Those of you who regularly read my posts know that I live in Pittsburgh. I arrived here after making a few different stops in my life journey, though my mom did grow up in Western Pennsylvania, so I do have roots here. And while I am a football fan to the extreme, I have grown to enjoy watching ice hockey. Put two and two together, and you should not be surprised to know that I have been following the Pittsburgh Penguins in their run towards another Stanley Cup championship.
Right now, the Penguins are favored to win, despite their disappointing loss on Saturday against the Boston Bruins. It was the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, so they’re down but certainly not out.
However, as I was watching the game, my mind couldn’t help but explore the similarities and differences between the two sports. Football is far and above more popular, and you could probably even rank hockey below baseball and basketball in terms of viewership. Nevertheless, here are some things I learned about the NFL as I watched the NHL playoffs:
1. Individual games hold more value.
I probably should have noted in the beginning that I am a very, very casual fan of ice hockey. In fact, I generally only tune into games when the playoffs roll around. Each NHL team plays 82 games in the regular season, for a grand total of 1,230 games across the league. In short, I simply don’t have the time to commit to my team. Read more...(1568 words + 1 image, estimated 6:16 mins reading time)
Who will replace Greg Jennings in 2013 is one of many questions left after the draft
The Green Bay Packers added 11 new players to their offseason roster via this past weekend’s NFL draft. Packers GM Ted Thompson, as he does every year, maneuvered around and was able to add some additional picks to the stash that he began the draft with.
Heading into the draft, the team’s biggest needs were Defensive Line, Safety, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Offensive Line. The team addressed the defensive line with two selections in the first five rounds. At running back, they added two players in the first four rounds and they selected two offensive linemen in the fourth. Any pick within the first five rounds should be expected to stick on the team’s final 53 man roster. The key word is “should” so I cautiously say that those three areas seemingly were covered.
While some GM’s draft more for need, Thompson’s philosophy has been more about taking the best player available on his board at the time. Two good examples are his selecting two offensive tackles within 10 draft slots of each other in round four and trading back into the fourth round to select running back Johnathan Franklin when he had already selected a top-tier running back two rounds earlier in the form of Eddie Lacy. Read more...(1362 words + 3 images, estimated 5:27 mins reading time)
Wilcox has only one year of experience playing the safety position, having moved there after three years of playing on offense as a wide receiver and slotback. Despite his inexperience and small-school status, Wilcox was honored with an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Wilcox was second on the team with 88 tackles, three passes broken up and two interceptions.
What they’re saying about him: Read more...(544 words + 3 images, estimated 2:11 mins reading time)
CBSSports.com: ”Athletic frame with a thick lower half. Stands out at this level due to his athleticism and proved he deserved to be on the same field with the top prospects in Mobile. Good lateral agility. Surprisingly adept as an open field tackler. Attacks the line of scrimmage when he reads run but while fast to the action, breaks down pretty well, showing enough balance, patience and strength for the effective stop… Showed some instincts and range operating as a single-high safety during Senior Bowl drills…” “Tends to bend at the waist rather than the knees. Attacks the line of scrimmage as a run defender, slipping by most blocks but too often is tied up when he they do get to him. Tools worthy of developing but isn’t ready for prime time yet.”
Elam began his Gator career as a starter on special teams. Once given the chance to play at safety, he quickly showcased his talents and was a full-time starter in 2012. . . led the team in tackles for a loss (11) and had four interceptions along with two sacks and a forced fumble. . .Elam has been known to be a “big personality” off the field and was hot on many schools’ radar coming out of high school in 2010. He elected to attend Florida and play for Urban Meyer. . .was voted first-team All American in 2012. . .ran just .01 second behind the fastest 40 time among safeties at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. . .older brother Abe Elam is currently an NFL free agent safety who has spent his first eight seasons with several teams
What they’re saying about him: Read more...(594 words + 3 images, estimated 2:23 mins reading time)
CBSSports.com: “Athletic, instinctive and quite physical, Elam demonstrated the ability to walk up into the box and be a force near the line of scrimmage while also dropping back into coverage as a single-high safety when coaches called for it — showing off the type of versatility NFL teams are demanding from today’s hybrid safeties.”
Reid ran the fastest 40 time of all safeties at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. . .Reid saw playing time right away during his freshman season at LSU, appearing in all 13 games. . .during his sophomore season, he avoided the slump and his team-leading 76 tackles, two interceptions, three pass break-ups and two forced fumbles on the year earned him second-team All-SEC honors. . .during his junior season in 2011, Reid had a timely interception against Alabama to seal the Tigers’ win and earned Reid the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against the Tide (six tackles, one for loss, forced fumble, INT). . .Reid earned First-Team All-SEC honors in 2012.
What they’re saying about him: Read more...(596 words + 3 images, estimated 2:23 mins reading time)
CBSSports.com: “Possesses the prototypical frame for the position, boasting wide shoulders, long arms and a tapered frame. Reid is a fantastic downhill athlete with quick read-and-react ability to attack the play with steam spurting from his ears. He might be the explosive hitter from the safety position in the 2013 draft, closing with the speed and physicality of a linebacker rather than a defensive back.”
Considered by many to be this year’s top safety prospect and a sure first round pick … was draft-eligible last year but stayed at Texas after receiving a second round grade. . .Uncle is A.J. Johnson, who spent seven years with the Washington Redskins and was a member of the Super Bowl XXVI-winning team. . .was a starter as a sophomore at UT … arguably the best safety in the Big 12 as a junior in 2011, posting 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, eight passes broken up and two interceptions. . In 2012 he was second-team All Conference with 107 stops, four tackles for a loss and five forced turnovers.
What they’re saying about him: Read more...(660 words + 3 images, estimated 2:38 mins reading time)
CBSSports.com: ”Prototypical size and build for the position. Possesses a high-cut frame with good overall musculature. Shows very good straight-line speed, agility, balance and hip flexibility. Athleticism for coverage duties are enhanced by Vaccaro’s vision and instincts. Quickly locates the ball and shows an understanding of route-progression, rarely getting caught out of position.”
Burnett returns as a leader of both the safety group as well as the Packers team as a whole in 2013
Packers Safeties: One of the youngest groups on the current Green Bay Packers roster, this is a position that is expected to take a big step forward in 2013. The team will be without long-time veteran Charles Woodson and will rely on Morgan Burnett to assume that leadership role. Third-year player M.D. Jennings joins second-year player Jerron McMillian opposite Burnett with Sean Richardson likely in the fold as well.
Burnett was a steady rock for the Packers in 2012, playing in all 16 regular season games and both playoff games. After missing most of his rookie season of 2010 and being hampered by a hand injury in 2011, Burnett showed that he can be counted on and durable enough to play a full season. His play improved both in coverage and run support. The assumption is that he will continue that trend in 2013 and become one of the defensive leaders on this team. Read more...(1625 words + 3 images, estimated 6:30 mins reading time)