tackle in the draft, to help protect the immobile and aging Eli Manning as well as whoever succeeds him in the future.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – T.J. Hockenson (TE, Iowa) – Jags get their new QB Nick Foles a shiny new weapon, who has been compared in some circles to Rob Gronkowski.

8. Detroit Lions – Rashan Gary (DT, Michigan) – defensive guru Matt Patricia stays in-state to grab a solid interior lineman.

9. Buffalo Bills – Ed Oliver (DT, Houston) – in a draft that’s heavy in defensive linemen, Buffalo picks one of the most talented of the group who slides down somewhat because of attitude issues. Because he wore a jacket on the sideline?

10. Denver Broncos – Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) – realizing that newly-acquired Joe Flacco is not a long term solution, GM John Elway picks his understudy.

11. Cincinnati Bengals – Dwayne Haskins (QB, Ohio State) – a surprise pick by Cinci as they elect to look to the future with Andy Dalton getting older, a third QB comes off the board and the Giants start to get nervous.

12. Green Bay Packers – Jonah Williams (T, Alabama) – although new coach Matt Lafleur’s club needs defensive help, they can’t pass up the opportunity to draft a stud offensive tackle who should help Aaron Rodgers stay upright.

13. Miami Dolphins – Clelin Ferrell (Edge, Clemson) – the first member of the national championship team comes off the board, as the Fish need to replace departed starters Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn.

14. Atlanta Falcons – Andre Dillard (T, Washington State) – this draft is deep in linemen on both sides of the ball, and the Falcons are thrilled to get a solid tackle with their pick.

15. Washington Redskins – Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) – with Alex Smith’s future in doubt, the Redskins ruin the Giants’ plans and pull another top signal caller off the board.

16. Carolina Panthers – Dalton Risner (G, Kansas State) – Panthers see a need for more protection for Cam Newton and draft a solid interior lineman, who may be a bit of a reach at this point of the draft.

17. New York Giants – Montez Sweat (Edge, Mississippi State) –  their QB plans up in smoke, New York switches gears and makes a good “best player available” choice instead.

18. Minnesota Vikings – Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson) – defensive line help isn’t a big need for the Vikings, but in this deep DL draft they choose a stud from the national champs who will harden an already stout group.

19. Tennessee Titans – Garrett Bradbury (C/G, North Carolina State) – Coach Mike Vrabel adds some beef to his front line to make Marcus Mariota’s life a little easier.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – DK Metcalf (WR, Mississippi) – Antonio Brown is gone, leaving a gaping hole in the club’s receiving corps. Although Metcalf is not the same style of receiver as AB, he will fit nicely into Pittsburgh’s passing attack.

21. Seattle Seahawks – Greedy Williams (CB, LSU) – the first corner comes off the board and the Hawks are glad to get him, filling a need in their undermanned secondary.

22. Baltimore Ravens – N’Keal Harry (WR, Arizona State) – some experts don’t see much first round talent among this year’s receivers, but Harry is a top notch player who will help lift their offense in 2019.

23. Houston Texans – Byron Murphy (CB, Washington) – this is a win/win for coach Bill O’Brien. Possibly the best available CB in the draft falls to them at this pick, and fills one of their top needs.

24. Oakland Raiders – Brian Burns (Edge, Florida State) – using the second of their 3 first round picks, the Raiders go defense again and corral a top edge rusher, hopefully improving their feeble pass rush.

25. Philadelphia Eagles – Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson) – already strong up front on defense, the Eagles can’t resist taking another run stuffer for their D-line.

26. Indianapolis Colts – AJ Brown (WR, Mississippi) – the Colts have a glaring need for outside receiving help, and make the wise choice of drafting another weapon for Andrew Luck, the second Ole Miss receiver off the board in the opening round.

27. Oakland Raiders – Noah Fant (TE, Iowa) – after taking defensive studs with their first 2 selections, the Raiders switch gears and pick a replacement for departed free agent Jared Cook. Right after a second WR from Ole Miss is selected, a second Hawkeye TE comes off the board.

28. Los Angeles Chargers – Devin Bush (LB, Michigan) – the “other Devin” comes off the board, giving the Chargers another young star addition to their defense, joining Joey Bosa and Derwin James.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – Jaylon Ferguson (Edge, Louisiana Tech) – a lot of losses on the defensive front for Andy Reid’s club forces a bit of a reach to pick an edge rusher.

30. Green Bay Packers – Deionte Thompson (S, Alabama) – Packers fill a big hole on defense by choosing this Crimson Tide stud, the first safety off the board.

31. Los Angeles Rams – Cody Ford (G, Oklahoma) – the defending NFC champs have gaping holes to fill on both lines, and they start with the O-line with their top pick.

32. New England Patriots – Irv Smith Jr. (TE, Alabama) – the Evil Empire of the NFL never drafts for need, and in a lot of instances would trade down out of this pick, but with plenty of selections already in hand and a top replacement for Gronk on the board, they snatch him up.

 

Round Two

 

33. Arizona Cardinals – Marquise Brown (WR, Oklahoma) – “Hollywood” Brown is perfect choice to pair with his college QB, Murray.

34. Indianapolis Colts – Zach Allen (DE, Boston College) – Indy grabs a first round-type talent to add more toughness to an already formidable defense.

35. Oakland Raiders – Josh Jacobs (RB, Alabama) – the first running back comes off the board as the Raiders hedge their bets against an uncertain future of Marshawn Lynch.

36. San Francisco 49ers – Parris Campbell (WR, Ohio State) – John Lynch adds a speedy pass catching option for his returning QB, Jimmy Garoppolo.

37. New York Giants – Deebo Samuel (WR, South Carolina) – it’s a deep draft for receivers and the Giants need one, although he’s certainly not another Odell Beckham.

38. Jacksonville Jaguars – Greg Little (T, Mississippi) – after gifting Nick Foles with a stud tight end in round one, the Jags add a top pass blocker for him with their second pick.

39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jeffrey Simmons (DT, Mississippi State) – he’s coming off a major injury and may not play right away, but he’s too good of a talent to pass up for coach Arians, who drafts his second defensive player despite his offensive background.

40. Buffalo Bills – Hakeem Butler (WR, Iowa State) – the towering and speedy receiver with a big catch radius is a perfect second round present to emerging QB Josh Allen.

41. Denver Broncos – DeAndre Baker (CB, Georgia) – Broncos begin to shore up their defense after picking their future franchise quarterback in round one.

42. Cincinnati Bengals – Juan Thornhill (S, Virginia) – the Bengals are always a team that pulls surprises in the draft, but picking a QB in round one was their head scratcher in this draft. In round 2 they pick a solid addition to their defensive secondary.

43. Detroit Lions – Mack Wilson (LB, Alabama) – the ‘Bama studs just keep coming off the board.

44. Green Bay Packers – Jerry Tillery (DE, Notre Dame) – the first Golden Domer to come off the board, the Packers get themselves some more solid defensive help.

45. Atlanta Falcons – Darnell Savage Jr. (S, Maryland) – although a bit of a reach to be picked this high, Atlanta gets themselves a guy who projects to be a future starter in their secondary.

46. Washington Redskins – Andy Isabella (WR, Massachusetts) – after drafting their QB of the future in round one, the ‘Skins get him some receiving help with this small school slot receiver.

47. Carolina Panthers – Kelvin Harmon (WR, North Carolina State) – coach Ron Rivera fills a void with a replacement for departed free agent Devin Funchess.

48. Miami Dolphins – Will Grier (QB, West Virginia) – a controversial choice as this guy is all over the board with the experts’ evaluations, but hey, aren’t the Fish tanking for Tua anyway?

49. Cleveland Browns – Justin Layne (CB, Michigan State) – the Browns’ first pick of the draft due to the Odell Beckham trade, and they decide to strengthen an area of need at cornerback.

50. Minnesota Vikings – Kaleb McGary (T, Washington) – they added a strong piece to their defensive line in the opening round, and now draft a big man to add toughness to the O-line.

51. Tennessee Titans – J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR, Stanford) – the Titans add to their receiving corps with another stud in a deep receiver class.

52. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford) – another weapon for Big Ben as Arcega-Whiteside’s teammate comes off the board right behind him.

53. Philadelphia Eagles – Elgton Jenkins (C, Mississippi State) – it’s a deep draft for big men on both sides of the ball and the Eagles add a future piece here.

54. Houston Texans – Taylor Rapp (S, Washington) – determined to improve their defensive secondary in 2019, the Texans add another player for that unit after drafting a CB in round one.

55. Houston Texans – Jace Sternberger (TE, Texas A&M) – a second consecutive pick for this club, and they get a nice security blanket outlet receiver for Deshaun Watson.

56. New England Patriots – Chris Lindstrom (G, Boston College) – after suffering free agent losses along the offensive line, the Pats stay in-state to pick a solid future starter.

57. Philadelphia Eagles – Riley Ridley (WR, Georgia) – they didn’t re-sign Golden Tate, so the Eagles use this extra second round pick to draft a replacement.

58. Dallas Cowboys – Nassir Adderley (S, Delaware) – the ‘Boys finally enter the fray with their first selection of the draft, and eagerly grab a nice piece to add to their weak secondary.

59. Indianapolis Colts – Julian Love (CB, Notre Dame) – another team taking advantage of multiple second round picks, the Colts pick up a good add to their young, aggressive defensive unit.

60. Los Angeles Chargers – Jachai Polite (Edge, Florida) – a first round talent who has plunged down many teams’ boards after a bad combine, Polite finds a home with a great group of young defensive talent in L.A.

61. Kansas City Chiefs – Rock Ya’Sin (CB, Temple) – a solid pickup for the Chiefs who was impressive at the Senior Bowl. K.C. gets more help where they most need it – on defense.

62. New Orleans Saints – Charles Omenihu (DT, Texas) – first pick of the draft for the Who Dat Nation and they decide to add some beef to their defensive line.

63. Kansas City Chiefs – Erik McCoy (C, Texas) – the departure of Mitch Morse leaves a gaping hole in the middle of K.C.’s offensive line, and they fill it with an immediate starter here.

64. New England Patriots – Yodny Cajuste (T, West Virginia) – with multiple picks like they always seem to have, the Pats get more help for their depleted O-line.

 

Round Three

 

65. Arizona Cardinals – Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)

66. Pittsburgh Steelers – Vosean Joseph (LB, Florida)

67. San Francisco 49ers – Michael Deiter (T, Wisconsin)

68. New York Jets – Emmanuel Hall (WR, Missouri)

69. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jalen Jelks (Edge, Oregon)

70. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Martez Ivey (T, Florida)

71. Denver Broncos – Dre’Mont Jones (DE, Ohio State)

72. Cincinnati Bengals – Oshane Ximines (Edge, Old Dominion)

73. New England Patriots – Amani Oruwariye (CB, Penn State)

74. Buffalo Bills – Chase Winovich (Edge, Michigan)

75. Green Bay Packers – Khalil Hodge (LB, Buffalo)

76. Washington Redskins – Johnathan Abram (S, Mississippi State)

77. Carolina Panthers – Cameron Smith (LB, USC)

78. Miami Dolphins – Kendall Joseph (LB, Clemson)

79. Atlanta Falcons – Trayvon Mullen (CB, Clemson)

80. Cleveland Browns – Bobby Evans (G, Oklahoma)

81. Minnesota Vikings – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S, Florida)

82. Tennessee Titans – Joe Giles-Harris (LB, Duke)

83. Pittsburgh Steelers – Gerald Willis III (DE, Miami (Fla)

84. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Oliver (TE, San Jose State)

85. Baltimore Ravens – Khalen Saunders (DT, Western Illinois)

86. Houston Texans – Te’Von Coney (LB, Notre Dame)

87. Chicago Bears – David Edwards (T, Wisconsin)

88. Detroit Lions – Germaine Pratt (LB, North Carolina State)

89. Indianapolis Colts – Max Scharping (T, Northern Illinois)

90. Dallas Cowboys – David Sills (WR, West Virginia)

91. Los Angeles Chargers – Joe Jackson (Edge, Miami, Fl.)

92. Kansas City Chiefs – Anthony Johnson (WR, Buffalo)

93. New York Jets – Isiah Prince (T, Ohio State)

94. Carolina Panthers – Ross Pierschbacher (C, Alabama)

95. New York Giants – Tyree Jackson (QB, Buffalo)

96. Washington Redskins – Devin Singletary (RB, Florida Atlantic)

97. New England Patriots – Connor McGovern (G, Penn State)

98. Jacksonville Jaguars – Michael Jordan (C, Ohio State)

99. Los Angeles Rams – Daniel Wise (DT, Kansas)

100. Carolina Panthers – Ricky Walker (DE, Virginia Tech)

101. New England Patriots – Foster Moreau (TE, LSU)

102. Baltimore Ravens – Dakota Allen (LB, Texas Tech)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Classic Team Logo of The Day

12 Apr

nfl100

This is the logo the National Football League will be using in 2019 to celebrate the league’s historic 100th season of existence. It was known as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) upon its’ inception in 1920, and was renamed the NFL in 1922. The story of how the league was founded at a Hupmobile dealership in Canton, Ohio is well known, and is why Canton earned it’s nickname as the “birthplace of professional football”. Only 2 franchises that originally began play in 1920 still remain in the league – the Chicago Bears (then known as the Decatur Staleys) and the Chicago (now Arizona) Cardinals.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

12 Apr

59toppskinghill

The Arizona Cardinals own the top selection in this year’s NFL college draft, and this is a 1959 Topps football card of the last player to be selected first overall by the Cardinal franchise, quarterback King Hill. He was chosen in 1958 with a “lottery bonus” pick, and halfback John David Crow was selected second overall, also by the Cards, who were based in Chicago at the time. Although he never was a star player, Hill played 11 seasons in the NFL with various teams, his longest stint ( 8 years) being with the Philadelphia Eagles. After retiring, he worked as an assistant coach and scout in Houston and New Orleans, was an avid golfer and aided in various charitable causes, including Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers and Special Olympics. Hill passed away in 2012 at the age of 75.

 

NFL – Bills’ Free Agency Summary

27 Mar

Buffalo Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane, with plenty of salary cap money to spend, promised to be aggressive, while spending “judiciously”, in this year’s annual free agent frenzy period in the NFL. With 14 total signings so far, he has lived up to his word on both counts. The Bills’ strategy, as outlined by Beane and coach Sean McDermott, was to fill holes on the roster with enough free agent talent so as not to leave the team in a spot where they suffer from any  “positional emergencies” when draft times comes in April. As of this date, with some free agents still out there unsigned, Buffalo has inked a grand total of 14 new players. Here is a positional account of the players the Bills have corralled so far:

Running Back

The Bills are almost surely going to select a back somewhere on day 2 or 3 of the draft, so it was somewhat of a surprise when they signed 35 year old veteran Frank Gore to a contract. Gore, along with LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory, gave the Bills a geriatric running back stable by NFL standards, since all are over 30, until Ivory was released recently. Gore’s signing is mostly for his locker room presence and professionalism, but he is still a very capable runner.

 

Wide Receiver

The Bills caught a bit of lightning in a bottle late in the 2018 season with the emergence of Robert Foster and Isiah McKenzie, but their wide receiver room was still very thin. They grabbed a pair of veterans who will certainly help with Josh Allen’s progression in 2019 in John Brown, an underrated deep threat, and Cole Beasley, a top notch slot receiver. The team also swiped last season’s leading kick returner, Pro Bowler Andre Roberts, from the division rival New York Jets. He is basically a journeyman receiver, but his kick return ability shows that the Bills’ brass is serious about upgrading every phase of the team, including special teams, through free agency.

 

Offensive Line

The offensive line was clearly the unit in most need of an overhaul, and the Bills got an early start in that project when they signed center/guard Spencer Long after he was waived by the Jets in a salary cap move. Their prize fee agent, and a player I’m sure they expect to anchor the line for years to come, is center Mitch Morse, plucked away from the Kansas City Chiefs. He is a young veteran who will help Allen with the O-line calls. The rest of the offensive line signings could be viewed as depth players, but they all have untapped potential to grow into solid starters if they take advantage of the opportunities they will surely get. Due to the large number of players signed, the newcomers’ chances will range from becoming starters to not even making the final roster. The signees include guard Jon Feliciano from Oakland, who has worked with new line coach Bobby Johnson in the past, tackle LaAdrian Waddle from New England and tackle Ty Nsekhe from Washington, both of whom are immediate candidates to fight for the starting right tackle position. The Bills allowed three starters from last year’s line to walk away, so it was imperative that they add as many reinforcements as possible, and they did.

 

Tight End

After releasing Charles Clay and not re-signing Logan Thomas, the Bills had only one tight end, Jason Croom, on their roster, leaving another position group razor thin. They shored this group up by signing a pair of interesting prospects – Tyler Kroft, an oft-injured former Cincinnati Bengal who has shown promise in limited playing time, and a real project, Jake Fisher, also a former Bengal who is attempting to transition from tackle to tight end.

 

Cornerback

Although undrafted free agent Levi Wallace appeared to solidify the CB spot left open when Vontae Davis quit at halftime of a game last year, the Bills added a pair of veterans to compete with him for that spot and also much needed depth at the position. They are Kevin Johnson, a former first round draft choice of the Houston Texans, and E.J. Gaines, who returns to the club after playing last season for the Browns. Both have injury histories they will have to overcome in order to make the roster. It’s worth noting that when Gaines was with the Bills back in 2017, the team had an 8-3 record in the games he played in.

 

Linebacker

This appears to be strictly an addition to the special teams, but the Bills signed Maurice Alexander to a one year deal as a linebacker also. It should be remembered that Buffalo did the same thing a few years ago when they signed a player with the same name, Lorenzo Alexander, and he turned out to be much more than what they thought they were getting.

We’ll provide updates to this list if any other players are signed by the Bills as the free agency period continues.

 
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Classic Team Logo of The Day

27 Mar

pttstategorillas

Logo of a Division II college football team that plays in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the Pittsburg State Gorillas. The program came into existence in 1908 and has been highly successful, boasting a .663 winning percentage and an undefeated (3-0) bowl record. The Gorillas, who have claimed 4 small college national championships over the years, have sent a few alumni on to pro football careers, including Eldon Danenhauer, Ronald Moore, Troy Wilson, Brian Moorman, Kendall Gannon and John Brown.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

27 Mar

2014bowmanchromegore

2014 Bowman Chrome football card of NFL running back Frank Gore, a soon to be 36 year old who recently signed to play his 15th season in the league for the Buffalo Bills. He had most of his success in his first 10 years in San Francisco with the 49ers, but has proven to be a durable back. A five-time Pro Bowler, Gore is fourth on the NFL’s list of all-time rushing leaders, and should be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he decides to  retire.

 

NFL – How The Cleveland Browns Saved Pro Football

01 Feb

The beginning of the growth of the National Football League into the popularity monster that it is today goes back to the 1960s and the birth of the AFL/NFL Championship game, orchestrated by the league’s commissioner at the time, Pete Rozelle. A true visionary, he refereed the battle between the old guard NFL owners and the renegade AFL owners, and out of the battle came the merger of the 2 leagues. The agreement spelled out that beginning immediately the rival leagues would hold a common draft of college players, thus ending the bidding war for players that had been going on. Another of the stipulations was that also beginning immediately, the champions of the 2 leagues would play an ultimate title game to decide who was the “world champion”. The merger agreement was made in 1966, but the actual merger itself didn’t begin until 1970. At that time, there were 16 NFL teams and 10 AFL, so 3 of the old guard clubs had to be transferred into the new American Conference. The Pittsburgh Steelers, longtime NFL doormats who perhaps saw an opportunity for more success among the AFL clubs, volunteered to go. Two franchises that had joined the NFL from another league, the old All America Conference, were natural clubs to make the move  – the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns. Browns’ owner Art Modell balked at the idea, however, but eventually agreed when Rozelle promised him that his team could host the inaugural Monday Night Football game in that first merger season of 1970.

It wasn’t Modell’s agreement to shift that saved pro football though. It was the Browns team of the late ’60s that had a hand in moving the game forward, in a very weird way in fact. The Browns were a proud, winning franchise in the NFL since joining the league in 1950, and were regular participants in the playoffs most of the decade of the 1960s. In fact, they were in the NFL title game the last 2 seasons before the leagues joined together in 1970. That’s where their contribution to saving the NFL comes in to play. The NFL had always boasted that they were the superior league, and that the AFL was a “Mickey Mouse” league full of castoff players who couldn’t make it in the older league. When the Green Bay Packers dominated the best the AFL had to offer in the first 2 AFL/NFL Championship games, doubt began to creep in on whether the merger was a good idea. The NFL owners’ “Mickey Mouse” comments were appearing to be true, that is, until Joe Namath’s New York Jets and the Hank Stram-led Kansas City Chiefs won the next 2 title contests in what were considered to be massive upsets. Those games gave the AFL a bit of legitimacy, but were they really that great of upsets? Part of the reason the Colts team that Namath beat, and the Minnesota Vikings squad that the Chiefs dominated were considered powerhouses was because they had manhandled the proud Browns franchise in the NFL title games. The Colts shut the Browns out 37-0, and coach Don Shula’s defense was expected to totally crush what was considered to be an inferior Jets’ team in the Super Bowl. The next season, Bud Grant’s Vikings, with CFL reject Joe Kapp at quarterback, completely demolished the Browns in the title game. The final score was only 27-7 but the Vikings controlled play the entire game on a bitter cold day in Minnesota.

So even though the Colts and Vikings had very successful seasons on their way to those Super Bowls, it was their dominance of the Browns that established them as heavy favorites against their supposedly weaker AFL competition. Realistically, though, the Cleveland franchise was in the beginning stages of a gradual decline at that point. Jim Brown, considered the greatest player of all time, had long since retired. LeRoy Kelly had replaced him and was a very good back, a future Hall of Famer in fact, but he wasn’t Jim Brown. More importantly, the quarterback who had guided the Browns to the 1964 title, Frank Ryan, was also gone, forced to retire due to injuries. His replacement, Bill Nelsen, was a gamer who played through injuries and was enough of a leader to get his club into the playoffs, but he wasn’t an elite signal caller. The Browns’ offensive line was aging at the time also, and their defense was a mixture of aging players and  inexperienced rookies and young players. So, in a strange way, credit is due to the Browns for making the Colts and Vikings appear to be unbeatable behemoths, who would easily crush, as Vince Lombardi’s Packers had, their AFL opponents. What those Baltimore and Minnesota clubs didn’t realize was that the AFL was already in its’ ninth and tenth years of existence, and the Jets and Chiefs had been built into true championship contenders.

 

billnelsen

Browns’ QB Bill Nelsen (Getty Images)

 

 

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

01 Feb

UMASSMinutemen4

Logo of an independent college football team that plays in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, the University of Massachusetts Minutemen. They began play in 1879 and have sent a number of players on to pro football, including John McCormick, Milt Morin, Greg Landry, Victor Cruz, Vlad Ducasse and James Ihedigbo.

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

01 Feb

68toppshickerson

1968 Topps football card of former Cleveland Browns’ guard Gene Hickerson, who enjoyed a solid 15 year career in the NFL, all with the Browns. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and lead blocker on the Browns’ line for 3 different 1,000 yard rushers, all of whom are Hall of Famers – Bobby Mitchell, Jim Brown and LeRoy Kelly. Hickerson was voted to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1960s, played on the Browns’ 1964 championship team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He passed away in 2008.

 

NFL – Five Super Bowl MVPs That Never Were

30 Jan

Sometimes the choice of a Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl is an obvious one, like Nick Foles in last year’s game or Terry Bradshaw in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 1970s dynasty’s last win in Super Bowl XIV. More often than not, though, the choice is controversial, a lot of the time with the winning team’s quarterback being picked instead of another player who really deserved it more, as in Super Bowl LI, when New England’s Tom Brady won over his teammate who had a dominating performance, running back James White. There are so many unfair choices over the years that it was hard to pin it down to 5, but here are our choices for the Super Bowl MVPs who never were:

maxmcgee

  1. Max McGee (Super Bowl I) – technically it wasn’t a Super Bowl, it was called the AFL/NFL Championship Game in the beginning, but even in the first one ever played their was a controversial choice. The Packers won over the Kansas City Chiefs handily, 35-10, and the team’s stellar quarterback, Bart Starr, was named MVP. Starr played brilliantly so it wasn’t a bad choice, but McGee may have been even better. He was a little-used past his prime veteran at the time and didn’t expect to play, and was hung over on game day after partying with a couple of stewardesses the night before. McGee was forced into action when Boyd Dowler separated his shoulder early in the game, and wound up catching 7 passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win.

 

matt-snell

2. Matt Snell (Super Bowl III) – since Joe Namath had guaranteed that his New York Jets would defeat the highly-favored Baltimore Colts and then delivered on his guarantee, there was no way anyone but Broadway Joe was going to win the MVP Award in Super Bowl III. But running back Matt Snell had a strong case to be the game’s top player also. He rushed for 121 yards on 30 carries and his team’s only touchdown as the Jets ran a ball control offense to shock the Colts 16-7.

 

clarencedavis

3. Clarence Davis (Super Bowl XI) – this Super Bowl was a shining moment for the Oakland Raider franchise as they won their first championship after being one of pro football’s most winning teams for a decade, yet failing to “win the big one”. They manhandled the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 to give coach John Madden his first title. Running back Davis could easily have been picked as the game’s MVP. He rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries as the Raiders crushed the aging Vikings with a bruising run game. It wasn’t even a case of Davis being overshadowed by a quarterback. Ken Stabler played a fine game also in leading the Oakland attack but he wasn’t chosen as MVP either. The honor went to wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who made a series of key receptions during the game among his 4 for 79 yards, not exactly overwhelming statistics.

 

thurmansb25

4. Thurman Thomas (Super Bowl XXV) – the precedent was set in Super Bowl V, when the Colts defeated the Cowboys but Chuck Howley of the losing team was chosen as the game’s MVP. Super Bowl XXV, between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, was one of the most exciting ever played, and Buffalo’s Thurman Thomas, with 135 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and another 55 yards on 5 pass receptions, was the dominant player in the game. When Scott Norwood’s last second field goal went wide right, giving the Giants a 20-19 victory, MVP voters decided that the Giants’ Ottis Anderson deserved the award instead. Giants’ coach Bill Parcells had employed a grinding rushing attack to eat up time on the clock and keep the Bills’ high-powered offense off the field, and Anderson was the main guy doing the damage, with 102 yards rushing and a TD. Still, Thomas’ performance was dynamic and one for the ages.

 

dwightsmith

5. Dwight Smith (Super Bowl XXXVII) – there’s no question the MVP of this Super Bowl should have been a defensive player. For one thing, the quarterback duel was between a pair of journeymen, Oakland’s Rich Gannon and Tampa Bay’s Brad Johnson, not exactly a marquee matchup. For another, the Buccaneer defense absolutely dominated Gannon and the Raiders, forcing 6 turnovers, with 5 of them being interceptions, in a 48-21 rout. So Tampa safety Dexter Jackson, who had a pair of picks, was named MVP. Deserving, I guess, but not when you consider that his secondary mate, Smith, also had a pair of interceptions, but he returned both of his for touchdowns. The reason for the snub is that the second of Smith’s pick-sixes came with just a few seconds left in the game, when the MVP voting was likely already completed.