College Football Players Who Turned Bad Teams Into Good Teams Gab Session – NFL Drafters Should Believe Their Eyes

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Gab Session – NFL Drafters Should Believe Their Eyes

The NFL draft is a wonderful combination of hype and groupthink. As you hear seven “experts” repeat the same thing over and over, you begin to believe it’s your own opinion. Often, “experts” who repeat the same talking points get their opinion from someone else. Who probably works for the players’ agent.

I don’t know what the Oakland Raiders are going to do at the top of the 2007 NFL Draft. But I watch college football. I know that JaMarcus Russell, for all his supposedly inhuman gifts, is not a great football player. It just isn’t. LSU is one of those schools that has done very well (at least in Russell’s nearly three years as a starter). But at LSU, Russell had a period on the field where he just looked… kind of uninterested. Or maybe that’s the wrong word. Maybe “bad” is the word I’m looking for. I mean, isn’t LSU a team that struggled to score against Auburn, Florida and Mississippi last year? Didn’t they have one of the most feared defenses in the nation, but an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way on a regular basis? And the idea that Russell has a lot of accuracy in his high-powered right arm isn’t entirely true. He was awesome in the Sugar Bowl, I’ll give you that, but Notre Dame’s defense was pathetic in ’06.

Calvin Johnson, on the other hand, is amazing. I watched a whole bunch of Georgia Tech games last year and walked away thinking, “Boy, Johnson is a great player.” And also: “Boy, Reggie Ball isn’t very good.” That is, Johnson caught 15 touchdowns and 76 passes for 1,202 yards from someone who never posted a quarterback rating higher than 66.8 during his four-year career at Georgia Tech. Trust your eyes. Johnson was unheralded at the NCAA level, and defenses will have to plan to put two men in his vicinity when he steps on an NFL field. Will he run every time he touches the ball? No. But whoever drafts Johnson will immediately have a better running game, as the safeties will be instructed to go Johnson’s route, and a better receiving corps, as Johnson will draw double teams.

I know Oakland needs a quarterback. I know they have (a disgruntled) Randy Moss. But they should trust their eyes. They should take Calvin Johnson.

The NFL draft is this weekend. What do you think is the biggest story and which rookies will have the most immediate impact on their new teams?

BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog.com: You can expect to see some trades this year that move to the top of the draft order. A lot of teams want Calvin Johnson, and Detroit knows it. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on your situation), the Lions have loaded up on wide receivers in recent drafts. Matt Millan would pick Johnson #2 and then entertain a trade offer for this future superstar. Meanwhile, it’s hard to predict which rookies will have the biggest impact without knowing which team they’ll be going to after the dust settles. If we look at the most NFL-ready players, they have to be Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Calvin Johnson and Gaines Adams, in that order.

The Yankees may be off to a slow start, but A-Rod certainly isn’t. What difference would it make to you if Alex Rodriguez broke the single-season home run record this year?

BDB, BoDog.com: A-Rod has been phenomenal in his career. Unfortunately, he’s still short of the 60-odd record, and he’s falling behind the ridiculous pace set by Barry Bonds in 2001. Can you believe Bonds had 14 in 14 games? Barring injury, Rodriguez will be the closer, but once the games start to make more sense, pitchers will pitch around him or walk him on purpose to avoid his swing entirely. At this point, I’d put the line at 7/1.

Are the Miami Heat down 2-0 in their playoff series against Chicago or do you give them a legitimate chance to come back and win?

BDB, BoDog.com: Dwyane Wade’s shoulder injury has slowed the Flash. His supporting cast is disappointing to say the least, and without any additional help an injured Wade won’t be able to repeat last year’s brilliance. We are seeing the results of an NBA rule change to award the team with the best home court record instead of awarding it to the highest seeded team. If Miami can take two straight at home and steal the next game in Chicago, they have a chance. But it is a small one.

Care to improve your predictions for the Stanley Cup, one round into the NHL playoffs? Which teams have impressed you and who made it to the finals?

BDB, BoDog.com: Buffalo is still the favorite in the East, but I have to say Ottawa is impressive. They’ve always had the firepower, but now Ray Emery is showing he can handle the pressure of the playoffs. This gives Ottawa its first reliable goaltending since 1999. Whichever team wins the San Jose-Detroit series should go West. The Canucks and Ducks will be an interesting series with all its subplots, but I don’t think either team will have enough left to beat the Wings or Sharks in the next round.

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