Crowded SEC race could mean BCS nightmare

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Crowded SEC race could mean BCS nightmare

From Comcast SportsNet
By Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
Chaos! You want BCS chaos?

If No. 3 Arkansas beats No. 1 LSU on Friday in Baton Rouge, La., now you really have some chaos.

Remember the 2008 season? Texas beat Oklahoma, Texas Tech beat Texas and Oklahoma beat Texas Tech, producing a three-way tie among highly ranked teams atop the Big 12 South standings. This would be similar, though the Southeastern Conference has a different tiebreaker system.

It can be a little confusing on paper, but heres all you need to know: If Arkansas beats LSU and Alabama takes care of Auburn on Saturday, and the Tigers, Crimson Tide and Razorbacks finish in a three-way tie for first in the SEC West, the team with the lowest rating in the BCS standings is eliminated.

Then the tie between the two highest-rated teams is broken by head-to-head result.

Its a better system than the Big 12 had at the time, which simply was to pick the team with the best BCS rating of the three. Had the Big 12 used the SEC system or something similar in 08, Texas would have played for the Big 12 title with a chance to reach the BCS title game. Instead Oklahoma moved on, pounded Missouri for the Big 12 title and lost the BCS title game to Florida 24-14.

Longhorns fans are still bitter.

Even with the SECs tiebreakers, a possible three-way tie is still going to be messy.

If Arkansas hands LSU its first loss in Tiger Stadium, it seems logical that voters in the Harris and coaches polls, which are used to rank teams in the BCS standings along with computers, would jump the Razorbacks past the Tigers.

But it would be hard to justify having Arkansas ahead of Alabama, considering the Tide beat the Razorbacks 38-14 in Tuscaloosa back in late September.

So Alabama is No. 1, Arkansas is No. 2 and LSU, which beat the Tide 9-6 on the road in overtime and has by far the most impressive nonconference wins of the three, would be No. 3?

The fact is there are no good solutions. And the reality is the team that loses the head-to-head tiebreaker and doesnt play No. 13 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championshipand risk becoming a two-loss team and being eliminated from national title contention is probably better off.

Now that, right there, is chaos.

Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

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Valentine will be plunked down in heart of D-line

FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.

Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?

Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.

The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.

Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.

Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

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Examining possible Patriots fits going into Day 3

The Patriots have eight picks remaining on the final day of the draft. While they may not use all of those selections -- they currently have 80 players on the roster, leaving them with only two slots for undrafted free agents if they use all of their picks -- they still have plenty of opportunities to take chances on talented athletes Saturday. 

Here's a quick look at some of the best players available after they spent their first four selections on a corner (Cyrus Jones, Alabama, pick No. 60), an offensive lineman (Joe Thuney, North Carolina State, No. 78), a quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State, No. 91) and a defensive tackle (Vincent Valentine, Nebraska, No. 96). 

The Patriots have one fourth-round pick, five sixth-round picks and two seventh-rounders remaining.

RUNNING BACK: KENNETH DIXON, LOUISIANA TECH

Listed as one of our top players available after Day 1, Dixon is still hanging around after nearly 100 picks have gone off the board. Perhaps his level of competition at Louisiana Tech has worked against him. Perhaps his fumbling issues have come back to bite him. Perhaps this is simply an indication of how the rest of the league considers this position. Only four backs have been drafted through the first three rounds. 

Other top running backs available: Jordan Howard, Indiana; Devontae Booker, Utah; Paul Perkins, UCLA; Jonathan Williams, Arkansas; Alex Collins, Arkansas. 

RECEIVER: DANIEL BRAVERMAN, WESTERN MICHIGAN

If ever there was a player who stood out as a potential Patriots pick, it would be Braverman. At 5-foot-10, 177 pounds, he is a prototypical slot receiver whose skill set resembles that of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola or Troy Brown. He's very shifty in and out of his breaks, he does a great deal of his work while risking big hits over the middle of the field, he catches just about everything thrown his way, and he churns out yards after the catch with speed and good vision. 

Other top receivers available: Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia; Rashard Higgins, Colorado State; Devon Cajuste, Stanford; Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa; Keenan Reynolds, Navy.

LINEBACKER: JOSH PERRY, OHIO STATE

This Buckeye seems to fit the size profile the Patriots typically like in their receivers at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds. He runs well enough to be able to track ball-carriers from sideline-to-sideline, and he has a ton of experience coming downhill to make big hits in the running game. Perry will need some work before he's a reliable defender in coverage, but on first and second downs he could be a force. 

Other top linebackers available: Scooby Wright III, Arizona; Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; Stephen Weatherly, Vanderbilt; Blake Martinez, Stanford; De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota. 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: HASSAN RIDGEWAY, TEXAS

A college teammate of Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown, Ridgeway is considered by many to be more physically talented than Brown was when he declared for the draft. Injuries hurt Ridgeway's productivity last season, and there are some who question his conditioning, but he understands how to be a disruptive force on the interior, both in the running game and in the passing game. If he's in shape and can maintain the level of fitness that will be expected of him as a pro, he could turn into an immediate contributor.

Other top defensive tackles available: Andrew Billings, Baylor; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; DJ Reader, Clemson; Dean Lowry, Northwestern; Justin Zimmer, Ferris State.