Jimmy Rollins Could Learn Something From Theo Ratliff

Jimmy Rollins Could Learn Something From Theo Ratliff


Ed Stefanski sounds like a guy who just hit the lottery.  In a lot of ways, he has.

The Sixers GM was gracious enough to hold an open Q&A session yesterday with several writers from the web, including Matt and myself, and we had the opportunity to discuss basketball with a bright man and true fan of the game.  As excited as the fans are for this coming season, Stef is equally as enthusiastic about the club's off-season haul.

Describing last season as very rewarding, Stefanski acknowledged there was a "residual effect" from the team's surprise playoff run, and players wanted to be a part of the Sixers because they expect the team to be good.  Once Brand opted out of his contract, he became the club's main priority, and Ed seized the opportunity.  From there, the plan just fell into place.

The number one question on my list was whether or not Stef thinks this team, with the addition of Brand and re-signing of Iguodala, is good enough to win an NBA Championship.  Ed would not definitively answer yes or no, replying only time will tell, but with the opinion the team has undoubtedly moved in the right direction.  As he said at the very beginning, "We look good on paper, but paper doesn't play."

One of the highlights of the interview was when Stef talked about the decision to bring Theo Ratliff back to the club.  The addition was purely a result of the unfortunate injury to Jason Smith, with Theo only expected to see limited minutes, but it's the former Sixer's opinion of the fans that I found interesting.


"He said he loves Philadelphia.  He loves the fans because the fans make him play hard, and the fans are always there for him, and he knows if he puts in the effort, the Philadelphia fans will like him.

He figured the Philadelphia fans out.  Philadelphia fans are all about effort.  When you give the effort, and maybe it comes up short, they're gonna forgive you.  When you don't give the effort is when the fans get on you."

Refreshing to hear in light of some recent comments from some of the other athletes in this town.

Stefanski had nothing but positive things to say about everybody on the team, and touted the team's versatility when asked about what guys would play which positions.  "We have a lot of guys that I would just term basketball players," while explaining a lot of players would rotate between different spots in the lineup depending on the situation.

The interview was a lot of fun, and we covered just about everyone on the team, so I've posted some more excerpts below.  I'd also like to thank Ed Stefanski for taking the time to hold the conference.  It was great to hear what his enthusiasm firsthand.

* Sweet Lou, recently rewarded with a contract worth $25 million, received high acclaim from Stefanski.  "I think Lou Williams is a hell of a basketball player, I really like the way the kid plays." 

* Stef revealed Thaddeus Young has spent the summer improving his ball-handling in preparation of seeing more minutes at the 3 position.  "There's no question he has gotten better."

* The Sixers are very pleased with the development of Marreese Speights at this point.  Stefanski gushed about the rookie, who he described as skilled and athletic.  Despite the rumors about Speights' work ethic, the skills are there, and the injury to Smith may give the kid an opportunity this season.

* Willie Green was given a vote of confidence from the Sixers GM.  For now, there are no more moves planned, so Willie is part of the team.  He also disclosed that Green was playing hurt last year, and was hopeful there would be some improvement this season.

Kulp’s one-and-only Eagles 2017 seven-round NFL mock draft

Kulp’s one-and-only Eagles 2017 seven-round NFL mock draft

This Eagles mock draft -- like every mock draft -- is inaccurate and strictly for entertainment purposes only.

For the past 24 hours, I debated releasing a mock draft altogether, even though I had been working on one for several days. It’s a senseless exercise to begin with, as the odds of being right about any of these choices is slim. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the probability is lower than ever.

We’re just hours away from the draft, and we’re still not sure who’s going to the Cleveland Browns with the first-overall pick. There’s also little consensus on how to rank the prospects beyond Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and by the time the Eagles are on the clock at No. 14, it’s anybody’s guess where these players will go.

Adding to the mystery are a collection of potential top-15 talents who are next to impossible to rank due to character concerns or injuries. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, Alabama’s Reuben Foster, Washington’s Sidney Jones or Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon all could’ve been options for the Eagles at 14 in alternate universe, and two or three still are -- now, who knows?

Those could be some of the options, as are Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Central Florida’s Corey Davis, Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, Washington’s John Ross and LSU’s Tra’Davious White, to name a few. Frankly, we don’t even know when the run on quarterbacks will begin, which could drastically alter how the board looks when it’s the Eagles’ turn.

Even as we get into the later rounds, where there seems to be a tad more consensus in the rankings, there are some 300-plus prospect to choose from altogether. The Eagles currently have eight picks, which gives me roughly a 2.5 percent chance of nailing just one, presuming they don’t trade some away.

So long story short, don’t expect me to get this right. I certainly don’t, and anybody who tells who differently is kidding themselves -- this year more than most.

 

14. Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

White isn’t necessarily graded as the best player or even cornerback available at this point, but that might be an oversight. Not many defensive prospects come along with four years starting experience at an SEC program, plus return punts, too. Don’t take my word for it, though. This is Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas talking about White at the Senior Bowl, via Turron Davenport for USA Today.

“He’s a leader. He’s been ultra-productive. He’s tough as nails. He plays nickel, he plays outside, he has ball skills. You can stack his level of production up against any corner in this draft.”

http://theeagleswire.usatoday.com/2017/01/27/joe-douglas-raves-about-lsu-cb-tredavious-white/

There is a chance the Eagles could land White or a similarly graded corner in round two, but I don’t think he lasts that long or they find a better fit. This fills a need, does so with somebody the Eagles are comfortable with, and a case could be made White is the best defensive player available here, rankings be damned. There’s probably 10 different directions they could go here -- including a trade down -- but either way, this choice makes a lot of sense.

 

43. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

No, I’m not willing to bet $500 on it, but I do buy into the buzz that Foster is sliding as the draft approaches. He may be a top-10 talent on the football field and hands down the best linebacker in the draft, but there is a host of other issues teams should be worried about.

That being said, the Eagles recently sent somebody to Tuscaloosa to see Foster, so their interest seems legitimate. The Baltimore Ravens had a history of drafting linebackers and Alabama products while Douglas was a member of the front office as well. Every year, at least one prospect falls much farther than expected. If Foster somehow lasts this long, he’ll be well worth the risk for the Eagles.

 

99. Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

Hunt rushed for 4,945 yards -- 25th in FBS history -- and 44 touchdowns in four seasons for the Rockets, but it was the strides he made as a receiver out of the backfield his senior year that should make him attractive to the Eagles. With 41 receptions for 403 yards and a touchdown in 2016, Hunt showed the kind of dual-threat ability vital to coach Doug Pederson’s west coast offense.

 

118. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

Hendrickson recorded 30.0 tackles for loss and 23.0 sacks over his junior and senior seasons. No, it wasn’t again top competition, but timed at 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he has the speed defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is looking for off the edge.

 

138. Shelton Gibson, WR, West Virginia

Gibson was supposed to run one of the fastest 40-yard dashes at the NFL Scouting Combine. Instead, the clock started fast, and he was timed at 4.5 seconds. That may cause him to drop a round or two in the draft, but the stats tell a different tale. Gibson averaged 22.6 yards per reception in three seasons at WVU and can flat out fly. He returns kickoffs, too.

 

155. Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State

Undersized at 5-foot-10 and not the greatest athlete, Kazee makes up for it with tremendous instinct and a nose for the football. Recorded 15 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles over his junior and senior seasons, while being aggressively natured in run support, too, racking up 8.5 tackles for loss. He’ll compete, which Schwartz loves in a corner.

 

194. Connor Harris, LB, Lindenwood

The NCAA All-Division record holder with 633 tackles, Harris is short at 5-foot-11 and not especially explosive, he simply knows how to play football. Had an offer from an FBS school and likely would have excelled, but was already committed to Lindenwood. Has the potential to become an outstanding special-teams contributor.

 

230. Nate Hairston, CB, Temple

Hairston is an extremely raw prospect who is nowhere near ready to play cornerback in the NFL, but the Eagles could stash him on the practice squad for a year or two while he learns. He’s a local prospect, so what the hell, throw him on here. If I got one of these right, I’ll be popping open the champagne on Saturday night.

Ex-Penn State officials to be sentenced in June over Sandusky

apjerrysandusky.jpg
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Ex-Penn State officials to be sentenced in June over Sandusky

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Sentencing has been scheduled for three former top officials at Penn State University who were convicted of child endangerment in the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal.

Former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley will be sentenced June 2 in Harrisburg.

Curley and Schultz pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. Spanier went to trial and was convicted in March. His lawyer said he will appeal.

The convictions stem from their handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky apparently molesting a boy in a school shower.

The administrators didn't report the encounter involving the ex-assistant football coach to police or child-welfare authorities.

Sandusky was arrested a decade later. He is serving up to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys but is appealing.