Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ludicrous Uproar (The Arthur Ashe Courage Award)

How does one define "courage". Well, its technical definition is "the ability to do something that frightens one" and/or "strength in the face of pain or grief". Okay, so that seems simple enough. Now, how do you measure courage? Ever since it was announced that Caitlyn Jenner would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 2015 ESPY's ceremony, a lot of people have been searching for a ways to weigh courage. 

Previous honorees of this award have included Michael Sam, Robin Roberts, and of course Jim Valvano (who was the first honoree of this award). There might have been a small amount of commotion when Sam won it, but for the most part it hasn't been a big deal who won this specific award. But suddenly a whole lot of people care and are trying to pivot to other potential worthy people....and that's a problem.

In there search to undermine Jenner, people have tried to deflect,  pointing out how others like Pete Frates, Lauren Hill or Noah Galloway are just as if not more deserving. Did that collective group demonstrate courage in their endeavors? Absolutely....however it still begs the question, why the need to undermine Jenner? This deflecting isn't just degrading to Caitlyn, but also to those 3, or any other name that's been pointed out as worthy of this award. Does not getting this award somehow take away the struggles that Frates, Hill or Galloway went through? Is your courage deemed null and void because it wasn't given a specific award? That seems to be the kind of logic people are using here. Putting this in another light, is a good movie's quality somehow lessened because it doesn't win an Oscar? Same could be said for music at the Grammy's. You don't necessarily need an award to deem something worthy. But why do so many suddenly care about this award?

Lets go back now to that definition of 'courage' ; "strength in the face of pain or grief". Just look at all the pushback, even from the likes of respected media members like Bob Costas. The criticism and harassment that ESPN and Caitlyn Jenner are facing shows why she's just as deserving of this honor. Transgender issues may be getting more of a media spotlight, but some still feign ignorance. (Here's my previous post on transgender issues ). 

Going back to my last post, a lot of people are unaware of the issues that the transgender community may face. So here are just a few stats to help paint a broader picture (from the Washington Post). From a conducted survey, 41% of Transgender Americans attempted suicide, compared to just 1.6% of the general population. Also according to the survey, they're 4x as likely to live in poverty, and are unemployed at twice the rate of the general population. The transgender community also has to deal with discrimination of multiple forms, from housing and healthcare to workplace. They can also be at greater risk of sexual assault. 

Taking those daunting facts into consideration, one can reason that it certainly takes courage to come out as transgendered, especially in the public eye as Caitlyn Jenner has. Granted, she has the money and resources, and isn't a reflection of every story from the transgender community, but its taken courage for her to merely come out publicly and live her life. Jenner has gone from one of the greatest athletes of a generation to now becoming a new icon and educating the public. She's worthy of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Acceptance: (A Line Between Confusion & Bigotry)

The one thing the LGBT community has always pursued is acceptance, and for the most part they've seen that, particularly over the past decade. However, one segment is just now getting visibility, and that's the transgender community.

With the Vanity Fair cover of Catilyn Jenner, along with some other select examples (Amazon's 'Transparent' and Laverne Cox on 'Orange Is The New Black'), many are just now getting familiar to transgender issues. Now, it's reasonable to expect, with this rise in the public eye, that some will be confused. And you know what? That's okay. Its completely alright to ask questions, and to seek out information. But there's a difference between confusion and bigotry. 

When introduced to something new, people are inclined to react 1 of 2 ways; question and learn to understand, or fall to previously held predispositions and stereotypes. A few historical examples of the latter includes the Church's reaction to Galileo's theories , Mental illness or epilepsy and the salem witch trials , or new science (such as climate change or vaccines).  Granted, these are all thoroughly different situations, but they have that similar thread of something new being introduced with a resistance. 

Over time, society has come to broadly accept the 1st segments of the LGBT community, with support for gay marriage dramatically increasing as more and more states recognize it (thanks in part to the Judiciary, but recognizing it nonetheless).  Soon we could come to the point where coming out is no longer a milestone. However, the transgender community still has a ways to go, even with this recent attention and visibility.

With this quick rise of exposure, its natural that some would be confused. But there's a fine line to asking legitimate questions, and going down a path of bigotry. For example, a consistent misuse of proper pronouns. Now, if its a one-time mistake, that's respectable, but if a misuse occurs on a continuous basis, then a line has been crossed. 

In addition, delving into overly personal territory (surgeries, appearances, etc) is another example. One can understand why someone would be curious, but its not their job to force the issue if a trans-woman or man doesn't want to reveal that information. You wouldn't walk up to a complete stranger and ask them a similar line of questioning. So if it's not okay then, then it certainly isn't in this instance. 

One more example of crossing a line is a refusal to call someone by the name that they prefer. One prevalent example of this is when former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell tweeted that he'd still call Caitlyn Jenner "Bruce". This really displays a sense of arrogance, that you get to name and define everyone else.

These are just a few examples of what not to do or say. Now, transgenderism can be a complex or confusing issue as its becoming more visible. One issue that gets thrown around is "biology", with some questioning how can someone think of themselves as a different gender than what their assigned sex is at birth. Now, I'm certainly not an expert and can't go into complete detail on sex vs. gender, but here's a good brief primer . But simply put, your "biology" or "chromosomes" don't necessarily define your gender; and that issue can be a hang-up for some people. 

 I think its fairly simple though on how to act .....just be respectful. That's all, just treat others how you'd like to be treated. And for those who are genuinely curious, or confused and want to learn more, here's the media guide from GLAAD on transgender issues.

Times are certainly changing. And with that, I think we can make this a generation of acceptance. We don't know what other people are going through (a good spot for that 'walk a mile' adage). If you don't be who you truly are, how can you experience true happiness? Now, I know that might sound sappy, but its the honest truth. Shouldn't everyone get to live and experience true happiness? And if it doesn't harm you or anyone else, then why should it matter how anyone decides to live their own life? 

Those dealing with gender identity or transgender issues (those who are closeted or just now coming out) are already dealing with a lot. So lets make this a generation of acceptance, for all.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ranking The Idols (2015)

Another year has gone by, and so has another American Idol cycle (which will be coming to an end after its 15th season in 2016, but we won't delve into that). This is my 3rd ranking of AI winners. This time around, the basis from the rankings will be based on what the winners have done from 2014 to present. 

14) Taylor Hicks (down 1 - 13th) S5

Nothing really new to report on Taylor Hicks. He still has his Las Vegas residency at Paris Las Vegas.

13) Lee Dewyze (down 3 - 10th) S9

Singles: "Blackbird Song" (Walking Dead Soundtrack) - 2014
               - 2nd most viral spotify song of the week. Charted: #29 Pop Digital Songs

Besides that song for The Walking Dead soundtrack last year, Lee hasn't done a whole lot recently.

12) Caleb Johnson (down 1 - 11th) S13

Discography: "Testify" (2014)
                        Charted: #24 BB200, #9 Rock. Sales: 11K

Singles: "As Long As You Love Me" ('14)
               Charted: #41 Hot Rock. Sales: 10K

              "Only One" ('14)
              "Fighting Gravity" (2015)

Caleb has done the best he can to promote on his own, as he pretty much didn't get any help from his label. That included using money out of his own pocket for music videos. 

11) Ruben Studdard (up 1 - 12th)

Discography: "Unconditional Love" (2014)
                       Charted: #46 BB200, #11 R&B. Sales: 6K

Singles: "Meant To Be" ('14)

It was revealed that Ruben lost 119lbs on The Biggest Loser (Feb 2014). He prepared a '14 tour with Lalah Hathaway, and is working on his 5th album with R.Kelly. 

10) Candice Glover (down 3 - 7th) S12

Discography: "Music Speaks" (2014)
                       Charted: #14 BB200, #3 R&B

Promotional Single: "Passenger" ('14)

She was also featured on Chadd Black's single "Love No Fear" (Feb. 2015). Things have been going pretty slowly for Glover.

9) David Cook (even - 9th) S7

Singles: "Wait For Me"

In 2014, Cook co-penned David Nail's "Kiss You Tonight". He signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music. He's working on his 4th album, and is releasing it through pledgemusic.

8) Kris Allen (even - 8th) S8

Discography: "Horizons" (2014)
                       Charted: #80 BB200, #10 Independent Albums. Sales: 4K (1st week?)

Compilation Albums: "Songs For Shelter Me" ('14)
                                    "Nashville Indie 'Xmas Spotlight" ('14)
                                     "Nashville Indie Spotlight 2015" (2015)
Singles: "Prove It To You" ft/ Lenachka (2014)
               "Baby It Ain't 'Xmas Without You"
Soundtrack: "Valley Inn"

Kris also provided songs for the soundtracks of Arrow & Vampire Diaries, with "Lost". While Kris hasn't had anything really big come out recently, he's certainly been hard at work.

7) Jordin Sparks (down 1 - 6th) S6

Discography: "Bye Felicia" (mixtape) (2014)
                       "Right Here, Right Now" (To be released - 2015)
Singles: "Double Tap" ft/ 2Chainz ('15)
Awards: 2014 BMI Pop Awards: won - Songwriter (The Way - Ariana Grande)
TV: E! News (Guest Host - '14)/ Fashion Police (Guest Host)/ Evolution Of...Jordin Sparks/The View (Guest Host)/ AMAs (red carpet co-host)/ Wild N' Out (Guest Host - '15)/ Ru'Paul's Drag Race (Guest Judge)
Movie: "Left Behind" ('14)/ "The Grace Of Jack"

Jordin left RCA for a subsidiary of Sony Records. While I won't delve into her personal life, she has been through a lot over the last year. Hopefully she can put it behind her with her upcoming album release.

6) Nick Fradiani (new) S14

Singles: (Before American Idol) "Coming Your Way" (2014). Sales: 6K
              "Feel The Beat" ('14)
Solo Single: "Beautiful Life" (2015)

Nick previously appeared with his band Beach Avenue on America's Got Talent over the summer of 2014. His coronation single "Beautiful Life" will be the 2015 Women's World Cup anthem for FOX. After a fairly lackluster pair of AI cycle winners, hopes are high with Nick (as shown with this ranking), especially considering he'll be advised by Big Machine's Scott Borchetta.

5) Fantasia Barrino (even - 5th) S3

Movie: "Tobacco Valley" (2016)
Awards: 2014 Grammy's: Nom - Best Urban Contemp. Album ("Side Effects Of You")
                                                   - Best R&B Song ("Without Me" ft/ Kelly Rowland & Missy Elliot)
                                                   - Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Get It Right")
               2014 Black Reel Awards: Nom - Outstanding Original or Adapted Song ("In The Middle Of The Night" from Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' )

Fantasia closed the "After Midnight" show ('14). In 2014 she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. She appeared on Dave Koz's 'Xmas album. She also teamed with Michelle Williams on "If We Had Your Eyes". Things have been going well for the Season 3 winner as she's been tackling musical theatre as well as her own music.

4) Scotty McCreery (even - 4th) S10

Tour: Riot Tour (w/ Rascal Flatts & RaeLynn) (2015)
Headline: See You Tonight Tour (w/ Danielle Bradbury) (2014)
Awards: 2014 Inspirational Country Music Awards: Nom - Mainstream Country Male Artist
Singles: "Feelin' It" ('14)
               Charted: #16 Country/ #10 Country Airplay/ #84 BB Hot 100. Sales: 293K

3) Phillip Phillips (even - 3rd) S11

Discography: "Behind The Light" (2014)
                       Charted: #7 BB200. Sales: 123K

Singles: "Raging Fire" 
            Charted: #58 BB200/ #7 Adult Top 40/ #13 Adult Contemp. Sales: 293K

               "Unpack Your Heart" 
             Charted: #33 Adult Top 40

The Season 11 winner toured with O.A.R for the summer of 2014. Phillips recently filed a lawsuit against 19 Recordings, so it will be interesting to see how that situation plays out. 


2) Kelly Clarkson (even - 2nd) S1

Discography: "Piece By Piece" (2015)
                      Charted: #1 BB200. Sales: 153K as of April '15

Singles: "Heartbreak Song" ('15)
             Charted: #21 BB Hot 100/ #2 Adult Contemp/ #6 Adult Top 40/ #1 Hot Dance Club/ #19 Mainstream Top 40

               "Invincible" ('15)
               Charted: #50 Pop Digital

Tour: 2015 Piece By Piece (w/ Pentatonix)
TV: "Nashville" (2014)
Awards: 2014 Grammy's: Nom - Best Country duo/group ("Don't Rush" w/Vince Gill)

Kelly mentored during the 14th season of American Idol. She performed during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards and the season finale of the 8th season of The Voice. She also debuted a line of greeting cards with "American Greetings". Her latest album was released back in March, so we'll see how it plays out over the next year. 

1) Carrie Underwood (even -1st) S4

TV: "Nashville" (2014)
Discography: "Greatest Hits: Decade #1" ('14)
                       Charted: #1 Country/ #4 BB200. Sales: 332.5K (certified Gold)

Singles: "Something In The Water" 
             Charted: #1 Country/ #3 Country Airplay/ #24 BB Hot 100/ #1 Hot Christian Songs. (certified platinum)

              "Little Toy Guns" ('15)
               Charted: #10 Country/ #7 Country Airplay/ #64 BB Hot 100

Guest Single: "Somethin' Bad" w/ Miranda Lambert
                       Charted: #1 Country/ #7 Country Airplay/ #19 BB Hot 100 (certified platinum) 

Promotional Single: "Keep Us Safe" ('14)
                                 Charted: #36 Country

Awards: 2014 ACMs: Nom - Female Vocalist of the year
                                              - Video of the year ("Two Black Cadillacs")
              2014 AMAs: Nom - Favorite Female Country Artist
              2014 BBMAs: Nom - Milestone Award
              2014 CMTs: Won - Video of the year ("See You Again")
                                    Nom - Female video of the year
              2014 People's Choice: Nom - Favorite country artist
              2014 Teen Choice: Nom - Choice female country artist
              2015 ACMs: Nom - Video of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
                                             - Vocal event of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
                                             - female vocalist of the year
              2015 BBMAs: Won - Top christian song ("Something In the Water")
               2015 CMTs (pending as of this writing)
                                   Nom - Video of the year ("Something In The Water"/"Somethin' Bad")
                                            - Female video of the year ("Something In The Water/ "Little Toy Guns")
                                            - Collaborative video of the year ("Somethin' Bad")
              2015 Grammy's: Won - Best Country solo performance ("Something In The Water")
                                           Nom - Best country duo/group performance ("Somethin' Bad")
              2015 People's Choice: Won - Favorite female country artist

Carrie also was awarded by the ACMs with the Gene Weed Achievement Award ('14). She made a deal with Nicole by OPI for a line of nail lacquers. In 2015 she launched a fitness clothing line. Carrie's also been featured recently on albums by Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, Michael W. Smith and the Swon Brothers. Carrie and her husband Mike Fisher also welcomed a son in the new year (Congratulations). 

So there you have it. There wasn't any real movement among the top 5 from the last rankings. We'll see if Kelly will be able to get back to the #1 slot after her latest album release. Being that next year will be the last AI cycle (for now at least), we'll have only 1 more debut winner, so we'll see you then.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

SNL Season 40: Ep. 21

SNL's grand 40th season came to a close this week with Louis C.K. and Rihanna. Did SNL end with a "bang"? Lets get to the review.

The cold open started off as kind of a farewell, welcome to Summer kind of thing...and then Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) showed up. While this may have been just one final rep for the season for Kate to get her Clinton impression into gear, this was a great ensemble sketch, and with a catchy song to top it all off. 

I imagine writers breathe a sigh of relief when its a stand up comedian hosting the show when it comes to the monologue. They can just let them do their thing, and that's exactly what Louis C.K. did here. He was edgy, but he walked a fine line and always made sure to bring the audience back in. It almost isn't fair to judge this against some of the other monologues this season, but just a brilliant stand up session.

I'm not really sure what the writers were trying to get at with the post monologue sketch. It featured Louis CK as a shoemaker, with his unproductive elves in Vanessa Bayer and Kenan Thompson. The 2 elves wanted to get punished.......and it just kind of spiraled down from there. Essentially, these were a pair of elves with some wild fetishes. Now don't get me wrong, this sketch was never "offensive", but it felt too forced. Luckily though, this wouldn't set the tone for the rest of the show.

Next was a sketch about a sprint store, where Louis CK finds himself mimicking his boss (Leslie Jones), so he tries to persuade her that its how he really talks. This sketch was more than just Louis CK impersonating Louis CK though, it was how they made him fully commit to it. We see years pass by, and Louis is still talking the way he is. There's a nice twist in the end (which I won't spoil), but this was just solid writing, with terrific execution from Louis C.K and Leslie Jones (after a minor flub during the beginning).

SNL ran a pair of short commercials about the "lumberjack". It was just so random and dumb, yet humorous for what it was. Its a shame there were only a pair of 18 second segments, or else this really could have made an impact for the overall show.

Weekend Update as seen its ups and downs this season, but it felt like Colin Jost and Michael Che really connected for the finale. The jokes were fluid, and the two actually reacted to each others' lines. It looked like they actually had chemistry together. Hopefully this carries over to next season (since it seems likely we'll see these 2 return to the Update desk).

The first guest saw Taran Killam as Tom Brady to talk about his suspension from "deflate gate". Colin Jost's fawning over Brady was pretty great here.

The second guest was Pete Davidson, talking about recently turning 21. He went on about his mother, how Harry Potter never got laid, and how he even got this job. For a rookie, Davidson surely has made a name for himself on Update (just like Leslie Jones). It'll be interesting to see how he grows next season.

The final guest saw the return of Riblet (Bobby Moynihan), to interrupt on of Che's previously cut jokes. Riblet is quickly becoming a phenomenon of a recurring Update character. Here's hoping for more during Season 41.

Another week, another surprising recurring sketch, this time bringing back the Vanessa Bayer/Kenan Thompson couple to be interrupted by Cecily Strong and Louis CK. Much like the first time around with "The Rock", this seemed like a good enough concept, but it didn't quite work out. There were some good lines however.

Next was a sketch about a police lineup full of actors (featuring Killam/Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett/Louis CK), as Davidson looked to identify a mugger. This was one of those sketches that just worked because everyone committed to the concept. Mooney and Bennett in particular were fantastic in this. Mooney had a breakout year, but I think we'll see Bennett with a similar one next season.

The final sketch saw a return of Reese De'What (kenan) for another installment of forgotten tv gems, this time "Whoops, I Married A Lesbian", starring Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. This was a really good concept with a great role by Bobby Moynihan as the doofus of a friend...however this was missing that extra punch that would have really made this great. But as the final sketch of the night, it was still really good.

This was a somewhat bizarre, but still solid SNL finale. It seemed that the writers decided to let their inner weird thoughts fly, and for the most part it worked. Most importantly though, Colin Jost and Michael Che seemed to finally gel at Weekend Update. I doubt we'll see much overall cast turnover going into next season, but there's always the chance that we'll see 1 or 2 surprise additions or exits.

 Avg. Score: 7.55 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Louis C.K. - 7.55
Kevin Hart - 7.51
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Michael Keaton - 7.45
Chris Hemsworth - 7.44
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Reese Witherspoon - 7.20
Amy Adams - 7.19
JK Simmons - 7.18
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - 7.16
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Taraji P Henson - 7.09
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Dakota Johnson - 6.83
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Scarlett Johansson - 6.72
Blake Shelton - 6.60
Chris Rock - 6.52

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SNL Season 40: Ep. 20

It was the penultimate episode of the season this week, with Reese Witherspoon making just her 2nd appearance (her 1st, you may recall, was the post 9/11 episode). So how did this week build up for the finale? Lets get to the review.

The Cold open saw a bit of an introduction to who will be playing the 2016 GOP presidential field. The skit took place at the Southern Christian Leadership conference, with the candidates being announced while dancing......and that was pretty much it. Beside Taran Killam's Marco Rubio (which could be great next season), there just wasn;t much to this.

The monologue saw the cast members come up with their mothers and apologize for things they had done in the past. This was a really good monologue, as we actually got to get more of glimpse on the cast. It ended perfectly with the mothers then showing actual home movie footage, which was fantastic. One of the better monologues of the season.

Not sure what was happening with this 1st sketch. It was once again another local news TV show "Be Scene In L.A" with Cecily Strong and Witherspoon. This seemed to be playing off the Bronx TV show they would do with Amy Poehler/Maya Rudolph and Kathie Lee/Hoda Kotb. Jay Pharoah/Kenan Thompson saved this somewhat as the technical guys, but this was mainly just diaper and fart jokes.

SNL has been fairly soft when it comes to big issues this season. That changed with this "Picture Perfect" gameshow sketch. At first, this looked like it was going to be just another typical gameshow celebrity sketch (Cecily as Rosie Perez and Kenan as Family Matter's Carl Winslow). However, this quickly made a point with the 2nd team (Moynihan/Witherspoon) being asked to draw the prophet Muhammad. This topic has been in the news with the Garland,TX shooting . This was a nice way to take this on in this unpredictable setting of a gameshow. Moynihan and Kenan's reactions were fantastic throughout. Finally, an edgy sketch done well from SNL this season.

Next up was a short about a Hallmark office and a boss "Mr. Westerberg" (Moynihan). The group was joking around about him, but Beck Bennett's remarks are out-there, resembling sexual harassment. This was a short that went there with some dark humor, and it was a nice moment from Bennett, breaking out from that "bro" character he usually does.

Weekend Update was another okay edition. Colin Jost and Michael Che interacted with each other again during a segment featuring jokes they got from their mother's "with Che later saying how he would take Jost's mom out for dinner".

Leslie Jones returned to talk about social media and relationships. She had a really good bit on writing letters to her "4 yr booty call"....since he blocked her. There's so much chemistry between Jones and Jost.

Cecily Strong and Witherspoon appeared as the now 2 girls you wish you hadn't of started a conversation with at a party. This didn't necessarily work, as it came kind of awkward with 2.

Kenan returned as Che's neighbor, Willie. This was pretty much the same as its been before, just kind of blah.

As a pleasant surprise, the high school theatre showcase sketch returned. It didn't necessarily bring the same results, although I thought the concepts here were better than the original. It'll be interesting to see if this returns next season as a recurring sketch.

The show kind of hit a roadblock with these next 2 skits...that I'll just combine here. First, the female cast appeared as southern housewives, talking about random things (losing a foot, a husband in a coma now possessed as a demon). It turned out that they were robbing the house they were in. This sketch had some good ideas, but it didn't execute on the flipside, there was this bizarre sketch with Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney as lifeguards monitoring a water slide, while trying to hit on Witherspoon? Maybe? That seemed like the general premise, it wasn't quite clear. This was just a mess.

I'm including the 2nd performance from Florence + The Machine. While their 1st performance was great, the 2nd one here was just fantastic. They performed "What Kind Of Man", and Florence Welch was really emoting here.

The 10 to 1 sketch saw a return of "Whiskers R We", featuring Kate McKinnon and Witherspoon. Kate is always great in this role. While this sketch may have just been a run of cat puns and innuendos, the way they're delivered made this a great closing sketch.

This was a very strong episode. However, there's no denying that it had a pretty dire and devastating 1-2 punch with 'southern housewives" and "lifeguards". Luckily, Florence + The Machine's 2nd performance and "Whiskers R We" were able to bring the tempo of the show back up. This episode was classic SNL, in the sense that it was a bag full of brilliant......and horrendous sketches.

Avg. Score: 7.20 (each segment was scored out of 10, and averaged, including the musical act).

Bill Hader - 8.06
Martin Freeman - 7.56
Kevin Hart - 7.51
Chris Pratt - 7.50
Michael Keaton - 7.45
Chris Hemsworth - 7.44
Woody Harrelson - 7.42
Reese Witherspoon - 7.20
Amy Adams - 7.19
JK Simmons - 7.18
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson - 7.16
Sarah Silverman - 7.15
Taraji P Henson - 7.09
James Franco - 7.07
Jim Carrey - 7.01
Dakota Johnson - 6.83
Cameron Diaz - 6.81
Scarlett Johansson - 6.72
Blake Shelton - 6.60
Chris Rock - 6.52

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 Steelers Draft Review

Rd. 1 - (22)
OLB Bud Dupree - Kentucky  (6'4'', 269lbs)

2014: team captain, 7.5scks
Combine: 40- 4.56s, 42in vert jump
Strengths: Outstanding power with the ability to rag-doll TEs. Should be an above average edge-setter. Has an explosive closing burst. A willing thumper when he has a shot on the RB. Can drop into space play zone. Has the strength at the point to be a physical edge-setter. 
Weaknesses: Wins with athleticism over skill at this point. Will get caught taking bad angles to the ball. Needs to improve his hand fighting. He's still raw rushing the passer. Doesn't possess a go-to pass rush move.
NFL Comp: Jamie Collins
Score: 6.10 (Should become an instant starter)

Rd. 2 - (56)
CB Senquez Golson - Ole Miss  (5'9'', 176lbs)
2014: Unanimous 1st Team All-American, 1st Team All-SEC, Tied school record with 10INTs, Nagurski Award finalist
Combine: 40- 4.46s, 15reps, 33.5in vert jump
Strengths: Plus ball skills. Production off the charts in '14. Explosive through his lower body. Instinctive. Can mirror in space and closes down passing windows. Plays with smooth hips & good balance. Can open hips to turn & run and has good top-end speed. Willing & effective against the run. Can disengage to make aggressive tackles when necessary. Has good eye discipline.
Weaknesses: Worked primarily in zone & off-man coverage. 4TDs  allowed came against WRs 6'4'' or taller. Smallish frame combined with aggressive tackling could lead to durability issues.
NFL Comp: Brent Grimes
Score: 5.61 (Chance to become a starter)

Rd. 3 - (87)
WR Sammie Coates - Auburn  (6'1'', 212lbs)
2014: 2nd Team All-SEC
Combine: 40- 4.43s, 23reps, 41in vert jump
Strengths: Outstanding combination of size & speed. Good acceleration off the snap for a receiver with his length. Can take top off the defense and open up the underneath. Forces CBs onto their heels and gets easy, open looks on his routes. Ability to win big plays vertically.
Weaknesses: Not always on the same page with QBs. An unreliable target. Inexplicable focus drops in all areas of the field. Doesn't play with extended catch radius. A vertical receiver without a vertical feel. Inconsistent play speed. Has suspect ball tracking. Must improve at using body to ward off defenders. Stiff hips & limited route runner. Slow to gather and turn it upfield on catch & runs.
NFL Comp: Martavis Bryant
Score: 5.60 (Chance to become a starter)

Rd. 4 - (121)
CB Doran Grant - Ohio St  (5'10'', 200lbs)

2014: 1st Team All-Big 10
Combine: 40- 4.44s, 21reps, 33in vert jump
Strengths: Bends with adequate base in the press. Adequate acceleration to the throw, slapping and ripping at hands and arms during the catch. Intelligent on the field. Rarely fooled by route concepts. Zone aware and maintains leverage. Senses screens and flies in looking for work. Active in run support and won't miss once he's there.
Weaknesses: Can be overpowered by big WRs. Feet & hips can get clunky when asked to open and run out of press. Lacking speed to stick with true vertical threats. Allows too much separation when forced to close across the field. Has an upright, tight backpedal stalling at the top when transitioning forward.
Score: 5.45 (Backup/Special teams potential)

Rd. 5 - (160)
TE Jesse James - Penn St  (6'7'', 261lbs)

2014: Honorable All-Big 10, Led PSU TEs with 11 career TDs
Combine: 40-4.83s, 26reps, 37.5in vert jump
Strengths: Has flashed some straight line speed in space. Will turn quickly to find throws. Works to the open space against zone coverage. He can go up and over smaller defenders in the red zone as a split end.
Weaknesses: Gets very limited separation against man coverage. Does just enough as a run blocker. He doesn't handle power & movement in space as well as he needs to as a blocker. Will try to run through defenders rather than adjusting the route.
NFL Comp: Phillip Supernaw
Score: 5.18 (Better than average chance to make the roster)

Rd. 6 - (199)
DT Leterrius Walton - Central Michigan  (6'5'', 319lbs)

Combine: 40- 5.25s, 25reps, 27in vert jump
Strengths: Former OL who has shown improvement. Big man who flashes talent to penetrate and can win with explosive get-off. Quick hands that should become more explosive with work. Will cruise down the line chasing run plays. Discipline in the pass rush and maintains lane integrity. 
Weaknesses: Plays with pads too tall, which hurts his ability to brace against double teams. Limited pass rusher with an inability to get consistent pocket push or to finish. Can't come off of blocks and get to tackles with any consistency at this time. Must improve his use of hands and overall arm extension in order to control the line of scrimmage & play to his size.
NFL Comp: Ricky Jean-Francois
Score: 5.34 (Backup/Special teams potential)


Rd. 6 - (212)
DE Anthony Chickillo - Miami,FL  (6'3'', 267lbs)
Combine: 40- 4.79s, 27reps, 34.5in vert jump
Strengths: Generates leverage at the point of attack. Good strength for his size. Has strong hands and gets arm extension into target at the snap. Has plus read and feel against the run. Plays square to the line and is able to maintain balance & holds his ground against power.
Weaknesses: Production as a pass-rusher stalled. Tweener. Lacks explosive quickness. Fails to consistently stress the edge of a blocker. Gets overwhelmed by double teams. More of a stalemate player than a snap winner.
Score: 5.40 (Backup/Special teams potential)

Rd. 7 - (239)
FS Gerod Holliman - Louisville  (6'0'', 218lbs)

2014: Won the Thorpe Award, 1st Team All-American, Led FBS with 14 INTs
Combine: 17reps
Strengths: He lights up when the QB looks his way. Has a smooth backpedal and fluid hips to mirror & matches slot receivers. He understands route concepts and reads QBs. A chance taker who can swing momentum. Can run through receivers with big hits, or play the ball at the catch point. He can play with sudden movements in space.
Weaknesses: Was he a 1 year wonder? Can be moved around the field by QBs looking him off. He sits on play-action a shade too long. An atrocious tackler, he's slow to break down in space and lacks balance & base when tackling.
NFL Comp: Jairus Byrd 
Score: 5.34 (Backup or special-teams potential)