Archive for the ‘Bradley's Buzz’ Category

Bradley’s Buzz: Kiper prescribes a pass rush for the Falcons

It’s Jan. 27. The NFL draft is April 22-24. (Yes, it’s three days this year, beginning with Round 1 on a Thursday night.) And Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has already delivered not just a Rock 1 mock but possibilities for Rounds 2 and 3. (Link requires registration.) Mel, it’s fair to say, works hard at his job.

You probably know that Kiper has the Falcons taking Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle with the draft’s 19th pick. (Although it’s not yet clear if the Falcons will have the 19th pick. The NFL  will flip a coin to decide next month.) You’re also doubtless aware the Falcons don’t hold a Round 2 pick this season, having dealt it to Kansas City for Tony Gonzalez. But here, courtesy of Mel Jr., are names to watch for the Falcons’ Round 3 pick, which is 73rd overall:

  • Jason Worilds, defensive end, Virginia Tech.
  • Dominique Franks, cornerback, Oklahoma.
  • Syd’Quan Thompson, cornerback, California.
  • Eric Decker, wide receiver, Minnesota.
  • Darryl Washington, linebacker, TCU.
  • Garrett Graham, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: John Smoltz to … the stinkin’ METS?

John Smoltz had an intriguing 2009: Left the Braves, ripped Frank Wren, signed with the Red Sox, got cut in August, signed with the Cardinals, did a bit better, pitched two relief innings in postseason as the team got swept, filed for free agency. His final numbers for the season: Two clubs, three victories, eight losses, an ERA of 6.35.

We Atlantans monitored this mostly from afar. Smoltz didn’t pitch against the Braves. (Though he did manage to rip his former employer for its treatment of Tom Glavine.) But if reports from New York are correct, Smoltz would be given ample opportunity to exert the Smoltzian wrath firsthand. Because the Braves play the Mets 18 times in 2010.

Yes, the Mets. According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News, “the Mets have been particularly active in dialogue with the 42-year-old Smoltz’s reps and would use him as a starter.”And two of the team’s other presumed pitching targets were lost Tuesday, when Ben Sheets signed with Oakland and Jon …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Favors is down, but Georgia Tech’s up

Derrick Favors: Not yet on form. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

Derrick Favors against Indiana-PA. He has done less of this versus the ACC. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

According to the good folks at NBAdraft.net — the best site of its ilk, IMHO — Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors is now No. 6 in its 2010 mock. That’s down from No. 2 earlier this month, and that’s a rather significant drop.

There’s a reason. Given his hype, Favors isn’t having much of a freshman season. He’s averaging 11.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, and even those numbers mislead. Over the past eight games he’s averaging 9 points and 8.4 rebounds, with 22 turnovers and 20 fouls against seven assists. He has scored in double figures once in four ACC games.

In sum, he doesn’t resemble the player he was at South Atlanta High, where he was considered the nation’s top recruit by Scout.com. (John Wall, ranked No. 2, is not only the best freshman but the best player in the college game. And he’ll be the NBA’s No. 1 pick in June.)

Maybe we should have seen this coming. Favors …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Tech, UGA both among early-entry losers

Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett: Gonzo. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett: They're gonzo. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

This won’t be surprising to those among us who follow college football. Still, it’s jarring to see in megapixeled black and white. Both Georgia Tech and Georgia rank among the nation’s biggest losers regarding early entry to the NFL draft.

For the Bulldogs, there’s good news amid the bad. Tech is seen as having been hit harder, and Florida is the consensus choice as having been hit hardest.

Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com rates Tech the second-biggest loser, Georgia the fifth-biggest. His reasons:

Georgia Tech: I was tempted to make the Jackets No. 1 on this list because every player who realistically could consider declaring did. Tech says goodbye to its two best defenders in DE Derrick Morgan and safety Morgan Burnett as well as quarterback Josh Nesbitt’s top two weapons, running back Jonathan Dwyer and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

“I still think Nesbitt, RB Anthony Allen and RB Roddy Jones are …

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Bradley’s Buzz: For 2010, SI has Tech 8th, UGA 22nd

Will Georgia again outrun the Jackets in 2010? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Will Georgia again outrun the Yellow Jackets in 2010? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

You’ll never guess who’s No. 1 in SI.com’s college football power rankings for 2010. Actually, you will. Alabama is the easy choice, same as Florida was easy in preseason 2009. (And who was preseason No. 1 in 2008? Why, Georgia.) But the top spot isn’t why we’re here. It’s to focus on the locals, both of which appear in Andy Staples’ Top 25.

Georgia Tech is No. 8. Georgia is No. 22. I’d say that’s too high for the former, about right for the latter.

I reserve the right to amend my opinion in light of developments — if, say, either one finds a defensive coordinator, or if Herschel Walker forgoes his MMA dreams to reclaim that fourth year of collegiate eligibility — but I’d say, as of Jan. 14, 2010, that Tech will dip slightly in 2010 and Georgia will rise a bit.

My take on Tech: It won’t be bad on offense — quoth Paul Johnson: “I’d be stunned if our B-back doesn’t gain 1,000 yards next season” …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN again picks against Tech and Johnson

Not the flavor of the month per Scouts Inc. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Not the flavor of the month per Scouts Inc. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

I’m not covering the Orange Bowl. I’ll be in Athens tonight watching Georgia and Georgia Tech play basketball. But I found it amusing to note that, once again, ESPN.com’s Scouts Inc. has picked against the Jackets (in football, not basketball).

A review (and all these links require registration): Scouts Inc. picked Miami over the Jackets in September and was correct; it picked Virginia Tech over GT in October and was incorrect;  it picked Clemson over the Jackets in September and also in the ACC title game and was twice wrong.  Now it likes Iowa to win 28-24 tonight. And that’s legit: This will be a difficult game for the Jackets, and a lot of people are picking against them.

What’s of greater interest is that Scouts Inc. again gives the edge in coaching to Tech’s opponent. And maybe that’s also fair: Kirk Ferentz is well regarded in the business. Scouts Inc. did the same for the Virginia Tech game — …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Vazquez-for-Cabrera discussed & dissected

Javier Vazquez, we hardly knew ye. But we liked what we saw. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Javier, we hardly knew ye. But we liked what we saw. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

You’ve heard what Frank Wren had to say, and maybe you’ve even read my cool-headed thoughts on the matter. Today we leave it to outsiders. Or, in point of fact, to folks like ESPN.com’s Insiders. We start with the estimable Keith Law, who says the Braves didn’t get completely fleeced. (Link requires registration.) Writes Law:

“The key player in this trade for Atlanta is Arodys Vizcaino, who becomes one of the top five prospects in the Braves’ system and gives them a trio of potential No. 1 or No. 2 starters in the low minors with Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado. Vizcaino, who pitched at short-season Staten Island this past season, has a live fastball that sits 91-93 mph and touches a little higher. He throws a curveball that flashes plus and should miss bats at the big league level when he reaches it. He already has good feel for pitching and just needs experience and a little cleanup in his …

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Bradley’s Buzz: McShay rates Tech’s Morgan No. 3 overall

Two Augusts ago I was watching Georgia Tech practice and commenting on the impressive nature of the defensive line. Michael Johnson, Vance Walker, Darryl Richard …

A man who works for Tech said to me: “Derrick Morgan is the best of the bunch.”

I started watching Morgan closely from that moment on. (I am, as we know, a moron, but I can be coached up.) And by the middle of the 2008 season I agreed: Derrick Morgan stood out the most along a D-line that would see its other three members drafted by NFL teams.

Which brings us to 2009, when Morgan was named ACC defensive player of the year, and almost to 2010, when Todd McShay of ESPN.com’s Insiders foresees the same Mr. Morgan going No. 3 overall in the NFL draft. (Link requires registration.)

Not third among defensive linemen, mind you. Third among everybody.

The top five: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska; Eric Berry, S, Tennessee; Morgan; Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma, and Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. That’s four defenders up top, …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Heyward, Hanson among best of new decade

There’s no science so inexact as the projection of baseball talent. We know this because Brad Komminsk was not, alas, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. (He made it on the second try — ha, ha.) We know this because the young man Sports Illustrated proclaimed “The Natural” in 2005 was deemed substandard, though not by SI, in 2009.

Still, it’s worth noting that Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has posted his list of the top 20 players for the next decade on ESPN.com’s Insiders (link requires registration), and one of the 20 hasn’t yet had a big-league at-bat. Yes, at No. 13, it’s Jason Heyward, the Braves’ right-fielder-in-waiting. Writes Goldstein:

“The top position player prospect in the game, Heyward has a chance at opening 2010 in the big leagues, and even if that doesn’t work out, he’ll be in Atlanta well before he can legally drink to celebrate his accomplishment. A potential ‘face of the franchise’-level talent, Heyward hits for average, hits for power, draws walks and …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Lowe sees UGA in the Chick-fil-A

Look at the waffle fries falling from the sky? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Just look at those waffle fries falling from the sky!" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

From Shreveport, La., to Northside Drive? According to Chris Lowe of ESPN.com, Georgia is apt to be invited to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which if memory serves is played here in Atlanta. (Full disclosure: I’m sitting in the Dome as I type.) Here’s Lowe’s rationale:

“The Outback gets first choice out of the [non-BCS  SEC teams] East and the Cotton first choice out of the West after the Capital One selects. But since Ole Miss went to the Cotton Bowl last year, there may be a deal worked out where the Rebels go to the Outback this year and Tennessee to the Cotton. The Vols finished in a tie with Georgia for second place in the East, but beat the Bulldogs head-to-head.

“The Chick-fil-A Bowl also has a tough choice. South Carolina became a lot more attractive with its win over Clemson. But with Georgia beating Georgia Tech, there will be a lot of pressure to keep the Bulldogs close to home there in …

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