Detroit Lions RB Competition

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

Heading into the 2015-2016 season, the Detroit Lions have a crowded backfield. In today’s NFL, that’s not a bad thing. Many teams are moving to the running back by committee model. In this model, teams can not only keep fresh legs on the field at all times, but they also believe they can prolong the length of an NFL running back’s career. Many of these backs today begin to decline by age 27 or 28 when athletes in other sports would be just hitting their prime. Let’s take a look at who is expected to be splitting the carries for the Lions this season.

Joique Bell 5’11″ 229 lbs

Bell shared the carries last season with Reggie Bush who is now with the 49ers but for the most part was the lead back. Bell was given 223 carries to Bush’s 76. Both managed a pedestrian 3.9 yards per carry but Bell managed 8 total touchdowns (7 rushing, 1 receiving). Bell showed great flashes and even proved to be a threat receiving the ball out of the backfield compiling 34 receptions for 322 yards. Bell figures to get a good share of the carries, especially between the tackles but there is a rookie right behind him in the pecking order.

Ameer Abdullah 5’9″ 205 lbs

Ameer Abdullah, detroit lions

Ameer Abdullah

The Lions selected Abdullah with the 54th overall pick in the 2015 draft. Abdullah had a decorated career at Nebraska rushing for over 1,600 yards in both his junior and senior season while also eclipsing 1,000 yards as a sophomore. For his career at Nebraska, Abdullah ran for 4,588 yards and 39 touchdowns. A threat in the passing game as well, Abdullah caught 73 passes for 690 yards and another 7 touchdowns. As a 2nd round pick, Abdullah will certainly be given his opportunities.

Theo Riddick 5’9″ 200 lbs

Riddick was selected in the 6th round with the 199th pick in the 2013 draft out of Notre Dame. He has not been much of a threat on the ground garnering 29 carries for 76 yards and 1 touchdown in his first 2 seasons in the league. He has however found a niche as a 3rd down back being a safety valve in the passing game for Matthew Stafford. In limited time in 2014, Riddick caught 34 passes for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. Riddick will certainly find ways to get on the field this season because of his ability to make plays.

Another name to look out for is rookie fullback Michael Burton. Burton was selected in the 5th round (168th pick) in the 2015 draft out of Rutgers. After playing his senior season at 232 pounds, Burton weighed in at 242 in his pre-draft measurables and showed up to camp at 250. Burton has added the needed muscle to play fullback in the NFL. Primarily a lead blocker, Burton to manage to showcase some offensive skill in a poor Rutgers offense during he tenure. He managed 47 receptions for 401 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air and had 22 rushes for 116 yards on the ground. With an offense that allows him to do more, Burton could be a hidden option for the Lions.

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NFL Preseason: Is it Worth a Players While?

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

In recent years the NFL has discussed various different changes for the preseason. Do we get rid of it all together? Shorten it? In 2008, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attempted to change the preseason’s format from 4 to 2 games but add 2 additional regular season games. It ultimately was rejected and the NFL continues to stand with 4 preseason games. Year after year, we see many great players in this league lost for the season or a portion of the season due to a preseason game. Here’s a few important players to their team who were recently injured in a preseason game that will affect their regular season.

Jordy Nelson – WR Green Bay Packers

Jordy Nelson injured during a preseason game against the Steelers

Jordy Nelson injured during a preseason game against the Steelers

Nelson has been one of the best wide receivers in the league since bursting on the season in 2011. He has been Aaron Rodgers favorite target in recent years accumulating over 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns over the last 2 seasons. Nelson tore his ACL during the August 23rd preseason matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nelson will now miss the entire 2015 season.

Maurkice Pouncey – C Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a broken ankle in the same preseason game that Jordy Nelson was lost for the season and will require surgery. Pouncey may not be lost for the season. He was placed on the short term IR. Under league rules, Pouncey can not practice for six regular season weeks and can not appear in a game for eight weeks. Pouncey is a Pro Bowl center that has anchored the Steeler offensive line since joining the league in 2010.

Brandon Gibson – WR New England Patriots

After spending sometime with the Miami Dolphins, Gibson signed on with the Patriots and had been playing great football this preseason. That progress was derailed when he tore his ACL in a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. To replace Gibson, the Patriots have signed WR Reggie Wayne.

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Tulo Heads to Toronto

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

When Troy Tulowitzki signed a 6 year extension worth roughly $120 million with the Colorado Rockies in November of 2010 he likely thought he would stay a Rockie until the deals expiration in 2020. However, with the Rockies sitting fifth in the NL West at 42-55, it looked to be time to sell off one of their best assets. The Rockies have finished with 66, 74, 64, 73, and 83 wins in each of the last 5 seasons. Those win totals won’t compete for championships and so rather than continue to pay who was the face of their franchise in Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Will Selva - troy tulowitzki

Tulowitzki is heading to Toronto

The Blue Jays receive one of the best shortstops in the game. Tulo is currently hitting .300 with 12 home runs and 53 runs batted in. While he has had his fair share of injuries, Tulo has one of the best bats in the game from the shortstop position. With the Blue Jays at 50-50, they look to be all-in in their hunt for a postseason berth. They’re 7 games back of the New York Yankees in the AL East and just 3 back in the Wildcard race. The addition of Tulowitzki to a lineup that already features power in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson should make for some tough nights for opposing pitchers.

Tulowitzki felt “blindsided” by the move. Here’s what he had to say, “I felt like I got blindsided a bit. I thought I was in the loop, in the conversation.” This comes after Troy had been told the Rockies would keep him or if a trade arose, they would inform him of the possibility of moving him.

The Rockies in return received shortstop Jose Reyes and pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro. Reyes like Tulowitzski is going through some strange times. In December of 2011, Reyes signed a free agency deal with the Miami Marlins for 6 years $106 million. Expecting to spend the duration of the contract in Miami, Reyes was shipped in a salary dump to Toronto in just the second year of his deal. Reyes felt betrayed by Marlins President Jeffrey Loria. He now is moving onto Colorado, another destination he probably thought he wouldn’t be playing out his current contract in. Jose should not get too comfortable though. It’s extremely likely that the Rockies as sellers at the deadline will look to move Reyes again.

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Cleveland Cavaliers Extend Their Asset

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

Heading into the 2015 NBA Draft, many thought Cleveland Cavalier center Brendan Haywood would be dealt. Haywood, a veteran with 13 years of experience signed a 6 year $55 million deal in 2010 with the Dallas Mavericks. However, the deal was not fully guaranteed. Haywood is set to make $10.5 million dollars this year but if waived by August 1st, the Cavaliers owe him nothing. But rather than just cut him, it’s in the Cavs best interest to move him and bring back another player who can contribute, making roughly $10.5 million a year all the while clearing cap space for a trade partner. The Cavs tried and ultimately extended their deadline.

Brendan Haywood is expected to be waived by Portland

Brendan Haywood is expected to be waived by Portland

The Cavs traded Haywood, forward Mike Miller, and two 2nd round draft picks to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for well nothing. The Cavaliers will however receive a $10.5 million and $2.85 million trade exception. These are the figures that Haywood and Miller had been set to make this year. The exceptions last one year. The move allows the Cavs extra time, seemingly until the upcoming seasons trade deadline to use the $10.5 million exception. By that time, Cleveland will hope to pounce on a player from a team that has since fallen out of the playoff race and is looking to clean house.

The moving of Mike Miller comes as a bit of a surprise. Miller has essentially followed LeBron James over the course of the last 4 or 5 years. However, by dealing Miller in addition to Haywood, the Cavaliers lower their tax bill. Cleveland also recently moved 2015 2nd round pick Rakeem Christmas in order to avoid paying him and a steeper luxury tax bill. Cleveland still has to handle deals with Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and possibly JR Smith.

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NBA Draft: 2nd Round Gems

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

The NBA Draft is very different from the NFL Draft in the sense that the NFL’s is 7 rounds and the NBA’s is 2. In the NBA, you don’t find as many gems in the draft, 1st or 2nd round. Often times people think what they want of a 1st round pick in the NBA, but reality is the 25th pick in the 1st round is really just the 25th best player among 60 that are picked. A late first round pick is similar to that of a 4th round pick in the NFL Draft. However, sometimes NBA teams who do their research come away with a great player in the 2nd round, which is hard to do. Let’s take a look at some of the better 2nd round picks in recent memory.

Monta Ellis – 40th Pick, 2005

Monta Ellis comes from a time where high school players could go straight to the NBA. Ellis was certainly talented in high school but teams were unsure how it would translate to the NBA. He definitely came in with a couple of problems right off the bat. He was a scorer in high school but at 6’3 185 pounds, he didn’t fit the physical mold of an NBA shooting guard. He’s now a great combo guard for the Dallas Mavericks and holds career averages of 19.3 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 assists per game.

Marc Gasol – 48th Pick, 2007

Will Selva - Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol was drafted 48th overall but he may have fell just because he was not ready to come to the NBA due to his contract with Akasvayu Girona in Spain. Gasol was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers and actually traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for his brother Pau Gasol. Gasol has since been an All-Star center for the Grizzlies averaging 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game.

Manu Ginobili – 57th Pick, 1999

Overseas, Ginobili won 2 Italian League MVPs as well as the Euroleague Finals MVP so he came to the NBA having accomplished a lot already. When Ginobili came to the NBA in 2002, it didn’t take long for him to carve himself out a role with the San Antonio Spurs. It’s usually hard for a 57th pick to make a roster let alone contribute on a great team. Ginobili has won 4 titles with the Spurs and has been one of the leagues premier 6th men.

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Nets Thaddeus Young to Opt Out

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Thaddeus Young from the Minnesota Timberwolves at the 2015 NBA trade deadline for Kevin Garnett. The move seemed to be a win-win for both teams but more so a steal for the Nets. The Timberwolves, who were out of contention received Garnett, a future Hall of Famer, a former Timberwolve, and great asset to sell tickets. The Nets received a younger more talented combo forward in Young. Young came to the Nets with a year left on his deal valued at $10.2 million. However, that year was a player option and Young has decided to opt out.

Will Selva - Thad Young

Thaddeus Young will become a free agent.

The decision doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Young played well for the Nets down the stretch. He played in 28 games (20 starts) averaging 13.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals and assists. He showed improved range knocking down 38% of his 3 point attempts, a career high. Young played both the 3 and the 4 for the Nets and figures to be a great 4 when teams play small ball.

Young is ultimately looking to cash in on a long-term deal. The Nets hold his Bird Rights meaning they can offer him more than any other team. At age 27, Young should be able to get himself a deal in the neighborhood of 4-5 years. That would bring him to age 32 where he’ll most likely have 1 or 2 more NBA contracts left in him. The Nets will try not to overpay to keep Young but if the past is any indication, the Nets will ultimately look to break the piggy bank yet again. Bringing back talent the Nets have is one of few moves they can make in order to stay competitive. While over the salary cap by a wide margin, Bird Rights will be the Nets best friend moving forward. Bird Rights allow the Nets to continuously break the cap in order to bring back players they previously had under contract.

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New Look 49ers

Will Selva’s latest blog post.

With training camp just around the corner, it’s almost time for the NFL again. When the San Francisco 49ers report for training camp, there will be a lot of new faces, starting with the head coach. Jim Harbaugh left the team amid reports he was going to be fired and took the University of Michigan head coaching vacancy. Enter Jim Tomsula, former 49ers defensive line coach, now 49ers head coach. The team as a whole looks different as well.

Will Selva - Patrick Willis

Patrick Willis

On offense, longtime running back Frank Gore almost signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but eventually signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree signed with the Raiders and guard Mike Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers did bring in wide receiver Torrey Smith from the Baltimore Ravens to play opposite of Anquan Boldin. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson lasted just 1 season with the team and signed with the San Diego Chargers following his release from San Francisco. With Gore’s departure, the 49ers signed Reggie Bush to help handle the load in the backfield with Carlos Hyde.

The defense took an even larger hit. All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis shockingly retired at the age of 30. You can’t speak to how big of a loss Willis is to a team. Regarded as one of the best linebackers in the game, you can’t just replace him with anyone. The 49ers also lost All-Pro defensive end Justin Smith. A phenomenal player, Smith retiring wasn’t as big of a shock being that he was turning 36 by the start of the 2015 season. Smith compiled 87 career sacks but provided a tremendous amount of run stuffing efforts that don’t make the stat book. Another player that retired was linebacker Chris Borland. Borland was just 24 years old and shocked not only the organization but the league with his announcement. They have added Darnell Dockett on the line but he is coming off an ACL tear from last August and is 33 years old.

There will be many new faces in the 49ers locker room this season. It’ll be interesting to see if the 49ers can keep up in the ultra competitive NFC West. They have a great dynamic duo now in Boldin and Smith that should provide Kaepernick with deep ball and short over the middle opportunities. Having Reggie Bush available out of the backfield on 3rd downs should provide a great safety net for Kaepernick when he’s in trouble.

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