After a one week sojourn north of the border, 5WF returns to its native soil for another edition. Everyone needs a holiday or change of scenery once in a while, right?
You know the format-5 questions, 5 answers. Discussion and debate ensues.
1. Following last weekend's NFL Draft, who were the big winners from the 6 Notre Dame players drafted? Overall winners?
The biggest winner from a Notre Dame standpoint has to be Tyler Eifert. He goes to a nearly ideal situation in the Bengals (did I really just say that?). He has an elite-level WR in A.J. Green and another quality TE in Jermaine Gresham. Honestly, how many people outside of Cincinnati realized that they have made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 seasons? I sure didn't before last weekend.
Other big winners from a Notre Dame perspective are Kapron Lewis-Moore and Jamoris Slaughter. Both were questionable after injuries, but both got picked. KLM enters a nice situation in Baltimore where he should fit in nicely and Slaughter gets a chance in Cleveland.
A couple of teams that I think did a nice job are the Packers and 49ers. Green Bay got to quality RBs at value positions, shored up their defense and added a couple offensive linemen. The 49ers traded up to get one of the top safeties and added depth to their defense. Will anyone be surprised to see these two teams back in the playoffs in 2013/14? Not really.
2. What about NFL Draft Losers for both ND draftees and teams?
Unfortunately, Cierre Wood was the big draft loser for the Irish. He left with a year of eligibility on the table and went undrafted. Fortunately for him, he signed a free agent deal with the Texans-a team that has a nice history with UDFA running backs. Namaste.
Wood will get the chance to earn a spot on the roster. All anyone can ask for is an opportunity. Good luck to Cierre-and Irish fans will always have that TD run against Oklahoma to remember you by.
As far as teams that lost out on the draft, I have to go with a couple of teams-the Giants and the Bills. I don't know what the Giants were doing with their first round pick and missed out on some big needs (LB/CB). The Bills were the Bills and overpaid for EJ Manuel. I understand that people are enamored with his size (6'5"), but I just didn't see the production at the college level to understand spending a 1st round pick (#16 Overall) on him. Trade down, get a couple extra picks, and he is still there in the 2nd round.
Honorable mention: the Bears. They reached on their first round pick as well and didn't do enough to address an aging defense. Sorry Chicago fans-you could be in trouble very soon.
3. Okay, last draft question. What about Notre Dame's 2014 NFL Draft Prospects?
Not surprising, there are plenty of opinions about next year's draft (even though it is 51 weeks away). CBSSports.com has a few lists to peruse, including their initial Top 50 and rankings for every position. They currently have three draft-eligible members of the 2013 team in their Top 50-Stephon Tuitt (#6), Louis Nix (#11) and Bennett Jackson (#43).
Notre Dame had 6 players drafted in 2013, the most since 2007. I see 9 draftees (10 if Tuitt leaves early). Nix is a sure fire 1st rounder-likely going in the first 15 picks. Tuitt would go there as well if he leaves early. Zach Martin is a potential 1st round pick (4 year starter at LT), but is probably more of an early to mid-2nd round pick (as he won't play LT in the NFL). Jackson is currently listed as the #5 corner on CBS's list, which probably puts him in the second round.
In addition to that group, Chris Watt (probable 3rd rounder), Prince Shembo (2nd day pick)and TJ Jones (4th-6th rounder) are all certain picks. The remaining linebackers (Danny Spond, Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox) will all depend on how their 2013 performance and evaluations (combine/pro day).
Of the group, I am intrigued by two players. The first is TJ Jones. He had a very productive 2012 season while flying a bit under the radar (50 rec/649 yds/4 TDs). He would probably be an ideal slot receiver in the NFL, so his draft stock depends heavily on his 40 yard dash time. The second player is Prince Shembo. I think he could play his way into a fringe 1st round draft choice. The NFL places a high value on outside linebackers who can both rush the QB and drop into coverage. I expect his TFL and sack numbers to increase this fall with a more experience and deeper secondary. With better numbers in the fall and a good combine, it wouldn't come as a complete shock to me to see him get picked early in the draft.
4. Non-sports question #1: Summer movie season is officially here. Which flick are you most looking forward to?
When looking at the line-up for this summer, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed at first. There are way too many sequels and remakes. Hollywood seems content churning out the same copycat and unoriginal movies.
Of the list, I think Iron Man 3 looks like it will be at the top of my list of movies to see. The first two have been very entertaining-probably the most entertaining of the comic book movies. Man of Steel looks interesting, but didn't they just do a Superman movie a few years ago? The latest edition of the Star Trek series should be another solid installment (the previous one was the first of any of the Star Trek movies that I watched, so don't take my word on that one).
5. Non-sports question #2: With many TV series winding down for the season, what are you watching? Is there any can't miss programs on television right now?
I don't have many shows that I would list as "must watch." The NBC Thursday night lineup has been pretty solid, but The Office is a few years past its prime. I am glad to see that one going away. Parks and Rec and Community are two of the funniest shows out there on free TV, and I think the latter is highly underrated-the writing is absolutely fantastic.
The one show that is probably at the top of my list is an OFD staff favorite-Game of Thrones. I started reading the books before the HBO series came out and have been pleasantly surprised about how true to the books it has been. Generally, HBO has done a great job (outside of the HBO-ification of the series, which does take away from things a bit). The real question I have for this season is this-which wedding will be featured in the final episode of Season 3. Will it be the royal wedding or the red wedding?
It has been interesting to see what the series has done for the fantasy genre overall. I think it has taken some of the D&D/nerd mystique away from it all (it isn't all dragons and magic after all). Harry Potter might have played a role in that as well-it's hard to say. While I generally enjoyed the Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) series, I think The Wheel of Time series would make for a better TV series-and wouldn't have to be restricted to premium cable.