I shouldn’t complain, given that Buzz in the spring would be a 50-word weekly brief if it weren’t for the NFL draft. But you know matters have gotten a little squirrelly, as we say along Pit Road, when CBSsports.com gives us four mocks for a draft that’s still a month away.
But this doesn’t give CBSsports.com sole possession of first place in the heated race for most mocks. NFL.com also has four, including one from esteemed former colleague Steve Wyche and another from semi-esteemed — I’m kidding; he’s a fine fellow — former Falcon Jamie Dukes. And here’s a video top 10 from Charles Davis.
All this blather would be a tad more intriguing if the draft hadn’t crystallized last Thursday, when Georgia held its pro day in Athens. As Charles Robinson writes on Yahoo! Sports, Matthew Stafford is the clear favorite to go No. 1 overall. And the aforementioned EFC Steve Wyche believes Detroit’s choice is now obvious. (Pat Kirwan of NFL.com disagrees, putting Stafford No. 4 in his mock, with tackle Eugene Monroe of Virginia going first.)
Seeking to sound a note of reason, Don Banks of SI.com notes that almost nobody looks bad on a scripted pro day. (Apparently Alabama’s Andre Smith is the exception that proves the rule.) And Todd McShay of Scouts, Inc. goes so far as to say that Knowshon Moreno, who was believed to have hurt himself with a sluggish 40 time, actually showed well.
The consensus of all these mocks seems to have Moreno going in the middle of the first round. Less consensual is what the Falcons are apt to do with the 24th pick. Click on these links and you’ll find names like Peria Jerry (a defensive tackle) and Brandon Pettigrew (a tight end) and Aaron Maybin (a defensive end) and Clay Matthews (a linebacker) and Robert Ayers (another linebacker) slotted, which means nobody really knows what Thomas Dimitroff is planning. Which makes sense, given that Dimitroff might not yet know himself.
Writing for Pro Football Weekly, Mike Holbrook reports NFL owners might be considering shifting the draft to February. That would make it infinitely harder to fill this space, and it would also mean the first mock drafts would be posted on Memorial Day.
Outfield prospect Jason Heyward? (By the way, I know I’m going to mess up and refer to him as Justin Hayward, who was just the singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band known as the Moody Blues.) Jayson Stark of ESPN.com quotes an unnamed scout as saying he’s Darryl Strawberry with a faster bat. Hey now!
And Jon Heyman of SI.com becomes the latest to laud Tommy Hanson, and he includes Heyward on his list of young guys to watch. (He also includes Elvis Andrus, the shortstop who went to Texas in the Mark Teixeira trade.)
In another post, Heyman credits the Braves as being savvy shoppers by signing Tom Glavine and Garret Anderson. Then again, he also praises the Red Sox for signing John Smoltz and the Mariners for landing Ken Griffey Jr. Can’t win ‘em all, I suppose.
The Braves open in Philadelphia on April 5. The Phillies are the reigning champions. The Phillies, writes esteemed former colleague Gerry Fraley for FoxSports.com, are also in trouble. Cole Hamels has an iffy arm and Chase Utley is coming off surgery and J.C. Romero must serve a 50-game suspension. Me, I’d call that an opportunity for the Bravos.
In ESPN The Magazine, Tom Friend profiles Nolan Smith, the Duke point guard whose dad Derek, a native of Hogansville, Ga., died of a heart attack in 1996. Derek Smith, you should know, was one of the nicest guys ever, and he helped Darrell Griffith seize the 1980 national championship for Louisville.
And here’s something you mightn’t remember: Derek Smith made one of the great lost shots in NCAA tournament history. He hit a falling-down follow to put Louisville ahead of Arkansas in the 1981 Midwest Regional second round, whereupon the Hogs called timeout and inbounded to U.S. Reed, who threw in the winner from midcourt. File that alongside Kelly Tripucka’s jumper from the deep corner at the old Omni that gave Notre Dame a one-point lead on BYU — also in 1981 — just before Danny Ainge went one-on-five with the Irish.
Something else you might not know: Derek Smith and fellow Georgian Wiley Brown — he of the truncated thumb — claimed to have invented the High Five during that 1980 championship season. Here’s a YouTube clip recalling those splendid and high-spirited Doctors of Dunk. (Derek Smith is No. 43.)
If Kentucky fires Billy Gillispie, which could well happen any day, one-third of the SEC could be affected. So writes Gentry Estes of the Mobile Press-Register, and his theory works thusly: Kentucky dumps Gillispie and hires Billy Donovan away from Florida, which then turns to Anthony Grant, who’s in the mix for both the Georgia and Alabama jobs.