Winners of the Draft

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


The 2016 NFL Draft is finally over and the Cleveland Browns came out on top. No I am not kidding. The Browns traded out of the second slot in the first round, accumulated draft picks and then snagged former PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright III with the 250th pick in the seventh round. Yes, they won but they were not the only winners.

The Browns need a lot of help on the field and while there seems to finally be some direction in the front office, only time will tell if they got the help they needed. The front office did send all of the right signals by moving out of the number two slot in the first and ending up with 14 picks overall.

Their first round pick, Corey Coleman, may be the best wide receiver in the draft while third round pick Carl Nassib was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and has a lot of room to grow. Throw in former USC quarterback Cody Kessler, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins and the aforementioned Wright and that is a heck of a draft.

The Browns were not the only winners. Many feel that the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos all had outstanding drafts.

The Jags walk away with arguably two top 10 picks with cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack. Jack fell into the second round due to health concerns but even with those concerns, he’s still one of the better athletes in the draft.

The Rams traded up to get Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick but then took South Carolina wideout Pharoh Cooper in the fourth round and signed all time PAC-12 receptions leader Nelson Spruce as a free agent. Talk about surrounding your new QB with weapons.

Eddie YarbroughDenver traded up to get their QB of the future in Paxton Lynch. Add in former Utah running back Devontae Booker along with free agents wide receiver Bralon Addison of Oregon and defensive end Eddie Yarbrough of Wyoming. The defending Super Bowl champs proved to be shrewd and calculated.

We won’t really know what teams did well and what teams didn’t do well for a few years. At first glance the Browns, Jags, Rams and Broncos seem to be headed in the right direction. He chose well, filled needs and didn’t over stretch. Now let’s see if it pans out.

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The Final Interview

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


The NFL Draft is upon us and while the ‘industrial draft complex’ is in full swing this time of year, this is in the enter a hiring event. Some players will be hired with a big salary, others with a low salary and some will not get hired at all. But some of those trying to get a job know this and there are some of the those who deserve a job anyway.

Scooby Wright III. Yes you read that right and that is his name. His twitter handle, TwoStarScoob. Why? That’s how many “stars” he was given as high school football recruit (max is five).

Scooby is a linebacker who came out of Arizona after his junior season in order to get a job in the NFL. A junior season in which he only played in a few games due to multiple injuries. He returned from all of the injuries to help Arizona to a bowl victory over New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. A game in which he had 15 total tackles, 11 of those solo and two sacks. Oh and he was also PAC-12 defensive player of the year in 2014.

But Scooby will not be drafted/hired in the first round and probably not the second either.

He isn’t the “prototypical NFL linebacker” when it comes to size and speed. The scouts will say he can’t do this or can’t do that. The hiring managers will find something on the resume that they do not like.

Scooby is a smart guy and realizes what the doubters will say. He knows that some things on his resume don’t pass muster with the hiring manager. That is why his post in The Players’ Tribune is all the more impressive.

Scooby understands that the NFL Draft is a step in the job interview process. The combine, the private workouts, all of it is part of a process. And like applying for any job, there are requirements that you just don’t have.

Not enough experience, no previous experience in this or that and the new favorite…not a good culture fit. For Scooby it’s the size (six foot even) and speed (4.87 40 yard dash) and the fact that he hasn’t been in an NFL locker room before.

But before you feel too bad Scooby just remember, someone will give him a chance and he will in all reality prove to those that past on him……shame on you.

Another job candidate is Colorado fullback Jordan Murphy.

Murphy never carried the ball at Colorado but is trying to make it in the NFL anyway. His story reminds us all why you should always follow your dreams.

Murphy was in the Aurora theatre the night that James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others back in 2012.

So Murphy put in his application with the NFL. He knows his qualifications are probably not what the hiring manager is looking for but he also knows that he only needs one person to give him a shot.

As you listen to ‘draft experts’ and analysis from various coached during the 2016 NFL Draft, just think to yourself, ‘would I want my interview on TV?’

The Best Day In Sports. Period.

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It may be a cosmic event or maybe just plain old luck. Either way, Saturday May 2, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the greatest days in sports history. Just about every major professional sport will be represented and then some. The only question is, is it too much?

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Let’s start with the one off, the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. They won’t actually start fighting until around 8:30pm Pacific standard time (PST) on Saturday at which point they will truly begin to split the estimated $300 million in pay-per-view money. 60-40 to Mayweather of course. It’s the biggest fight boxing has seen since Mayweather took on Oscar De La Hoya. It will probably be the last great matchup for a generation.

Before this of course is a smorgasbord of sporting events.

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will take place around 3:25pm PST. It’s the one time a year that a wide spectrum of people care about horse racing and women get to wear big hats.

The events that we are use to seeing this time of year are of course Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, and the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is the only event where there isn’t any actual sporting activity happening. But this is a football nation and people will be glued to the draft (even the later rounds which will be happening on Saturday). It will be the first time that the Draft has been outside of New York City and the second time that it has been held in the month of May.

Yes, this may go down as the greatest day in sports history. Is it too much though? That’s for you to decide for yourself. There certainly won’t be a lack of options on Saturday that’s for sure. Our advice is to pace yourself and try to find a couple of people to split the $100 Mayweather vs Pacquiao ppv.

The Other Takeaway

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

While the sports landscape is being dominated by Donald Sterling and Michael Sam one interesting detail flew below the headlines this past weekend. The University of Texas did not have a player drafted in the NFL Draft for the first time since 1937.

Texas Longhorns

The players that were eligible for the 2014 draft were part of the 2009 recruiting class (more or less). The 2009 recruiting class at Texas ranked #3 according to ESPN and #5 according to Rivals respectively. Not one of the them was drafted by an NFL team. In fact, that class had a 31-20 record at Texas.

This should be a clear indicator as to why former Texas Head Coach Mack Brown is out of a job. It should also point to why the new Head Coach is Charlie Strong was hired on.

Coach Strong’s previous team, Louisville, had three players taken in the first round of this years draft and four overall. According to Rivals.com,  the 2009 recruiting class at Louisville ranked 77th.

That brings us to the other major take away, recruiting rankings mean nothing at the end of the day. NOTHING.

 

What To Watch Fri. 5/9 – Sun. 5/11

Friday May 9th

NFL Draft – 5-8:30pm ESPN/NFL Network: It’s rounds two and three. Why not? It’s something to go back to during commercial break.

Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards – 5pm ESPN: The Pacers are making the playoffs much more interesting than it should be.

Chicago Blackhawks @ Minnesota Wild – 6:30pm NBCSN:  If Minnesota can pull off a home win in game four then this could go all seven games.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Clippers – 7:30pm ESPN: Just go watch MVP Kevin Durant’s acceptance speech & then tell me you don’t want to watch this guy.

Saturday May 10th

NFL Draft – 9am-5pm ESPN/NFL Network: It’s rounds four through seven. Again, it’s something to go back to during commercial break.

San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers – 1pm FS1: One of the best rivalries in all of baseball.

Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins – 4pm NBCSN:  Series is tied at 2-2. It’s everything we thought it would be.

UFC Fight Night – 7pm FS1: Matt Brown vs Erik Silva. This is a stand and trade in the middle of the Octagon fight. They should walk into the cage around 9pm.

San Antonio Spurs @ Portland TrailBlazers – 7:30pm ESPN: Game three in Portland. It will be loud and Portland needs all the help it can get.

Sunday May 11th

Championship Sunday – 7am NBC Family of Networks: This is impressive. Every Premier League game will be broadcast on NBCs networks. This should be impressive. When has that much soccer been on TV at one time in this country? Hats off if you watch West Brom vs Stoke on Oxygen.

San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers – 1pm FS1: One of the best rivalries in all of baseball and today will be Tim Hudson vs Clayton Kershaw.

Seattle Sounders @ New England Revolution – 3pm MLS LIVE: See the best player in MLS (Seattle’s Clint Dempsey) and the best young player in MLS (Diego Fagundez for New England).

Falling in Love on Paper

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The NFL Draft is upon us and without fail teams, analysts and the media in general will fall in love with players who look good on paper. Not players who did well on the field or played in the biggest games but ones who jumped high or had a good shuttle time at the draft combine.

Bortles

Let’s take one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, Blake Bortles. Bortles “looks” like an NFL QB. He fits the part. However the more important part, or logical part, was how he played at UCF. He played in 37 games at UCF throwing 56 touchdowns to just 19 interceptions. Those are pretty good numbers. So doesn’t that mean more than how high he can jump?

Map-Bortles

On another note, the blog AwfulAnnouncing.com had a great post about the absurdity of it all. Basically, one QB’s hands were too small while another’s were just fine. Funny thing, their hands are the same size! 

The draft is become more of a stock market. Players are companies and the teams are the investors. A players value can increase or decease on a daily basis while the teams look for, not only the best player, but also for the best value.

There is no solution for this. It is just a fact of life. People will continue to fall in love with a players “measurables” vs what they actually did on the field of play just like how some investors buy the hot stock vs the best value. Either way, it’s great theatre.

Pushed to the Back

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard 

Marcus Smart and Michael Sam are two names you’ve been hearing a lot about over the last few days. Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the year, announced he was gay and, a few hours before that, Smart was suspended three games for shoving a fan.

Sam’s story is historic any way you cut it. He will, in all likely hood, be the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team and make, NFL roster and play in an NFL game.

Smart’s suspension is not historic but it is important. Because of the incident, Smart could see his draft stock drop because of the dreaded “character” issue.

Smart can take solace in the fact that Sam took the media spotlight away from him.

If Sam’s announcement had not happened when it did then the major sports stories for the week would have been Smart’s shove of a fan and the Winter Olympics.

Make no mistake, Smart’s actions and following suspension is big news in the sports world but Sam’s news is on another level.

 

How ESPN Leaves Money on the Table

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Recently ESPN began to lay off a lot of people. Up to 5% of it’s workforce but ESPN has not confirmed that number. Either way, ESPN is laying off people. For those that don’t know, ESPN is the best profit source for it’s parent company DISNEY. But buying up sports media rights isn’t cheap and it may have, in the end, cost some people their jobs.

While ESPN continues to buy up media rights it has neglected a new revenue stream, YouTube. Yes ESPN has a presence on YouTube but not nearly the one it should. And while they wouldn’t get 100% of the ad revenue I’m sure they could get a pretty good deal  (maybe 80-20) and a high dollar CPM.

How would they do it? Well let’s start with the NFL Draft. ESPN has perhaps the best and most entertaining draft preview show, Gruden’s QB Camp. It’s a show with no regular time slot but it”s turned into an annual right of passage for QB’s (and other players) entering the NFL Draft.

Coach Gruden

This show was built for YouTube. It only runs about 25 minutes and has a great personality in Monday Night Football color commentator and former Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden. He’s charismatic to say the least and the show has segments that could be expanded upon online.

While the main YouTube playlist would be Gruden’s QB Camp there should also be another playlist that just focuses on him on the practice field with the draft prospect. There could also be an outtakes playlist as well with some of Gruden’s best one liners and looks.

Gruden With EJ

Take one episode from TV and you could have three pieces of content online. Total, you’re probably looking at 250,000-300,000 views which can turn into a decent chunk of change for very low overhead (the initial costs were picked up under the TV production budget). ESPN does have some material under their Insider section on their web site which is about $40 a year. They do this right and they blow that number away (and without the print costs).

Not only is this a revenue generator but it’s also user friendly. Now fans can watch all the episodes if they missed it on TV (or even if they saw it and want to watch it again) not to mention the expanded content. Fans have more of a connection to those prospects and probably more incentive to watch the NFL Draft on ESPN later. What does that mean? More eyeballs equals more money for ESPN, Disney and the shareholders. More importantly, maybe this means ESPN doesn’t layoff as many people. That means less unemployment and a better US economy.

Just a thought.

The NFL’s Giant Job Fair.

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

The NFL Combine is possibly one of the world’s largest job fairs and by far the biggest in professional sports. Imagine applying for a job all the while having what equals to a job interview broadcast and live streamed on the NFL Network and NFL.com.

NFLSCREENSHOT

The NFL has the ability to process up to 335 athletes for the combine although they don’t always hit this mark all 32 NFL teams are represented to see the incoming pool of talent. For several days athletes are poked, prodded (physically and verbally), dissected and tested to see if they have what it takes to be selected in the NFL Draft. While the combine does not guarantee an athlete a draft position or even a tryout with an NFL team a solid performance can go long way to improving an athletes draft status, or being hired.

The penjamlum can go the other way as well as former Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o is finding out. He had a dissappointing combine topped off with a rather slow 40 yard dash time of 4.82 seconds (the fastest linebacker ran a 4.47). That combined with his fake girlfriend death and his awful performance in the BCS National Title game has seen his draft stock fall. In other words, his chances of being hired quickly have shrunk.

The visibility of this event also makes it more difficult on the employers, the teams. Their customers, the fans, now have access to the same information that they do (more or less) and can see with their own eyes what a player did or didn’t do at the combine. It’s almost as transparent as it can get. What other industry allows you the customer to see everything this employee has done right up to the actual hiring?

Make no mistake, this is a job interview for these athletes. Not everyone gets invited and not everyone lands a job. It’s ruthless, cut-throat and very, very public. Getting through the interview process alone should say something about these individuals and the failings of their employers.

Jump to the 2:41 mark of the video below.