1. The NFL conference championships take place this weekend. What is your ideal Super Bowl matchup coming out from the Shield's Final Four?
Is there any question that it should be Seahawks vs. Broncos?
The 49ers got there last year and I'm not a real big Jim Harbaugh fan. Although I do like a few players on San Francisco I'd rather see the Seahawks win this weekend and get back to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. The 49ers have been there enough times and I want to watch Jim Harbaugh squirm, kick, and pout for another off-season as his team gets so close yet so far away from a title.
On the other side the Patriots have...persevered through injuries and once again reached the AFC title game. This is New England's 10th conference title game (NFL only) in franchise history and their 8th in the Tom Brady era. You've won enough, I'd like to see Manning and Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Everyone always complains about how all you have to do in the NFL is "get hot at the right time" and the "best team doesn't always win the Super Bowl" but the Seahawks and Broncos have felt like the best two teams this season and their regular season records back it up.
I want to see the two best teams get after each other. Plus, the Manning versus the Seattle secondary is probably the most compelling matchup in the entire playoffs.
2. There have been a record 647 (roughly) players who are foregoing their last year of eligibility and entering this spring's NFL Draft. Who are 5 players who left that you think will have the best NFL careers?
Okay, it's actually 96 players who declared with a year of eligibility. It's still a record. My top prospects from that group are as follows:
RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
He's a beast at 5'10" 210 pounds with really good speed. Seastrunk kind of reminds me of a better version of Jonas Gray. He's a little bit older than you think at 22 years old thanks to a redshirt year at Oregon and sitting out his sophomore season after transferring to Baylor.
Sure you could put the "system" tag on him and everything. I'm not doing that. He had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons for the Bears and only carried the ball 20+ times in a single game once for his entire career. Seastrunk averaged 7.5 yards a carry for two seasons of work! That's just phenomenal.
WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
His sophomore season was a bit of a slump-fest but damn it if he didn't turn it on again in 2013. After just 3 seasons at Clemson he leaves with 240 receptions, 3,391 yards, and 27 touchdowns not to mention numerous big moment plays.
Watkins is the perfect size for the NFL, too. At 6'1" 205 he's the perfect blend of size and speed. Most mock drafts have him as the first receiver off the board and maybe in the Top 10 overall. I'd bet he's an All-Pro within 3 years.
DT Louis Nix, Notre Dame
Irish Chocolate might be the most "can't miss" defender to come out of Notre Dame since Bryant Young. That's how good I think Nix can be at the next level.
He might not play a flashy position but I think he has 3 to 5 Pro Bowls in his future.
FS Hasean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, Alabama
I think he's the top safety in the draft and it's not even close. Clinton-Dix had a stellar career in Tuscaloosa after playing 3 seasons, and only 2 as a full-time starter.
There's a ton of potential here that might not even be realized.
3. In your opinion who is the most underrated player in the NFL?
It has to be receiver Josh Gordon from the Browns. I don't pour a ton of time into the NFL, I have to admit. I like to think that I'm reasonably well versed though and I'm afraid to admit that I had no idea who Gordon was and that he just led the freakin' NFL in receiving yards this year!
What a career this kid has had over the past few years. He catches just 1 pass during his freshman year at Baylor then has a really nice sophomore season (42 catches, 715 yards, 7 TD) before being suspended indefinitely prior to his junior season.
Gordon then transferred to Utah and sat out the entire 2011 season. In 2012 he was taken in the NFL Supplemental Draft by Cleveland and signed a 4-year deal with the Browns.
As a rookie he balled out with 50 receptions, 805 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Even with a 2-game suspension to start 2013 he still led the league in receiving yards! In Cleveland! With Browns quarterbacks throwing him the ball!
Using a conversion chart I think this means Gordon could average about 4,087 yards in an average NFL offense.
4. The website Kissing Suzy Kolber asked the question, "What if the NFL logos were Hipsters?" They then made some changes to each logo to reflect their hipster personality. Which one is the best?
There are some real gems in there. Some real beauties, as Larz would say.
I like the Rams, Cardinals, and Eagles because smoking birds are always funny. The Steelers logo mixed with the Subaru got a good chuckle out of me as well. I might be way off base on this but does the plaid Browns helmet look like it would be amazing in real life? I've heard the Browns have put in their paperwork with the NFL to redesign their uniforms and I'm just saying let's not take this plaid option off the table just yet.
I thought the Cowboys and Packers hipster logos were perfect, but I'll go with my hometown Bills mostly for the description: Yeah, I used to go to the Super Bowl a lot, back when it was interesting. It sold out, man, I'm not going back.
5. In Mel Kiper's Mock Draft he has Johnny Manziel going first overall to the Houston Texans. If the over/under is set at the 3.5 overall what are you taking with Johnny Football?
I'll take the under. That's based on need at the top of the draft and if Manziel is truly going to be in consideration as the top QB he's definitely going real quick.
The Rams probably won't take a QB with the No. 2 pick but they also have the No. 13 pick and will surely receive some enticing trade offers. At any rate, the Texans (1st), Jaguars (3rd), Browns (4th), Raiders (5th), and Vikings (8th) are all super quarterback hungry.
I'm sure Manziel is going to wow scouts at the Combine or his Pro Day. The likelihood of him going in the top 3 overall is pretty high.