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Year end review: My best and worst calls in 2012

January 1, 2013

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Best calls of 2012:

Matthew Stafford as overrated in fantasy: “I’m only looking at Stafford in the 4th round or later as the Lions have the look of a team that could regress.” The Lions regressed big time and quite a few fantasy owners who took Stafford in the late 1st/early 2nd regretted their decision.

Mike Wallace as overrated in fantasy: “Yes he was an elite wideout last year (#9 in pts) yet ranking him as a top 10….I have him ranked 22nd among wideouts.” He ended the year ranked #20 among WRs which was well below his average draft slot.

TJ Yeldon as a future star: On 10/26 I rated TJ Yeldon as the #2 RB in the entire country despite him not being a starter yet on his own team and a true freshman. Since then he has blown up and had his “tipping point” onto the American conscience with his game winning TD against LSU on a screen pass. More should be coming soon for him as Eddie Lacy could be heading to the NFL early and he could be a frontrunner for the Heisman in 2013.

The Saints missing the playoffs: “I still say the Saints go 9-7 and miss the playoffs. They went 7-9 and missed the playoffs which at the time I made it was a somewhat bold claim since they were coming off a 13-3 season and a close overtime loss to the 49ers from being in the NFC Championship Game.

The rest of my playoff predictions: “My prediction for the NFC playoffs is the Packers and Falcons as 1st round byes, the 49ers and Giants as division winners, and the Cowboys and Bears as the wild cards. My prediction for the AFC playoffs is the Patriots and Texans as 1st round byes, the Ravens and Broncos as division winners, and the Chargers and Bills as the wild cards. The Packers will beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship to go on to face the Texans who beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship. In the end the Packers star power of Aaron Rodgers will outperform the more talented roster of the Houston Texans to lead the Packers to their 2nd NFL Championship in 3 years.” It’s too early to tell whether the Packers beat the Texans but I do like how my NFC, AFC, and Super Bowl games all have the chance to occur. Also I predicted 3 of the 6 NFC playoff participants and 4 of the 6 AFC participants with the Cowboys, Giants, and Bears being defeated on the last week of the regular season. The Bills, I have to admit, makes me look pretty dumb though.

Luke Joeckel as a star prospect: As of today Joeckel is the scouting community’s darling as he’s a top 5 prospect on nearly everyone’s board and #1 on quite a few yet when I posted him as the #4 rated prospect in the nation on 8/29/12 there wasn’t that consensus yet. Being an A&M alumni I had seen him for 2 straight years and had him as a Top 10 prospect if he had come out for last year’s draft but it still was a bit of a leap of faith. I’m glad to the scouting community has come around fully on him as he is a special player and one of the better OTs I’ve ever graded.

Georgia being a BCS Championship contender: I predicted they would win the SEC East (check), would have a roster chalk full of NFL talent (check), and would win the SEC Championship and be in the BCS Championship game (almost check). They were a last second drive away from beating Alabama and being the favorite in the BCS Championship game so I will still call this a win despite my prediction being only partially correct. The Georgia team will own the 2013 NFL Draft as they are the most talented team in the country. Unfortunately Nick Saban is a better coach than Mark Richt and he will be sneaking away a BCS Championship in a year where his team really doesn’t deserve it.

The New York Jets: I’m not saying I was going out on too far of a limb but my exact quote pretty much sums up their season, “The Jets will own the NY newspapers this season yet it will be for all of the wrong reasons as they will go 8-8 and have a very interesting and controversial offseason next spring.” They ended 6-10, fired their GM and offensive coordinator, and are in the process of figuring out what to do with Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Bart Scott, and a number of other controversial characters.

Jae Crowder was the Mavs best draft pick: “This pick is the one selection that got me intrigued…..He’s a top notch defender and while his oversized frame makes it unlikely he can ever be a create his own shot type of SF he has a good blend of shooting touch (35% 3pt, 74% FT), basketball IQ, and peripheral skills (8.4 reb, 1 blk, 2 stl) that makes me really love this selection.” Considering Crowder was their 3rd selection it was a bit of a reach to say he was their best player drafted yet 6 months later it’s Crowder averaging 18 minutes a game in a steady role as the backup SF while 1st round pick Jared Cunningham is a DNP most nights averaging 2 pts and 0.5 rebounds a game. Crowder isn’t setting the world on fire but he’s clearly their best rookie.

Cole Beasley: When the Cowboys signed him as an undrafted free agent I said, “This pickup makes an interesting camp battle as I had a late 6th round grade on Beasley and an early 7th round grade on Danny Coale. Despite the Cowboys adding one as a 5th round draft pick and the other as an undrafted free agent I think this camp battle could be much closer than many think.” In the end Beasley beat out Coale who was cut from the team and he’s become an occasionally used slot receiver. I expect more from him next year with a year in their offense as his quickness, good routes, and sure hands could make him a mainstay in Dallas.

Alfonzo Dennard: “The best pick in the NFL Draft per my +/- value board was Alfonzo Dennard in the 7th round by the Patriots gaining 171 picks.” I said this 4/29/12 and 8 months later Dennard is the starting cornerback for the #2 seeded Patriots. He was a steal and I called it immediately.

Nate Potter: “Nate Potter tackle/guard out of Boise St.to the Cardinals in the 7th (+141).” Per my scale he was the 4th biggest steal in the NFL Draft and it showed as by the end of the season he was the starting left tackle for the team and played well down the stretch. Getting a starting offensive tackle in the 7th round is a great value and I called it immediately.

Worst picks in the NFL Draft: “The worst pick in the NFL Draft per my +/- value board was the Jaguars selecting Bryan Anger the punter out of California in the early 3rd round. He was the first player selected who wasn’t on my board and gets a -362 picks grade (meaning he went 362 picks earlier than I thought he would). For Cowboys fans it’s sad to note that Matt Johnson the DB out of Eastern Washington was the 10th biggest reach in the entire draft.” 8 months later talk is already abounding that a key reason GM Gene Smith was fired by the Jaguars was because he chose a punter in the 3rd round. It was a dumb move by a lot of accounts but it became even more difficult to swallow as QB Russell Wilson set the league on fire as he was drafted a few spots later. Matt Johnson was a guy I thought was a huge reach and he did nothing to change my mind as he ended the season with 0 tackles despite playing a position (safety) which the Cowboys desperately needed help. Barry Church, Gerald Sensabaugh, Danny McCray, Charlie Peprah, Mana Silva, and even Sterling Moore got playing time at safety yet somehow their 4th round pick could not. That is a huge red flag and I’d be surprised if he makes the roster next year.

Danny Coale: When he was selected my commentary read, “The Cowboys take the right position but the wrong player at #152 in WR Danny Coale from Virginia Tech. If you wanted a WR Cowboys then why not take WR Marvin Jones out of California?” Coale eventually was cut by the Cowboys, and his selection draws even more scrutiny by the fact that no NFL team picked him up at any point this season, while Jones secured the #4 WR job for the Bengals and had 10 receptions in his final 2 games of the regular season.

Matt Kalil: “Matt Kalil will be a Pro Bowl at least once in his first two years.” He’s a Pro Bowl alternate at LT as a rookie so I’d say I nailed this one. The only other tackle I can remember making the Pro Bowl as a rookie was Joe Thomas, who interestingly enough is the only tackle I’ve ranked higher than Kalil in the past decade.

Worst calls of 2012:

The star system in the NBA is dying: My theory came when the Heat were losing 2-1 to the Pacers and the Thunder were losing 2-0 to the Spurs so it’s not like this idea came out of nowhere to me. Yet 1 month later the star driven Heat and Thunder faced each other in the finals, after winning almost every remaining game in the previous series that I had assumed would be their destruction, and 1 year later the best teams are the Heat, Thunder, Clippers, and Knicks all of whom have been built on the “stars win championships” theory. The Spurs continue to play great basketball but outside of them all of the elite teams in the NBA are built around 2, 3, or even 4 All-Star players. The star system isn’t dying, it’s actually growing.

David Wilson vs. Doug Martin: “David Wilson will be a better RB than Doug Martin.” It’s still early and Wilson had to beat out Ahmad Bradshaw while Martin only had to beat out LeGarrette Blount but so far this looks wrong.

Mike Adams vs. Riley Reiff: “Mike Adams will be a better offensive tackle than Riley Reiff.” It’s only year 1 but Adams struggled mightily when inserted into the starting lineup while Reiff played so well that the team often employed a three tackle formation just to get him on the field. Reiff wins this one so far.

LaMichael James: “He reminds me of Ray Rice in size, speed, and collegiate career with Rice a little stronger and James a little quicker. I expect James to surprise people and be a full time back at the next level.” Well after a rookie season that saw him as the #4 RB on the depth chart and only total 27 carries for 125 yards I will admit I overrated him a bit. I still am intrigued by his quickness and vision yet Gore looks far from done and James will struggle to get carries next year as the #3 back.

Super Bowl: It’s been nearly a year but it still was a pretty poor prediction. When sizing up the Giants vs. the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl I said, “this looks like a comfortable win by the Patriots. My prediction is Patriots 34 and Giants 24.” That obviously was wrong and it cost me about $75 in Vegas that day.

Overall I feel I had a pretty good year in my predictions and calls. My draft skills appear to be improving each year and I was spot on quite regularly, calling out quite few busts (Dontari Poe, Matt Johnson, Devon Still, Danny Coale, Bryan Anger), overrated players (David DeCastro, Trumaine Johnson, Mitchell Schwartz), and sleepers (Marvin Jones, Alfonzo Dennard, Chris Rainey, TY Hilton, Dennis Kelly, Nate Potter, Brandon Bolden). I hope everyone enjoyed reading my blog this year and will work extra hard in 2013 to give you even better content so you keep coming back. Happy New Year.

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