The Booth Review Vol. 3

1) The Fat Lady’s Encore

If you’re a fan of professional basketball, then this weekend was pure ambrosia. First, Derrick Rose banked in a miracle three pointer to put the Bulls up two games to one. Then, Paul Pierce sold his soul to bank in a contested two pointer to win it for the Wizards against the Hawks. Then, for poetic justice, LeBron James went full anti-hero and took a dagger to Chicago’s heart. In the closing seconds of Sunday’s game, James lifted up over newly crowned “Most Improved Player” Jimmy Butler to nail a two point shot as time expired. Cleveland won, Chicago lost, and NBA fans’ faces melted because they saw basketball’s arc of the covenant this weekend.

(Editor’s note: Actual footage from this weekend.)

Regardless of who you’re rooting for, it’s clear who won this weekend: the NBA and it’s fans. This has been some of the most intense playoff basketball I’ve seen in a long time. If this level of play stays consistent, then the NBA Finals are sure to be must see TV.

2) Onward and Upward

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:12844714

The Blackhawks swept the Minnesota this past week. They will now faceoff against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. My prediction: Hawks in 6. The Ducks are very top-heavy when it comes to scoring. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jakob Silverberg, and Ryan Kesler are the main scorers for the Ducks this playoff series. If Chicago can shut them one or two of those forwards, then the Ducks should play right into the Hawks’ hands.

3) No Cubs, No

Losers of 7 of their last 9, the Cubs seem to have lost some of their early season luster. After the Cardinals and Brewers series, the young Cubs seemed to be under performing. But with 132 games left in the season, Chicago is far from out of it. The baseball season has a lot of ups and downs, and as long as the North Siders don’t implode, they have a chance. This team is vastly different compared to their 2014 incarnation. Like year, after a slump like this, the team was known to compound the situation. Now, they are taking everything in stride…and having a little fun.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/11493214/v104783183/?query=Bartman

Plus, Kris Bryant hit his first major league home run (yah!). And the bullpen is starting to get healthier (double yah!). Joe Maddon has the team believing in themselves and “respecting 90.” With the NL Central as week as it is this years, the team is still in great position to make the playoffs.

(Editor’s Note: See, the Cubs got jokes. No worries guys, they’re fine.)

4) New Kids on the Block

Bears Rookie Mini-camp began this weekend, and Bears’ fans should be getting excited about their new toys. This is also an important process for new head coach John Fox. Everyplace Fox has coached, he has been able to improve the team in his first year. An impactful rookie class is a big part in turning a team around. Mini-camp is where Fox and his staff can really lay the foundation for a successful season. This is where Kevin White can expand and perfect his route tree; where Adrian Amos can learn NFL level coverage schemes; where Eddie Goldman can learn the varies stunts and twists he will run this year; and where Jeremy Langford can learn the nuances of pass blocking. In other words, this is where the Bears’ rookie class learns how to play in the NFL. In order for the Bears to have a shot at the playoffs, these rookies need to step up and succeed right out of the starting gate.

My Belated NFL Draft Grades: Part 2

Miami Dolphins

Round 1: DeVante Parker (WR, Louisville), Round 2: Jordan Phillips (NT, Oklahoma), Round 3: Jamil Douglas (OG, Arizona St.), Round 5: Bobby McCain (CB, Memphis), Round 5: Jay Ajayi (RB, Boise St.), Round 5: Cedric Thompson (FS, Minnesota), Round 5: Tony Lippett (WR/CB, Michigan St.).

Best Value: Jay Ajayi

Highest Upside: Tony Lippett

Worst Fit: Jordan Phillips

Biggest Reach: Cedric Thompson

Overall Grade: (B+) Miami did a great job of filling their needs this draft. After finishing 9-7 and missing out on the playoffs, I feel that Miami may have gotten over the hump with this draft class. DeVante Parker is the best wide receiver the team has had since Brandon Marshall, and he is automatically Ryan Tannehill’s go-to option. Bobby McCain and Tony Lippett are intriguing options. McCain was easily the best cornerback in Conference USA and one of the best in the draft. His only limitation was his size, but I believe the Dolphins can find a way to compensate for that. Especially after starting a combination of Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes last year. Lippett is an intriguing prospect. He played both wide receiver and cornerback at MSU last year and he has very similar measurable to Richard Sherman. Lippett is the sleeper prospect in this year’s Dolphins draft class.

Minnesota Vikings

Round 1: Trae Waynes (CB, Michigan St.), Round 2: Eric Kendricks (ILB, UCLA), Round 3: Danielle Hunter (DE, LSU), Round 4: T.J. Clemmings (OT, Pittsburgh), Round 5: MyCole Pruitt (TE, S. Illinois), Round 5: Stefon Diggs (WR, Maryland), Round 6: Tyrus Thompson (OT, Oklahoma), Round 6: B.J. Dubose (DE, Louisville), Round 7: Austin Shepherd (OT, Alabama), Round 7: Edmond Robinson (OLB, Newberry).

Best Value: Eric Kendricks

Highest Upside: T.J. Clemmings

Worst Fit: Danielle Hunter

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine/0ap3000000478000/2015-

Overall Grade: (A) The Vikings and Mike Zimmer did a great job adding talent to an already promising group of player. Trae Waynes should former a great corner combination with Xavier Rhodes. Eric Hendricks is a great cover linebacker, and his talents should be well utilized in the NFC North. T.J. Clemmings is the biggest haul in this draft class. Clemmings was seen as a first round pick, but after falling all the way to the fourth round, the Vikings could have found their franchise left tackle. He has that much talent and upside.

New England Patriots

Round 1: Malcom Brown (DT, Texas), Round 2: Jordan Richards (SS, Stanford), Round 3: Geneo Grissom (DE, Oklahoma), Round 4: Trey Flowers (DE, Arkansas), Round 4: Tre’ Jackson (OG, Florida St.), Round 4: Shaq Mason (C, Georgia Tech), Round 5: Joe Cardona (LS, Navy), Round 6: Matthew Wells (LB, Mississippi St.), Round 6: A.J. Derby (TE, Arkansas), Round 7: Darryl Roberts (CB, Marshall), Round 7: Xzavier Dickson (OLB, Alabama).

Best Value: Malcom Brown

Highest Upside: Brown

Worst Fit: A.J. Derby

Biggest Reach: Jordan Richards

Overall Grade: (B+) Bill Belichick always finds a way to make a surprising second round pick, and they always find a way to be productive players. Richards was a 4th or 5th round prospect from Stanford. He’s not particularly athletic, but he has great ball skills and he’s tremendously cerebral. Malcom Brown feels a big need after Vince Wilfork left, and I would keep an eye on Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson. Both linemen could be potential Pro Bowlers down the line.

New Orleans Saints

Round 1: Andrus Peat (OT, Stanford), Round 1: Stephone Anthony (ILB, Clemson), Round 2: Hau’oli Kikaha (OLB, Washington), Round 3: Garrett Grayson (QB, Colorado St.), Round 3: P.J. Williams (CB, Florida St.), Round 5: Davis Tull (OLB, Tennessee-Chattanooga), Round 5: Tyeler Davison (DT, Fresno St.), Round 5: Damian Swann (CB, Georgia), Round 7: Marcus Murphy (RB, Missouri).

Best Value: P.J. Williams

Highest Upside: Andrus Peat

Worst Fit: Garrett Grayson

Biggest Reach: Hau’oli Kikaha

Overall Grade: (B-) With so many picks to play with, the Saints managed to come away without feeling all of their needs. Garrett Grayson was not a need, and I do not believe he is good enough to become the hire to Drew Brees’ throne. I also believe that even though Kikaha feels a need, he was a big over draft. Randy Gregory, Eli Harold, and Owamagbe Odighizuma were all available at that pick, and they are all better prospect then the Washington edge rusher. Overall, I feel the Saints blew an opportunity to get younger and better.

New York Giants

Round 1: Ereck Flowers (OT, Miami Fl.), Round 2: Landon Collins (SS, Alabama), Round 3: Owamagbe Odighizuwa (DE, UCLA), Round 5: Mykkele Thompson (FS, Texas), Round 6: Geremy Davis (WR, UConn), Round 7: Bobby Hart (OG, Florida St.).

Best Value: Landon Collins

Highest Upside: Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: Ereck Flowers/ Mykkele Thompson

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-total-access/0ap3000000491974/Collins-checks-in-on-Day-1-of-rookie-minicamp

Overall Grade: (B) Landon Collins is the steal of the draft in the 2nd round. He was a top 15 talent that feel because teams weren’t sold on his center fielding skills. That’s fine for Giants, they prefer his in-the-box, smash mouth style anyway.

New York Jets

Round 1: Leonard Williams (DE/DT, USC), Round 2: Devin Smith (WR, Ohio St.), Round 3: Lorenzo Mauldin (DE/OLB, Louisville), Round 4: Bryce Petty (QB, Baylor), Round 5: Jarvis Harrison (OG, Texas A&M), Round 7: Deon Simon (NT, Northwestern St.).

Best Value: Leonard Williams

Highest Upside: Devin Smith

Worst Fit: Bryce Petty

Biggest Reach: None

Overall Grade:  (B+) Leonard Williams is the best player in this draft, and the Jets got him 6th overall. This creates a “good” problem with the Jets’ defensive line. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Williams, and Sheldon Richardson, New York has an embarrassment of riches in the trenches. I like the Bryce Petty pickup, but I hate the fact he’s going from Baylor’s hyper-speed spread offense to Chan Gailey’s run heavy offense. It’s going to take a lot longer for Petty to develop in that offense due to its more traditional nature.

Oakland Raiders

Round 1: Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama), Round 2: Mario Edwards Jr. (DE, Florida St.), Round 3: Clive Walford (TE, Miami Fl.), Round 4: Jon Feliciano (OG, Miami Fl.), Round 5: Ben Heeney (ILB, Kansas), Round 5: Neiron Ball (OLB, Florida), Round 6: Max Valles (OLB, Virginia), Round 7: Anthony Morris (OL, Tennessee St.), Round 7: Andre Debose (WR, Florida), Round 7: Dexter McDonald (CB, Kansas).

Best Value: Ben Heeney

Highest Upside: Clive Walford

Worst Fit: Max Valles

Biggest Reach: Mario Edwards Jr.

Overall Grade: (B) The really could have used a runningback, but I think the Raiders did a great job of addressing the many needs they had. Amari Cooper will be a starter from day one, and Clive Walford represents a hug upgrade from Mychal Rivera and the rest of Oakland’s tight end group. My only problem is with Edwards, he’s more of a defensive tackle than a defensive end, and he doesn’t generate much of a pass rush.

Philadelphia Eagles

Round 1: Nelson Agholor (WR, USC), Round 2: Eric Rowe (CB, Utah), Round 3: Jordan Hicks (OLB, Texas), Round 6: JaCorey Shepherd (CB, Kansas), Round 6: Randall Evans (CB, Kansas St.), Round 7: Brian Mihalik (DE, Boston College).

Best Value: JaCorey Shepherd

Highest Upside: Eric Rowe

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: Nelson Agholor

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:12773709

Overall Grade: (B+) The Eagles weakest position was corner, so Chip Kelly drafted three, hoping at least two of them will stick. Shepherd is a former wide receiver still learning the proper technique for the position. He has the ball skills and upside to force Eric Rowe back to safety. Speaking of Rowe, he has great athleticism and versatility for the secondary. I sure Philly will find a place for him to play.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 1: Alvin “Bud” Dupree (OLB, Kentucky), Round 2: Senquez Golson (CB, Ole Miss), Round 3: Sammie Coates (WR, Auburn), Round 4: Doran Grant, (CB/S, Ohio St.), Round 5: Jesse James (TE, Penn St.), Round 6: Leterrius Walton (DT, C. Michigan), Round 6: Anthony Chickillo (DE, Miami Fl.), Round 7: Gerod Holliman (FS, Louisville).

Best Value: Gerod Holliman, Sammie Coates, Doran Grant

Highest Upside: Bud Dupree

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: None

Overall Grade: (A+) Arguably the perfect draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They filled all their major needs all while drafting some pretty talented players. The most important thing about this draft class is that it gets the Steelers young and fresher players to use. With this class, the team has a great chance of making the playoffs, especially if these young guys show up big.

San Diego Chargers

Round 1: Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin), Round 2: Denzel Perryman (ILB, Miami Fl.), Round 3: Craig Mager (CB, Texas St.), Round 5: Kyle Emanuel (OLB, North Dakota St.), Round 6: Darius Philon (DT, Arkansas).

Best Value: Kyle Emanuel

Highest Upside: Craig Mager

Worst Fit: Denzel Perryman

Biggest Reach: Melvin Gordon

http://www.chargers.com/video/2015/05/02/bolts-breakdown-kyle-emanuel

Overall Grade: (B) The only reason I consider Gordon and reach is because of the unnecessary trade San Diego conducted. They gave up and 4th and 5th rounder along with the 17the pick overall to leap frog Houston. The Texans typically do not waste high draft picks on runningbacks, so the Chargers were overthinking themselves. For a team as thin as the Chargers are, those draft picks count. Perryman reminds me of a better tackling Manti Te’o, which is funny considering they have the real guy too. It would have been better to pair Te’o with a rangy cover backer rather than another thumper.

San Francisco 49ers

Round 1: Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon), Round 2: Jaquiski Tartt (SS, Samford), Round 3: Eli Harold (OLB, Virginia), Round 4: Blake Bell (TE, Oklahoma), Round 4: Mike Davis (RB, S. Carolina), Round 4: DeAndre Smelter (WR, Georgia Tech), Round 5: Bradley Pinion (P, Clemson), Round 6: Ian Silberman (OG, Boston College), Round 7: Trenton Brown (OG, Florida), Round 7: Rory “Busta” Anderson (TE, S. Carolina).

Best Value: Eli Harold

Highest Upside: Arik Armstead

Worst Fit: Jaquiski Tartt

Biggest Reach: Blake Bell

Overall Grade: (C) Arik Armstead and Eli Harold are great additions to the 49ers weakened defense. Harold was a fringe 1st round prospect, and he somehow ended up going in the 3rd. Armstead is the perfect 5 technique to operate in their defense. Most of the other picks are rather confusing. Blake Bell was looking more like an undrafted free agent, yet the 9ers took him in the 4th round. Tartt is the third safety San Fran has taken in the last three years. The team desperately needed a corner, yet they took and run-stopping safety. How does that make any sense?

Seattle Seahawks

Round 2: Frank Clark (DE/OLB, Michigan), Round 3: Tyler Lockett (WR, Kansas St.), Round 4: Terry Poole (OG, San Diego St.), Round 4: Mark Glowinski (OG, W. Virginia), Round 5: Tye Smith (CB, Towson), Round 6: Obum Gwacham (DE, Oregon St.), Round 6: Kristjan Sokoli (DT, Buffalo), Round 7: Ryan Murphy (DB, Oregon St.).

Best Value: Tyler Lockett

Highest Upside: Obum Gwacham

Worst Fit: Frank Clark

Biggest Reach: Clark

Overall Grade: (C-) On paper, this looks like a very poor draft. However, after seeing Pete Carroll’s team building skills culminate the last two years, can you really doubt a draft class like this? For now, I will be a hater. Clark had so many red flags that most teams thought he was undraftable. Those who were targeting the Michigan product, ranked him much lower than the 2nd round. For now, Tyler Lockett seems to be the only sure thing in this draft class. But knowing how the Seahawks operate, it wouldn’t surprise me if a few of these prospects turned out to be fantastic players.

St. Louis Rams

Round 1: Todd Gurley (RB, Georgia), Round 2: Rob Havenstein (OT/OG, Wisconsin), Round 3: Jamon Brown (OT, Louisville), Round 3: Sean Mannion (QB, Oregon St.), Round 4: Andrew Donnal (OT, Iowa), Round 6: Bud Sasser (WR, Missouri), Round 6: Cody Wichmann (OG, Fresno St.), Round 7: Bryce Hager (ILB, Baylor), Round 7: Martin Ifedi (DE, Memphis).

Best Value: Bud Sasser

Highest Upside: Todd Gurley

Worst Fit: Sean Mannion

Biggest Reach: Mannion

Overall Grade: (B) Todd Gurley, when healthy, looked like a once in a generation talent. Now, he lands on a squad that can allow him to fully heal. Once he’s back at full strength, look out for the Rams running game. However, there choices in quarterback are really surprising to me. With players like Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley available, the Jeff Fisher decided to take a quarterback many thought would go undrafted. Hopefully Nick Foles is the answer. If not, St. Louis may be drafting another quarterback as soon as next year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 1: Jameis Winston (QB, Florida St.), Round 2: Donovan Smith (OT, Penn St.), Round 2: Ali Marpet (OG/C, Hobart), Round 4: Kwon Alexander (OLB, LSU), Round 5: Kenny Ball (WR, Nebraska), Round 6: Kaelin Clay (WR, Utah), Round 7: Joey Iosefa (FB, Hawaii).

Best Value: Donovan Smith

Highest Upside: Ali Marpet

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine-total-access/0ap3000000472350/On-the-Clock-Ali-Marpet

Overall Grade: (B+) The Buccaneers got their franchise quarterback. They also adding much needed talent to the offensive line tasked to protect him. The Buccs also added two big-play receivers who should compete for catches out of the slot. I would have ranked Tampa Bay higher, but they did not add a runningback to compete with Doug Martin.

Tennessee Titans

Round 1: Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon), Round 2: Dorial Green-Beckham (WR, Missouri), Round 3: Jeremiah Poutasi (OT/OG, Utah), Round 4: Angelo Blackson (DT, Auburn), Round 4: Jalston Fowler (FB, Alabama), Round 5: David Cobb (RB, Minnesota), Round 6: Deiontrez Mount (OLB, Louisville), Round 6: Andy Gallik (C, Boston College), Round 7: Tre McBride (William & Mary).

Best Value: David Cobb

Highest Upside: Dorial Green-Beckham

Worst Fit: Jeremaih Poutasi

Biggest Reach: Jalston Fowler

Overall Grade: (A-) The Titans added a lot of talent with this draft class. Green-Beckham has been compared to Randy Moss due to his receiving ability, and his poor attitude. Marcus Mariota was considered to be the best quarterback available by many teams in the draft. David Cobb is a human bowling ball, very similar to former Atlanta Falcon T.J. Duckett. Tre McBride could be the biggest surprise of this draft class. Many scouts believe he can be an effective slot receiver, and possibly a number two option.

Washington Redskins

Round 1: Brandon Scherff (OT/OG, Iowa), Round 2: Preston Smith (DE/OLB, Mississippi St.), Round 3: Matt Jones (RB, Florida), Round 4: Jamison Crowder (WR, Duke), Round 4: Arie Kouandijo (OG, Alabama), Round 5: Martell Spaight (OLB, Arkansas), Round 6: Kyshoen Jarrett (SS, Virginia Tech), Round 6: Tevin Mitchel (CB, Arkansas), Round 6: Evan Spencer (WR, Ohio St.), Round 7: Austin Reiter (C, S. Florida).

Best Value: Jamison Crowder

Highest Upside: Kyshoen Jarrett

Worst Fit: Evan Spencer

Biggest Reach: Matt Jones

Overall Grade: (B) Brandon Scherff and Arie Kouandijo are sure to add some toughness and combativeness to Redskins offensive line; something the team desperately needs. Preston Smith adds some versatility and pass rushing ability to replace the departed Brian Orakpo. Jamison Crowder gives RGIII a security blanket in the slot, and balance to a line-up with Deshawn Jackson and Pierre Garcon. I’m not as high on Matt Jones as other people are, but the last time the Skins took a runningback from Florida he turned out to be pretty good.

My Belated NFL Draft Grades: Part 1

Arizona Cardinals:

Round 1: D.J. Humphries (OT, Florida), Round 2: Markus Golden (DE/OLB, Missouri), Round 3: David Johnson (RB, N. Iowa), Round 4: Rodney Gunter (DT, Delaware St.), Round 5: Shaquille Riddick (DE/OLB, W. Virginia), Round 6: J.J. Nelson (WR, UAB), Round 7: Gerald Christian (TE, Louisville).

Best Value: David Johnson

Highest Upside: D.J. Humphries

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-senior-bowl/0ap3000000462773/Reese-s-Senior-Bowl-Johnson-s-19-yard-touchdown-run

Overall Grade: (B+) The Cardinals did a really great job of filling as many needs as they could. David Johnson could up being a huge steal in this draft. However, they still come away from the draft thin at inside linebacker and cornerback.

Atlanta Falcons

Round 1: Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson), Round 2: Jalen Collins (CB, LSU), Round 3: Tevin Coleman (RB, Indiana), Round 4: Justin Hardy (WR, E. Carolina), Round 5: Grady Jarrett (DT, Clemson), Round 7: Jake Rodgers (OT, E. Washington), Round 7: Akeem King (DB, San Jose St.).

Best Value: Grady Jarrett

Highest Upside: Jalen Collins

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: None

(Editor’s Note: How do you not root for a guy with a great highlight tape?)

Overall Grade: (B+) The Falcons did a great job in upgrading their pores defense in this draft. Vic Beasley gives the team the pass rusher it has desperately needed for the past several seasons. My only complaint is that they did not add another tight end to complement Levine Toilolo.

Baltimore Ravens

Round 1: Breshad Perriman (WR, UCF), Round 2: Maxx Williams (TE, Minnesota), Round 3: Carl Davis (DT, Iowa), Round 4: Za’Darius Smith (DE/OLB, Kentucky), Round 4: Javorius “Buck” Allen (RB, USC), Round 4: Tray Walker (CB, Texas Southern), Round 5: Nick Boyle (TE, Delaware), Round 5: Robert Myers (OT, Tennessee St.), Round 6: Darren Waller (WR, Georgia Tech).

Best Value: Za’Darius Smith

Highest Upside: Carl Davis

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: Buck Allen

Overall Grade: (A) The Ravens did an amazing job retooling their team after an offseason that saw a lot of talent leaving Baltimore. It would have been a perfect draft had they not drafted Buck Allen over more talented runningbacks like Jay Ajayi and David Cobb.

Buffalo Bills

Round 2: Ronald Darby (CB, Florida St.), Round 3: John Miller (OG, Louisville), Round 5: Karlos Williams (RB, Florida St.), Round 6: Tony Steward (OLB, Clemson), Round 6: Nick O’Leary (TE, Florida St.), Round 7: Dezmin Lewis (WR C. Arkansas).

Best Value: Ronald Darby

Highest Upside: Darby

Worst Fit: Nick O’Leary

Biggest Reach: Karlos Williams

Overall Grade: (C+) It’s hard to come away with a successful draft class when you have such few picks, but it makes matters worse when you do not try to fill your needs with those picks. Cornerback was a position of strength for the Bills, yet with their first pick, Rex Ryan drafted Darby. He may be a future shut-down corner, but the Bills need to a more complete team in order to make a playoff run.

Carolina Panthers

Round 1: Shaq Thompson (OLB, Washington), Round 2: Devin Funchess (WR/TE, Michigan), Round 4: Daryl Williams (OG, Oklahoma), Round 5: David Mayo (LB, Texas St.), Round 5: Cameron Artis-Payne (RB, Auburn).

Best Value: Cameron Artis-Payne

Highest Upside: Shaq Thompson

Worst Fit: Devin Funchess

Biggest Reach: Funchess

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:12781020

Overall Grade: (B-) Another team in need a youthful depth, but lacking the draft picks to achieve this goal. Shaq Thompson could be a very interesting new piece in the Panthers defense. He has great playmaking ability, and the athleticism to run with any tight end in the league. My biggest problem is drafting Funchess. He has almost the exact skill set as last year’s first round pick, Kelvin Benjamin. The would have been better off drafting a receiver who could take the top off of the opposing team’s pass coverage.

Chicago Bears

Round 1: Kevin White (WR, W. Virginia), Round 2: Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida St.), Round 3: Hroniss Grasu (C, Oregon), Round 4: Jeremy Langford (RB, Michigan St.), Round 5: Adrian Amos (S, Penn St.), Round 6: Tayo Fabuluje (OT, TCU).

Best Value: Eddie Goldman

Highest Upside: Kevin White

Worst Fit: Tayo Fabuluje

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-combine-top-performers/0ap3000000473016/Jeremy-Langford-leads-RBs-in-40-yard-dash

Overall Grade: (B+) The Bears valiantly tried to fill all of their team needs. Alas, they could not, coming away short of a quarterback and a corner back. However they did draft a replacement for Brandon Marshall, a much-needed nose tackle, a young center to captain the offensive line, and a versatile safety would can play all over the defensive backfield. Tayo Fabuluje is a solid offensive line prospect with an amazing back-story, but he’s over 350 pounds and may lack the athleticism to stay a tackle (a position of great need for the Bears).

Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1: Cedric Ogbuehi (OT, Texas A&M), Round 2: Jake Fisher (OT, Oregon), Round 3: Tyler Kroft (TE, Rutgers), Round 3: Paul Dawson (ILB, TCU), Round 4: Josh Shaw (DB, USC), Marcus Hardison (DE/DT, Arizona St.), Round 5: C.J. Uzomah (TE, Auburn), Round 6: Derron Smith (FS, Fresno St.), Round 7: Mario Alford (WR, W. Virginia).

Best Value: Paul Dawson

Highest Upside: Cedric Ogbuehi

Worst Fit: Tyler Kroft

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-fan-pass/0ap3000000472337/Combine-Confessional-Rutgers-tight-end-Tyler-Kroft

Overall Grade: (A-) The Bengals reach a perfect combination of filling needs while drafting the best player available. Dawson, who was once considered a high 2nd round pick, ended up being taken at the end of the third. Josh Shaw could be a corner or a safety, but he is such to be a starter. My only problem is with Tyler Kroft, who seems to be more of a big slot receiver than a tight end. That is sure to hurt their running game a little bit, especially with the loss of Jermaine Gresham.

Cleveland Browns

Round 1: Danny Shelton (NT, Washington), Round 1: Cameron Erving (OL, Florida St.), Round 2: Nate Orchard (DE/OLB, Utah), Round 3: Duke Johnson (RB, Miami FL.), Round 3: Xavier Cooper (DT, Washington St.), Round 4: Ibraheim Campbell (S, Northwestern), Round 4: Vince Mayle (WR, Washington St.), Round 6: Charles Gaines (CB, Louisville), Round 6: Malcolm Johnson (TE, Mississippi St.), Round 6: Randall Telfer (TE, USC), Round 7: Hayes Pullard (ILB, USC), Round 7: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (CB, Oregon).

Best Value: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Highest Upside: Duke Johnson

Worst Fit: Cameron Erving

Biggest Reach: Vince Mayle

http://bleacherreport.com/video_embed?id=N5azdqdDq8Ei-GE_rKbYnB7-Kvn1pCpj

Overall Grade: (B+) Ekpre-Olomu is going to make Cleveland fans forget about Buster Skrine. He was a late 1st/early 2nd round pick before his knee injury in December. If he’s healthy, he’s going to be a playmaker out of the slot. I don’t have a problem with the Browns not drafting a quarterback this year. Johnny Manziel is only one year removed from being taken in the first round, and Connor Shaw has shown to be a solid back-up prospect. My biggest knock on the Browns is their choice of wide receiver. Instead of drafting a prospect like Jalen Strong, Tyler Lockett, Sammie Coates, Rashad Greene, or Chris Conley in the second or third round, they waited until the fourth round to address one of their biggest needs. Vince Mayle is a project, and chances are he’s not going to develop into a go-to receiving option.

Dallas Cowboys

Round 1: Byron Jones (CB/S, UConn), Round 2: Randy Gregory (OLB, Nebraska), Round 3: Chaz Green (OT, Florida), Round 4: Damien Wilson (ILB, Minnesota), Round 5: Ryan Russell (DE, Purdue), Round 7: Mark Nzeocha (LB, Wyoming), Round 7: Laurence Gibson (OT, Virginia Tech), Round 7: Geoff Swaim (TE, Texas).

Best Value: Randy Gregory

Highest Upside: Byron Jones

Worst Fit: Ryan Russell

Biggest Reach: None

Overall Grade: (B-) Byron Jones helps bring talent and depth to a defensive secondary in dire need of both. Randy Gregory may be too thin to be a 3-4 edge rusher, but at the end of the second round, he provided too great of a value to be passed over. Their biggest mistake was not drafting a replacement for DeMarco Murray. There were plenty of late prospects that have the talent to develop into effective starting running backs. Instead, the Cowboys elected to stay with their current backfield of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, and Lance Dunbar. Good luck boys.

Denver Broncos

Round 1: Shane Ray (DE/OLB, Missouri), Round 2: Ty Sambrailo (OT/OG, Colorado St.), Round 3: Jeff Heuerman (TE, Ohio St.), Round 4: Max Garcia (C, Florida), Round 5: Lorenzo Doss (CB, Tulane), Round 6: Darius Kilgo (NT, Maryland), Round 7: Trevor Siemian (QB, Northwestern), Round 7: Taurean Nixon (CB, Tulane), Round 7: Josh Furman (DB, Oklahoma St.).

Best Value: Ty Sambrailo

Highest Upside: Jeff Heuerman

Worst Fit: Shane Ray

Biggest Reach: Trevor Siemian

Overall Grade: (B+) Jeff Heurman could be Peyton Manning’s next great weapon. He’s a strong blocker and a very solid receiver, and Ohio State’s spread offense is very poorly tailored for tight ends. He’s very reminiscent of Heath Miller or Dallas Clark. Shane Ray is tremendously talented, but he’s a tweener that doesn’t really fit well in the Broncos defensive front seven. He’s too small to play the “Rush” end position DeMarcus Ware plays, and he’s too uncomfortable standing up to play the “Rush” backer position Von Miller plays. Ray seems like a square peg in a round hole.

Detroit Lions

Round 1: Laken Tomlinson (OG, Duke), Round 2: Ameer Abdullah (RB, Nebraska), Round 3: Alex Carter (CB, Stanford), Round 4: Gabe Wright (DT, Auburn), Round 5: Michael Burton (FB, Rutgers), Round 6: Quadre Diggs (CB, Texas), Round 7: Corey Robinson (OT, S, Carolina).

Best Value: Alex Carter

Highest Upside: Gabe Wright

Worst Fit: Ameer Abdullah

Biggest Reach: None

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-senior-bowl/0ap3000000462923/Reese-s-Senior-Bowl-Ameer-Abdullah-highlights

Overall Grade: (B) Laken Tomlinson has the skills to develop into a Pro-Bowl caliber guard, and I think the Lions were smart to use their original pick (23rd overall) to gather further picks for the future. Alex Carter has the skills to play in the slot or out on the boundary; versatility Detroit desperately needs. I agree with the Lions’ assessment that Abdullah is worth a second round pick, but he reminds me too much of Joique Bell. They needed a scat back like Duke Johnson or Tevin Coleman, to replace Reggie Bush as a home run threat.

Green Bay Packers

Round 1: Damarious Randall (DB, Arizona St.), Round 2: Quinten Rollins (CB, Miami Oh.), Round 3: Ty Montgomery (WR, Stanford), Round 4: Jake Ryan (LB, Michigan), Round 5: Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA), Round 6: Aaron Ripkowski (FB, Oklahoma), Round 6: Christian Ringo (DE, Louisiana-Lafayette), Round 6: Kennard Blackman (TE, UAB).

Best Value: Brett Hundley

Highest Upside: Quinten Rollins

Worst Fit: Ty Montgomery

Biggest Reach: Montgomery

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:11476693

Overall Grade: (A-) Damarious Randall’s secondary versatility is extremely appealing to the Packers here. He can play corner or safety and effective back up all four positions. Rollins was a basketball player at Miami, but deciding he had a better future in football. In his first and only year, he had seven interceptions and won MAC Defensive POY. Once he learns proper technique, he could develop into a shutdown corner. Brett Hundley could be Aaron Rodgers 2.0, or he could be the next Matt Flynn, either way the Packers are lucky to have a chip like that on their roster.

Houston Texans

Round 1: Kevin Johnson (CB, Wake Forest), Round 2: Benardrick McKinney (ILB, Mississippi St.), Round 3: Jaelen Strong (WR, Arizona St.), Round 5: Keith Mumphery (WR, Michigan St.), Round 6: Reshard Cliett (OLB, S. Florida), Round 6: Christian Covington (DT, Rice), Round 7: Kenny Hilliard (RB, LSU).

Best Value: Jalen Strong

Highest Upside: Strong

Worst Fit: None

Biggest Reach: None

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2260803-watch-arizona-state-wr-jaelen-strong-make-flithy-one-handed-td-catch

Overall Grade: (B+) Jalen Strong has all the traits to be a go-to wide receiver, and the fact he was available in the third round is simply ludicrous. Having Strong and DeAndre Hopkins on the outside should be a big hit for whatever quarterback Houston decides to start.

Indianapolis Colts

Round 1: Phillip Dorsett (WR, Miami), Round 2: D’Juon Smith (CB, Florida Atlantic), Round 3: Henry Anderson (DE, Stanford), Round 4: Clayton Geathers (SS, C. Florida), Round 5: David Perry (NT, Stanford), Round 6: Josh Robinson (RB, Mississippi St.), Round 6: Amarlo Herrera (ILB, Georgia), Round 7: Denzell Goode (OT/OG, Mars Hill).

Best Value: Josh Robinson

Highest Upside: Phillip Dorsett

Worst Fit: Dorsett

Biggest Reach: Clayton Geathers

Overall Grade: (B-) With so many needs, and a “win now” attitude, the drafting of Dorsett here is confusing. Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Duron Carter (son of HOF Chris Carter) are all on the depth chart for Indianapolis. Regardless of how talented Dorsett is, this feels like a wasted pick.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 1: Dante Fowler Jr. (DE/OLB, Florida), Round 2: T.J. Yeldon (RB, Alabama), Round 3: A.J. Cann (OG, S. Carolina), Round 4: James Sample (SS, Louisville), Round 5: Rashad Greene (WR, Florida St.), Round 6: Michael Bennett (DT, Ohio St.), Round 7: Neal Sterling (WR, Monmouth NJ), Round 7: Ben Koyack (TE, Notre Dame).

Best Value: Michael Bennett

Highest Upside: James Sample

Worst Fit: T.J. Yeldon

Biggest Reach: None

Overall Grade: (A-) You may wonder why I have James Sample as the player with the highest upside? That’s because he only played one full season, and his coach is former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. The Jaguars need a Kam Chancellor-type of SS, and Sample has the potential to be that player. I am not as high on Yeldon as other people seem to be. I think he benefited from running behind a dominant Alabama line. It doesn’t bode well that he was beaten out by sophomore Derrick Henry last season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Round 1: Marcus Peters (CB, Washington), Round 2: Mitch Morse (OG/C, Missouri), Round 3: Chris Conley (WR, Georgia), Round 3: Steven Nelson (CB, Oregon St.), Round 4: Ramik Wilson (ILB, Georgia), Round 5: D.J. Alexander (OLB/ILB, Oregon St.), Round 5: James O’Shaughnessy (TE, Illinois St.), Round 6: Rakeem Nunez-Roches (DT, Southern Miss), Round 7: Da’Ron Brown (WR, N. Illinois).

Best Value: Chris Conley

Highest Upside: Conley

Worst Fit: Mitch Morse

Biggest Reach: Morse

Overall Grade: (B-) Great job snagging Marcus Peters in the 1st and Chris Conley in the 3rd. Both players should develop into dependable NFL starters. Peters could develop into a borderline Pro-Bowl talent, but it’s Conley that has the most upside. He tested through the roof at the combine, and the Georgia offense didn’t do Conley any favors. The reason I rank the Chiefs so low is because most of their draft picks are very raw, and I see Mitch Morse as an over draft. Plus, they have multiple holes along the offensive line and they only walked away with one offensive lineman.

The Force is Strong in This One: Bulls-Cavs Preview

May the fourth be with you. Today is Star Wars Day, the only holiday that justifies it’s existence with the use of a terrible pun. I’m not a hater of Star Wars Day, but couldn’t it happen on a different day, like May 25th (the release date of the 1st Star Wars movie)? I digress; today is also the opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Stars War on the brain, I got to thinking that this Bulls-Cavs series is very reminiscent of the Rebel Alliance’s battle with the Empire.  Here are my conclusions:

1) Derrick Rose is Luke Skywalker

Both men have suffered grave injuries in the line of battle (Rose and knee, Luke and his hand). Hopefully, DRose follows in Luke’s footsteps and defeats Darth Vader. Speaking of which…

2) LeBron James is Darth Vader

This doesn’t mean LeBron is evil, in fact both James and Vader are tragic characters in retrospect. LeBron was seen as a coward for leaving Cleveland for Miami. Vader made up for his transgressions through his death, while James is trying to do that with his return. It can also be said that LeBron is, in fact, a Basketball Sith Lord sent here to destroy opponents with his mastery of the force.

3) Joakim Noah is Princess Leia

This is not a stretch, I promise you. According to the Stars Wars Data Bank, “Princess Leia Organa was one of the Rebel Alliance’s greatest leaders, fearless on the battlefield and dedicated to ending the tyranny of the Empire.” Sound like a certain former Defensive MVP for a certain Chicago Bulls? Plus the hair, am I right?

4) Nikola Mirotic is Han Solo and Paul Gasol is Chewbacca

A scoundrel, a loose cannon, a man who cannot be tamed; all of these characteristics not only describes one of the greatest characters in the galaxy, but one of the greatest rookies in Chicago Bulls history. As for the Chewy-Gasol comparisons, both are know for their short tempers and their big hearts. Plus, they kind of look alike don’t they?

(Editors Note/Breaking News: Gasol cast as Chewbacca stand in for Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

5) Kyrie Irving is Galen Marek (Starkiller)

Now this one is the biggest stretch considering that Starkiller was only in “Force Unleashed” video games and not in the actual movie, but when the shoe fits. Starkiller was an assassin used by Vader to kill various members of the Jedi Order in order to begin war on the galaxy. Uncle Drew is an assassin on the basketball court, used by James when teams can be exploited by his passing and creating abilities or when an opponents back court is particularly weak.

6) Taj Gibson is Lando Calrissian

Quick witted and daring, Lando was an invaluable member of the Rebel Alliance. But, try as he might, he would never ever be able to replace Han. Sounds like Taj right? Important to the Bulls, but not a good enough replacement for Mirotic.

7) Aaron Brooks is R2-D2 and Mike Dunleavy is C-3PO

R2 is the gutsy little robot who is always there for a quick fix. He’s a skilled starship mechanic and fighter pilot’s assistance. He’ even there with Luke on Dagobah; strapped to Skywalker’s back as he is completing Yoda’s grueling training exercises. Aaron is the Bulls gutsy, quick-fix. He’s ready to help DRose when ever need be.

On the flip side, C-3PO is humanoid protocol droid designed for etiquette. Dunleavy is a 13-year pro who thrives using proper technique, footwork, and spacing. In order for the Bulls to be successful, both of these role players must find a way to rise to the occasion during pivotal events during this series much like R2 and C-3PO found there way into key events during the rebellion.

8) The rest of the Cavaliers are Stormtroppers

Minus Kevin Love, who is out of the lineup due to injury, the rest of Cleveland’s roster is of little consequence. The job of both and Stormtropper and a Cavalier is to contribute to the war effort while protecting those hire up the food chain. Both are necessary for victory, and both can beat you if you let them. But if you take away those who are in charge (James/Vader), then both with collapse into a conglomerate of individuals only looking out for themselves.

9) Tom Thibodeau is Admiral Ackbar

Admiral Ackbar was instrumental in the destruction of the Death Star II, and the eventual victory of the Rebel Alliance. Thibs needs to be just as decisive and tactical in order for the Bulls to overcome Cleveland in this semi-finals match up.

(Editor’s Note: How has a defensive-minded coach never said the word “trap” on national television?)

10) Jimmy Butler is Wedge Antilles

Now this one is the least obvious comparison, but it is the most important/best fitting. Wedge was one of the founding members of the Rogue Squadron, along with Luke Skywalker and Commander Arhul Narra. Wedge was a key member of the team that destroyed the first Death Star, as well as the pilot to eliminate Death Star II. He is the only fighter pilot to survive both skirmishes. The Bulls need Jimmy Butler to be Wedge Antilles. While Rose, Gasol, and Mirotic willl be focused upon by the Cav’s defense, it will be Butler who draws LeBron James on defense. If Butler can’t score against James, he must then be able to help his teammates exploit weaker match ups. It will also be up to Butler to slow James down defensively while players like Rose, Dunleavy, Brooks, and Tony Snell try and stop Kryie Irving defensively. Just like Antilles in Return of the Jedi, it will be up to Butler to destroy the Cavaliers right at their core.

My prediction for the game is Bulls in seven. With Kevin Love out for the remainder of the playoffs, and J.R. Smith suspended for the first two games, the Bulls have a fighting chance to win a game in Cleveland.

Either way, this series should go down to the wire.

(Food for thought)

First Round NFL Draft Grades

1) Tampa Bay: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. (A-)

Pretty much the only pick that could be made. Hopefully he matures under Lovie Smith. If he doesn’t, he’s the new JaMarcus Russell. If he does, he’s the new Ben Roethlisberger.

2) Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon. (A-)

Bye bye Zach Mattenberger. Besides Chip Kelly, Titans’ coach Ken Wisenhunt is the best coach for Mariota to cut his teeth under. Wisenhunt is a QB guru and, under his tutelage, he can really develop into a fringe Pro Bowl type player.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Folwer Jr., DE/OLB, Florida. (A-)

Gus Bradley may have finally found the “Michael Bennett” for his Jacksonville defense. Folwer is verstile, a hard worker, and a match-up nightmare. Pete Carroll would be proud of his former defensive coordinator.

4) Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama. (A)

Amari Cooper reminds me so much of Reggie Wayne, or to a lesser extend, Torry Holt. He doesn’t look that special when he’s playing but, when you look at his box score, he torched you for 150 yards and two touchdowns. He’s smooth, effective and more simply put, he gets the job done.

5) Washington Redskins: Brandon Scherff, OT/OG, Iowa. (B-)

The best offensive lineman in the draft, the only trouble I have with Scherff is his postion. Is he and offensive tackle or and offensive guard? If he’s a tackle, this is a fantastic pick. However, if the Iowa product is a guard, then the Redskins drafted him way to high.

6) New York Jets: Leonard Williams, DE/DT, USC. (A+)

Williams is the best player in the draft. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t fill a need for the Jets. The DT is far too good to pass up.

7) Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia. (A-)

He has more bustability than Cooper, but he also has more upside. He is a freak athlete, who is a safe-made prospect. He could be the next Larry Fitzgerald, or the next David Boston. The Bears are hoping for the former rather than the latter.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson. (B+)

New head coach Dan Quinn (former Seahawk’s defensive coordinator) is trying to set up a defensive similar to his former squad. Beasley fits the LEO lineback postion to perfection. Hopefully his college production carriers over to the pros.

9) New York Giants: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami. (D+)

I understand the Giants need offensive linemen, but Ereck Flowers was projected to fall out of the 1st round. Miraculously he is drafted 9th overall, ahead of a player like Andrus Peat. This pick seems like a huge over-draft to me.

10) St. Louis Rams: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia. (A)

Was considered a top 10 pick before his ACL tear. With Tre Mason, Zac Stacey, and Benny Cunningham on the roster, Gurley can take as much time as he needs to in order to heal up. The Rams need all the help they can get on offense, and Gurley certainly adds a much needed punch.

(Editor’s Note: The rumor going around is that the Rams will move to L.A. The last time a running back this good played in L.A. he looked like this…)

11) Minnesota Viking: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State. (B+)

Waynes needs to get bigger and more physical, but he does fill a need in Minnesota. With Xavier Rhodes and the Michigan State product, the Vikings may have the best cornerback duo in the NFC North,

12) Cleveland Browns: Danny Shelton, NT, Washington. (A)

The perfect colmination of drafting for “best player available” and for need. Shelton in going to be a real terror in the middle of that Browns defense. Hopefully this opens up better rushing lanes for Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo.

13) New Orleans: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford. (B+)

The Saints are in dire need of youth along their offensive line, and Peat is the best OT availible in this draft. Drew Brees should be able to more up right this season. He may be a little raw, but he has the talent to be an anchor for the next 10 years.

14) Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville. (A-)

Parker, Kenny Stills, Jordan Cameron, and Jarvis Landry; Ryan Tannehill may finally have the weapons he needs in order to ascend into the position of best post-Marino quarterback the Dolphins have ever had. Parker has all the skills to be a go-to wide receiver, and with the talent around him, he should excel in his first year in Miami.

15) San Diego Chargers (trade with 49ers): Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. (A-)

Gordon replaces Ryan Mathews: a player who had never started all 16 games in a season, and who had only topped 1,000 rushing yards twice in his 5 year career. Gordon will add a dependable and dynamic rushing attack to a team that is in desperate need of one.

16) Houston Texans: Kevin Johnson, CB, Waker Forest. (A)

The best cover cornerback in this years draft class. The Texans fill a need while drafting the best remaining player available. Johnson should pay dividends right away.

17) San Francisco 49ers (trade with Chargers): Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon. (A+)

Armstead needed the 49ers as much as the 49ers needed Armstead. The Oregon product could be the next Calais Campbell, and the 49ers would love nothing more for that to happen.

18) Kansas City Chiefs: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington. (B)

Peters fills and need, but he has to keep his noise clean in order for the Chiefs to come away with a steal. If he does prove to be a problem, many will wonder why Andy Reid elected to choose him over Byron Jones, Ronald Darby, or Landon Collins.

19) Cleveland Browns: Cam Erving, OL, Florida State. (B-)

If Alex Mack’s injury is truly that bad, the drafting Erving is a great decision. However, if Mack is healthy, then the Browns may have made a mistake. Erving is not an NFL tackle, and trying to make him one could be costly.

20) Philadelphia Eagles: Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles. (B)

Agholor is a great receiver who was shooting up draft boards. But, I wonder how could Chip Kelly draft him over Brashad Perriman? However Kelly ends up proving me wrong.

21) Cincinnati Bengals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M. (B+)

Ogbuehi was considered a top 10 pick until he tore his ACL in A&M’s bowl game. If he is 100 percent healthy, then the Bengals just got a huge steal.

22) Pittsburgh Steelers: Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky. (A+)

The Steelers have struggled to rush the passer lately. Bud Dupree has the athleticism to do that for the Steel Curtain. The Kentucky defensive rusher was being considered in the top 10, that’s how good he is.

23) Denver Broncos (trade with Lions): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri. (B-)

The marijuana arrest is very concerning, but the Broncos organization is very well respented. If anyone can keep Ray out of trouble all while getting the most from him, it would be Denver. However, one has to be worried about someone who has had trouble with weed in a state where it’s legalized.

24) Arizona Cardinals: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida. (B)

Raw offensive tackle that possesses all the skills to be a career player on the left side. The Cardinals can afford to start him out on the right side while he develops his technique.

25) Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington. (C+)

Thomas Davis was a Pro Bowl linebacker last year. Why would you draft his eventual replacement when you have other, more glaring needs to fill? Unless Thompson becomes a pro bowler in his own right, then this pick could prove to be a bust.

26) Baltimore Ravens: Breshad Perriman, WR, UCF. (A)

With Torrey Smith moving out to San Francisco, the Ravens needed to find a replacement who can take the top off the defense. Perriman will proved a deep threat for Joe Flacco and a decoy that will allow Steve Smith Sr. to operate underneath coverage.

27) Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut. (A-)

If Byron Jones sticks a cornerback, then this is a tremendous pick for America’s team. However, some teams were worried that he would have to move to safety. Either way, the Cowboys could use fresher bodies in their secondary.

(Editor’s note: This is how Cowboys fans should feel about the pick.)

28) Detroit Lions (trade with Broncos): Laken Tomlinson. (B)

Tomlinson fills a need for the Lions. He wasn’t the best linemen left on the board, but he certainly helps the Lions win now.

29) Indianapolis Colts: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami. (C+)

This is a luxury pick if I have ever seen one. Dorsett may be a good receiver at this level, but he’s certainly not going to keep Andrew Luck protected and standing upright. They should have taken a offensive linemen or safety to help fill out the Colts roster.

30) Green Bay Packers: Damarious Randall, S, Arizona State. (B)

With Landon Collins on the board, the Packers elected to draft Randall instead. He does have some solid ball skills, but he needs to work on his tackling and run-stopping ability in order to live up to this pick.

31) New Orleans Saints: Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson. (C-)

Anthony definitely fills a need for the Saints, but with Eric Hendricks and Paul Dawson still on the board, I believe New Orleans drafted the wrong inside linebacker.

32) New England Patriots: Malcolm Brown, DT, Texas. (A+)

Brown was a player being considered by teams drafting in the middle rounds. For the Patriots to get their hands on a player with that type of talent is simple unfair. Brown adds even more versatility to one of the most multi-purpose teams in the NFL.

The Booth Review Vol. 2

1) Take a Walk on the Wild Side:

On Saturday night, the Blackhawks finished off their series with the Nashville Predators, winning the game 4-3. Duncan Keith netted the game winning score 16 minutes into the third period to put the Preds away. Jonathan Toews and Keith finished the game with a goal and two assists each. The Patricks, Kane and Sharp, each tallied a goal and an assist. Next up for the Hawks is the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference semi-finals.

2) MLB’s Royal Rumble:

On Thursday night, the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox exchanged blows in what turned out to be a very interesting scuffle. Multiple suspensions resulted from the melee including Royal’s pitchers Yordano Ventura (7 games), Edinson Volquez (5 games) Kelvin Herrera (2 games), centerfielder Lorenzo Cain (2 games), and White Sox’s pitchers Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija (5 games). The most notable person involved in the altercation is Ventura, who is just weeks off of instigating another incident with the Oakland Athletics. Ventura and the Royals have always been considered a feisty, fiery bunch. However, this angst seems to be spilling over onto the field.

3) Jimmy Butler: Serving His Opponents Up One Tasty Bucket at a Time:

As the Bulls strive to win their ongoing series against the Milwaukee Bucks, one thing becomes readily apparent: Jimmy Butler is the man. Butler, who is a free agent at the end of the season, is averaging career highs points per game (28.3), assists per game (3.0), steals per game (1.8), field goal percentage (.543), and three point percentage (.393). Regardless of what happens during the rest of the playoffs, Butler has cemented his place as the Bulls’ new franchise cornerstone.

4) The People v. Scott Darling: The Case Exonerating Corey Crawford:

After giving up three goals in the first period during Saturday’s Game 6 win, Joel Quenneville opted to pull playoff hero Scott Darling for embattled former-starter Corey Crawford. The results were instantaneous: Crawford shut-out the Predators the rest of the game, and the Hawks won because of it. No starter has been named for Game 1, but in my opinion, Quenneville should stick with the hot hand in Crawford, but Darling should be ready to play at a moment’s notice. It’s better to have two solid goalies than one terrible one.

5) And With the First Pick of the 2015 NFL Draft…:

This Thursday marks the beginning of the NFL Draft. For the first time since 1965, the draft will be held in the city of Chicago. This draft proves to be equal parts exciting and mystifying. Aside from Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston going first overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the rest of the draft is unknown. Where will Marcus Mariota be selected? Will there be any blockbuster trades? The only thing that is for sure, is that Thursday night will be one hell of a night.

“There’s Always Next Year” Takes on a Whole New Meaning

With last night’s debut of 21-year old Addison Russell, Cubs’ faithful are getting a tantalizing preview into what may become a juggernaut in the making. Aside from possessing the greatest name for a Cubs’ player to have (his name is Addison – that’s like the Knick’s new starting point guard being named Madison), the middle infielder has burned through the Cub’s minor league system like a California wildfire during a drought. If he had moved through the system any faster, he would have to change his name to Kris Bryant.

Speaking of Bryant, he has done a very nice job since is first at bat versus James Shields. He is now hitting 8-18 (.444 BA) with 3 doubles and 6 RBIS. He hasn’t hit a homerun yet, but I doubt he’ll have trouble in that department.

The emergence of these two super-prospects, plus the continual success of Jorge Soler, lead many fans to be excited not only for this season, but the seasons to follow.

Why, if the team is succeeding in the present, are fans looking more to the future than ever before? With a bevy of incoming top prospects many, including myself, believe that we are witnessing the makings of dynasty. For the non-believers out there, here are a few reasons that might be the case.

  • Kyle Schwarber and the Rest of the Youngsters

Even with Bryant and Russell playing for the big league team, the Cubs still have a lot of fine prospects available down on the farm. Catcher Kyle Schwarber, the team’s first pick (fourth overall) in 2014, has hit 19 homeruns and 56 RBIs in only 81 minor league games. It doesn’t matter if he can stay behind the plate (it would help), the dude can flat out hit.

C.J. Edwards was one of the pieces in the now famous Matt Garza trade with the Texas Rangers. At the age of 23, Edwards has already struck out over 300 batters without even pitching 250 innings. Durability concerns aside, Edwards has the repertoire to produce in the big leagues.

These two prospects are just the tip of a supremely talented iceberg. Billy McKinney, a throw-in player in the Jeff Samardzija trade, looks like a Matt Carpenter clone. Albert Almora, the sixth overall pick in 2012, looks like a rich man’s Johnny Damon. Players like Duane Underwood, Gleyber Torres, Jen-Ho Tseng, Eloy Jimenez, Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Dylan Cease, all of which are 20 years old or younger. This is discluding the prospects that are close to the major league level. Regardless of how you cut it, the Cubs are in great position for sustainable success.

  • Nothing to See Here, Just Passing Through

Another great reason the Cubs are morphing into a premier organization is the fact that the team has managed to become competitive through free agent acquisitions without hamstringing themselves finically in the future. Players like Dexter Fowler, Chris Coghlan, Chris Denorfia, Travis Wood, and Jason Motte are one-year rental players that fix major holes for the ball club. Miguel Montero, Jason Hammels, and David Ross are only around for two years, adding veteran leadership to a club that is learning how to win. In both cases, the Cubs have brought in competent players that can help bridge the gap to their top prospects. The team has only six players on the active roster that are signed through 2017, and one of them (Montero) has a club option. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done a great job of maintaining the balance between rebuilding a team, and winning now.

  • Grandpa Lester, Uncle Rizzo, and Papi Castro

It’s nice to have a core group of players to help build a baseball club around. The top three players in the group are Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, and Starlin Castro. Of the three, Lester is the only player above the age of 30. Rizzo and Catro, both age 25, represent the two longest active Cubs on the roster. Upon the hiring of Epstein and Hoyer, Rizzo was the first addition to the rebuilding franchise.

Castro, on the other hand, is the last remaining hold over from the Jim Hendry era. These two players will act as a stabilizing force for the rest of the team. With both players currently beginning their primes, the team now has two all-stars that can help them achieve legitimacy.

And when both Rizzo and Castro begin their inevitable declines, players like Bryant, Soler, and Russell will be there to carry the torch that other players lit.

All these reasons have the Cubs’ arrow pointing up. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer didn’t just create a flash in the pan, they built a machine capable of continual success, much like our bitter rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. In essence, the Cubs are trying to become a loveable version of the Marvel Terrorist group HYRDA. “If one head is cut, another two take its place.” If Baez is a bust, Torres could be there to fill his void. If Almora is more a defensive ace rather than a table setter, McKinney has the tools needed to lead off a game. Either way, the Cubs future looks limitless. That is why “there’s always next year” doesn’t mean what it used to anymore.