Another Draft to Remember

The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone and this was definitely a pretty deep NFL Draft full of amazing athletes that played in different colleges around the country. A lot of players had the potential to be the number one pick by the Cleveland Browns, but they settled on drafting what could possibly be their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield and then took former Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward three picks later. “I thought the Browns did what the Browns do”, said fellow NFL fan Chris Hosaflook, who is referring to the disaster of a front office and team the Cleveland Browns are. Selecting Mayfield overall at one was a pretty surprising move, but general manager John Dorsey has confidence that Mayfield is their franchise QB.

I was most intrigued to see what my Denver Broncos would do. They had the fifth overall pick and there was a lot of speculation from different analysts across the board on what they would do with that pick. Would they take one of the many outstanding QB’s off the board, even though they signed a veteran QB at the start of the new league year who has a lot of potential after being successful the prior year? They ended up with arguably the best overall athlete in the draft, former NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who has been compared as a combination of new teammate Von Miller and Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack, who are two of the best overall players currently in the NFL.

Perhaps the biggest story of the entire draft was former University of Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, the same team his twin brother Shaquill is currently a member of. Shaquem has only one hand, losing his left hand when he was young because of a medical disorder. I find it intriguing how a player can succeed in football with one hand, but Shaquem is finding ways to defy all odds.

The draft has concluded and I am ready for training camp and the season to start. Analysts said the Broncos were one of the big winners of the entire draft and could be back in the playoff conversation with all the moves they made and that is exciting to me.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Local Teammates Stay Reunited….at Home

A football player’s number one dream is to eventually make it into the NFL. Along one’s football journey, they encounter teammates and part of being on a team is getting to know one another and forming relationships. It is very rare, in my opinion, that two teammates stay together from high school, to college and even all the way through the NFL Draft. That is definitely the case for two guys that attended high school here in Northern Virginia and have been together all the way.

Cornerback/punt returner Greg Stroman and defensive tackle Tim Settle both played football at Virginia Tech. They were also teammates on the football team at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, VA. Both declared for the NFL Draft this year and were drafted. The really awesome feeling is both Settle and Stroman were drafted by the same NFL team, the hometown Washington Redskins.

Stonewall Jackson business teacher, Pittsburgh area native and Steeler fan Jill Crayne said, “You are hearing it here first, I’m officially a Redskins fan!” Detroit Lions fan and Michigan native Erin Ball, who is also a business teacher at Stonewall, said she can’t be more proud of the two of them and is happy they are sticking close to home.

I have the honor of knowing Stroman and don’t personally know Settle, but two guys I attended high school with are now in the NFL and I am beyond excited for these two gentlemen, especially since they are staying local with the Redskins. I hope to see both of them do great things with the Redskins and am beyond anxious to see what they can do!

Photo courtesy of redskins.com

http://www.nbcsports.com/washington/redskins/redskins-double-hokies-pick-virginia-tech-cb-greg-stroman

 

 

New Faces in New Places

When NFL Free Agency opened last month, I was really anxious to see where this new class of free agents were going to end up, especially the quarterbacks. My Denver Broncos were one of those QB needy teams and I think they found their man for now, so it is still a question whether they will take another QB with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft.

There were a lot of great QB’s in this year’s free agency class: Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and quite a few others. The Minnesota Vikings, one of last season’s playoff teams and one of the greatest stories in the NFL, in my mind, lost all three quarterbacks on their previous roster to new teams at the start of free agency. Case Keenum signed with my Broncos, which I thought was a solid plan B, Teddy Bridgewater signed with the New York Jets and Sam Bradford signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The main question: what would the Vikings do? Well, they signed arguably the best quarterback on the free agent market in Kirk Cousins.

As a Broncos fan, I was really hoping they would sign Kirk Cousins. He is a solid QB and I thought he would immediately take them to the top, but signing Keenum was a pretty good backup plan because of his success in Minnesota last year. I am hoping he will show signs of that and won’t be a “one hit wonder.” There were many different rumors of mutual interest between the Broncos and Cousins, but rumors are rumors. It’s official when the player signs his name on the dotted line.

Now the big question: how will all these players do in their new places? I recently spoke with a gentleman who says he thinks the Broncos could very well be a team to watch for this year with Keenum at the helm, so I am definitely hopeful for that. Fellow NFL fan Chris Hosaflook told me “Some will pan out really well and some not so well. Kirk Cousins to the Vikings has the potential of being 8-8 or 15-1 and a Super Bowl contender.”

8804A4FD-833A-4BA4-BC1E-AD0A27E0338B-37682-000007E7FD70F414 Photo from AP.

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJzpoj_NxqQ

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For the third consecutive season, one of the biggest rivalries, if not the biggest rivalry in the NHL, will take place in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals will take on Sidney Crosby’s Penguins.

The Capitals are fresh off of beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games, while the Penguins are fresh off of being their in-state rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, in six games. According to statistics, the Caps and Pens have met 10 times, including the past two seasons, both won by the Penguins, who are the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions. Other statistics include the Capitals losing 9 of the last 10 matchups with Pittsburgh, including the past seven matchups.

I happen to be friends with quite a few Penguins fans and all of them have told me how extremely confident they are. All of them have said something like, “Oh, the Pens will dominate like they always have.” Well, we will see. This is honestly my favorite rivalry in the NHL because us Caps fans always love to trash talk our fellow fans from Pittsburgh. We hate Crosby and they hate Ovechkin, so we are even! Two of my friends, Jill and Brad, both told me “GO PENS!!”

I have a feeling this is once again going to be another six or seven game series. Of course, I am not going to, nor will I ever pick against my Capitals, so we will see how it turns out. If they can finally proceed past the second round, life in DC will be great. Perhaps, it will lead to a conference final matchup with my second favorite team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now THAT will be even more fun.

ROCK THE RED!!! LET’S GO CAPS!!

45B044E3-898C-437F-B3BC-317D52976C2C-39680-0000085B0A6E2A58Photo from USA Today Sports

http://https://www.nhl.com/news/washington-will-play-pittsburgh-in-eastern-conference-second-round/c-298221038?tid=297172052

The Vegas Golden Knights are, you know…Golden!

If you are one that likes a good story in sports, well, do I have one for you. The Vegas Golden Knights just completed their first season in the NHL and weren’t even supposed to be in the playoff picture this season. Well, they completely defied all odds. The Golden Knights, led by veteran head coach Gerard Gallant and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, became the first NHL team since the 1979-80 Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers to make the playoffs in their inaugural season. Vegas had 109 total points, good for second overall in the Western Conference and the fifth overall best record in the entire National Hockey League.¬†With a brand new team, the NHL has a way of getting players through something called the NHL Expansion Draft, which the team selects one player from each team and Marc-Andre Fleury, former goalie of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was one of the first players taken in the draft.

Their very first home game took place soon after this past year’s shooting in Las Vegas, so it was a great time for a new sports team to come into the picture in order to bring together one large city like Las Vegas. The game was against the Arizona Coyotes and was nationally televised. I watched that game and it was one of the more emotional intros I have ever seen in a sporting event and I have seen quite a few different sporting events.

I, for one, was also shocked with the Golden Knights’ success, as was most hockey fans. A couple months ago, I was at Buffalo Wild Wings watching a Capitals/Penguins game and also at the same time, the Golden Knights were playing in Minnesota against the Wild. I was sitting with a Penguins fan and a Capitals fan watching our game and he told me how much he missed Marc-Andre Fleury in a Penguins uniform because Fleury was their goalie for over 10 years. “The Golden Knights are now my second favorite hockey team,” he told me.

The Golden Knights are fresh off a 4-game sweep of the Los Angeles Kings and are getting ready for a second round matchup with the San Jose Sharks, who also just swept their previous opponent. This will definitely be one of the best series to keep an eye on because Vegas and San Jose are two teams who had great success in the postseason, so we will see if the Golden Knights can keep their magical season alive.

6EE5CF81-FCFB-44BA-949A-BCCCEBA6C553-37559-000007E3A3C58118Photo from ESPN

http://http://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/22926524/vegas-golden-knights-first-clinch-playoff-berth-inaugural-season-1979-80