Four Akron RubberDucks Players to Watch for in 2019

March Madness is over, the Cavaliers year has come to an end, and Browns fans don’t have to obsess over the draft for the first time in 20 years. This means that baseball season in northeast Ohio is in full swing (pun intended).

I’m sure everyone has watched enough Indians games to know a majority of the guys on their roster. And you probably know most of the Columbus Clippers players because the Indians have been trotting them out with the major league club the last few weeks. (Sorry, Max Moroff and Eric Stamets.) But do you know enough about my personal favorite minor league baseball team, the Akron RubberDucks? If not, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of prospects to watch for at the double-A level.

Mitch Longo, OF

Mitch is a local kid who grew up in Mayfield, Ohio. Anything having to do with Mayfield and sports in northeast Ohio has been pretty good this past year so I’m making the assumption that he is awesome without checking his stats. Perhaps most important is the fact that his name is so fun to yell anytime he homers. Imagine Tom Hamilton getting to belt out a “Longoooooo!” over the airwaves on 1100AM. Chills.

James Karinchak, P

James has faced 17 batters so far this season. Only one player has put the ball in play against him, which resulted in a groundout. He has issued one walk, forced that aforementioned groundout, allowed one batter to reach base on a catcher’s interference, and struck out the other 14 guys. Pretty much the only thing an opposing player has hit off the 23 year old relief pitcher was his catcher’s glove. 14 K’s in 5 innings. Those are numbers that would make 2016 Andrew Miller blush…and make Josh Tomlin keel over.

Ernie Clement, SS

I watched a lot of Sesame Street as a young kid, and my favorite character was always Ernie. On that television show, Ernie was well known for his affinity for his rubber duck, Rubberducky. With that being said, it seems like destiny that this real life Ernie would end up playing for the Akron RubberDucks. Either that, or he would start bunking with a cranky roommate with a glaring unibrow and undiagnosed case of jaundice.

Logan Ice, C

There are so many directions you could go with on this guys name. He is an announcer’s dream come true. You can make a pun no matter what outcome he has as a hitter. If Logan gets a hit in a clutch situation, “He has Ice water in his veins”. If Logan goes 0-for-5 one game, “Not a good day for the RubberDucks’ catcher, he has gone Ice cold today”. Then there are the variations of calling him the Ice Man or yelling Ice, Ice, baby anytime he does something positive.

So there you have it. Four RubberDucks players who I will enjoy watching this season. Admittedly, my headline is a little misleading as these are not necessarily the top four players in Akron, but you’ve already clicked on the story and can’t take it back now.

Go Ducks!

 

Browns’ Late Round Mock Draft

Earlier, I wrote an article highlighting the potential first round draft picks for the Cleveland Browns. John Dorsey made that entire article worthless when he dealt their first pick to the New York Giants for Odell Beckham, Jr. (Rumor has it that he may trade right back into the first round though.)

The players on this list were chosen based solely on the storylines that would be created if they were actually drafted by the Browns. This is in no way supposed to show who I think Cleveland will/should draft.

Chase Winovich- EDGE, Michigan: Its no secret that most Ohioans can’t stand players (or fans, or coaches, or cheerleaders, or band members) from the team up North. This is no different for Winovich, who happens to have an especially punchable face. After some of the comments he has made about Ohio State, rival fans have a little extra hatred for the long haired edge rusher. The last player the Browns drafted that was an enemy of Buckeye Nation was Baker Mayfield, and he turned out to be pretty good.

Bobby Evans- OT, Oklahoma: You might be reading this thinking, “Wow, this one actually makes sense. The Browns need help at the tackle position and this guy has worked with Baker before.” Well, you put a lot more thought and analysis into it than I did. Simply put, I want Bob Evans on a team with Freddie Kitchens and Baker so people (me) can fill everyone’s timelines with corny food jokes. “Did you hear about Bob Evans? The Kitchens wanted him to get some pancakes for a Baker.” I’m still workshopping this but be prepared to see a lot more like that if the pick actually comes to fruition.

Michael Jordan- OG, Ohio State: The last guard named Michael Jordan won six titles and was part of a great dynasty. With Baker Mayfield at the helm, this Michael Jordan should go on to do the same thing. playing for the Browns would set up so many twitter jokes. You could go the LeBron vs. MJ route. LeBron only won one title with Cleveland whereas Michael Jordan will probably win multiple with the Browns.

Elijah Holyfield- RB, Georgia: Elijah Holyfield is the son of famed boxer, Evander Holyfield. I’m sure I’ll get an earful for suggesting the Browns select another young running back with Duke Johnson, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb on the roster, but I don’t want to hear it. He could help Cleveland take a bite out of the Ravens and help Freddie Kitchen’s offense chew up clock. Also, his dad had experience beating a guy who owned bengals which could come in handy when facing the Steelers this year.

Gardner Minshew- QB, Washington State: Quarterback is one position that the Browns are set at, but it never hurts to get a serviceable young back-up. This recommendation is based solely on his name, as I have watched approximately 0 minutes of film on Minshew. It’s a shame the Browns didn’t retain Tyrod as well. We could’ve all looked forward to bad jokes that start with “A Baker, a Gardner, and a Taylor walk into a bar…”.

Saquan Hampton- S, Rutgers: Many people lamented the fact that Cleveland didn’t select Saquon Barkley in last year’s draft. This year, John Dorsey gets a redo and can select a Saquan from the Big Ten. Best of all even if he gets outplayed by an electric, young, record-setting quarterback, he will still win Rookie of the Year.

Dre’Mont Jones- DL, Ohio State: It would be cruel to make someone who has been a loyal Browns fan since their return in 1999 to join another team just before they win the Super Bowl.

Michael Jackson- CB, Miami: All the good cornerbacks shadow wide receivers to the point where it looks like the wideout is just a “Man in the Mirror”. In a game against the Patriots, Jackson could guard Julian Edelman or Josh Gordon because to him it don’t matter if you’re “Black or White”. Twenty years from now, Browns fans will be saying I “Remember the Time” that Michael Jackson picked off Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game. That would be crazy, but to be honest, any game with Jackson involved is sure to be a “Thriller”. I’m sorry, I know that was way too many puns about the Prince of Pop. If I made any more of them it would be real “Bad”.

 

OBJ Press Conference Preview

Odell Beckham, Jr.’s introductory press conference is today. Many Clevelanders are excited to hear from the new Browns’ wideout. I have been following Cleveland sports long enough that I can save you some time. This is how the media question portion of the conference is going to go down.

Odell Beckham, Jr. (OBJ) just finished up his opening remarks and the media is now asked for any questions. OBJ points to Mary Kay Cabot for the first question.

Mary Kay: What are your thoughts on playing for a franchise that didn’t win a game a couple of years ago?

OBJ: Well, I think last year they proved they are moving in the right direction and we are continuing to get better every day.

Mary Kay: Ok. Well what do you think about teaming up with Baker Mayfield? Are you excited even though he threw 3 interceptions in a game that one time last year?

OBJ: Are you always this negative? Next question.

Odell points in Tony Grossi’s general direction.

Tony: Odell, what do you…

OBJ: Not you Tony!

Tony pulls out his phone and blocks Odell on Twitter.

Tony: (mumbles under his breath) Have fun in the ex-files, pallie.

Odell calls on Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A.: What do you think about lining up opposite of Braylon Edwards this season with the Browns?

OBJ: That guy hasn’t played here in like 10 years.

Stephen A.: Oh that’s right. He was a baaaaaaaaad man, tho! You think you can learn Todd Haley’s playbook before camp starts?

OBJ: Next!

Collin Cowherd stumbles in wearing a Sam Darnold jersey.

Collin: Did Baker Mayfield reach out to you immediately after the trade?

OBJ: He texted me the next day. I think he was doing some charity work at a children’s hospital right when it happened.

Collin: Typical. Hanging out at the children’s hospital like a little kid. When will he ever grow up?

OBJ: He was working there. He made a lot of kids happy that day!

Collin: You know who else makes kids happy? Barney. And I don’t want that big purple freak leading my football team. I just don’t like it. Grow up Baker!

Mike Silver: Yeah, Baker. You idiot!

Security grabs Mike Silver and drags him out of the room. Screams of “Hue Jackson rules” can be heard from the hallway.

OBJ: Man I thought New York media was tough.

Everyone laughs…except Tony.

 

Cleveland is Rocking Once Again

Clevelanders have had an exciting week. The Browns have been making moves to “win the offseason”, the Indians’ spring training is in full swing, and the Cavs haven’t done anything to embarrass themselves in quite a while.

Let’s start with the biggest news. Browns General Manager, John Dorsey was wheeling and dealing all week. His huge move was acquiring Odell Beckham, Jr. from the New York Giants. Every media member on every show has been praising Dorsey’s ability to swindle the Giants in the deal. I haven’t seen Cleveland rip off New York like that since the Cavs got Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith from the Knicks for next to nothing.

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Earlier in the week, there was another trade with the Giants that most fans were excited about. The Browns traded their starting guard, Kevin Zeitler, for pass-rusher Olivier Vernon. It was bitter sweet losing Zeitler, but Dorsey and the coaching staff must have faith in last year’s 2nd round draft pick, Austin Corbett. He didn’t get any meaningful reps last season though so nobody knows for sure. I call him Austin “Powers” Corbett because he is an “International Man of Mystery”.

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In other Cleveland news, the Cavaliers have been steadily improving as of late. This is especially true for rookie, Collin Sexton. The young point guard has averaged 27 points per game over his last three contests. Sexton calls himself “Young Bull” which begs the question, should we call this team the Cleveland Calves? This team has found the perfect happy tanking medium. They are playing just well enough to show promise while also staying in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

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There isn’t too much to report about with the Indians. Newly acquired 1st baseman Jake Bauers did just had a monster game yesterday with 5 RBI and his brother from another mother, Trevor Bauer struck out 10 batters in less than 5 innings (insert eye emojis). I could drone on and on about Bauer because he seems to improve every offseason.

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So there you have it Cleveland. The city has a team projected to win their 4th consecutive division title, a team that has the third best Vegas odds of winning the AFC, and a team tied with the best odds of winning the NBA lottery.

Everything is coming up Cleveland.

First Annual Post-Combine Browns Prospect Update: Offense Edition

This is my first Annual Post-Combine Browns’ Prospect Update. To be honest, with my penchant for procrastination and forgetfulness, this may be my only “Annual Post-Combine Prospect Update”.

I’m going to put myself in Browns General Manager, John Dorsey’s Nike Air Monarchs for a minute. Here are a few offensive prospects who piqued my interest during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this past weekend.

Quarterback

Lol.

Like I’ve said before, with advances in medicine the Browns won’t need to draft a QB until at least 2045. I will waste approximately 0 minutes worrying about quarterback prospects until Baker Mayfield is old and gray.

Running Back

See “Quarterback”

Wide Receiver

This has been the most glamorous position of the combine. Every time I looked up another WR was running a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. This was especially intriguing since receiver is a considered a position of need for the Browns.

There was one sleeper pick who flew under the radar all weekend. His name is DK Metcalf. The man put up freakish numbers at almost every drill and had a reported 1.6% body fat. Even with all of these impressive numbers nobody is talking about him (aside from every single person who covers, works for, or watches the NFL.)

Metcalf wasn’t the only WR who improved his stock this weekend. Ohio native, Andy Isabella posted a 4.31 40 time, tying Parris Campbell as the fastest wideout at the combine. I call him Andy “Warhol” Isabella because he will forever be connected to Campbell’s.

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If size is your thing, Hakeem Butler is over 6’5 and posted solid numbers in Indianapolis. As a bonus, imagine how many times Jim Donovan can say “The Butler did it!” whenever he makes a big catch.

One disappointment was N’Keal Harry. He dropped some passes and didn’t run the cleanest routes. I was most looking forward to Baker Mayfield throwing 50 yard passes to him so I could call them N’Kealear Bombs. I’m still workshopping that one.

Tight End

I truly believe that David Njoku will continue to improve this offseason with Mayfield as his QB. If he doesn’t take the next step there are a few interesting options in this draft class.

T.J. Hockenson is the one name I keep seeing at the top of people’s draft charts. He is well-rounded and put up good numbers at the combine. Hockenson’s college teammate, Noah Fant caused quite a stir as well by running a 4.5 40 yard dash. The issue is that both of these players are expected to go in the first round and Cleveland probably shouldn’t be spending pick #17 on the tight end position.

The Browns may be well served to pick a blocking TE in the later rounds. However, I’m too disinterested in blocking tight ends to look at combine numbers for potential candidates.

Offensive Line

Early in the season (when Hue Jackson coached), the Browns had a very offensive line. Then things changed (Hue got fired) and the o-line had a successful end of the year. After re-signing Greg Robinson and having former 2nd round pick, Austin Corbett waiting in the wings, offensive line may be put on the back burner this draft.

That being said, one offensive line stat that stood out to me was Ioshua Opeta’s bench press. Most of the prospects were able to bench 225 pounds 25-29 times. Opeta repped it out 39 times. To put that into context, that is 39 more times than Kevin Durant can do it. Simply amazing.

That wraps up the offensive player edition of my First Annual Post-Combine Browns Prospect Update. As a little added bonus, I’ve included some special teams stuff at the end. You’re welcome.

Kicker/Punter

If you actually want to know my opinion of how kickers and punters performed at the combine, then you clearly care more than me. Do your own research.

 

Unbiased Rookie of the Year Debate

There have been a lot of debates going on over who should win the prestigious Pepsi Rookie of the Year award this season. Here are some compelling arguments for and against each finalist. To ensure that I am completely fair and show no favor towards any Browns’ players I have listed them in the order they appear on NFL.com.

Saquon Barkley- RB, NYG: Barkley scored 15 touchdowns this season and had the 2nd most rushing yards in the NFC East this year on 261 carries. He also had 91 receptions. That is 352 touches in one year! Can you say ball hog? Those stat lines are great and he probably led fantasy teams to a lot of victories this season. Unfortunately, The Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award isn’t won in make-believe-land. In the real world, Saquon led New York to 11 losses. I don’t know about you guys, but I want my Rookie of the Year to help his teammates and share the spotlight.

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Nick Chubb- RB, CLE: Chubb averaged 5.2 yards per carry this season and was technically the Browns’ first 1,000 yard rusher (until he lost yardage on his last attempt) since Peyton Hillis in 2010. This is incredible seeing how he was only given double-digit carries in 8 games. The Georgia product also found the endzone 10 times and ensured I didn’t have to start Isaiah Crowell on my fantasy team the second half of the season. What Nick Chubb was able to do this season was very impressive, especially considering he got Hue’d.

Hue’d (v. hyoo-d) – 1. the act of being benched for less impressive, unproductive veterans ex. Tyrod Taylor started over Baker at the beginning of the year? Boy did he get Hue’d.

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Darius Leonard- LB, IND: Leonard led the entire NFL in tackles with 163…yawn. If tackles were so great D’Qwell Jackson and Jamir Miller would’ve been league MVP every year. His 7 sacks may seem impressive as well until you realize that Kamerion Wimbley had 11 during his rookie campaign. All in all, Leonard had a nice season and defense may win championships, but it doesn’t win Rookie of the Year awards.

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Phillip Lindsay- RB, DEN: Lindsay seemingly came out of nowhere this season. The native Coloradan went undrafted, joined his hometown Broncos, and took the starting job from fellow rookie, Royce Freeman. Lindsay had very similar stats to Nick Chubb this season, with 40 more yards and the same amount of total touchdowns. If I had to pick a negative about this kid, it would be that his team underachieved, he got banged up, and faded down the stretch. Also, Chubb won their head-to-head matchup and outgained Phillip 100-24. Tough look for the first year back.

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Baker Mayfield- QB, CLE: Mayfield was the catalyst in turning the Cleveland Browns’ season (and entire franchise) around this year. The young signal caller set the record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie, passing Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning (maybe you’ve heard of them). Baker had 3,725 more passing yards than Saquon Barkley this season. He had 27 more passing touchdowns than Chubb and Lindsay. He even had more sacks (25) than Darius Leonard (7). The former Heisman winner accomplished all this while also enduring the Hue/Haley experience.

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The Verdict: This is a great group of young players and some of them will probably go on to be stars in the NFL for years to come. Nick Chubb set team rookie records for a franchise that had legendary running backs like Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, and Trent Richardson. Phillip Lindsay became the first undrafted rookie offensive player to be named a Pro-Bowler. This race is tighter than a bench seat next to Bob Wylie.

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With all that being said, I think its a no-brainer that the winner of the 2018 Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award should go to Baker Reagan Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns. A rookie quarterback leading an 0-16 team to a 7 and a half game improvement, while going through a coaching change, is more impressive than any stats you can show me.

Browns Mock Draft ’19

For the first time in a long time, Cleveland fans don’t have to obsess over seven round mock drafts, or study film and interviews from every draft eligible quarterback in the country. With mock draft fever at an all time low, I have created this list of players who would create excellent storylines for the Cleveland Browns next season. Most of these players will be gone long before the Browns pick at #17, but a guy can dream.

Josh Allen- LB, Kentucky: Josh Allen is a top talent and plays a position that the Browns need help at, but those aren’t the reasons I’m pulling for Cleveland to draft him. The Browns NEED this young man just so all the fans on twitter who campaigned for Josh Allen, the quarterback, last year can make bad jokes about how they were actually talking about this guy. Even if Cleveland isn’t able to get him on draft day, we can look forward to middle-aged men everywhere tweeting “I thought he got drafted last year LOL” or “Wow, he must’ve changed positions #Draft”.

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Greg LittleOT, Ole Miss: The offensive line as a whole looked better once Freddie Kitchens and healthy wide receivers gave Baker a chance to get rid of the ball quicker, but one of the “needs” I keep seeing pop up for Cleveland is the offensive tackle position. The best part of this pick would be the recycling of all the #15 jerseys from the last Greg Little to wear the orange and brown. As an added bonus, the new Greg Little could do stupid first down symbols every time he successfully blocks someone as an homage to the old wideout.

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Rashan GaryDE, Michigan: The only Ohio State players that are consistently projected as first rounders are Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins. Bosa is supposed to go top 3 and with advances in medicine, Cleveland won’t need to draft a QB in the first round again until at least 2045. The next best thing from drafting Buckeyes is drafting Michigan men so fans can irrationally hate them until they become really good pros. I look forward to Mr. Gary getting heckled at local CVS’ all across Northeast Ohio until he proves himself.

Deandre BakerCB, Georgia: Maybe its recency bias, but if your name is Baker I want you in Cleveland. With Freddie Kitchens at the helm, I would trade for Dalvin Cook and Buddha Baker, sign Brandin Cooks, and get Connor Cook to back up Mayfield. You can never have too many cooks and bakers in Freddie’s kitchen (insert cricket sound).

D.K. MetcalfWR, Ole Miss: Much like the Greg Little pick, I’d love to see all the old Metcalf jerseys come out of retirement. If I’m the Browns, I would force D.K. to wear #21 strictly for the nostalgia effect (sorry Denzel Ward). Also, Clevelanders love nicknames and with a name like D.K. I’m sure we could come up with some doozies.

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Marquise BrownWR, Oklahoma: Drafting Marquise Brown actually makes sense for a couple of reasons. He is explosive and has already worked with Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma. Personally, I hope Cleveland takes him so he can join a long line of great Cleveland Brown Brown’s like Paul, Jim, Sashi, and Courtney. The only downside is Cleveland isn’t big enough for two Hollywood’s so either he or Higgins will have to change their name or leave town.

If Cleveland somehow acquires any of these players, please credit me for first reporting it and be prepared to see dozens of corny tweets about it immediately following the draft. Later on I will release some late round sleepers (people with funny names or back stories) that would create great storylines for Browns fans and media members to discuss.

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