Matthews: McDermott, Beane Won't Like This

posted by Bob Matthews -

McDERMOTT, BEANE WON’T LIKE THIS JOSH ALLEN PROJECTION

Of the eight quarterback “top prospects” in the 2018 NFL Draft, Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield has the greatest probability to be an elite NFL starter and the least chance to be a bust...and Buffalo’s Josh Allen has the worst probability to be elite and the second-most likely to be a bust.

Those are among the conclusions by Football Outsiders’/ESPN QBASE (Adjusted-Stats-and Experience) ratings. This projection system’s measures include adjusted yards passing per attempt, accuracy and years of starting experience in college. It made adjustments for relative quality of teammates and opponents.

The results (in percentages):

Probability to become an elite starter (in 3-to-5 years) – Baker Mayfield 28.2 percent...Josh Rosen 10.4...Lamar Jackson 8.5...Luke Falk 7.6...Mason Rudolph 5.6...Kyle Lauletta 5.4...Josh Allen 5.2...Sam Darnold 4.1

Upper-tier starter – Mayfield 20.7...Jackson 118.5...Rosen 18.0...Rudolph 15.5...Darnold 15.1...Falk 14.4...Lauletta 14.0...Allen 11.5

Adequate starter – Darnold 29.0...Jackson 26.9...Rudolph 24.8...Lauletta 24.7...Rosen 24.9...Falk 23.6...Mayfield 21.8...Allen 20.7

Bust – Allen 62.7...Lauletta 56.0...Falk 54.5...Rudolph 54.2...Darnold 51.9...Rosen 46.9...Jackson 46.2...Mayfield 29.3.

The biggest surprise is the lack of respect for Darnold.

I’m sure Bills general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott could not care less about the projections of computer geeks who think they know more about the NFL potential of these QBs than they do.

...OTHER SPINS ON JOSH ALLEN

Jason Kirk at sbnation/nfl/2018/4/24/17271686/josh allen-nfl-draft-2018-stats-analysis is not real high on Allen. The headline for his analysis sums up his feelings quite well: “If Josh Allen succeeds, the Bills will have outsmarted basically all regular human beings and the entirety of math itself. It this works, then stats really are for losers, I guess.”

More optimistic reviews:

Joe Buscaglia@WBBW.com has posted a thorough in-depth analysis of the obvious strengths and question marks regarding Allen. He studied the tapes of every game Allen played at Wyoming. He thinks Allen could be starting for Buffalo by midway through this season. His conclusion, “Allen is a prospect that has all the potential in the world, and if the Bills do it right and his physical and mental processes develop, he has the potential to become the franchise savior they’ve been waiting for since the turn of the century.”

Former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told One Bills Live: “I love his size, stature and arm strength. His accuracy was a problem, but I think working with Jordan Palmer they’ve fixed some of that. But that’s not live bullets. I want to see it in live bullets with a pass rush. But his talent is unbelievable and his upside is probably the best in the draft.”

WARRIORS BIG FAVORITES OVER THE ROCKETS 

The defending champion Golden State Warriors are surprisingly big favorites to beat the Houston Rockets in the NBA Western Conference finals starting Monday night.

Many NBA observers – including this one – believe this will be the “real” league championship series. The winner of the Golden State versus Houston wild West showdown figures to easily beat Eastern Conference kingpin Cleveland or probably Boston in the NBA Finals.

Houston had the better record in the regular season (NBA-best 65-17 to Golden State’s 58-24) and has the home-court advantage for this best-of-seven series, but Las Vegas has posted Golden State as the -170 favorite (bet $170 to win $100; Houston is bet $100 to win $150).

Why? As I’ve pointed out all along, Houston’s run-and-gun style is too much for most NBA opponents to handle. But Golden State is the one team with more firepower than the Rockets. The Warriors also have supreme confidence and play slightly better defense.

SOME HIGH PRAISE FOR LeBRON JAMES...IS IT TOO MUCH?

Maybe no one on earth has been more impressed by the recent heroics of NBA Eastern Conference Finals-bound Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James in the current NBA playoffs than veteran sports columnist Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News.

Lupica on Sunday made two controversial declarations: (1) James “remains the biggest star in American sports”; and (2) James “continues to show you, as he tries to get this particular team back to the NBA Finals, why he is the most complete player in the history of this sport.”

Wow. I’m a fan of LeBron James but those are two huge compliments – even for him.

I’m not going to completely disagree with Lupica. I think he could use some support.

I’m sure some LeBron critics would argue that if he isn’t this season’s NBA Most Valuable Player (Houston’s James Harden has that in the bag), how could he the “biggest star in American sports?”

I believe Harden had a better regular season than James, but LeBron has been by far the best player in these playoffs and has a longevity advantage in brilliance over Harden.

The only active pro athlete I’d rate with James for “the biggest star in American sports” today is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady – and he figures to fade out of the spotlight before LeBron.

I also agree with Lupica that James is the “most complete player” in NBA history. All things considered – size, strength, passing, rebounding, floor generalship and titles – I’d give LeBron the edge over Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar.

BALTIMORE O’s WOES ARE MOUNTING

The Baltimore Orioles were trailing visiting 10-0 entering the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night at Camden Yards and lost 15-7. The O’s have a MBL-worst 8-27 record, including 3-19 in their last 22 games. They’ve dropped two straight 0-6 road trips.

Baltimore also has a MLB-worst run differential: -80 (outscored 202-122). The O’s are on pace to be outscored by 370 runs. For the record, The 1962 Mets were 40-120 and outscored by 331 runs. The 2003 Detroit Tigers were 43-119 and outscored by 337 runs.

The O’s aren’t going to set the MLB-record for negative run differential. The 1899 National League Cleveland Spiders were outscored by 723 runs (1,252 to 529). Their record was 20-134, including 9-33 at home (average home attendance was 145) and 11-101 on the road. Why so few home games? Opponents refused to play in Cleveland because their share of the gate receipts couldn’t cover their train travel costs and hotel bills.

The Spiders had an excuse for being so terrible. The team’s owners – brothers Frank and Stanley Robison – also owned the NL St. Louis Perfectos.  They put their best players on the St. Louis roster because St. Louis was a bigger city and had more baseball fans. The Spiders were nicknamed the “Exiles” and “Wanderers” by sympathetic sportswriters.

It was the final season for the Spiders. The National League contracted from 12 teams in 1899 to 8 teams for the 1900 season. Louisville, Washington, Baltimore and Cleveland were dropped. Cleveland joined the new American League in 1901.

The current O’s have far more talent than those woeful Spiders. But they are in a terrible funk, their pitching staff stinks any everyone expects owner Peter Angelos to unload soon-to-be- free agent Manny Machado before the trade deadline.

Baltimore might lose 100-plus games but it won’t be outscored by 724 runs.

BOB’S SECRET LONG-SHOT FOR AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Approximately one-fifth through the 2018 Major League Baseball season, an extremely deep and interesting field is shaping up for American League Most Valuable Player.

At this moment, I rate Boston right fielder Mookie Betts as the frontrunner, with a long list pursuers including Mike Trout, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Andrelton Simmons, Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and J.D. Martinez.

Don’t discount pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. If he continues to pitch and hit all season, his versatility could give him the decisive advantage over the other stars.

As a pitcher – 3-1 record; 4.10 ERA; 26 1/3 innings; 20 hits allowed; 11 walks; 32 strikeouts.

As a hitter -- .339 batting average; 4 HRs; 14 RBI in 16 games.

GOOD-PITCH, WEAK-HIT RED WINGS ARE LOOKING OK

The Rochester Red Wings entered Wednesday afternoon’s game in Buffalo on a four-game winning streak to boost their record to 14-13 in the always tough International League North. They’re an impressive 10-4 on the road and 4-9 at home.

When this season began, the scouting report was that the Wings figured to have very good pitching and suspect hitting. So far, the pitching has been excellent and the hitting has been – well – pretty lousy.

Rochester entered Wednesday with a 2.95 earned-run average, by far the best in the 14-team IL. The Wings also had the lowest WHIP (walks+hits allowed per 9 innings) at 1.20 and had allowed the fewest walks (79). Rochester in 244 1/3 innings, had allowed only 213 hits and struck out 237.

The deep bullpen has been spectacular: 2.09 ERA; 110 1/3 innings; 87 hits allowed; 36 walks; 96 strikeouts.

The hitting – not so good. Rochester entered Wednesday ranked last in batting average (.224), slugging percentage (.318) and OPS (636). The Wings were 13th in runs (106) and 12th in home runs (12). Eleven regulars were batting below .250, including 6 under .200.

JOHN GRANT JR.: THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

I’ve long argued that John Grant. Jr., in 11 seasons of indoor lacrosse with the Knighthawks, was the greatest pro athlete in his particular sport to wear a ROCHESTER uniform. All due respect to Estel Crabtree, Bobby Davies, Doug Miller, Marta and fill in the __________.

Grant enjoyed his time in Rochester but was ripe for a change of scenery after the 2010 National Lacrosse League season. K-hawks owner/general manager Curt Styres and personnel director Jody Gage wanted to add some youth to an aging roster.

The NLL’s top goalie in 2010, Matt Vinc of the Orlando Titans, had been selected No. 1 overall by the Colorado Mammoth in a dispersal draft after the Titans folded. He was a high school science teacher in his native St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, and requested a trade to a team closer to home.

The bombshell deal on October 27, 2010 – arguably the most significant trade in NLL history – sent superstar Grant (then 35 years old) to Denver for Vinc (then 28 years old) and transition players Matt Zash and Brad Self. High draft picks also were involved.

Grant had plenty left and played six+ seasons with Colorado. But injuries (including a concussion) finally caught up with him and he retired early in the 2017 season. Meanwhile, Vinc has been the NLL Goaltender of the Year a record five times, including 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 with Rochester. He’ll turn 36 on June 9 but he’s still going strong, He was voted K-hawks MVP this season for the sixth time in his eight years with Rochester.

Vinc was spectacular in last week’s home playoff win over the New England Black Wolves and is a big reason why the K-hawks are the team the mighty Saskatchewan Rush most fear as a possible opponent in the best-of-three NLL Champion’s Cup Finals. The Rush were 0-2 vs. Rochester this season and 14-2 against the rest of the league.

BILLS RANK 25th IN THESE POST-DRAFT NFL POWER RANKINGS

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott are warning the team’s super-loyal fan base than last season’s trip to the playoffs might have been a little bit of a fluke and that a slight and temporary step backwards could be in store this season.

The panel of 80-plus NFL media “experts” who participated in ESPN’s Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings apparently agree. Here are the results (released Tuesday):

1-Philadelphia...2-New England...3-Pittsburgh...4-New Orleans...5-Minnesota...6-Los Angeles Rams...7-Jacksonville...8-Atlanta...9-Green Bay...10-Kansas City...11-Carolina...12-Los Angeles Chargers...13-Tennessee...14-Dallas...15-San Francisco...16-Seattle...17-Houston...18-Washgington...19-Oakland...20-Detroit...21-Denver...22-Baltimore...23-Arizona...24-Tampa Bay...25-BUFFALO (the Bills were 23rd in ESPN’s Pre-Draft Power Rankings)...26-New York Giants...27-New York Jets...28-Chicago...29-Cincinnati...30-Miami...31-Cleveland...32-Indianapolis.

Rank of Buffalo’s 2018 opponents:

Home – New England 2nd...Jacksonville 7th...LA Chargers 12th...Tennessee 13th...Detroit 20th...New York Jets 27th...Chicago 28th...Miami 30th. Average rank: 16.75 out of 32 teams.

Road – New England 2nd...Minnesota 5th...Green Bay 9th...Houston 17th...Baltimore 22nd...New York Jets 27th...Miami 30th...Indianapolis 32nd. Average rank: 18.00 out of 32 teams.

WELL, I PREFER “HOP BITTERS” OVER THE “DEVICES”

Changing team nicknames is the latest rage in minor-league baseball. So much for tradition. Temporary new nicknames boost merchandise sales.

I know I’m not alone in disliking the Red Wings-to-Plates for Thursday night home games this season. And the Red Wings will become the Hop Bitters Saturday, May 26. The Hop Bitters were Rochester’s team in the National Association in 1879 and 1880 and they’ll be saluted on that night along with “the great tradition of brewing in the Rochester area, the 140th anniversary of the Genesee Brewery and the renaissance of craft beer production in the Rochester area.”

I prefer a historical salute to the Hop Bitters to what Syracuse will be doing later this month.

This is presumed to be the last season Syracuse’s Triple-A baseball nickname will be the Chiefs. The team is switching parent clubs from Washington to the Mets and it is assumed that the Chiefs name will be replaced.

On May 31, the Chiefs will for one night be called the Devices, complete with a fresh new logo on merchandise at the team store. Why the Devices? It will be a salute to the Brannock Device, invented in Syracuse in the 1920s (so they explain) to measure the size of feet. You might have put your feet in a Brannock Device when purchasing new shoes.

SHORT SHOTS

The undefeated North Carolina Courage (formerly the Western New York Flash) lead the National Women’s Soccer League with a 5-0-2 record and are outscoring opponents 12-5.

The North American Premier Basketball league (including the Rochester RazorSharks) expects to add at least four teams for the 2019 season: Bellevue, Wash.; San Diego; Raleigh, N.C.; and Tampa, Fla.

Syracuse businessman Adam Weitsman had a record-high bid of $40,000 at last Saturday’s Juli and Jim Boeheim annual fundraiser at Turning Stone Resort and Casino to fight children’s cancer.  He’ll get a trip with Juli and Jim for dinner and to attend a game in this season’s NBA Finals.

Free-agent running back Kenjon Barber visited the Buffalo Bills Tuesday. I liked his 2012 senior season with the Oregon Ducks: 278 carries for 1,767 yards; 6.4 yards per carry; 21 TDs rushing + 20 catches for 256 yards and 2 TD; Second Team All-America; 9th in Heisman Trophy balloting.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, May 9

Yogi Ferrell (25)...Oswaldo Arcia (27)...Buddy Boshers (30)...Jake Long (33)...Chase Headley (34)...Price Fielder (34)...Danny Clark (41)...Doug Christie (48)...Steve Yzerman (53)...Brad Budde (60)...Phil Mahre (61)...Elmore Smith (69)...Calvin Murphy (70). Billy Joel (69) is invited to the birthday party.

Thursday, May 10

Tyus Jones (22)...Missy Franklin (23)...Salvador Perez (28)...Wilson Chandler (31)...Ryan Getzlaf (33)...Denis Hamel (41)...Adam Deadmarsh (43)...Rony Seikaly (53)...Randy Cunneyworth (57)...Dan Schayes (59)...Phil Mahre (61)...Chris Berman (63)...Jim Zorn (65).

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

May 9

57 years ago (1961), Baltimore Orioles first baseman Jim Gentile hit two grand slam HRs and had 9 RBI in a game versus Minnesota...31 years ago (1987), Eddie Murray of the Orioles became the first major-league player to switch-hit home runs in two consecutive games.

May 10

105 years ago (1913), Roscoe Goose rode Donerail to victory in the 39th Kentucky Derby...89 years ago (1929), Rochester’s Walter Hagen won the 64th British Open...48 years ago (1970), Bobby Orr’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins their first Stanley Cup since 1941...45 years ago (1973), the New York Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 for the 27th NBA Championship...27 years ago (1991), Oakland A’s slugger Jose Canesco was seen leaving Madonna’s apartment.

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