New Orleans grabs top pick in NBA lottery

Let the NBA mock drafts begin. New Orleans will grab Anthony Davis, and then we’ll see if Micheal Jordan snags Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as Chad Ford predicts, or whether he goes with Thomas Robinson as predicted in the USA Today mock draft.

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Can John Calipari finally win it?

University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari reacts to his team’s play against St. John’s University during the second half of play in their NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, December 1, 2011. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

I didn’t fill out a bracket this year. I haven’t done so in years. While the NCAA tournament is still fun to watch, it’s hard to keep up on college basketball with the yearly turnover on the best teams, so each year I’m learning about the teams as the tournament progresses.

Many experts seem to think Kentucky has a great shot, again, so we’ll see if John Calipari can finally get it done.

It’s your Dance, John Calipari.

This is your NCAA tournament. All you have to do is win it – nothing more, and especially nothing less.

It’s not necessarily now or never. But it’s absolutely now. In 20 years as a college head coach, you’ve never had a better chance to win a national title.

Wednesday, you named off the great teams you’ve coached – Massachusetts 1996, Memphis 2008, Kentucky 2010 and ’11. All came close to winning it all. None finished the deal. None had the advantages this one enjoys.

You have the best team, which is the most important thing of all.

Your seven-man rotation is nothing but NBA prospects, one through seven, including a couple of top-five picks. Don’t bother with the “young team” line because every coach in America would love to be burdened with the youth of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Calipari is a loudmouth, so I’ll be rooting for an epic fail.

My Buckeyes got a break when Syracuse lost their best player, so maybe this makes up for the monster bracket they had to endure last year when they were a #1 seed and got bounced by Kentucky. I like their chances of getting to the Final Four, IF they can shoot well. This team is hot and cold, and getting hot now is critical for them and every other team. Also, I love Thad Matta as a coach. He’s an incredible recruiter. But I hate how he sticks to a tight rotation, and I haven’t seen him outcoach his counterparts in the big games. Hopefully this is his year.

2010 NFL Question Marks: San Francisco 49ers

GLENDALE - NOVEMBER 25:  Joe Staley #74 and Adam Snyder #68 of the San Francisco 49ers walk on the field during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on November 25, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the 49ers and their growing concerns along the offensive line.

The NFC West has emerged as the weakest division in football. The Rams are atrocious, the Cardinals are in transition mode and nobody quite knows what to make of the new-look Seahawks.

That’s why the 49ers are so intriguing. People have fallen in love with Mike Singletary’s coaching style and are encouraged about the development of former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith. They also have a great talent at running back in Frank Gore, a suddenly decent receiving corps thanks to Michael Crabtree, a stud tight end in Vernon Davis, and a young, energetic defense that has taken on Singletary’s ferocity and swagger.

But Smith and the rest of the offense will only go as far as the offensive line takes them and as of this moment, things don’t look good for the Niners’ front five.

Singletary has already named rookies Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati the starters at right tackle and left guard, respectively. Both first-rounders certainly have the talent to succeed, but as with any young player in the NFL, Davis and Iupati will likely struggle in their first years. It’s only inevitable.

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2010 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Here are quick-hit 2010 NFL Draft observations for the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Nose tackle Dan Williams is a great fit for the Cards, who were fortunate he slipped to them at No. 26. The team has been trying to fill the nose tackle position for years and they may have found the player to do it in Williams, who is explosive off the line. There’s a great chance he’ll beat out Gabe Watson for the right to start in Week 1. I also really liked Arizona’s second round pick, linebacker Daryl Washington. He’ll play alongside Geno Hayes in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment and might rack up 100 tackles with his sideline-to-sideline style of play. Citadel receiver Andre Roberts is a sleeper and will help out immediately as a punt returner. Third-rounder O’Brien Schofield had a first round grade on him before tearing his ACL in the Senior Bowl. He’s a prototypical 3-4 edge-rusher and has high upside, although he may need more time to fully recover from the injury. I also love the selection of John Skelton in the fifth. He’s athletic, has a cannon for an arm and he was a gamer at Fordham. He could be a great developmental project down the road, especially if Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson don’t pan out. All in all, this was one of my favorite drafts of any team this year.

San Francisco 49ers
I loved what the Niners did with their first three picks, which is where teams usually find starters and players that can make an impact right away. Anthony Davis will compete with Adam Snyder for the starting right tackle job, while Mike Iupati will battle David Bass at the starting left guard position. To nab two potential starters with their first two picks was excellent for San Fran. I also really liked the Taylor Mays selection in the second round because it showed great value, although he has a lot to prove after a sub par senior season at USC. The good thing for the Niners is that he has a chip on his shoulder, is a great athlete and will be working close with Mike Singletary, who is an excellent motivator. I didn’t like the pick of Navorro Bowman in the third round, only because he’s too small to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 and might wind up being a career special teamer if he stays in San Fran. It was a little early to be selecting special teamers in the third round. I did really like what San Fran did in the later rounds, however, nabbing bruising runner Anthony Dixon and burner Kyle Williams in the sixth.

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The Scores Report’s 2010 NFL Mock Draft

This is it – this one is for all the marbles. The two previous mock drafts I put together mean nothing, unless of course one of those is better than the one below. In that case, please consider that to be my final mock so I can save some face.

We’re just days away from the 2010 NFL Draft and as usual, the uncertainty surrounding which player will be drafted by which team is at an all-time high. Teams are sending out smokescreens, it’s hard to figure out which GM is telling the truth (probably roughly around none of them) and all the while, the media is trying to keep up with all the rumors.

But here it is – my final crack at predicting the first round. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section, but remember that they’re only valid when you make predictions before the draft. Don’t be the tool that comes back here a week from now boasting that you knew that Team A would take Player X, or else you will be made fun of mercilessly by your peers.

Let the games begin and once again, Happy NFL Draft time fellow draftnits.

Originally posted: Monday, April 19

1. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the 2010 draft and if teams only drafted based on talent, then the Nebraska defensive tackle would be the first player selected in round one. But Suh plays a position that most teams can’t justify investing a truckload of guaranteed money in. That’s why Bradford will be the No. 1 pick, along with the fact that the Rams desperately need a quarterback to help revitalize their morbid franchise. I’ve never wavered with this pick – I’ve believed that Bradford was going to be the Rams’ selection at No. 1 all along. If they believe that he’s a franchise quarterback, then Suh and every other prospect in this draft becomes inconsequential in the Rams’ eyes. There’s no more important position on a football field than the one that lines up under center every week. Is taking a quarterback this high a risk? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, a franchise can’t function without a good QB. That’s why St. Louis won’t hesitate to take Bradford here.

2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
The Lions want everyone to believe that they’ll take an offensive tackle like Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung with this pick and they may very well might. But if Suh is still on the board when the Lions are on the clock in the first round, then they’d be nuts to pass on him. Suh is the best player in the draft on either side of the ball and could be the player current Lions (and former Titans’ DC) head coach Jim Schwartz builds his defense around, a la Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma
McCoy has kind of become the forgotten top 5 prospect in this draft because he’s overshadowed by Suh. But he’s a difference maker and a force against the run. If the Rams take Bradford at No. 1, one of the two defensive tackles will fall to Tampa here, which is exactly what it wants. The Bucs need an interior presence in the middle of their line that can be effective both against the run and pass. McCoy can potentially be that player.

4. Washington Redskins: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma
As long as Mike Shanahan’s claims that the Redskins will take a quarterback with this pick are untrue, then Williams could very well be the third Sooner to come off the board in the first four picks this year. Okung is regarded as the best offensive tackle in the draft, but Williams is a better fit for Washington’s new zone-blocking scheme, making him the choice here. He’s an excellent all-around blocker and has the potential to immediately fill the void left by Chris Samuels on the Redskins’ O-line.

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