The 2059 season is finally upon us after a COVID-58 related break and the sportsbooks are desperate for tickets. Early season plays are tough, but I'll make my usual three previews and picks because I'm a degenerate.
Omaha (-2) at Baltimore - BAL boasts some of the biggest offseason moves for 2059, acquiring both QB O'Neill from TUC and hall of fame DE Malachi Johnstone from LVS. Both of these moves are huge boosts and this early season line reflects that optimism. O'Neill and Johnstone have looked good in limited play this preseason and first round pick FS Alex Leskun looks to improve an already top notch passing defense. DE Garrett Hitchcock has said he feels better at this weight and, now that BAL has implemented a more familiar 3-4 system, looks to have a bigger impact in his sophomore year.
OMA hasn't had to make big changes. The offensive juggernaut has been dishing out big contracts to their stars and we'll see the return of all the players that haunt defensive coordinators' nightmares. WR Dole, Stone, and TE Duran all will be Arrowheads until 2062. Rookies DE Ike Paton and LT Drake Shaw could have some snaps this game but I don't expect too much after their preseason showings.
My contacts have called this a classic "Sharps vs. Squares" game with 80% of the ticket counts on OMA. However, the line has actually ticked up from -3 to -2 with big money on BAL and it's not hard to see why. The last two times OMA has come to BAL, they've been held to season low offensive production, and I would back the home team Bombers this week. BAL to win 17-13.
El Paso at Fargo (-5) - These division rivalries are getting a bit more interesting now that ELP is starting to win. The regular season sweep by ELP was ruined a bit by the loss in the postseason, but if not for FAR CB Zimmerman's heroic interception it was looking like another Rockets win.
GM landshark44 is trying to capitalize on the shifting power balance and has mortgaged the team's future for this run in 2059, trading 5 first round picks for WRs Jeffrey Johnstone (from DUR) and Winfred Rodriguez (from BOS). TE McKenzie was QB Sullivan's favorite target in 2058 but that may change in 2059. A number of FAs also look to bolster the team as DE Grayson Ellison, SS Clay Bech, and OG Gerald Blades have seen first team reps.
The Sodbusters, just like OMA, have stayed relatively intact. Investing in QB Woodard, WR Crabtree, and DE Alexander doesn't leave much room for free agents or other acquisitions. There are a few promising rookies coming to FAR but it remains to be seen how many will see significant playing time. LB Donald Almeda is probably the closest to being ready to play at the next level but the team is likely going to deploy more nickel and dime packages.
This game seems like a trap. My initial thinking is that the spread should be 3 points or less, but it's 5. The public love to bet against ELP, but this is a much improved team on paper. I think I'll be siding with FAR here-- WR Johnstone hasn't had the best preseason and the other roster changes might take a few weeks to get up to speed. FAR wins 24-17.
Boise City at Alaska (-6) - We all feared the worst when QB Marischen went down in week 14, but he didn't retire and it looks like the 35 year old has recovered well enough to start week 1. I'm not sure how much more he can take, but it looks like he's hellbent on getting that 3rd ring. If Jimmy can stay healthy I love their chances, but the team really needs to work on that part. The team was 10-2 going into week 14 and had the division locked up. I get that the bye is important, but Marischen's late season injuries are probably the only reason he doesn't have 5 championships.
BCI comes off a really disappointing 2058 season and OC Kevin Gorham is out after 6 seasons with the team. I liked the way he ran the offense, but it did seem too predictable as of late. OC Wendell Campo has some great tools at his disposal, but he won't have a power run game like his old team FAR. The Stampede was one of the worst rushing offenses in the league last season and they haven't made any moves to fix it. To make things worse, star CB Doug Cheli was caught up in a drug bust at a party hosted by CB J.B. Brown. It looks like a temporary suspension, but we'll have to wait and see how the situation develops.
Normally I would take the points with the Stampede, but Cheli's absence is just too much. Even if Marischen isn't at 100%, one of WR Farley or Jennings is going to be wide open. ALA to win 30-20.
It may be preseason...
226 YARDS RUSHING!!!
1.20 TE Hardy Boon
Santa Cruz owner, Cheesehead Craig had a brilliant idea on draft day. "Since we run a Smashmouth offense, and it's heavily dependent on a Tight End, let's draft the best one in the class! It's so simple it's brilliant!" Hardy showed his ability to get off the line and just abuse LBs in coverage. He is also a plus blocker so that will only help the run game.
2.19 WR Bryant Yates
The passing game needed some further upgrading and Yates should help out right away. He had a fantastic combine that was comparable to WRs taken in the first round. He's a bit on the short side, but matching him up in the slot would be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He was a man among boys in the Mountain West conference and hopefully he can continue that trend for the Privateers.
3.18 RG Jessie Leech
The OL is a primary focus here in Santa Cruz and Jessie showed fantastic technique in both run and pass blocking, even with less than ideal strength he still cleared the way for great inside running at Central Florida. He should be in line for plenty of snaps this season.
4.17 WR Al Frederick
What's better than getting 2 pass catching weapons in the draft? Three pass catching weapons! Frederick simply got open in college. He can get off the line of scrimmage, gets open on 3rd down and catches everything near him. He also showed some great ability on kick returns. He'll need to pack on some weight for the rigors of CFL life, but we're confident he can do it.
5.20 DT Gustavo Nagy
Run defense was an issue last year and we needed a big fatty in the middle to help that out. Nagy's plenty fat as he spent most of his senior season at Boston College eating lobstah rolls. Great technique and doesn't get fooled easily. Happy to get him in the 5th.
6.19 RB Skip Morris
We needed to get an inside bruiser who can get the tough yardage. He's not going to outrun anyone, but he was a 3rd and short conversion machine at Wake Forest. Besides, Fulton isn't getting any younger and Morris could have a long career in this type of role.
7.18 QB Ernest Hardy
Had a good career at Oregon and certainly looks the part and had a very good combine. Finding out that starter Dixon Kelley was holding out for more money, made this a need pick. After looking at film, this guy clearly can play and shows flashes of greatness. Certainly the most intriguing pick for the Privateers this draft.
With a heavy heart, and a wee bit of disappointment, management staff of the Toros have decided to part ways with QB Jim O'Niell. A request to renegotiate his contract was just not a possibility. Our rebuild process over the last few years has not been on the successful track we would have wished, so we will be changing our focus here in the desert over the next few season.
To our fans, we appreciate the fervor to which you support your team, and we so much appreciate it. Hopefully, we can build a franchise that will rise to the level of your expectations.
Here's a Breakdown of Honolulu's 2059 Draft
QB - Kirk Fryday, Duke
6'2" 222 lbs.
Interview: As Scouted
Outlook: Fryday's ratings dropped a bit at pre week 2, but The Sharks remain convinced he will be one of the top QBs in the League for a Long Time.
When New GM Red Zone took the Job with Honolulu, he had a list of things he wanted to get done in Season one. One of those was to acquire a Franchise QB. When Detroit made it known that they were willing to trade down, Red Zone went to work. The deal was 1.6, Honolulu's 1st round picks in 2060 and 2061 and CB Jon Lindsay for 1.1, Detroit's 2nd Round Pick in 2060 and DE Aiden Walsh. After briefly considering another Trade that would have brought a more established QB to Honolulu, The pick was made and Kirk Fryday became a Shark.
Fryday has all the tools, a strong arm (15 bench), 4.35 speed and excellent accuracy. He played in a pro style offense at Duke and has experience in tight games in the 4th quarter. He led Duke to four 4th quarter comeback victories this past season and also led the NCAA in 3rd down passer rating.
He has the ability to scramble and isn't afraid to run, but can also move in the pocket to avoid the pass rush and then make throws when it counts.
He was the obvious choice at 1.1 and should be an exciting player for many seasons.
Offensive Coordinator Dylan Hanson spoke about how he would bring Fryday along
"It's not going to be a scaled back version of our offense, He is going to have all of it at his disposal, including audibles. This guy scored a 40 on the solecismic test and carried a 3.8 grade point average in college, so we are confident that he can handle our offense. It may take a while for him to get comfortable and fully develop, but that's fine...we have lots of time. The Important thing is...he's here...and we are ready to go to work"
GM Red Zone was also excited about the Pick
"Anytime you can get an athletic QB that can Run and has a Big Arm, you grab him. Franchise QBs don't grow on trees and not every team has one. We have one now and I couldn't be happier. Our fans will get to enjoy watching him play, and hopefully we can bring a Championship to Honolulu"
SLB - Trevor Stephens, Indiana
6'2" 253 lbs.
Outlook: Stephens had a Strong conflict with Defensive Front Leader Lance Connell and never realized the potential that Sharks management Saw in him. He was Dealt to Detroit prior to pre week 2 and dropped to 10/20.
Linebacker was a weakness and there wasn't much available in Free Agency, so Red Zone made it a priority position in the draft. After dealing down from 2.5 in a deal that recouped one of the future firsts that were lost in the Fryday Trade, at 2.27 The Sharks selected SLB Trevor Stephens from Indiana.
Stephens has the combination of run defense and coverage skills that new Defensive Coordinator Parker Callender demands from his Linebackers.
Red Zone's comments
"He should be a contributor at SLB and on special teams Immediately. Whether he starts or not will depend on how rapidly he develops in Training Camp and preseason, but we're excited to have him here."
LT Chase McCrory, Wake Forrest
6'6" 325 lbs.
Outlook: McCrory is a long term project that Sharks Coaches hope can replace LT Efrain Ansell at some point.
With LT Efrain Ansell getting older, The team has no plans to get rid of him, but the thought was that maybe we should start preparing for the future. With this in mind, The Sharks Pick at 3.8 was LT Chase McCrory from Wake Forrest.
Red Zone's Comments
"McCrory has very good size and moves well for a big man. He is a student of the game and loves to watch film of his next opponent to get ready for a game. He has textbook run and pass blocking skills, but could use a little more strength. This is something that will be a part of his development...getting stronger.
The Hope is that When Ansell retires, McCrory just steps in and we don't miss a beat."
WR - Terry Garrison, Tennessee
5'11" 187 lbs.
Outlook: The Jury is still out on Garrison, but he has shown flashes of the ability that Coaches feel could make him a solid slot Receiver.
When Honolulu's pick came up at 3.22 and Tennessee WR Terry Garrison was still there, Red Zone wasted no time selecting him.
Red Zone's comments
"We felt like this was a 2nd round talent that fell to us at the end of round 3. He needs work on some of the intangibles, like 3rd down catching and his route running, but we like him a lot. He has great Hands.
DT - James Slauter, Oklahoma
6'2" 305 lbs.
Outlook: Slauter has become a big part of Honolulu's interior defensive line and should be a fixture there for years.
When two trades for veteran DTs fell through, GM Red Zone had to find another way to strengthen the Interior of the team's Defensive Front. It didn't take him long to spot DT James Slauter still on the board. This was a player that Honolulu had rated as a 3rd round talent, so it was a quick decision and Slauter became a Shark.
Red Zone's comments
"James has the speed and quickness that you want in a Defensive Lineman. He could play Tackle or End, but we see him as our 3 Technique Defensive Tackle. He is going to have to put on a little weight but that shouldn't be a problem. He is more developed than a normal rookie, so he could see considerable playing time this season."
K - Ben Moss, Western Kentucky
6'1" 206 lbs.
Outlook: Moss lost the Kicking duties to undrafted Free Agent Diego Butterfield and was released prior to preseason week 4.
With no Kicker under contract, Honolulu decided to select kicker Ben Moss from Western Kentucky. Moss has the leg for the deep kickoffs that Red Zone demands, and was the 3rd best kicker on Honolulu's draft Board.
TE - Derrick Wilkins, Dartmouth
6'5" 279 lbs.
Outlook: Wilkins has struggled a bit so far, but the coaches continue to work with him. His future is uncertain.
The Sharks were thin at Tight End, so in round 7 Red Zone selected TE Derrick Wilkins from Dartmouth. At 6-5 and 279 Wilkins should help provide run blocking for the Running Game and also give Kirk Fryday a big target in the middle of the field.
Red Zone made it clear that One Draft Class wasn't going to be enough to fix all of this teams problems, and it wasn't. Between Free Agent signings and the Rookies Honolulu did select in this ears Draft, The Sharks are a much better Football team than they were a few months ago. The Long term Development of QB Kirk Fryday will be a major factor in how far the team progresses in the next few seasons.