Two Likely Suitors
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Every year has its Stephen Curry. Every year, one player's extraordinary post-season performance goes on to define his enduring reputation amongst the sporting public.
Where's Tyus Edney now? No idea, but we all still remember that full-court dash that ended in dramatic fashion (actually, he's with PGE Turów Zgorzelec thanks to the crack research staff at Wikipedia). Steph Curry left such an indelible mark on us last March that he's now synonymous with celebrated sporting clichés such as clutch and prime time. Considering that Davidson basketball isn't exactly on TV so often all this hype stems from that two-week scoring-fest he dazzled us with last year. His absence was glaring throughout the heavyweight-laden tourney this year.
This year's Curry didn't come from the hard court, though, rather from the gridiron. In the weeks leading up to USC's Rose Bowl matchup with Penn State little was made of Mark Sanchez's NFL potential. The vast majority of the lead-up features focused on either the two legendary coaches facing off or highlighted the elite linebackers from both teams. Mark Sanchez was a good player on a great team before kickoff, likely to get his shine next season as a senior.
Afterward, however, his transcendent performance in the Rose introduced him as Mark Sanchez, USC QB, rather than that guy who plays QB for USC.
In the months since that 4-TD effort he's experienced a uniquely awkward "against the grain" press conference with his college coach, visited nearly every team with a top-15 pick and been anointed as an elite top prospect by nearly every major draft analyst.
So where would Sanchez best fit in the league? Mock experts, or should I say experts at conducting mock drafts, have him going anywhere as high as 4 to Seattle down to 12 to Denver.
With so many glaring needs, particularly at both the offensive and defensive tackle positions, Seattle seems best-served going with whoever is left of Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe or reach a little on B.J. Raji rather than groom Matt Hasselbeck's eventual replacement. Seattle doesn't stand to improve their '09 team at all by making Sanchez their top pick.
Where would Sanchez have the chance to really flourish and develop while also providing value as a high pick? There are two teams that fit this description; Denver and the New York Jets.
The Jets have one glaring issue. It's called a quarterback. Their problem? They don't have one. A guy named Kellen Clemens or Brett Fav- I mean Ratliff, will likely take the snaps going into next season. And with a respected defensive-minded new coach, a talented and bonus-laden defense and an imposing offensive line and running game it's a sin to not field a competent QB for this team. Could the Jets move up, to say 10, in the draft with the cost-cutting Bills and nab Sanchez to be their Joe Flacco? They'd ask Sanchez to manage the games and allow the balanced attack to do its damage. New head man Rex Ryan saw first-hand for several years how Baltimore employed a similar strategy that had the Ravens regularly in the post-season and looking at 2009 with promise.
Denver's new staff, led by the text-savvy Josh McDaniels, has been less than coy about their desire for a franchise QB to groom. Sanchez is not only already well groomed (nice hair Mark, are you the guy from Entourage?); he's a promising athlete with that dangerously attractive "upside" that often costs GM's their gigs. But with an established QB mentor at the helm and an undeniably talented offensive line and receiving corps, Sanchez at 12 to Denver makes more sense than Matt Leinart at a keg party.
Only a flurry of phone calls and rash decisions will determine where Sanchez lands, but he's best off ending up with either Denver or the Jets.
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