April 30, 2016

Minnesota Vikings 2016 draft – second day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:20

After Thursday’s rather undramatic and non-suspense-filled first round pick, where the team did the predictable thing and selected the best remaining wide receiver, day two of the draft promised to be a bit more exciting. “Trader Rick” Spielman must have been just itching to do some wheeling and dealing by this stage of the draft. And yet…

With their actual second round pick (I can’t believe I’m typing this), the Vikings selected Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander. No slick trading. No fancy up-or-down-swapping. Almost like someone has forced “Trader Rick” to act completely out-of-character and use yet another draft pick in the original order …

Mackensie Alexander

Sorry, still in shock that we actually picked at the original spots consecutively…

Here’s what Sports Illustrated had to say about the Vikings’ second round pick:

Alexander has the best mirroring and transition speed of any cornerback in this class. Takes his receiver seamlessly from the first step throughout the route, and turns and flips on a dime to stay with them through quick-breaking and option routes. Has the chase and recovery speed to close in and deflect passes with good timing. Understands his movement in the deep routes, and gets his hand on the receiver and tracks the ball well throughout the throw. Great with angles and will use his body to cut routes to the quick. Transitions between man and bail coverage seamlessly, which is a process that many NFL cornerbacks find tough to handle. Excellent economy of motion allows him to play the entire field well.

Very contentious, competitive player who keeps the fight going all the way through—his battle against Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard last season is a must-watch. Plays wide and tall coverage as an outside corner out of necessity; Clemson’s schemes left him without help in curl/flat routes and over the top at times. Good musculature for the position and will throw his body around against the run. Takes it upon himself to bring his game to a different level.

Some see this pick as creating competition at the nickel corner position for Captain Munnerlyn. Including Munnerlyn:

In the third round of the draft, Trader Rick finally managed to throw off the restraints and swapped Minnesota’s pick (at 86th overall) to Miami, in exchange for Miami’s 6th round pick (186th overall) plus Miami’s 2017 third and fourth round picks. I’d say that was a good exchange for the Vikings. The Dolphins used the pick acquired from Minnesota to select Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Caroo. ESPN‘s Ben Goessling explains the logic of the trade:

“There were a couple guys that we liked — we had two guys targeted,” Spielman said. “But then as I kept staring at the board — which we have a tendency to do a lot — I saw there were still a lot of good football players that we can potentially pick up tomorrow. There was enough depth in the draft this year that you’re going to get quality players. So to still be able to get quality players tomorrow, and kind of look into the future, potentially where your roster’s going to be in ’17 and how valuable those picks are going to become, I felt the trade was the right move for us.”

The Vikings now have six picks in the first four rounds of next year’s draft, when they could have some spots to fill after possibly parting with players due to hit free agency after 2016. The offensive line, for example, has five players set to hit free agency after the season, and the Vikings could have more use for those picks next year. Considering how many of their in-house free agents the Vikings retained, it sounds as though they know this year’s roster might be harder to crack. That would inherently depress the value of draft picks this year, and the Vikings chose to parlay a third-rounder into more high picks next season.

“I think you just look at where your current roster is, but that’s also why we try to plan for the future as well,” Spielman said. “I want to make sure that we always keep a competitive roster. Depending on what happens in 2017, just projecting what our roster could look like, just to have those draft picks next year is going to be valuable.”

QotD: “SETI is a religion”

Filed under: Quotations, Religion, Science, Space — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Cast your minds back to 1960. John F. Kennedy is president, commercial jet airplanes are just appearing, the biggest university mainframes have 12K of memory. And in Green Bank, West Virginia at the new National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a young astrophysicist named Frank Drake runs a two-week project called Ozma, to search for extraterrestrial signals. A signal is received, to great excitement. It turns out to be false, but the excitement remains. In 1960, Drake organizes the first SETI conference, and came up with the now-famous Drake equation:

N=N*fp ne fl fi fc fL

[where N is the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; fp is the fraction with planets; ne is the number of planets per star capable of supporting life; fl is the fraction of planets where life evolves; fi is the fraction where intelligent life evolves; and fc is the fraction that communicates; and fL is the fraction of the planet’s life during which the communicating civilizations live.]

This serious-looking equation gave SETI a serious footing as a legitimate intellectual inquiry. The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. And guesses — just so we’re clear — are merely expressions of prejudice. Nor can there be “informed guesses.” If you need to state how many planets with life choose to communicate, there is simply no way to make an informed guess. It’s simply prejudice.

As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from “billions and billions” to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless, and has nothing to do with science. I take the hard view that science involves the creation of testable hypotheses. The Drake equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is unquestionably a religion. Faith is defined as the firm belief in something for which there is no proof. The belief that the Koran is the word of God is a matter of faith. The belief that God created the universe in seven days is a matter of faith. The belief that there are other life forms in the universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching, none has been discovered. There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief. SETI is a religion.

Michael Crichton, “Aliens Cause Global Warming”: the Caltech Michelin Lecture, 2003-01-17.

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