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Nick Mennuti: I think my ongoing relationship to surveillance themes stems from two factors. But, and this is probably the bigger one, as writers, we really are essentially voyeurs, so commenting on surveillance culture allows me to sort of auto-critique my own psychopathology. All they do is take it further underground and go off the books. Eventually, the machines will watch us. If you write tech thrillers, you have to use the tools of the trade, and the Internet was a gift to all of us. The themes that dog your career no matter how hard you run.
TM: You have a mixed background of training as a screenwriting, as a fiction writer with high literary aspirations, and now as a thriller novelist — who just sold the film rights. Would you talk more about the difference between writing genre fiction and literary fiction as well as the commonalities that you perceive? I recall you once said your genre fiction has a literary sheen. Please divulge. NM: Did I say my genre fiction has a literary sheen? I can sure be pretentious!
And thanks for exposing The Millions world to it. TM: , Is that really pretentious? I thought you were attempting to describe your authorial intentions. Honestly, I would prefer to read genre fiction with literary ambitions than genre fiction with a demotic sheen. I actually think genre fiction could use a little more pretentiousness at times.
Genre fiction frequently relies on well-mined archetypes both on a character and narrative level. Even the best genre fiction is mining the same tropes. One man against the system. Usually a romance with someone from the other side. And narrative momentum really is the essential thing in genre. Genre fiction is meant to be very accessible and sort of shorn of linguistic personality.
Even at its best, the prose is supposed to be very workmanlike. The author is supposed to disappear in service of the story. I have trouble staying the hell out of my work. And this is way, way more of a problem in genre fiction. Could you talk about the books and films that have most influenced your own writing, and specifically what you channeled for Weaponized? Cioran and Freud both spent significant time as exiles, so that was important to me for Kyle in Weaponized.
I wanted to draw upon the literature of the exile. For movies, I really studied Michael Mann and Hitchcock very closely. Mann in particular because he knows how to use landscapes and architecture to express psychological states — and that was key for me in Weaponized. I wanted you to experience the state of being an exile in Cambodia in a subjective way. Mann and Hitchcock really are the kings of subjective cinema and to be more specific—subjective thriller cinema, which obviously Weaponized owes a great deal to. And then I do like cultural theory, science, and politics a great deal.
I spend far too much time every day searching out esoteric ramblings and numbers online. However, despite having developed the U. He hates appearing on the television news and having information about his personal life disclosed publicly. His foil, Julian Robinson, seems quite the opposite, charming and comfortable in his own skin despite his chameleon-like ability to transform his identity.
And of course, the two end up trading identities. Could you talk more about this paradox in relation to the book, and what identity means now, and what it will become? NM: Identity is a huge concern for me because it really is the common human denominator. Humans crave recognition. And we construct ourselves through the eyes of others. We become who we are by how people see us, recognize us.
I sometimes think the amount of social media is really just a sign of how desperate for interpersonal recognition we really are. If you want recognition, you have to use it. It really is like Darwinism in that sense. Poor MySpace. I think one of the reasons literature has been having so much trouble is that maybe we need new words. We have new numbers to express the new world. We have quantum numbers. No one can understand them except a few, but we have those numbers.
But do we have those words yet? Can we get them? And maybe the new literature will have to be a formal creation instead of a lexical one. Robinson is uniquely qualified to live in a quantified world because his identity is fluid. The greatest difference is the offence — Snowden merely leaked the information about the secret surveillance programs to the public while West created the software that made this kind of government surveillance possible. The Internet was created as a doomsday device for Continuance of Government. It has always had a military function, just like the highway system in the U.
Manning just did a data dump on WikiLeaks. Half that stuff should never have been classified. I chose to make Kyle the victim of a leak as opposed to the leaker because as a writer I found that more provocative. How do you get people to feel for that guy? I can make a case for Snowden.
TM: The question of a disregard for ethics is central to the narrative, too. Kyle West and Julian Robinson and Andrei Protosevitch are all powerful men who do what they do because they can. The same applies to Robinson and West — they readily remove themselves from the ethical equation and personal responsibility in the ways they pursue power. West is perhaps more self-aware and conscious of an ethical imperative than Robinson — it seems to be both his downfall and his redemption.
Do you see a need for a stronger ethics of accountability? Or is it a lost cause at this point? In my opinion, the problem is that the people who need to be held accountable — we know who they are, thank you — are not. And that is a habitual matter of process.
So if the people we expect to be held accountable escape responsibility, then what are all of us regular folks supposed to think? We are almost demanded to be happy unless. And we are largely not. And I think people began to assume that leading an unethical life may provide a shortcut to at least short-term fulfillment. I agree though.
Kyle, at bottom, is an ethical human being. Flawed, but trying. What is your response to this, with regard to the previous question on ethics, and also his argument that information consumerism is a greater danger than government surveillance programs?
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NM: I both agree and disagree with his diagnosis. You cannot separate the military-industrial complex, surveillance, and capitalism. Because the thing is that surveillance is the newest notch on the military-industrial complex. The twilight is coming on traditional means of warfare.
The military-industrial complex is tremendously adaptable. They can see the writing on the wall and they know that Systems Intelligence is going to replace traditional Human Intelligence and also standard means of warfare. They are getting with the program. Systems Intelligence finds the target and the CIA whacks them. That said, I think Morozov has a point in that information overload and market forces have rendered us basically morally agnostic.
Ironically, both our culture and the NSA — and this is something I tried to get at in Weaponized — have the same problem. We have lost our moral compasses because of filtering issues. We have too much de-contextualized data and no way to process and filter it all. You end up with everything being weighted equally. Which produces an utter vacuum. So, although I agree with Morozov philosophically, I disagree with his separation of government surveillance from capitalism.
TM: Plot, pacing, and structure are central to your fiction as well as to your conception of what makes good story. And if you can write like Amis or Nabokov you can get away with certain things that us lesser mortals cannot. We lesser mortals need to follow some rules. My first rule is just to outline. And then do a little more outlining.
I know some people feel that it kills the spontaneity, but I find it frees me up. If I know the story when I start in, I feel like I can really concentrate on the characters, the prose, the mood. And I actually love the margins more than the meat sometimes. Plot, structure, and pacing are all interrelated.
Plot is clearly the first thing and needs to be differentiated from story. Story is — what is this thing about? Plot is — how am I going to get there, to tell this story in individual beats. Structure is — the most effective means to do so, to maximize drama. And pacing ties into structure. Really most writing just comes down to one thing: What is the most effective way to dole out the pertinent information for this particular scene or moment? And you lose a year trying to save what you love, while reshaping the whole thing.
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Edan, so glad to read this! Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Future Missionaries of America by Matthew Vollmer and Floodmarkers by Nic Brown are short story collections from debut writers with enormous gifts. Their work is beautiful, funny, and delightfully weird. Matthew and Nic were my classmates at Iowa, where they proved to be not only talented writers, but also sharp and passionate readers.
In this first installment, Matthew talks to Nic about his book. Floodmarkers is a collection of linked stories that take place in the fictional town of Lystra, North Carolina, on the day Hurricane Hugo hits in These people, if I wrote about the least interesting aspects of their life, might seem totally normal. I mean, we live in a weird world, but it seems like most people ignore the weird and claim that everything is normal.
I am trying to do the opposite. MV: Where did the idea for this book originate? Did you have a collection of characters first, then realize, hey, it would be cool if I followed these guys during a freakish weather event, or was it the other way around? In other words, when exactly did your vision for this project begin what, exactly, did you envision the first time you thought of the idea and how did that vision change over time? This tic made me recall Hurricane Hugo, and I began to hang all of these disparate scenes onto that one event.
Storms are exciting. Hugo was very memorable for me, more for the build-up than the actual event. In Greensboro, where I was living at the time, we thought we were all going to die. We ended up just having some moderate flooding. But for the most part, the stories arose from the characters, or from a particular scene that I wanted to have happen.
The weather was always secondary, and more a structural device that gave all of these events a shared catalyst. MV: Once you knew that you wanted to write a series of stories set during Hugo, how did you proceed apart from sitting down at your typewriter and pecking the keys with two fingers? NB: I decided to break the day into four sections before sunrise, morning, afternoon, and evening , and try to make each proportional to the others.
Writing short stories is so hard, because with each one you often have to create a whole world — a new setting, a new voice, a new tempo. This shared setting and structural formality made the writing a lot easier for me, and ended up producing a book that is somewhere in between a novel and a short story collection.
NB: I did cut stories. I wrote another one about a blind man who lives in a duplex and falls in love with the woman on the other side of the house, then goes over there during the storm because he thinks he can hear her pets in distress due to sensory compensation, he has super-sensitive hearing. He gets locked in and ends up breaking a bunch of stuff, then the woman comes home and finds him in her side of the house.
It made readers very nervous. MV: Are any of your characters based on real people? Are you nervous about people recognizing themselves in the book? NB: Many of my characters are based on real people. I have a friend who is Manny. Different name, and he never stole a trampoline or actually did any of the things the fictional Manny does, but he is basically the most uninhibited person I know and one of the most unique looking — he looks like Sandra Bernhard.
I have spent so much time with him that I can envision the type of thing he would say or do in a situation, and I enjoy embodying that uninhibited voice for a while. My new book features a version of the same character much more extensively. As for all the others based on real people, yes, I am nervous. And so I am going to say nothing more. MV: Did you ever get sick of Lystra? Did you ever feel, when writing the book, that you were boxed in?
NB: I never got sick of Lystra — the structured format really helped my creative process — but I did long to write a story that involved different weather and took place over the course of more than one day. I think it is no coincidence that my new novel opens with a scene of extreme sunlight, told in first person. MV: How much research did you have to do for the book — and what kinds of primary sources did you consult? That was about it.
MV: You are known for liking small things. I also know that you enjoy small burgers. I think most of the stories here are about that length. What can you say about the relatively short length of your stories? NB: Hm. That is all true, and had gone basically undiagnosed until you pointed it out. When I play music, I prefer very stripped down arrangements.
I work at an art museum, and when I have to discuss certain artworks, I usually lean towards the figurative and simple. And the same goes for my food, my modes of transport, and of course — my stories. For example, if I had a Ferrari, how would I ever explore all of the things it could do? And where would I park it? Whereas, with my moped, I know exactly how to maximize all of its engine capacity at every speed, I can work on its engine myself, and I can park it anywhere. If it works right, these smaller stories should be as complex as anything larger.
And also less boring. I hope. In almost every story, you pull back at some point to deliver a tight, punchy paragraph of expository writing that provides context about the character. Was it important for you to limit background information and flashbacks? And if so, why? NB: I often write stories hoping to do without any backstory whatsoever. Backstory, flashback, exposition — I always feel like these are the areas that are most likely to lose a reader. The workout numbers were meh. He could probably do it. But Kikaha is a true stand-up outside linebacker.
Kikaha works back inside very well, can dip under his blocker and knows what he is doing against the run. Not many. Any metric that factors workout numbers into the equation will not be very impressed with Kikaha. Two conflicting numbers define Kikaha: 19 sacks in and a 4. Both numbers are misleading. Kikaha is a true outside linebacker who will be a solid complementary pass-rusher. Kikaha and Stephone Anthony upgrade and change the tone of the Saints linebacker corps.
I like the picks in tandem. They make the Saints defense younger, more aggressive and as soon as the rookie lumps fade less mistake-prone. No, no, the Storm were in the amazingly insolvent World Football League of the early s. Kendricks is a lot like his brother: a high-effort, scheme dependent inside linebacker who will hustle around and handle his assignments without making headlines. The Vikings need a replacement for Jasper Brinkley in the middle and an eventual not-too-eventual replacement for Chad Greenway.
Kendricks could wind up in some combination of those roles. Another safe, sound pick for a team that keeps adding rock-solid building blocks. Tartt impressed at the Senior Bowl. He hits hard, sheds blocks and flies around in zone coverage. Tartt majored in geography at Samford. Now I can hear you snickering. Geography major? Is that where they give the football players a map and tell them to find their way back to the athletic dorms? But geography is a big deal at Samford, where they have a popular geographic information sciences program.
Did you think the GPS in your minivan programmed itself? It was programmed by individuals like Tartt. Samford geography also has an active Facebook page and Twitter feed where you can learn about websites like Geoawesomeness. Geeky, you say? There is no sense in harping on the 49ers' needs. The 49ers have oodles of needs, so getting a safety with upside makes as much sense as getting anything else. Also: I love the new black uniforms. The fact that they completely mismatch the helmets and make players look like floating heads when the lights are dim makes me love them even more.
The Eagles allowed 72 passing plays of 20 or more yards last year and 18 pass plays of 40 or more yards, both the highest totals in the NFL. Better investigate. Rowe started at safety until his senior season, where he moved to cornerback. Often, these 6'1", pound tweeners either become soft free safeties or lanky cornerbacks who get assigned to cover Brandon Marshall and end up in the bottom left corner of his highlight montage. Rowe should be better.
He will drop some interceptions, and he will need deep support against faster receivers he timed at 4. The Eagles almost certainly see Rowe as a safety. They prefer safeties with cornerback skill sets. There may be an adjustment, but Rowe will be able to eliminate some mismatches and take away some opponents' big plays. Perryman will give them a matching pair of old-school thumpers in the middle. After allowing 4. But so does a pass rush that had 26 sacks. The Chargers need playmakers as much as they need "football players.
I have been following Andy Reid's roster management tendencies for years. Reid loves smart, un-athletic centers. An Andy Reid center is a heady quasi-quarterback who gets the protection scheme just right and then waddles out to help with a double-team. Hank Fraley was the ultimate Andy Reid center. He looked like the guy on the slow-pitch softball team who got winded rounding first, but he could play. Morse can play all over the interior line.
He gets high marks for toughness. And yeah, he has more athleticism than the guy who drives the butter truck. But right now, there are tons of better interior linemen on the board, including lots of smart, tough-guy centers. Morse will probably compete with Eric Kush for Rodney Hudson's old job at center. Kush was a smart, athletically limited sixth-round pick in If the Chiefs wanted to challenge him, they should have selected a different type of player, not the same type of player at a higher pay scale.
Williams was the technician of the Florida State cornerbacks; Darby was the burner who could use his speed to compensate for mistakes. Darby improved as an all-around defender in and ran circles around everyone at the combine; Williams ran a slower 40 at the combine and played through injuries in Both have some hard-to-quantify character concerns , because Florida State. Neither had the kind of character concerns that would scare away Rex Ryan. Darby is off the board and Williams isn't.
It's a sign of just how important tools are at cornerback. The Bills are clearly focused on getting faster on both sides of the ball, and Ryan is not about to let himself get thin at cornerback after the injury plague that overcame the Jets secondary last year. Darby will start as a matchup guy and nickel corner. For a team trying to beat the Patriots, Dolphins and Jets teams with radically rebuilt receiving corps, matchups and nickel defense will be critical.
Orchard recorded The Browns selected a one-dimensional pass-rusher in the first round in named Barkevious Mingo, and Mingo has been slow to develop, so perhaps selecting another one-dimensional pass-rusher to push him and replace Jabaal Sheard will move things along a bit. Phillips missed most of with a back injury; you have to worry about recurring back injuries when scouting pounders. Man, he was going through the motions in the fourth quarter on that 93 degree afternoon when he played 80 snaps.
Phillips is another athletic plus pounder with great quickness and a good understanding of what he is doing in a draft full of them. He knows how to shed blocks, where to go when the offense sets up a screen and so on. Danny Shelton has a better on-field motor, and Eddie Goldman is more consistent, but Phillips has tools that match or equal either of them. Think of him as Ndamukong Suh's next Nick Fairley. And give the Dolphins credit for remembering that those pounders will have to rotate in Miami. Fisher is a lean pounder who could use about 15 pounds of muscle.
He also needs to cut down on his holding penalties. Fisher is a good technician for a college tackle, though. Matthews had a rough rookie year, and the same may be in store for Fisher. He could lead the league in penalties if forced into the lineup too soon. That won't happen with the Bengals, who are out to draft every tackle in the draft.
Fisher's upside potential is very high. The Bengals now have plenty of depth at tackle. They may only allow 15 sacks this season. They also may only record 15 sacks. Bengals football is turning into big-play entropy. I was skeptical about the Lions' ability to maintain their success in the wake of Ndamukong Suh's departure.
I am less skeptical now. The Lions made their interior line over Thursday by adding Manny Ramirez and Laken Tomlinson in one trade-down selection. Abdullah now gives them a vital role player at running back. All three newcomers well, Ramirez is returning are smart, high-character guys, which is a plus. His game only has one flaw. You would have thought someone strapped skates to him and suddenly told him to goaltend.
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It was ugly. I spoke to Abdullah in mid-April , and while he said that he is honored by Warrick Dunn comparisons on and off the field , he thinks that being compared to a player like Dunn sets up an unreal expectation for a rookie just entering the NFL. Fair enough, Ameer. You are not Dunn or Reverse Reggie. You are Brian Westbrook. Williams is the most field-ready tight end in this draft class, but he is basically just weak-tea Greg Olsen. He lined up all over the formation for Minnesota and caught 13 touchdown passes in two seasons, some of them after nifty double-moves in the seam or tiptoe leaps in the back of the end zone.
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Then you notice how he bends at the neck and shoulders whenever he blocks at the line of scrimmage, whiffs when he tries to block in the open field and does little to help his quarterback when working underneath. Williams is a half-step too slow to be a burner up the seam and not rugged or technical enough as a blocker for the crafty H-back role. None of this means Williams cannot play a role in the NFL, mind you; he just fits a lot better as a multipurpose second tight end than as a Julius Thomas- Jimmy Graham -Jermichael Finley surrogate.
New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman prefers a middle-of-the-field gobbler to a seam stretcher think Martellus Bennett , so Williams is a snug fit and a decent value in the middle of Round 2. Change his last name to Powerz, and he could be his own Arena Football franchise. Grade: B. The Ravens are doing a fine job treading water at the skill positions. I am not certain they are upgrading. The Steelers have not selected a defensive back in the first round since they took Troy Polamalu in They have not selected a defensive back in the first two rounds since Now, they have finally admitted they needed an upgrade in the secondary and decided to take the smallest defender 5'9" they could possibly find without combing the local Pop Warner fields.
All scouting reports about pound cornerbacks must start by mentioning how tough they are. Golson is indeed tough. But Golson is really tiny. When he corner blitzes, it looks like a mosquito is chasing the quarterback. Receivers can get open using citronella candles. But seriously, folks, Golson is at or below the bare minimum height and weight for most NFL teams to select him.
The Steelers are either among the exceptions or made an exception. Golson is great in off coverage: He diagnoses the pass patterns, tracks the ball well and can vacuum up errant passes or squirt past the receiver to break up a play.
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The Steelers run a lot of Cover 3, so he fits. There are better, safer and more versatile cornerbacks on the board. But I am so excited the Steelers did not just draft another edge-rusher that I don't want to be too hard on them. And yes, Golson can play. I don't know much about the players listed as the Rams' starting center, right guard and right tackle except that they cannot be much worse than the guys who played those positions last year.
Someone needs to block for Todd Gurley, and Havenstein is your basic Wisconsin road grader. He's 6'7", he's tough and he will get movement in the run game or seal off the edge. Havenstein gets high when blocking sometimes and will let pass-rushers get under or around him. But the Rams did not draft Gurley so they would worry about pass protection. The Rams are all about power football, and Havenstein and Robinson are a pair of power tackles.
The Cardinals are short on pass-rush talent. Alex Okafor recorded eight sacks last year, but most of the rest of the Cardinals' sack production came from Calais Campbell and other linemen or interior players. Golden is the kind of player the Cardinals clearly like: fast and relentless, even if his game lacks a lot of subtlety. The fact that Golden left the board before Randy Gregory shows just how much teams value motor over measurables when it comes to the edge rush.
That said, Golden is straight-linish and one-dimensional. I think he was over-drafted. Sambrailo is a hustling, nasty, fairly athletic lineman who is hard to draw a bead on. Sometimes, his motions are fluid and quick.
Other times, like when backpedalling for a deep drop by Garrett Grayson, he looks like the guy who has to walk backward carrying a couch down a flight of stairs. He can get downfield on a screen or misdirection play and clobber linebackers, or he can race out to the second level, run past a defender instead of getting into blocking position and arrive just in time to watch the ball-carrier get tackled. Gary Kubiak will love Sambrailo's ability to block laterally and in space, but he has a lot of refining to do before Sambrailo becomes anything more more than a swing tackle. Athleticism: Freakish, Super-freakish, or Face-meltingly Ultra-freakish?
If you judge edge-rushers by initial burst, turning torque and arm length the Holy Trinity of edge-rushing raw tools , Gregory is the best in this draft. Gregory has struggled to stay around pounds at private workouts. Not much. But man, can he run around left tackle. Quite a few. Gregory has Robert Mathis measurables, but his work habits were questioned long before the public knew about his failed marijuana test. I know I am supposed to make some joke about the Cowboys grabbing problem children or how Gregory is not really cut out for their flavor of defense. But it is the end of the second round, and this is a guy with sack upside.
The risk is not all that great, and the rewards are not all that remote. I saw them at the Hobart College Spring Fling! The trick is to show up at the Senior Bowl with a helmet that has a picture of a bunny, unicorn, Henry Clay or some other weird thing that looks nothing like a Seminole arrow a big, derpy looking H will do in a pinch. Then, beat some SEC defender in one-on-one drills. One minute, you are playing interior line in front of parents, professors and girlfriends against Rennselear. The next minute, you are trending on Twitter.
Or maybe all three: There is nothing this kid can't do! Jalen Collins was only a one-year starter at LSU. Charles Gaines moved over from wide receiver to cornerback for Louisville as a junior. Rollins was a physical shooting guard with limited range for four years at Miami of Ohio before realizing that NBA shooting guards are expected to shoot accurately. He switched to football and demonstrated immediate quickness, instincts and the tackling technique of someone who has been doing it for years. He also has the competitiveness of a four-year starter at another sport and the ability to bounce back from mistakes that comes from a career.
But Rollins has a broad skill-and-attribute set and a high ceiling. Some picks make more sense in tandem than when viewed individually. Neither Rollins nor first-round pick Damarious Randall is all that exciting, but taken together, they represent an important reshaping of the Packers secondary. A man with no children sits down to dinner and selects the choicest chicken breast and the biggest scoop of dumplings. A man with two sons might as well live in the time of a locust plague. The boys feast on everything but the gizzard before he can even sit down to dinner. Pete Carroll is a man with two sons, one in Atlanta and one in Jacksonville.
They each selected twice before he and John Schneider could even set the table, and they have been cleaning the cupboards of Seahawks-style defenders since Gus Bradley first lured Chris Clemons and Red Bryant from Seattle. There just aren't enough Seahawks-style defenders to go around for three hungry Seahawks-style teams.
So the Seahawks reached for Clark, a big defensive end who was kicked off the Michigan program for various incidents. We can assume the Seahawks are comfortable with Clark, and Carroll can handle difficult dudes. In the short term, he will back up Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, replacing Bennett when the cap situation warrants it. Clark does not appear to have Bennett's tools, but he fits the size profile 6'4", lbs , and Bennett did not look like much more than a rotation player when he entered the NFL.
So maybe the Seahawks got just who they wanted. But there is also a chance they have been forced to nibble on the bones. The watch-word at safety over the last two days has been that speed and man-coverage ability are tantamount. The Eagles drafted Eric Rowe as a safety-cornerback hybrid because of coverage ability. Damarious Randall rocketed up the draft board and into Packers headquarters as a first-rounder because of speed and coverage ability. Landon Collins, who may be half a step too slow to chase the better tight ends up the seam but is great at just about everything else, slid into the top of the second round.
And now here is Richards, a short 5'11" , spunky try-hard who is best suited for in-the-box run support and underneath coverage, getting drafted by the Patriots in the second round. It's almost as if someone found an inefficiency in the market. I will hedge my bets with the grade. Smith is the stereotypical tough-n-tiny mid-major cornerback. He intercepted seven passes in , so all the mid-major quarterbacks avoided him like he had cooties. Smith resorted to pass interference several times when Marshall challenged him deep, but his turn-and-run quickness and coverage awareness are NFL-caliber.
Smith is a good kickoff returner and spent time on the punt coverage team; special teams versatility will help him stick as a nickel or dime defender. Heaven knows Indianapolis could stand to get a little younger. He can develop into a starter. The Titans have some of the worst dollar-value players in the NFL.
Which, about two years ago, is kind of what they did. Poutasi is a likely replacement for Levitre by He's huge, but he is a two-point stance lineman from Utah who will be projected as a power player in Tennessee. He isn't exactly Chance Warmack when it comes to finishing blocks, either. This is an odd pick, but it does solve a long-term financial problem for a team that has a wide variety of unusual problems no current team president, for example. Cann is fun to watch, if there really is such a thing as a fun-to-watch guard.
He can pull and trap, hustle downfield on screens and does a fine job of getting position on a defender to root him out of a hole. Cann needs to keep working to the whistle—he gets lost and starts jogging on scrambles—and can look less impressive at the ends of games than at the starts. But the talent and understanding of the position are there. The Jaguars have two pretty good guards in Zane Beadles and Brandon Linder and just added Stefan Wisniewski to sure up the center position.
Cann is not a need pick but a pretty good value here. We have finally reached the point in human history that the Jaguars do not have to make absolute need picks in the third round. No tight end was selected in the first round. Second-rounder Lonnie Johnson had a short career with the Bills. After Johnson, sixth-rounder Andrew Jordan probably had the most distinguished career as a spot starter for the Vikings.
The Saints' second-round pick, Cam Cleeland, was struck in the eye with a sock full of quarters during a rookie hazing and never got his career back on track. Imagine that happening in a modern NFL camp with modern media coverage. Sixth-round pick Mark Chmura was a Packers folk hero before being accused of…gosh, the NFL really was a different place before social networking. Franks made three Pro Bowls because he blocked well, and Brett Favre kept him busy in the red zone, but this was an extraordinarily ordinary class.
He can pin an edge-rusher to the sideline as a pass protector or on an off-tackle run, can chip a defender then leak into a route, will do more than fall down after the catch and earned high marks at the Senior Bowl as a firm-handshake guy who hustles. The Raiders get pretty good value here. Mychal Rivera caught 58 passes for 59 yards last year okay, , but there was no one behind him, and Walford's versatility makes him useful as a role player on an offense that needs a little of everything. Lockett's father, Kevin Lockett, was a Kansas State star in the s who had a string of semi-ordinary years for the Chiefs and other teams.
Tyler Lockett is niftier and enters an NFL with more roles for jitterbug slot receivers. He also grew up around the game, which makes him crafty when working the middle. Lockett had some trouble with footstep drops. If he can overcome that problem and make catches in traffic, he can provide some of the screen-and-go and slot capability the Seahawks have missed since Percy Harvin left the reservation. Lockett was not my favorite receiver on the board, but the intelligence and intangibles are probably what got him drafted ahead of some better athletes or bigger specimens.
Real-time draft grades, for instance. Another 6'2" guy who runs like a track star, can make acrobatic catches on Hail Marys or back-of-the-end-zone catches and even knows what the heck he is doing when he releases off the line or needs to adjust a route. So yes, Strong is another awesome receiver prospect like the many we have seen enter the NFL in the past two seasons.
Soon, receivers will have to be 6'4" and run 4. I love this pick for the Texans, who needed a receiver to pair with DeAndre Hopkins. Strong will not only emerge as a starter quickly but develop into perhaps the third- or fourth-best receiver in this class. The young Chip Kelly traveled to Romania and introduced the Grasus to each other, knowing that their handball-stunt-pizza genetic material would eventually create the perfect Oregon center.
Kelly then sowed just enough dissent to eventually spur the overthrow of Ceausescu and returned to the states. The last few sentences of the previous paragraph probably did not happen. But Grasu did become a four-year starter for the Ducks. This may be the most elaborate long-con ever, designed to get rid of Jay Cutler. Chip, we will send you our whole offensive line and Cutler for Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox and a package of picks. It's the next best thing to having Marcus!
The Rams need warm bodies on the line. Jamon Brown is a warm body, a wide body and a mean body. In case the last few draft selections have not spelled it out for you, they plan to slam the ball down everyone's throats with a pile-driver. Brown may be a better player than Rob Havenstein, the second-round pick. But again, the Rams have plenty of holes to fill. Coleman ran a 4. We needed some evidence that Coleman was fast. Running away from the entire Ohio State defense while playing with a broken bone in his foot? An arbitrary track-and-field drill in controlled conditions?
I profiled Coleman and his broken-footed journey through the heart of the B1G for a team with a third-string freshman quarterback and few other weapons a few weeks ago. Coleman can run a little upright at times, making him easy to tackle for his size. His cutback vision is good but not exceptional, and some have invoked the dreaded Darren McFadden comparison for Coleman.
But Coleman is better at finding holes and cutback lanes than McFadden. I see a player more like the young Steven Jackson , with more breakaway speed but without the high-end receiving chops. I wrote the Coleman-Jackson comparison before the draft. It now sounds prescient, but keep in mind that the Falcons never had a chance to use the young Jackson. Now they will. It will be fun. Odighizuwa missed all of after surgery on both his hips.
Odighizuwa has the frame of an edge-rusher but the game of a pound defensive end. He plays with power, anchors and sheds against the run, and he sniffs out screens well. His pass-rush technique is rudimentary, but he gets hustle sacks. He must have been the biggest sprinter at every meet. The bottom line is that the Giants got a useful player assuming that he stays healthy.
Grayson was fun to watch in college, and there is a lot to like about him. He distributes short passes well, checks down to second and third targets and has enough of an arm to drive the ball up the hash marks. He runs fairly well. Grayson threw some crisp passes and caught a trick-play touchdown pass, but better pressure and tighter throwing windows made him indecisive and sloppy with the ball.
It still showed that Grayson faces a sharp level-up when he enters an NFL camp. Grayson will not be needed immediately, of course. He will learn the craft from Sean Payton and Drew Brees , and Payton has a way with quarterbacks who appear to be a little limited athletically. The Saints are preparing for the post-Brees reality; having so many extra picks allows them to both add players for one last playoff push and get real about what will happen in two or three years. It's their job to be ready.
But I am not emotionally ready. And I am not even a Saints fan. The end is nigh. But hopefully not that nigh. You probably know Chiefs wide receivers failed to catch a touchdown pass last season. Who cares if a major position group is incapable of performing one of its primary tasks? Maybe the defensive line can register zero sacks, or the secondary can intercept zero passes? Perhaps you did not know the Chiefs had only three passing plays longer than 40 yards. All of them came in Week 14 or later, and one was a four-yard toss that Knile Davis turned into a yard dash.
Yes, Chiefs fans, this is a major problem, and no, it is not completely solved by adding Jeremy Maclin. So dipping into this year's receiver talent pool was a prudent idea, even if the Chiefs made a slightly odd selection. Conley wrote, directed and starred in a Star Wars fan fiction film called Retribution.
He plays Darth Somebody or Another…the characters all have ridiculous, hard-to-keep-track-of names, just like modern Star Wars movies! The film has about 20 minutes of tight plot, just like modern Star Wars movies! But will J. Probably not. Conley may not have the separation ability to become an NFL starter, but he could become a Jason Avant type who uses craftiness to get open against zone coverage and gobbles up passes in traffic. Andy Reid loves Jason Avant types. Heck, I think he is still harboring Jason Avant.