NFL Draft Notes and NBA News


By Jim Hurley:

Let's face it, folks ...

There's so much to say - still -- about the first round of this week's NFL Draft that we had to let some of it "spill over" to this Jim Sez column and so we'll get in some final Round I comments in just a bit plus a few words about Rounds II and III as well.

No doubt that the wheeling-and-dealing in the opening round - there were eight different NFL teams that changed draft orders thanks to trades - was rather unique and when the dust settled there was just one team with a pair of first-round picks as the New Orleans Saints gobbled up California DE Cameron Jordan at #24 and Alabama RB Mark Ingram at pick #28 - not a bad haul at all for the 2009 Super Bowl champions.

Much more to say shortly but now hear this:

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Go ahead and take your pick as to what was the single most controversial selection in Thursday's Round One - was it Tennessee's selection of QB Jake Locker (Washington) with the eighth overall choice or perhaps Minnesota's selection of QB Christian Ponder (Florida State) at #12 - but let's just say two of the best draft choices were made back-to-back in the middle of Round I when the Miami Dolphins snatched up G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida) at #15 and than that was followed by Washington nabbing DE Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue) at #16.

The initial reports coming out of South Florida are the Fish will fit Pouncey somewhere along their O-line this year (more likely at guard than center, at least to start things off) right from the proverbial get-go while the revved-up Kerrigan figures to be an instant force in the NFL with pass-rush star Brian Orakpo anchoring the other end of the Skins defensive line. Don't look now but those head-to-head showdowns between Dallas rookie OT Tyron Smith (USC) versus either/both Orakpo or Kerrigan should be real "beauts" in the coming years ...

Folks, there were more than a couple of occasions where an NFL team had its bubble burst when a player they loved was tabbed a pick or two ahead of 'em. Obviously, by now folks know all about how the San Francisco 49ers at #7 were dead-set on gobbling up LSU cornerback/special teams star Patrick Peterson but instead he was snatched away two picks earlier by NFC West rival Arizona - a great move by the Cardinals that could reverberate for years - but Detroit's choice of DT Nick Fairley (Auburn) one pick before #14 St. Louis chose DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina) was a bummer for the Rams (although they won't admit it!) and ditto for the New York Giants tabbing CB Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) one pick before #20 Tampa Bay who had its heart set on grabbing up the 'Husker cornerback ...

Now, here's a couple of second- and third-round picks we really liked from Friday's portion of the NFL Draft:

The Houston Texans beefed up their woe-be-gone defense with two big picks in pick #42 OLB Brooks Reed (Arizona) and pick #60 CB Brandon Harris (Miami) thus already adding to the mix that included first-round draftee defensive end J.J. Watt (Wisconsin). Think new Texans' defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is smiling today? ...

Than there's the underrated second-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins - RB Daniel Thomas (Kansas State) is a perfect heir apparent to RB Ronnie Brown and wait till you see how Thomas handles the "Wildcat" role!

Who figures to be a second-round bust?

Arizona RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech) - who cried his eyes out after getting tabbed at pick #38 - simply is too injury-prone to make it through 16-game regular seasons and the NFC West guys instead should have grabbed the aforementioned RB Thomas or perhaps even DE Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson) who wound up dropping all the way to the #51 pick with Tampa Bay.



It's a question we asked a couple of weeks ago when the NBA's Western Conference #1 seed San Antonio Spurs were just starting up their best-of-seven playoff series against the #8 seed Memphis Grizzlies: Were the four-time champion Spurs growing old before our very eyes?

Well, as anyone could see for himself/herself, the Spurs broke down plenty in that six-game series loss that just wrapped up with Friday night's 99-91 Grizz win but maybe it's high time to hand out more credit to Lionel Hollins' guys and take less verbal/written jabs at the Spurs.

When the chips were on the line in the final few minutes of Game #6, there was money man Zach Randolph (31 points and 11 rebounds) hitting his lefty shots from all corners of the world and there was Memphis diving for loose balls and making all the "hustle plays" that NBA champions tend to make - the same type plays that a younger/hungrier Spurs team used to make all the time.

Randolph's magical game pushed Memphis into the Western Conference semifinal round against the Oklahoma City Thunder and - though it shouldn't - this series is bound to get lost in the proverbial shuffle considering Boston vs. Miami and Dallas vs. the Los Angeles Lakers figures to gobble up most of the hoop headlines but don't be surprised if Grizzlies-Thunder turns into an epic playoff series (we'll have the preview in the next Jim Sez along with all the regular-season meetings in chart form) and don't be surprised if the names Sam Young and Mike Conley and Marc Gasol start getting some national attention ... 'tis about time, right?

NOTE: Get more insight into the NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs and MLB too in the upcoming editions of Jim Sez.


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