Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From Bruce Lee to High School sports to Tony Horton: My expereince with the P90x program

Officially, I am a P90x graduate.  I have completed all 13 weeks of the program as outlined and stuck with it, Doing “My Best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton would say.  But more importantly I learned more about my body and fitness programs than I ever thought I would through the process.  As a result, I want to share with you my experience so you too can be more knowledgeable about your health, fitness, and make informed decisions for your benefit.

I decided to take the P90x challenge because I had hit a serious fitness plateau.  Earlier in 2012, I became seriously ill and that month and a half of sickness really hindered my ability to eat right, exercise regularly and mentally set me back also.  As Bruce Lee put it “The Mind and Body must both be inbalance” for one to be at maximum fitness and health.

After being sick, I slowly rebuilt up my fitness levels and re-established my diet.  Although my stamina and strength were regained after 3 months of working out I was not seeing or feeling the results I once had before I became sick.  I knew I had hit the wall after two different sessions in which I ran then played basketball then ran again for over 2 hours straight then afterwards was ready to throw up.  Even in my years of high school or college sports I had ever felt like this or had this much trouble whipping myself back into shape.  At one point I was sitting in my shower leaning against the wall thinking to myself “What is wrong with me?  I’m doing everything right yet I gain no improvement and I feel like death!”

It was at this point I realized I needed to change what I was doing.  For me, working out is my release, my “drug”, my way of handling all the stresses in my life.  I had express to others in the past my interest in trying the P90x program.  I was familiar with Beach Body and Tony Horton’s programs but had never followed through with doing the program, instead incorporating elements of their workouts into my workout program.  The idea of “transforming” my body intrigued me.  I was tired of letting my ego get in the way, it was time to man up and say “My way isn’t working anymore.  I don’t want to plateau, I want improvement”.

Me on Day 1 of P90x
My first obstacle to cross was financial.  I know Beach Body and other fitness programs/instructors need to make a living, but when you don’t have a money to spend, its hard for many people to buy fitness programs or join gyms.  Thanks to my friend for letting me use their P90x Cd’s, weightlifting bands, and pull up bar, I was ready to get started.

My second obstacle was lifestyle planning.  In order to do the P90x program, you must commit to it full-heartedly.  P90x requires 6 days a week with different workouts ranging from 52-92 minutes in length.  As a result, one must plan their days and eating schedules around the program.  This is especially important because the cardio routines Plyometrics and Kenpo X are intense, so when Tony Horton says you must make sure you wait “atleast 90 minutes” after eating before doing the workouts, he is NOT kidding around.  I will tell you from personal experience, eating a crunchy peanut butter sandwich, strawberries, banana, and walnutswithin 90 minutes before doing the Plyo workout is a BAD idea.  Just to let you know.

My third obstacle before starting P90x was separating ego from commitment.  In order to get results from the program, you need to live by two of Tony Horton’s mottos:

1. “Do your best and forget the rest”: You are working out for yourself, not to show off or entertain anyone else.  If you overdue it you could injure yourself or make yourself gas and run out of energy to finish.  Because you overdue it you will hinder your progress and not get the best results.

2. “Quality over Quantity”: Tony is right, just because you can’t do as many repetitions as he and his “graduates” on the video do does not mean you won’t get serious results.  Making sure you do each workout with the proper technique and listening to your body is key to make sure you maximize what P90x can do for you.

So before I started I promised myself two things: That I would do the entire program as outlined and finish from beginning to end, all 13 weeks; also that I would take no protein or performance supplements.  As someone who has never taken any steroids or performance enhancers of any kind (even the ones sanctioned as clean by the IOC, NFL and other sports organizations) I knew the temptation would be there to use a protein drink or order a workout supplements.  I wanted to do everything naturally from my diet to my recovery drink after each workout (which you will find is necessary so, again, don’t let your ego get in the way of results).
                                                                       P90x Day 30

The entire P90x program is based on the workout concept of “Muscle Confussion” (the P90x commercials explain this detail) so every day is a different workout and you only stick with one 6 day routine for no more than 3 weeks than you changeup.  A typical P90x week (except for the “rest” weeks) consists of day one focusing on chest and back or shoulders, day two being Plyometrics (Cardio Jump Training), Day three focusing on Biceps and Back or Triceps, Day Four being Yoga X, Day five focusing on Legs and Back, Day Six being the Kenpo X Cardio routine, and Day Seven being a day for Rest or X Stretch  (I recommend the later for atleast the first few weeks, it helps your body recover from the hard week of workouts quicker).

Going into the program it’s good to realize your strength and weakness: I knew I would have trouble with pull ups and pushups (I busted my rotator cuff when I was in my early teens) and anything involving my legs (since I have numerous past knee injuries) while I figured I would do well with Yoga and Kenpo routines (Because of my Martial Arts and Gymnastics backgrounds) while also excelling at upper body workouts (I’ve been weightlifting since I was 15 years old). 

P90x is a 90 day program, consisting of 13 weeks.  Seems like a long time at first, but after the first 3-4 weeks you get use to it and don’t mind it being so long until the last couple weeks (which I will explain later).  But on Day Two, no joke, I was ready to quit!  Most of my life I considered myself in shape and able to perform at any workout or sport.  I just met my first major challenge of P90x: Plyometrics.  Plyo, otherwise known as Cardio Jump Training, is an extreme, intense 58 minute workout routine that pushes you to the limit.  After the first two rotations of Plyo (or 20 minutes in) I wanted to quit.  I thought “Why am I doing this to myself?  I can’t do this program, this isn’t worth it.”  Instead of quitting, I sucked it up.  And man am I glad I did.
P90x Day 45

I came to find out that the programs that I thought would be hardest for me (Plyometrics, Chest and Back) actually became two of my favorites.  While Yoga X and Legs and Back became two workouts I couldn’t stand!  Why?  Because P90x commercials, promotions, and even Tony’s speeches are not fully accurate in why and how P90x program improves your body and health.  Now stop everyone, I did not say they lie or mislead people.  P90x is geared towards people who want to get into the best shape of their life and are ready to make the commitment.  But what they do not explain to people before the program is the real reason why “Muscle Confussion” works: When you do intense workouts, alternating muscle groups over the course of weeks and months, what you are doing is MORE than getting into the “best physical shape” of your life.  Instead, what you are doing is not “transforming” your body, instead  you are “Maximizing” your body.

As we know, not everyone’s body is the same.  We are all born with strengths and weaknesses.  As Tony Horton puts it “Don’t say ‘I cant’ instead say ‘I presently struggle with’ and over time someone who could only do 2-3 pull ups will eventually do 10, 15, 20 or more!”  Through P90x program you will maximize your body’s muscle potential.  Muscular strength is the foundation of all forms of physical fitness.  When you can develop both fast twitch and slow twitch muscles properly, you can end up with what some call a “Physical Specimen”.  If your goal is to look better than the guy or girl at the gym, then your ego is more important than maximizing health and fitness. 

 Let me use myself as an example: Ever since I first injured my knees I knew I needed to build strength in my legs to make up for the weakness of my knees.  There was a point in high school I was leg pressing 780 pounds 15 times and could easily squat 600 lbs.  Not bad for a guy with busted knees.  But during Week 5 I had a “painful” epiphany while doing the Legs and Back routine.  I was doing Sneaky Lunges (basically 24 lunges on your toes the entire time) and I felt like shorts were getting stuck on the skin of my legs.  I thought “That’s weird” so I decided to put up my shorts while doing the lunge.  To my disgust and surprise while in the lunge I saw my skin stretching so much over my quadriceps my muscle was about to rip through my skin!  Aside from the fact I was a bit disturbed, it was also painful and I stopped immediately.  Come to find out my Quad, Hamstring, and Calf muscles were so developed and muscular that through P90x I had turned any body fat I had in my legs into more muscle and I was board line hurting myself instead of “transforming” my body.  That’s the moment I began to do some more research and learn more about “Muscle Confussion”, “Maximizing Muscle”, and body fat relation to fitness.
P90x Day 80

After refreshing my memory from high school health and college anatomy classes along with re-reading my Bruce Lee books I realized the true key and driving force behind P90x and why it really works for many people while for some it doesn’t work: “Mind over Matter”.  This old concept is core to the history and philosophy of Martial Arts, Shintoism, and Buddism to name a few ideological “isms” from the Far East.  The concept that if you envision an outcome you will eventually make that outcome a reality.  The goal of the individual using P90x should be to get into the best shape of THEIR life, not to look as good or better than the guy or girl on TV or at the local gym.  Because the reality is “looking” the best is not “being” the best physically. 

 An example of this reality is those “Ripped, sculped” ab routines you see advertised on TV and online.  Yes, you could have a six or eight pack abs and looked hardcore ripped with doing those workouts and changing your diet while adding a couple supplements.  But that is what is known as “showcase” muscle, not “practical” muscle.  What those programs don’t develop is the interior abdominal wall that protects the organs and diaphragm underneath you abdominal region.  All of those crunches and “ripping that abdominal” is all great, but what if someone punches you up into you abs and make impact with the diaphragm underneath your lungs?  Or if you parents  who have kids, those kids jump on you when you least expect it, then what?  Those “ripped” exterior abs will not protect your organs or diaphragm.  While doing gymnastics, martial arts, and P90x develop all muscle groups, most importantly, essential core muscle, which is the region from the pectorals to the top of the quadriceps.  In developing all of these muscles, you are less likely to suffer injury and will have less pains and aches in all areas of your body.

This is why having the biggest muscles and most ripped body is pointless if those muscles aren’t useful.  That’s why Bruce Lee was faster and stronger than anyone he faced in International Martial Arts competitions, yet he was usually shorter and smaller than many opponents.  Bruce Lee maximized his muscular abilities to the point that in episodes of the Green Hornet from the 1960’s and many of his movies, they actually had to slow down the footage so you could see Bruce Lee perform some moves, he was that fast! 

A modern day example is before I ever did P90x a female friend of mine made a comment how its “ashame” I didn’t have a six pack.  Knowing she was a former cheerleader and had some strength, I told her to punch me in my “abs”.  She was afraid she would hurt me, I told her “Do it!”  As a result she hurt her hand punching my “not a six pack” abs.  Through years of gymnastics, martial arts, and well-balanced workouts in high school and college, I had developed my muscles to be “useful” not just for show.
           After first workout Post-P90x

In the end, this is the real results of P90x, to maximize you in the areas of physical fitness, overall health, and mental balance.  When you walk into the program with basic expectations and you work hard and commit to the lifestyle, you will get amazing results.  In order to maximize your health, you have to commit to a lifestyle that encompasses what you eat, how you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise,  when you exercise, etc.  It means you are making a commitment to yourself to be the best you can be.  Not looking like someone from a movie or tv show.

A few final points about P90x:

-By the end of the program, I developed a “hate” for Yoga X.  “X” stands for “extreme” and the balance and moving postures become laborious and tiresome to do when you have done it for 13 weeks!  Because of my knee injuries and foot surgeries, Yoga Balance is hard for me, especially when I spent half my life learning balance in terms of Martial Arts, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, and Football.  Yoga Balance is similar to Ballet balance; it uses different leg muscles and different center of gravity.  So be prepared to find that Yoga X is a struggle.

-Meanwhile, Kenpo X is a lot of fun and I enjoy the workout.  But some of the moves are hard to pick up.  As someone who did not learn the Kenpo form of karate, the types of kicks and punches are different from Shotokun Karate, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu or other attacking Martial Arts.  Personally, I modified some of the moves Tony Horton showcased to accommodate my Martial Arts background.  For those who don’t know, martial art disciplines such as Kenpo Karate, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, and certain forms of Kung Fu all have different ways they teach foot placement for balance during kicks and punches.  If you have been instructed and drilled to kick and punch a certain way then are shown in an exercise program to do it “their way” it’s not exactly easy to do it the same way as the video.  But since another one of Tony Horton’s slogans is “Modify, Modify, Modify if you need to” I did so.  And you need to also if you find any of the workouts difficult.

-After doing numerous pull ups and push up over the period of 13 weeks I have found my back is in better condition.  I use to have periodical back problems that I typically found to be “cured” through stretching, annual visits to the chiropractor and buying new sneakers.  Now, I have less back pain as long as I maintain good posture while sitting, standing and sleeping.  My back doesn’t feel weak anymore.  It feels as strong as the rest of my body!  I was only able to barely do 5 pull ups when I first started.  Now I can pump out 2 rotations of 12-18 depending on the variation.

-If you have ever had ankle or knee issues, then you may at times have calf tightness and once in a while suffer from the infamous “Charlie horse”.  If this is the case, stretching the Calf and Achilles tendon by doing the “Downward Dog” yoga maneuver may not be enough or work for you.  It didn’t for me.  I like to stretch my calf standing up and pushing against the wall with split legs.  You will find that some of the stretches in P90x are not enough for you so I suggest do what works for you before you start the workout.  Also, Tony Horton says “Do what works for you, variety is the spice of life!”

-In the Core Synergistics video, Tony makes the comment “You may discover this is your favorite workout”.  While it’s not mine, as someone who has worked out, played sports, and done numerous forms of exercise since I was in single digits age wise, you have to take what you can from the program in the “Post-P90x” world.  I found since that combining Kenpo X with Ab Ripper is a great workout for me on Cardio days.  I have kept Plyo as a cardio workout because it really does kick butt and if you continue to do the program, watch how much better you are when you play sports with those who think they are in shape.  It’s worth the looks on their faces alone!  I recommend find what workouts or exercise concepts help you maximize your potential and keep them.  Carry those into your workouts post-P90x and you will be able to maintain, if not improve some more, what you have accomplished with P90x.  Just know that the program is not made for people to do continuously, your body does need a break, I know!  As Tony Horton says “Take care of your body and it will take care of you!”


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: NFC Review

Here is part 2 of my overview of the 2012 NFL draft.  Below is my analysis of the NFC teams:

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Good Picks: Morris Claiborne (CB – 1st rd), Danny Coale (WR – 5th), James Hanna (TE – 6th), Caleb McSurdy (LB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Tyrone Crawford (DE – 3rd rd), Kyle Wilber (LB – 4th), Matt Johnson (S – 4th)
Grade: B
Review: The Cowboys made a great move during the first round to move up and select the super talented Claiborne.  They made good use of their late round picks to get more talented depth at wide receiver (Coale) and Tight End (Hanna) while adding more linebackers for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to add into his gameplans.

New York Giants
Good Picks: Ruben Randle (WR – 2nd), Adrien Robinson (TE – 4th), Brandon Mosley (OT – 4th), Markus Kuhn (DT – 7th)
Questionable Picks: David Wilson (RB – 1st), Jayron Hosley (CB – 3rd), Matt McCants (OL – 6th)
Grade: C+
Review: The main reason for my draft grade is the Giants selection of David Wilson with their first round pick.  Wilson is very similar to Giants current starting Running Back Ahmad Bradshaw which does not address the Giants need for a sturdy, dependable backup for Bradshaw.  The selection of Ruben Randle is a great move after the departure of Manningham.  The Giants seemed to miss out on getting better players who were available in the draft, they just filled roster depth.

Philadelphia Eagles
Good Picks: Fletcher Cox (DT – 1st), Mychal Kendricks (LB – 2nd), Marvin McNutt (WR – 6th), Bryce Brown (RB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Vinny Curry (DE – 2nd), Nick Foles (QB – 3rd), Brandon Boykin (CB – 4th), Dennis Kelly (OL – 5th), Brandon Washington (OL – 6th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Eagles got two, NFL ready players with their first two picks who can immediately help their defense (Cox and Kendricks).  But then they use their next four draft picks on player who underachieved at the collegiate level.  The selection of McNutt and Brown in the late rounds are solid additions to the Eagles offense but does not make up for their questionable picks during the middle rounds of the draft.

Washington Redskins
Good Picks: Robert Griffin III (QB – 1st), Kirk Cousins (QB – 4th), Keenan Robinson (OLB – 4th), Adam Gettis (OG – 5th),
Questionable Picks: Josh LeRibeus (OL – 3rd), Alfred Morris (RB – 6th), Tom Compton (OL – 6th), Richard Crawford (CB – 7th), Jordan Bernstine (CB – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Redskins got their franchise Quarterback in the Heisman Trophy winner RG3 but they did little to surround him with more talent on offense.  Gettis was a good Guard at Iowa and Cousins is a good selection as a backup quarterback but they overreached in efforts to sure up the offensive line.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Good Picks: Shea McClellin (LB – 1st), Alshon Jeffery (WR – 2nd), Brandon Hardin (S – 3rd), Greg McCoy (CB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Evan Rodriguez (TE – 4th), Isaiah Frey (CB – 6th)
Grade: B+
Review: The Bears addressed major needs through the draft on defense to add good depth by selecting McClellin (Linebacker) and Hardin (Safety) while selecting one of the most underrated wide receivers in the draft (Jeffery).  They also got good value by drafting a smart, talented cornerback in the seventh round (McCoy).

Detroit Lions
Good Picks: Riley Reiff (OT -1st), Ryan Broyles (WR – 2nd), Ronnell Lewis (LB – 4th), Travis Lewis (LB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Dwight Bentley (CB – 3rd), Tahir Whitehead (LB – 5th), Chris Greenwood (CB – 5th), Jonte Green (CB – 6th)
Grade: B
Review: The Lions did more than draft the best all around Offensive tackle in this years draft class (Reiff) but they also got deeper and more talented at linebacker by adding the Lewis’s from Oklahoma.  Broyles was one of the top wide receivers in college football before his season ending injury last season so he may turn out to be a pleasant surprise partner to team up with the superstar Calvin Johnson at wide out.

Green Bay Packers
Good Picks: Nick Perry (DE – 1st), Jerel Worthy (DT – 2nd), Casey Hayward (CB – 2nd), Mike Daniels (DL – 4th), Terrell Manning (LB – 5th)
Questionable Picks: Jerron McMillian (S – 4th), B.J. Coleman (QB – 7th), Andrew Datko (OL – 7th)
Grade: B+
Review: The biggest weakness for the Packers last season was exposed during the postseason: the defense.  Through the draft Green Bay upgrade every level of their defense through out this year’s draft.  Perry, Worthy and Daniels could see serious playing time as rookies this up coming season while Hayward and Manning give the Packers speed and talented backups at the respective positions.

Minnesota Vikings
Good Picks: Matt Kalil (OT – 1st), Harrison Smith (S – 1st), Jarius Wright (WR – 4th), Greg Childs (WR – 4th), Blair Walsh (K – 6th),
Questionable Picks: Josh Robinson (CB – 3rd), Rhett Ellison (FB – 4th), Robert Blanton (S – 5th), Audie Cole (LB – 7th), Trevor Guyton (DE – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Vikings got two NFL ready players in the 1st round in Kalil and Smith.  In the fourth round the grabbed two underrated wide receivers (Wright and Childs) which will give young quarterback Christian Ponder more weapons and top pick Kalil will help protect Ponder.  The Vikings are doing all they can to make sure Ponder can succeed.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Good Picks: Peter Konz (OL – 2nd), Bradie Ewing (FB – 5th), Travian Robertson (DT – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Lamar Holmes (OT – 3rd), Jonathan Massaquoi (DE – 5th), Charles Mitchell (S – 6th),
Grade: C
Review: After trading away numerous picks last season to make sure they got Julio Jones, the Falcons under performed in this year’s draft.  Although they drafted some good, NFL ready players (Konz and Ewing) they used most of their picks on players that could be labeled “projects” who are a year or two away from truly contributing to the team.

Carolina Panthers
Good Picks: Luke Kuechly (LB – 1st), Joe Adams (WR – 4th), Josh Norman (CB – 5th), Brad Nortman (P – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Amini Silatolu (OG – 2nd), Frank Alexander (DE – 4th), D.J. Campbell (S – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Panthers used their first round pick on one of the best all around defensive players in the draft, Luke Kuechly.  Despite using their fourth and fifth round picks to get some underrated talented players (Adams and Norman) the Panthers overreached with some of their other picks selecting players that are raw talents that need development.

New Orleans Saints
Good Picks: Nick Toon (WR – 4th)
Questionable Picks: Akiem Hicks (DT – 3rd), Corey White (S – 5th), Andrew Tiller (OG – 6th), Marcel Jones (OL – 7th)
Grade: C-
Review: The turmoil of the Saints offseason and having Sean Payton not involved in this year’s draft showed in the weak draft for the Saints this season.  New Orleans used many of their picks on players who are projects in need of polishing and development before they are ready to make a serious impact in the NFL.  The Saints did pick up an experience, talented receiver who could see some playing time this season (Toon).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Good Picks: Mark Barron (S – 1st), Doug Martin (RB – 1st), Lavonte David (LB – 2nd), Najee Goode (LB – 5th), Drake Dunsmore (FB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Keith Tandy (CB – 6th), Michael Smith (RB – 7th)
Grade: A-
Review: The Buccaneers had a great draft I which they addressed their needs with top prospects at each position.  The Bucs re-tooled their defense by selecting the top Safety prospect in the draft (Barron) and the most overlooked talented, pro ready Linebacker in the draft (David).  Tampa also rebuilt their offensive backfield by selecting one of the best running backs available in this year’s draft class (Martin) along with a “football smart” and talented fullback who could start this coming season (Dunsmore).

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Good Picks: Michael Floyd (WR – 1st), Jamell Fleming (CB – 3rd), Nate Potter (OL – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Bobby Massie (OL – 4th), Senio Kelemete (OG – 5th), Justin Bethel (S – 6th), Ryan Lindley (QB – 6th)
Grade: B-
Review: After finishing the 2011 season 7-2 one would think the Cardinals would go into the draft looking to reload with more talent to make a run at the division winner 49ers.  Instead they selected a batch of interesting prospects who need development (Massie, Kelemete, Bethel) along with an overrated Quarterback (Lindley).  Good news for Cardinal fans is they selected one of the most talented football players in this year’s draft class (Floyd) and a tough, hard hitting defensive back (Fleming).

San Francisco 49ers
Good Picks: LaMichael James (RB – 2nd), Darius Fleming (LB – 5th), Trent Robinson (CB – 6th)
Questionable Picks: A.J. Jenkins (WR – 1st), Joe Looney (OG – 4th), Jason Slowey (C – 6th), Cam Johnson (DE – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The phrase “the rich get richer” is an apt description for the 49ers 2012 draft.  They didn’t select many high level, NFL ready prospects, they get add depth on both sides of the ball.  San Francisco got lucky when collegiate super talent LeMichael James fell to them in the second round.

Saint Louis Rams
Good Picks: Michael Brockers (DT – 1st), Brian Quick (WR – 2nd), Janoris Jenkins (CB – 2nd), Isaiah Pead (RB – 2nd), Trumaine Johnson (CB – 3rd),
Questionable Picks: Chris Givens (WR – 4th), Rokevious Watkins (OG – 5th), Greg Zuerlein (K – 6th), Aaron Brown (LB – 7th), Daryl Richardson (RB – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Rams made the best out of their drafting situation by twice trading down to obtain more draft picks and they used their top picks on players who can make an impact on this team as rookies.   Brockers and Pead are both high level football talents who could start as rookies in the NFL.  The Rams also drafted two talented cornerbacks who have had some off the field issues (Jenkins and Johnson) that new Head Coach Jeff Fisher will look to bring out the best in them.

Seattle Seahawks
Good Picks: Russell Wilson (QB – 3rd), Robert Turbin (RB – 4th), Jaye Howard (DT – 4th), Greg Scruggs (DT – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Bruce Irvin (LB – 1st), Bobby Wagner (LB – 2nd), Korey Toomer (LB – 5th), Jeremy Lane (CB – 6th), Winston Guy (S – 6th), J.R. Sweezy (DT – 7th), 
Grade: C+
Review: The Seahawks for a second straight year overreach on a first round selection that would have probably been available in the second round.  Irvin was a blitzing specialist at the collegiate level who when game planned against seemed to disappear.  Seattle did well with their mid round selections by drafting a talented quarterback who started most of his college career (Wilson), a talented power back (Turbin), and an underrated skilled defensive lineman (Howard).

Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: AFC Review

Now that the NFL Draft has ended and the dust has clear it is time for me to give out my grades for each team in the NFL.  First up, the teams in the AFC


Buffalo Bills
Good Picks: Stephon Gillmore (CB – 1st rd), Cordy Glenn (OL – 2nd rd), T.J. Graham (WR – 3rd), Zebrie Sanders (OT – 5th), Tank Carder (LB – 5th), Mark Asper ( OG – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Ron Brooks (CB – 4th), Nigel Bradham (LB – 4th), John Potter (K – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The 2012 draft was an opportunity for Buffalo to improve upon their already good offseason.  Adding top prospects at Cornerback (Gillmore) and offensive line (Glenn) shows the Bills are commited to becoming contenders in the AFC East.  They also got solid players in the late rounds that gives them added depth at positions of need such as Tank Carder (Linebacker) and Mark Asper (Guard).

Miami Dolphins
Good Picks: Ryan Tannehill (QB -1st), Jonathan Martin (OT – 2nd), Michael Egnew (TE – 3rd), Lamar Miller (RB – 4th), BJ Cunningham (WR – 6th), Kheeston Randle (DL – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Oliver Vernon (DE – 3rd), Josh Kaddu (LB – 5th), Rishard Matthews (WR – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: If he had been drafted by any other team I would question Tannehill being drafted in the first round due to his lack of starting experience at quarterback (he became a starting quarterback in college, was wide receiver in high school).  But since Miami’s Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill’s college coach this is a perfect match for both player and team in order to get the most out of Tannehill's potential.  On top of that the Dolphins add a top notch Offensive tackle (Martin) along with an underrated Tight End (Egnew), undervalued Running Back (Miller), and overlooked talented Wide Receiver (Cunningham).

New England Patriots
Good Picks: Chandler Jones (DE – 1st), Dont’a Hightower (LB -1st), Tavon Wilson (S – 2nd), Alfonzo Dennard (DB – 7th), Jeremy Ebert (WR – 7th)

Questionable Picks: Jake Bequette (DL – 3rd), Nate Ebner (S – 6th),
Grade: A-
Review: The Patroits greatest need this offseason was to improve their defense.  Head Coach Bill Belicheck pulls off another great draft by selecting versatile, athletic, and smart players such as Chandler, Hightower, and Dennard.  All of these players have the potential to be pro bowl defensive selections.  Also Ebert has the talent to be a similar player to Wes Welker (who just happens to play for New England).

New York Jets
Good Picks: Stephen Hill (WR – 2nd), Demario Davis (OLB – 3rd), Terrance Ganaway (RB – 6th), Antonio Allen (S – 7th), Jordan White (WR – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Quinton Coples (DE – 1st), Josh Bush (S – 6th), Robert Griffin (OG  - 6th)
Grade: B-
Review: The biggest problem with the Jets draft is that their first round pick Quinton Coples is best suited to play in a 4-3 or Cover 2 defense.  Rex Ryan’s New York Jets run a 3-4 defense.  Coples may be a great athlete but we saw what happened when an experienced, talented NFL defensive end tried to play in Ryan’s 3-4 defensive scheme with limited results (Jason Taylor).  The good news for Jets fans is that they got a great slot receiver (Hill), a versatile linebacker (Davis) and an undervalued running back (Ganaway) who played “Robin” to RG3’s “Batman” at Baylor.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens
Good Picks: Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB – 2nd), Kelechi Osemele (OG – 2nd), Gino Gradkowski (OG – 4th), Tommy Streeter (WR – 6th) 
Questionable Picks: Bernard Pierce (RB – 3rd), Christian Thompson (S – 4th), Asa Jackson (DB – 5th), DeAngelo Tyson (DT – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Ravens are a good team that got even better by picking “Terrell Suggs 2.0” in Upshaw and beefed up their offensive line depth with 2 offensive lineman (Osemele and Gradkowski).  The downside is that Pierce, Thompson and Jackson were not the best players available at their positions when the Ravens drafted them so one can only hope that Baltimore will be able to maximize each players potential.

Cincinnati Bengals
Good Picks: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB – 1st), Kevin Zeitler (OG – 1st), Mohammed Sanu (WR – 3rd), Brandon Thompson (DT – 3rd), Orson Charles (TE – 4th), Shaun Prater (DB – 5th), Dan Herron (RB – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Devon Still (DT – 2nd), Marvin Jones (WR – 5th), George Iloka (S – 5th),
Grade: B+
Review: After a very good draft last year, the Bengals follow up with another draft full of talented, pro ready football players.  Four of their top Six selections could play key roles for them in 2012 (Kirkpatrick, Zeitler, Sanu, and Charles).  Bengals starting Quarterback Andy Dalton may be the happiest person in Bengal nation after the team added weapons and protection to the offense.

Cleveland Browns
Good Picks: Trent Richardson (RB – 1st), Brandon Weeden (QB – 1st), Mitchell Schwartz (OL – 2nd), Travis Benjamin (WR – 4th), Billy Winn (DT – 6th), Brad Smelley (TE – 7th)
Questionable Picks: John Hughes (DT – 3rd), James-Michael Johnson (LB – 4th), Ryan Miller (OG – 5th), Emmanuel Acho (LB – 6th), Trevin Wade (CB – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: Trent Richardson is arguable the top player in this year’s draft and the Browns got him.  But without him their draft grade would be much lower.  Although they drafted a pro ready QB (Weeden) and an underrated talent at Wide Receiver (Benjamin) the Browns selected a slew of underachieving college players.  Typically players do not play better at the NFL level then they did at the collegiate level so many of these "Questionable picks" could be busts as professional athletes.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Good Picks: David DeCastro (OG – 1st), Mike Adams (OT – 2nd), Alameda Ta’amu (DT – 4th), Chris Rainey (RB – 5th), David Paulson (TE – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Sean Spence (LB – 3rd), Toney Clemons (WR – 7th), Terrence Frederick  (CB – 7th), Kelvin Beachum (OG – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: The Steelers addressed two important needs in this draft: offensive line and team age.  DeCastro is an NFL ready offensive starter while Adams needs some grooming but he has tremendous upside as an NFL Tackle.  Ta’amu can step in and be a good Nose tackle on the defensive line while Rainey is a talented player who can be used as a running back, wide receiver and punt returner.  The reason for the grade is because they used all three of their seventh round picks on suspect prospects while their third round pick was used on a player who has shown lapses in maturity and judgment while in college.

AFC South

Houston Texans
Good Picks: Whitney Mercilus (DE – 1st), DeVier Posey (WR – 3rd), Ben Jones (C – 4th), Jared Crick (DE – 4th), Nick Mondek (OL – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Brandon Brooks (OG – 3rd), Keshawn Martin (WR – 4th), Randy Bullock (K – 5th),
Grade: B
Review: After winning the AFC South and making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, the Texans used the draft to reload their team with more talent.  They got more talented on defense with Mercilus and Crick while giving the offense another weapon (Posey) and gained offensive line depth (Jones and Mondek).  All of these picks should equal another winning season in Houston and potentially another division title.

Indianapolis Colts
Good Picks: Andrew Luck (QB – 1st), Coby Fleener (TE – 2nd), Dwayne Allen (TE – 3rd), Josh Chapman (DT – 5th), Vick Ballard (RB – 5th), LeVon Brazill (WR – 6th),
Questionable Picks: T.Y. Hilton (WR – 3rd), Justin Anderson (OG – 7th), Tim Fugger (LB – 7th), Chandler Harnish (QB – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Colts are in rebuilding mode.  So they draft this year's top quarterback prospect (Luck), his college teammate (Fleener), an underrated running back (Ballard), and an overlooked talent at wide receiver (Brazil).  They could have done better but they decided to get a lot of “project” players instead of NFL ready players with their other picks.  But the goal was to load of with players to fill the roster and they did accomplish that for sure. 

Jacksonville Jaguars
Good Picks: Justin Blackmon (WR – 1st), Andre Branch (DE – 2nd), Brandon Marshall (LB – 5th),
Questionable Picks: Bryan Anger (P – 3rd), Mike Harris (CB – 6th), Jeris Pendleton (DT – 7th)
Grade: B-
Review: When you draft the top wide receiver in this year’s draft (Blackmon) and then have the fortune of selecting a 1st round talent in the 2nd round (Branch) that is a good draft.  But after making two great picks they overreach by selecting a punter in the third round (Anger) and then select two average skill defensive players with their final two picks.  Not exactly what Jaguar fans what to see happen after a poor past season that saw long time Head Coach Jack Del Rio fired.

Tennessee Titans
Good Picks: Kendall Wright (WR – 1st), Zach Brown (LB – 2nd), Mike Martin (DT – 3rd), Coty Sensabaugh (CB – 4th), Markell Martin (S – 6th)
Questionable Picks: Taylor Thompson (TE – 5th), Scott Solomon (DE – 7th)
Grade: B+
Review: The Tennessee Titans have emerged from the 2012 NFL Draft with a good group of players who improve their team not just for the 2012 season but also for the future as well.  With their second through fourth round picks they upgraded their defense while using the first round pick to draft an offensive playmaker (Wright).  Although I have Thompson listed as a “questionable pick” he has great upside and the potential to become an elite tight end in the NFL.

AFC West

Denver Broncos
Good Picks: Derek Wolfe (DT – 2nd), Ronnie Hillman (RB – 3rd), Omar Bolden (CB – 4th), Philip Blake (C – 4th)
Questionable Picks: Brock Osweiler (QB – 2nd), Malik Jackson (DE – 5th), Danny Trevathan (LB – 6th)
Grade: C
Review: The Broncos selected some nice players in the draft but they underachieved compared to last year’s draft.  Wolfe, Bolden, and Jackson add depth to their defense but the Broncos passed up on other talented defensive players along the way.  Hillman was a good collegiate running back but the Broncos passed up more talented backs who could have fit playing with Peyton Manning.  Their best pick was probably snagging Baylor Center Philip Blake in the fourth round; Blake did a good job as the leader of the Offensive Line and starting center for Heisman Trophy winner RG3.  But there are still questions about whether Brock Osweiler has what it takes to play in the NFL after an above average collegiate career.

Kansas City Chiefs
Good Picks: Donald Stephenson (OT – 3rd), Devon Wylie (WR – 4th), De’quan Menzie (CB – 5th), Junior Hemingway (WR – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Dontari Poe (DT – 1st), Jeff Allen (OG – 2nd), Cyrus Gray (RB – 6th), Jerome Long (DT – 7th)
Grade: C
Review: Despite listing Dontari Poe as a “Questionable Pick”, being drafted by the Chiefs could be the best situation for Poe.  The Chiefs may be the team best equiped to maximize Poe's talents with a defensive minded head coach in Romeo Crennel.  Their best picks came in the late rounds where they got a talented wide receiver (Wylie), an overlooked cornerback (Menzie) and an underrated wide receiver (Hemingway).

Oakland Raiders
Good Picks: Miles Burris (LB – 4th), Juron Criner (WR – 5th), Nathan Stupar (LB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Tony Bergstrom (OG – 3rd), Jack Crawford (DE – 5th), Chris Bilukidi (DT – 6th)
Grade: C-
Review: The Raiders were without a couple high draft picks because of the Carson Palmer trade, which may have led to the firing of their former Head Coach Hue Jackson.  They got mixed results in this year's draft with some players they hope are “steals” and others that causes one to question their scouting department.  Burris and Stupar add talent to their Linebacker core and that will help them in the long run.  Otherwise their selections still leaves the team needing to fill needs on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary.

San Diego Chargers
Good Picks: Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB – 1st), Kendall Reyes (DT – 2nd), Brandon Taylor (S – 3rd), Edwin Baker (RB – 7th)
Questionable Picks: Ladarius Green (TE – 4th), Johnnie Troutman (OG – 5th), David Molk (C – 7th)
Grade: B
Review: The Chargers snagged the steal of the first round by selecting a defensive pheonom Melvin Ingram who can play any of the positions on the defensive line or linebacker unit.  In college he play numerous positions and dominated at all of them.  San Diego continued to upgrade their defense with underrated talents Reyes and Taylor.  Another positive was in the seventh round picking up an experienced collegiate running back (Baker) who can be a change-of-pace back for third down.