Bang for the Buck

Da'Quan Bowers was drafted 51st overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Most people have experienced it. You go to the store only to buy something that you had no intention of getting but you couldn’t pass it up because it was such a great deal.

Three of this year’s shoppers in the NFL draft came across a product that they weren’t looking for and just couldn’t let them get away.

Talent over need is one of the toughest decisions when drafting players but when that talent comes at a greatly discounted price even Homer Simpson knows that it should be a no-brainer to take the talent.

The New England patriots are known for being smarter than everyone. No denying it. Savvy draft day trading, making the diamond in the roughs seem like an everyday occurrence and pretty much everything else in between.

With franchise quarterback Mr. Tom Bundchen-Brady locked up in New England for the next while, the Patriots still went out on day two of the draft and grabbed projected first round pick Ryan Mallett.

Talk about value.

Ryan Mallett has all the physical tools to one day become a franchise quarterback and at 74th overall the Patriots decided that this guy could become Tom Brady’s successor.

Why not?

This has all the makings of another steal by the New England Patriots. There may be as many questions as there are positives surrounding Mallett including inaccuracy, character and possible drug abuse. However, picking up a quarterback, who has the skills to be a franchise quarterback, in the middle of the 3rd round doesn’t come with much risk. It’s not as if the Patriots have to worry about draft picks anyways.

Considering five other quarterbacks were drafted ahead of Mallett, a player who some had as the third best quarterback in this year’s draft, he should be a steal at 74 no matter what situation he is placed in. I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that the Patriots pulled off something that could make us bow down to the great Bill Belichick once again.

Almost every New York Giants fan at Radio City Music Hall was cheering when their team selected cornerback Prince Amukamara with the 19th overall pick.

A lot of mocks had an offensive tackle going to the Giants at 19 but when Amukamara slipped to them they couldn’t pass on him.

With a defence that finished ninth in the NFL last season, there was no desperation to find an impact defensive player. Protecting Eli Manning was supposed to be priority number one. In fact, probably the only guy who isn’t praising the pick is Eli Manning because this potential shut-down corner isn’t going to be protecting his blind side anytime soon.

Nevertheless, the New York Giants were right to not let the newly dubbed “Fresh Prince of New York” slip past them. Shut down corners don’t come around every day at the number 19 slot.

Needed or not, the teams in front of the Giants should regret their decision not to pick the Prince.

I think I would be writing this even if this next fellow was drafted late in the first round. Now, there is almost no doubt that at 51st overall, Da’Quan Bowers represents the best no-brainer value in the 2011 draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had already drafted a defensive end with their 20th overall pick in round one but when they sat at 51 with Bowers on the board they couldn’t say no. Once again, how can you blame them?

Bowers led the nation in sacks with 15 last year and fell mightily on every team’s draft board because of right knee issues. I still don’t understand why 32 teams passed on him at least once, some twice. In early mocks Bowers was projected as a potential number one overall pick yet knee surgery sets him back 50 picks.

I can’t comment nor do I have any knowledge on the extent of Da’Quan Bowers’ knee problems. That shouldn’t matter though when you can pick up a possibly dominating pass-rusher with a late first or early second round pick.

It doesn’t matter who you are drafting, there are no sure things. However, it is a sure thing that without the knee problem Bowers has the potential to become one of the league’s premier defensive ends.

It’s as hard as Aroldis Chapman’s fastball to be able to find a player in the second round that could have the type impact that Bowers might possess. For the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans to pass on Bowers in favour of alternative defensive ends in the second round is beyond me.

Tampa Bay might strike out on Bowers but at least they will do it swinging for the fences.

Like any draft there are bound to be disappointments. Mallett, Amukamara and Bowers may very well end up disappointing their respective teams but with the value that these three players offer there should be no reason to regret the choice to draft them.

Related: Naughty or Nice?

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Good But Not Championship Good

Will Tom Brady and his hair be able to overcome the Patriots lack of defence?

I don’t care about Michael Vick’s miracle at the Meadowlands and Tom Brady being outperformed by first time starter Matt Flynn because as much as I’d like to see Vick take the MVP award it just wouldn’t be right with the way Brady has played this season.

The problem is, despite Tom Brady and his bunch of nobodies playing outstanding on offence, the Patriots still aren’t good enough to win a championship.

Throughout the season there have been times when the Patriots have been absolutely horrendous on defence led by their defensive wizard of a coach Bill Belichek.

It isn’t like New England doesn’t have some solid pieces on defence, but they have a number holes that they haven’t been able to cover.

Devin McCourty and his 6 interceptions has given the Pats secondary a big boost this season and if it wasn’t for Ndamukong Suh he would probably be taking the rookie defensive player of the year award.

The defence is surrounded with playmakers as well with guys like Jerod Mayo, Brandon Meriweather, Tully Banta-Cain and you can’t possibly forget the abnormally large 325 pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

However, the Patriots defence ranks in the bottom half of the league in almost every defensive category. Their pass defence has been absolutely atrocious as they are allowing 374.6 total yards a game and 263.3 pass yards per game, which is good for 28th and 30th in the league respectively. The odd thing is that they rank 2nd in the league in total interceptions with 21 on the year, only 2 behind Philadelphia.

The offence, as most people know, has been very 2007-like this season even with the departure of Randy Moss. Tom Brady and the Patriots have been able to incorporate a brand new core of offensive “weapons” if you can even call them that.

The franchises knack for finding great talent never ceases to amaze. Rookie tight end’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have played like seasoned veterans so far this season and are only getting better. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose name announcers can’t seem to get enough of, and 5 foot 8 division II Heisman Trophy winner Danny Woodhead have created a formidable backfield. Also, second year kick returner/receiver Brandon Tate has provided a huge spark to both the special teams and the receiving unit.

The only constant in the line-up for New England, Wes Welker, has made everyone forget about his season-ending ACL/MCL surgery and is right back to being his old self. I guess Deion Branch also gets part marks for being a constant because in his first game back with the Patriots after re-acquiring him from the Seattle Seahawks it looked like he had never left.

The Pats offence ranks #1 in points per game and unlike their defence they are in the top half of the league in virtually every offensive category.

Devin McCourty leads the Patriots with 6 interceptions

Nevertheless, after seeing Matt Flynn’s performance manning the Green Bay offence on Sunday night football, I think I was convinced that the Patriots are not quite good enough to win a super bowl simply because of their defence. Not to take anything away from Flynn’s surprisingly impressive showing being thrust into such a difficult position with the injury to Aaron Rodgers, but the Patriots defence made the Packers offence look unstoppable at times.

It wasn’t just the passing game either though because the Patriots allowed the Packers to fool us into believing that they actually have a running game. Brandon Jackson ran 22 times for 99 yards, good for a 4.5 yard per carry average, which is 0.6 yards per carry better than his season average.

Unfortunately for the Patriots last night was not an anomaly for the much maligned defence either. In week 3 they allowed the Bills to score 30 points led by Marshawn Lynch and the Bills well-known wicked rushing attack that averaged 5.6 yards per carry that game. Peyton Hillis also torched their defence with 184 yards on ground in week 9. The Bills and Browns rank 17th and 18th in total rush yards in the NFL this season.

The Patriots have allowed certain teams and players to take advantage of their defence that a championship team should not allow. Chad Henne and Carson Palmer have both thrown for over 300 yards in losing causes while more respected players around the league Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers have also had field days all in losses to New England.

These shootout, run n’ gun style wins may be alright for the regular season but come playoff time and things aren’t going to be as easy. The Patriots offence, no matter how good it is, will have a much tougher time scoring in the playoffs with the intensity of opposing teams defences cranked up to the max.

It is inevitable that the Pats come up against a team or teams with an offence that can somewhat keep up with them and a defence that trumps theirs.

It seems like this is as good a year as any for the Patriots to be able to come out on top. The 2010 version of the NFL has no clear-cut number one team. To many fans and analysts alike the Patriots are the top team right now and it’s hard to disagree with that. However, the fact that there is no true consensus top team leaves the Patriots with as good or as bad odds as anyone to win the Super Bowl , whichever way you want to look at it.

When the Patriots come up against a team like the Ravens, Falcons or Steelers their defence flat out isn’t going to be able to do enough to allow their offence the opportunity to outscore the opposition.

They say you need to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Well, the New England Patriots are going to need a whole lot of luck if they plan on taking home another championship this coming February.

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Unemployed and Desperate

Off the field Terrell Owens still shows the same swagger that he is so well-known for to NFL fans and players alike. Only a short time ago Owens was considered to be one of the best receivers in the game but his aging combined with his unpredictable personality has led teams to shy away from him.

With less than two weeks until training camp, Terrell Owens is left without a team and with no immediate offers on the table ‘Camp Owens’ are seemingly willing to take any offer given to them at this point.

So which team is going to be dumb or shrewd enough to give T.O. a chance to contribute to their organization?

The major problem with Owens at the moment is obviously not his steadily declining play. Teams have to weigh the costs and benefits of his attitude, and whether his play will make up for the somewhat cancerous presence that T.O. provides to a locker room.

Gone are the days when he was too talented for anything to matter. Terrell Owens is now more or less an ordinary player in the NFL, and it seems pointless for teams to take a chance on him when he is not going to necessarily provide a jolt to your offence week in and week out.

Owens right now is saying all the right things to get signed by a team, but no one really cares. He says that he doesn’t mind taking on a smaller role, a pay cut, and do whatever it takes to make it work.

Yeah, whatever you say bud.

First of all, are we supposed to believe that THE Terrell Owens is willing to do anything to make any situation a success?

T.O. could hardly handle not getting the ball every down during the prime of his career as the #1 receiver and now we are expected to think that he can handle being possibly as low as a #3 receiver.

Jeff Garcia isn't the only quarterback to have had his fair share of problems with T.O.

No matter how much he has liked a quarterback, there comes a point in time where he just doesn’t get along with them anymore. Whether it is Jeff Garcia, Donovan Mcnabb, or Tony Romo, it just doesn’t matter. Moreover, it must have taken every shred of will power in Terrell Owen’s body to not snap at Buffalo Bill’s quarterback’s Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

On the other hand, the ability to shut his mouth for the better part of last year could be a sign of maturity from the 36-year-old receiver.

Well…maybe not.

In all honesty though, if you take away T.O.’s personality and just look at him as a player I think that he would make a very solid #3 receiver at this point in his career. The only thing that is gone from his repertoire is that real burst that very few receivers possess. Without that burst he is no longer a #1 receiver anymore, but if he is genuine in saying that he is willing to take a smaller role, then the #3 receiver slot may not be such a bad idea.

Although, you can’t overlook the fact that T.O. is prone to dropping passes which makes him a little less ideal to be more of a possession receiver. But even Owens himself will tell you that he has dropped balls his whole career and that should never be the issue. That’s great that he is willing to admit that he has dropped passes his whole career. However, now that he is not that same big time receiver, you are not going to be as tolerant to dropped balls anymore.

Now taking all that into consideration you could probably go either way on T.O. The thing is, Owens is a proven receiver in this league, and come crunch time would you rather rely on younger, inexperienced receiver or a 36-year-old veteran?

I’d take T.O., but then again I’m a sucker for giving guys with baggage and talent a chance.

At this point in his career, it pretty much has to be the perfect fit for Owens. The kinds of situations that work out for guys like him are more likely to be the ones where a team is already are set up to win a championship prior to the season. There already has to be a winning mentality in place, in which bringing in a #2 or #3 receiver is one of the final pieces to the puzzle. It has to be a stable organization with a quality quarterback to keep Owens in check.

There have been rumours recently about a possible T.O. signing in New England, but that has fallen through. The Patriots could be a perfect fit for Owens because it matches so many of the criteria above. They already have so many pieces in place and a couple real winners in quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

I sort of alluded to this earlier but the problem that everyone realizes is if you’re bringing in Terrell Owens to be a role-playing receiver rather than a primary one, why wouldn’t you just sign someone who could probably contribute equally well but has no baggage?

Well you would do exactly that, which is why T.O. is still without a job.

It is inevitable that T.O. is going to get a job at some point this season. Either a team feels they need a little more punch offensively and decide they are going to give Owens a shot, or a team is going to be so decimated at the receiver position that their final option is bringing in T.O.

Terrell Owens will be successful if he is brought into the proper situation, but those situations are few and far between.

Even though T.O. is advertising the right product people have seen his inferior brand all too often.

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