Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Mailbag

The NFL just handed down the suspensions for the Saints players involved in the "bountygate" fiasco. As a result, Will Smith got suspended for 4 games. it seems to me like I have heard the words "Will Smith" and "suspended" a lot over the years for one reason or another. Just how long has this guy been suspended overall and while we're on the subject, who's the most suspended player of all-time? - Cory L., Raceland, LA
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It's actually not as bad as it sounds. As you noted, Smith is set to lose 4 games due to BountyGate, but prior to that he'd only missed 5 games in his entire career and only two of those due to suspension. That said, the word "suspended" and "Will Smith" has come up a lot over the years because his most recent suspension in 2011 involved a substance abuse case that dated back to 2008. So the rumors for that were on the table for the better part of 3 seasons before finally kicking in the first two weeks of the 2011 campaign.
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As for the most suspended player of all time, surprisingly no one seems to keep a list for that. I can tell you that quarterback Art Schlichter was basically banned for life for gambling in the '80s and that former New York Giants fullback Merle Hapes was suspended for 8 years for conversing with a known gambler in 1946 before being reinstated in 1954 (though he would never play another down in the NFL). The longest suspension for a player who actually came back to play is 2 years and 2 games for Michael Vick for his role in an illegal dogfighting ring.

Who do you see as the Winners and Losers in this year's NFL Draft? - The Dude, Chesapeake, VA

I'll give you three winners and three losers:
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Winner - Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles thought Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) was going to go sixth or seventh overall, but he dropped all the way down to 12 allowing Philly to trade up and grab him without giving up the farm. The Eagles followed that up by taking much needed help at outside linebacker in Mychal Kendricks (Cal), a pass-rushing defensive end in Vinny Curry (Marshall) and a quarterback prospect in Nick Foles (Arizona).
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Winner - Tampa Bay Bucs: The Bucs got the top safety in the draft when Mark Barron fell to them at number seven. They followed that up by getting a poor man's Trent Richardson in Boise State's Doug Martin at number 31 and got a potentially dynamic weakside linebacker in Nebraska's Lavonte David at number 58.
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Winner - Cincinnati Bengals: Thanks to the Carson Palmer trade, the Bengals had 5 picks in the first 100 and then made them count picking up a solid cornerback in Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick , a stud guard in Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin), depth on the D-Line in Devon Still (Penn State) and Brandon Thompson (Clemson), and a serviceable wideout in Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers).

Loser - Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags did get star Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but they also took Cal punter Bryan Anger in the third round. The top ten punters in the NFL last year in terms of yards per kick were drafted in the following rounds: 6, 5, 7, 5, not drafted, 5, not drafted, 3 (in the CFL Draft), 7 and 6. You have to go all the way back to 1995 when the Chicago Bears drafted Todd Sauerbrun in the second round to find a punter that was drafted higher. So yeah, a bit of a reach there.

Loser - New Orleans Saints: The Saints traded their first round pick away last year to get Mark Ingram and lost their second round pick thanks to BountyGate, so they didn't pick until number 90 and they took a kid out of Canada. With only 5 picks in the draft, the Saints failed to address needs at defensive end, linebacker and cornerback.

Loser - Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are on this list by default. Hard to have an impactful draft when you don't have a pick before number 95. But at least they have... Carson Palmer...

That does it for this week. As always a special thanks to everyone who wrote in. And remember, as the great G$ Meyer says Reading is for Winners, especially when you read Smitty's Mailbag.

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