On this day 10 years ago we lost a true American Hero. Cardinals Pro Bowl safety Pat Tillman declared for the army instead of opting for the money and fame of an NFL lifestyle. He was killed in friendly fire on this very day 10 years ago. May the soul of a true American legend Rest in Peace.
The Florida Panthers have won the draft lottery for the first time since 2003 when they then traded the pick. The Panthers have made the playoffs just once since 2000 which is incredibly woeful but the team is filled with young talent and of course the number one pick in this years draft. There are a “big 3” as far as top prospects this year in Sam Bennett, Aaron Ekblad, and Sam Reinhart which is quite different from last year when Nathan MacKinnon was the clear and consensus top choice. According to our friends at capgeek.com the Panthers have just about 30 Million dollars until they reach the salary cap ceiling. They are also very likely to compliance buyout Ed Jovonaski and potentially yet doubtfully 1 of Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, or Tomas Fleishmann. New owner Vinny Viola a prominent New York businessman has stated he is willing to spend to the cap and he wants to win.
General Manager Dale Tallon has stated that he wants to sign 2 defenseman and most likely 3 forwards. This is a very weak free agency class when it comes to defenseman with the biggest names out there being Markov, Niskanen, and Zidlicky. Ultimately though i think that Dale will draft the best available player rather than most needed. I think you combine that with the success of Huberdeau and Barkov the pick will likely be a forward. The Panthers have depth at the center position though which both Bennett and Reinhart play not to mention they also have interest in Maple Leafs UFA Dave Bolland. Of the two forwards, according to draft experts they say Sam Bennett will likely be able to switch to left wing which the Panthers do have a need there. In the end I strongly believe that the pick will come down to Sam Bennett or Aaron Ekblad. I also think that the Panthers will not move this pick unless its for a young controllable player such as Jeff Skinner or Evander Kane. I really don’t see the Panthers trading down either. So…
With the 1st overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft the Florida Panthers select Sam Bennett
By: Nolan Soffer @Nolan_Soffer
Disclaimer: Predictions made after game 1 games and game 2 of OKC Memphis game/ Los Angeles Golden State
Western Conference Quarterfinals
Spurs V Mavericks: Spurs depth, and their revenge factor pose a threat to any team in the West. Spurs win series
Rockets V Trail Blazers: This is a tough match up. Second year phenom Damian Lillard put on a show in his postseason debut, alog with just a little help of Lamarcus Aldridge. The two pose a huge challenge for Houston but in the end Houston size is too much and steals game 7. Rockets win series
Clippers V Warriors: Probably the most intriguing matchup of the first round. Two high octane offenses that even the a novice NBA fan wold enjoy. Warriors are a two faced team. They’re either hot, or cold from the field. Problem being that the cold tea usually shows up the most which is why I choose the Clippers. Clippers win series
Thunder V Grizzlies: Game 2 was an unbelievable one. Even though the Grizzlies can pose a threat, they just got the wrong match up. Can’t go against the soon to be MVP. Thunder win series
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Pacers V Hawks: Even though the Hawks won game one in every aspect I don’t think it will be enough. Indiana got a wakeup call at the right time. When Indiana’s on its a tough team to beat. Pacers win series.
Bulls V Wizards: In a few years this Wizards team will be making noise in the Eastern Conference. With one of the best back courts in the game , and not enough offensive firepower from Chicago i believe Washington wins the series. Wizards win series
Nets V Raptors: This is one of the better match ups in the first round. Two evenly matched teams. One of the big surprises of the year (Toronto) winded up with the three seed. However Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are on too much of a roll especially with the NBA’s best second half record. Nets win series
Heat V Bobcats: … It’s the Bobcats. Heat win series
Western Conference Semifinals
Spurs V Rockets: The battle of Texas. The Rockets are 3-0 against the Spurs this season so they’re gonna win the series. Not so fast… Houston is in my opinion one more piece to be a legit NBA contender. San Antonio is hungry for the championship after the debacle last year. Spurs win series
Clippers V Thunder: This will probably be the best match up of the second round. OKC is 2-1 against the Clippers this year. OKC has the NBA MVP, but in the end it won’t be enough Los Angeles has too much fire power coming off the bench two of the league’s best big men, and arguably the best coach in the NBA in Doc Rivers. Clippers win series
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Pacers V Wizards: If Indiana winds up playing Chicago this might be another story, but Indiana’s big men will cause too many problems to to this young Wizards team. Pacers win series
Heat V Nets: All that’s needed is Doc Rivers, and Rajon Rondo in a Brooklyn uniform. Brooklyn is 4-0 against the Heat this season. However they’ve all come in close games. In the playoffs Miami is always on their A game so this time around things will be different. Paul Pierce and company will put up a good fight but in the end it won’t be enough. Miami wins series
Western Conference Finals
Spurs V Clippers: San Antonio is 2-1 this year against (the other LA team) this season. However i believe this series will go down to game seven. Chris Paul and company along with coaching from Doc will be too much for this San Antonio team. Clippers win series
Eastern Conference Finals
Pacers V Heat: 2-2 against each other this year. Faced each other last year in the same spot. There hasn’t been an NBA three peat since Shaq and Kobe. Home court will play a huge factor in this series. During the regular season the home team won every game. Miami has all the reasons to pick them to advance to the NBA finals for the fourth straight year. However I believe this will be the first year they don’t reach that spot. Indiana’s size, and home court advantage will be the reason for their first NBA finals appearance in 14 years. Pacers win series
Pacers V Clippers: These two teams faced only one time this year, and Indiana won that game. Both of these teams have size. Neither of these teams have finals experience. This is a tough one to call. Indiana one of the leagues best defensive teams faces off against one of the leagues best offensive teams. In the end I believe with the point guard play of Chris Paul coaching of Doc Rivers and two of the leagues most improved players in Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan along with a solid bench the NBA championship will travel back to LA… This time however to the Clippers first ever NBA title
You can see throughout the history of the NFL how it has evolved from a running league to now be a passing league. In this draft there may not be a running back selected in the first two rounds meanwhile Wide receivers and Left tackles remain an extremely hot commodity and are deemed necessary in todays game. That makes me ask the question, what is the next step and what is the next breakthrough in the game of football? Most of the time teams that can keep innovating and be creative tend to be more successful on the football field.
Platooned Offensive Line
Way back in the day players would play all 60 minutes of the game such as RedGrange, Fats Henry, Chuck Bednarik and Jim Thorpe before executives thought it would be better to tailor ones game to a single position. As time went on players would be at one position but only on specific downs such as a nose tackle on 1st and 2nd down, a pass rusher in long distance situations, and an extra offensive lineman on short down situations. What I am proposing now is to use some offensive lineman in specific situations such as bringing in more lean and slender types for passing situations on the inside of the line and heavier more mauling types on running downs. Such a move would hurt pass rushers trying to beat the slower guards on the inside. Such a move would make other teams cautious when putting in the pass rushing interior lineman as they would be heavily outweighed.
Running Backs with Slot Potential
As you can see with Chris Johnsons 2yr 8M contract and with the potential for no running backs to be taken in the first two rounds the value of the running back position has deteriorated. Full back used to be a big position played by the likes of Franco Harris and Jim Brown but now they are mostly 3rd tight ends or sparsely used players. I think running back with speed could be very dangerous in the slot especially speed backs. Lets take Chris Johnson and say you go out in the I formation with 2 WR and 2TEs the defense will likely come out in their base 3-4/4-3 defense. If CJ runs to the slot who will cover him? You have the corners matched up on the receivers and that leaves the safeties and LB to cover 1 or 2 tight ends and a running back who is likely too fast for a linebacker. The defense now has to decide who will cover the taller tight ends and the speedy running back which will cause mass confusion.
In todays NFL you see the quarterback as the key piece of an offense and without one many question a clubs ability to succeed and to a large degree I agree with that but I see a growing value in having a multi-dimensional game. In todays NFL Defenses are focusing more on rushing the passer and being more agile in the secondary. When Ray Lewis played his last season he lost 10-15 pounds before the season so he could keep up with the more spread out game. I am finding a weakness in defenses as they are lighter and faster in todays day. In 2014 every guard that made the pro bowl except Marshall Yanda of the 2012 champion Ravens were on a playoff team (Evans,Grubbs,Iupati,Mankins,Vasquez) meanwhile only 3 receivers (Green, Thomas, Jackson) were on playoff teams. The interior is easier to dominate in todays game due to linebackers being lighter and 4-3 DT being quicker for the pass rush. If teams put more stock and $$$ into the undervalued guard and center positions they should be able to gain key strides in the run game which can create a signifigant advantage when competing against defenses designed for defending the pass. Combine elite guards with a power back and these lighter defensive players are in for trouble.
Any ideas? Post them in the comments
Here is the first mock draft I am going to do. I did this one not including any trades and will have one with future trades up shortly.