The Top Incoming Cornerbacks

Baseball now 4-0 this week as Hit & Run Club Sweeps Tuesday with Yankees  and Cardinals.

Our Jim Sez Mid-Week Report Spotlights The Top Incoming Cornerbacks Plus There’s NBA Notes Too As We Hail Houston Coach McHale

If you tend to believe the hype, than as many as five or six teams in the top 10 of this year’s NFL Draft will be trading their selections downward – some folks even believe that this will be the wildest first round in draft history should the likes of the Minnesota Vikings (at #3), the Cleveland Browns (at #4) and/or the Miami Dolphins (at #8) move their pick for players/future draft choices.

Okay, so who might be some of the “biggest winners” should this scenario occur?

It’s safe to say that a couple of teams sitting there right smack in the middle of Round I – that’s namely the Dallas Cowboys at #14 and the New York Jets at #16 – would love to jump ahead eight, nine or even 10 picks forward with the ‘Boys eyeballing Alabama RB Trent Richardson and Jets said to be swooning over Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon.

Where is TV’s Monty Hall when you need him (go “Google” him, if necessary!).

We shall keep you appraised of all the possible trade talk in the days ahead as there is lots to get into when the NFL Draft with this mid-week edition of Jim Sez as we’ll tackle the top rookie cornerbacks in this draft but first this key reminder:

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Our official NFL Draft coverage at Jim Sez continues today as we bring you our position-by-position analyses – here it’s the top Cornerbacks. Note that we will have our Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft Preview on Wednesday, April 25th. The NFL Draft will be held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 26-27-28:

MORRIS CLAIBORNE, LSU – Last year’s Thorpe Award winner is generally considered a lock to get nabbed somewhere in the top 10 picks but keep in mind he underwent left wrist surgery in late March and that might scare off a team or two here. Claiborne – who stands 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds – is your prototypical “shutdown” corner who picked off six passes a year ago as LSU marched all the way to the BCS Championship Game. Among Claiborne’s attributes are quick feet and long arms as he doesn’t often let enemy receivers go too far once they do catch a rare pass. As stated above, teams could be trading down in the early portion of Round One and Claiborne could be a target – do not be shocked if Arizona (at #13) trades up into the top six picks so the Cardinals can land Claiborne and thus pair him with old LSU buddy Patrick Peterson.

STEPHON GILMORE, SOUTH CAROLINA – You’ll note that the top three CBs in this draft all hail from the Southeastern Conference and here’s a player that didn’t make a whole lot of national news but consider Gilmore was a three-year starter for the defensively-sound Gamecocks and his 6-foot-1 frame and dazzling speed (see unofficial 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash) makes him a coveted defender. Throw into the mix the fact that Gilmore is a vocal team leader who fills up the stat sheet with 8 career INTs, 4 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries and remember he had an important pick in the Capital One Bowl win against Nebraska. Odds are Gilmore will get snagged somewhere by the middle of Round One and if ‘Zona doesn’t move up for Claiborne than the Cardinals might “settle” for Gilmore with pick #13.

DRE KIRKPATRICK, ALABAMA – No doubt this 6-foot-2, 187-pounder has played in a slew of big games in his star-studded college career and his value intensifies when you consider he will probably also be utilized on special teams wherever he winds up in the pros. Kirkpatrick is strong enough to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and quick enough to react to dart throws but there is some question as to whether he’ll force many turnovers as he netted just three INTs in his college career and all came in 2010. A recent marijuana arrest – no charges were filed as the CB reminded Twitter followers – could scare off some teams. Best guess-estimate here is that Gilmore and Kirkpatrick will come off the board quickly (and maybe right after one another) by the middle of the first round and one possible NFL destination is Dallas at #14.

JOSH ROBINSON, UCF – Don’t expect this 5-foot-10, 200-pounder to make the leap into the first round of this year’s NFL Draft but do keep in mind that this early entry (leaving after his junior season) did post the fastest 40 time (4.33) of any player in last month’s NFL Combine. Robinson played/started only eight games for the UCF Knights last year but his speed and ability to show off major tools to the pro scouts could jettison him into an early second-round pick although many folks believe he might last all the way to Round III. Could well be on New England’s radar screen plus Indianapolis might want him to be part of its team-wide rebuilding process.

JANORIS JENKINS, NORTH ALABAMA – This 5-foot-10, 193-pounder was chucked off the Florida team by head coach Will Muschamp following a second marijuana charge but he finished up his career strong at this tiny school and likely boosted his pro stock in the meantime. Jenkins has been compared favorably to NFL star CS Asante Samuel (Philadelphia) and remember he was timed at 4.46 in the 40 and so that could push him into the middle of Round II – might Seattle be keeping fingers crossed he is there in the second round?


Okay, so talk is heating up these days in terms of who will be the NBA’s MVP, Rookie of the Year, etc.

When it comes to Coach of the Year talk most folks mention San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks and even Indiana’s Frank Vogel but you tell us:

Is there really anyone out there that’s done a better all-around job than first-year Houston Rockets boss Kevin McHale?

The Rockets (32-25 while entering the Wednesday night home game against Utah) have won four in a row and seven of their last 10 tilts and how about the recent road swing that saw Houston beat Chicago, the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento and Portland.

The 94-89 win at the Rose Garden this past Monday night – it was Houston’s third road game in four nights – was amazing on two counts as it gave the Rockets (for now) the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs one full game ahead of archrival Dallas and it showed that McHale’s crew could “take a punch” as Portland charged out of the halftime locker room down 49-40, tied the game on a Raymond Felton jumper and then put the pedal to the floor and marched off with a 71-65 lead after three quarters.

The Rockets may not scare anyone who’s looking at the big picture in the NBA West – but maybe they should be sending some fright through the rest of this conference.

McHale has helped to mold a solid team that allows eight players to get 20-plus minutes a night and everyone knows his role from star power forward Luis Scola to key reserve rebounder/defender Samuel Dalembert. P.S., don’t look now but free-agent-to-be point guard Goran Dragic (22 points, 7 assists and 3 steals in the win at Portland) ranks right up there at the top of the league’s “most underrated” players.

Hey, the Rockets may have only nine remaining regular-season games but they could leap-frog both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies for the fourth seed out West – than how could anyone deny McHale the NBA Coach of the Year award than, right?

NOTE: Get more NFL Draft coverage along with the NBA in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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