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StarStreet and the NFL Draft

As the 2013 NFL Draft approaches (first round Thursday night), I wonder how this year’s of rookies will stack up to the historic group of RG3, Andrew Luck, Russel Wilson and others. On my newest StarStreet blog, I cover the fantasy stats of the top 3 rookies at each position last year, and predict who I think will be the most productive rookie at each position in 2013.

Click here to see my predictions and the recap of last year. Have you played StarStreet yet? Click here to sign up and we’ll both get a bonus!

Blogging for StarStreet – My New Side Project

Hey Gang,

I wanted to let you know about an exciting new project I’m starting. Today, I will be blogging part-time for my friends at StarStreet, a daily fantasy game site. Fret not, this will not impact the number of blogs I write here, in fact, it should help increase it!

For more information on how I found StarStreet and why I’ll be helping them out, click here to read my first StarStreet blog. If you’re interested in trying StarStreet, click here and we will both get a bonus when you join!

What is it funny, or something? – The Return of Arrested Development

Arrested Development is my favorite TV comedy of all time. I never had the opportunity to see it on network television; it was cancelled in 2005 before I had the chance to meet the Bluths. Like many Arrested fans, I was introduced to the show by another fan (in this case my brothers) after the show was no longer on Fox.

Netflix has re-united the original cast of Arrested Development and is bringing the show back for a new 15 episode season. If you have not seen the show before, it stars Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, Tony Hale, Michael Cera, Jessica Walter and Alia Shawkat as the Bluths. The Bluths believe they are part of high-society, despite the fact that they are broke and nobody in the family works outside of Michael (Bateman) and his son George-Michael (Cera). The show is very sarcastic and full of one-liners. In fact, I enjoy watching episodes I have seen several times because there are so many jokes (and no laugh tracks to slow them down) that I find that on occasion I hear a joke for the first time in an episode on the tenth viewing.

This is Netflix’s second foray into original content (after House of Cards, released earlier this year to wide acclaim), but Arrested Development delivers something for Netflix that House of Cards did not, a pre-established fan base. While the fans were not strong enough in numbers to keep the show on the air prior to its original cancellation, similar to Family Guy, Arrested Development had strong DVD sales and an engaged community of fans post-cancellation. Since it was cancelled, there have been persistent rumors that Arrested Development was not done forever, and that it would come back in some form eventually.

One part of the original episodes that I hope returns in Arrested Development Season 4 is the random cavalcade of stars who had recurring guest appearances on the show. Stars like Charlize Theron (Rita), Zach Braff (Philipp Litt), Christine Taylor (Sally Sitwell), Andy Richter (as himself) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Maggie Lizer) all were recurring characters who were central to multiple episodes. Additionally, most of these roles involved these well-regarded actors doing ridiculous things like being a “Nevernude” (Braff), faking blindness (Dreyfus) and being part of a set of quintuplets (Richter). Early rumors of guest stars for Arrested Development Season 4 include Kristin Wiig, the stars of Comedy Central’s Workaholics, and Seth Rogen.

A recurring pleasure in the old episodes that is sure to be part of the new episodes are the one-liners and recurring bits that are part of the early episodes from start to finish. This includes things like Steve Holt screaming “Steve Holt!” every time he hears his own name, Gob’s awesome jokes about George-Michael’s plain jane girlfriend Anne (“what, is she funny or something?”) and the Bluth’s ridiculous chicken dances (none of which looks or sounds like a chicken). I cannot wait to see how Ron Howard and Mitchell Hurwitz (the show’s creators) bring back and tweak these bits.

As someone who belongs to a family of lawyers, I particularly enjoy Arrested’s take on lawyers. From the unprofessional Henry Zuckercorn (Henry Winkler) bumbling his way through a meeting with the family, to Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) racking up billable hours on the phone with Lindsay (de Rossi) and Tobias (Cross) and Wayne Jarvis (John Michael Higgins) with his focus on professionalism at all times; seeing a lawyer on screen in Arrested Development means something funny is about to happen. Will a new lawyer be introduced? Will more than one of the original lawyers make a reappearance?

Netflix has done a great job of building the excitement for the new episodes. Earlier this week, they released promotional posters, chock full with obscure references, as a teaser for fans (I’ll be talking more about the return of Arrested as it approaches, including further examination of these promotional posters). Plus, several of the show’s stars, including Jason Bateman on a recent Jimmy Kimmel Live episode, have also been talking about the new episodes. Bateman shared an interesting nugget on the structure of the new episodes on that Jimmy Kimmel appearance.

In the video, Jason Bateman talks about how the new season will be composed of episodes devoted to individual characters. He elaborates by saying in the Michael (Bateman) episode, you might see Gob (Arnett) ride by on his Segway; to see where Gob is going, the viewer would have to change to Gob’s episode. While having to adjust across multiple episodes sounds like it might be cumbersome, I am optimistic that Netflix and series creator Ron Howard (ever heard of him?) will do a great job of updating the series while staying true to the original episodes. The fact that every core member of the original cast is participating in this season further reinforces my faith that the show will be just as great as the original episodes.

If you have not seen Arrested Development before, or if it’s been a while since you saw the Bluths, fret not, there is still over a month before the new episodes are released on May 26th. Before you know it, Gob and the rest of the Bluths will be segway-ing his way back into all of our hearts.

Are you an Arrested Development fan? If so, what are you most excited to see in the new episodes?

Internet Moment from the “Future”

Saturday night, my fiancee and I were meeting friends at a bar for the Syracuse-Michigan Final Four game. Since we had plans for the later game of the night, that meant traveling during the end of the Louisville-Wichita State game. This early departure didn’t seem like an issue before the game, when the Vegas spread was 9 and most were expecting Louisville in a rout. However, when the game was close, with Wichita State holding a lead into the 2nd half, leaving before the end of the game was disappointing.

As we boarded the B-line heading downtown, amongst dozens of drunk college students and a crowd from the World Synchronized Skating Championships (which were held in Boston last weekend), I dreaded missing the end of the game and scrambled for my smartphone to provide at least some kind of update.

This app contributed to my awesome Internet moment, what led to yours?

This app contributed to my awesome Internet moment, what led to yours?

It was at this moment I remembered that I had the NCAA March Madness app that provides up to 4 hours of free streaming, of which I had barely used half an hour. Less than a minute after being on the train, I had the app up and running and was able to successfully stream the game with 5 minutes left.The app took about 30 seconds to load and start streaming effectively, but after that point the game (and several commercials) came to the phone without issue, even as the train moved underground.

As people boarded the train, I got to feel like those snooty kids in the Samsung commercials making fun of the Apple fanboys. More precisely, I felt like my technology was superior (thanks iPhone 5!) and was happy that I knew about the app. In a moment that felt even more like something out of TV, a few people on the train stopped to see how I was streaming the game, but instead of being a condescending hipster like the Samsung kid in the aforementioned commercial, I let them know about the app (sharing is caring, right?).

The rapid growth of technology over the past few years is amazing. From the first smartphone, to now having multiple app stores housed with millions of apps, and networks and phones that now support streaming video while on a train, the capabilities of what we are able to do is rapidly changing. What is next? Many speculate Google Glass and other wearable technology (iWatch anyone?) are the next big tech movement.

While 2013 may not be as advanced as the Jetsons would have led 5 year old me to believe (no flying cars or meals in pill form), the above moment on the train made me think, “How cool is technology and the Internet?” I wonder if other people have had experiences where they had to take a moment and think about how impressive/cool/awesome/insert your favorite adjective here the Internet is. What is your favorite Internet story? Please post in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

In the 2013 NFL Draft, The Cleveland Browns Should …

As March turns to April, NFL draft season approaches its climax. As a Cleveland Browns fan, I’ve become very familiar with the draft, the pre-draft process and (over the past few years) great scouts and analysts to follow on Twitter for draft information (a few that I recommend: Matt Miller also known as @nfldraftscout, @BrendenLeiseter of DraftBrowns.com, @ericstoner and @ryanlownes). So, I wanted to share my thoughts on what the some of the teams I am familiar with should do on draft day. With the Cleveland Browns being my favorite team, I’m going to focus on them.

Former GM Tom Heckert did a great job of giving the Browns a young core from his drafts (Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Greg Little, Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor and Mitchell Schwartz come to mind), the new front office led by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi needs to continue to build on that core. The Browns are a team lacking in overall depth and needing several starters; their draft priorities should be adding a second cornerback, a free safety, depth at offensive guard and a pass rusher. However, the task here is made more difficult as the Browns currently do not have a second round pick. At the moment, the Browns have picks in every round but the 2nd, with two picks in the 7th and last round of the draft.

First and foremost on the Browns’ list of options should be trading down in the first round. The best case scenario would be receiving a later first round pick and a pick that gets them back into the second round (the Browns used their second round pick on Josh Gordon in last year’s Supplemental Draft). Typically, teams expect players drafted in the first three rounds of the draft to develop into starters, so getting another possible starter on a cheap contract is great for any team.

The reason I think this is a possible option for the Browns is primarily because of new GM (or whatever his title is??) Mike Lombardi. Lombardi spent the last few years on TV talking about his experience working with Bill Belichek while simultaneously fawning over him as much as possible. What is Bill Belichek known for where the draft is concerned? Trading back and acquiring more draft picks.

While every team is looking for value in the draft, teams lacking in depth need to find talented players in the draft that they can control on cheap contracts for 3 or 4 years. Outside of the Offensive and Defensive Lines, the Browns are lacking depth in every position group on the team. Trading down should be the first priority for the Browns unless there is a player the Browns are “Darius Heyward-Bey at #7” in-love with on their draft board.

If they trade down or not, a position the Browns need to strongly consider addressing is cornerback. If they stay at 6 and Dee Milliner from Alabama is still available, the Browns should run to the podium to draft him and be content to move to round (updated) 3 of the draft. If they trade back to the 20’s, Desmond Trufant from Washington (updated) and Xavier Rhodes from Florida State should be available.

I would love to see the Browns draft a rookie to pair with Joe Haden in the secondary. Currently, cornerback is a glaring hole on the team; drafting a first round cornerback would (hopefully) fill this hole with a talented player on a cheap contract moving forward. Additionally, Haden would play a large role with this pick, as he will be eligible for free agency in 2015. The Browns will probably try to lock Haden up to a long-term extension next offseason (they should, he’s a top 5 CB in the league in my opinion) and having another young, talented corner on the team would provide the team some leverage if Haden decides to play hardball. I hate to think this callously, especially about a player that has taken to Cleveland like Joe has, but this is the post-Decision world sports fans (especially Cleveland ones) live in.

Another reason the Browns drafting a corner in the first round might happen comes down to the stated preference of players of Ray Horton, the Browns new Defensive Coordinator, for his defense, who has stated that he wants “big players who can run, and little players who can hit.” This is why I think Rhodes is more likely if the Browns take a cornerback, as he is being touted as a more physical corner than even Milliner. Either way, adding one of these players would add to the athleticism and physicality of last year’s secondary.

Should the Browns decide to pass on strengthening their secondary, I would like to see them add to their pass rush. Should they stay at #6, Barkevious Mingo from LSU and Dion Jordan from Oregon are two players who jumped on the screen for me and come highly rated from my resources.

Both of these players can be the vital “hybrid” pass rusher that is moved around defenses to create pass rushing mismatches. Creativity and flexibility are key parts of the 3-4 pressure-based defense that Ray Horton runs and adding Mingo, Jordan or another young pass rusher would give him another tool in his chest for his first year with the Browns. When added to Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor, newly signed Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant, the Browns pass rush could be very formidable next year.

Finally, from left field, I think the Browns should consider taking Tavon Austin, the receiver from West Virginia. While this would be a bit of a reach (though could be a perfect fit if the rumored deal with the Dolphins for the #12 pick mentioned by Dawgs by Nature  goes down), Austin thoroughly impressed scouts during his senior year and at the combine (4.34 40 anyone?). His name is one that has been showing up more frequently than any other offensive player in positive reviews in my Twitter feed over the last few weeks, and after watching some clips of him, he certainly has my attention.

A comparison I have seen for Austin is that he would be a stronger Desean Jackson, who was drafted by new Browns President Joe Banner when he was in Philadelphia. I am a big believer in Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin, but I don’t think any Browns fan would be opposed to adding to our repertoire of offensive weapons. Austin could also be a replacement for fan favorite and departed return man Josh Cribbs that fans could get excited about.

If any of above options are close to what happens for the Browns in this year’s draft, I will be excited about the team’s progress and continue to be optimistic that the team is improving. While I believe trading down would be the best long-term option, making sure they add talent that fits their coaches’ philosophies wherever they draft is what will enable them to continue progressing.