Buffalo Draft Review, Day 2

Pick 38: Buffalo trades a 5th rounder to the Raiders to move up two picks, then selects RT Cody Ford.

Buffalo has added 7 new offensive linemen this offseason, including 6 unrestricted free agents and now Ford. Ford is likely the new starting right tackle. With him in place, the question is now whether Ty Nsekhe or Dion Dawkins is the LT. Nsekhe was better as a left tackle than a right tackle, and Dawkins can project as a really good guard…though the Bills brought in 3 linemen who can play guard in Spencer Long, Jon Feliciano, and Quinton Spain. Add Wyatt Teller and there’s a lot of competition for those guard positions.

Ford is a first-round talent and a great pass blocker, which I’m all for, and trading a 5th rounder to move up to get him is something I won’t lose any sleep tonight over. It’s going to be a tough minicamp and preseason for offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.

Pick 74: Buffalo drafts RB Devin Singletary.

Singletary is a shifty runner. Perhaps a shady runner? Best case scenario, he becomes an elusive back and potential starter. And learning from McCoy can’t hurt. He also seems to be a bit more powerful than his size indicates.

However, right after him the Packers picked Jace Sternberger, and I think I’d rather have a good tight end prospect than a running back prospect for Buffalo here. The Bills have zero good tight ends. After passing on Irv Smith in the 2nd round, Sternberger was probably the last good tight end prospect on the board.

Pick 96: Buffalo trades both 4th round picks to the Redskins to get pick 96 and choose TE Dawson Knox.

After me complaining about missing Jace Sternberger, the Bills trade both 4th rounders to move back into the 3rd round and choose Dawson Knox, a tight end out of Ole Miss. He’s fast and has some of the skills which translate to success in the NFL. On the downside, he’s a major project and never scored a touchdown in college. Granted, Ole Miss had several targets above him on the list, but I would have liked to have seen a bit more production.

Overall, I’m happy with pick #2, less happy with pick #3, and moderately pleased with pick #4. I think I would rather have had Sternberger at 74 than trading back up for Knox, but I will give Brandon Beane credit: he’s brought in at least two impact guys at positions of need and is giving Josh Allen all the tools he can get to succeed. I don’t know if Knox contributes much next year but maybe he develops into a good tight end over the next couple of seasons.

Buffalo Draft Review, Day 1

Pick 9: Buffalo gets Ed Oliver.

I love it. Oliver should have been the third-best player on the draft board after Quinnen Williams and Nick Bosa. He’s got the potential to be an elite 3-technique tackle, which is core to the McDermott defense. I’m very happy with this pick and glad that Oliver slid to 9.

Game blogging update and Baseball HOFs

I’m going to move future game blogging to my Patreon page. I will occasionally make comments about non-gaming (i.e. sports stuff) here, but the gaming stuff fits more over there. I’ll be starting my YouTube channel soon, so keep an eye out for that!

As far as the Hall of Fame voting, in all honesty, there weren’t that many surprises, unless you count Pudge sailing in despite the controversies of his career. I was pleasantly surprised to see Manny surpass 25% and Bonds and Clemens to break 50%, which means good things for their candidacies. Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman now look like locks, although the 2018 class has some strong first time candidates (Chipper Jones and Jim Thome strike me as definite first ballot guys, and I expect Scott Rolen will get in eventually). My favorite case for next year is Jamie Moyer; he won 260+ games, so we’ll have to see what kind of voting he gets. Vizquel will get traction, but probably not make it the first time.

Jorge Posada did better than I expected, getting almost enough to stay on the ballot, but I’m surprised Drew or Orlando Cabrera didn’t get a vote. The Boston thing must not be as strong as I thought.



Hall of Fame Coverage

I deeply apologize to you, dear readers. I have been quite busy with other projects and have failed you. We have two Hall of Fame ballots to discuss for baseball and I haven’t talked about either one! Shall we? Yes, I believe we shall!

Author’s note: They went and elected people to the HOF while this article was in draft mode, the jerks. Therefore, I will keep my original Veterans’ Committee piece, but will say who won at the end (so you don’t try to cheat).

First, the Veterans’ Committee will consider the “Today’s Game” Ballot, which includes players from 1988 to the Present. Like the normal HOF, you need 75% of the vote, which means 12 ballots. There are ten candidates:

Harold Baines: Baines was a very good player for a very long time, but if you’re a guy (or gal) obsessed with peak, he’s not your pick. He’s well regarded, which is a point in his favor, but he barely cracked the 5% mark. He’s a better version of Tony Perez without Joe Morgan in his corner. Compared to other OFs, he’s terrible, and he’s not a good enough DH to make it ahead of Edgar Martinez. Baines, offensively, just wasn’t a huge force. 121 OPS+ just isn’t hugely impressive. Pass.

Albert Belle: Belle is the opposite of Baines in many ways. Belle was awesome at his peak, especially 1995. He was also an asshole and made few friends. Belle’s peak is noteworthy. By rate statistics, Belle is an amazing offensive hitter. He only had two seasons of under 100+, and in one of those, he had all of 25 PAs. That said, his career was extremely short. If he’d played five more years, he could have approached 600 home runs, and this would be a much more interesting conversation. The combination of his personality and short career will doom him. Pass.

Will Clark: I kind of like the idea of Clark in the Hall of Fame. He was actually surprisingly good (I genuinely didn’t remember much about him before going to B-Ref). He’s not outstanding, but he’s a better candidate, arguably, than Baines or Belle. He was even pretty decent defensively, winning a Gold Glove. He’s even better than the average 1B in the HOF (although Perez is one of them, so…) That said, he’s not remarkable enough to really make the Hall. He lacked overwhelming power, and that’s almost sine qua non for a Hall of Fame 1B. He had one season of more than 30+ HRs, a career slugging percentage of < .500, and an OPS+ of only 137. Pass.

Orel Hershiser: Hershiser was solid. He peaked young–1987-1989–but was a perfectly serviceable innings eater for much of the rest of his career. He’s well regarded and pitched on a memorable team in 1988. That said, it’s hard to get excited about a pitcher with an ERA barely over league average and some frankly terrible FIP numbers in the 1990s. Pass.

Davey Johnson: Johnson, as a player, is not in the conversation. As a manager, he had an amazing career with the Mets, but settled into being quite good overall. In 17 seasons, he had 14 seasons over .500. He got into the playoffs seven times, but never quite reached the heights of 1986. His playoff record is a significant negative, however. Pass.

Mark McGwire: Big Mac was really, really good at hitting homers. Everything–good and bad–feeds off of that. He’s done a decent job of rehabilitating his name, especially his bizarre interview with Bob Costas. His offensive capabilities are undeniable, and in a neutral world, he’s a definite Hall of Famer. The question is the slippery slope argument: if McGwire gets in, you’ll have to let in other confirmed cheaters who were better players (see Clemens and Bonds). I would let him in, but I’m not sure the Hall will. Hit… but likely a pass from the actual committee.

Lou Pinella: A long career of barely above averaging managing. He was on some bad teams, some mediocre teams, and a single World Series title. He’s a better case than Davey Johnson, but only because of his lengthier career. Pass.

John Schuerholz: As a GM, he’s one of the best all time. Hit.

Bud Selig: I can’t imagine him not getting in. He essentially ended labor disputes, presided over significant expansions in the number of teams and playoffs spots, and saw baseball’s popularity explode. Hit.

George Steinbrenner: As an owner, it’s hard to think of a more successful individual. He took the Yankees when they were a joke and made them into a juggernaut again. Hit.

My ballot: McGwire, Steinbrenner, Selig, Schuerholz.

So who actually won? Click below!

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So long, Barkevious

I am an acknowledged fan of Barkevious Mingo, both in Madden and in real life. However, apart from his ridiculously awesome name, he produced surprisingly little on the field. He is now a New England Patriot for the price of a fifth round pick. The Patriots think he can contribute on special teams and/or act as depth. I myself suggested Mingo was a pure pass rusher and not likely to provide much else of value; it turns out he couldn’t even do that very well.

That was a pretty lousy draft for Cleveland, which is fair given the number of picks we had, but at least Armonty Bryant turned out to have some talent. He’s suspended for four games, but he’s far and away the best player from the class, so… yay?

Browns trade down

There I was, minding my own business and (successfully) defending my dissertation, when I learned that Cleveland had traded the #2 pick. I had previously hoped that Cleveland would do just that, and I am pleased that they did.

The trade was #2 and a 2017 4th rounder to Philadelphia for their first rounder this year (#8), a 3rd rounder, a 4th rounder, and a 1st rounder and 2nd rounder next year. On the surface, it looks like Cleveland got a lousy haul, but keep in mind that the Browns are still in the top ten. LA was #15, which made the #1 pick more valuable to them. Cleveland, on the other hand, only dropped six spots and got a lot for their trouble.

Now, making great trades for good picks is one thing. Cleveland has done this before (sorry, Kevin).  However, when team picks well (Watkins looks like a great pick for Buffalo) and the other doesn’t (Gilbert looks like a bust), the trades don’t look as good. It will be up to Brown and DePo to make a smart choice with pick #8. Two different mock drafts have Cleveland taking linebacker Myles Jack at #8. That would be a great pick. He’s extremely . versatile, which Cleveland needs. Other mocks have Cleveland taking DeForest Buckner, a huge defensive end who could be just what Cleveland needs; Jack Conlin, a tackle who would apparently play on the right side (I’m not keen on going tackle in the top 10 unless you’re going to trade Joe Thomas too); another trade down with Miami to take linebacker Darron Lee; Paxton Lynch, who strikes me as Brandon Weeden 2.0 but could have more upside; another tackle, Ronnie Stanley; and/or Joey Bosa, the hometown lineman and pass rusher.

I’ve heard some people suggest Cleveland take a later round QB (Connor Cook has been bandied about quite a bit), perhaps with #32. Paxton Lynch might go #7 to San Francisco, assuming LA and Philly both take QBs. Given that Philly has Sam Bradford, it’s actually conceivable they traded up to take Laremy Tunsil. I’m not sure.

One thing I haven’t seen in any mock is Cleveland going wide receiver. There’s no Calvin Johnson in this draft, true, but Cleveland is pretty desperate for receiving help. Don’t be shocked if Laquon Treadwell goes at #8.

My official preference, assuming Jalen Ramsey is gone, is probably Buckner or Jack. Jack’s knee injury has me uneasy. We have to knock it out of the park with this pick. A healthy Jack is better than Buckner, but a real beast on the defensive line is something we’ve needed for a long time. We shall see, my friends.

Rams trade for #1 overall pick

If you hadn’t heard, the St. Louis LA Rams have traded a king’s ransom for the #1 pick. In brief, the Rams are giving a first, two seconds, and a third in 2016 and a first and a third in 2017 for the #1 pick, a fourth rounder, and a sixth rounder (both 2016). According to NFL.com, a big loser as a result of this trade is the Browns.

Taken only in its own context, I’m not sure this is such a brilliant move for the Rams. They need a QB, true, since Nick Foles has finally, conclusively, proved that 2013 was the weird fluke it appeared to be. They have a great running back in Todd Gurley. Then again, Pro Football Focus ranked them 28th in offensive line play. (Cleveland was 6th.) Football Outsiders is similarly unkind to LA (and Cleveland). The Rams’ best receiver was Kenny Britt, who ranked as 31st in the league. A healthy Tavon Austin would mitigate the lack of quality somewhat. My point is that if LA wants an elite offense, they’re more than a QB away.

For Tennessee, it’s brilliant. They miss a chance for Laremy Tunsil (who will be gone long before the #15 pick rolls around), but in exchange get a whole bunch of picks in the top 100. Like Cleveland, the Titans need a lot of pieces to be competitive, and that many picks will surely help them accomplish those goals.

Now, we look at the part that really matters: how this affects Cleveland. Either Wentz or Goff is going to be gone by the time Cleveland jumps up to #1. Either is a possibility. At different times, Cleveland has been linked to both QBs, so it could be that nothing changes. Cleveland takes whomever is left. The Browns could draft Tunsil and flip Joe Thomas. They could draft Jalen Ramsey. Or, somebody even more desperate for a QB than Cleveland could trade up to #2 to take the Rams’ leavings.

I genuinely don’t know what route the new front office will go. RG3 is not a long term solution at QB. Josh McCown is probably not even a short term solution. Connor Shaw and Austin Davis are unknowns. Taking the leftover QB seems like the best play. However, there are lots of other holes to fill too, and trading down will look awfully tempting. It is highly unlikely this draft makes the Browns a Super Bowl contender, so we could grab a QB next year or late in this draft.

It’s actually kind of exciting. Let’s see what DePo and Sashi Brown can do!