Jeremy LIn vs. Tim Tebow - One of the most annoying mantras during the Tim Tebow phenomenon was listening to people say "I doubt Tim Tebow would be as popular if he were a Muslim." Similarly, people are saying that Jeremy Lin would not be as popular if he were black. Most are saying these things with condemnation. I say they are right in their assertion and wrong in their condemnation. There is nothing wrong with liking a player you identify with.
I am secure enough in my beliefs to not be offended at Asian fans finding hope in Lin, or in Evangelicals finding a hero and role model in Tim Tebow. Similarly, I wouldn't be offended at a Muslim football player being a hero to Muslim youth, etc. Was it wrong for thousands of Latin American youth to idolize Roberto Clemente? Was it wrong for China to idolize Yao Ming? Was it wrong for Jewish fans to idolize Hank Greenberg? Of course it wasn't.
I am a gigantic fan of Jeremy Lin and I am rooting for his continued success, partially due to his race. Is that wrong?
Press Coverage and the NFL - Possibly the most worthless event in the NFL is a press conference. Coaches and players seldom say anything of relevance. You will get virtually zero information about injuries. More annoying than that is that players and coaches will almost never say anything bad about the opposing team. I miss the days when players and coaches said that they hated the other team and made fun of them with every opportunity.
The funniest thing is when players or coaches say something completely worthless, and the press and/or fans find hidden meaning in it. I will never forget when a member of the press asked Josh McDaniels what his draft strategy was. McD responded by saying that his strategy was "best player available at a position of need." I remember the media and fans responded to that statement by acting like it was a big "tell." In reality, the statement is inherently meaningless and gives you no new information.
Another example is John Elway saying that Tim Tebow is our starter going into training camp. The media and fans ran with this and thought it was an earth shattering statement. However, several days passed and people realized that this was also a meaningless statement. This statement really says nothing, while appearing to be breaking news.
Finally, my latest pet peeve is when teams say they are going to "build through the draft." This implies that other teams don't take the draft as seriously as those who consciously decided to "build through the draft." I have news for you, just because the Bears added a big free agent in Julius Peppers doesn't mean they decided to ignore the draft. A team that decides to add big free agents doesn't necessarily mean they will not emphasize the draft. Don't get me wrong, I think high-priced free agents are often the wrong way to build a team, long-term, but you can still build through the draft and acquire quality free agents at the same time.
Elvis Dumervil - I keep forgetting to mention something. The knock on Elvis was that he was always weak against the run. The last two years, Elvis has concentrated in the weight room and has obviously improved his strength. This season, I can say, with confidence, that he wasn't a major liability against the run. At worst, Elvis was average to good in his run stopping ability. I think he also made a concerted effort to improve gap discipline, which helped, and could be attributed to sound coaching. Whatever the cause, Elvis has shown great improvement against the run and I give him a thumbs up for that.
Is middle linebacker the toughest position to learn as a rookie? I don't think it is. Many people have suggested this when trying to defend Nate Irving. First of all, I acknowledge I don't have statistical evidence, I just have my own observations. My opinion is that cornerback or defensive tackle is much more difficult of an adjustment from college to the NFL. Think of Mason Foster, James Laurinaitis, Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, Brandon Spikes, and many others who don't immediately come to mind. These guys started almost immediately and were not that big of a liability. Look at Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Joe Haden, Jimmy Smith, B.J. Raji, and Jason Pierre Paul. These guys were not overly impressive at their positions their first year.
Trade up / trade down? I'm kind of sick of seeing everyone act like they KNOW the most prudent course of action in this upcoming draft is to definitely trade down. It bugs me for a few reasons. First, you or I have no idea what the board will look like on draft day. We also don't have a great idea yet of how strong this draft is and where the value will be. There are many indications, but we still have a long way to go. Second, last year, we were very close to actually trading up to pick Nick Fairley. If EFX were close to pulling the trigger back then, why wouldn't they be willing to do it again? My bias tends to be trading up because the early picks tend to have the best players!
The Combine - The Combine is almost here and whether people admit it or not, the event DOES effect draft status. I think the Combine holds way too much sway with teams, but what do I know? There are always several different workout warriors that get over drafted. Now that the Al Davis has passed and the Raiders have no draft picks, maybe the workout warriors won't do as well this year. With that said, I am looking at a few things when it comes to this Combine. I'm not looking as much at potential top ten picks, like last year. Here are just a few interests I will have:
1. Is Dontari Poe the next Phil Taylor, or is he the next Cam Thomas?
2. Will Brandon Boykin run a 4.3 40 and enter the first round discussion?
3. Which running back looks most like a 21 year old version of Willis McGahee?
4. Will Coby Fleener run a 4.6 40 while measuring in at 6'6" and 250 + pounds? I'm not suggesting we would pick a first round TE, but I'm very interested in his skills.
5. How fast is Mark Barron?
6. Who is the most athletic DE?
7. Which linebacker shows the best change of direction?
8. How athletic are Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burflict?
9. Which WR will run the fastest 40?
10. Which prospect's value sinks the most and becomes a great 2nd or 3rd round pick?
Speaking of trading up - In the first round, there are some players who could fall, and would be a good candidate to trade up for. Here are a few:
Trent Richardson RB - An elite RB prospect who I would go after if he fell out of the top ten
Michael Brockers DT - If he fell out of the top fifteen, I would consider trading up
Luke Kuechly LB - If he fell out of the top fifteen, I would consider trading up
Devon Still DT - If he fell out of the top twenty, I would consider trading up
Dre Kirkpatrick CB - If he fell out of the top fifteen, I would consider trading up
Melvin Ingram DE - If he fell out of the top twenty, I would consider trading up