Archive for April, 2010

Countdown: L.T.’s boozy draft, Ben’s brain, NHL ‘extraction’

The Count's cape didn't start out as a fashion statement.

The Count's cape wasn't meant for fashion.

People ask The Count all the time, “Dude. The Cape. What gives?” Truth is, it goes back to an unfortunate night in Laredo, Texas, back when The Count still shot tequila, and he really had no choice because the Wolfman jumped up on a bar and yelled, “All you bi*****, drink my shots!” And, well, can’t say no to the Wolfman. The rest of that night is a fog. The next thing anybody knew, the cops broke in and busted The Count for buying drinks for underage souls. TMZ showed up with cameras. The Count grabbed his jacket, draped it over his head like a cape as he tried to run out the door. It was all over the tabloids. But the cape look stuck. Anyways, ever wonder how many sports stars today would grab a cape to put over their head if they could? I mean, Lawrence Taylor – now THERE’s a guy who needed a cape. We count down . . .

10. Probably not what Roger Goodell was hoping he’d say

L.T. was alternately one of the NFL’s greatest players …

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First base is Braves’ most fixable problem: Adrian Gonzalez

Here's Adrian Gonzalez after he scored in Padres' 10-run fourth-inning against the Braves. Oops. (AP photo)

Here's Adrian Gonzalez after he scored during Padres' 10-run fourth-inning against Braves. Oops.

A rumor popped up a few days ago that the Braves might have some interest in San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, which is interesting because I proposed the same thing in November.

As I wrote then, the Padres need to trim payroll and there is absolutely no downside to the Braves pursuing a trade for Gonzalez: 1) He gives them a dependable power hitter and run producer; 2) He fills the great black hole that always seems to exist at first base in Turner Field; 3) He has a favorable contract ($4.75 million and $5.5 million this season and in 2011, respectively); 4) His name isn’t Troy Glaus.

Would Braves general manager Frank Wren have to deal some prospects for Gonzalez? Yes. Do the Braves still feel somewhat burned by the Mark Teixeira trade? Probably. But there comes a time when a franchise has to push the button on a deal, and the Braves can’t afford to drop too far out of …

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Grading Falcons’ draft picks, from Roddy (A) to Jimmy (ugh)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank had no idea at this point the money he was about to waste on Jimmy Williams (center in suit and tie).

Falcons owner Arthur Blank had no idea at this point the money he was about to waste on Jimmy Williams (center in suit and tie).

So in my last post, I explained why grading teams for their draft was a stupid exercise. It takes at least three years, sometimes longer, to get an accurate read 0n how selections panned out.  And then alert reader “David C” suggested: “A good idea going forward would be to note the grades of so-called experts and writers from 5 years back and then we’d all know who is the expert and who is the hack.”

That would be a good idea. But honestly, I don’t want to take the time to find what ESPN, SI, Fox or Bob’s Second-Guessing Blog Out Of My Mom’s Basement wrote five years ago. I figure we can do this ourselves. So following are the Falcons’ drafts from 2003 to 2007. (Technically, we’ve only had two seasons to grade the 2007 draft, the last one under former general manager Rich McKay, but former first-round pick Jamaal Anderson certainly has given us …

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Draft report card: Graders get an F, Falcons get 3 to 5 years

This is Mel Kiper. I don't particularly like what he does, and I certainly don't like his hair.

This is Mel Kiper. I don't particularly like what he does, and I certainly don't like his hair.

I was going to start this by saying what a stupid exercise it is for media members to “grade” an NFL teams’ drafts every year, and then I found something written by Rob Rang of CBS Sports that supplies the perfect analogy:

“Grading a draft immediately after it concludes is akin to giving your compliments to the chef before the meal has been served. Sure, the food might sound good (or bad) based on the ingredients listed on the menu, but the true review can’t be done until after the product has been tested.”

Think about it. I’ve had 17,000 plates of fettucini alfredo in my [ever-shortening] life. Sometimes, I wanted to marry it. Other times, I want to use it as spackle.  Now, I may know my body NEEDS fettucini alfredo (go with it). But can I really give myself an A for making the right choice of fettucini alfredo on the menu, especially when the name of the restaurant is …

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Falcons’ additions will get them back into playoffs

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The drafting of Sean Weatherspoon is one of the moves by Thomas Dimitroff that will get the Falcons back in the playoffs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Two years ago, we expected too little. One year ago, we expected too much. So it’s safe to conclude that even with all that Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have accomplished during their brief reign with the Falcons, they’ve managed to keep at least one tradition in tact: The team is still keeping us guessing.

But not this time.

Last month, they signed a legitimate cornerback (Dunta Robinson). This allowed the Falcons to cut back on its janitorial stuff because now somebody won’t have to run onto the field to sweep up the ashes after every opponent’s pass play.

Then came the draft. They needed an outside linebacker who could drop into coverage, help create some mayhem on the pass rush and, if at all possible, hit somebody. They found Sean Weatherspoon. They needed linemen on both sides of the ball. They took a …

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Falcons still need linemen (and Weatherspoon video-palooza)

Florida's Carlos Dunlap might be a risk worth taking at defensive end.

Florida's Carlos Dunlap might be a risk worth taking at defensive end.

The Falcons have filled one significant hole on their defense with the drafting of Sean Weatherspoon. Today, they can fill another. They don’t have a second-round pick, so to get a real impact player might require general manager Thomas Dimitroff to trade up.

Dimitroff suggested Thursday that trying to move into the second round “might be too expensive” in trade. Indeed, this whole three-day draft thing creates a new dynamic for general managers. They have a day to think about who’s still left on the board after the first round and what moves they might want to make to go after a specific player. That can drive up the market.

That said, here are five players who would help the Falcons (but may or may not be available by their scheduled turn in the third round). You’ll notice a theme. I think the Falcons still need help on both lines.

Then, enjoy a Sean Weatherspoon Video Feast.

1. Indiana tackle Rodger …

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Weatherspoon helps Falcons fix the right side of the ball

Sean Weatherspoon will have the Falcons' defense headed up next season.

Sean Weatherspoon will have the Falcons' defense headed up next season.

FLOWERY BRANCH — In his never-ending quest to not let you know what he’s really thinking – which just makes him an NFL general manager — Thomas Dimitroff balked at answering a question the other day.

It was a simple one: In his extreme makeover plans, on which side of the ball were the Falcons closer to completion?

Dimitroff started and stopped his answer twice, before finally saying: “I would suggest we’re a tad closer to where we want to be on offense.”

Statistics, actually, would tell you a lot closer.

The Falcons had to take outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on Thursday night.

Injuries in 2009 notwithstanding, when a team finishes 21st in total defense, 28th against the pass, 26th in sacks, 16th in interceptions and 26th in passes defensed, it’s not even a close call.

The pass rush stunk. The coverage stunk. This weekly game of bend-bend-bend-drop-to-your-knees-and-pray-you-don’t-break …

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Draft night (LIVE): Behind the scenes at Falcons’ HQ

event-information-logoFLOWERY BRANCH — I’ve arrived at Falcons’ Draft Central.

Actually, more like Falcons’ Draft South of Central. The media is on the first floor of the team’s offices. Arthur Blank, Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and everybody who really matters in the front office is on the second floor. This affords the executive branch privacy during important matters such as NFL drafts and national security. I also have this theory that Dimitroff controls a trap door that will open directly above me, dropping a barbell on my head if I question one of his selections (because I’m also sure the room is bugged. Just remember: You’re not really paranoid if everybody’s out to get you).

Before getting into draft, here’s a little peak into where I am:

NFL teams have their "war room." We in the media have our "bunker." As you can see, it's a buzz of activity.

NFL teams have their "war room." We in the media have our "bunker." As you can see, it's a buzz of activity.

I stopped at Chick-fil-A on the way. Figured the Falcons would serve us Pizza. Little did I know they would actually cater the evening with, "Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken." And yes, I'll eat again.

I stopped at Chick-fil-A on the way. Figured the Falcons would serve us pizza. Didn't know they would actually cater the evening with, …

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Draft day (Part II): Tebow top 15, Morgan to Falcons?

Ken Whisenhunt isn't the biggest fan of Matt Leinart, so having interest in Ben Roethlisberger makes sense.

Ken Whisenhunt isn't the biggest fan of quarterback Matt Leinart, so having interest in Ben Roethlisberger makes sense.

UPDATE: Tim Tebow was taken by the Denver Broncos at No. 25 in the first round.

Thought I’d check in one more time before heading out to Flowery Branch, because we’re into the seven-hour countdown to the Falcons’ pick and there might be traffic. But first, here are a few things that have caught my attention of late.

(If you missed it, click here for our earlier pre-draft warm-up blog.)

TEBOW KNOWS ALL: There are two stories about the most talked-about NFL draft pick whom nobody seems to agree on. Tebow’s father, Bob Tebow, whom I’m guessing can’t be completely objective on these matters, told a Jacksonville radio station, “If the Jaguars don’t take him at 10, he’ll be gone by 15.”

Really? For what it’s worth, teams 11 through 15 in the draft are (in order): Denver,  Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and the New York Giants.

The other story has to do with

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Draft day: Falcon options; Berry rips Deion; Tebow to Vikes?

So when a player gets picked, does he parachute down off the roof? (AP photo)

So when a player gets picked, does he parachute down off the roof?

Good morning. It’s day one of three of the NFL draft and I’m still working on my Round 4 mock for Saturday morning. So stay tuned!

Seriously, I remember when they used to do this thing all in one day. At the risk of sounding like the old guy on the front page, screaming every time a car with New York plates drives by, I liked that better. For one thing, we wouldn’t have to wait until possibly 10:40 p.m. before the Falcons make their first selection.

So here’s how it’s going to work today. I’m not in New York, I’m not embedded in anybody’s “war room” and I certainly don’t have Bill Polian on the hotline. But I’ll keep you up to date as best I can on things going on throughout the day and we’ll go live with a blog during the first round. Then when the Falcons trade their No. 1 pick 15 minutes before I have to post a column, I will run head first into the nearest wall.

As of now, here are five hot button topics …

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