Training Camp Notes 7/31/16

By Jared Stanger

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Welcome to VMAC and the beginning of Seahawks’ training camp 2016. I wasn’t able to attend the very first session on Saturday, but I did get in (after the team released additional tickets on Friday) to the Sunday practice. Here are some of my observations from my vantage on the berm.

Practice pretty much always opens with special teams work. This early in camp, even though Tyler Lockett is presumptive kick/punt returner, the team gives reps catching kickoffs to a wide range of players. I noted Alex Collins, Kenny Lawler, Kevin Smith, Paul Richardson, Antwan Goodley, and Deshon Foxx in addition to Lock.

In the kick coverage half of the field, I thought Montese Overton and Tyvis Powell stood out from their sheer athleticism. This will be a good group this year.

Throughout practice, you can tell this is a relaxed group. The music is constant, guys dance to it in between reps…guys will post each other up in a quick, imaginary game of basketball…and the vets have all kinds of freedom(s). I noted Baldwin working the hand-fighting drill with the DL, while Michael Bennett slipped into the kickoff catch line.

Even though the construction of it has changed, the chemistry of the OG LOB has not. The quartet of Sherman, Browner, Kam, and Earl just naturally flow towards one another. And then, as a group, they lead the defense.

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In terms of position work, I was limited in my ability to observe the offensive groups while they worked on the lake-side field. I hope to have better luck at my next couple of camps when I’ll have some binoculars to see the far field.

I enjoyed the look of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, George Farmer, and Tye Smith as the DB’s worked through their press-bail.

Cassius Marsh looks better, and pretty damn natural, dropping in coverage with the LB’s. Great hands, too.

At one point in position work, I did glance up and see Brandon Cottom running free on the far field. He is exceptionally smooth for his size.

It is important to note that when the teams finally co-mingle that 1st team, 2nd team, 3rd team is extremely fluid. A guy that is 1st team in 7v7 will be 2nd team in 11v11. So many combinations are examined. You try to get a sense of who is working where, but really, even that isn’t conclusive.

The team could be pushing younger guys to earn their way up in the ranks, the team could be giving primary reps to a guy that they are considering going forward without, the team could have confidence that player X is pretty much a lock for a backup role and instead want to see extra reps from the potential practice squad guys. It’s a strange dance…one that I don’t always take at face value.

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Notable first team reps for Sunday:
CMike at RB, Eric Pinkins at SAM, Jordan Hill at DT. Garry Gilliam and Bradley Sowell pretty much split time at LT as the team adds Garry back in gradually.

Notable positive impressions:
Zac Brooks was both the most consistent RB, in my opinion, and I think made the most splash plays.
Of the bubble WR, I noticed Douglas McNeill most often. I also liked Tanner McEvoy in his couple targets. Doug Baldwin looked really impressive running after the catch.
Frank Clark seemed the most disruptive player on the DL.
Eric Pinkins showed some of the relentlessness Doug talked about in his presser…always hustling to the ball.
Brandon Cottom showed impressive athleticism and really unique versatility. He is what I hoped he’d be.

Notable negative impressions:
Both watching practice live, and then watching the webstream footage, Antwan Goodley looked like a guy that could be cut tomorrow. Muffed kickoff, running wrong routes, dropped balls. With so many WR, he could be the guy cut to add another OT.
The CB depth. I had higher hopes coming in that this group would be really good, but no one is standing out. I noted one play where Tye Smith was running Foxx’s route for him.
It was a similar story for the UDFA. As a draft guy, I get so partial to the rookies, but outside of Brooks none really stood out. In part from lack of reps.

After today’s practice, I think our DL is better than our OL (everyone could guess at this), but surprisingly, I think our WR are better than our DB’s currently. The length and size of our CB has trouble with the quickness of our small WR. The LB’s probably trump the RB and TE. But this is just day #2.

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It will be interesting to see how things evolve over this week, and then where we stand when I return to camp next.

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Seahawk Training Camp Superlatives

By Jared Stanger

Seahawks’ training camp is now less than a week away, so let’s take a look at some of the interesting storylines to watch in the first installment of ‘Seahawk Superlatives’.

2nd-year Player Most Likely to take Huge Step Forward?

I’ll give you one on offense and one on defense.

Mark Glowinski. The physically-strongest OL on the team, whose lone start last year yielded a blowout win over Arizona, and whom the team believes so strongly in they are not only giving him a shot at starting, but they’re bumping him up from RG to LG. Mark could be the (G)lowkey single-most revelatory and difference-making change from the 2015 roster to now.

Tye Smith. I believed in his college tape. I believed in his 2015 preseason tape. I believe Pete and John when they rave about how Tye has improved his body since the 2015 season ended. I believe Tye will become our nickel package boundary corner opposite Sherm before week 6, and not look back.

I think these two will take the biggest step(s) forward as they’ve started further back. Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark can take steps forward, but just smaller relative to where they finished last year.

UDFA Most Likely to Win a Roster Spot?

In 2015, it was Thomas Rawls. In 2014, Garry Gilliam and Brock Coyle. In 2013, Alvin Bailey. In 2012, it was Jermaine Kearse and Deshawn Shead. And in 2011, Seattle signed 19 UDFA which eventually filtered down to Doug Baldwin, Jeron Johnson, Mike Morgan, and Ricardo Lockette.

(Technically, Trevone Boykin is pretty much on the roster as things stand today. So let’s take a second, and maybe a third name.)

I suspect that David Perkins makes it. He’s just too interesting a skillset at such a commodity position. You cut him to try to get him to the practice squad and you all but guarantee he’s gone. If teams wanted Benson Mayowa, they will certainly want Perkins.

If there is a third name, I wouldn’t be shocked if it turns out to be Montese Overton. Nor would I be surprised if Overton becomes a starter from this UDFA class before any of the others. Boykin is blocked by Russell. Perkins would be maybe 4th-5th DE on the roster with top 3 all returning in 2017. But Overton could make the team now as a backup SAM/OTTO with special teams duties…play that role for a year…and then in 2017 (as Mike Morgan hits UFA) Montese becomes the starter.

Most Likely to Succeed at Frustrating Us/Me All Camp?

Queso.

Most Likely to Earn his Rightful Starting Job Back in Week 4?

Patrick Lewis. I have such high optimism for this entire team heading into this season. I’m even more-optimistic about the OL than many. But it is my firm belief that, as of the close of mini-camp, the team is wasting time and delaying the inevitable by their choice of starting center. And the only reason I currently see why they are doing it is because Lewis is UFA after this year, and they may want to try to find a Center with more club control.

Lewis deserves a shot at keeping the job he solidified midseason last year, which helped turn the season from a .500 record to a playoff team.

Most Likely to be a Surprise Cut/Keep?

I think these are two questions, and they will be related…the surprise keep will beget the surprise cut (and vice versa). I think both will come from the same position group. And I think it will be the position that may be the deepest on the team this year: Cornerback.

When you have great depth at a position, someone talented is going to be cut. So it becomes a question of whom?

Tharold Simon would be a possibility due to his injury history. Plus, the team has a similar body type with better athleticism in Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Simon will be UFA after this year…SJB will be ERFA. That may factor in.

Or, converse to “two guys on the team that are too similar”, if you believe in strict roster mirroring, the cut could be the guy on the roster at CB that DOESN’T have a “twin”: Marcus Burley.

Assuming Lane is CB2 and he moves inside to slot for nickel, and the other boundary corner in nickel is long like Sherm, then Burley is currently on the bench. Do they want the backup to the 6’0″/190 lb Jeremy Lane to be the 5’11″/185 lb Burley? Or do they like the idea of, say, a Trovon Reed at 6’0″/191 lbs? The other strike going against Burley are his short, sub-32″ arms (which has historically been a very firm benchmark for all PCJS corner draftpicks).

I have a weird hunch about Trovon. As former college WR’s, both Reed and George Farmer share that commonality with Sherman. Might be a thing.

Most Likely to look REALLY Good in Preseason, but Still be On the Bench All Year?

(It’s the de facto Tye Smith award…)

Rees Odhiambo. Rees kinda stands as an odd draftpick at this point. They pick him pretty high (3rd round…and often you’re looking for immediate starters in the first 3 rounds), but then bury him behind two vet free agent OT’s, two 3rd-year incumbent starters, a first round pick, and the O-lineman that the team might see most upside with for this year.

My guess is Rees gets an active redshirt for a year, and then they reassess in 2017. By then, Webb may be relegated to bench/swing OL, Ifedi kicks out to RT, Rees plugs in at RG. Or, the more interesting idea, they spend Rees’ redshirt year teaching him to play Center.

Pretty much all last year I was looking for Seattle to draft a college tackle and convert him to Center (maybe Joe Dahl, maybe Cody Whitehair, maybe Connor McGovern, etc). At one point pre-draft Josh Norris suggested to me Odhiambo. I still think that idea holds some intrigue.

Most Likely to ‘Wally Pipp’ an Increased Role?

It has to come from one of the two positions where the incumbent starter may not be ready until preseason games or even week 1 regular season: Tightend/Running Back.

Running back will be missing Rawls for some time, but with 3 new RB just drafted (plus returner Christine Michael), the RB spot has more competition and more ability to split reps.

I think I’m going with TE Nick Vannett. Not only is Jimmy going to need time to make it back, but Luke Willson is also an impending free agent. It behooves the team to see what they have in Vannett. And what they have is a pretty well-rounded player at the position.

Whether Vannett becomes the Y opposite of Jimmy (if healthy) or Luke (if Jimmy not healthy), or whether Nick earns the right to some reps as 1st-team TE on his own; I think Vannett could be this year’s Lockett.

Most Likely to be Given an “Injury” Redshirt?

Kenny Lawler. I mean, it’s kinda already started. He’s missed some time in rookie and/or mini-camp. And the WR room is very solid, and has no turnover coming. Literally no UFA or RFA from WR group in 2017 (there are 6 WR that will be ERFA, but those are easy to keep, if desired), so Lawler could potentially not be needed until 2018.

Percy Harvin Memorial Hip Dysplasia Player of the Year 2016 (& 2017)?

CJ Prosise. It pains me to say, but…I worry about Prosise’s durability. Fortunately, I think we’ll get a healthy season from 2014-2015 PHMHDPOTY winner Paul Richardson this year.

Most Likely to be the End of an Era?

Chris Clemons. My sense is that Clem was brought in as a player-coach kinda vibe to help mentor Clark and the other young DE’s, but that he won’t make it to the 53 (similar to Antoine Winfield a few years back). On Schneider’s ever-updating 3-year plan, it’s tough to picture keeping a 34-year-old Clem on a 1-year deal over a 23-year-old Perkins with 3 years of team control. Especially when Clem probably can’t play special teams.

Best Fullback?

Brandon Cottom. It is my understanding that Cottom has already been informed the starting FB job is his. And I’m VERY happy about the choice.

Whereas Derrick Coleman was 5’11″/230 with 4.50 speed, and Will Tukuafu tested out of Oregon at 6’3″/266 with 5.00 speed (later to play listed at 280 lbs); Cottom is kind of the “just right” middle ground between last year’s FB platoon; coming in at 6’2″/262 lbs, with a 4.62 forty time. As another reference point, the top FB at this year’s combine, Dan Vitale, ran a 4.60 forty at 239 lbs, and NONE of this year’s TE’s ran under 4.64.

Best Rookie?

I think this is easily Jarran Reed out of the gate.

  • He’s got a direct path to snaps playing in Brandon Mebane’s vacated spot
  • He’s an early-round pick from one of the best schools, with THEE best run defense
  • He’s already shown pretty remarkable talent in mini-camp

Best Defender?

(This may be less a training camp prediction than it is a regular season prediction, but…)

Richard Sherman. With improved depth at CB in 2016, QB’s will be forced more often into testing Sherman’s side of the field…and they will fail that test. Sherm’s INT numbers spike back up, and he will again be statistically-provable best CB in the league.

Most Valuable Camper?

I mean, it’s Russell. And it may not be the last time this year “most” and “valuable” are used in the same sentence with his name. All of the reports from pretty much everyone that has been at VMAC this year are that Russell is taking a step forward. With no more Beastmode this is his team, and he’s risen to that challenge.

 

2017 SeaMock 1.0

By Jared Stanger

What better way to launch a site about Seahawks’ draft than with a preseason, 7-round 2017 Seattle mock?

Let’s start with the current breakdown of Seattle’s 2017 (h/t to Overthecap.com for the compensation pick projections)…the Hawks currently stand expected to draft at:

1st (native)
2nd (native)
3rd (native)
4th (comp)
4th (comp)
5th (native)
6th (native)
7th (native)

The native 4th round pick was traded to New England as part of 2016 draft swap, and Seattle is currently in line for 4th round comp picks for Bruce Irvin and JR Sweezy. The Sweezy slot could become a 5th depending on 2017 cutoffs.

Some generalities about the 2017 draft class: it looks to be flush with DE and RB. This everyone knows. But it’s also looking VERY strong at CB, and potentially WR. OL looks extremely weak.

Before contemplating the future, it’s always good to acknowledge the present. Friend of the show Davis Hsu had this tweet a few weeks ago, which I then played off of:

In theory, the Seahawks could let all of their 2017 UFA walk (and look to gain 2018 comp picks), and not be forced into any need-based drafting in 2017. And that only applies to the UFA that make the team…some on that list, likely, won’t, and we’ll just push forward with the player with 3-4 years of club control.

The names on Davis’ list that are most interesting to me are Lewis, Sowell, Clemons, Hill.

Patrick Lewis might be the most underrated player on the roster. I tweeted recently the W-L records of Seattle without him starting in 2015 vs the W-L with him starting (4-4 w/o…7-3 w/). Yet, for some reason, he has been demoted to OC2 so far through mini-camp so that PCJSTC can go through the motions of trying Queso Dip at his 3rd position in 3 years. The team also drafted their first true-center in the PCJS regime this year in Joey Hunt. They’re really making it hard for Lewis to keep his job. Technically, I think they’re making him win his job BACK (as it was all but handed to Queso).

Even if Lewis wins the job for 2016, as an UFA, he might not be the long-term answer. In fact, between the guy the team doesn’t seem to like, the guy they seem to like but that can’t hold down a job, and the guy that they drafted in the 6th round and buried behind 2 other guys; none of these guys may be the long-term answer.

But an interesting thought occurred to me this week. Maybe running Queso out there at center isn’t about seeing HIM at center…maybe it’s about seeing Russell man the pocket behind a center that is 6’6″-plus. Maybe Seattle is looking down the road and seeing LSU’s 6’7″/309lb center, Ethan Pocic, coming to the draft in 2017.

When I first started writing this mock in my head, I was pretty decided on taking an Edge Rusher from this awesome class of DE. The Seahawks may still end up going that way. But, then again, maybe they’ll draft similar to 2016…get an OL in the 1st, then look for a trade-up opportunity in the 2nd to get a DL from a deep class (only swap OC for OG and swap DE for DT). If they do, the top two names to watch heading into this college season are Pocic and Pat Elflein from OSU.

I really like Elflein. I think he’s probably the superior talent to Pocic, but A) that superior talent may take him off the board before Seattle can get him, B) that talent has only been showcased at OG to this point. I imagine he’ll be really good at OC, but I’d prefer to wait until we see it live. For now, I think the idea of Queso being guinea pig for a huge body type at center is a cool reason to link Seattle to Pocic.

At this point, as a former LT, Pocic shows better in pass-protection than he does in run-blocking. He has great anchor and better-than-average athleticism for the position. I will just be looking to see if he can improve his push at the line of scrimmage in 2016.

1st Round – OC Ethan Pocic

Since they took care of the revolving door at center in the 1st, it makes sense now to try and take advantage of this deep class of DE in the 2nd. As I said, a trade-up here could be hugely valuable, but I’m going to try to find a guy that might be available late-2nd, just in case.

The early names to watch at DE include Myles Garrett, Derek Barnett, Charles Harris, Tim Williams, Jonathan Allen, Devonte Fields, Demarcus Walker, Dawaune Smoot, Deatrich Wise, Carl Lawson. Smoot is my favorite of tier 1 and he’d be my pick if Seattle went Edge in the 1st.

The next tier could hold names like Jordan Willis of Kansas State (6’5″/250 and 9.5 sacks in 2015), JT Jones of Miami of Ohio (6’3″/263 and 9.0 sacks), Trevon Young of Louisville (6’4″/229 and 8.5 sacks), Tyquan Lewis of OSU (6’4″/260 and 8.0 sacks), Daeshon Hall of Texas A&M (6’6″/260 and 7.0 sacks), Harold Landry of Boston College (6’3″/245 and 4.5 sacks).

I think next year’s SPARQ results will have a lot to do with who Seattle prefers from this group. I happen to know Willis is pretty damn SPARQy, but his tape is frustrating in its banality. With his size and Seattle connection, Hall could be really interesting if he takes a step forward this year. Young might be the best pure pass rusher on the 2nd list, but I have concerns about his size and off-field. Jones might be my favorite of the 2nd tier, but I’ve only seen very limited tape on him.

Without having any one standout for 2nd round Edge, for sake of this REALLY early mock, I’ll go in a slightly different direction with the acknowledgment that I intend to come back to Edge in the 2nd in future mock(s). For now…I really like this tape from Illinois DT Jarrod “Chunky” Clements and he could be a replacement for Jordan Hill if the team lets him walk in FA.

Listed at 6’3″/290, he’s actually not that chunky. His logical landing spot will be at 3 technique, but I could see him playing some 5tech as well. He shows some really strong hands. He hasn’t really lit up the boxscore to this point in his career (11.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 6 QBH), but I see upside.

2nd Round – DT Jarrod Clements

I was sitting here thinking about what I was looking for in a WR…some size would be nice to counter the number of smaller, shiftier receivers already on the roster…but I don’t want to give up route-running or intelligence…and some ability to break tackles would be a great bonus.

Going through my mental rolodex of the 2017 WR’s I kept wanting to cross off each name for missing one of the qualities on my checklist. Then, I realized I was forgetting a guy. A) because of his level of competition, but B) I think I was racially stereotyping the position.  The guy that really fits what I’m imagining at WR is Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp (6’2″/205).

Here is a quick summation of how insanely good Kupp has been in his career:

  • Kupp is 84 catches away from tying the all-time FCS receiving record. He’s averaged 103.7 catches per season his first three years.
  • He’s only 486 yards away from the all-time FCS receiving yards mark (5250 yards). If he stays on his career per-game yardage average, Kupp would become the all-time leader after his 4th game of the season.
  • And, on top of that, Kupp could become the all-time FCS receiving TD leader in his first game of 2016…he’s only 2 TD away from tying (58 TD).

Plus, Kupp is a decent special teamer; averaging 14.8 YPR on 18 career punt returns (including two for TD).

The downside on Kupp is that Seattle hasn’t gone toward small-school players much recently. Certainly, they haven’t taken an FCS player as high as the 3rd round. But I’m giving Cooper the benefit of the doubt based on how he DESTROYED power five conference Oregon last year.

3rd Round – WR Cooper Kupp

This next guy I’ve made no attempt to hide my affection for. He’s a 6’3″/183 CB that is SPARQ’d through the roof, and he’s coming from right down the road. Gimme that Kevin King.

King opened the year with interceptions in UW’s first 3 games, but then no more for the rest of the year. If you combine his INT and PBU, King had at least 1 PBU in 8 consecutive games last year. Plus, he’s just a dead ringer for a Seahawk CB physique/athleticism.

4th Round (C) – CB Kevin King

When doing a mock draft this early, you’re really just drafting first for position, and then trying to match a player with approximately even projection. Very little of this will stick. 2nd’s will inevitably become 1st’s, and 5th’s will become 2nd’s, etc.

With the second of Seattle’s 4th round comp picks, I’m thinking TE. Willson could walk, Jimmy may not be what he once was pre-injury, Coop has only ever been serviceable.

Having drafted Nick Vannett (a Y-tightend) this year, Seattle could be able to look more for a Joker/Z tightend in 2017. Two names that immediately come to mind are FIU’s Jonnu Smith and UW’s Darrell Daniels. And I think they’d match this round value.

Smith has been listed at about 6’3″/230 and Daniels has been more in the 6’4″/240 range per their team sites. Daniels has been hand-timed at a 4.45 forty yard dash. Smith was one of the leading TE receivers in the country in 2014 (61/710/8 TD), but then his numbers receded in 2015 (36/397/4 TD).

I also like a lot of what I’ve seen from Phazahn Odom, but he’s a guy I’d currently expect to be more of a 5th-6th round target.

I know I’m doubling-down on the alma mater, but what can I say…I’ve been able to see them workout at their Junior combine and both were observably exceptional.

4th Round (C) – TE Darrell Daniels

These later rounds I’m really just dropping in names of guys I’ve found quality tape on. There isn’t much consideration for need or projection. I just like them.

Ralph Green III is a player I only found after Draftbreakdown published this edit of him. Shortly after that one of my Twitter followers mentioned he knew him from Green’s high school days, and that he’s a really good kid.

I also like that he’s a 6’5″/304 lb nose tackle capable of breaking up 6 passes in a season.

5th Round – DT Ralph Green III

Around the 6th, I’d like to find a Safety, as there could be two able to walk from the team in free agency (Browner and McCray), but Safety is one of the hardest positions to scout from TV tape. I don’t have any sense of the quality of any of next year’s safeties.

This range could also be a place that Seattle looks to hedge OL depth. Sowell will be gone, Ifedi may move to RT, Webb may become a swing OL, Odhiambo may be given a shot at RG. Lots of question marks. Whatever the changes, we’ll likely need to backfill.

6th Round – OG Chase Roullier

Having passed over on Edge earlier, I’m closing out my first 2017 SeaMock with a guy that hasn’t seen a ton of snaps in his career. This is as “designated pass rusher” (DPR) as one can get. Listed at an undersized 6’1″/240 and having only registered 9 tackles all of 2015, but with 6 of those tackles actually being sacks…my pick for the David Perkins of 2017 is Utah’s Pita Taumoepenu.

The getoff is insane. It reminds me very much of when I first saw Bruce back in 2012. If he can also be trained to play stand-up, drop-back LB, well then you really could have a steal.

7th Round – LB/DE Pita Taumoepenu

There it is…the first mock draft of the 2017 season, and the first ever mock draft of SeattleSeaMocks.com, and we’re right back where we started…with three stacks of high society.

Welcome

(Welp…here goes nothing.)

Welcome to Seattle SeaMocks. I’m Stanger. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you found me through Twitter (@JaredStanger) or the writing I’ve done at Fieldgulls.com. Speaking of which…a very fond and appreciative’thank you’ to all of the contributors over at Fieldgulls, but especially Danny Kelly for giving me my first opportunity to write about the Seahawks and the draft years ago. Danny you’re a mensch and I congratulate you on The Ringer. Well deserved…kill it, man!

My first real memory of getting interested in the NFL draft was in 2011. I can remember stumbling around youtube a month or two before the draft, looking for video of players, and specifically discovering this one guy who would go out to radio stations or do press conferences, and he was a wildly entertaining personality. Turned out Seattle ended up drafting that guy. It was John Moffitt.

The next year I spent far more time before the draft trying to study up on players. I was able to find more and more actual game tape. I think this was the first year I discovered Draftbreakdown.com (a site that I still visit pretty much daily…an invaluable tool for the amateur draft hound). My big draft crush that year was this unbelievably fast edge rusher that was only getting 3rd round projection by the draft outlets. Seemed like such a sleeper/steal.

2012 was the first year I attempted to create a mock draft for Seattle. I wasn’t on Fieldgulls yet, so I simply posted it on my Facebook account. Years later (and years after I had deactivated my Facebook page) I re-opened it for one day so that I could screen-cap that first mock to share:

I remember, pretty vividly, how national media HATED that draft class directly after, but I was kicking back and LOVING it. I had a feeling they had done something special that year. That was also the year I became categorically hooked on scouting and the draft. It became a year-round passion of mine. And at the end of 2012, beginning of 2013 I posted my first mock on Fieldgulls. Everything since then has been one hell of a surreal ride.

From the time Coach Pete linked my piece on his 2014 draft clues on his twitter:

To the draft when Pete actually gave me a shoutout:

Jared Rules

And then the Seahawks beat writers asked him about that sign in the post-draft presser, which was even more surreal.

The draft, the Seahawks, and the 12’s have contributed to same truly unbelievable moments in my life, and I look forward to those continuing and deepening as I take toward this new endeavor of managing my own site. It won’t always be right, it won’t always be pretty (especially all the technical aspects), but it will always be true.

I pledge to be true to myself, and then to give as much of that truth to you, the readers, as I can.

Now, with all this said…thanks for joining me. Let’s mock’n’roll.