Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 9:12 AM
Guess you have to go all the way back to the 1998 NFL Draft to find the last time that you absolutely knew who the first two draft picks were gonna be:
Back than the only question was whether the Indianapolis Colts were going to select Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning or Washington State slinger Ryan Leaf - let's just say the Colts got it right back than and will get it right come the evening of Thursday, April 26th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City when they tab Stanford QB Andrew Luck with this year's numero uno pick before the Washington Redskins gobble up Heisman Trophy-winning signal-caller Robert Griffin III from Baylor.
But how about a few words on some of the potential movers-and-shakers in Round I not named Luck or Griffin III?
Glad you asked!
Let's bounce some names off you and suggest their possible pro destinations in today's Jim Sez:
TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - Hope you happened to catch that highlight clip at the recent NFL Combine where this former Crimson Tide knocked down a Cleveland Browns assistant coach in some strength/speed drills ... it got a real chuckle from everyone.
Now, Richardson - who only stands 5-foot-9 and change while weighing a rock-solid 228 pounds - is the apple of many teams' eye in the top 10 after rushing for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns for last year's national champions.
In yesterday's edition of Jim Sez, our early-bird forecast claimed he would be drafted with the fifth overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but there is some possibility that a team could move up and make a first-round deal with Minnesota at #3 or Cleveland at #4 and snap up Richardson (maybe Kansas City at #11 would be interested in a swap of first-round picks, etc). So stay tuned.
COURTNEY UPSHAW, OLB, ALABAMA - Here's Richardson's old buddy and former teammate at 'Bama and the rumor mill is spinning wildly regarding this tackling machine as some folks believe he will be picked somewhere in the lower portion of Round One while there's some belief he could get plucked in the #13-through-#18 range with Philadelphia at #15 and the New York Jets at #16 both said to be anxious to draft him.
In fact, loud mouth Jets head coach Rex Ryan has been saying for weeks that the Jets love Upshaw but is that typical NFL smoke-screen stuff or the real deal?
Let's just say that if Upshaw is sitting there at #16, the J-E-T-S would likely take him unless Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd is still sitting there. Hmmm.
KENDALL WRIGHT, WR, BAYLOR - Maybe Mr. Griffin gobbled up all the headlines in/around Waco this season but this 5-foot-10, 195-pound speedy wide-out could turn out to be the NFL Draft's biggest Round One steal. Wright caught 108 passes worth 1,663 yards with 14 TDs for last year's Baylor bunch and he is generally regarded as the third-best wide out in this draft behind Oklahoma State monster Justin Blackmon and the aforementioned Floyd from Notre Dame.
The current Scouts Inc. draft board lists Wright as the 23rd-best player in this year's draft but don't be surprised if Dallas at #14 or those Jets at #16 reach for Griffin's favorite college target - hey, you heard it here first!
JONATHAN MARTIN, OT, STANFORD - Okay, so maybe forecasting where offensive linemen go in Round One of this upcoming NFL Draft isn't exactly "sexy"but did you know that insiders believe that as many as eight O-linemen could be tabbed in the first round and this nearly 6-foot-6, 315-pounder who served as one of Luck's college caddies could be a real mover-and-shaker on Draft Night.
Martin is forecast to go somewhere in the #25-through-#32 portion of the first round but his huge hands and immense strength may be too much to pass up come the middle of Round One where Cincinnati at #17 or maybe even Philly at that #15 pick could reach out and get a player that's well-schooled with a 12-to-15 year playing career in his future.
Hey, lots more straight ahead as we remind you that our Jim Sez NFL Draft coverage - our annual position-by-position look at this year's draft - begins with our very next column and stick with us for all the NFL Draft goodies right through the end of this month.
NBA NEWS & NOTES
The Miami Heat may be playing .722 ball but they're surely in a funk - now will they be able to get out of it come playoff time?
Okay, so maybe from the outside it doesn't look too bad 'cause the Heat is 39-15 while entering Sunday's home game against the Detroit Pistons but between all these nagging injuries to guard Dwyane Wade (he's missed 10 games already this year) and the fact this club plays in a real funk on the road (just 16-12 away) you get the sense right now that maybe this isn't the year for the Heat.
Think about it: Everyone is putting the Heat in this year's NBA Finals with a yet-to-be-determined Western Conference foe as folks fantasize about Oklahoma City or San Antonio or even the Los Angeles Clippers going head-to-head with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mr. Wade and - gotta love it - the other night following a Miami win against the aforementioned Thunder there was James talking to a TV reporter about who would come out of the West as is if was Miami's divine right to win the East.
Memo to Miami: Start to play with a bit more intensity from start-to-finish in these games and learn what it takes to win on the road or - before you know it - some mentally tough team like the Boston Celtics or the underrated Indiana Pacers might wind up knocking you out of the playoff picture even before you ever get to those NBA Finals.
The lack of scoring balance may not seem a problem for the Heat - but it is - and one of these nights in the post-season someone's gonna have to light a spark off the Heat bench. The question is does Miami have such a player (and let's not get too crazy about the likes of G Norris Cole!)
No one is guaranteed anything in the NBA Playoffs - but if you listen to the Heat's star players they sure give you the impression this club has been given a free ride through the East.
Not so fast, my friends, not so fast!
NOTE: There's lots more NBA coverage right through this year's playoffs here with Jim Sez.