Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is the Mavs' run over?

With the Little General on the way out, and having mortgaged its future for a mediocre PG on his way down, one must seriously question - has the window in Dallas closed?

Magic Number: 2...

Dallas gets the first shot at a sweep tomorrow night.
Could they be dropping the puck for Game 1 this weekend in Joe Louis?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Magic Number: 4...

The Mavs, Nuggets, and Rockets look like they'll be avoiding each other, along with everyone else, in the Second Round. But after a four-goal barrage in the third tonight by the Stars, we're now just four wins from a now-probable Dallas/Detroit showdown in the Western Conference Finals. It only makes sense, coming 10 years after their last playoff meeting, when the Wings won in six on their way to the Cup, but a legend was made on a Jamie Langenbrunner slap shot from the center line to win Game 5 in OT.
Franchise, will I see you in Dallas in a few weeks?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Barack plays like the Franchise

Barack and Big Bad Bales!

DudeSpin 2008 NFL Mock Draft, Presented by The Franchise

Instead of doing what everyone else does and revising a mock draft a bunch of times, I've decided to take the approach of doing one take but waiting until the last minute. Does that mean the DudeSpin Mock Draft will be any more accurate than any other one? Hell no! There's always some team out there that's determined to thumb their noses at the mock drafters of the world (see Miami Dolphins, 2007 edition), seemingly unaware that they're also hurting their teams, and in some cases, costing people their jobs.

Be that as it may, here's one humble draft junkie's take on what may unfold later today. Note that I won't even pretend to try to forecast trades, because it's virtually impossible to do that. Just know that there will be some, and in the cases of certain teams I think will be trying harder than others to move up/down, I'll note that.

Without further ado:

1. Miami Dolphins

Who I think they'll take: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
Who they should take: Long

The Dolphins drained some of the suspense out of the first pick of the Tuna Era by signing Long to a contract during the week. He grades out as a franchise-caliber tackle, the kind few teams have but every team longs for - no pun intended. It's a safe, logical pick, but almost requires the Fins to consider a QB in the second round, because John Beck doesn't look like the answer right now.

2. St. Louis Rams

Who I think they'll take: Chris Long, DE, Virginia
Who they should take: Long or Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU

This looks like the first of several picks that have caused disagreements among team staffs. In this case, ESPN's Todd McShay and others are reporting that coach Scott Linehan wants Dorsey and the rest of the brain trust wants Long. I hate to go against McShay, who really knows his stuff, but with Adam Carriker bulking up to DT size, I'm guessing the Rams go with Long and move Carriker inside. Or possibly they will remember their poor track record using high picks on tackles and be scared off of Dorsey.

3. Atlanta Falcons

Who I think they'll take: Dorsey
Who they should take: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

Atlanta appears to be leaning toward Brian Brohm as their QB of choice instead of Ryan. The trouble is, there's no guarantee he'll still be there when they pick again at 34. That's not an indictment of taking Dorsey, simply a warning of what happens if this move backfires and fans in the ATL have to watch new acquisition Michael Turner get five years taken off of his career running against eight-man fronts all season. Falcons, you've been warned.

4. Oakland Raiders

Who I think they'll take: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
Who they should take: McFadden, unless Chris Long or Dorsey are still on the board

The best hope for the Raiders is that the Falcons take Ryan and allow Long or Dorsey to drop to them, because the d-line is their biggest need area. I'm assuming that won't happen, and unless they're in love with Sedrick Ellis, they will draft McFadden. That will make Al Davis happy for sure, but depress the vocal Jets fans attending the draft who are hoping McFadden falls to them. Late word is that the Raiders are listening to trade offers for this pick as well.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Who I think they'll take: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
Who they should take: Clady, Ryan or Vernon Gholston, DE/LB, Ohio State

Could the Chiefs be thinking about Ryan? It's possible they'd bail on Brodie Croyle this soon, but not likely. They also need pass rush help after trading away Jared Allen, but they can take care of that later in the round. Offensive tackle is K.C.'s biggest need area so this pick makes sense. Some mock drafts have Branden Albert ahead of Clady, so don't be shocked if that happens.

6. New York Jets

Who I think they'll take: Gholston
Who they should take: Gholston or a cornerback

I think the buzz about the Jets wanting McFadden is legitimate, but I doubt they'd trade up to do it. They would be perfectly happy sitting here and taking Gholston assuming he's available. Corner is also a need area, but pass rush should be a bigger priority and Gholston offers better value than any of the top corners in any case. Watch out for the team picking behind them, the Patriots, to offer a trade to the Jets or a team above them if they have their heart set on Gholston.

7. New England Patriots

Who I think they'll take: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
Who they should take: Does it matter? The Pats always know what they're doing on draft day

New England rarely goes for need, almost always taking the most talented player left regardless of position. So while linebacker or corner could be the pick, I have a hunch the Pats will feel Ellis is the top player on the board at this point. As always, New England is at the center of many trade rumors, even though you'd think the other NFL teams would be wary of getting fleeced again after it seems to happen every season.

8. Baltimore Ravens

Who I think they'll take: Ryan
Who they should take: Ryan or Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville

Scouts aren't unanimously enamored with Ryan, but with Steve McNair's retirement, this pick almost makes too much sense not to happen. I should note that if the Ravens think Brohm will be better - and there's nothing to suggest they do - they should take him here. Some may blast them for doing it, but so what? There's not as much separating Ryan and Brohm as some would have you believe.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Who I think they'll take: Keith Rivers, LB, USC
Who they should take: Someone who will stay out of jail and won't demand a trade

Everything I've read suggests the Bengals really want Ellis, and they should take him if he's still around. Since I'm working from the assumption that he'll be gone, Rivers isn't a bad Plan B. If there was a WR worth taking here, maybe they'd do it and escalate their war with Chad Johnson to the next level. There's not though, so as much fun as that would be it's just a pipe dream.

10. New Orleans Saints

Who I think they'll take: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy
Who they should take: McKelvin or Mike Jenkins, CB, South Florida

Expect the Jeremy Shockey trade drama to overshadow anything the Saints actually do here. This is another team that seems to have a jones for Ellis, and they very well may try to trade up to get him. If they stay put, a corner makes the most sense. Flip a coin between McKelvin and Jenkins.

11. Buffalo Bills

Who I think they'll take: Devin Thomas, WR, Michigan State
Who they should take: A corner or a trade down if there are any offers

I know the Bills really need a receiver and that this is looking like a relatively weak class for WR prospects. But is anyone really convinced Thomas deserves to be the first wideout off the board? I'm definitely not, but it sounds like Buffalo is. This team isn't afraid to take some gambles in the first round, and they occasionally work out. Fans better hope this one does.

12. Denver Broncos

Who I think they'll take: Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
Who they should take: Williams or Branden Albert, T/G, Virginia

The mock drafters of the world are almost unanimous in their feeling that Williams will be the pick here, and the Broncos do need help at OT. McShay says there have been rumblings that Denver also is considering Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart at this spot, and while some analysts out there are sure to say that's a reach, I think that's a fine pick assuming he's healthy. Stewart is a beast whose game may suit the NFL even better than college.

13. Carolina Panthers

Who I think they'll take: Jeff Otah, OT, Pittsburgh
Who they should take: Otah, Stewart or Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

The Panthers are the first of three teams with similar needs in the backfield and along the offensive line. Mendenhall is a real possibility, but my gut tells me the Panthers will let DeAngelo Williams take a crack at the feature back role and find someone already on the roster to spell him. That makes Otah the pick, and he won't even have to change mascots going from Pitt to Carolina.

14. Chicago Bears

Who I think they'll take: Mendenhall
Who they should take: Mendenhall, Stewart or any worthy OT

Yet another pick that almost makes too much sense. Bears fans and staff look like they've soured on Cedric Benson equally quickly, and Mendenhall will be an immediate fan favorite after playing his college ball in-state. A tackle would also work if Chicago wants to give Benson one more chance behind better blocking.

15. Detroit Lions

Who I think they'll take: Stewart
Who they should take: Stewart or Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

It seems like the Lions have been looking for pass rush help forever, which is why Harvey looms large if he's still around. Ultimately though, they need to have a workhorse-type back to tote the pigskin as they move away from the Mike Martz era on offense. Stewart fits that mold perfectly as long as the Lions are convinced he's healthy.

16. Arizona Cardinals

Who I think they'll take: Jenkins
Who they should take: Jenkins or one of the backs if the previous two teams pass

Yet another team thinking about a runner to help take some of the load away from Edgerrin James, who is aging exponentially in the desert. I've even seen some mock drafts predict Felix Jones in this spot for the same reason. Secondary help is an even more pressing concern, and with several first-round caliber players still out there, Jenkins merits this pick as someone who can help immediately.

17. Kansas City Chiefs

Who I think they'll take: Harvey
Who they should take: Harvey

This is the dream scenario for the Chiefs, who need assistance on both lines. Strangely, I feel like the Vikings would have made the same pick had they not made the trade for Jared Allen, making comparisons between the two players going forward even more interesting.

18. Houston Texans

Who I think they'll take: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Tennessee State
Who they should take: Rodgers-Cromartie or (stop me of you've heard this) either of the backs who slips past Chicago-Detroit-Arizona

The Texans are throwing a lot of bodies at the running back position and hoping one of them works out. If Mendenhall or Stewart are still on the board, they'd at least have to stop and think. They are also cornerback-deficient, so any of the top three corners who lasts this long would be welcomed.

19. Philadelphia Eagles

Who I think they'll take: Albert
Who they will take: Any OL who falls to this spot

Few things would surprise me more than if the Eagles don't use their top pick on an o-lineman. I've seen Albert go as high as five to K.C. in some mock drafts, but mine already has Clady going there. If he doesn't, just flip-flop the names and I think both teams would still be pretty happy.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Who I think they'll take: DeSean Jackson, WR, Cal
Who they should take: Jackson, Aquib Talib, CB, Kansas; or Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech

Too high for Jackson? Quite possibly, and he very well may slide into the second round. Still, Jon Gruden wants more playmakers, and Jackson qualifies on that count. The Bucs also need more options at corner, though I'm not so sure they'd want to get in on a mini-run that has two going in the previous four picks. Don't count this spot out as a dark horse landing spot for Brohm. Tampa's QB situation is still unsettled, and this team loves to stockpile signal-callers.

21. Washington Redskins

Who I think they'll take: Limas Sweed, WR, Texas
Who they should take: Sweed or Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson

I think the Redskins may have tipped their hand a bit by offering to trade for Chad Johnson and any other receiver who may give them a boost. Washington also has an obvious need at safety but none seem to be worth taking at this spot. Sweed is my favorite receiver in a fairly average crop, and he'd be a good pick here.

22. Dallas Cowboys

Who I think they'll take: Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas
Who they should take: Jones or any other RB or WR that suits their fancy

Corner was the Cowboys biggest need area until the Pacman Jones trade. If he's allowed to play, Dallas could use both of its first-rounders on offensive players, something they are usually loathe to do. This pick has been rumored for so long that it's being predicted by nearly everyone, and Jerry Jones' Arkansas ties make it even more likely.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

Who I think they'll take: Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina
Who they should take: Balmer

I'm thinking the logic here is that Balmer can play a DE spot in the Steelers' 3-4 sets. Pittsburgh also has OT and WR needs, but the value at those positions is likely to be worn out by the teams picking in front of them.

24. Tennessee Titans

Who I think they'll take: Phillip Merling, DE, Clemson
Who they should take: Merling, Lawrence Jackson, DE, USC or Balmer if he falls

The Titans have many holes on defense and Merling plugs one of them. I'm sure there will be the usual chorus of "Vince Young needs more targets," and a receiver is certainly possible, but the D needs more attention and should get it. Tennessee can hunt in the second round with a WR like Early Doucet or Mario Manningham.

25. Seattle Seahawks

Who I think they'll take: Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Who they should take: Kelly

I'm not sure the Seahawks can afford to bypass need with this pick. Kelly is a big target who should have extra motivation after the flap about his slow 40 times.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Who I think they'll take: Jackson
Who they should take: Jackson

This part of the draft is getting boring. This is another spot where team need and value just happen to overlap. Jackson seems to have rising stock as the draft approaches, so there's a chance he may not be here. If he's gone, safety is also a need area, but the top safeties still look like reaches at this point.

27. San Diego Chargers

Who I think they'll take: Gosder Cherilus, OT, Boston College
Who they should take: Cherilus

Nothing wrong with this pick either, because the Bolts are looking for a tackle. I also like theories that they'd be intrigued by Felix Jones as an insurance policy for L.T. now that Michael Turner has left town, and if he slips he shouldn't make it past San Diego.

28. Dallas Cowboys

Who I think they'll take: James Hardy, WR, Indiana
Who they should take: Not Hardy!

Yes, T.O. is getting older. Yes, the Cowboys should be looking for WR help. I'm just not certain they need to add another combustible personality to a potentially volatile mix, and Hardy seems like he could be that type. Trouble is, I can't think of a better alternative. Other receivers either seem like reaches (Doucet and Jordy Nelson) or come with the same personality drawbacks (Manningham).

29. San Francisco 49ers

Who I think they'll take: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee
Who they should take: Any OT already listed who makes it this far

Mayo would be good value - some draft pundits think he's better than Rivers. He'd be a good bet to make it two LB successes in a row after the team took Defensive Rookie of the Year Patrick Willis in 2007. But if there's a tackle whose name I've already typed still around, the o-line could use the upgrade.

30. Green Bay Packers

Who I think they'll take: Brohm
Who they should take: Talib

It's not that I don't like Brohm in this spot - I think he's a steal here, quite frankly. I'm just not sold that Green Bay is so good that it can afford to skip need areas in the first round, and if you're trying to create an environment where Aaron Rodgers can succeed, why risk damage to his psyche by taking another QB? It's risky put potentially exciting for Packers fans.

31. New York Giants

Who I think they'll take: Tyrell Johnson, S, Arkansas
Who they should take: Johnson or Talib

Losing Gibril Wilson makes this a pretty safe call for the Giants now that Johnson has bypassed Kenny Phillips as the top safety on a lot of boards. The champs could actually use help at any secondary spot.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Franchise's 2008 NFL Draft Rankings - Pt. 3

I find drafts that are top-heavy with offensive linemen to be boring. That's nothing against the big guys, who are crucial to any good team's success, but plenty of good linemen have been mined from the middle rounds of the NFL Draft. The perception of linemen is that they are safe picks (though you can swing and miss just as easily with them - see Tony Mandarich, Mike Williams, etc.) so you will continue to see drafts like this year's, where almost a quarter of the first round could consist of guys from the offensive trenches.

I'm lumping all of the linemen together for my rankings, though I'll try to note where experts think they'll play in the NFL. Oh, and thanks to the Dolphins, there's not much suspense about who's No. 1!

Offensive Linemen
  1. Jake Long, Michigan (T)
  2. Branden Albert, Virginia (T/G)
  3. Ryan Clady, Boise State (T)
  4. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt (T)
  5. Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh (T)
  6. Gosder Cherilus, Boston College (T)
  7. Sam Baker, USC (T)
  8. Duane Brown, Virginia Tech (T)
  9. Anthony Collins, Kansas (T)
  10. Mike Pollak, Arizona State (C)
Others to consider: Mike McGlynn, Pittsburgh (G); Roy Schuening, Oregon State (G); Oniel Cousins, UTEP (T/G); Carl Nicks, Nebraska (T); Jeremy Zuttah, Rutgers (G/C)

Tight end is a tough position to rank, simply because different teams use them in different ways, leading to wildly varying opinions based on need. Though it's been trendier to take tight ends early in the past few years, it doesn't look like any will be going in the first round this year.

Tight Ends
  1. Dustin Keller, Purdue
  2. Fred Davis, USC
  3. John Carlson, Notre Dame
  4. Martellus Bennett, Texas A&M
  5. Martin Rucker, Missouri
  6. Brad Cottam, Tennessee
  7. Kellen Davis, Michigan State
  8. Jermichael Finley, Texas
  9. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky
  10. Craig Stevens, Cal

Teams are always looking for pass rushers, and since the NFL is very much a copycat league, even more will be attempting to follow the New York Giants' blueprint from last season. Fortunately for the followers, there's some nice talent in the 2008 class at both end (both 4-3 and 3-4 types) and tackle.

Defensive Ends

  1. Chris Long, Virginia
  2. Vernon Gholston, Ohio State
  3. Derrick Harvey, Florida
  4. Phillip Merling, Clemson
  5. Lawrence Jackson, USC
  6. Calais Campbell, Miami (Fla.)
  7. Quentin Groves, Auburn
  8. Jason Jones, Eastern Michigan
  9. Cliff Avril, Purdue
  10. Jeremy Thompson, Wake Forest

Others to consider: Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech; Kendall Langford, Hampton; Pat Sims, Auburn

Defensive Tackles

  1. Glenn Dorsey, LSU
  2. Sedrick Ellis, USC
  3. Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina
  4. Trevor Laws, Notre Dame
  5. Dre Moore, Maryland
  6. Red Bryant, Texas A&M
  7. Ahtyha Rubin, Iowa
  8. Andre Fluellen, Florida State
  9. Marcus Harrison, Arkansas
  10. Carlton Powell, Vriginia Tech

Others to consider: DeMario Pressley, N.C. State; Letroy Guion, Florida State; Lionel Dotson, Arizona

Franchise's 2008 NFL Draft Rankings - Pt. 2

Time to look at linebackers and defensive backs. This isn't a paticularly strong draft class in either area, but much has been made recently about linebackers turning out to be relatively safe first-round picks. I think it's a very close call between Keith Rivers and Jerod Mayo for the top LB in the draft.

Cornerback is a need area for so many teams that it almost behooves them to roll the dice a little earlier there than they might at other positions. Keep that in mind on draft weekend.

  1. Keith Rivers, USC
  2. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee,
  3. Dan Connor, Penn State
  4. Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma
  5. Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
  6. Tavares Gooden, Miami (Fla.)
  7. Erin Henderson, Maryland
  8. Beau Bell, UNLV
  9. Bruce Davis, UCLA
  10. Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt

Others to consider: Shawn Crable, Michigan; Marcus Howard, Georgia; Wesley Woodward, Kentucky; Bryan Kehl, BYU; Ali Highsmith, LSU; Philip Wheeler, Georgia Tech; Jordan Dizon, Colorado; Geno Hayes, Florida State. Also Cliff Avril of Purdue would crack the top 10 if he ends up playing linebacker in the NFL, but I agree with those who project him as a defensive end.


  1. Leodis McKelvin, Troy
  2. Mike Jenkins, South Florida
  3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State
  4. Antoine Cason, Arizona
  5. Aquib Talib, Kansas
  6. Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech
  7. Justin King, Penn State
  8. Tracy Porter, Indiana
  9. Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
  10. Charles Godfrey, Iowa

Others to consider: Terrell Thomas, USC; Patrick Lee, Auburn; Antwaun Molden, Eastern Kentucky; Chevis Jackson, LSU; Tyvon Branch, Connecticut; Terrence Wheatley, Colorado; Jack Williams, Kent Stae


  1. Kenny Phillips, Miami (Fla.)
  2. Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State
  3. DaJuan Morgan, N.C. State
  4. Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame
  5. Josh Barrett, Arizona State
  6. Quintin Demps, UTEP
  7. Thomas DeCoud, Cal
  8. Simeon Castille, Alabama
  9. Craig Steltz, LSU
  10. Marcus Griffin, Texas

Others to consider: Jamar Adams, Michigan; Jamie Silva, Boston College; DJ Wolfe, Oklahoma

Thursday, April 24, 2008

North Carolina - Not Just a Place for Wannabe Presidents

As the nation's eyes turn to the Tar Heel State, I would like to turn your attention to the heated race for governor. At first, the choice was pretty clear -- Republican Fred Smith. As this amazing political song reveals, he's from North Carolina, the place where he was raised. I mean, even the trees whisper his name.

You would think that would clinch the election, no? Wrong! Democrat Bev Purdue upped the ante by getting an endorsement from the one man older and more beloved than the trees -- TV's Matlock! Our state's most trusted TV sheriff's endorsement (and earnest enthusiasm) speaks for itself, and I think pretty much puts the nail on poor Fred's coffin.

Unfortunately, I can't get the video to embed, but I think it's worth clicking here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Undude & Big Daddy Takes On Mass Media

Well, that's the situation we've found ourselves in. The GOP can spend and spend big; and all we have is the voice and the enthusiasm of Big Daddy and the Undude in NC. Fellas - do not let the Republican smear campaign get the best of the you. In the end, truth always wins.

A Different Kind of Journey

Didn't think we'd ever get to see the Barack and the Journey tags used together?? especially after our horrendous coverage of the Journey in the post-G era?? Well, this is our moment; this is our time. A 3 on 3 team for the ages.

It's Okay Barack Nation!

This is like when we were up by 17 on Kentucky in 98; and Wayne Turner just went around Wojo for a meaningless layup in the second half...

Well Big Daddy & Undude, now that the Franchise has failed, it's your turn to put one in the right column!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photo Journal of Duke Spring Game

"As we walked from the chapel, you felt and knew everything was right with Duke Football." - Coach Cutcliffe, during halftime

Coach Cut addressed the crowd at halftime. In addition to the goosebump quote above, he promised that it won't be long before we start having some real fun here in the fall. At one point, the crowd began a soon-to-be-familiar "Dav-id Cut-cliffe, clap-clap-clap-clap-clap" chant.

The crowd in Wally Wade set a Duke Spring Game record!

Zack Asack looked good, and his Blue team moved the ball better than Thad's White team. Asack went 14-of-17 for 107 yards, though his tendency to scramble can best be described as "uncomfortable" in a game where he's not allowed to get hit. It must be noted that one of his incompletions was a wounded duck well short of a streaking Eron Riley that instantly recalled memories of one Bobby Campbell.

Nick Maggio booted a 24-yard field goal for the game's first points. It was just nice to see us have the confidence to try a FG longer than 20, and even nicer to see it split the uprights. Meanwhile, much maligned Joe Surgan was 2-for-2 in extra points. Maggio's kick gave Blue a 3-0 lead, but on the very next play, Tony Jackson sprinted around the left side of the line for a 75-yard TD. It was the type of big play Duke's offense so desperately needs this season, and the type of big play Duke's defense so frequently gives up in past seasons.

Eron Riley can't quite rein in this pass over the middle, but DudeSpin's favorite wideout led all receivers with six catches for 49 yards.

Meanwhile, with his favorite target playing for the other side, Thad Lewis struggled a bit, completing just 8-of-13 for 53 yards. He also had a fumbled snap which he recovered. Still, you can't argue with 1-0.

Vince Oghobaase had one tackle for a loss.

The Spring Game marks the end of a back-breaking spring practice session. By all accounts Cutcliffe has instilled a new work ethic which has seen the Devils shed a combined 400 pounds so far!

The White team celebrates their 14-3 victory. Their second touchdown came on a fumble recovery by Wes Oglesby. Cut has been emphasizing strips with the defense, and it paid off here. Team Blue's dream officially died in the fourth, when Mike Cappetto threw an interception, and Thad and Jackson were able to execute an effective time-killing final drive (though at this point, the game had moved to a continuous clock).

Durham's best journalist adjusts his pants as he waits for an interview... SEXY!

Friday, April 18, 2008

So if Bill Richardson is Judas...

who does that make Robert Reich?

Benedict Arnold?
Roger Clemens?
Joe Lieberman?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Glory Days!

That's a bitter pill to swallow for Ms. Clinton


Spurs-Suns in the First Round? Really?

A hefty sum could've been had wagering on that as the 3/6 matchup back in October. The question coming into the season is whether anyone could crack the Big Three in the West ... well, turns out only one of the big three actually finished in the top three, and just barely.

I should think both Denver and Dallas are much happier about their position than Phoenix, even if the Nuggets have to contend with Kobe.

Let the madness begin!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Franchise's 2008 NFL Draft Rankings - Pt. 1

With the demise of due to lack of time, I'm proud to bring NFL Draft insight back to where some say it belonged all along: right here on DudeSpin. Draft weekend is one of my favorite times of the year, though it is difficult to explain to non-fans (and even some less obsessive fans) why it is fun to sit around for two days watching people read other peoples' names off of cards.

This year promises to be extra fun, because I'm having oral surgery tomorrow morning and there's a good chance I'll be watching this year's draft while feeling the effects of powerful but legal painkillers. I'm sensing a LiveBlog!

For my first dose of wisdom, here are my pre-draft rankings for offensive skill position players. I'll follow with linebackers and d-backs tomorrow, lineman of both varieties on Thursday and a full-fledged last-minute mock draft on Friday. These rankings reflect how I think the players rate as pro prospects and not the order in which I believe they will be drafted, as team preferences and needs have a big impact there.

  1. Matt Ryan, Boston College
  2. Brian Brohm, Louisville
  3. Chad Henne, Michigan
  4. Andre Woodson, Kentucky
  5. John David Booty, USC
  6. Erik Ainge, Tennesee
  7. Dennis Dixon, Oregon
  8. Joe Flacco, Delaware
  9. Josh Johnson, San Diego
  10. Colt Brennan, Hawaii
Others to consider: Paul Smith, Tulsa; T.C. Ostrander, Stanford; Matt Flynn, LSU; Kevin O'Connell, San Diego State; Kyle Wright, Miami (Fla.)

Running Backs
  1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas
  2. Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois
  3. Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
  4. Felix Jones, Arkansas
  5. Ray Rice, Rutgers
  6. Jamaal Charles, Texas
  7. Chris Johnson, East Carolina
  8. Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech
  9. Matt Forte, Tulane
  10. Mike Hart, Michigan
Others to consider: Kevin Smith, Central Florida; Steve Slaton, West Virginia; Justin Forsett, Cal; Jacob Hester, LSU; Allen Patrick, Oklahoma

Wide Receivers
  1. Limas Sweed, Texas
  2. Devin Thomas, Michigan State
  3. Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma
  4. DeSean Jackson, Cal
  5. James Hardy, Indiana
  6. Early Doucet, LSU
  7. Donnie Avery, Houston
  8. Mario Manningham, Michigan
  9. Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State
  10. Andre Caldwell, Florida
Others to consider: Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt; Jordy Nelson, Kansas State; Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech; Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina; Harry Douglas, Louisville

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh Boy(ette)!

Is this a sign we might have a running game this year? Or is this a sign our defense can't stop the run? This is why I hate these scrimmages. Either way, nice to see former QB Marcus Jones playing so well defensively.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Running back Re'quan Boyette rushed 18 times for 139 yards with a 65-yard touchdown jaunt to highlight Duke's 90-snap football scrimmage on Saturday morning at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Boyette finished the day with two rushing touchdowns while averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis completed 17-of-25 passes for 151 yards. Zack Asack added 63 yards through the air while rushing for one touchdown.

The receiving unit was led by Eron Riley (4 receptions, 23 yards), Jeremy Ringfield (3 receptions, 38 yards), Austin Kelly (3 receptions, 26 yards) and Brandon King (3 receptions, 28 yards). Twelve different Blue Devils caught passes on the day.

On defense, Marcus Jones was credited with four tackles for loss while Vincent Rey, Wesley Oglesby and Charlie Hatcher recorded one quarterback sack each. Charles Robinson added three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Duke's spring football practice session will come to a close on Saturday, April 19 with the Spring Game. Kickoff in Wallace Wade Stadium is set for 1 p.m.

Why 21 helps Vegas ... and other thoughts

(1) We made it to see "21" last night, which not surprisingly isn't quite as good as the book, but I walked out thinking this: moreso than the book, the movie is bound to make college students across the country think, why can't we do this? And while normally you'd think that would be to the irritation of pit bosses throughout Vegas, it won't be for one reason -- unlike the book, the movie fails to mention why there are few places where you can count cards today. The Shuffle Master is now just about everywhere, and with a Shuffle Master, you can't count cards. The book spent more time talking about the struggle to find casinos that used a six-deck shoe, which led them to riverboat and Indian casinos around the country. Logically, that would've just distracted from a 100-minute motion picture. It also would've saved teams of twenty-somethings from gambling away money.

(2) It appears we all could have a team in the NBA playoffs, if the Nuggets win out. But in the greatest NBA regular season ever, right now the Jazz, Mavericks and probably Suns are the only three Western teams who know where they'll be seeded. Everything else is to be determined, which means the Rockets could still find themselves facing Denver or Dallas, and if it's the latter, we know there'll be at least one winner -- Barack Obama's war chest!

(3) Speaking of, one has to wonder how much damage Obama did with his "bitter" remark. Obviously the Clintons are trying to make it seem catastrophic, which it likely is not, but it does threaten to blunt the momentum Obama had made in Pennsylvania, and possibly Indiana. Once again, Obama was surging ahead in the national polls and closing fast in a key state, only to be undone by a stumbling block (e.g., advisor meeting with Canadian official on NAFTA before the Ohio vote). Which once again probably means Hillary is only emboldened and won't go away. The fact Obama made the remark at a fundraiser in San Francisco was even worse, though you wonder why liberal website HuffingtonPost made the remarks public.

(4) Franchise, looking like a Wings/Stars second-round series in the offing? I think so!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Triangle DudeSpin Contributors and Fans...

You are in luck.... Barack Obama is likely to square off against Hillary Clinton in the final debate of the primary season at the RBC center in Raleigh, NC. That is, of course, contingent on Ms. Clinton safely making it to Raleigh while dodging sniper fire. I would imagine tickets will be available from the Democratic Party of North Carolina. I expect a LiveBlog.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Broadway is Dark Tonight!

See ya' Joe! LSU decided it wanted an athletic director who could help win championships on the field, help athletes succeed in the classroom, and work with the community. Apparently LSU didn't realize that Alleva helped demonize Duke in the Durham community, and while athletes may have gotten no worse in the classroom, such things as the steriod scandal came as a result of the macho culture Alleva harvested. Congratulations LSU ... and THANKS!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Chronicle Rips DBR and Broadway May Go?!

A double dose of interesting news.

First, a Chronicle columnist stuck it to DBR for the assinine "column" blaming Duke's loss on the flu and assailing Duke fans who criticize the team. Kind of funny, though it does beg the question: doesn't talking about DBR in print just legitimize it?

Even more interesting: Broadway Joe apparently is one of six finalists for the LSU AD's job. Good luck Broadway! Given he also had interest in the Miami job, isn't it safe to say he's looking to leave?