2012 NBA Mock Draft

1-15 16-30

Updated 6/27/12

 

1. New Orleans Hornets- PF Anthony Davis (Kentucky)

No surprises here. Anthony Davis has been the consensus pick since David Stern gave New Orleans the 1st overall pick in the sale of the team. And no, I don’t beat my wife.

2. Charlotte Bobcats- PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas)

It’s between Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson here, with the Ben Gordon trade eliminating Bradley Beal as an option. The loss of Maggette in the Gordon deal could be a signal that a swing man like MKG will be the pick, but Robinson seems to be the consensus right now. The Bobcats need a power forward as much as they need a small forward and Robinson would fill the gap there. They’re also trying to trade down, possibly to 4, where they’d have a choice between Harrison Barnes and MKG, two small forwards, but if they stay put, I think Robinson will be tops on their board.

3. Washington Wizards- SG Bradley Beal (Florida)

The Wizards acquired Emeka Okafor and Matt Barnes in a salary dump this month, which makes it less likely that this pick will be a big man like Andre Drummond or a small forward like Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Shooting guard is their thinnest position and Beal can come in and be an instant starter.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers- SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)

It’s between MKG and Barnes here with Bradley Beal gone as the Cavaliers don’t have anything on the wings. They’re desperately trying to trade up to 2 to grab Bradley Beal, another sign that the Wizards will take him and that he won’t be here. If they can’t do that, I think Barnes will get the edge over MKG. Reports say that the Cavs will not let Barnes slip past them if they stay put, so while he might not be the consensus top available, he could easily be tops on their board.

5. Sacramento Kings- SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)

The Kings have good young talent and no problem scoring the basketball. They just can’t stop anyone. They averaged 6th in the league in scoring with 98.8 points per game, most among non-playoff teams, but no one allowed within 3 points of the 104.4 they allowed per game, dead last in the league. I have major concerns about his ability to shoot and, for that reason, I think he has the highest bust potential of anyone in the top 5. However, I don’t think he’ll drop past 5 because of his defensive abilities.

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6. Portland Trail Blazers- PG Damian Lillard (Weber State)

As much as they need a center, I think Damian Lillard will be the pick here over Andre Drummond for several reasons. For one, Drummond is a major role of the dice. Speaking of rolling the dice, www.partybingo.com has hundreds of fun games with huge payouts. Two, Lillard seems to be the consensus pick here, which makes sense since he was commonly mocked to the Trail Blazers at 11 before his stock started rising as he took his personal visits. The Trail Blazers need a point guard and Lillard can be that guy. They also have to make this pick with pick #11 in mind. They’ll be able to get a center like Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard at 11, but they’d have to reach to fill a need at point guard there. That could end up being the tiebreaker if one is even needed.

7. Golden State Warriors- SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse)

The Warriors are set at 4 of their 5 starting positions, with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut, but there isn’t a small forward available here. The Warriors are rumored to be interested in moving down, but if they can’t, they could add depth at point guard or center behind injury prone starters Curry and Bogut respectively. Or they could just take best available, which would probably be Waiters, a rising prospect and a commonly mocked player here. He’s a natural scorer who can come off the bench immediately, allow the Warriors to play some small ball and move Klay Thompson to the 3, and he can also play a little bit of point guard.

8. Toronto Raptors- SG Austin Rivers (Duke)

Another team that needs a small forward that won’t be able to get one, the Raptors will focus on another position. They’ve spent high picks recently on interior guys and could be getting Jonas Valanciunas over from Europe this year so they do a similar thing to what the Warriors just did, take a bench scorer, who can move DeMar DeRozan to the 3 and allow them to play small at times. Rivers could also play a little bit of point guard off the bench.

9. Detroit Pistons- PF John Henson (North Carolina)

The Pistons need another big man to go along with Greg Monroe. Monroe is a good offensive player, but doesn’t do much defensively. Henson might make Kevin Durant look like Shaq at 6-11 210, but he’s got incredible length and upside. He can block shots and rebounds right away, run the court, and shoot the mid range shot. He’s far from a finished product, but he can help the Pistons.

10. New Orleans Hornets- C Andre Drummond (Connecticut)

Andre Drummond was the other option at 9, but rumors say the Pistons are pretty locked in to Henson. Drummond is also going to be an option basically from 4 right on, but falls here to the Hornets at 10, who take him in a heartbeat needing a center after dumping Emeka Okafor on Washington. Drummond might be the biggest boom or bust prospect of the top 10. He’s got no offensive game right now, but he can play defensively and he’s got crazy upside. Of course, everyone said the same thing about Hasheem Thabeet.

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11. Portland Trail Blazers- C Meyers Leonard (Illinois)

This is why Portland passed on Drummond at 6. The Trail Blazers have the choice between Meyers Leonard and Tyler Zeller here at 11. A true center will allow LaMarcus Aldridge to play mostly at the 4 and add to their defense. Leonard gets the nod because he’s a rising prospect with better upside.

12. Milwaukee Bucks- C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina)

If Leonard is the upside pick, Zeller is the sure thing. He’s a 4 year player at a great program who improved every year. The Bucks don’t have a true center after trading Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis. He’s not going to be a star, but he’s pretty safe and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least a solid rotational player.

13. Phoenix Suns- SG Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut)

Kendall Marshall is an option here as the Suns prepare for life without Steve Nash, which could start as soon as next season. However, they might not be able to pass on Jeremy Lamb, a top-10 prospect who falls because of circumstance. They definitely need depth on the wing, especially since Grant Hill will likely sign wherever Nash goes.

14. Houston Rockets- SF Perry Jones (Baylor)

The Rockets currently have picks 14, 16, and 18, so while they have needs, they can take best available here and focus on needs later. Perry Jones is a boom or bust player. He has top-5 talent, but he’s inconsistent and it’s unclear what type of player he’ll be at the next level and even what position he’ll play. The Rockets will take a chance on his upside and figure the rest out later with 3 picks in the top 18. He can play some small and power forward for them next year.

15. Philadelphia 76ers- PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)

Sullinger is slipping for medical reasons, but I think he’ll be the steal of the draft. Before the medical concerns surfaced, I thought he’d be a steal in the bottom half of the top 10. Now I think he’ll be a steal in the mid to late teens. He’s a proven player and a big time producer who has an NBA ready game. He might not be the best athlete or have the highest upside, but he can definitely be a starter. The 76ers need some more size and will have an immediate role for Sullinger.

Go on to 16-30

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Seattle Seahawks 2012 NFL Season Preview

Offense

The Seahawks made a valiant run at the playoffs in 2011, getting eliminated week 16 in a close loss to San Francisco, finishing 7-9 for the 2nd year in a row. They still can take pride in the fact that they exceeded expectations and played better than the parts of the whole under Head Coach Pete Carroll. They actually finished with a positive point differential +6, 2nd in the division, on the strength of their 7th ranked scoring defense. Now in 2012, the Seahawks will have to improve their offense, while maintaining their strength on defense, if they expect to compete in a loaded NFC.

Quarterback

The Seahawks may be better by default offensively this year. They ranked 23rd in the league offensively last year with 20.1 points per game. There are several questions offensively for the Seahawks, namely who will start at quarterback and which injured players will be able to contribute. However, whoever their quarterback is, he probably won’t be as bad as Tarvaris Jackson was last year. Jackson wasn’t awful, leading a 20th ranked passing offense, in terms of YPA, but he was a big part of the reason why their offense was so stagnant last year. Jackson will compete with free agent acquisition Matt Flynn and 3rd round rookie Russell Wilson for the starting job.

The Seahawks are saying it is an open competition and it probably is, but Matt Flynn is fully expected to win the starting job, based off of his strong offseason performance thus far and the 10 million dollar guaranteed they give him in free agency. Flynn only has 2 career starts, but he impressed in both of them. If he does struggle, the Seahawks can always go back to Tarvaris Jackson or even Russell Wilson. Either way, I don’t think they’ll have worse quarterback play than last year.

Quarterback: B-

Offensive line

The other main unknown for the Seahawks offensively is injuries. Last year, the unit hit hardest by injuries was the offensive line. Of their week 1 starting 5 upfront, only center Max Unger did not sustain a major injury. Left guard Robert Gallery missed most of the season with injuries and, at his advanced age, was cut this offseason. Meanwhile right tackle James Carpenter missed most of his rookie year last year with a knee injury. He’s still currently injured and will likely begin the season on the PUP and might not play at all this season. He struggled when he did play too, but he was just a rookie.

Replacing those two will be Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini at left guard and right tackle respectively. Neither played that great. Giacomini allowed just 3 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and 14 quarterback pressures, but committed 9 penalties in 564 snaps. Meanwhile, McQuistan allowed 5 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 11 quarterback pressures, while committing 6 penalties in 689 snaps. Both graded out below average as run blockers on ProFootballFocus as well. Sadly, those two might have been the biggest bright spots on an offensive front that allowed 50 sacks last year.

That number will go way down if Russell Okung can play a full 16 game slate at 100%. The 6th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Okung has played very well when healthy and can be a legitimate franchise left tackle, but he’s dealt with multiple different injuries in his first 2 years in the league. Okung should be good to go for week 1 barring any further injuries.

The same is true about John Moffitt, their right guard. A 2011 3rd round pick, Moffitt also dealt with injuries as a rookie. He played very poorly as a rookie as well, when healthy, allowing 3 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, 16 quarterback pressures, and committing 2 penalties in 524 snaps. He also graded out very poorly as a run blocker and only 5 guards graded out lower than he did overall, -21.5, on ProFootballFocus, including ex-teammate Robert Gallery. However, he was just a rookie.

The only starter to make it through the season was Max Unger, an average center who ranked 17th on ProFootballFocus with a 3.3 rating. Like the quarterback position, the offensive line was a major part of why the Seahawks struggled offensively last year, but they should be better by default after allowing 50 sacks last year, thanks to lots of injuries at upfront. If Okung can stay healthy and Moffitt can improve off a poor rookie year and the newcomers can play well, this might actually be a decent offensive line.

Grade: C+

Wide receivers

Another place where injuries struck big time in 2011 was wide receiver. The Seahawks signed Sidney Rice to start opposite Mike Williams, who had a great 2010 season. Rice was coming off an injury plagued season, but his strong performance in 2009 still was enough to land him a big deal with the Seahawks. However, Rice remained injury plagued in 2011 and Mike Williams joined him. They are both penciled in as their 2 starting receivers right now, but neither are sure things to be out there week 1 and it would be pretty shocking if both made it through a 16 game slate.

If they get hurt, they’ll need two young receivers, Golden Tate, 2010 2nd round pick, and Ricardo Lockette, a 2011 undrafted round pick, to step up. They also have veteran Ben Obomanu in the mix, but he’s not very good. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin led the team in receiving last year as an undrafted free agent, the first undrafted free agent to do so ever. If Rice and Williams can’t stay healthy, he could do so once again. He’s a solid slot receiver.

In his first season with Seattle, after spending the beginning of his career in Oakland, Zach Miller really struggled, catching just 25 passes for 233 yards and no touchdowns. The Seahawks brought in Kellen Winslow from Tampa Bay to compliment him. Winslow has a repuation for being injury prone and he is, but he’s also played in every game over the last 3 seasons. He’s always been willing to play hurt and he does a good job. Barring some sort of injury that actually keeps him off the field, he’ll be an addition to a wide receiving corps with questions everywhere.

Grade: C

Running backs

With mediocrity at quarterback and injuries depleting their receiving corps and offensive line, it’s a wonder how the Seattle even managed to rank 23rd offensively last year. The answer is their running game. Marshawn Lynch delivered big time in a contract year and the Seahawks paid him handsomely this offseason to reward him. Lynch was inconsistent in his career before last year so he’ll need to prove he can do it when money isn’t on the line this year. An improved offensive line will really help.

He’ll be backed up by Leon Washington, but Robert Turbin, their 4th round pick, is an intriguing player. He’s a good enough blocker to spell Lynch on passing downs and he’s a good pass catcher as well. If Lynch goes down with any sort of injury, he’d likely be the lead back because Washington is too small to be anything more than a change of pace back effectively. Washington will also need to focus on special teams.

As bad as the Seahawks’ offense looks on paper, they most likely won’t be worse than they were last year unless Lynch has a major dropoff. Pete Carroll is a very good coach who gets the most out of his players. I believe in Matt Flynn, at least as an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson, and that they won’t have as many injuries as they had last year. With a good defense, this team can definitely win some games this season.

Grade: B+

Defense

As I said, defense was the reason this team won 7 games last year. Their offense had all sorts of problems, but their 7th ranked scoring defense allowed them to go 7-9, compete until the end of the season, and post a positive scoring differential. They’re not often mentioned among the best in the league, but they should be.

Defensive line

As with most good defenses, it starts up front for the Seahawks. Their defensive line doesn’t get a ton of pass rush, hence their mere 33 sacks from a year ago, but they stuff the run with the best of them. Their 3.8 yards per carry allowed were tied for 4th best in the league. Their run defense starts with 3 players, Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, and Red Bryant, all three of whom scored well above average against the run on ProFootballFocus (5.9, 19.2, and 9.0 respectively). Branch’s 19.2 was actually 3rd at his position behind Sione Pouha and Brodrick Bunkley.

Unfortunately, since none of them do much as pass rushers, they don’t get to the quarterback very much in their base package, but they don’t spend a lot of time in their base package. They like to mix things up. Last year, Raheem Brock was their nickel rusher at defensive end, coming in for Red Bryant. Once a solid pass rusher, Brock was a shell of his former self last season at an advanced age. He had 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, and 29 quarterback pressures on 567 snaps last season.

The Seahawks used a 1st round pick on Bruce Irvin to take Brock’s place this season and whether or not you think that selection was a reach, you have to agree that he’s an upgrade over Brock, who remains unsigned as of this writing. On passing downs, Irvin will form an imposing duo with Chris Clemons on the outside so they should improve on the 33 sacks they had last year, assuming Chris Clemons can produce close to the amount he has over the last two years.

Clemons has combined for 24 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 97 quarterback pressures in the last 2 seasons, all of which are among the league leaders over that time period, but he’s now 31 and currently holding out, as of this writing. If he holds out well into Training Camp or the Preseason, he could be in less than tip top shape when he returns, a la Chris Johnson and Darrelle Revis, which would be dangerous for a player already on the wrong side of 30. However, if he can stay in good shape, I see no reason why he can’t have another strong year. He’s not that old yet and players can play well into their early 30s if they can stay in shape. It’s when they don’t that’s the problem.

Another reason they should improve their pass rush is the addition of Jason Jones. Jones will be a nickel rusher on the inside and he could be potentially dangerous. He was miscast as a defensive end in Tennessee last year. He graded out as one of ProFootballFocus’ worst defensive ends last year, with 3 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 14 quarterback pressures (recording a sack/hit/pressure on only 5.5% of pass rushing snaps). Only Jayme Mitchell had a worse pass rusher rating at his position than Jones’ -9.6.

However, he was awesome as a defensive tackle in 2010, with 4 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 34 quarterback pressures (a sack/hit/pressure on 9.1% of his snaps). His 17.3 pass rush rating was 1st among defensive tackles. He could have a big impact this season and, at the very least, he’ll be an upgrade over Clinton McDonald, who was their 3rd defensive tackle last year.

McDonald was solid against the run, but offered absolutely no pass rush with 0 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 10 quarterback pressures (a sack/hit/pressure on 6.0% of his snaps).  He’ll still play a bit of a role this season, but it will be minimal, as it should be, with the addition of Jones. With the addition of Jones and Irvin, their pass rush should be able to be solid rushing the passer, in addition to strong against the run.

Grade: B+

Linebackers

The Seahawks only major offseason loss this year was David Hawthorne. Hawthorne was an every down middle linebacker for them last season. He graded out with an 8.9 rating and got a well deserved significant contract from the New Orleans Saints this offseason. He’ll be replaced by a platoon of Barrett Rudd and 2nd round rookie Bobby Wagner. Ruud used to be a good player, but injuries have destroyed his career. He was benched midseason by the Titans last year and his -13.6 rating ranked 4th worst at his position. Their best hope at that position is that Wagner can breakout and become an every down player.

Outside, things are much better. KJ Wright (6.6) and LeRoy Hill (5.6) graded out well above average. Hill has a lot of troubles off the field, but he’s a solid football player on the field. Wright, meanwhile, impressed a lot as a rookie, despite being mere a 4th round pick. He took over midseason and only played 536 snaps. Now a full time starter, he has just as good of a chance of taking the next step as a football player as he does of having a sophomore slump.

Grade: B

Secondary

The secondary is Seattle’s most talented bunch. They ranked tied 10th against the pass, allowing 6.9 YPA, despite their subpar pass rush. With a better pass rush in 2012, their pass defense should be even better. Their only concern is that some of the players that had breakout years last year regress. If they don’t, they have one of the most talented, young secondaries in the league.

Richard Sherman was a 5th round pick last year, but he played incredibly well as a rookie. He graded out 13th at his position with an 8.1, allowing 39 completions on 84 attempts (46.4%) for 493 yards (5.9 YPA), 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and 9 deflections. His only issue was 9 penalties, but for someone in only his 3rd season as a cornerback (he played cornerback for just 2 years at Stanford after being converted from a wide receiver), the sky is the limit for someone who got better as last season went on.

Two other talented defensive backs are their safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. 1st and 5th round picks respectively in the 2010 NFL Draft, they are arguably the most talented safety duo in the NFL. Both graded out top 8 among safeties last year, Chancellor coming in 5th with an 11.5 rating and Thomas coming in 8th with a 7.6 rating. Thomas had a strong rookie year in 2010 as well so I don’t have any concerns with him, but Chancellor’s break out year was last year so he’s still a bit of a one year wonder. However, Sherman, Thomas, and Chancellor form arguably the most talented defensive back trio in the NFL and all 3 are still very young.

The 4th starter in the secondary is Brandon Browner. Browner had a lot of good and a lot of bad in his 1st season in the NFL after coming over from the CFL. He graded out exactly with a 0.0 rating, allowing 54 completions on 95 attempts (56.8%), but for 830 yards (8.7 YPA). He had 3 touchdowns allowed, 6 interceptions, and 15 deflections, good for 3rd in the league, but his 15 penalties were 2nd. He was often torched and often penalized, but he made a lot of plays on the ball and allowed a small amount of touchdowns and a 56.8% completion percentage. It’s tough to know what to expect from him in his 2nd season as a starter, but there’s definitely upside.

The Seahawks didn’t have nearly as many injuries on defense as they had on offense, but one major one was an injury to Marcus Trufant, who was supposed to start for them at cornerback and probably be their #1 guy opposite a then unproven Brandon Browner. Trufant has never been a great cornerback, but his absence did hurt last season as they struggled for depth behind Sherman and Browner. Walter Thurmond and Roy Lewis both saw far too many snaps for comfort last season in sub packages and both, expectedly, graded out below average. Trufant is heading into his age 32 season, but should be an upgrade in nickel packages as their 3rd cornerback.

Grade: A-

Head Coach

Pete Carroll doesn’t get his name mentioned enough with the best coaches in the NFL, but he should, especially when you look at the talent he’s developed in Seattle over his first two years. Chris Clemons was a situational player who he turned into one of the better pass rushers in the league. Alan Branch was a former 2nd round pick bust in Arizona who is now one of the league’s best run stuffers.

KJ Wright and Richard Sherman were 4th and 5th round picks last year respectively, but now both are among the best at their positive. Brandon Browner was in the CFL. He got Marshawn Lynch for a 4th round pick. Kam Chancellor was a 5th round pick. He did a great job of holding together a team, which had below average talent on paper in the first place, through numerous injuries last year. He also did a fantastic job at the collegiate level at USC.

Grade: A-

Overall

As I’ve said before, the Seahawks have a lot of questions offensively, but they can’t be worse than they were last year offensively. Kellen Winslow is an addition to their receiving corps and a healthy Russell Okung and John Moffitt will help a lot up front, especially Okung. Either Rice or Williams could stay healthy, unlikely last year, and if not, Golden Tate or Ricardo Lockette could step up in his absence. Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini could also end up being upgrades up front.

Matt Flynn won’t be worse than Tarvaris Jackson and could be a lot better. He’ll have to be for them to have even an average offense and they’ll need Marshawn Lynch to continue his strong play behind a better offensive line in 2012, but their strong defense is what will continue to win them games this season. They went 7-9 last year with a positive points differential. They could easily go 7-9 or 8-8 again this year.

They don’t have a tough divisional schedule and could easily go 3-3 in those games again or even 4-2. Outside the division, they host Dallas, Green Bay, New England, Minnesota, and the Jets. They probably won’t have much of a shot against Green Bay or New England, as good as they are at home, but that Minnesota game should be a fairly easy win. They could also beat both Dallas and the Jets. Let’s say 2 or 3 wins in this bunch, which puts them at about 6-5 over the 11 games mentioned so far. Their remaining games are @ Miami, @ Buffalo, @ Detroit, @ Chicago, and @ Carolina. They aren’t a great road team, but that Miami game should be pretty winnable and maybe another one so 7 or 8 wins is pretty reasonable for them.

Update: I don’t like the decision to start Russell Wilson. For more than that, click here.

Projection: 6-10 3rd in NFC West

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Tennessee Titans resign S Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin was the 19th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, but he didn’t always play like it. For example, in 2008 and 2011, he graded out above average on ProFootballFocus, ranking 13th among all safeties last year. However, in 2009 he was absolutely awful, getting torched in coverage, allowing 34 completions on 49 attempts (69.4%) for 741 yards (15.1 YPA!!!), 5 touchdowns, 1 interception, 5 deflections and one penalty, as he ranked 87th at the position out of 88 eligible. He was also pretty middle of the pack in 2010.

The Titans gave him a 35 million dollar deal over 5 years with 15 million dollars guaranteed so they obviously think those days are behind him and that he’ll continue to be an above average player. If that’s the case, this looks like a pretty solid deal. He’s getting less money per year and guaranteed than did Eric Weddle and Michael Huff last offseason and his contract will likely be matched by fellow franchise players Dashon Goldson and Tyvon Branch this offseason. If you rank Griffin’s play last season in a group of 5 that includes those 4 players just mentioned, he’d grade out 2nd behind only Weddle. He’ll just need to be consistent.

Grade: B

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Chase Blackburn will enter camp as Giants’ starting middle linebacker

Giants’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell confirmed today what many in the know suspected, that Chase Blackburn would open Training Camp as their starting middle linebacker. The Giants essentially signed Blackburn, a veteran career journeyman, off the streets late in the regular season, but he played very well for them down the stretch, including what might have been a game saving interception of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Fewell was very direct in his assessment of Blackburn. He said “I can’t say he’ll stay there permanently, but right now Chase is our guy and no one’s clearly beaten him out for the position.”

However, as Fewell suggests, Blackburn won’t be unchallenged. His primary competition will be Keith Rivers. Rivers has spent his entire career in Cincinnati on the outside and when the Giants traded a 5th round pick for Rivers, who missed all of last season with a wrist injury, many took it as a sign that Rivers would start outside and Michael Boley would move to middle linebacker. However, that proved not to be true and Rivers will be Blackburn’s primary challenger for the middle linebacker job. Being fully healthy would definitely help so we’ll see if that’s the case. Two 2nd year players, Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich, will also be in the mix.

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Buccaneers “clearly” have a role for LeGarrette Blount

The Buccaneers traded back up into the end of the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Doug Martin, but according to the Tampa Bay Times, there’s still “clearly going to be a role” for incumbent starter LeGarrette Blount. This makes a lot of sense and confirms what I’ve already been thinking for a while.

Blount is currently working with the 1st team in OTAs and while he might not be the 1st team back during the season, he’s still a talented runner and Martin is still just a rookie and the Buccaneers are going to run a ton under new Head Coach Greg Schiano. Blount may be completely useless on passing downs, but he could still see close to a 50/50 split on running downs in 2012 and given the offensive philosophy Schiano wants to execute, that could be a fairly significant amount of carries.

Besides, Look at Joseph Addai (2009), Chris Wells (2011), DeAngelo Williams (2008), Marion Barber (2008), Fred Jackson (2010). All of those guys arguably had career years the season after their teams spent early picks on a running back. Meanwhile, backs drafted in the 1st round since 2007 have averaged 165 carries as rookies. I am projecting 810 yards and 6 touchdowns on 180 carries with 8 catches for 60 yards for Blount this season.

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Steelers’ Mike Wallace could have a lengthy holdout

Mike Wallace has yet to sign his 2.757 million dollar restricted free agent tender in search of a long term deal and while the Steelers have agreed not to slash his tender down to 577 thousand, which they now have to right to do because Wallace skipped minicamp, it’s still unknown when the two sides will come to terms on a long term deal. Wallace wants Larry Fitzgerald money and the Steelers don’t have the cap nor the desire to pay him that more.

Holding most of the leverage with Wallace essentially under contract inexpensively in 2012 and with the franchise tender reserved for him next offseason, the Steelers want Wallace to sign a deal more in the range of Vincent Jackson’s 55.5 million dollar deal over 5 years rather than the 8 year, 120 million dollar deal Larry Fitzgerald got.

According to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, Wallace’s holdout will end later rather than sooner as they feel he could be prepared to sit out into Training Camp. If he does that, he could be fined a good amount of money and he would risk getting out of shape and having a down year like Chris Johnson and Darrelle Revis did in the last 2 seasons, but in search of a long term deal, it might be worth it for him. Unlike franchise tagged players, Wallace can still be signed to a long term deal after Training Camp starts.

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Charges dropped against Buccaneers’ Aqib Talib

Aqib Talib has to be breathing a lot easier today now that the assault with a deadly weapons charges against him have been dropped. They were reportedly dropped because the defense felt their primary witness would not be seen as credible. Talib was scheduled to stand trial in a week and faced up to 5 years in prison if found guilty. The Buccaneers will now definitely have their #1 cornerback in 2012, though he should still face a suspension from the commissioner’s office even though there was no conviction. Talib is heading into a key contract year and will need to regain his 2010 form after struggling in 2011.

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Ravens want Bryant McKinnie at 345

Bryant McKinnie is a talented left tackle, but he has had highly public struggles with his weight in his career, especially in the past couple years as he’s now in his 30s. He was cut for being out of shape out of the lockout by the Vikings last year and then still struggled with his weight with the Ravens, who picked him up after he was released, though he still played pretty well.

McKinnie sat out last week’s minicamp on the team’s orders to work on his conditioning, and according to BaltimoreRavens.com, they want him at 345 pounds. McKinnie reportedly weighed in at 354 at the start of minicamp and 365 in May. There’s also been some reports that they threatened to cut him if he didn’t meet their goal for him.

However, that would leave them with a Michael Oher/Jah Reid duo at offensive tackle, which they used during minicamp. Oher has been much better on the right side than the left in his career, while Reid is unproven and lacks the foot speed to play on the blindside. I still think it’s highly unlikely that McKinnie ends up getting cut, especially after they already paid him a 500 thousand dollar roster bonus in May. However, McKinnie will be a free agent heading into his age 34 season next offseason so they’ll need to find a long term answer at the position pretty soon.

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Patriots’ Logan Mankins could begin season on PUP

Logan Mankins tore his ACL in the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants in February and needed surgery. However, since it wasn’t a full tear, most believed that he would be back in time for Training Camp or the start of the season at the very latest. A report from ESPN.com’s James Walker today was in contrast to that expectation, saying that Mankins was a candidate to start the season on the PUP, which would shut him down for at least 6 games.

If that happens, the Patriots internal replacement options would be veteran Robert Gallery, 2011 5th round pick Marcus Cannon, or Dan Connolly, a versatile interior offensive lineman expected to start at center. Connolly started at left guard in Mankins’ absence in 2010. Dan Koppen, who is currently competing with Connolly at center, would then be the starting center.

All that being said, at the same time, there is a contrasting report from Comcast Sports New England’s Tom Curran that he is “told” Mankins will be back for week 1. It really just seems like no one knows anything about the situation and that’s exactly how the tight lipped Bill Belichick likes it. In fact, no one outside of the organization knew he even had the surgery until a month after it happened. Don’t expect Belichick to provide any insight on the situation going forward. We’ll just have to believe Mankins is healthy when we see it. My money is still on him being back for week 1.

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Chris Clemons wants Cameron Wake money from the Seahawks

Chris Clemons is one of only a few official holdouts right now, after missing the entirety of last week’s minicamp in protest of his contract. Clemons is owed 4.5 million in the final year of a 5 year deal in 2012, which makes him underpaid considering the 24 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 97 quarterback pressures he’s produced over the last 2 seasons.

According to Pro Football Weekly, Clemons is looking for Cameron Wake type money from the Seahawks. Wake received a 4 year extension worth max of 49 million from the Dolphins earlier this offseason, which is significantly more than the 18 million over 3 years that the Seahawks reportedly offered Clemons earlier this week.

Given that, this could be a lengthy holdout as the Seahawks feel Clemons is an aging player and a product of their system, while Clemons feels he’s one of the league’s elite at his position. The Seahawks used a 1st round pick on Bruce Irvin, but would really miss Clemons if he were to hold out into the season or get out of shape because of a lengthy holdout. His 11 sacks were a third of the 33 sacks that the Seahawks managed last season.

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