How much of a premium does the NFL put on pressuring the quarterback? All you have to do is take a look at Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft where five of the top ten picks are guys who will make their living coming off the edge. Kiper has FSU quarterback Jameis Winston going #1 to the Tampa Bay Bucs but the next two off his board are Florida high school products Leonard Williams (Daytona Mainland and Southern Cal) and UF’s Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg Lakewood). Also projected to go in the top ten are Shane Ray (Missouri) to Washington, Randy Gregory (Nebraska) to Chicago and Vic Beasley (Clemson) to Atlanta.
Other defensive linemen projected by Kiper to go first round are tackle Danny Shelton (Washington) to Cleveland, end Arik Armstead (Oregon) to San Francisco), tackle Malcolm Brown (Texas) to San Diego, rush end Eli Harold (Virginia) to Cincinnati, tackle Eddie Goldman (FSU) to Detroit, tackle Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma) to Green Bay and tackle Carl Davis (Iowa) to New England.
With such a premium on guys coming off the edge to get to the QB it shouldn’t be a shock that Kiper has five offensive tackles doing first round including Florida’s D.J. Humphries, bulked up to 307 pounds going to the Carolina Panthers with the 25th pick.
Remember back in the summer when Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was being projected as a top five and possibly #1 overall pick by so many experts? Kiper has him as only the sixth best available offensive tackle and doesn’t project him first round. Besides Humphies, Kiper projects these offensive tackles going in the first round ahead of Ogbuehi: Andrus Peat (Stanford) to the New York Giants, Brandon Scherff (Iowa) to New Orleans, La’El Collins (LSU) to Houston and Ereck Flowers (Miami) to Philadelphia.
Kentucky is #1 nationally in RPI and the only unbeaten team remaining. The Wildcats are a mortal lock to be the #1 seed for the entire tournament no matter what happens between now and selection Sunday. Arkansas is #16 RPI nationally so getting in the tournament isn’t a problem. Getting a #4 seed might require a couple more wins.
Georgia has a #37 RPI and an 8-6 record vs. top 100 RPI teams. Ole Miss has a #45 RPI and a 9-7 mark against top 100 RPI teams. LSU (#54 RPI) is 10-6 vs. top 100 RPI teams.
Probably in but another win or two would help (1): Texas A&M (20-9)
Texas A&M has a #47 RPI but a 6-9 record against top 100 RPI which means the Aggies will probably be a 12 or lower seed. A loss against Arkansas Saturday and one and done in the SEC Tournament might burst the Aggies bubble.
1. Al Golden, Miami: Buzzards will start circling the moment Donna Shalayla retires as the president of The U. She’s been the only thing other than a buyout standing in the way of canning Golden, who is 28-22 in four years and a rotten recruiter. Anything short of nine wins next year – maybe even 10 – and he’s a goner.
2. Mike London, Virginia: He’s been saved by a massive buyout clause. He’s got to win eight games to survive beyond this year. He’s 23-38 in five seasons with only one winner.
3. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: He’s 28-23 and his protector (former AD Oliver Luck) has moved on to the NCAA. NCAA sanctions are due, too. If Holgorsen is coaching at WVU after 2015 it’s because (a) they can’t afford to buy out his contract or (b) he wins 10 games this year.
4. Randy Edsall, Maryland: He’s 20-30 in four years at Maryland and he continues to lose recruiting battles for exceptional nearby talent. The buyout numbers are realistic enough that anything less than nine wins will get him pink slipped in 2015.
5. Willie Taggart, South Florida: What’s the distance between USF and UCF? An hour down I-4 and an eternity when it comes to productivity on the football field. Taggart is 6-18 in two years and he’s done very little to upgrade the talent level. If the Bulls fail to make a bowl this year he’s toast.
1. Justin Fuente, Memphis: He’s taken Memphis from one of the two or three worst Division I programs to 10 wins in three years and he’s an offensive genius. He’s only 38. Someone looking for a long term solution is going to offer him the moon and beyond to jump ship from Memphis after this year.
2. Mark Hudspeth, Louisiana-Lafayette: In four years he’s taken the Rajin’ Cajuns to four straight bowl games. They’re expanding the stadium and they’ve raised his pay three times but is it enough to keep him? Probably not. This is likely his last year on the bayou. He’s 36-16 in four years.
3. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern: Georgia Southern went 9-3 in its first year in Division I and won the Sun Belt Conference championship. Even though he’s 54 years old, someone is going to hire him at one of the power schools. He’s got a great offensive mind. He’s 147-65 as a head coach.
4. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois: Carey is 43 years old and 23-6 in two years as a Division I head coach. If he wins another MAC championship this year, he’ll be someone’s head coach at one of the power conferences.
5. Matt Wells, Utah State: He’s a former Utah State quarterback who honed his offensive philosophies while working as an assistant to Paul Johnson at Navy. He runs a funky spread offense that is extremely hard to defend. In two years at Utah State he’s 19-9.
1. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech: He’s had only one winning season (16-15 in 2013) in four years. With all the talent that’s in Atlanta, whoever coaches Georgia Tech should be rubber stamped for 20 wins a season.
2. Andy Enfield, Southern Cal: The Trojans will finish last in the Pac-12 and lose 20 games for the second straight year. UCLA kills the Trojans on the recruiting trail. This was an emotional hire that probably shouldn’t have happened. Andy Enfield was in no way ready for the big time after just two seasons as a head coach at Florida Gulf Coast.
3. Oliver Purnell, DePaul: He’s 42-77 in four years and hasn’t come close to a winning season at DePaul. Should have stayed at Clemson where he made the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons before he left for DePaul. With all the talent that’s in Chicago, there is no excuse to post losing records.
4. Anthony Grant, Alabama: This is going to be a close call. Grant has substantially cleaned up the program from the mess Mark Gottfried left it in, but he has only made the NCAA once (2012). He’s only had one losing season (2014) and his teams play hard, ferocious defense, but they aren’t winning big. With Auburn hiring Bruce Pearl, AG will either be fired after this year or given one year to amp things up.
5. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State: This will be the third straight year the Seminoles haven’t gone to the NCAA Tournament. Lenny probably gets one more year since he only has one senior on his roster, but his leash is very, very short.
6. Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee: The NCAA is about to lower the boom on Southern Miss, where Tyndall used to coach. Tyndall’s UT contract allows the Vols to fire him for cause if he committed NCAA violations at another school.
7. Donnie Jones, UCF: Since upgrading from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, it’s been tough sledding for the Knights who have posted two straight losing seasons. The natives in the administration are restless but they might show some patience because there is only one senior on the team and the best two players are freshmen (B.J. Taylor and Andonys Henriquez) with great potential.
8. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: The Pirates are 16-13 so they’re close to securing just the second winning season in Willard’s five years at Seton Hall. The administration is conservative and hates making change, which works in Willard’s favor, but the alums are restless.
9. Tom Crean, Indiana: Crean just got the dreaded vote of confidence from his AD. The Hoosiers are 19-11 but squarely on the NCAA bubble. If they don’t make the tournament Crean’s seat could get very hot in a hurry.
10. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: Ford has won 20 or more games five of his six previous seasons at Okie State but he’s finished top four in the conference only twice. He’s not real popular with the alums who (a) think 18-11 is not a very good record and (b) don’t like it whatsoever that Lon Kruger will get Oklahoma in the NCAA while Ford and the Cowboys are almost certainly NIT bound.
1. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State: Marshall has turned down big jobs before. He’s very comfortable at Wichita State where he has won at least 25 games six seasons in a row, makes more than $1.7 million a year and doesn’t have the pressure. Marshall is a Greenwood, South Carolina native. Will he be able to say no if Tennessee or Georgia Tech call?
2. Shaka Smart, VCU: They don’t play football at VCU so Shaka and the basketball team are the only game on campus. They pay him more than $1.5 million a year and he’s proven he can recruit good players. He’s 37 and some school looking for a long time solution is going to pony up some big bucks. Could he say no if Georgia Tech comes calling? Shaka in Atlanta would be scary.
3. Archie Miller, Dayton: He’s the younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller. He’s 36, a lights out recruiter, he’s worked for Herb Sendek, Thad Matta and older brother Sean. He wins at Dayton. Even though he signed a contract extension through 2019, he makes less than a million a year. Someone will pony up to hire him.
4. Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa: He’s in his ninth year at Northern Iowa and he’s 27-3 this year. He could stay at NIU, win 20 or more just about every year and never worry about getting fired. Or, he could take a job at a power conference and triple or quadruple his $450,000 salary. This might be the year money talks with Jacobson, who is only 44.
5. Mike White, Louisiana Tech: He’s 38 years old and an Ole Miss grad, 95-38 as a head coach at Louisiana Tech and his dad is Kevin White, the AD at Duke. He turned down Tennessee last year but consensus opinion is he’s ready to move on if the right job comes along. Money will talk. He only makes $600,000.
Forget for a moment that Mel Kiper dissed both Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow when they were drafted. Do you pay attention to his mock drafts and do you think he does a good job of projecting the NFL Draft?
I’ve always wondered if Tower of Power would have become a huge commercial success if Rick Stevens hadn’t done 36 years in prison for a triple murder in what was described as a drug deal that went bad. Stevens had one of those unforgettable soul voices and when he was fronting TOP, they were incredible. When Stevens went to jail, the band started doing less of its own music and spending more time on the road backing up bands like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Foreigner, Santana, Grateful Dead, Starship and Huey Lewis and the News. The first post-Stevens album for the band was “Tower of Power,” which reached #15 on the Billboard album charts in 1973 featuring Lenny Williams on vocals. The best song on the album is “So Very Hard to Go.”