Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tight ends, draft thoughts, Bryant notorious

A healthy Tony Scheffler at tight end for Denver, to go along with former Buff and Broncos newbie Dan Graham should greatly accelerate quarterback Jay Cutler's development. With the two gifted tight ends to work the middle (lessening the downfield risks for a second-year QB), Travis Henry expected to be a solid if unspectacular running back (think Mike Anderson), and Javon Walker on the outside, the Broncos should regain the ability to score 20 points a game.

If Brandon Marshall rebounds from his offseason stupidity and emerges at the other wideout position, the "O" could take it one notch higher, scoring 24-plus a contest and take the anchor off the neck of the defense, allowing the team a potential 2-3 game improvement in wins and yes, earn a playoff victory.

Rockies Rap

Peter King of CNNSI.com
has recognized Kaz Matsui's play, comparing him to Ichiro. Now maybe Matsui isn't Ichiro even on the Rockies second baseman's best day but his strong play isn't a recent development. King's national responsibility, in football, is to blame for being slow to notice as the Japanese import and Mets domestic trade has been wonderful since coming to town. He may be limited to pop-gun power and not in the class as Ichiro or Hideki Matsui but the evidence is clear -- he can rake and bake, a definite burr under the saddle of opposing pitchers, a real gnat.

The good news, you ask? The Rockies have now signed first-round draft pick Casey Weathers, a hard-throwing reliever out of Vanderbilt. The bad news even for a team in need of a shut-down arm out of the bullpen? He was the wrong guy to pick no. 1. Should have been California prep hitting-machine Matt Dominguez, Midwestern prep-super arm Jarrod Parker or big bat-Southern outfielder Jason Heyward.

Nuggets draft thoughts

Would the Nuggets possibly trade a big man, say Marcus Camby or Nene, during the NBA draft? It's a reach to say that would all come tumbling down but it isn't out of the question if this aggressive front office is working the phones as you might imagine it is these days.

While Camby's defense is appreciated a Mile High by club executives he is aging, injury prone and attractive on the market. Nene, once he got healthy and in shape, played the best basketball of his career and is also good looking to opposing clubs.

The two Nuggets are better than most of the giraffes in this draft class so to move one of the Brittle Brothers, Denver would need to demand in return a high-quality 2-guard or a solid scorer off the bench at the 3-spot and a difference-making defender.

USC guard Nick Young, Vanderbilt swingman Derrick Byars and Georgia Tech small forward Thaddeus Young would all look good on this team as athletic scorers with size while Young's teammate, point guard Javaris Crittenton would add size and playmaking ability to the backcourt.

Rice scorer Morris Almond could be a surprise target for the organization as well.

A veteran presence would likely be preferable to coach George Karl but ignoring the draft is something the new leadership of this franchise seems unlikely to do.

Big Man on Campus

Arron Afflalo of UCLA was a first-team All-American primarily because he played at UCLA. Yes, the cat could score a little and defend a little more but he couldn't rebound nor pass and was hardly a typical star. Yet some see him as a first-round pick in the NBA draft. Less acclaimed Jason Smith of CSU is a better prospect this season and Richard Roby of CU could be the same next season if he is willing to listen to new coach Jeff Bzdelik as well as work on his attitude and raise the standards for himself. Roby has top-20 draft potential, maybe top-15 if he is willing to mentally claim it for himself. That starts with building up that rock-star party body, working on his shooting and developing an all-the-time motor.

Bryant a homewrecker

Kobe Bryant in Denver would dwarf the excitement that the Allen Iverson move generated. While that will never happen it is important to talk about the Lakers wunderkind and stick Bryant again for who he is off the court. A basketball talent of great magnitude, he continues show how clueless he is -- a public relations nightmare -- tarnishing how people view him and will remember him upon the conclusion of his career.

While he has long inferred he wants to make his own mark he has, honestly, really been chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan's accomplishments. While MJ had his issues he was also a team player driven by winning, with the rings and trophies and recognition to prove it. Bryant sells he is about winning but in reality, despite his share of hardware, he is about the beauty of himself. From the running off of Shaquille O'Neal and now his desire to be traded he has proven it. His game in the past has proven it on many occassions from the volume of shots, the poor shot selection, the refusal to take shots, all of it.

Now, with his latest tantrum, KB has to leave his family, the Lakers, feeling betrayed. They allowed Bryant to wreck a good thing. Kobe was kept because he was younger. L.A., however, would have been better served by kicking his tempestuous backside out of the house for a monster package and keeping O'Neal.

The Lakers will not get equal value in return for Bryant now but his subtraction will allow for the next attempt at revival of that franchise.

Bryant could lift the Bulls if dealt to Chicago but heading to New York would only allow him to be the best player on a good but hopeless-championship dreams team. If Phoenix or Dallas were to go all out to get him, which would be a foolish move on their part unless they can get away with grand theft, those would be wise juvenile home picks for Bryant and those franchises to consider.

Sweeping the Nation

Bears defensive lineman Tommie Harris wants Donovan McNabb, not Rex Grossman, as the team's starting quarterback. Harris is going to be in some locker room trouble for desiring someone else's man. Of course, you can see his point. McNabb is a better provider for the offense and Grossman is just a good guy who doesn't live up to his team's expectations. A divorce is coming, it's only a matter of time.

Read of talk of Daunte Culpepper backing up Brett Favre for a season then becoming the cheese. This, football wise, seems like low-risk, high reward for the Packers. If Culpepper's head could be on straight for such an idea, this could be a great hook-up. Culpepper doesn't lack talent nor competitiveness, only health and resiliency.

Barry Bonds now says it's o.k.. for the Giants to trade him, which is odd as can be if you think about how much he has loved being a Giant and how you would assume he would like to become the all-time homer king as a Giant. What this says is Bonds is tired of the mess he's brought upon himself and he foolishly believes running from his troubles will make things better. He also is tired of playing for an also-ran. San Francisco used to be a National League West power. No more. Bonds would like to win again.

Hearing of a trade scenario in which Boston would get Kevin Garnett, a undeniable talent but overrated. Basketball is a team game but Garnett's gifts do not lift up others. Him alone as a Celtic is not going to bring Boston playoff success again. Giving up a chunk of your core to get him has to be thought out seriously.

So, Tiger Woods, how does it feel to be merely mortal? Contrary to many in love with competition, as I usually am myself, I find it way more interesting when Woods owns the field.

Final Salvo

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