Saturday, April 26, 2008

NFL Draft Day 1 thoughts...

Well, it was an eventful and interesting day for the NFL draft. The first few picks started off pretty much as predicted as Miami took Jake Long, St. Louis took Chris Long, Atlanta took Chris Ryan (aka Matty Ice), Oakland took Darren McFadden, Kansas City took Glenn Dorsey, and the N.Y. Jets took Vernon Gholston. However, after those first six picks, there were eight trades in the first round as teams traded up and back in the draft order to get their men. The Saints traded up with the Patriots to get Sedrick Ellis, but the Patriots sacrificed their ability to draft Ellis' teammate Keith Rivers, the best linebacker in the class, as the Bengals drafted Ellis right before the Patriots. The Patriots drafted Jerod Mayo from Tennessee instead which was a huge stretch in my opinion even though they needed linebackers. It seems like they could have traded back again and still got Mayo.

Perhaps, nothing was more perplexing about the first round then the fact that no wide-receivers were taken even though Devin Thomas was predicted by many to be drafted 11th by the Buffalo Bills. While the first round was eventful, the second round was equally strange when wide-receivers finally did get picked. Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma and Limas Sweed from Texas , who were two of the top three rated wide-receivers by many experts, were the 8th and 9th drafted wide-receivers respectively. Also, Mario Manningham, Early Doucet, and Andre Caldwell are all still undrafted although many thought they would go in the second round.

Some additional thoughts about the first day:

1) What were my Titans thinking? Devin Thomas is sitting there, and you don't take him? Don't get me wrong I LOVE Chris Johnson's 4.24 forty speed especially since I think LenDale White has no work ethic and is fat, but wide-receiver is a huge need. The Titans have not signed anyone who is a number one receiver. Justin McCareins and Justin Gage are not the answer. Alge Crumpler is a great signing, but having another wide-receiver to compliment Roydell Williams and Crumpler would have been nice for Young. Hey, if Earl is still around when the Titans pick in the third round, I would be shocked/disappointed if they pass him up because he could be a good possession receiver for Young to dump the ball off to.

Chris Johnson's speed (25-45 seconds into this video. What a second gear!!!):

2) The new time limit limiting teams from 15 min to 10 min in the first round is possibly one of the best decisions ever made. The teams don't need that long. Don't make the fans wait. Thanks Commissioner Goddell.

3) Congrats to Chris Williams!!! Make us proud up there in Chicago protecting Sexy Rexy. Check out vucommodores for great interviews and videos of Williams' big day

4) I think Earl will be drafted some time in the 3rd round, but i would be surprised to see Goff go there with only four linebackers drafted so far. However, has him as the 11th best available player, so hopefully Goff will be drafted in the third, and the Commodores will make history with three players drafted in the first three round for the first time in school history. If Goff slips into the fourth or even fifth round, he will be a huge steal.

5) What was Steve Young talking about saying there won't be any franchise quarterbacks in next year's draft so the Falcons definitely should take Matty Ice? First, I am not convinced that Matt Ryan will be a franchise quarterback. Second, the name Tim Tebow ring a bell?? Sure Tebow is a junior next year, but everyone knows he is coming out and will be the first quarterback taken not to mention he just won a Heisman, so I would think that he will probably be just as good of a NFL quarterback as Matt Ryan, who's main weakness is his arm strength.

6) Kansas City, Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, and Pittsburgh all had great first days.

Worst first day: It is hard to go with someone other than the Titans because although they addressed a need at DE with Jason Jones, he is no Antwan Odom, who the Titans lost to free agency. Also, passing up a wide receiver when you had your pick of all of them to get a running back who many had being drafted in the beginning to middle of the second round hurts. The Titans have two good backs in Chris Henry and LenDale White. They had more pressing needs then to stretch on a guy like Johnson. Overall though it is hard to find a team that you look at and say "what were they doing". Detroit didn't have an incredible first day either, and many thought they should take a running back; however, they already have Tatum Bell and Kevin Jones, so it seems like giving those two more running room by improving the offensive line makes sense. Overall, everyone seems to have had a pretty solid first two rounds as addressing needs seemed to be the theme for most teams on day one. With that said, some teams had better days then others.

Best first day: I am going to have to say it is a tie between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers don't have many needs, so they basically had two luxury picks. They used them as such taking the best player available at both picks. In the first round, they picked Reshard Mendenhall, who many thought was the best back in the draft after McFadden. In the second round, they drafted Limas Sweed, who was rated the best receiver in the draft by some. Isn't it funny the difference one spot makes. Pittsburgh was one spot ahead of the Titans in both rounds, and as a Titans fan, I would take their two guys over the two the Titans drafted any day especially if the Titans were going to pick a running back in the first round.

The Chiefs also had an outstanding day with Glenn Dorsey, who was Mel Kiper's number one rated prospect in the draft, falling into their laps, and then they moved up in the first round by trading with Detroit to get Branden Albert, who many had going at the number five pick to them. Albert was also considered the second best offensive lineman in the draft after Jake Long.

The Titans may not have had the best first day, but for any fan out there who is disappointed with their team's first day moves, the good news is that the real draft begins on day two. There are still five more rounds, and there are always first round busts and late round steals as great players like Tom Brady have been drafted late as ESPN loves to remind us.

(Photo courtesy of

Williams goes No. 14 to Chicago

With the 14th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Chris Williams, senior offensive tackle from Vanderbilt University.

Mel Kiper Jr. and the rest of the clowns at ESPN seemed to approve of the pick, saying that Williams is a "natural pass-blocking left tackle."

Williams became the first Vanderbilt offensive lineman in more than 20 years to be selected in the first round. He is also the second Commodore in the last three years selected in the NFL Draft first round, joining former quarterback Jay Cutler, who went to the Denver Broncos with the 11th pick in 2006. Offensive tackle Will Wolford was selected by Buffalo in 1986 with the 20th overall pick.

"I'm extremely pleased for Chris. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person," said coach Bobby Johnson. "Chris is the total package. He's talented beyond belief, he's a tremendous teammate and he's just a great person. Chris is an outstanding representative of this university and our football program."

"I've never had one quite like Chris Williams. He's that special," said offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell. "Chris has tremendous athletic ability, but he's even more blessed with intelligence and a desire to be the best he can be. He loves every aspect of the game. Chris has just been a real pleasure to coach."

Congratulations, Chris.

Check out the full story on here.

No WRs Taken

This is unbelievable... the guys on ESPN said 1990 is the only year no receiver was taken in the first round. And the Dolphins started off the 2nd round with DE Phillip Merling, so it looks like it could be a long day for Earl. At least he will have a lot of company with other receivers who are falling down the draft board.

(5:45 PM UPDATE: The Rams have taken WR Donnie Avery from Houston with the 2nd pick in the 2nd round, which is a shock given who else is still on the board at that position. And the Redskins followed with WR Devin Thomas from Michigan State, who was supposed to be one of the first receivers drafted. Maybe the receiver binge is underway...)

Commodore Banter (4/26)

Pedro Alvarez's RBI double in the bottom of the eighth propelled the Commodores a 3-2 victory over Kentucky Friday night at Hawkins Field, writes Maurice Patton.

Freshmen relievers Chase Reid and Russell Brewer are fearless, writes Jarred Amato.

Basketball recruit Lance Goulbourne is a pretty good tennis player, but decided he wanted to more like Lebron James than James Blake, writes SI's Kevin Armstrong.

In less than an hour, the NFL Draft will get underway, which means no more projections and mock drafts and Mel Kiper Jr. (OK, maybe he'll still be on TV, but at least he wil be talking about players after they have been drafted).

Curtis Gatewood is uniquely calm, writes Ron Higgins.

"I've refrained from watching the NFL Network and ESPN and kept my focus on politics and other things," Gatewood said. "The stuff on TV will drive you crazy. I remember one time I glanced at ESPN, and they started talking about first-round picks and different team needs. I got a little woozy. I thought, 'If I feel like this now, there's no telling how I'll feel on actual draft day.'"

Another former Commodore Marcus Buggs feels he deserves to be drafted, and we couldn't agree more. The guys at The Sports VU wish Curtis and Marcus, along with Chris Williams, Jonathan Goff and Earl Bennett the best of luck this weekend. They have all made Vanderbilt extremely proud.

NFL Draft Primer... Where Will the Dores Go?

I used to have an annual tradition of making a mock draft each year, but they were always so bad I put less and less effort into them and eventually gave up on predicting the draft altogether. Maybe it was a couple years ago when the Bills reached for Donte Whitner (ended up being a great pick) and then John McCargo (who they could have had a round later at the same spot) and ruined my entire mock that I decided to hang up my cleats. But just for the fun of it, I'm going to try to predict where this year's Commodore draft class will be going and who might take them...

Chris Williams- Unfortunately he got stuck in a very good class of offensive tackles, but there are a lot of teams in the middle of the first round who desperately need a long-term offensive lineman. If former Vanderbilt star Jay Cutler has anything to say about it, he could be the third one drafted. Likely destinations: Denver (12), Chicago (14), Houston (18).

Earl Bennett- This year's receiving class lack's an elite prospect, but has a lot of guys (maybe 12) who could go between the mid-first and early third round. Earl lacks the physical gifts of speedsters like DeSean Jackson, or big guys like Limas Sweed and Malcolm Kelley, so the first round is out of the question at this point. He looks like the ideal target for a late second round or early third round pick from a team that addressed a more pressing need before digging into the deep WR class for a #2 or more likely a slot option. Potential destinations: New York (63), St. Louis (65), Kansas City (66)

Jonathan Goff- Despite being one of the highest rated middle/inside linebackers in the draft class with intelligence, good speed, and great reliability as a tackler, he still doesn't project to be anything higher than a low third round pick at best. If he falls to the fifth round or later, some team will be getting a big steal. Potential destinations: It's not even worth predicting this late in the draft, but he's the type of guy a team would have listed as a value pick and trade up to grab late in the fourth or in the fifth round.

Curtis Gatewood/Marcus Buggs- After Goff these outside linebackers are the only guys with a legitimate chance at getting drafted. Buggs is undersized and might have problems shedding blockers at the next level, but he's a great late round pick for a team looking for special teams help due to his great athleticism. Gatewood is big and athletic, but is definitely a raw prospect that a team may decide late in the draft could make a good project. If either of these guys don't get drafted, they will be very attractive free agent signings and should get a shot at the pros.

BASEBALL: Vandy 3 Kentucky 2

The atmosphere at Hawkins Field was electric Friday night as Vanderbilt (31-11, 11-7 SEC) defeated Kentucky (31-11, 9-10 SEC) 3-2 in a well-played ball game that coach Tim Corbin compared to a "boxing match." Make sure to check out my column below about the emergence of freshmen Chase Reid and Russell Brewer. Here are a few other observations:

-We saw two great pitching performances. Vanderbilt's Mike Minor was absolutely terrific for six innings before running out of a gas in the seventh. He gave up one unearned run of five hits while striking out nine and walking two in six-plus innings. Minor threw 106 pitches, 64 for strikes.

"He went right after the hitters," Corbin said of Minor. "We knew that Kentucky was one of those teams that would take early and try to make you throw a lot of pitches and I think that worked to his advantage if he was throwing strikes. I thought he commanded his pitches well – the changeup, the curveball – and got ahead of hitters early, which was typical of him early in the year."

Catcher Shea Robin said it was Minor's best start in three or four weeks.

"He got ahead of all their hitters, kept them off balance," Robin said. "He was throwing his changeup for strikes, which he hadn’t done in his last couple of outings so that was very good to see."

-Perhaps even more impressive was Kentucky's Chris Rusin, who tormented the Commodores with his curveball.

"He just absolutely had that breaking ball going the first five innings to the point where you’re kind of shaking your head, saying can he lose it for just a little bit of time?" Corbin said. "He had 80-command of the breaking ball and it was pretty devastating."

"This was definitely a pitcher’s night," Robin added. "The hitters on both sides kind of looked very bad. That guy kept us off balance with the curveball and then came in when we weren’t expecting it."

-The turning point of the game came in the seventh. With the bases loaded, nobody out and the scored tied at one, freshman Chase Reid came up clutch once again. He got the first batter he faced to strike out before enducing an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

"You can’t ask for much more with Chase," Robin said. "He’s done that so many times this year, getting us out of key situations."

-Russell Brewer, who recorded the final five outs to pick up the victory, seems to have the perfect mindset for a closer.

"It’s the same mindset that Casey (Weathers) had last year," Robin said. "Granted they’re completely different pitchers. Casey throws 100 miles per hour and not everyone can do that, but the biggest thing is the mindset. Russ believes that he can get it done."

-Corbin had high praise for Brewer and Reid, both of whom have thrived in key roles this season.

"They’re pretty good," he said. "It’s a lot like (Jensen) Lewis and (Matt) Buschmann my first year here where we just threw them out there so much so that you forgot really that they’re freshmen."

-Offensively, the Commodores came up with a couple of key two-out hits, which is the sign of a good team. Robin's RBI double in the seventh gave the Dores a 2-1 lead and Pedro Alvarez put the team ahead for good with his RBI double of the right-centerfield wall in the eighth.

-See you all tomorrow at 2 p.m. CT when Caleb Cotham gets the nod.

Freshmen show no fear with game on the line

Watching freshmen Chase Reid and Russell Brewer thrive in the late innings of Friday night’s 3-2 victory over Kentucky reminded Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin of two of his formers players.

“It’s a lot like (Jensen) Lewis and (Matt) Buschmann my first year here,” Corbin said, “where we just threw them out there so much so that you forgot really that they’re freshmen.”

While that’s quite the compliment considering the fact Lewis is currently a middle reliever for the Cleveland Indians and Buschmann is pitching well for San Diego’s Double-A affiliate, the two have certainly proved worthy of the comparison.

Read the rest of my column about the fearless freshmen on right here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Commodore Banter (4/25)

Tennis phenom Ryan Lipman has been spotted at the Curry Tennis Center, look for him to be a 2009-2010 signee.  

Tyler Smith, the runner up to Shan Foster in the SEC Player of the Year voting, will be returning to the Vols for his junior season. 

Chris Williams is entrenched in the top 15 in this mock draft and this one as well.  This blog cites ESPN's scouting report and goes through player comparisons and other sites that discuss the offensive tackle.  

As Williams prepares for the draft, he's been keeping his cool relative to his Vanderbilt classmates who have been stressing over exams.  Golf and figuring out a place to have dinner with his wife of 19 days have weighed on Williams' mind instead as the going has been good.  

If Bennett and Goff join Chris Williams in the top 3 rounds, I suggest you check out this piece to put this sort of thing into perspective for the seemingly lowly Vanderbilt Commodores.  

It is never too early to start discussing the baseball draft.  It is too bad Evan Longoria has made such a splash in Tampa Bay, but it gives the Pirates a nice consolation prize in Pedro Alvarez...

If you have questions about the new bleacher seats and about tickets, this Q&A is a great start. 

Here's a nice little piece on Jamont Gordon's decision process in declaring for the NBA draft.  We wish him well, it was a treat to watch his all-around game flourish in SEC play.  

In case you missed our Q&A's with...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Video of the Day: Charles Barkley can't get enough of Damon Jones

This video is from the 2006 NBA Slam-Dunk Contest where the incomparable Charles Barkley was commentating. At this point in his life, Charles Barkley has reached a status that he can basically say whatever he wants when he's on TV. While the rest of the announcing team talks about Andre Iguadola's flashy dunk, Barkley can't shut up about Damon Jones' ridiculous red jacket.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jeff Taylor commits to Vandy

Jeff Taylor, a 6'7" 198-pound swingman from New Mexico, committed to Vanderbilt Monday, The Tennessean reported. Taylor chose the Commodores over the Texas Longhorn, and also had interest from the likes of UCLA and Gonzaga.

Taylor is only listed as a three-star recruit by, but his offers seem to suggest that he is better than that. Like A.J. Ogilvy, Taylor also has international experience as he played for the Swedish National team.

Taylor should add a nice dimension to the Commodores as he is long, athletic and can get to the basket off the dribble just like fellow Commodore commitment Lance Goulbourne. Between the two of them, the Commodores will hopefully add what they so badly needed last season in players that can create off the dribble and get to the basket. Both Goulbourne and Taylor need to add some weight to bang with the wings of the SEC, but Goulbourne said in his interview he realized he needed to add bulk, and I am sure Taylor realizes the same.

Here is a must-hear interview with Russ Gilmore, Jeff Taylor's coach, who talks about Jeff's game.

The Commodores are still waiting on word from point guard Brad Tinsley, their last target in the 2008 class. Tinsley is probably an even more important target because of the departure of Keegan Bell. Tinsley visited two weekends ago and word is that the visit went very well.

If the Commodores can secure Tinsley, the recruiting class will be the best in Stallings tenure at Vanderbilt as he will have beat out the likes of Texas, Arizona, Marquette, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Southern Cal, Oregon and Notre Dame for recruits and have three of the top 100 players in the nation according to ESPN in Taylor (#73), Goulbourne (# 87), and Tinsley (#95).

Regardless of whether Tinsley commits (which I hope/think he will), Stallings has brought this program a long way since he arrived in Nashville and is starting to build a perennial powerhouse at Vanderbilt. There is a lot to look forward to right now if you are a Commodore basketball fan, so enjoy...

Here is some footage of Taylor. The video is not the greatest because it is a game not highlights, but Taylor is number 44.