peripateticblogger.com

Thoughts on Winter Sports in 20/21

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 29, 2021

I want to get these reminiscences about the winter sports season posted before the NFL draft today.

Full disclosure: other than the NCAA basketball tournament, I didn’t spend a minute thinking about winter sports, even though my beloved Oklahoma Sooners had some excellent winter and spring sports seasons. All other sports, including even the basketball tournament, should have an asterisk beside them due to the disruptions of Covid-19, so what was the point of watching them?

NCAA Basketball Tournament: When the tournament began, I thought only one team had an outside chance of beating Gonzaga, and that was Baylor, though I didn’t expect it would happen. Baylor did beat Gonzaga in the championship game, which didn’t shock me, but the ease with which they dismantled the Bulldogs did.

In retrospect, this was a clear case of peaking. Baylor peaked at the right time, and Gonzaga peaked two games too soon. Overall, the Big XII Conference had several exceptionally good basketball teams, and this helped harden Baylor for the tournament.

No, the real excitement over the winter mostly occurred in the off season maneuvering in the NFL.

Quarterbusts: Three quarterbacks who went extremely high in recent drafts – Goff, Wentz and Darnold – were all traded away this off-season, and their erstwhile teams had to take a heavy hit against their salary caps. It’s surprising that all three of these quarterbacks were such a disappointment, though I was pretty sure that at least one and possibly two of them would be busts. Picking thoroughbred quarterbacks turns out to be a very risky, potentially expensive proposition, and I expect it will be the same with this draft.

Which brings us to the NFL Draft. There are at least five first round quarterbacks in this draft, with relatively little difference between them. Also, due to the pandemic, there is less tape and intelligence than there usually is upon which to make judgements.  It is conceivable, but unlikely in my view, that these quarterbacks could go #1 through #5 in this draft. They’re all going to go in the first round. It’s more a matter of in what order.

The conventional wisdom is that the first two players taken will be Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) to Carolina and Zack Wilson (BYU) to the New York Jets.

Next up is San Francisco, who mortgaged the ranch to move up from #12 to #3 to take who, exactly? The 49ers may have had a specific quarterback in mind when they traded up, but they have three tantalizing prospects from which to choose – Justin Fields (Ohio State), Mac Jones (Alabama) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State) – and they will almost certainly take one of them. But which one we are left to wonder. The scuttlebutt is that the team is coming off Jones and moving toward Lance. We’ll see. And what then happens with the remaining two, whoever they are?

In any of these scenarios, it is possible that San Francisco could trade Jimmy Garoppolo back to New England for their #2 pick. (Wouldn’t that be a hoot?)

So, that’s three quarterbacks with the first three picks and counting. But I don’t think the Atlanta Falcons will take a quarterback at #4. They have a serviceable one in Matt Ryan, and Tyler Pitts, arguably the best player in the draft, is still on the board. If I were the Falcons, I would take Pitts and live with Ryan for another season or two. Pitts will help Ryan enormously during that time, starting day one.

Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine Justin Fields going beyond the #6 pick, but it could happen. (It could also happen that Fields could go #2 or #3.) As for Jones, if Atlanta doesn’t take him, he could fall as low as #19 to the Washington Redskins.  However, if New England doesn’t trade for Jimmy G, I think they would take either Jones or Fields if they are still on the board.

Now for the Dallas Cowboys. Dak Prescott finally got his money from Dallas, who could have gotten him cheaper had they been ready to commit to him sooner, though I can understand their hesitation. But at least the position is settled for the Cowboys while the rest of the NFL Least is still trying to sort theirs out.

The Cowboys pick at #10, and if they pick anyone but a defensive backfield stud, they are as lost in space as Jerry Jones seems to be. There are three possibilities, but the one they should take is Patrick Surtain II (Alabama), who is prototypical and should be a no brainer for anyone but Dallas.

Rumor has it that Dallas is moving off of Surtain II and onto Jaycee Horn (South Carolina), another excellent corner, but not as good as Surtain II in my view.

Another possibility is Micah Parsons (Penn State), an excellent player, but he is a linebacker, and there is too little tape on him because he opted out of the 20-21 season due to Covid-19. And there have been some off the field issues with him.

No, the Cowboys need defensive backfield help more than anything else, and I hope they will take Surtain II. They may have to tie Jerry Jones down and put a sock in his mouth, but if that’s what it takes…

All that being said, except for signing Dak, the Cowboys did little to improve themselves this off season, and remember, they were a bad team last year. Still, they might be able to prevail in the NFC Least with what they have plus some defensive upgrade from the draft.

After the quarterback/Pitts drama is settled, the rest of the draft should become more conventional. There are plenty of good offensive and defensive linemen on the board for teams whose quarterback position is settled.

The teams I am currently following since I’ve quit on the Cowboys – Arizona and Cleveland – upgraded themselves during the off season intelligently, and I expect both teams to be impressively competitive this season.

I’m ready for the draft and I can’t wait for the regular season to begin. We’re about to go into my annual summer of discontent, which runs from after the draft to the start of preseason games.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.