0-16: Mock Me If You Wish (THE FIRST 5)

Well, it’s getting close to the NFL draft, and if anyone loves to make mock drafts, it’s really not definitely not totally me all the time. Mock drafts are fun in the oddest way – you know you’re probably going to be wrong (especially with this year’s slate), but it’s an enjoyable process. It’s like making a March Madness bracket, but everyone gets to be frustruated and downtrodden by the end of the process with their picks!

So, without further ado, here’s my speculation for the first five picks in this year’s NFL draft.

  1. Houston Texans – QB – Blake Bortles – UCF

While Jadeveon Clowney is getting a lot of the league talk right now, I still don’t think you can put a price on how important it is to have a franchise quarterback on the roster. Sure, the idea of Clowney paired with fellow rusher J.J. Watt would be terrifying, but Houston is coming off one of a disastrous season that saw two of its premiere faces, head coach Gary Kubiak and QB Matt Schaub, be jettisoned (both finding new homes, thankfully). With offensive-minded Bill O’Brien in as the new coach, the Texans need a fix at the most important position in the game. Analysts say UCF QB Blake Bortles is raw, but with a guy like O’Brien at the helm, what a better spot for a potential-laden signal-caller like Bortles? Houston needs a long-term solution at the position, and while some say it’s risky to take a QB with the first pick, I say Houston takes the gamble and tries to get back to being a playoff team

ALTERNATE PICK – WR – Sammy Watkins – Clemson

In this world, the Texans get the heir apparent for Andre Johnson and give whomever is throwing the ball next season a dynamic target.

  1. TRADE – Minnesota Vikings – QB – Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M

I can’t see the St. Louis Rams sticking around to pick second, so I predict the Minnesota Vikings to hop up to the second spot to nab their hoped answer at the QB position. Manziel is the big name in this year’s draft – an immensely polarizing-yet-immensely talented player who could be the big star to emerge from the draft. The Vikings haven’t had much success at finding a long-term QB, but Manziel could be that guy. Perhaps there are some worries of Manziel’s character, but, like with Tyrann Mathieu, a move up to the big leagues can often be the best maturation process. The Vikings, led by new coach Mike Zimmer, may give up a little to get the future of their backfield, but the thought of an expectation-filling Manziel and Adrian Peterson in the same team should scare the rest of the league.

ALTERNATE PICK – TRADE – TENNESSEE TITANS – DE – Jadeveon Clowney

The Titans need a star for their team – they are one of the few franchises that lack a “star name.” Also, the team’s pass rush is lacking. Perhaps the Titans trade up to get the highly-touted Clowney, giving their defense the pass rush it sorely needs.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE – Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina

Clowney will be the most talked-about defensive player in this year’s draft, and many expect the highly athletic pass rusher to go in the top five picks. I say that the Jaguars, despite being deep at the position, go ahead and bring Clowney into the fold. HC Gus Bradley is a defense guy, and he’s already done a nice job of building up his defensive unit. Veteran defensive lineman Chris Clemons and Red Bryant were brought in during the off-season, Jason Babin was re-signed and Tyson Alualu and Andre Branch are already on the roster, so it may not seem as if Clowney would be needed. But Clemons, Bryant and Babin are all veterans, and the thought of them all tutoring Clowney in the ways of the sack has to be intriguing to the Jaguars. This match-up gives Clowney a chance to really learn the game during his first season and not have to be relied on to be the top guy right out of college. It also gives the Jaguars one of the league’s best, deep defensive lines.

ALTERNATE PICK – QB – Terry Bridgewater – Louisville

If the season starts today, Chad Henne is the starter at QB. Henne’s a capable guy, but if the team truly wants to find its long-term answer at the position, they could take Bridgewater and see if he’s their guy.

  1. Cleveland Browns – WR – Sammy Watkins – Clemson

The Browns are a quarterback away from being a playoff team. But, they’ve been a quarterback away since the Clinton administration. Another flubbed pick for a signal caller could be disastrous, so why not go ahead and take the best player available – the guy who could come in and give your team a nasty combo at receiver? Watkins is regarded by many to be an explosive threat in the backfield, and the Browns already have star receiver Josh Gordon, who is just coming off a breakout year. The Browns need to stack the roster with as much talent as possible, and the team also has a first rounder later on thanks to the Trent Richardson trade. So, at least in this scenario, the Browns hold off on drafting a QB and take an offensive weapon.

ALTERNATE PICK – QB – Terry Bridgewater – Louisville

See above (but take out Chad Henne).

  1. Oakland Raiders – OLB – Khalil Mack – Buffalo

The Raiders are another team who many might suspect to take a QB, but the team did acquire Matt Schaub in a trade. If Schaub is able to regain his 2012 form, he’s a playoff quarterback, and if Pryor can grow into the role, he’s a got a world of potential ahead of him. So, I think the Raiders go with the best defensive player on the board in Khalil Mack. Some people think that Mack could be better than Clowney, and the Raiders play some of the best QBs in the league twice a season. The Raiders lost Lamarr Houston in free agency, so bringing in Mack could help bridge the gap, partially fixed with the team brought in veteran rushers Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley. That veteran leadership could also help a young rusher like Mack.

ALTERNATE PICK – TRADE – New York Giants – OLB – Khalil Mack

The Raiders could try to add more power to their team by trading down and grabbing another pick or two. A suitor could be the New York Giants, who could use a dynamic player like Mack in the backfield to replace the very guy who signed with Oakland.

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The Instant Critic bids farewell

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, Johnny Depp led us into the world of Rango.

This week, I’ve decided to offer up two “mini-reviews” to keep your cinematic thirst quenched over the dog days of exam week.

WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” (PG, 111 minutes)

A stirring documentary about the current state of public education, “Waiting for Superman” brings up many hard-hitting questions concerning its subject. By interviewing experts in the field, the film captivates with its call for change. I wholeheartedly recommend giving this film a try.

MEET THE PARENTS (PG-13, 107 minutes – featuring Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo and Bltyhe Danner)

Easily one of my favorite comedies, Meet the Parents paints a vivid picture in the relationship of a kindly male nurse (Stiller) and his girlfriend’s prickly father (DeNiro). The film features some classic laughs that will leave you howling. Stiller and DeNiro joyously collide for a dynamic pairing. This is a film not to be missed.

What say you? Do you plan to spend your down time during exam week catching up on a few movies?

I must say that offering up reviews these past 10 weeks has been a true pleasure! I hope that over these past few weeks, you have found a film or two to enjoy and possibly return to in the future.

After all, who doesn’t love a good movie?

If you don’t mind, I’d love to know the best movie that you might have watched recommended in a previous post!

I hope everyone has a legendary summer at the movies. It’s going to be a good one.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies always wonderful.

The Instant Critic


The Instant Critic travels to Dirt

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, the poorly done Limitless caught our attention.

This week, we head into the world of computer animation to take a look at a Johnny Depp-led feature!

RANGO (PG, 107 minutes – features the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy)

After years at sea with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski successfully ventured into the world of computer animation with the brilliantly madcap Rango.

The story is as ingenious as they come. After being stranded in the desert, Rango the lizard (Depp) comes across the town of Dirt, a miniature Dodge City filled to the brim with stock Western characters. After the town’s water supply goes missing, Rango falsely dons the persona of a gung-ho sheriff and leads the townsfolk on a quest to find the culprit.

The vibrant animation pops out of the screen, as do the zany cast of critters. The screenplay thrives on originality, offering a wondrous alternative the typical theatrical fare.

Depp’s voice work on the character shines, though. He and Verbinski are always such an effective duo.

The film qualifies as a rarity – a zany, sharp excursion into sheer creativity. This film deserves your immediate attention.

If you are feeling like the silver screen would be more satisfying than the one on your computer this weekend, I wholeheartedly recommend The Hunger Games. I’m sure I don’t have to do too much persuading on that front.

The film Undefeated, a documentary filmed in Tennessee, focuses on a Memphis high school football team looking to win its first playoff game. The film compels and moves in a way that stands unique. If you are through with the Districts for now, I hope you give this powerful documentary a try. The film is currently showing at the Green Hills 16.

What say you? Do you prefer watching a movie in the theater compared to your computer? Let us know in the comment section.

Next week, we will wrap things up with the final post of the semester.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic puts up the guardrails

Welcome, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed the last post, I offered some thoughts on a faith-house film and a made-for-TV special.

This week, I’m taking a step in the other direction. I’m going to list a film on Netflix that I believe should be absolutely avoided!

LIMITLESS (PG-13, 104 minutes – featuring Bradley Cooper)

Limitless really should not have be on this list. The film hosts an intriguing premise, a likable star, a stylish director and some keen cinematography. As this film develops, the reasons for its detestability come into play.

Cooper’s character, a troubled writer who finds solace in a mind-enhancing pill, could not have been more unlikable. Instead of clinging to a wire-thin moral base, our “hero” cavorts around in his misdoings, escaping every turn with his magical helper NZT (the “clever” pill name). His character devolves from a sketchy author to a flat out criminal.

Yes, his misdemeanors with the NZT do get him involved with gangsters, bad businessmen and the police. The implausibility of his many narrow escapes slaps the viewing audience right in the face.

I really do like Cooper, but any attempts to humanize the lead lose their effectiveness by film’s end.

Other than a terrible anchor, the film stomps through sewage of genre clichés and stock supporting roles. There is nothing new or fresh about Limitless despite what the premise might entail.

Limitless is a soulless celebration of scumbags hindered by a terribly written lead character.

Well, that was disheartening!

What say you? Have you seen this film? Care to disagree? Let me know in the comments section.

As always, the lines are open for a request or two. Leave them in the comment section as well!

Next week, I will pick up my boots out of the mud and return to the wonder world of good cinema.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie better than Limitless.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic plays golf in Orlando

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, we took a break from movies to remember the High Rise flood.

This week, we are hitting the green and heading to Disney World.

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G, 98 minutes – featuring Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Deborah Ann Woll and Melissa Leo)

I usually cringe at the thought of a faith-based movie. Since faith-house cinema almost limits itself to “gems” such as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, the average Christian film buff finds the situation dire when looking for a movie with a deeper meaning.

Thankfully, Seven Days in Utopia rises above the usual faith-based fare to offer viewers an uplifting tale of finding yourself in the most unlikely of places.

The story centers on Luke, a disgraced golfer who stumbles upon a small Texas town after a minor car crash. While there, he meets a former golfer (Duvall) who helps to give Luke the training he needs to continue in his career.

Going in, I had no idea that the film held a Christian base, but I was surprised and pleased that I enjoyed the film at the level I did. Sure, a few moments of genuine corniness are in store, but the earnest approach made those moments strangely tolerable. As a Christian, I’m glad to see a good movie from our side every now and then.

On the acting side, Duvall can never be bad in a movie, and up-and-comer Lucas Black manages to hold his own with the screen vet for the second time.

If you are looking for a film that you can safely watch with the folks over Spring Break, Seven Days in Utopia easily takes the cake.

This film and the upcoming Blue Like Jazz (a film I thoroughly enjoyed) give faith-house cinema a bright future.

DISNEY PARKS: UNDISCOVERED DISNEY PARKS (TVG, 43 minutes)

As a longtime advocate of Disney World, I found this short television special to be a must for those considering a trip down to the house of the mouse anytime soon.

While I’ve never been to the West Coast, I can say that I have been to Orlando fourteen times (the next trip steadily approaches).

Even I learned a thing or two watching this informative special.

Disney Parks: Undiscovered Disney Parks gives you exactly what it promises. Viewers are taken backstage to see some of Disney’s best-kept secrets, whether it is a private restaurant or an inside look at the mechanics of a certain electrifying parade.

Sadly, some of the information in this special will be old news for longtime park-goers, but for those new to the Disney experience, the short episode offers a great deal of intriguing information about the theme park and its surrounding resorts.

If you are headed to any of the major Disney parks in the foreseeable future, I recommend you give this television special a try. It may not be a movie, but it’s easily worth your time.

What say you? What’s your take on the current climate of faith-based cinema? Are you more of a Universal Studios type of person? Let me know in the comments section.

You know the drill. Recommendations are more than welcome and can be placed in the comments section as well.

Next week, the Instant Critic and his fantastic readers will be receiving a well-deserved week of rest.

Until then, may your sunscreen be effective and your break wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic covers the High Rise flood

Hello, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, two sequels took center stage.

This week, I’ve decided to veer slightly off the normal game plan to write about an event that affected many a “Lipscombite” last night.

Around 2:30 in the morning, I arose from my solemn slumber to hear the sound of shuffling shoes and sirens. I heard voices repeating claims of a necessary evacuation from the dormitory.

An evacuation? In the middle of the night? Serious claims, indeed.

I shook off my wishes to stay in bed, woke my roommate, got dressed in a hurried fashion and made my way down the stairs.

Once outside, I noticed the catalyst for the commotion. Two massive fire trucks sat near the High Rise dormitory. Campus security guarded the entrances to the building, preventing anyone from reentry.

As I stood in my Lipscomb T-shirt, Nike gym shorts and Rockport church shoes, I began to grasp the gravity of the current situation. A huge pond of water had taken over the grassy plain in front of the High Rise lobby.

I believed we had a leak on our hands.

Once I gained better knowledge of the situation, I put on my journalist’s cap and went to work. Scouring the campus looking for possible interviewees, I stumbled upon one or two well-qualified candidates.

One, a first-floor resident, gave me keen insight on the commotion of the evening. The other, an official of the university, gave me the actual statistics of the events.

10 feet of water flooded the mechanical room of High Rise, caused by an 8-inch pipe’s untimely burst.

I spent the next two hours or so gathering extra quotes, taking startling pictures and trying to gain a better understanding of the possible ramifications of what had just occurred.

Was the damage severe? Did any students lose any personal belongings? How long until I could climb back into my wonderful bed?

Only time could tell.

If you have ever seen the found-footage thriller Cloverfield, you might be able to understand the feeling for many High Rise residents.

Strangely awoken in the middle of the night by an unseen terror, many students wondered throughout the campus throughout the morning, unsure of what had happened and what was to come.

Some students made their way into Allen Arena, but quickly after, the arena was evacuated. Students had to make their way into the campus activity center.

Lights flickered, students fled to the nearest Waffle House and some made runs to Wal-Mart to gather necessary supplies for the remainder of the morning.

Some students just simply sat, wondering what forced them from their beautiful sleep and what was to come.

For a short while, uncertainty and pandemonium took hold of the Lipscomb campus.

The Cloverfield monster might as well have shown up. He would have been more than fitting for the occasion.

As I walked, my feet began to angrily pulse with a fury only feet lacking socks could convey. “The Rockports” are fine and dandy until socks leave the equation.

I felt as if I was walking on a solid block of finely carved wood only made for the best Dillard’s shoppers.

As soon as the situation came to a quick standstill, I left school, making the third trip to my car on the evening to both charge my iPhone (a blessing, really) and grab a quick breakfast.

As the sun began to rise over High Rise, the story began to take shape. Students (including yours truly) were slowly filtered into the dorm to obtain the necessities needed to carry out the morning’s activities. I grabbed my computer, threw on a pair of jeans, got my phone charger and of course, put on a pair of glorious socks.

Glorious, glorious socks.

I proceded to find a spot in the student center, where power still remained, and watch the events of the evening unfold on the morning news while checking my computer for anything that required my attention.

“Crazy, crazy, crazy,” I thought to myself.

A few breaking updates and a few interviews later (including one with Dr. Lowry himself), the smoke cleared. The building opened for business after many hours of uncertainty, and High Rise residents finally entered their once tumultuous home to take a well-deserved nap.

The draining, dreary night had finally passed. The four major news crews packed their bags after a long night of coverage, the students of other dormitories slowly emerged to find their classes cancelled and this journalist finally made it back to his room.

Be thankful for the brave men and women who put forth tireless effort to help relocate the weary High Rise residents back in their beds. Heroes, if you ask me.

I know I’m thankful that once I tie up a few loose ends coverage-wise and finish this post, I will once again my reunited with my wonderful maiden – sleep.

As for a movie, take a day off. Catch up on some older posts, maybe. The choice is yours.

I’ll be happy to take some requests for next week’s post. I’m like you. I can’t wait to discuss some awesome films again.

For now, last night’s events remain the topic at hand.

Until then, may your dorm’s pipes be tightly wound and your sleep wonderful.

An exhausted but grateful Instant Critic