So far, there seems to be this ludicrous idea that there is going to be a bevy of Quarterbacks flying off the board despite the large consensus that this class of passers is anything less than starter-worthy. Names such as Patrick Mahomes and Davis Webb have (seemingly) shot up the draft boards of clubs across the league, while the stocks of big names such as Deshaun Watson and Deshone Kizer have seen a slow decline. My take? Is that there is a lot of smoke-screen being thrown around the NFL right now, and that’s all going to clear come Draft Day. So here’s my prediction of the top five quarterbacks who will come off the board first.
Mitch Trubisky- Cleveland Browns (#8 Overall-Projected trade with Carolina)
It would be foolish for the Browns to reach for a quarterback with the number one overall pick. And, to be honest, I think it’s a reach to take ANY of these guys in the first. However, this is a mock of what I think is going to happen. And what I think is going to happen, is that the Browns will use some of that extra draft capital (specifically, the 33rd overall pick, but we’ll get to that later) to move ahead of Buffalo, who are reportedly very fond of the NC passer, and grab the next contestant for their annual QB Survivor Challenge. Which, let’s be honest, most of us would rather watch over last season’s Hard Knocks.
Personally, I don’t think the Browns are in a position with their roster to support the development of a potential franchise savior. Despite a moderately improved offensive line and receiving corps, their defense still lacks the quality fire power to keep games within reach (although that could easily change with the addition of Myles Garrett, the projected number one pick).
What would be best, is for the Browns to focus spending their picks on instant plug-and-play players. Guys who can step on the field day one and instantly make their team better. A prospect like TE O.J Howard, who some other analysts are currently mocking at Cleveland’s current number twelve spot, would be a good choice, as he would give whoever’s under center for Cleveland a big bodied threat over the middle and in the red-zone.
There is also the possibility that Trubisky is off the board by this point. San Francisco could easily decide to snag him with the number two overall pick. But new Head Coach Kyle Shannahan might want to wait and see how the Kirk Cousins situation resolves itself before making any big decisions.
Deshaun Watson- Kansas City Chiefs (#27 Overall)
After the Texans’ pick at 25 has come and gone, the Patrick Mahomes hype will finally be revealed as the typical yearly draft trope it was all along. With this pick, each side is getting a win-win for the long term. Kansas City lays itself a foundation for a post-Alex Smith future, while Watson is able to sit and develop the skills that give him such immense potential.
Despite showing time and again he has the ability to win on the big stage, scouts have continually knocked Watson for his accuracy issues, particularly on the deep ball. Andy Reid’s offense could maximize Watson’s athleticism and decent accuracy on short and intermediate throws the same way it did for Smith. If Watson is still on the board at this point, there’s no reason why GM John Doresy shouldn’t pull the trigger.
Patrick Mahomes- Arizona Cardinals (Round 2, Pick 1: Trade with Carolina)
Although the Panthers are not expected to be major players in this year’s draft, if the dominoes fall just right, this is a move that could go a long way in helping Coach Rivera set his team up to be contenders for years to come through building up more home-grown roster depth. Assuming the Browns send this pick to Carolina (along with the 12th overall and a fourth rounder) to move up for Trubisky, the Panthers could cash in on even more picks by moving down twelve spots to allow the Cardinals to select their heir to Carson Palmer.
Despite what seemed like a fast climb up the draft boards of many clubs, the overall shaky nature of the class as a whole, along with his label as a ‘project player’, will inevitably scare many GMs off from taking the Texas Tech Air-Raid general in the top thirty-two. However, the vertical nature of Bruce Arian’s offense and the presence of Palmer for at least one more year will provide a stable environment for the rookie to learn the nuances of the game’s most important position.
Note: Look for the Texans to also be a possibility into trading up to this spot.
Deshone Kizer- New Orleans Saints (Round 2, Pick 10)
I had a little trouble projecting this pick. I personally think Kizer has the highest ceiling out of anybody in this draft, and I definitely can’t see him falling past the second round. There is a ton of secondary help the Saints could pick up here, and that may very well end up being the case. However, the presence of an extra first round pick via the Brandin Cooks to Patriots trade might make them a little bit more open to the possibility.
Although Drew Brees continues to drink from the same Fountain of Youth frequented by Tom Brady and James Harrison, it’s an inevitable fact that at some point, he won’t be throwing for 5,000+ yards anymore, and the Saints need a contingency plan, especially now that they’re starting to develop such a young core of talented players. If the Saints develop Kizer properly over a span of two to three years while Brees finishes off his career, they can have a starting caliber passer with at least two more years on his rookie deal while they work out extensions for wide-receivers Michael Thomas and Willie Snead.
Nathan Peterman- Washington (Round 3, Pick 16)
Although the Washington brass has been singing the praises of sixth-round draft pick Nate Sudfeld as of late, the uncertainty surrounding the future of Kirk Cousins should put some sense of urgency on finding a prospect who can potentially develop into a starter.
Peterman has been one of those names who, unlike Davis Webb and Deshone Kizer, hasn’t been floated around the first-round conversation in what’s been deemed an underwhelming class of rookie passers. Though some teams have noted his ability to throw with good touch and timing make him an interesting target, his obvious lack of field-stretching arm strength makes it uncertain whether he will be able to serve as a starter at the next level.
Still, with Colt McCoy under contract for two more years and a roster that’s just about ready to compete, Washington should take a serious look at drafting a QB early.
Just Outside the Top 5:
Joshua Dobbs: Houston Texans (Round 3, 89 Overall): The intelligence and diligent work ethic of the former Tennessee QB make him a chop-licking pick for Bill O’Brien.
Davis Webb: New York Jets (Round 3, 107 Overall): The smug look on Webb’s cocky face finally gets wiped off by the end of the second round. Webb will battle with Hack’ and Petty for the right to backup Josh McCown.
Huns Suffer Second MRC Loss to Raptors
In a game that had many fans in the Lone-Star state hoping for some measure of redemption, they were left sourly disappointed as the Austin Huns fell to the Glendale Raptors with a final score of 45-13.
The game began on many positive notes for Austin. The Huns were controlling the pace well, and a bevy of Glendale penalties allowed them to kick for the first points of the game. The kicker of said points, Tim Guillimin, stepped in at Scrum-Half for a still injured Michael Reid, with him also seeing time at fly-half (Update: We originally reported Aaron Boan as the scorer of these points).
Unfortunately, many of the Huns’ problems that plagued them in their first loss to Glendale in February were still evident through stretches of Saturday’s game. Although they were much better at moving the ball on the outside, the backs couldn’t keep up their end of the defensive bargain when it came to the fast breaking runs of the Glendale men. Players such as Chad London and Dustin Croy were regularly able to gain significant ground before being brought down.
Glendale would end up tying the match up at three after a well-aimed kick by former Denver Stampede standout Will Magie. After that, the match wouldn’t see another score until the thirty-second minute, when flanker Peter Dahl capitalized on an Ata Malifa off-load after the fast-footed back was able to use his speed to open up the gaps for his teammates, something the Raptors were able to do really well all game, especially when inside the 22. The first half would end with a score of 10-8, with the Huns seemingly well-positioned to mount a comeback.
That, obviously, did not happen. The second half saw a reinvigorated Glendale side that had tightened up on penalties (somewhat) and was being even more aggressive in contesting the ruck. What’s more, is they began getting very, VERY lucky when it came to improve passing. The Huns, for all their preparation and skill, could not find an answer.
Glendale mainly succeeded in keeping the Huns outside of their own territory, knowing the ability of the Central-Texas forwards and centers to smash up the middle was too great a threat. The Huns found themselves trying often to kick for territory, which on occasion would work, but nothing could be sustained as far as offensive momentum.
Despite some moderate success in the scrum and on line-outs, costly turnovers and careless mistakes repeatedly would cost the Huns the opportunity to swing the game in their favor. At one point in the second half, Fly-Half Zinzan Elan-Puttick had Winger Matt Moore on the outside with plenty of space, but he evidently didn’t see him, as he ended up sending a bad pass the other direction resulting in a turnover deep in their own territory.
All in all, there were improvements from February, particularly in the passing game, but still, much work has to be done if the Huns hope to ever get that elusive victory of the Glendale Raptors. Tim Guillimin was able to get a last consolation try after a phenomenal pass by Lomani Tongotongo, but that was only after the Raptors’ Landry was able to get one more Champagne-try after a quick kick from Will Magie. Ata Malifa for the Glendale side got Man of the Match honors.
-By Liam Madigan-Fried
Raptors and Huns on MRC Collison Course
Two of the most dominant teams in American Rugby are set to go head to head for the second time in the Major Rugby Championship. The Austin Huns (led by Coach Eugene Eloff) prepare to host the Glendale Raptors (led by Coach Dave Williams) on Saturday, April 15th, in Austin, Texas.
Each team is riding high into this one. The Huns, after collapsing versus Glendale back in February to the tune of 41-10, have won their last four straight, defeating fellow MRC competitors NOLA Rugby and the Rugby Utah Select XV, along with Red River Conference rivals the Dallas Harlequins and the Dallas Reds.
Meanwhile, if you wanted to find the last time the Raptors lost, you’d have to go all the way back to May 3rd, when their squad fell to the Pacific Premiership’s ever-dominant San Francisco Golden Gate team 32-20. Since then, Dave Williams’ band of ruggers has enjoyed victories over the likes of Life West University, BYU, and Rugby Utah.
So just what exactly is it going to take for the Huns to deliver the Raptor’s Elite their first loss in nearly a year? Simple (or not so simple), they need to create enough offense to take the pressure off their better defensemen.
“We did not arrive at that game” Says Huns Coach Eloff when asked about their most recent bout with the Colorado team. “Execution was bad on attack and also (on) defense.” Although their defense did begin to falter in the second half of that game, it was hardly their biggest issue from the outset.
What ultimately caused the Huns’ downfall in February was their wings’ lack of ability to create plays and sustain any phases themselves. Unable to get any fluid passing game going due to constant drops and knock-ons, along with being late to the ruck following most tackles resulting in costly turnovers, the Huns had to rely on a ‘ground and pound’ style of play by their scrummies to advance the ball, which was quickly exposed by the Raptors and their speedy backs to be an unstainable game plan.
(Though to be fair, both squads were absolutely dreadful in the turnover and penalty department. Seriously, I think I’ve seen less knock-ons in a D4-NSCRO match…that I played in)
This time around, the Huns have to find a way to keep both phases of the game, offense and defense, consistent through eighty-minutes if they hope to come away with the victory. There’s no doubt the Texas unit has the talent for it, as well as possessing unquestionable leadership in Captain Lomani Tongotongo.
“Lomani is one of the most unique, special captains I have ever coached.” Said Eloff of his team’s leader. “He is a quiet, soft spoken person that the players listen to, and he leads by example.” Always known as a class-act on the pitch, Tongotongo is perhaps even better known as an explosive force when he gets the ball in space, pairing a raw intensity with graceful footwork.
Lomani isn’t the only man that players, fans, and especially coaches hope to see on the pitch come Saturday. The Huns’ usual Scrum-Half, Michael Reid, went down with a leg injury (twice in fact) April, 1st again Rugby Utah. The Huns saw Aaron Doan step in to replace him admirably against Dallas, but they hope things will be different this week.
“I will make a call regarding Michael Reid tomorrow evening at training, but he seems to be ok to play.” Says Eloff. “If he can’t, I might have a surprise inclusion at 9.” Who (or what, I’m kind of hoping for a rugby Air-Bud type situation) that surprise inclusion could be is anyone’s guess. It’s quite possible that the Huns D2 Scrum-Half Carlos Alvarez gets the call-up, or it could be a more familiar face in Joedee Reyes. Then again, Tim Tebow anyone?
Austin has all the tools necessary to succeed this weekend. If they can find some consistency in the passing game on the outside while simultaneously containing the speed and agility of the Glendale backs, this game has ‘REVENGE’ written all over it.
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Houston Strikers Making UL(ster)TRA Big Moves Ahead of MLR Kick-Off
-By Liam Madigan-Fried
While future MLR teams like the Austin Huns, Rugby Utah, New Orleans RFC, and the Glendale Raptors continue to battle it out in the Major Rugby Championship Tournament, a potential sleeping giant in South Texas known as the Houston Strikers continues to get stronger. The newly formed club, set to participate in the inaugural MLR season in 2018, has rocked the American Rugby world in recent weeks with the signings of former Seattle Saracens Coach Justin Fitzpatrick, and now with new Fly-Half/Backs Coach Sam Windsor (formerly of Ulster-PRO12).
The signing of Fitzpatrick was a great move by the organization to bring some stability to a franchise that’s starting from scratch. As a coach in Seattle, Fitzpatrick was able to build his squad into one of the most dominant clubs in the North West, earning himself the opportunity to coach as an assistant in the Eagles’ World Cup run in 2015. He has also amassed 156 Ulster-caps in his career, to go along with 26 for the Irish National team.
Meanwhile, Windsor looks to step into a hybrid-role of coach and player. As a Fly-Half for Ulster, Windsor didn’t exactly light-up the score board, however, there’s no doubt his presence and experience in professional competition will benefit the club. As Coach Fitzpatrick puts it: “He will help lead the team on and off the field, providing confidence and direction. When I joined the Strikers, what drew me was the excellence of their management group; Sam fits right into that mold.”
Whether that “confidence and direction” will translate into wins on the pitch remains to be seen, as we know very little about what the Strikers' final roster will look like. There’s certainly no shortage of local talent to choose from. The Houston Athletic Club is sure to see some defectors to the Strikers, while players from surrounding teams such as the Austin Blacks and Dallas Harlequins, will also likely look to make the jump into the MLR.
That being said, there is a very real possibility that players (particularly from Texas) will prefer to sign on (or stay with) more established MLR-to-be teams, such as the Austin Huns or the Dallas Griffins, who already have highly competitive rosters to go along with top-notch coaching staffs and facilities. If Houston wants to make a real push to be competitive in 2018, signings like a pair Ulster golden boys in Windsor and Fitzpatrick are definitely the way to go in terms of making the club an attractive destination.
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Penguin Tundra Sports Blog was created in 2016 by a very bored college student who was obsessed with Rugby and Football. That same college student knew how to write pseudo-intelligently, so what better way to show off than to create a blog. Along your journey though the Tundra's domain, you may come across outlandish opinions, horrible spelling errors, and some shit that is just outright wrong. Well then, you should comment, give my blog more attention, and we will have our day in internet court. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy talking about sports as much as I do.
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