Christian McCaffrey, Ellis Hobbs, Roosevelt Boulevard, Strand of Oaks, Jordan Hicks, Jonathan Rado, Silvio Dante, Dylan Ennis, Fairmount Park, Baker Dunleavy and high-speed rail.
There's nothing more random than an offseason version of 25 random points! This one is even more all over the place than usual!
1. I have to say I'm intrigued by McCaffrey and the possibilities he presents. Especially in this offense. Are there risks drafting a slightly undersized running back in the first round? No question. But there are risks drafting any of these guys. As a rule, I just don't like first-round running backs. The shelf life of the average running back is so short these days. Backs take such a beating and incur so many injuries and are generally done somewhere around 27 or 28 years old. So to take one in the first round, you really better have a high level of confidence that this is the guy. It's so rare for running backs to produce consistently, year after year, and that's what you need from a first-round pick.
Of the last 17 running backs taken in the first round, none have ever had consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Which just speaks to how problematic this is. You might get a huge year followed by an injured year followed by an inconsistent year followed by a decent comeback year and then next thing you know the guy is out of the league or even worse, playing for the Browns. Guys like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson are exceptions.
Look at the Eagles. Wilbert Montgomery was a sixth-round pick. Brian Westbrook a third-round pick. LeSean McCoy was a second-round pick. You can find running backs outside the first round. But there's the flip side. McCaffrey's running and receiving ability would fit so well in this offense. And while he'll never be a 20-carry a game guy, he doesn't need to be to make this pick work. Look at Westbrook. From 2004 through 2008, Westbrook was a machine. He led the NFC in yards from scrimmage during that five-year period and was second in the entire NFL behind LaDainian Tomlinson. During that five-year span, Westbrook averaged 15.7 carries per game and 5.6 receptions per game but we all know what kind of impact he had.
If you're careful and don't overuse him, you at least have a chance to keep a running back healthy for a prolonged period of time. And from what we've seen so far, there isn't much of a chance Doug Pederson will ever overuse a running back.
All that said, my No. 1 target is still Corey Davis, and I'd be thrilled with Mike Williams or one of the top corners. And who knows, maybe Dalvin Cook winds up being the best tailback in the bunch. Still, McCaffrey is intriguing just because he's such a talented runner and receiver, and I'd love to see what he could do in an Eagles uniform. If the Eagles do select him, you won't hear me complaining.
2. Looking back at Villanova's season, I feel like the Wildcats never quite figured out how to play without a big contribution from Kris Jenkins. It's a lot to ask a team that's been playing a certain way all year and really for a few years to suddenly play a different way, but Jenkins' mysterious late-season shooting slump was so drastic it got to the point where he went from being a unanimous All-Big East first-team preseason pick to shooting just 24 percent from three-point range over the last six weeks of the season.
All of a sudden, Jay Wright had to find a way to win without one of the best three-point shooters in the program's history. And with Mikal Bridges struggling down the stretch -- after averaging 10.6 points in the regular season, he averaged just 4.6 in the postseason -- and Jalen Brunson struggling from deep late in the season -- 45 percent through mid-January, 29 percent since -- Villanova's scoring options were reduced really to Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo and Brunson attacking the rim. That made Villanova so much easier to defend. As gifted as Hart is, he can't carry a team through an NCAA Tournament. Eric Paschall did come along on both ends of the court late in the season, but it wasn't enough.
Wright spoke bluntly about all this in the hallway at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, after the loss to Wisconsin: "I thought we were starting to get a little bit of an answer to that with Donte starting to come on and Eric starting to come on. Maybe we needed one more game."
3. I found myself rooting against Lonzo Ball the other night when UCLA lost to Kentucky. But you know what? The kid has really done nothing wrong except pick the wrong father. His dad, LaVar, is an arrogant loudmouth jerk, but that's not Lonzo's fault. He seems like a good kid. But thanks to his dad, he's going to find that everybody is rooting against him as he tries to establish an NBA career. Good parenting right there.
4. I don't think Brunson is ready for the NBA, but I still wouldn't be surprised if he leaves. Brunson is a really gifted college point guard, but he doesn't have the quickness or explosion that most NBA point guards have, his shooting is spotty and his size could really be a defensive liability. Brunson is extremely smart and a terrific finisher around the rim. He's a tremendous leader, a calm presence on the court and has a real knack for hitting bit shots at big moments. But an NBA guard? I don't see it. Not yet.
5. One other thing about Villanova: Last year, the Wildcats got progressively better shooting the three as the year went on to the point in which they were shooting at a historic level by the NCAA Tournament. This year was the opposite. They just got worse and worse. Check out the numbers: Last year, Villanova was shooting 33 percent from three after 27 games -- 271st in Division I. The last 13 games, the Wildcats shot 45 percent from three -- eighth best in the country. This year, Villanova was shooting 39 percent from three after 20 games, 38th best of 351 NCAA Division I teams. The last 15 games, the Wildcats shot 34 percent from three, which ranked 214th out of 351. Without a true post presence, this team was so dependent on hitting threes. When they didn't fall, things got very tough for 'Nova.
6. I hate when the singer doesn't introduce the band.
7. I just laugh when people say no way the Eagles can go into 2017 with two rookie cornerbacks. OK … why not? Because things have gone so well when they've signed free agents? Like Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell, Hobbs, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin? I'd rather draft a couple promising kids, live with their mistakes and develop them into a formidable pair than continue patching with disinterested and overpriced veterans. Make this another Lito/Sheldon draft.
8. I don't usually get all bothered by this stuff, but that picture of Devin Booker and his teammates giddily celebrating Booker's 70-point game for Phoenix against the Celtics in Boston on Friday really irked me. Hey, Devin … you lost. I don't care how many points you scored -- or how many yards you had or how many home runs you hit or how many goals you scored. You don't celebrate after a loss. Bad look.
9. When NC State upset Villanova in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, the Villanova guard who missed the potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer was Ennis. After the season and graduating from Villanova, Ennis transferred to Oregon to use his final year of eligibility as a graduate student. However, he missed the majority of last season because of injury and was then granted another year by the NCAA. After starting his career at Rice in 2011, Ennis is now a sixth-year senior at Oregon. And in the Final Four. Super kid who's been through a lot of ups and downs. If you're looking for somebody to root for in the Final Four, root for Dylan Ennis.
10. Up for a challenge? Try getting onto Roosevelt Boulevard north-bound off Woodhaven Road west-bound at rush hour and maneuvering across all six lanes of traffic in time to get into the left-turn lane for Old Lincoln Drive. It's about 8/10ths of a mile. It's hard enough but then factor in the fact that nobody heading north on the Boulevard is super interested in letting you cross over and it becomes one of Philly's great driving challenges. This is as close as you can get to the old Mulsanne Straight at 24 Hours of LeMans. Definitely the high point of my daily commute.
11. Why do I get more excited when a Rutles song comes on the radio than a Beatles song?
12. I hope everybody who lives in Philly appreciates Fairmount Park.
Here's a park that stretches from Logan Circle up along the Schuylkill River, encompasses the Zoo through Belmont Plateau and on almost to City Line Avenue on the west side of the river and the Art Museum up through Strawberry Mansion on the east side of the river. Then the entire park narrows to a few dozen feet wide at the bottom of Ridge Pike in East Falls, before expanding into a massive northern section that runs up through Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill on the east and Manayunk and Roxborough on the west. The whole thing finally ends at Northwestern Avenue on the border of Whitemarsh Township near Lafayette Hill.
At 9,200 acres -- more than 10 times larger than Central Park in Manhattan -- Fairmount Park is the world's largest landscaped park. It contains endless miles of bike trails and jogging trails not to mention a zoo, a skatepark, two music venues, a historic restaurant originally built in 1850 and so much more. It's ours and it's free and it's the best.
13. Way too often, "Here's my mock draft," means, "Here's a composite of 12 other mock drafts that I looked at to come up with mine." Come on, you know it's true. The sad thing is the 12 people that put together those original mock drafts probably did the same thing. So you have this endless cycle of mock drafts based solely on other mock drafts. I'm not saying everybody does 'em that way, but a lot of people do. People love mock drafts and they can be fun to look at. But there's a reason they're always wrong.
14. Spoon or Wilco?
15. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie is scheduled to meet with the media at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona on Tuesday evening, and it will be the first time he speaks in a year. Since last year's owners' meetings. Lurie isn't required to speak more than once a year, but he should. I think he owes it to the fans to make himself accessible at least every few months. When Lurie first bought the Eagles, he was in the locker room and available to the media after every game, in addition to a state-of-the-franchise address every summer at Lehigh and a year-end interview as well. He gradually reduced his availability to two or three times a year and since ending his state-of-the-team chats a few years ago, he's been down to once a year, with exceptions made when he hires or fires a head coach.
I think Lurie is a good owner who wants to win and has been good for the franchise's overall health over the last couple decades. But there needs to be more accountability. Lurie's franchise hasn't won a Super Bowl in the 22 years since he bought it, hasn't won a playoff game in eight years and hasn't been to the playoffs the last three years. There are a lot of questions, and once a year is just not even close to enough time to answer them all.
16. I kind of like this Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (more on him here).
17. We're a quarter of the way through the year, so here are my top 25 live shows so far: 1. Mondo Cozmo, 2. Strand of Oaks, 3. Grandaddy, 4. Hamilton Leithauser, 5. Illinois, 6. Harmony Woods, 7. Mercury Girls, 8. Sheer Mag, 9. Foxygen, 10. Death by Unga Bunga, 11. Parquet Courts, 12. Eskimeaux, 13. LVL UP, 14. Hurry, 15. Hemming, 16. Archawah, 17. Slaughter Beach, Dog, 18. Chris Farren, 19. Superweaks, 20. Katie Ellen, 21. Hurry, 22. Ron Gallo, 23. The Lame-O's, 24. Thin Lips, 25. Smithereens.
18. To put the start of Hicks' career in perspective, consider this: Hicks has seven interceptions in his first 24 NFL games. As a linebacker. Only two cornerbacks in Eagles history have had more INTs in their first 24 career games. Herm Edwards had 11 and Eric Allen had nine. Among all active players, only Marcus Peters, Jairus Byrd, Aqib Talib, Marcus Williams and Brandon Browner -- all DBs, of course -- had more INTs in their first 24 games. The last Pro Bowl linebacker the Eagles drafted was Jeremiah Trotter, some 17 years ago. If Hicks keeps doing what he's been doing, that drought will be ending soon.
19. Rado is the closest thing we've got to a young Todd Rundgren. Rado, co-leader of L.A. glam pop band Foxygen, is a brilliant musician whether he's playing keys or guitar, an inventive writer and arranger and an in-demand producer (Whitney, Lemon Twigs). And if you've ever heard the track "How Can You Really," which Foxygen closed with at Union Transfer on Sunday night, you know Rado is a huge Rundgren fan. It's basically a long-lost Rundgren track circa Back to the Bars. I'm pretty sure Rado is a genius, and I can't wait to see where his career goes from here.
20. The Las Vegas Raiders. It's just wrong. The Raiders belong in Oakland.
21. Steven Van Zandt -- aka Miami Steve -- is such a fascinating guy. What a career he's had. He grew up in Central Jersey playing in various cover bands at the shore in the 1960s. Met Springsteen when he was 16. Officially became a full-time member of the the E Street Band when he was 25. Wrote the main guitar riff in "Born to Run." Arranged the horns on Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out. Co-produced the River and Born in the USA. Co-founded Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and wrote their biggest hits, including "I Don't Want to Go Home." Landed a starring role as Silvio Dante on the Sopranos despite having zero acting experience beyond a couple plays as a teenager at Middletown High. Started a foundation -- Rock and Roll Forever -- that raises money to support music programs in public schools. Launched a record label, Wicked Cool Records. Started up a garage rock radio station on SiriusXM.
But you know what I like best about Miami Steve? He is pretty much the best storyteller ever. When he's hosting on the Underground Garage on SiriusXM, Steve tells these long, elaborate, exquisitely detailed, incredibly researched stories that are generally but not always related in some way to the music he's playing and often cover American history and pop culture from the 1940s through the 1970s. The topics are all over the place -- Chicago gangs of the 1940s, Frank Sinatra's film career, how the Monkees' original lineup was put together -- but no matter what the topic, they are engaging, funny, informative and absolutely impossible to turn off.
22. My Phillies prediction: 79-83.
23. When I'm running the world, we're going to build a true high-speed rail system across the U.S. I'm thinking stops in Boston, New York, Philly, Washington, Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The fastest commercial trains in Europe travel about 265 miles per hour, so based on that, you could do Boston to Philly in about 75 minutes. Or say Philly to Phoenix in about 8½ hours.
Now, this train line wouldn't go on existing Amtrak tracks. I'm talking about an all-new right-of-way using magnetic levitation technology. Now, you'd probably have to tear up half of downtown Philly to build the tunnels and tracks. But somebody else can worry about that. I'm thinking macro here. And honestly, who wouldn't prefer traveling from downtown Philly to downtown Los Angeles in 10½ hours on a quiet, comfortable high-speed train with panoramic views of the countryside (with a bar car, obviously) instead of on a cramped, delayed, Airbus 321 with no legroom?
Come on, let's get this done in time for the Eagles' games against the Rams and Chargers this fall!
24. Congrats to Villanova assistant coach Baker Dunleavy, hired Monday as head coach at Quinnipiac (alma mater of CSNPhilly.com Sixers Insider Jessica Camerato). It's a great opportunity for the 34-year-old Dunleavy, who left a comfy job on Wall Street in 2012 to join Wright's staff. But it's also a big loss for the Wildcats. Dunleavy isn't just a respected assistant coach, he's a very effective recruiter. He'll be missed, and he'll be difficult to replace.
25. In honor of Robert Pollard releasing his 100th album this month, here are my 25 favorite Pollard releases … ranked, of course:
1. From a Compound Eye, Robert Pollard, 2006
2. Universal Truths and Cycles, Guided by Voices, 2002
3. Bee Thousand, Guided by Voices, 1994
4. Half Smiles of the Decomposed, Guided by Voices, 2004
5. Alien Lanes, Guided by Voices, 1995
6. Earthquake Glue, Guided by Voices, 2003
7. Isolation Drills, Guided by Voices, 2001
8. Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department, R. Pollard / Doug Gillard, 1999
9. Do the Collapse, Guided by Voices, 1999
10. Blues and Boogie Shoes, The Keene Brothers, 2006
11. Mag Earwhig!, Guided by Voices, 1997
12. Under the Bushes, Under the Stars, Guided by Voices, 1996
13. Choreographed Man of War, Robert Pollard & his Soft Rock Renegades, 2001
14. Not in my Air Force, Robert Pollard, 1996
15. Ask Them, Lexo and the Leapers, 1999
16. Zero to 99, Boston Spaceships, 2009
17. Same Place the Fly Got Smashed, Guided by Voices, 1990
18. Tower in the Fountain of Sparks, Airport 5, 2001
19. Waved Out, Robert Pollard, 1998
20. Fiction Man, Robert Pollard, 2004
21. Motel of Fools, Robert Pollard, 2003
22. The Crawling Distance, Robert Pollard, 2009
23. Robert Pollard Is Off to Business, Robert Pollard, 2008
24. Kid Marine, Robert Pollard, 1999
25. Coast to Coast Carpet of Love, Robert Pollard, 2007