Category Archives: Sports in the Q

NFL Draft: 1st Round Analysis and Grades

By: Bradley Friedrich and Mat Fluker

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
  1. This was the obvious choice for the Number 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Bengals are officially ready to move on from the Ginger Assassin in Andy Dalton and revamp that Bengals offense. If the Bengals did not select the Heisman trophy winner, they would have officially become the meme of the NFL. 
  2. Grade: A+ 
  3. Washington Redskins: Chase Young, DE, OSU
    1. If Joe Burrow did not exit, Chase Young would have been the clear number 1 pick. He is a freak athlete, measuring at 6 foot 5 and 265 pounds, and is the most hyped up pass rusher since Jadaveon Clowney, but is possibly even more technically sound. I mean, the guy had 17 sacks and did not even play a full season. He will terrorize the NFL’s offensive linemen and quarterbacks for years to come.
    2. Grade: A+
  4. Detroit Lions: Jeff Okudah, CB, OSU
    1. The Lions were a better team than their record shows, as they suffered through the losses of star quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Kerryon Johnson. That being said, we think they were in a great position to trade down their pick and get a lot out of it. They didn’t, which we would have liked to have seen, but we can’t knock them too hard for picking Okudah, the guy is a stud who will pair nicely with the newly acquired Desmond Trufant and make Matt Patricia’s defense as deadly as it was when he was in New England.
    2. Grade: A-
  5.  New York Giants: Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia
    1. Andrew Thomas is  a safe pick. He may not be as physically gifted as Wirfs or Becton, and therefore have a lower ceiling, but he is still a stud Left Tackle who rarely allowed a sack in his 3 years at Georgia. All the Giants needed was someone who would prevent second year QB Daniel Jones from getting sacked, and this pick gets that job done, so it is a great pick in our opinion.
    2. Grade: A-
  6. Miami Dolphins: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
    1. I understand the appeal in Tua. He’s got the arm, he’s got the swagger, he’s got the winning mentality. However, I am unsure how well he will transfer to the next level. His career at Alabama was riddled with injuries from concussions to broken noses and fractured hips all in just 2 full years at Alabama. He seems to struggle when under pressure and needs to develop within his decision making. 
    2. Grade: C+
  7. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
    1. Herbert is a project, and an exact replica of Mitch Trubisky. He has all of the talent in the world, but has never put it together for a complete season. He has had some games (like against Colorado) where he looks like the next Peyton Manning, and others (like against Auburn), where he chokes and looks like Nathan Peterman. He has all of the physical tools, and if he can learn to confidently read his cues and command the offense, he will be a special player. But, given the fact that he showed very little improvement over his 4 years as a starter at Oregon, I am not sure if he can make the mental jumps that he needs to.
    2. Grade: C
  8.  Carolina Panthers: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
    1. Derrick Brown is a freak athlete and a great player, and he definitely fills the hole in the interior D-line with the departure of Gerald McCoy, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind the biggest hole they needed to fill was at MLB after the retirement of future hall of famer Luke Keuchly. We would have liked to see them draft his replacement in Isaiah Simmons, but this could still be a great pick, especially if Shaq Thompson proves to be a suitable MLB.
    2. Grade: B+
  9. Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
    1. Isaiah Simmons is the definition of a swiss army knife when it comes to defense. In fact, when asked what position he plays he simply says “defense”. And defense is clearly what this Cardinals team needs. The Cardinals were dead last last season in Yards allowed per game and gave up a whopping 27 points per game. The guy is bigger, stronger, and runs faster than everyone else. Simmons fits the team needs and has great value for the number 8 overall pick. 
    2. Grade: A-
  10.  Jacksonville Jaguars: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
    1. Props to the Jaguars for addressing a need, but this is not a player that could really get it done, in our opinion. Just watch his tape against Georgia and LSU to see why he failed to make Florida  “DBU”. Also, they could have traded down a bit, as Henderson would have been available in the mid first round rather than the top 10.
    2. Grade: D+
  11.  Cleveland Browns: Jedrick Wills, OT, Alabama
    1. The Browns definitely needed an offensive lineman and they got one in Jedrick Wills. Playing Right Tackle for a Left handed Quarterback in Tagovailoa, expect Wills to transition over to the right side of the line in order to protect the blind side of Baker Mayfield. Wills is a very strong lineman who will need to be effective immediately for the Browns. 
    2. Grade: B
  12.  New York Jets: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
    1. The dude is a mammoth, to put it simply, and he can move too. If he can refine his game a bit, he will be the protection that Sam Darnold needs to excel, so props to the jets to do what they can to put their franchise QB and former 1st round draft pick in the best possible position
    2. Grade: A
  13.  Las Vegas Raiders: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
    1. Henry Ruggs is FAST. Running a combine best 4.27 40 yard dash, the kid has elite speed to fuel the Raiders offense in their brand new stadium. However, I’m not sure if he is the best wide receiver in the draft. His Alabama counterpart, Jerry Juedy has elite speed as well and can run the full route tree, whereas Ruggs is more specialized in taking the top off the defense. Not a terrible pick, but believe there were better options on the board. 
    2. Grade: B-
  14.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from San Francisco): Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
    1. In signing the greatest quarterback to ever pick up a football, Tom Brady, The Buccaneers would be ill advised to not select someone to protect him. Amongst the Lineman in this draft there is little separating the top four. Props to the Bucs for protecting the greatest to ever do it! Wirfs, though, is a raw talent that needs to develop for this to be a great pick.
    2. Grade: B+
  15.  San Francisco (from Tampa Bay): Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina
    1. We’re jealous of the pure mastery by GM John Lynch. He decides to pay Armstead, and trades Deforest Buckner for a pick that he uses on a cheaper replacement for the DT. Not to mention, Kinlaw is an absolute stud who dominated SEC interior lineman throughout the year. We hate the fact that the 49ers just made their elite D-line even better, but it was a phenomenal pick.
    2. Grade: A+
  16.  Denver Broncos: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
    1. Jerry Juedy can do it all. He has great speed running a 4.45 at the combine and is unanimously the best route runner in the draft. He also fits the Broncos needs as they are looking to provide young quarterback Drew Lock with weapons on the outside. He may struggle against stingy corners due to his thinner frame, but for the 15th pick Jeudy has great value. 
    2. Grade: A
  17.  Atlanta Falcons: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
    1. The Falcons needed Defense more than any team in this draft. The Falcons were tied for 17th in the league for total interceptions, which does not display their struggling secondary because they play Jameis Winston twice a season. Terrell is a versatile corner which fills a need. He is a little grabby and may frequently get called for pass interference similar to former Falcons corner Desmond Trufant. The pick was definitely made out of desperation but it filled a need. 
    2. Grade: C+
  18.  Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
    1. We are huge fans of CeeDee Lamb, and the argument that he is the best WR in the class can easily be made. However, the cowboys just didn’t really need a receiver more than they needed a replacement for Travis Frederick or Byron Jones. Still, Dak now has elite weaponry now in Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, Lamb, and Michael Gallup, so we cannot complain about this pick too much.
    2. Grade: B+
  19.  Miami Dolphins (from Pittsburgh): Austin Jackson, OT, USC
    1. The Dolphins needed an O-lineman to protect the injury prone Tua Tagovailoa, and they went out and got one. At 6 foot 5, 310 pounds and possessing great mobile skills, Jackson is a 2 time member of the All Pac-12 team, and was the best O-lineman available at the time of the pick. There is not too much else to say about this pick, a rare good job from the Dolphins.
    2. Grade: A+
  20.  Las Vegas Raiders (from Chicago): Damon Arnette, CB, OSU
    1. A solid player, but not a great one. We think he was definitely taken too early, and players like Kristain Fulton or Noah Igbinoghene, or Jeff Gladney are better players that should have been taken over Arnette. GM Mike Mayock drafts weirdly, but the pieces he has acquired during his tenure seem to find success, Josh Jacobs being the perfect example. Still, a weird pick that we do not agree with, but we will give Arnette and Mayock a chance before giving them a failing grade.
    2. Grade: C-
  21.  Jacksonville Jaguars (from LAR): K’lavon Chaisson, DL, LSU
    1. The Jaguars bombed on their first pick, but they rebounded well on their second attempt. They addressed another position of need in Chaisson, to replace the likes of the 2017 “Sacksonville” defense that dominated opposing teams. Chaisson will play alongside Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue, and eventually take over for the latter in a defense that should be on the rise again.
    2. Grade: A
  22. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
    1. The Eagles are probably the team that needs a wide receiver the most and they got one with this pick. Reagor is a true home-run threat with deadly speed. However, we think there were better receivers on the board. The Eagles could have gone with a potential No. 1 WR in Justin Jefferson or even traded up to get CeeDee Lamb or one of the elite receivers from Alabama. He may struggle against bigger corners due to his smaller frame. However, still a solid pick as it filled a dire need for the Eagles, but not the greatest player that they could have gotten to fill the role. 
    2. Grade: B-
  23. Minnesota (from Buffalo): Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
    1. With sending receiver Stefon Diggs to the Bills, the Vikings found a nice replacement. Jefferson is a solid route runner with strong hands that can high point a jump ball with the best. Playing primarily in the slot which is where reciever Adam Thielen plays, the Vikings may have to find unique ways to get Jefferson more involved. Jefferson has No. 1 receiver potential and could easily be the best receiver in this draft class coming from LSU who has produced receivers such as Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. 
    2. Grade: A-
  24.  Los Angeles Chargers (from New England Patriots): Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
    1. Kenneth Murray is a freak athlete, much like Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds, who has the potential to be an absolute stud LB if he puts it together. However, he has to put it together first, and the Chargers are trusting their coaching staff to do this. If he pans out, a defense consisting of Joey Bosa, Derwin James, and Murray will certainly wreak havoc among the rest of the league and be capable of stopping the explosive Chiefs offense. But he has to pan out first.
    2. Grade: A-
  25.  New Orleans Saints: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
    1. A little unsure why the Saints targeted a lineman this early in the draft. Possibly due to the number of lineman selected earlier in the round. It seemed as though they were set on drafting a linebacker but surprisingly chose a center. Plus there is speculation on where on the offensive line he will play. It seems as though the center will settle in as a Right Guard for the Saints. The Saints didn’t really fill a need here and left some solid talent on the board, and they could have traded back a bit if they wanted to settle on Ruiz. Confusing to say the least.
    2. Grade: D
  26.  San Francisco 49ers (from Minnesota Vikings): Brandon Aiyuk, WR, ASU
    1. Brandon Aiyuk is a physical specimen, with a wingspan the size of a person standing 6 foot 8, although Aiyuk is only 5 foot 11. He has great agility and ball skills, and can use his freakishly long arms to win one on one battles with cornerbacks who may even be taller than him. However, we think a WR like Denzel Mims or Van Jefferson may have been better players than Aiyuk, but a good pick that addresses a position of need nevertheless.
    2. Grade: B+
  27.  Green Bay Packers (from Miami): Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
    1. The player is good. He will be the future of the Packers, that’s for sure. But if I’m Aaron Rodgers I am screaming at the front office right now. They made the NFC championship and desperately needed another WR to help Rodgers out, and they could not afford to have the luxury of developing the next stud quarterback if they want to contend now, which they could. The only plausible explanation for this pick is that they are entering rebuild mode, which they have too talented of a roster to do at this point. The silver lining is that with Jordan Love being mentored by Aaron Rodgers, Love should become an absolute stud. But they needed to win now.
    2. Grade: D-
  28.  Seattle Seahawks: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
    1. We hate the pick, but we are not going to knock the player. Instead, we are going to knock GM John Schneider for not addressing the team needs. I mean come on, resign Clowney or draft his replacement in Yetur Gross-Matos or AJ Epenesa, but don’t take insurance for Bobby Wagner just yet.
    2. Grade: C-
  29.  Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
    1. Queen is a great player, he would be more well known if he did not play behind Devin White at LSU. The Ravens do not really have any glaring holes on their roster, so adding Queen, a LB with great upside that could learn behind CJ Mosel, just adds another layer to that Ravens defense that has and will continue to thrive for years.
    2. Grade: A-
  30. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia
    1. Great pick in our opinion. Wilson is a physical freak, standing at 6 foot 7 and weighing 340 pounds. Additionally, he is a cheaper and just as effective replacement for RT Jack Conklin, and we are excited to see Wilson pave running lanes for Derrick Henry
    2. Grade: A 
  31. Miami Dolphins (from Green Bay): Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
    1. Igbinoghene is a good player for sure, but not a great one. Additionally, they paid Byron Jones and Xavien Howard a lot of money to be their cornerbacks, and they have bigger holes on their roster that they should have addressed, like RB for example. That being said, not a great pick, but not an atrocious one.
    2. Grade: C
  32. Minnesota Vikings (from San Francisco): Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
    1. The Vikings addressed a need by taking Gladney ro replace Xavier Rhodes, and they traded back to do it, getting a pick in return. Gladney is an underrated player that had to face the best of the Big 12’s WR talent, but not a terrific player in a cornerback class that was generally weak. However, the Vikings did very well with the situation they were given, so this grade reflects not only the player and the position that they drafted him in, but the trade and manipulation of the draft order.
    2. Grade: A
  33.  Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU
    1. Capping off the 1st round the Chiefs selected the first running back off of the board. Helaire spent time in one of the most electric offenses of LSU during the past year so it is fitting that he is drafted to the most electric offense in the NFL. The LSU running back is very shifty and versatile out of the backfield however is a little short for the position and will be the shortest player on the Chiefs roster. However a little surprised they did not select D’andre Swift out of Georgia who clearly has the most upside of all the backs in the draft. Nevertheless, solid pick. 
    2. Grade: B+

Mixing Politics with Sports: Saudi Arabian Takeover of Premier League Side Newcastle Raises Questions Over the Motives Behind the Move

By Jonah Glenn

In all of professional soccer, there are only two state-owned clubs, Manchester City, owned by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family and Paris Saint Germain, owned by Qatar. Both teams rank in the top four in money spent in the last decade, with Manchester City ranking number one, and have won a multitude of tournaments and leagues, PSG with 22 trophies since the takeover and Manchester City with 10 (more than its 114 year history before the Abu Dhabi takeover). In this time, both teams have risen to be two of the greatest teams in the world backed by owners with billions to spend. PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi has a net worth of 6.5 billion pounds and Man City owner Sheikh Mansour has a net worth of 23.3 billion pounds. 

Neither of these net worths are even comparable to the soon to be owner of Newcastle United Magpies.

The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), which invests money in projects and businesses on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government, is headed by Mohammad bin Salman who has a net worth of over 320 billion euros. In comparison, the net worth of the owners of all other Premier League teams combined is approximately 75 billion euros. Salman is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and soon to be king, and his purchase of Newcastle has sparked questions on whether the prince should be permitted to buy the club. 

Numerous human rights activists and communities, like Amnesty International (which strives to prevent and end human rights violations), have begun to express their concerns about the take over. Felix Jakens, the head of priority campaigns at Amnesty International UK said,  “Saudi Arabia is attempting to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football as a PR tool to distract from the country’s abysmal human rights record.” He is referring to “sportswashing”, when a country attempts to use sports, or the introduction of a sports team, to hide and down play a poor human rights record. The Saudi government has been accused of many cases of harassment, torturing and treating activists poorly, and in 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (although the government has publicly denied it). Others, like media group BeIN Sports, have spoken out against the takeover as they claim that Saudi Arabia has been pirating Premier League broadcasts illegally. Furthermore, the Saudi’s have been profiting off the illegal sale of these games and it poses a vast threat to Premier League commercial revenues. 

Despite these concerns and urges, the United Kingdom government has said it will be unlikely to intervene, as it has and wants to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia. With regard to the Premier League, Richard Masters, the chief executive of the league replied to Amnesty International to say that the league is taking extra measures to ensure the takeover is done correctly.

Therefore, it is very unlikely that the takeover will be halted.

With that in mind, the PIF plans to complete the takeover of Newcastle United from current owner, Mike Ashley, in the coming weeks. Ashley has a current net worth of $2.9 billion but has consistently failed to invest or show ambition towards the club. During his thirteen year tenure, Newcastle United was relegated twice, fired a club legend coach, and recently became the first Premier League team to furlough all non-playing staff. These actions have caused a poor relationship between Ashley and Newcastle supporters and has led to the sale and takeover by the Saudi Arabian PIF. 

Another question that may arise over the incoming takeover is, why Newcastle? Why would the Saudi Arabian government buy a club that is currently in 13th place in the Premier League and last won the league in 1927? The answer is one of the main reasons Newcastle fans want a change, lack of investment. Because Ashley has only done the bare minimum when investing in players, he has presented PIF with plenty of opportunity to invest in big-time, impact players in the future. Like the Manchester City and PSG takeovers, Salman could transform the Magpies into a soccer powerhouse. 

However, due to Financial Fair Play laws the Magpies cannot spend endless money. The law states that a team can only lose 105 million euros over three seasons. Essentially, a team, over the course of 3 seasons, can have a maximum of a 105 million loss in total revenue which includes player sales, jersey sales, player purchasing. There are ways to get around these laws as infrastructure is not regulated so they can spend unlimited money on their stadium and training fields, gaining sponsorships that were previously unavailable which would also greatly increase their revenue, and investing in youth development all don’t apply to the fair play laws. 

Nonetheless, Newcastle fans generally remain unaffected by the abysmal human rights of the Saudis and are excited to what the ownership will bring. News of the takeover has “given the whole city, the whole region, a buzz even in these difficult times,” says Alex Hurst, chairman of the Newcastle Supporters Trust. While Newcastle rejoices over dreams of becoming like Paris Saint Germain or Manchester City, the entire soccer community must wonder if takeovers like this becomes common, will soccer be truly owned by governments across the world and will these league be seen as helping sports-wash human rights abuses.