Baylor Bears Football: A New Reason to not Mess with Texas

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If I asked you what team hasn’t had a victory by less than double digits this season, has a defense allowing only 17.4 points per game and beat its highest ranked opponent by more than four touchdowns, what team would you name? After another typical Saturday of hanging up more than 60 points on their opponent, the Baylor Bears have gone from unranked in the preseason to No. 3 in the current AP poll. Stanford’s loss to USC Saturday night allowed for the remaining undefeated teams to hold the top four spots in the latest BCS standings. While also undefeated Ohio State still holds the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings, it’s sweating with its .0013 advantage over the Bears in the computer rankings. Baylor heads to Stillwater this weekend to face No. 10 Oklahoma State, and a dominant victory over the Cowboys on their own home field should be enough to allow for Baylor to overtake Ohio State. While we’re still on a crash course for Alabama to meet Florida State in the BCS Championship game, barring one of the two losing, Baylor can make a strong argument for being the best team in the country.

Baylor ranks third in passing yards per game (384.4)and ninth in rushing yards per game (300.3) which explains its absurd 61.2 points per game. The Bears are the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging roughly 10 more points per game than Florida State, Oregon or Ohio State. Comparing the explosiveness of the Baylor offense to any other team is like comparing Usain Bolt to your high school track star. If the Bears continue their current scoring pace and continue to average 684 yards per game, they’ll be the new NCAA record holders for both categories at the end of the season. How explosive is this offense? When down 20-7 against Texas Tech this past Saturday, Baylor overcame the deficit in under three minutes. Oh, and that’s without leading rusher Lache Seastrunk and their second-best receiver Tevin Reese. The Bears offense just keeps rolling no matter what happens. The Bears offense is probably the most exciting thing that has ever come out of Waco. RGIII was a one-man show, the 2013 Baylor offense is a highly efficient scoring machine. While the Bears could certainly hold their own in any offensive shootout, it rarely comes to that.

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The Bears defense can simply play, allowing only 17.4 points per game. Yes, the highest scoring offense also ranks seventh in points allowed. The Bears allow more than 300 yards per game to the opposing team, but they lead the Big 12 in both total defense and points allowed categories. The Bears defense has held opponents to single digits three times this season, and only allowed more than 25 points twice. As prolific as the offense is, the Bears have the defense to be able to keep the game close when the offense can’t get going. The game against Oklahoma is probably the best example of this. The Baylor offense only managed a field goal through the first quarter and a half, before exploding for 21 points. Oklahoma had multiple scoring opportunities but the Baylor defense demonstrated itself with a goal line stand, a defensive stop from within 10 yards of the end zone and forcing a missed field goal. While the offense of the Bears gets most of the attention and the credit, the Bears defense will be crucial in the game against Oklahoma State. Not only does Baylor need to win, but it needs to win decisively if it hopes to secure the No.3  spot in the BCS rankings over Ohio State. A high scoring shootout would be exciting for fans, but it’s not going to help the Bears cause as much as a dominant victory.

Now, everyone is going to say that it’s not hard to put up stats when you play the schedule that Baylor plays. It’s like saying that it’s fair that Britney Griner gets to play basketball against women.There’s nothing impressive about hanging up 70 points on Buffalo and UL Monroe or preventing those teams from scoring. I’m of the opinion that putting up 70 points is generally always impressive and that the defense shouldn’t be criticized so long as it does its job. Baylor hasn’t just beat these teams, it has flat out destroyed them. Their closest game is a 35-25 victory against Kansas State. At the time that didn’t seem so good, but Kansas State has now rattled off four straight victories including a win against No. 25 Texas Tech. If it goes on to beat Oklahoma next week, that  10 point victory starts to look a little better. Then-No. 10 Oklahoma is the only ranked opponent that Baylor has played so far, but it won by more than 30 points. With Ohio State having games against Michigan and Michigan State (in the Big Ten championship game) remaining, Baylor will need to take advantage of this opportunity against Oklahoma State. A defining win may be enough to keep the Bears in the No. 3 spot until the end of the season, while a slight victory may only have it switch places with Ohio State for a week. The Bears need a lot of cards to fall into place if they hope to play in the National Championship game, the first being a defining win this weekend. Even if the national championship game is Florida State-Alabama, Baylor is having a record breaking season that may have us wishing the College Football Playoff was starting this year.

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College Football Top 25 Team Mottos

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We are officially a few days away from the kickoff of college football, meaning that my Saturdays will soon become incredibly unproductive. Coaches are planning, players are practicing and fans are buying gear and beer in preparation for the season.  Every team is hoping for success, and success requires proper motivation. Coaches often come up with motivational sayings or quotes to inspire their team to victory. Here’s a look at what the mottos for the Associated Press’ Top 25 teams should be this year.

1. Alabama-“Roll ‘Bama roll”

Alabama enters the season as the early preseason favorite and for good reason. The powerhouse program has won three of the past four national championships and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Head coach Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide rolling and you better ride the wave or get the hell out of the way.

2. Ohio State-“Win when it matters”

Ohio State couldn’t go to a bowl game last season, but Urban Meyer led them to an undefeated season. I would take that trade all day. Let’s see if the Buckeyes can repeat and get themselves into the national championship picture. Meyer began the string of seven consecutive championships for the SEC back in 2006, but his Ohio State team will need to win big if he hopes to end the SEC reign.

3. Oregon-“Win the day, especially when it’s in November”

Chip Kelly may be gone, but the Ducks still have high expectations for themselves. What has been the biggest downfall for the Ducks the past two years? How about losses in back-to-back years during mid-November. You don’t make the national championship game when you lose that late in the season.

4. Stanford-“Nerds do it better”

Just look in Sports Illustrated and see Stanford linebacker Shane Skov embrace his nerd-athletic freak combination.  Not only can the Cardinal beat your football team, but they probably murdered your SAT score as well. David Shaw has run a hell of a program, keeping the Cardinal relevant through a coaching change and the loss of Andrew Luck. Stanford-Oregon will be one of the games of the year and just may be for a national championship berth.

5. Georgia-“Beware of Dawg”

The Bulldogs made it into the SEC Championship last year and very nearly knocked off Alabama. Georgia won games because of its offense and is bringing back 10 starters from that unit. Opposing teams’ defenses better be ready if they hope to stop the Bulldogs. Georgia will live or die though with its defense as eight new starters will have to face Clemson in their first game. If it makes it through the fire early, Georgia will emerge as a strong contender.

6. South Carolina- “WWCD-What would Clowney do”

Unless you haven’t seen SportsCenter in the past year, odds are you’ve seen Jadeveon Clowney’s ridiculous hit, forced fumble and bear-paw fumble recovery against Michigan last year. The future NFL No. 1 pick sets the tone for South Carolina and every player should try to mimic his inhuman athleticism. Steve Spurrier should tell every player to think what Clowney would do on the play — make the hit, grab the ball, dodge some bullets and score a touchdown. Clowney is so feared that he is the only man that can scream “go Cocks” while cheering for his team and no one will laugh. The Gamecocks have talent and that talent could lead them to a title game.

7. Texas A & M-“The Twelfth Man isn’t the guy asking for autographs.

Apparently Johnny Manziel thought the Twelfth Man was the guy who pays you for your autographs. Texas A&M is sitting in some hot water over the recent autograph fiasco and even implemented a new policy against signing memorabilia.  The Aggies need to shift the media away from Manziel and focus on winning the SEC.

8. Clemson-“Live up to the expectations.”

The Clemson Tigers won 11 games last year and have earned themselves a No. 8 preseason ranking.  If the Tigers can make it past Georgia in week 1, they will make a statement and start to expect more than just an ACC Championship. Clemson’s goal should be to the first team that comes to mind when someone says “the Tigers did well this week.” You’re ranked higher than LSU right now, try to keep it that way.

9. Louisville-“Never make an insurance claim.”

Lousiville’s hopes rest on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his $10 million insurance policy against a career-ending injury. If the Cardinals hope to enter the BCS picture, they’ll have to make sure that insurance policy never gets claimed. If you insured your expensive house, you better have a good fence around it. There will be a lot of pressure on Louisville’s offensive line to keep its house protected and safe.

10. Florida-“It’s MusCHAMP, not MusChump”

Nobody expected the Gators to go on the tear they did last year and coach Will Muschamp seems to know what he’s doing. Muschamp went 7-6 his first year, 11-2 his second, and he’s looking for a championship in his third.

11. Florida State-“I’m gonna get some cheeseballs anyway”

Jameis Winston has the potential to be this year’s Johnny Manziel, not only because his athleticism, but because he too has a huge personality. For instance, when asked if he would give up a national championship for a lifetime supply of cheeseballs (Winston is known to LOVE cheeseballs) he replied, “I would not, BUT I’m gonna get some cheeseballs anyway.” So, here’s to Winston leading Florida State to a national championship and getting those cheeseballs while providing us with more ridiculous quotes.

12. LSU-“We got Les but we need more offense”

The Tigers lost their games because of their lack of offense. The LSU defense was top 10 in nearly every defensive category and was the reason that it won as many games as it did. LSU needs Zach Mettenberger to play well and Cam Cameron needs to redeem himself for almost preventing the Ravens from winning the Super Bowl. The Tigers are going to need a little more go from the offense if fans hope to be cheering Geaux Tigers this season. We’ll find out their offensive skill early as the Tigers take on TCU in week 1.

13. Oklahoma State-“The best defense is having a good offense”

Oklahoma State better hope this is true because there are some major questions surrounding its defense this year. Its saving grace may be its offense where Jeremy Smith looks to continue where Joseph Randle left off and OSU’s endless supply of talented receivers continues with Josh Stewart.  The Cowboys will need to avoid having their defense hold them back again this season if they hope to make any noise.

14. Notre Dame-“Play like a champion today, even though you couldn’t against Alabama”

Between the Manti Te’o embarrassment and the spanking put on Notre Dame by Alabama during the national championship, it’s easy to forget the Irish had an undefeated season. While the Irish went from unranked to BCS berth last year, they will need to do some serious praying if they hope to end up back there. Tommy Rees is back in the saddle at the quarterback position with Everett Golson suspended. Rees will need to vastly improve to give Notre Dame a 10-win season.

15. Texas-“Don’t mess with Texas, please Oklahoma?”

Few rivalries go as deep as the Red River rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma. Texas fans are fine with not winning a championship, not winning 10 games and losing in a bowl game. However, they HATE losing to Oklahoma, and the Sooners have now crushed them two years in a row. If Mack Brown and the Longhorns don’t step it up against Oklahoma this year, expect some heads to roll.

16. Oklahoma-“Boomer! Let’s play Texas Sooner”

Oklahoma will aim to win the Big 12 and make it three in a row against Texas. Even more important is for the Sooners to get back in the BCS picture. The Sooners are now three years removed from their last BCS bowl. This Oklahoma team lacks the usual preseason hype. I don’t see it making too much noise in the BCS and think it’ll have its hands full against Texas this year. However, if it pummels Texas three years in a row, Bob Stoops will keep Sooner fans smiling.

17. Michigan-“Defend the Big House”

The schedulers looked kindly upon Michigan this year as they gave it Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State all in Ann Arbor. If the Wolverines can manage to hold down the Big House, it’s easy to see them in the Big Ten championship and potentially the Rose Bowl. Expect the Michigan-Ohio State game to potentially shake up the BCS picture, and for the Big Ten championship to be a rematch of the two teams the next week.

18. Nebraska-“Pound the rock”

Not only is this a saying on the huge rock by the Cornhuskers locker room, but it should ring true this year. Nebraska’s offense looks to be the most dominant in the Big Ten and will put up points all year long. With Taylor Martinez, Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell returning, the Huskers offense can be scary. The Huskers will move the ball, but their defense’s inability to stop it could ruin their season.

19. Boise State-“We still hate the BCS system”

It’s entirely possible for Boise State to go undefeated this year and still not make it to the BCS Championship game. Boise State moved to the Mountain West conference but its two most difficult games this year will be out of conference teams BYU and Washington. If you’re a good team joining a new conference, make it an automatic qualifier next time.

20. TCU-“No longer tadpoles, fear the Frogs”

TCU had a little bit of a rough introduction in its first year of the Big 12. The Horned Frogs will have an opportunity to make some noise early when they open the season against LSU. If TCU can beat LSU, they’ll set the tone for the rest of their season and put some fear in the rest of the Big 12 teams.

21. UCLA-“We want Mora what happened last year”

Last year was an incredible success for new UCLA coach Jim Mora. Mora won the Pac-12 South and defeated USC. UCLA fans couldn’t ask for much more. Mora may have a more difficult time winning this year with away games against Nebraska, Oregon, Stanford, and USC. Can UCLA beat USC in the Coliseum and show that LA’s football monopoly is over? Or was last year just a fluke?

22. Northwestern-“More is always better”

Northwestern had one of its best seasons last year and will try to build off of it. Northwestern takes the idea that more is better to heart. Not only does it hope for more wins, but its success comes from utilizing as many players as possible. Why use only one quarterback when you can use two? Let’s throw in three running backs and seven different receivers. The strategy kept opposing teams unprepared and uncomfortable, and Northwestern is hoping for more of what happened last year.

23. Wisconsin-“Jump Around”

Not only is Jump Around a stadium tradition for fans, but the Badgers will need to do it to be successful. With Montee Ball leaving to the NFL, Melvin Gordon and James White will attempt to replace the former leading rusher. If the ball hopes to move, the entire offense will need to jump around opposing defenders and into the endzone.

24. USC-“Fight On! And out of the embarrassment”

If it wasn’t for Marquise Lee, last year would have been an entire embarrassment for the USC football program. As a USC alumnus and fan, I watched my team plummet from preseason No. 1 to completely out of the rankings. Throw that in with an abysmal bowl performance and loss to UCLA and you have a failure of a season. Lee is arguably the most talented football player in the country and will be looking to further improve his draft stock this season. USC hit rock bottom last year, let’s see if it can fight its way back into the college football’s elite.

25. Oregon State-“Beavers are best at building”

The Oregon State Beavers had a quiet 9-4 season last year and will be hoping to build off that success. Mike Riley will have to show that last year wasn’t a fluke and that two teams may soon be relevant in Oregon. With games against Stanford, Oregon and USC, the Beavers will have their hands full.

Don’t Be “That Guy” During your Fantasy Draft

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It’s officially August, and that means it’s the time of year that sports fans forget about all other fantasies that don’t involve fantasy football. Although many of us have been doing mock drafts and rating running backs since the Super Bowl ended, draft time is officially right around the corner. With crimes being so rampant in the NFL right now, I’m here to make sure you don’t commit one during your draft. Don’t be the one who ruins their league’s draft and gets his trades vetoed all season long. Everyone hates “that guy.” Nobody wants to be “that guy.” So, don’t be “that guy.” Protect yourself and don’t act as any of the following:

The Delay of Game

Don’t be the guy who shows up late to his draft. Odds are you’ve known about the date and time for weeks. If you’re doing an online draft, all it takes is one or two auto drafts and not only can your team be ruined, but the whole league drastically changes. If you are all drafting in person, you are making the whole league wait on you. We all know that fantasy drafts are a process that will take hours to get done. Also, by being late you drastically increase the risks that the beer will be gone before the kickers start going. If you make the league wait for the draft, you will wait on the league during the draft. Enjoy being the guy to grab everyone’s beers from the fridge.

The Bum

If you’re playing in a money league, don’t show up to the draft without having paid your dues. Asking someone for money is always an awkward situation, so do your best to avoid it and pay on time. Don’t be the douche that keeps trying to get out of paying because he doesn’t like the team he drafted. The earlier that all the money is collected, the better it is for the entire league. Good luck trying to get a guy that is 2-10 to fork over $100 come playoff time. Make it easy for everyone and don’t be the bum that can’t pay.

The Caveman

This is the guy who has been living under a rock, sat in the dark, or suffered a serious head injury the day before the draft. You know, the guy who is going to draft Aaron Hernandez in the fourth round and think he got a steal. You’ll know you are this guy because you will draft a person and immediately hear the entire room laugh out loud at you. Not only will you ruin your draft, but you will be the butt of every joke the entire season.

The Whiner

We’ve all heard them before: “I never get the first pick,” “this is the worst year to pick eighth,” or “if I had your pick my team would be so much better.” There’s always that guy who decides to whine about his draft position. Nobody wants to hear your excuse for why your team sucks. It’s not where you drafted, it’s just you.

The Whistleblower

This is the guy who gets most hated by his fellow fantasy players. It’s bound to happen at some point during the draft, and odds are it will ruin the pick you had lined up. This is the guy who yells “How is (insert player here) still on the board in this round?!” If you scream about a player still sitting on the board, everyone who wanted that player will hate you and rightfully so. Odds are some people saw him, but didn’t want to blow their chance getting him by yelling it out. This is a fantasy no-no and may get you punched in the throat.

The Einstein

Big whoopdy doo, you watched NFL Network and ESPN all week long and are throwing around more facts than Biogenesis throws out steroids. Few things are more annoying than this guy. Just because you watched and read Matthew Berry all week doesn’t mean you should pretend to be him. Nobody likes a know-it-all and everyone hates a person who simply is ACTING like a know-it-all. No matter what you say, I don’t need to know the name of every center, tackle or guard and their lingering ankle, middle toe or nipple injury to draft my running back. Some things are better left unsaid.

The Computer Thief

If you’ve ever had to share your computer with someone during a fantasy draft, you’ll know that this is one of the worst things that can happen. Don’t be the guy who forgets to bring his laptop to the draft. When you make someone else share their computer with you, you take away their time to research, can look at their draft queue, and just all around piss that person off. Make sure to bring your own computer and charge it before the draft. Draft picks are like girlfriends, some things you just don’t share.

The Macaulay Culkin

This is the guy who brags about his fantasy championships throughout the draft even though he hasn’t won in years. The only champ that escapes being a Macaulay Culkin is the league’s champion from last year. If you won your league last year, boast away, you’ve earned it. If you have to talk about the 8-man league you won five years ago, nobody wants to hear it. You may have been a hit in the past and had some glory moments, but you’re washed up now.

The Snail

There’s a time limit on draft picks for a reason, so don’t be that guy who uses the ENTIRE time limit each and every time you pick. Fantasy drafts are already a long process and don’t need to be made longer by you taking forever to decide between kickers. Few things are more annoying than the first or twelfth pick taking the full time for their two picks in a row. It’s like being stuck in line at a drive-thru because the guy in front of you placed a huge order. Don’t be the guy that slows everything down to a snail’s pace.

The Ed Hochuli

This is the guy who is constantly asking about the rules of the league. He’s either complaining about them, asking what they are or suggesting new ones. He’s bound to bust out, “we should really go PPR” or “the flex position shouldn’t allow running backs,” if it would help his team out. All this does is make everyone else wish they hadn’t allowed you in the league. The draft is not the time to bring up issues with league rules.

The Sleeper

This is the guy who read a bunch of fantasy articles about this year’s fantasy football sleepers and proceeds to draft every player named. Not only does he draft every sleeper, he also makes sure everyone knows that the player is indeed a sleeper. If you say “this guy is going to be good, he’s my sleeper pick,” you’re guilty. He’s everyone’s sleeper pick and ESPN has shown him about 10 times in their fantasy sleeper segment. By the end of the draft this guy is bragging about his team’s potential and the entire league is hoping that they’re all busts.

The Roster-bater

So the draft is completely over and you managed to not commit any of the acts that’ll turn you into “that guy.” You’re not out of danger yet, however, and the last thing you want to do is be caught roster-bating. Roster-bating is when you simply stare at your team saying how good your team is and how much you love it. If you’re going to do it, don’t do it out loud or in public, you’ll only embarrass yourself.

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Tye Masters
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
http://www.facebook.com/thecover4
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The Cover 4 Introduces “Would You Rather….”

Welcome to the new Cover 4.com

We are rolling out a new series called “Would You Rather…”. The new video debates will consist of The Cover 4 team debating hot topics and key issues in today’s sports headlines. They might be serious, funny, or even awkward, but our content will be refreshing to our views.

 

Please let us know what you think and thanks for following along!

 

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Long Island Sound & Tye Masters
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Mock Draft: Version B

Mock Draft: Version B April 25, 2013

There’s only one day until draft day and it’s time to see whether your team’s pick will leave you smiling, yelling at the TV or simply nodding your head. While I’m sure there will be some trades made throughout the draft, this mock is composed if the order goes as is. Usually people build mock drafts that they think improve their old one, I’m going a different direction. It’s not more likely to happen, but a set of scenarios that could result in a completely different draft. Version B takes a few more chances and goes a little unconventional. Draft day always has a couple shockers though.

To view Version1: https://thecover4.com/2013/04/16/nfl-mock-draft-1-0/

(Please read Version 1)

 1. Kansas City Chiefs

Positions of need: Defensive Line and Offensive Line

The Chiefs drafting Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joekel still makes too much sense. Andy Reid needs to protect Alex Smith if he wants to see him do anything productive. Yes, the Chiefs are still looking to trade down to snag some more picks but I don’t see any team trading picks to get the first overall pick. Again, we’re more likely to see Andy Reid in a Weight Watchers commercial before we hear of a trade happening. The Chiefs are going to bring in Joekel, trade Brandon Albert to the Dolphins and hopefully begin a new era in Kansas City. If the Albert trade doesn’t go through, the Chiefs are going to be stuck with more tackles than their run defense had last year.

 Previous Pick: Luke Joekel

Pick: Luke Joekel

 2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Positions of need: Quarterback, Linebacker, Offensive and Defensive Line

As seen from the positions of need for the Jaguars, they need help everywhere.  It’s damn near impossible for the team to make a pick and have it not be a good move. They’re that bad. I still like the idea of taking a pass-rusher here. The entire team had less sacks than J.J. Watt last year. They need the help on the defensive line, and Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan provides that. While the Jaguars may be tempted to snag Ziggy Ansah, Jordan is the more polished of  the two.

 Previous Pick: Dion Jordan

Pick: Dion Jordan

 3. Oakland Raiders

Position of Need: Defensive Tackle

Oakland fans, there is only one day left until the draft and your team has managed to keep its draft pick. Let’s hope they can make it through the next 24 hours. The Raiders lost both Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour this off-season leaving them with a huge need at defensive tackle. I’d prefer Utah’s Star Lotulelei but the media has hyped up Florida’s  Shariff Floyd as the go-to-guy for defensive tackle. The Raiders haven’t had a first rounder in a while and hopefully it’s something that they won’t mess up. The pick’s staying the same and rolling with Floyd.

 Previous Pick: Shariff Floyd

Pick: Shariff Floyd

 4. Philadelphia Eagles

Positions of need: Quarterback, Linebacker and Offensive Line

 Hey, it’s our first change in the draft! From everything that has been coming out of the Eagles camp in the draft, Chip Kelly’s offense GOES. I’m personally about the “try and draft as many Eagles’ players as I can” in my fantasy draft. With this new offense, the Eagles are about to need some offensive linemen that can hustle and keep up. So, whose name will we see on a personalized post-workout smoothie in Eagles camp after the draft? They’ll get themselves an athletic offensive lineman and we’ll see Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher running up and down the field come September.

 Previous Pick: Star Lotulelei

Pick: Eric Fisher

 5. Detroit Lions

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Defensive Line

The Lions lost Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Jeff Backus this year. That leaves some major holes at the line of scrimmage. Rumor has it that they really want Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner as well. So do they go for a pass rusher or take the corner to protect from being destroyed by Aaron Rodgers twice a year? I think they’ll roll with Milliner rather than take the risk on Ziggy Ansah. Even though that ESPN article came out about Milliner’s surgeries, I think that’s more news to us than to NFL teams.

 Previous Pick: Eric Fisher

Pick: Dee Milliner

 6. Cleveland Browns

Positions of need: Cornerback and Linebacker

If Milliner fell to them I think they would take him, but they might not have the opportunity. It’s too much of a reach to take a linebacker, they don’t need the last top lineman available, and their dream cornerback tandem is gone. So, I think it’s between snagging West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith or improving their pass rush. I think Smith makes sense with this pick over Ansah. It might seem like a bit of a reach but what do the Browns have to lose? Brandon Weeden is not the future, take the best quarterback in the draft and see where it goes.

 Previous Pick: Dee Milliner

Pick: Geno Smith

 7. Arizona Cardinals

Positions of need: Offensive Line. They need something that can actually move.

 The Cardinals are screaming that Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson made it to them. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone was willing to trade with the Browns to move up and snag the last of the elite tackles available. Johnson will never make it past the Cardinals. Old man Carson Palmer will be protected.

 Previous Pick: Lane Johnson

Pick: Lane Johnson

 8. Buffalo Bills

Positions of need: Quarterback

This is where I go a little crazy and completely buy into rumors. As much as I’d love to see Kevin Kolb Kolbing it up next year, I don’t see it happening.  Kolb is the guy that enters the game and everyone you’re watching the game with knows he’s going to mess up, get hurt or both. Doug Marrone and the Bills coaching staff have a good relationship with their former Syracuse quarterback and it seems like they may just take Ryan Nassib with this pick, especially if Geno is gone. Do I think Nassib is a first-round pick? No, but it’s nothing new for me to be surprised on draft day.

 Previous Pick: Geno Smith

Pick: Ryan Nassib

 9. New York Jets

Positions of need: Defensive Line, Linebacker and Wide Receiver

I still think that Rex Ryan is taking a pass rusher, the name has just changed. I said in the first version of this mock draft that it was between BYU’s Ziggy Ansah and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. The media have been talking up a storm about Ansah and may have just talked him past Mingo. It may be the case that Ryan develops Ansah into an absolute beast. The Jets will now be hoping that Ziggy will be able to cause more fumbles than the ass of Mark Sanchez’s lineman.

 Previous Pick: Barkevious Mingo

Pick: Ziggy Ansah

 10. Tennessee Titans

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Defensive Line 

I still think that its too early to take a guard in this draft and after Lane Johnson there isn’t a lineman worth a top-10 pick.  I think they’ll help bolster their pass rush and add LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. Mingo is one of the best pass rushers available in the draft and is a more polished product than Ansah.

 Previous Pick: Ziggy Ansah

Pick: Barkevious Mingo

 11. San Diego Chargers

Positions of Need: Offensive Line & Linebacker

I just said that guards are not generally top-10 picks and luckily this is pick number 11. The Chargers have a huge need on the offensive line and to give Philip Rivers some protection. Ideally, the Chargers would trade up to the Browns position or higher and take one of the elite tackles. If they’re not able to do that though, look for them to go to the next best thing and take North Carolina offensive guard Jonathan Cooper.

 Previous Pick: Jonathan Cooper

Pick: Jonathan Cooper

 12. Miami Dolphins

Positions of need: Offensive Line, Defensive Line and Cornerback

 The Dolphins lost their staple on their offensive line when Jake Long decided to head to St. Louis and have had their eye on Brandon Albert. This pick is going to be contingent on whether the Dolphins feel they can get the deal done. I think the Albert deal gets done and the Dolphins will still focus on their offensive line. Ryan Tannehill just got some nice toys and is going to need time to play with them. Take a chance on Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack and protect the quarterback.

 Previous Pick: D.J. Fluker

Pick: Chance Warmack

 13. Jets (From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Positions of need: Cornerback, Tight End and Defensive Line

The Bucs got the deal done with Darrelle Revis and gave up the 13th pick in the process. The Jets give themselves two picks in the top 13, but gave up arguably the best position player in football. I think the Bucs got a steal by not having to pay future guaranteed money to Revis, and the Jets will look to make a steal of their own with this pick. While Rex Ryan loves defense, the Jets need a playmaker on the offensive side of the ball. I think they take the best wide receiver in the draft and snag West Virginia’s Tavon Austin. The Jets somehow need to find a way into the end zone.

 Previous Pick: Xavier Rhodes (Bucs)

Pick: Tavon Austin

 14. Carolina Panthers

Positions of need: Defensive Line, Cornerback and Wide Receiver

The Panthers need to address their defensive issues. The Panthers are salivating at Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei falling to them in the draft. In my previous version, I had Lotulelei going fourth overall to the Eagles, but its very possible he falls here in the draft (especially considering his medical issues). He could be the steal of the draft if the Panthers can get him here. They’d be fools to not draft him.

 Previous Pick: Sheldon Richardson

Pick: Star Lotulelei

 15. New Orleans Saints

Positions of need: Linebacker, Defensive Line, Safety and Offensive Tackle

 I still think that the Saints and Rob Ryan get themselves a pass rusher with this pick. D.J. Fluker is sitting there but Ryan will convince them to pass him up. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones didn’t do himself any favors with his draft or pro-day performance, but I STILL can’t see him falling below here. They keep with Jones.

 Previous Pick: Jarvis Jones

Pick: Jarvis Jones

 16. St. Louis Rams

Positions of need: Wide Receiver, Safety and Linebacker

 The Rams have a need at wide receiver but they won’t be able to get the one they want. If Austin is gone at this point in the draft, they might as well snag the best safety in the draft and address their wide receiver issue later. They’ll roll with Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro and improve their secondary immediately.

 Previous Pick: Tavon Austin

Pick: Kenny Vaccaro

 17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Positions of need: Linebacker, Defensive Line, Safety and Tight End

While I didn’t think the Steelers would take an offensive player with their first-round pick, it’s entirely possible. With Kenny Vaccaro, the elite outside linebackers and defensive ends gone, the Steelers may look to potentially replace Heath Miller. Miller’s coming off of surgery and Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert is just getting more and more hype. I had him going  30th last time but this could be the right fit and the right situation. Don’t be surprised if you hear Eifert’s name come pick 17.

 Previous Pick: Kenny Vaccaro

Pick: Tyler Eifert

 18. Dallas Cowboys

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Safety

 As a Cowboys fan I want Kenny Vaccaro to be available here. If he is available and he is passed up, I will be screaming at the TV and hoping Jerry Jones can hear me. Odds are that it’s not going to happen so I think they look towards one of their lines. It’d be between Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker to boost the offensive line or Sheldon Richardson to help the move to the 4-3 defense. Jerry invested heavy in Tony Romo this offseason and needs to protect that investment. Take Fluker and protect the quarterback.

 Previous Pick: Chance Warmack

Pick: D.J. Fluker

 19. New York Giants

Positions of need: Linebacker and Defensive Line

Although the Giants have a need on the defensive line, it wouldn’t surprise me if they addressed some secondary issues. With Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes on the board, I think they would be inclined to take the chance. If you think I’m overvaluing him, opposing receivers against him averaged just 5.7 yards per completion.

 Previous Pick: Bjoern Werner

Pick: Xavier Rhodes

 20. Chicago Bears

Positions of need: Linebacker and Defensive tackle

For the same reasons I said in version 1,  if the Bears take the best player available, they take Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.

 Previous Pick: Alec Ogletree

Pick: Alec Ogletree

 21. Cincinnati Bengals

Positions of need: Cornerback, Linebacker and Running Back

I think its going Ogletree then Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o or Te’o then Ogletree. I think the pair are going in these two picks.

 Previous Pick: Manti Te’o

Pick: Manti Te’o

 22. St. Louis Rams (from the Washington Redskins)

Positions of need: Safety, Wide Receiver and Linebacker

The Rams do it right here. They get Kenny Vaccaro with their first pick and address their receiver issue with their second. They snag Tennessee’s Cordarelle Patterson and help boost a receiving corps in deep need of a threat. Patterson’s size and speed gives them a legit deep-threat receiver.

 Previous Pick: John Cyprien

Pick: Cordarelle Patterson

 23. Minnesota Vikings

Positions of need: Wide Receiver, Linebacker and Defensive Line

The Vikings need a receiver but with Patterson off the board, it’d be a stretch to grab one here. Also, the elite middle linebackers go right before them. The good news is that they can still address their defensive line issues. I think they’d be smart to snag defensive tackle Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. He may just be too good to pass up.

 Previous Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson

Pick: Sheldon Richardson

 24. Indianapolis Colts

Positions of need: Wide Receiver, Cornerback and Safety

Same argument from version 1 and the same pick.

 Previous Pick: Desmond Trufant

Pick: Desmond Trufant

 25. Minnesota Vikings (from the Seattle Seahawks)

The Vikings have two picks in the first round. They address their defensive line problem in this version with their first pick, meaning they need to take a receiver here. California’s Keenan Allen comes off the board.

 Previous Pick: Sylvester Williams

Pick: Keenan Allen

26. Green Bay Packers

Positions of need: Safety, Defensive Line, Linebacker and Running Back

Again, do the right thing Green Bay.

 Previous Pick: Eddie Lacy

Pick: Eddie Lacy

27. Houston Texans

Position of need: Wide Receiver

The Texans still need a wide receiver but Allen is off the board in this version. They snag USC’s Robert Woods who is just as good, if not better.

 Previous Pick: Keenan Allen

Pick: Robert Woods

 28. Denver Broncos

Positions of need: Defensive line, Running Back and Linebacker

Same reasoning as last time to bolster the defensive line. The only difference is there are better players available in version 2. They still take a Williams, just a better one.

 Previous Pick: Jesse Williams

Pick: Sylvester Williams

 29. New England Patriots

Positions of need: Wide Receiver and Defensive Line

Like I said in version 1, the most dangerous passing game tries to take it to another level. They take the best receiver on the board.

 Previous Pick: Robert Woods

Pick: DeAndre Hopkins

 30. Atlanta Falcons

Positions of need: Cornerback, Defensive Line and Tight End

 Eifert is gone in this version so the Dirty Birds are going to go defensive. Their offense isn’t the reason they are not making Super Bowls. Take the other Florida State defensive end. When have people ever gone wrong with a guy named Tank?

 Pick: Tyler Eifert

Pick: Tank Carradine

 31. San Francisco 49ers

Position of need: Safety

 There’s not too much change for the 49ers and not much change in the safeties. I like Florida’s Matt Elam slightly over Jonathan Cyprien and I think they stick with him.

 Previous Pick: Matt Elam

Pick: Matt Elam

 32. Baltimore Ravens

Positions of need: Linebacker and Safety

The Ravens are looking for a replacement for Ed Reed. Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien is more than willing to try and step up. The safety from a small school is looking to make a big name for himself in the NFL.

 Previous Pick: Kevin Minter

Pick: Jonathan Cyprien

 

 

 

Heat, Lakers & Quarterbacks, Oh My!

Lebron/Melo

Can anyone in the Eastern Conference knock off the almighty Miami Heat?

Sammy: Only one team can. And only one team will. And that is the red-hot New York Carmelos!

Tye: Carmelo’s playing great but he’s not LeBron. Melo can score but he can’t compare to LeBron on the defensive end. And JR Smith is nowhere near D-Wade’s level. The Knicks are like a poor man’s Heat.

LISound: The Heat will not be stopped, especially by a team in the Eastern Conference. LeBron has developed a killer instinct, and will stop at nothing to embarrass all of his critics from the last 10 years. Wade has been playing extremely well this season, but it has been overshadowed by LeBron’s dominance.

Sammy: No question LeBron is not a real human being. But the power inside game of the Knicks — especially the presence of Tyson Chandler — can (and will) cause problems for the driving game of James and Wade. Plus, it could come down to who makes more threes.

Tye: There’s no way in hell I bet against the Heat. LeBron had demonstrated he can do whatever is needed to win this year. The Knicks won 12 in a row. Miami more than doubled that with 27.

Long Island Sound: It will be hard for be Knicks’ inside game to be a problem when they get 5-10 shots a game. I don’t see a heat Eastern Conference playoff series going past six games.

Sammy: I’m more cognizant of the inside PRESENCE of Chandler on the defensive end. If he stays healthy he is a force, he will help with all the driving Lebron and Wade do.

Tye: He’ll help but it’s not going to be enough. If he tries to compete with LeBron and Wade driving, he’s going to pick up fouls early and be a quick out.

Long Island Sound: Gents, these are details that need to go right in a best-of-seven series. They won’t. Heat are going to roll the East.

Kobe

What is next for Kobe and the Lakers?

LISound: Bad time for all sports fans to lose such a star before the playoffs, but a positive of this would be for Dwight Howard to thrive and pave a future in LA.

Sammy: This is simultaneously a time for Laker fans to mourn the loss of a superstar and embrace a new one. Kobe’s injury, as a Laker fan, is incredibly tough to stomach. But can the inside-out approach of a Dwight-led Lakers work?

Tye: I personally like the idea of amnestying Kobe next year. The Lakers save big money and possibly improve the team. Kobe still gets paid and has the year off to recover, and then can come back on a cheap contract with a good roster to go for six.

LISound: No way Kobe will allow the Lakers to do that. What is best for the Lakers now is to start their identity with Dwight Howard. It’s needed for success now and in the future.

Sammy: And if Dwight bombs and the Spurs sweep the Lakers? Is his heart really into being “the man” in LA? Only the off-season will tell, but Kobe could conceivably be back by next season’s start. Is Dwight risking another hellish season? It starts (and ends) with Dwight, or else this is a team starting over.

Tye: If Kobe comes back next season then yes, using the amnesty won’t work. I think the team will be fine going through Dwight though. Diva Dwight gets his touches and the Lakers can still get good assets by trading Pau Gasol if they need more depth.

LISound: This entire Laker team looked good on NBA2K, but in reality their styles, especially with this coach, do not mesh well. As they near towards a first-round show down with the Spurs, not getting swept would be a positive at this point.

Sammy: The Lakers need to find a way to get some good young talent. They never do poorly enough to get a good draft pick and they rely heavily on free agency. It’s eventually going to stop being a good system.

Tye: I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded Pau to get a shooting guard and big man. The Lakers are one of the favorite free agent destinations and they’ll always be able sign players.

Quarterbacks

Would you draft a quarterback in the first round this year?

Sammy: This year, there is only one quarterback who I’d draft in the first round: Geno Smith. But only late in the first. Similar to how the Packers handled Mr. Rodgers.

Tye: Geno is worth a first rounder but if it was my team I wouldn’t want them to use it on him. There’s not a ton of separation between QB prospects and I’d be just as happy with a Matt Barkley or EJ Manuel along with using my first rounder for a different team need.

LISound: All the teams that need a QB are in the portion of the draft where it could be too much of a reach to pull the trigger, but if able to trade back; Geno Smith is well worth rolling the dice on. I view him very similar to Donovan McNabb. QB capable of running, but wants to throw.

Sammy: Are we sleeping on Matt Barkley? As a Raiders fan, I know to be wary of USC QBs (See Palmer, Carson and Leinart, Matt). But Barkley was a solid prospect before his injury and performance this year.

Tye: He was the unanimous number 1 pick before this year but he’s been pushed down to the second round by most teams. I watched him since I was a freshman at SC until now and I think that the team who gets him is getting a franchise QB for a steal.

LISound: Jake Locker was a steal too, right? Barkley needs to be drafted into a West Coast system and time to develop. USC QBs come in from college where they had a plethora of talent at that level, and are now looked to succeed throwing to a mix of talent at skill positions and less than 10 bubble screens a game. I’m not sleeping on Barkley, just napping until the third round.

Tye: Locker went eighth overall while Barkley is looking at the second round. A much safer pick for a team to take a risk on. I wouldn’t use my first rounder on him but I think a team in need of a quarterback that uses their first rounder for another need then drafts Barkley in the second could do much worse.

____________________________________________________________________________
Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

For the Fans. By the Fans. Period.

Long Island Sound, Tye Masters & Sammy Scherr
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Mock Draft 1.0 April 17, 2013

draft

Who will be this year’s number 1 pick?

    It’s that time of year where every NFL fan wonders who their team will take in the upcoming draft. Who will you watch pick up the phone when your team is on the board? By the way, wouldn’t it be great if the players messed with the cameras and every player in Radio City Music Hall picked up their phones every time so we wouldn’t actually know who was drafted until the pick is announced? Anyways, with only two weeks to go we’re putting out our first 2013 mock draft. Smile, frown or be angry at who I have your team taking. Don’t be afraid to comment or suggest changes, you may influence version 2.0.

1. Kansas City Chiefs

Positions of need: Defensive Line and Offensive Line

The Chiefs went out and got themselves a quarterback when they traded for Alex Smith. Smith has shown that he has the ability to play in the league given the right system, and new head coach Andy Reid should know how to use him. It would make sense for the Chiefs to trade down and pick a talented lineman later while also adding a defensive tackle. Though we have a better chance of seeing a skinny Andy Reid than a team trading up for the first pick. Therefore, drafting the best overall lineman in the draft makes sense for the Chiefs. They give some added protection to their quarterback and a strong body that can open up lanes for Jamaal Charles. They’ll take the safe route and draft Texas A&M’s Luke Joekel, but I’d rather see them take Star Lotuleilei and improve that 27th-ranked run defense.

Pick: Luke Joekel, OT, Texas A&M

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Positions of need: Quarterback, Linebacker and Defensive Line

Could you name me the Jaguars defensive ends? I hadn’t even noticed Jason Babin went there halfway through last year. The Jaguars are like a vacuum where players disappear, unless you’re MJD. Blaine Gabbert is not the future of the franchise. I would call him mediocre but the Kevin Kolbs and Nick Foles of the world may get insulted. They’ll take a quarterback this draft, but not in the first round.  They can get a talented QB in the second. The Jaguars need to put pressure on the passer, leaving them with one of the top rated pass rushers ─ Oregon’s Dion Jordan. Jordan brings much-needed speed and strength off the edge and will be a player able to make an immediate impact.

Pick: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon

3. Oakland Raiders

Positions of need: Defensive Tackle

The Raiders have a first round pick?! (I Google, Bing and Yahoo to make sure this is true) And they made a good trade for Matt Flynn?! What the hell is going on in Oakland?! The Raiders lost both Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour this off-season, leaving them with a huge need at defensive tackle. This leaves them considering either Florida’s Shariff Floyd or Lotulelei. The scare of a heart condition caused Lotulelei’s stock to drop a bit, but health professionals have since ruled him perfectly healthy. I think the Raiders avoid the risk and play it safe by taking Floyd. Floyd brings about memories of Warren Sapp and can cause havoc at the line of scrimmage. So long as they take one of those tackles, not even the Raiders can mess this pick up. Then again, it’s the Raiders we’re talking about.

Pick: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida 

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Positions of need: Quarterback, Linebacker and Offensive Line

The Eagles have quite a few holes to fill and they have a lot of options available with the fourth overall pick. They can take Geno Smith, giving Chip Kelly a young, mobile quarterback to insert into his offensive scheme. They could take Utah’s Star Lotulelei, who would bolster their defensive line and is an absolute beast. Or they could take offensive tackle Eric Fisher, a player who many think is better than possible first-overall pick Luke Joeckel. I think it’s too big of a reach to take Smith here, and although they could use the offensive lineman, there’s no way they can pass up on Lotulelei.

Pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah

5. Detroit Lions

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Defensive Line

The Lions lost Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Jeff Backus this year. That leaves some major holes at the line of scrimmage. Although the Lions need a stout defensive line to handle the quarterbacks and running backs in the NFC North, I don’t think they can pass on Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. He’s arguably the best offensive tackle in the draft, fills a position of need and protects Matt Stafford (who is no stranger to injury).

Pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

6. Cleveland Browns

Positions of need: Cornerback, Linebacker

The word is that the Browns are looking for a cornerback that can play opposite of Joe Haden. Well, it’s not going to get any better than Alabama’s Dee Milliner. Milliner instantly gives the Browns a great cornerback tandem and will improve a passing defense that ranked 25th in the NFL last year. They may be tempted to snag Smith here but there will be skilled quarterbacks available in later rounds. Also, they may be tempted to add a pass rusher by drafting Barkevious Mingo or Ezekiel Ansah, but if they pass up on Milliner the few Browns fans remaining may call it quits. Milliner immediately strengthens the Browns secondary and won’t be afraid to line up against the AFC North’s receivers.

Pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama 

7. Arizona Cardinals

Positions of need : Offensive Line. They need something that can actually move.

Prior to trading for Carson Palmer, it was a no-brainer that they were going to take a quarterback in the draft. The franchise has seemed to put their faith in Palmer as Larry Fitzgerald and Cardinals fans everywhere are trying to convince themselves that he could be good. The Cardinals have a huge need to protect their 33-year-old quarterback and buy him time. Palmer is not going to be out-running many defensive ends or outside linebackers. The Cardinals would shit themselves for Joeckel or Fisher, but they’ll both be gone by the seventh pick. I think that the Cardinals go offensive tackle over guard and snag Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. Johnson wowed scouts at the combine after the 300-pounder ran a 4.72 40-yard dash. (Why do people wonder how players get concussed?) And hey if Palmer doesn’t pan out, Johnson used to play a little quarterback in junior college. He couldn’t do any worse than Arizona’s quarterbacks last year .

Pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma 

8. Buffalo Bills

Positions of need: Quarterback

I don’t want to hear any “they picked up Kevin Kolb, they don’t need to draft a quarterback this high.” It’s Kevin Kolb. The guy couldn’t look good throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. Kolb has become the guy that enters the game and everyone you’re watching the game with know he’s going to mess up, get hurt, or both. This is a franchise that has to take the best quarterback in the draft if he falls to them. They can’t afford to take a gamble on a second-round project. Draft West Virginia’s Geno Smith and finally get yourself a quarterback for the future.

Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia 

9. New York Jets

Positions of need: Defensive Line, Linebacker and Wide Receiver

Rex Ryan and Gang Green are going to go for a pass-rusher here. They have great options available to them with both LSU’s Barkevious Mingo and Ezekiel Ansah on the board. Ziggy Ansah is a project that may take some time to develop, something that Rex Ryan’s job status may not afford. Mingo is one of the top outside linebackers in the draft and instantly helps the Jets pass rush. An effective pass rush is a necessity in a division with Tom Brady. The Jets are hoping that Mingo will be able to cause more fumbles than the ass of Mark Sanchez’s linemen.

Pick: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

10. Tennessee Titans

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Defensive Line

The Titans will probably be hoping that Lane Johnson is available here but I think they’ll be disappointed. They could take the best guard in Chance Warmack, but guards rarely go in the top 10.  I think they go defensive line with BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah still on the board. Ansah, aka Ziggy, is  6 foot 5,  275 pound with elite speed, strength and agility (just look at his 4.6 40 time). Although he has only played football for a couple years, the Ghana native has near limitless potential. Ansah could be one of the elite pass rushers in the league in just a few years. If he falls out of the top five,  he could easily fall here and be the steal of the draft.

Pick: Ziggy Ansah, DE, BYU

11. San Diego Chargers

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Linebacker

I’m hoping we will all get another year of seeing red-faced Phillip Rivers yelling at his o-line in his typical douchebag-like fashion. The Chargers want that to change and will be looking for a tackle to protect Rivers’ blindside. They would love a Joeckel, Fisher or Johnson here, but at this point they’ll be gone. This will leave the Chargers settling for a top guard. The Chargers need protection on the o-line and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper will provide it to Rivers. Congrats Cooper, I’ll soon see you on television getting yelled at by Rivers.

Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

12. Miami Dolphins

Positions of need: Offensive Line, Defensive Line and Cornerback

The Dolphins lost their offensive line staple when Jake Long decided to head to St. Louis. We have hit that draft position where the highest-rated offensive linemen, defensive tackles, pass-rushers and Dee Milliner (the cornerback considered far above the rest) are gone. Jeff Ireland spent a lot of money giving Ryan Tannehill some weapons to throw to but it won’t be any good if the kid is always on the ground. They’ll go for the best offensive tackle left on the board and snag Alabama’s D.J. Fluker. It’s a reach, but the Dolphins can’t afford to risk a tackle not being there in the second round. Even his face says pick me!

Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Positions of need: Cornerback, Tight End and Defensive Line

Rumors have it that the Bucs are going hard after Darelle Revis. I don’t see anything happening before the draft so it will remain a position the Bucs need to address in the draft. Tight ends don’t go this early in the draft, and they’ll be looking for a corner as it’s the bigger need. The Bucs like Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes. Barring the Bucs making a trade for Revis, they’ll address the cornerback problem and take Rhodes.

Pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

14. Carolina Panthers

Positions of need: Defensive Line, Cornerback and Wide Receiver

The Panthers need to address their defensive issues. At this point in the draft their best defensive option to fill that void would be to take Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson. He’ll be the best defensive tackle available at this point, and he even got an endorsement from veteran wide receiver Steve Smith. Cam Newton can only score so many points in a game and it’s time the Panthers focused on preventing the other team from getting into the end zone.

Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

15. New Orleans Saints

Positions of need: Linebacker, Defensive Line, Safety and Offensive Tackle

As the third NFC South team in a row, the Saints will be on the receiving end of watching players they’d like go to their rivals. The Saints went out and got themselves Rob Ryan, who was unemployed for far longer than the five minutes he predicted. Ryan will want himself some pass rushers, and he’ll take a risk on a guy who slid a bit. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones didn’t do himself any favors with his draft or pro-day performance, but I can’t see him falling below here. The guy dominated in the SEC and upset me every week knowing that USC had let him go. Football speed is different than 40-speed and the guy can play. The Saints are snagging themselves a stud here that will fit right into their new defensive system.

Pick: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

16. St. Louis Rams

Positions of need: Wide Receiver, Safety and Linebacker

The Rams have a MAJOR need for wide receivers. After losing both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson in free agency, the Rams starting receivers are Steve Smith, a 5-foot-11 receiver who hasn’t been relevant in a few years, and Brian Quick, last year’s second-round pick. The Rams will take the best receiver on the board with this pick, and it’s between West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson. Although Patterson can play on the outside with his big body, Austin just has too much potential. Many compare him to Seattle’s Percy Harvin as he’s one of those guys that make plays as long as you get the ball to him. He’s a playmaker, something the Rams desperately need.

Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia 

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

Positions of need: Linebacker, Defensive Line, Safety and Halfback

The Steelers are actually in a pretty good position at this point in the draft. Some mocks have the Steelers taking a wide receiver with this pick. The Steelers matched wide receiver Emanuel Sanders’ offer sheet earlier this week and this is the Steel Curtain we’re talking about. They would love a pass rusher but most of the top-rated pass rushers will already be taken at this point. Alec Ogletree looks good but the Steelers don’t like character issues or failed drug tests and DUIs. (And while their throwback jerseys look like prison stripe outfits, they don’t need someone who people think belongs in one). This will make them roll with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro and stay true to their defensive roots. Vaccaro will provide some youth to the Steelers’ aging defense and help improve a secondary that was 27th in total interceptions last year. They took Troy Polamalu with the 16th pick 10 years ago, it’s time they brought in some help.

Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

18. Dallas Cowboys

Positions of need: Offensive Line and Safety

This draft pick is between an offensive lineman and a safety. The Cowboys will be cursing the Steelers for taking Vacarro with the previous pick. The Cowboys paid big this off-season by extending Tony Romo’s contract. Besides the infamous ‘unclutchness’ factor, Romo is a solid quarterback. The Cowboys will pass on the safety here with Vaccaro gone and the Cowboys need to protect their investment. They’ll draft Alabama’s Chance Warmack as long as he’s still there. If Warmack is still there it would be a steal for the Cowboys as they get one of the best guards in the draft with the 18th pick. The Cowboys bought themselves a nice and expensive house, now they need a fence to protect it.

Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

19. New York Giants

Positions of need: Linebacker and Defensive Line

The Giants need to be able to put pressure on the quarterback and stop the run. Osi Umenyiora is gone this year and Justin Tuck (and his crazy face mask) is a free agent next year. The Giants will happily take Bjoern Werner, a solid defensive end out of Florida State.

Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State

20. Chicago Bears

Positions of need: Linebacker and Defensive tackle

The Bears signed former Bronco D. J. Williams during free agency this year but they could still use another linebacker. Georgia’s Alec Ogletree fits perfectly for the Bears and could potentially be the replacement for Brian Urlacher. Ogletree’s speed and athleticism for his size in simply outstanding, and he’ll immediately impact the Bears defense. The Bears can transition smoothly from the Urlacher era by taking Ogletree with this pick.

Pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia 

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Positions of need: Cornerback, Linebacker and Halfback

I think that the Bengals take a linebacker here. It’ll be between Ogletree or Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o depending on who is left on the board. The Bengals would be more than happy to take Te’o with the 21st pick and would consider it a steal. Despite his fall from grace, Te’o can play football. The guy was a Heisman Trophy candidate for those of you that forgot. Although he wishes that his performance against Alabama was imaginary and his girlfriend was real, rather than the other way around, he won’t get past here.

Pick: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame

22. St. Louis Rams (from the Washington Redskins)

Positions of need: Safety, Wide receiver and Linebacker

With Coradelle Patterson still on the board here, the Rams would be kicking themselves for not having snagged Kenny Vaccarro with the 16th pick. The Rams need a safety and Florida International’s John Cyprien has established a name for himself as a top safety in the draft. The Rams won’t be able to get him if they pass on him here and he fills a position of need. It’s the right fit for the right team.

Pick: John Cyprien, S, Florida International 

23. Minnnesota Vikings

Positions of need: Wide Receiver, Linebacker and Defensive Line

This pick is a no-brainer with Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson sitting on the board. The Vikings pick up a great wide receiver that will spread the offense a little bit more for Adrian Peterson.  We all know that Christian Ponder can use all the help he can get. The Vikings have a good amount of draft picks this year and can address their other needs in the later rounds. Patterson just makes too much sense here.

Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee 

24. Indianapolis Colts

Positions of need: Wide receiver, Cornerback and Safety

I think that the Colts need to go cornerback here. The have Vontae Davis on one side but could use another standout in their secondary. Washington’s Desmond Trufant is arguably the best corner in the draft and should be available at the 24th pick. The guy comes from some solid stock as his brothers Marcus and Isiaiah are both playing in the league. With Davis and Trufant playing alongside each other, the Colts should be able to handle opposing teams receivers and not make Luck throw 50 times a game.

Pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

25. Minnesota Vikings (from the Seattle Seahawks)

Hey look who’s already up again! The Vikings already snagged a wide receiver, so now they’ll be looking to bolster their defense.  They would like a cornerback but the first rounders will already be gone at this point. I think they take North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams and keep in tradition with having huge dudes named Williams anchor their defensive line. There’s no way they can resist, and they snag the defensive tackle to help plug up the middle.

Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina 

26. Green Bay Packers

Positions of need: Safety, Defensive Line, Linebacker and Halfback

It’s time the Green Bay Packers got Aaron Rodgers a little bit of help. Their current running back rotation of ‘one of these guys might be good’ just isn’t getting it done. The Packers should take the best running back in the draft and snag Alabama’s Eddie Lacy. Lacy presents an actual threat and will let Rodgers destroy opposing defenses even more efficiently than he currently does. Defenses even may actually believe it’s a run on play- action plays! Help Rodgers out Green Bay, do the right thing.

Pick: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama 

27. Houston Texans

Positions of need: Wide Receiver

Let’s be honest, after Andre Johnson the Texans wide receivers suck. If opposing defenses snuff out the Texans’ run game, the Texans have trouble moving the ball through the air. By taking a wide receiver with this pick, the Texans improve an already dangerous offense, and allow Johnson to not constantly face double teams. The Texans offense goes from good, to downright scary. It’ll be between wide receivers Robert Woods and Cal’s Keenan Allen. Woods has fallen a bit after a disappointing 2012 campaign and I think they roll with Allen. Allen has good size, speed and excellent body control. The Texans will be right back in the Super Bowl race next year.

Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California 

28. Denver Broncos

Positions of need: Defensive Line, Halfback and Linebacker

John Elway and the boys don’t have to do much to be back in the Super Bowl picture next year. I think that the Broncos will be thinking between running back and a body to bolster their defensive line. I think they decide to live with their running backs and take Alabama’s Jesse Williams. Williams will help the Broncos defense and improves a team that can easily be in the Super Bowl next season.

Pick: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

29. New England Patriots

Positions of need: Wide Receiver and  Defensive Line

I would have put the secondary as a position of need but the Patriots recently got Adrian Wilson to start alongside Devin McCourty, solving their safety dilemma. It’s hard to predict what Bill Belichick will do this year, but with USC’s Robert Woods available, I think they take a wide receiver. The Patriots lost Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and the Steelers matched their offer sheet to Emmanuel Sanders, so they could use some help at receiver. Woods is dangerous out of the slot and Tom Brady can never have too many weapons. While Woods has good, but not great speed, he is an excellent route runner. The Patriots offense demands good route-running skills and if Woods can get chemistry with Brady, watch out.  If this happens, make sure to snag him in your fantasy drafts next year.

Pick: Robert Woods, WR, USC 

30. Atlanta Falcons

Positions of need: Cornerback, Defensive Line and Tight End

The Falcons can use some defensive help but how do they resist passing up on the best tight end in the draft. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert could be the future replacement for Tony Gonzalez. We all know that Gonzalez is in his last season in the league, and who better to teach a young tight end. The move could even allow them to run some effective two tight end sets. Although they need the defensive help, I don’t see the Falcons passing up on Eifert.

Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame

31. San Francisco 49ers

Position of need: Safety

The 49ers defense doesn’t need much but with Dashon Goldson leaving the Super Bowl runner-ups, they need a safety. Florida’s Matt Elam is one of the top safeties in the draft and fits right into the 49ers’ needs. The 49ers have a bunch of picks in this draft and though they may make some moves, if Elam is on the board, they’re taking him. The best defense in the NFL may have just gotten better.

Pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida

32. Baltimore Ravens

Positions of need: Linebacker and Safety

I wish Manti Te’o was on the board so we could see him and Ray Lewis talking to each other later. It’d be such an awkward pair and Ray Lewis may even be able to inspire him to get a real girlfriend. With Te’o gone though, the Ravens still need to fill their hole in middle linebacker. They’ll take LSU’s Kevin Minter and begin to reload their defense. The Ravens blew up their team to give Joe Flacco his massive, dollar-devaluing contract, and Minter is the first piece in their hopes of remaining a contender.

Pick: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

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Tye Masters
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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Pre-Draft Offseason Recap: Dolphins Make a Splash

ireland

Dolphins Make a Splash

 

When the NFL free agency period began earlier this month, waves of free agents hit the open market. One of the most surprising teams to navigate the free agent waters and make a big splash by signing big-name players was the Miami Dolphins. In case you forgot, the Miami Heat aren’t the only professional sports team in the city, and it looks like the Dolphins are trying to be better than mediocre this year. In the past four NFL seasons, the Dolphins are 27-37. It took the Dolphins four years to amass the same number of wins that the Heat had in 27 consecutive games. Finally, it looks as though Jeff Ireland is trying to turn the team into a winner and perhaps even steal the AFC East crown from Tom Brady and his perfect hair.

If Ireland can create a team that can compete with the Patriots, then the AFC East is up for grabs. The Jets made more noise last season for Tim Tebow, the butt fumble and Rex Ryan’s tattoo of his wife wearing Mark Sanchez’s jersey than they did for their actual play. The Bills just released their starting quarterback, Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick, leaving them with Tavaris Jackson, Aaron Corp and Brad Smith. Call me crazy, but none of those guys will lead the Bills to a winning season. The opportunity for Miami to move up and seize the division is as good as it’s ever going to get, and it looks as though it is trying everything within its power.

It would be an understatement to say that Dolphins blew it during free agency last year.  The Dolphins had a better chance of winning the Super Bowl in 2012 (110:1 odds) than they did in attracting big-name free agents. They entered the Peyton Manning sweepstakes only to get spurned when he headed to Denver. They pursued Matt Flynn, who denied them even though Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin was his former offensive coordinator in Green Bay. Why couldn’t Miami sign anyone in a state with low taxes, beautiful weather and women, as well as prominent nightlife? A player is as likely to say no to that, as Ray Lewis is to say no to PEDs. Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark seemed to have the answer when he tweeted that no one wanted to go to Miami because “[there’s] not a good guy [in charge] making decisions.” It’s well understood that he was talking about Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland. He’s not so bad if we forget about him asking Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute in a pre-draft interview. And the time he interviewed Jim Harbaugh for head coach while Tony Sparano was still employed as head coach. It seems though that free agents and NFL players have gotten over their dislike for Ireland as he has been able to secure some big-name signings.

The Dolphins opened up free agency by snagging the best available free-agent wide receiver. Ryan Tannehill quietly put up a good rookie season last year and showed a lot of potential, but was eclipsed by fellow rookies Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson. Ireland went out and bought his quarterback one of the top wide receivers by signing Mike Wallace. Wallace will immediately make a huge impact on the field and give Miami the deep-ball threat that has evaded it for years. Brian Hartline and Davone Bess don’t exactly take the top off of a defense. Wallace’s speed and big-play threat will open up the entire field and allow the offense to be much more efficient. By resigning Hartline to a five-year, $30 million dollar contract, the Dolphins secured both wideout positions with the slot open to Bess or the recently-signed Brandon Gibson. Wallace’s presence instantly improves the Dolphins passing offense and gives Tannehill the weapons that are necessary to develop his game.

A signing that isn’t making any big headlines but continues to bolster the Phins’ offense is Dustin Keller. The Dolphins got away with signing Keller to a one-year contract worth $4.25 million. Receiving tight ends are a young quarterback’s best friend and Keller fits right into the hole that Anthony Fasano left. Not only that, but whoever ends up being the Jets quarterback can look forward to throwing every ball to Santonio Holmes as the Dolphins snag a division rival’s starter.  Miami risks very little in Keller’s signing and he could prove a very valuable offensive tool provided he can stay healthy.

The Dolphins didn’t just improve on the offensive side of the ball. The Dolphins pulled one of the biggest shockers so far during free agency by signing Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. EllerBEAST was a monster during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run and seemed a lock to re-sign with Baltimore. Ellerbe chose the big payday with Miami, giving the Dolphins a young, versatile linebacker. As if Ellerbe wasn’t enough, the Dolphins signed Oakland’s Phillip Wheeler to a five-year deal. Pair these two signings with the Dolphins decision to cut Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, and the Dolphins managed to save money while getting younger. Wheeler said “I’m aggressive like a shark; but it’s ironic, because now I’m a Dolphin,” but the Dolphins are hoping Ellerbe and Wheeler maintain their aggression and provide the foundation of their defense for years to come. Throw this in with recent signing of cornerback Brent Grimes, and the team just keeps looking better and better. The Dolphins got a steal when signing Grimes to a one year $5.5 million dollar deal. The Dolphins needed a huge upgrade in their secondary after losing Sean Smith, and took little to no risk with the one year deal. They got a team need, one of the best cornerbacks on the market, and a player who was $10 million last year for $5 million. Even if he’s coming back off injury, he’s worth the risk and further bolsters an improving Dolphins defense.

While all of these signings make the Dolphins a better team, the price tag cannot be forgotten. With the new CBA and salary cap restrictions, teams need to be careful about how they allocate their money. (See the Ravens disintegrating a Super Bowl team and giving Joe Flacco a contract so big it literally devalues the dollar.) However, in the age of mega-contracts, if you want elite talent, you have to pay top dollar. Wallace has the biggest contract at five years, $60 million, of which $27 million is fully guaranteed. As long as Wallace plays like a top NFL receiver, it can be considered money well spent. Ellerbe signed for a five-year, $34.75 million contract with $14 million guaranteed and Wheeler got a five-year $26 million contract with $13 million guaranteed. The Dolphins still have money to spend, as they are still more than $10 million under the $128 million salary cap so expect a few more signings to occur.  While Miami’s contracts for its new players are backloaded, meaning the base salaries are highest in the latter years of the contract, contracts can always be restructured and players often do not play out the entirety of their contract in the NFL. The Dolphins want to win now and winning requires talent, which requires money. They’re rolling out a new logo, new offense, new defense and a new attitude. The season doesn’t start for months, but for the first time in a while, Dolphins fans have something about which to be excited.

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Tye Masters
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Lakers, Warrior Uniforms, Manti Te’o & Oscar Pistorius

The Cover 4 is bringing you a different approach to today’s major sports topics.

Will the Lakers make the playoffs?

lakers

Sammy: I firmly believe there is a chance the Lakers will make the playoffs. With great energy from Dwight Howard, Kobe’s efficiency and HUSTLE defense, they can pull it out.

Tye: The Lakers are three games back with only 24 games left. They’re 10-19 on the road and 12 of those games are away. It’s not happening.

James: Although I chose the Lakers as preseason favorites, I don’t see it. Houston has the fourth-easiest schedule from here on out. James Harden is playing on a MVP level.

Sammy: This team is just now starting to jell. It finally has continuity and the veterans have settled into their roles. They need help, but the Lakers will be doing their part in the race.

Tye: It’s taken 58 games to jell? It’s a sub-.500 team and only 6-4 in its last 10 games. The Lakers aren’t suddenly going to dominate the league and roll past Houston.

James: The Lakers have shown that this group of players can’t get it done. Dwight doesn’t work in this offense, Nash isn’t the same, they have no bench and Kobe can’t do it all

Sammy: To get to a 45-win season, the Lakers need to go 17-7 in the final 24 games. It’s highly possible that Houston or Utah goes 14-10 in that stretch and the Lakers sneak in.

Tye: If Utah had traded Millsap or Jefferson I’d say they might slip, but not now. And Houston just beat a top western team in OKC showing it’s here to stay.

James: 17-7 the rest of the way? I see at least 10 losses on the remaining schedule. Final three games: GS, SAS, HOU. They will flop at the end. Kobe can’t do it himself.

Are the Warrior Sleeve Unis Legit? 

Sleeves

James: Absolutely! 26 percent lighter, trendy, stretchy, 360 rotation. Did I mention the $115 price tag? Soon all teams will rock these jerseys and money will be made on sales.

Sammy: They can make shirts that have all the pros you just mentioned WITHOUT sleeves. Lookout Christmas sweaters, here come “ugly jersey” parties.

Tye: The Warriors broke into Lance Armstrong’s closet and stole all his yellow jerseys. They beat the Spurs because he had sweated PEDs into all of them.

James: Haha. Nicely done boys, but the sleeves are here to stay; the kids are gonna love it. Now you can put those guns away and rock the sleeves with your jersey.

Sammy: Honestly what are they thinking? It makes them look like little boys playing against the other teams, which look like beasts. They need to dominate to make a statement like that, not just win.

Tye: Going from short shorts to regular shorts was a good move back in the day, but the NBA jersey is something timeless. Some things shouldn’t be changed.

James: You guys are missing the point! This is about money. The almighty dollar reigns supreme as this is another selling tool for the NBA. Wait until every team wears them.

Sammy: It doesn’t matter about money. The NBA isn’t hurting for cash. What happened to tradition? Basketball holds on to tradition better than any of the major sports. It’s a damn shame.

Tye: I agree that the new jerseys will sell. Hell, NBA players wearing rimless glasses made them popular and sell. It doesn’t mean that the product looks good or makes sense though.

Is Manti Te’o worth a first-round selection?

teo

Tye: With his performance against Alabama and his 4.8 40 time, Teo’s chances of being taken in the first round are about as real as his girlfriend.

Sammy: I have trouble believing that a spotty performance in the National Championship game and the combine can affect a Heisman candidate that much.

James: Sometimes too much emphasis is on combine numbers. He’s a first-round talent but my problem is with how guys will react to him in the locker room. Definitely worth a mid-late first.

Tye: You really want to use a first rounder on a player who can’t be an every-down linebacker? The 4.8 shows he’s not going to be able to keep up with NFL receivers.

Sammy: AT THE COMBINE, Scouts compared him to Lance Briggs. Briggs is an elite LB on an elite defense without elite speed. Ball speed is different than running in a straight line, which he won’t be called upon to do.

James: Plain and simple Teo makes plays. Before the hoax we were talking about him being the first true defensive Heisman winner. Alabama showed some weaknesses but he’s still playmaker.

Tye: I see him going late first, early second. When you perform poorly against the best talent, it creates doubt at what you can do at the next level.

Sammy: Not enough doubt that he drops that far. He could go in the middle of the first to Tampa Bay or someone that could use the LB boost, or he could take over for Ray Lewis. Regardless, he’s a definite first rounder.

James: Reading Kiper’s mock draft, Sammy? The guy is a first rounder but only in the right situation. He needs to go to a team with strong leadership. Letting him slip may help.

If Olympian Oscar Pistorius doesn’t get charged with the murder of his girlfriend, is it safe to say that athletes get preferential treatment?

debate

Sammy: Pistorius, Lewis, OJ Simpson, Donte Stallworth…what do they have in common? All have been involved in a murder in some way, and all might be off without any major punishment, if any punishment at all.

James: Without a doubt athletes get preferred treatment in these situations. If Pistorius gets away with this it will be a travesty. He has a history of violence!

Tye: Do athletes get preferential treatment? Of course, but it’s up to the attorneys and juries to come out with the right verdict. So who is giving them the treatment?

Sammy: There have to be back alley type plea deals or behind the scenes agreements. There’s no other explanation. The process is corrupt, unfair and it goes against everything a government should stand for.

James: Pistorius’ camp is making all the right moves to get him off the hook. He committed a crime, was taking steroids and has a history of violence. He better go to jail.

Tye: Did you ever consider that his fame could lead to him being made an example of and increasing punishment? We shouldn’t automatically assume guilt either.

Sammy: This argument is based on the assumption he is guilty and not charged. And yes, I’ve considered fame. But that is the same boat the other athletes have been in. Fame has let others off the hook. It has to stop.

James: Guilty until proven innocent is the new system. At the end of the day, Pistorius is a local hero and will get away with murder. It’s terrible and pathetic.

Tye: Guilty until proven innocent is pathetic. Look how many people have been exonerated by DNA after people assumed they were guilty. Though if he’s found guilty, he’ll do time.

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For the Fans. By the Fans. Period.

James Kaikis, Tye Masters & Sammy Scherr
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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