Shanoff's WUC: Draft Winners, Playoff Shocks

Today's Calls: Pete Carroll vs. the NFL, Tim Tebow vs. Jimmy Clausen, Ryan Matthews vs. Stafon Johnson, Tim Toone vs. Jevan Snead, Jake Locker vs. Andrew Luck, Jason Campbell vs. JaMarcus Russell, LeBron vs. Dwyane Wade, Spurs vs. Mavs, Brandon Roy vs. Phoenix, Rays vs. Yankees, Brian Kelly vs. Dana Altman and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The NFL Draft is really about the glimmer of hope your team got better. ↵

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↵For Seahawks fans -- the consensus "winner" of the draft -- there was the redemption of Pete Carroll's previously mediocre NFL career. ↵

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↵For Lions fans, the sense that better times are ahead, led by the best defensive player in the Draft. ↵

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↵For Raiders fans, that a QB situation screwed up through the 1st pick of the draft was solved with a 4th-round pick. (And for Panthers fans, that Mel Kiper was right and 47 draft slots preceding Jimmy Clausen were wrong.) ↵

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↵For folks in Denver, that Josh McDaniels has a vision for Tim Tebow's development as a starting QB in the NFL. (And in the meantime, letting him score a bunch of TDs and win over doubters in short-yardage packages.) ↵

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↵For Patriots fans, standard triumphalism that they not only did well in 2010, but have set themselves up to lap the field in 2011. ↵

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↵And, finally, a hat-tip for "Mr. Relevant" -- Scott Sicko, the undrafted TE from New Hampshire who earned headlines and respect for walking away from training-camp offers to get on with his life. ↵

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↵OK, so sometimes a glimmer of hope isn't enough. But for the rest of us, the long weekend did the job. ↵

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↵2010 NFL Rookie Watch: Everyone agrees that Chargers RB Ryan Matthews is in an ideal position to be productive instantly -- perhaps enough to be NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. (But, again: I will argue that McDaniels will use Tebow in enough goal-line situations to give Tebow a half-dozen or more TDs -- and consideration for ROY.) ↵

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↵Undrafted: Mock Clausen's freefall all you want, but at least he got drafted -- that's better than Jevan Snead could say. Snead, who came out after his junior year, was prematurely considered a Top 10 prospect back in August 2009. Ouch. (Snead signed a UFA contract with the Bucs.) ↵

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↵Best UFA story: USC RB Stafon Johnson -- who earlier this fall dropped that barbell on his neck, crushing his throat -- was signed by the Titans. With Tennessee shipping off LenDale White, maybe Johnson has a shot. ↵

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↵Whither JaMarcus Russell? On his way out? With Jason Campbell on the roster -- and presumably going to start -- the Raiders have no reason to keep Russell around. Hopefully he can land on a team with a great coaching staff that can help him develop. I'm not sure any young QBs -- including Ryan and Flacco -- would have done any better under the conditions in Oakland. ↵

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↵2011 NFL Mock Draft: It could be the Year of the Quarterback, with as many as five QBs going in the 1st round -- Jake Locker (Washington), Andrew Luck (Stanford), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State) and John Brantley (Florida). SN's way-too-early mock not only doesn't have Locker going No. 1 overall, but Luck going ahead of him. (SN's mock also doesn't have Pryor or Brantley in the 1st round, but watch out. ...) ↵

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↵NBA Playoff Mania: It is hard not to be won over by the intrigue in the West. The 7-seed Spurs are poised to upend the 2-seed Mavs. Same with the Jazz over the Nuggets. The Thunder are giving the Lakers all they can handle. And Brandon Roy's return has suddenly turned the Blazers-Suns series -- playing "pivotal" Game 5 tonight in PHX -- into a toss-up. ↵

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↵In the East, it's simply about jaw-dropping individual performances -- especially yesterday: LeBron's triple-double and Wade's 46. Even in series that are seemingly cooked at 3-1, they give you a reason to watch. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: The Rays are rolling. They shut out the Jays yesterday behind David Price's first-ever CG (a 4-hitter) -- his emergence this season makes Tampa eve tougher. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost their first series of the year. (Hutchins is right: As of today, the Rays are the best team in baseball.) ↵

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↵CFB Spring Games: So how is Brian Kelly's renovation project at Notre Dame going? (Still way too early, but a better foundation is already obvious.) Speaking of big coaching expectations ... ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: Dana Altman of Creighton is reportedly Oregon's new head coach, after the Ducks repeatedly struck out trying to land a bigger "name." Creighton did well in the Mo Valley -- but can he recruit the Northwest? ↵

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↵Kentucky Derby: Eskendereya, the favorite, has been scratched from Saturday's race. Lookin at Lucky is the new favorite. As always, pick your winner by the name that has most significance to you personally. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Timothy Toone, WR from Weber State, who joins the illustrious fraternity of the players lucky enough to earn the designation given annually to the final player picked in the NFL Draft -- "Mr. Irrelevant." ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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