Tuesday Teabag, March 25, 2014 – Freshmen Phenoms

How busted is your bracket?  Better or worse than your freshman year slumpbuster?  Sadly, The Machine did not win the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge (note: turns out that is not an acceptable retirement strategy). 

Anyway, if your bracket is totally toast, it’s likely due to the efforts of the following players, all of whom were highly recruited one-and-done “student” athletes.  Let’s see how these freshmen phenoms fared in the NCAA Tournament.

Who knew Jabari's number would coincide with Duke's exit from the NCAA Tournament?

Who knew Jabari’s number would coincide with Duke’s exit from the NCAA Tournament?

Jabari Parker – Duke

Perhaps the most highly sought after freshman, Jabari was supposed to lead perennial powerhouse Duke back to the promise land…or, at least to the second round.  The third seeded Blue Devils had a matchup with the fourteenth seeded Mercer Bears.  Quick:  what state is Mercer located in?  No peeking…answer:  Georgia.  Duke essentially had a home game, as the game was played in Raleigh, NC. 

Anyway, Jabari was a complete dud.  He ended the game with 14 pts., 7 rebounds, and 0 assists, all lower than his 19/9/1 regular season average.  He was also 0-3 from 3 point range, and just looked lost on the court. 

If he had played up to half of his potential, Duke would have cruised.  Instead, the Atlantic Sun Conference Champions took over the second half, and ended up winning by 7. 

Please don't leave.

Please don’t leave.

Tyler Ennis – Syracuse

Is there a team player more frustrating to watch than Syracuse Tyler Ennis?  At times, Ennis looked like a league veteran…cool, calm under pressure, and came up big in the clutch. 

Who could forget this one:


But what a dismal end to the season:  Syracuse finished 2-4 down the stretch, got bounced in the ACC Tournament early, and limped into the NCAA Tourney.  Then, just as Cuse Nation was in the gutter, they absolutely roll Western Michigan in the first Round, winning by 24.  So spirits were lifted, and spirits were lifted even higher when 11th-seeded Dayton bounced Ohio St.  Now, SU fans saw a clear path back to the final four, and nothing was going to stop this once 25-0 juggernaut.

However, what was supposed to be a cruise control victory for Syracuse turned into a nightmare, and Ennis certainly didn’t help.  While he had a team high 19 pts., he chucked up 21 shots, and was 33% from the field.  Also, he was 0-5 from three.  And, perhaps most damning, he had a shot at the buzzer for the win…a shot that, one month ago, no one would question him taking.

In fairness to Ennis, Boeheim (as The Machine noted) deserves much of the blame for his teams’ collapse.  Clearly, getting ejected losing the game for them against Duke really fired up his squad.

As good as gone.

As good as gone.

Andrew Wiggins – Kansas

Last but not least, Kansas stud Andrew Wiggins.  The Number 2 seeded Jayhawks suffered an embarrassing loss to 10th-seed Stanford on Sunday, and Wiggins was much to blame, shooting a dismal 1-6.  Wiggins, who averaged over 17 points per game during the regular season, finished Sunday with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 4 turnovers. 

The sad thing is, as awful as these three played…all will be forgotten come the NBA Draft, as all three will be Top 10 picks.  The Machine’s down with one and done athletes…provided they shine on the biggest stage (see Rose, Derrick; see also Anthony, Carmelo).  But when your freshman phenom bombs, they shouldn’t then be rewarded by a lucrative NBA contract.  We hope these three come back for another year, but the chances of that are slim.  Wiggins is gone for sure, probably Ennis too [update:  dammit].  The only one that may waiver is Parker. 

You would think that, after collectively choking in the tourney, that all three would want to come back and give it one more try.  You’d think they’d have that competitive edge and devotion to their alma mater, to want to win.  However, that’s the problem with the one-and-dones.  There is no allegiance or loyalty to the school…the school (and their fan base) are nothing more than an obligatory stop.  To them, you are their slumpbuster.

Enjoy your teabag.

Mock Draft 1.1

Draft 2014If you have been preparing and/or studying mock drafts prior to March 11, 2014, The Machine’s here to tell you’ve wasted your time (do you hear us McShay and Kiper?).  Why?  Because mocking before free agency starts is worthless.  Teams will first fill their needs through free agency, then the Draft.  Need proof?  Check how many pre-March 11 drafts had the Patriots taking a corner.  Almost all of them.  Now that Revis Island is heading to Foxboro, do you think the Pats will address that in the first round?  Same with Detroit.  Everyone had them taking a WR, but now that they have Golden Tate to play opposite Megatron, they will also fill other needs.

But we digress.  Anyway, here is The Machine’s first official mock draft of 2014.  We will be updating as free agency continues and pro-days are held, so check back for the latest updates in our award-winning Drafts.

Update [3/19/2014]: Can you imagine a world ruled by gingers? Scary thought, right?  It would probably look something like this:

Houston, we have a problem.....(and it's not who to take first overall)

Houston, we have a problem…..(and it’s not who to take first overall)

A ginger-only mock draft is almost as frightening!  That’s why Roid Rage is here to add a bit of sanity to this mock draft.  I’ll play the Lone Ranger to GK’s Tonto!  Saddle up…..

Pick/Team Ginger King Roid Rage
1. Houston Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina): QB is tempting (and a need), but is there a QB worthy of begin #1 overall?  No doubt Jadeveon is the best athlete in the draft.  There’s also no doubt defense wins championships (see Seahawks, Seattle).  In the end, Houston cannot pass up the once in a generation DE. Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina):  We’re in agreement with the first pick.  Pairing Clowney with JJ Watt is a match up nightmare for every offense in the league.  If not Clowney, then Bortles.
2. St. Louis Jake Mathews (OT, Texas A&M):
St. Louis is in a prime spot to trade this pick (we’d be surprised if they didn’t).  They have two first round picks (thanks to the steal of a trade they made with Washington).  Apparently, St. Louis is looking to give Sam Bradford one more shot at being “the guy.”  If they stay put, Jake Mathews is a safe pick that will provide instant protection for Sam.
Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn): While I agree with Ginger that OL is a priority, I prefer the upside that Greg Robinson offers.  Much like the 2010 Draft, when (pre-draft) everyone had Russell Okung as the “top tackle” only to see the “higher upside” Razorback Williams go 4th overall, two spots ahead of Russell.
3. Jacksonville Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville): The Jags are in a familiar spot, with their sixth consecutive Top 10 pick.  The Blaine Gabbert Experience has ended, and QB is the most pressing need.  Question is: which one?  My money’s on the one that’s the most NFL ready.  And that’s Teddy Bridgewater.  Blake Bortles (QB, UCF):  Gus Bradley will be pounding on the table for Clowney (should he fall) or Khalil Mack (should he fall).  But given the state of the franchise, QB has to be the pick.  Bortles has the size, arm talent, awareness and willingness to hang in the pocket to be cornerstone pick.  Plus, Lindsey Duke!  God. Damn.
4. Cleveland Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M): Cleveland’s in the same boat in Jacksonville (as if Cleveland needed another reason to be depressed).  The Brandon Weeden Experience is over, and this organization needs a spark.  Who better than man-whore Johnny Football?  Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M): I actually like Brian Hoyer, but his largest support (Mike Lombardi) was chased out of town along with the rest of the coaching staff and front office.  Johnny Football makes this franchise relevant.  Welcome to Cleveland.

Show me the money!

Show me the money!

5. Oakland Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson):
Sammy Watkins stock continues to rise.  Mark my words:  he’s going to be a Top 5 pick.  I could really make an argument for St. Louis taking him #2.  But if he’s here at 5, Da Raiders will not be able to pass him up.  The ghost of Al Davis lives on. 
Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson):  Ginger has been on this kids bandwagon since his high school days; mainly because he has a thing for high school boys, but also because Watkins is a freak!  He’ll have a tough time developing into a #1 WR, but that has everything to do with Oakland and nothing to do with Sammy.  This pick is Al Davis approved.
6. Atlanta Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA): Atlanta must go defense here.  They were exposed last year…big time.  Christ, Geno Smith led a game winning drive against them.  They need to get younger quick.  Khalil Mack is tempting, but their bigger need as at the ends.  Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo): Mack is the superior prospect to Barr.  Hell, you can debate the merits of Mack with Clowney if you’d like.  UB’s finest!
7. Tampa Bay Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo):
If Mack is still on the board, Tampa takes about 3 seconds to make this pick.  Hitler Youth Man of the Year Greg Schiano is gone, as is Darrelle Revis (we told you that trade was awful).  Anyway, Mack will remind everyone of Derrick Brooks, and will instantly become the leader on defense.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville): This pick seems weird, right?  But this could be the perfect landing spot for both player and team.  The Bucs can role with Josh McCown as the steady veteran and give bridgewater a year of grooming (and weight training).  Or, a dark horse (Tennessee, Arizona, KC) could move in front of the Vikings to grab perhaps the best QB of this class.

Meet the best football player in Buffalo - including anyone on the Bills!

Meet the best football player in Buffalo – including anyone on the Bills!

8. Minnesota Blake Bortles (QB, UCF): Resigning Matt Cassel is not the long term answer, but he does give the Vikings time to bring someone in to groom.  The man would be Blake Bortles.  He has the prototypical size for a QB, and the hottest girlfriend in the Draft. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama): Last years draft proved that Rick Spielman is a slave to his board.  He’ll take the best player available, either Clinton-Dix or Anthony Barr.  Don’t be surprised to see HHCD go this high.  Playmaking safetys with good range are highly valuable in today’s league.  Mar Barron went #7 overall in 2012.  The Saints just gave Jarius Byrd $50 million.
9. Buffalo Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn):
Robinson is giving Mathews a run for his money as the top offensive lineman.  As the Draft gets closer, it’s very likely that Robinson will be gone by now.  But Buffalo could sure use an upgrade on the line. 
Jake Mathews (OT, Texas A&M): The Bills land a stud OT in my mock too.  Matthews paired with Cordy Glenn should provide the Bills with stud bookend tackles for the next decade.  Although the Bills probably won’t pay either when their rookie deals expire.
10. Detroit Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma St): The Lions need a shutdown corner.  This is a perfect need/value pick, as Gilbert is the consensus top corner in the Draft. Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan St.): Not only do we differ on the top OT, but also the top rated corner.  Dennard’s game tape is too impressive; he’ll be the first corner taken this year.
11. Tennessee Timmy Jernigan (NT, Florida St.):
If one of the Top 3 QBs slide, the Titans will think long and hard about ending the Jake Locker Experience.  Shoring up the interior of the defense isn’t a bad consolation prize, as Jernigan is a beast.
Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma St): And the Cornerback run is on!  This CB class is deep, so it could come down to the type of scheme the team plays on running.  Gilbert has the make-up of a number one corner.  The Titans just happen to need one of those!
12. NYG Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan):
Lewan really raised his stock with his solid performance at the Combine.  The guy’s a mauler, and is the definition of a “play through the whistle” player.  Sure, he’s Richie Incognito 2.0, but the G-Men need to get mean and nasty on the line.  Defensive line is also a need (after losing Tuck in free agency) but the Giant’s recipe for success is clear:  Protect Eli = win.  Don’t protect Eli = lose.  Sometimes, it is that simple.
Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA):
Sorry Eli, but Jerry Reese won’t be able to help himself.  First-round DE’s are this thing.

Jesus, he really is Richie 2.0

Jesus, he really is Richie 2.0

13. St. Louis Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina) Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M)
14. Chicago Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh) Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame)
15. Pittsburgh Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama) CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama)
16. Dallas Marquise Lee (WR, USC) Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
17. Baltimore CJ Mosley (LB, Alabama) Aaron Donald (DT, Pittsburgh)
18. NYJ Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
19. Miami Zach Martin (OT, Notre Dame) Taylor Lewan (OT, Michigan):
20. Arizona Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan St.) Timmy Jernigan (NT, Florida St.):
21. Green Bay Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech) Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
22. Philadelphia Calvin Pryor (FS, Louisville) Dee Ford (DE, Auburn)
23. Kansas City Brandon Cooks (WR, Oregon St.) Odell Beckham (WR, LSU)
24. Cincinnati Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio St.) Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
25. San Diego Louis Nix (DT, Notre Dame) Zach Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
26. Cleveland Tre Mason (RB, Auburn) Ra’shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
27. New Orleans Vic Beasley (DE, Clemson) Brandon Cooks (WR, Oregon St.)
28. Carolina Odell Beckham (WR, LSU) Jace Amaro (TE, Texas Tech)
29. New England Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri) Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida St.)
30. San Francisco Carlos Hyde (RB, Ohio St.) Will Sutton (DT, Arizona)
31. Denver Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio St.) Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio St.)
32. Seattle Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida St.) Marquise Lee (WR, USC)