NFL Draft 2017: Patriots are biggest draft winners before even making a pick

The Patriots were the biggest winners of the first round of the NFL Draft, and they didn’t even have a pick.

That’s the kind of offseason they’ve had. Last month, they were offered up as the offseason Super Bowl champ. Not that teams can really claim that title in the first round of the draft, but nobody knocked the crown off the Patriots’ head Thursday night.
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The reason, of course, is because their first-round pick, essentially, was Brandin Cooks, the wide receiver they got from the Saints for the price of the 32nd overall choice, the final one on Day 1.

Even with the talent still on the board as Day 2 begins Friday — the likes of Dalvin Cook, Cam Robinson, Chidobie Awuzie and a wave of red-flag guys (including, of course, Cook) — the chances are pretty good that the Patriots came away with a better player in Cooks.
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For what it’s worth, the Saints took tackle Ryan Ramczyk, the kind of player Bill Belichick would take, except he’d manage to get him in a later round and make him feel grateful for it.

Meanwhile, the Patriots do not have a second-round pick. They traded it to the Panthers for defensive end Kony Ealy, another relative theft and another example of what their offseason has been like. They do have an extra third-round pick because of that same trade. And they don’t have the compensatory third-round pick they got from the Browns in last year’s Jamie Collins trade because they sent it to the Saints as part of the Cooks package.

If MLB wants more fans, baseball must shed the ‘boring’ label

It’s time that MLB admit the hard truth: Baseball is boring.

Calm down. I know it’s not actually boring — we die-hard fans wouldn’t love it if it was — but that’s how casual and non-fans often see the sport: a mostly action-less slog that’s not worth their time. And because perception is reality, this is the real issue that must be addressed when pondering ways to attract new fans.

Boring has little to do with pace of play. It’s about what fans are seeing vs. what they want to see. Sports fans in 2017 like a spectacle — and baseball lacks sufficient spectacle. But to shed the boring label, baseball needs to embrace spectacle.
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and others think that speeding up intentional walks, or limiting mound visits, or other pace-of-play tweaks will help do away with this boring perception, but it really won’t. Nor will players’ association head Tony Clark’s assertion that MLB can keep people interested by educating them more about the nuances of the game. All of these miss the point.
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This ballot is intentionally blank, Chass writes as he concludes his explanatory column.

Romo — who should be out to prove something — is that guy. He would give Houston arguably the third-best quarterback in the AFC behind New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, unless you want to make a convincing argument for Kansas City’s Alex Smith or Oakland’s Derek Carr. Those two quarterbacks are in the same division, however.

SN source: Caleb Brantley’s NFL Draft stock hurt after recent arrest

A rough month already for University of Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley could be getting worse.

At least one NFL franchise has removed Brantley from its draft board because of character concerns, a source told Sporting News.

“If I hadn’t won, I would be so angry at our folks and thinking about what we’d have to do (to win a title). So, our competitors, I understand how they brought pressure on the league office to be very strong and (lobbied) not to compromise on an issue that was nonsense and foolishness.”

Kraft said he was proud of his team for going 3-1 at the beginning of the 2016 season with Brady sidelined. Last year’s campaign ended up being the ultimate revenge for the Patriots against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell when they pushed through to win Super Bowl 51.

Kraft also lauded Brady not just as a player, but as a person, saying he was “a special human being.”

“He’s nicer than anyone,” Kraft said. “He’s genuine. He knows how to connect (with people.)”

“It was mostly athletes,” Ogden said. “Several guys in that room told me how they went broke — but that they didn’t talk about it (to anyone else). Then I spoke to an NFLPA meeting in New Orleans. It was the same thing. … They go into turtle mode, they tuck their heads in and they stay silent.”

The sharpening of his message, and of his speaking style, led Ogden to make that his career. His academy’s first conference was last October in Atlanta, with five corporate sponsors and 35 attendees. That has grown to an expected 125 attendees and 25 sponsors for this week’s gathering in Kansas City.

Miami is leaning toward an eight-man bullpen at the start of the season

Game Jadeveon Clowney Jersey As voters, we’re asked to judge the players on the ballot against all the players in the Hall of Fame. So Mussina isn’t being compared solely to Cy Young or Bob Gibson or Randy Johnson. He’s being judged against those guys AND Jesse Haines and Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt. Mussina’s being judged by the the best and the worst of the Hall. And he easily meets that standard. Even though it makes one segment of baseball fans dry heave, comprehensive advanced metrics like WAR — and, specifically to the Hall of Fame, JAWS — help provide the necessary context.

So it doesn’t matter that Mussina wasn’t the second coming of Christy Mathewson. And it doesn’t matter that Tim Raines wasn’t as good as Rickey Henderson. It doesn’t matter that Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t as good as Hank Aaron.

Some folks like to look at how 314 Hall of Famers who are already enshrined arrived in Cooperstown, and they use those methods of election as an imaginary line of delineation. For example, 51 players are members of the first-ballot club, a result of being elected to the Hall on their initial time on the BBWAA ballot. That group, by the way, excludes Joe DiMaggio (who somehow wasn’t elected until his fourth year on the ballot), Cy Young (second year) and Yogi Berra (second year), to name a few. So lend that idea whatever credence it deserves.

Mens Wily Peralta Jersey Miami is leaning toward an eight-man bullpen at the start of the season, with good reason. It could go with a 10-man ‘pen and still have quality throughout. This winter the Marlins added veterans Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa to join A.J. Ramos, David Phelps, Kyle Barraclough, Dustin McGowan, Brian Ellington, Hunter Cervenka and Nick Wittgren. Add in long-man candidates Jose Urena and Jeff Locke, who are battling for one rotation spot, and manager Don Mattingly has relievers for days.

Marlins fan strips to retrieve home run ball from pool, comes up empty-handed

Elite Rafael Bush Jersey Miami is known for its resorts and hotels. And its pools, as this exuberant Marlins fan reminded us Monday.

A home run off the bat of Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna landed in the pool of the Clevelander, a bar just beyond the left-field wall at Marlins Park.

This enthusiastic fan dived in, but not before giving fans in attendance a free show.

The legacy of It’s a Long Way to October, if there is one, might be that big risks can have big rewards, or that unexpected challenges can produce pleasant surprises, or maybe that sometimes you break new ground without really meaning to.

Or, on a more personal level, that long-time relationships can start in the weirdest places.

Neither Diamond nor Torre could’ve envisioned that their first breakfast meeting in San Diego back in April 1982 would be the start of a decades-long relationship. But perhaps that’s just what happens when people are embedded together for an entire baseball season.

It’s a bond that Glenn and I will always share, Torre said.

It’s a bond that extends beyond professional dealings.

During production on It’s a Long Way to October and its two follow-ups, Torre and Diamond developed a genuine friendship, with their wives also becoming friends and the mutual admiration growing even stronger.
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It was really easy to become friends with him because of just who he was and the kind of person he was, Torre said. 鈥?To this day it’s like we were lifelong friends.

New England had a light class after trading for veterans Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy this offseason.

The grades for Minnesota are all over the place. I liked the Vikings for getting a top-10 talent in Dalvin Cook in the second round. Offensive lineman Pat Elflein was considered a good pick as well. After that, the Vikings’ draft might not have many starters.

New England had a light class after trading for veterans Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy this offseason. Still, the team was able to find a couple of pass rushers in Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise and good developmental offensive linemen in Antonio Garcia and Connor McDermott.

The grades for the Saints varied after the selection of Marshon Lattimore in the first round. Ryan Ramczyk and Alvin Kamara might find it hard to get playing time early in their careers, and the team didn’t properly address pass rusher.

Bortles technically sat at first, but after relieving Chad Henne — Henne was so bad he left Jacksonville no choice — in the second half of a Week 3 blowout loss to the Colts, Bortles was named starter for the rest of the season.

Despite predictably dismal initial numbers on a team with few offensive weapons and a dreadful line, Bortles proved one key component of success for an NFL quarterback: durability. He enters 2017, though, with his last chance to prove he can earn a second contract with the Jaguars.

Kawhi Leonard is having the best statistical postseason in NBA history so far.

Limited Womens Larry Csonka Jersey I wrote about how the Clippers should run it back … if Blake Griffin is willing to return to Los Angeles.

Charlotte Wilder broke out 17 takeaways from the tense Russell Westbrook-Steven Adams press conference following Game 4. Sean Fennessey used it as part of the basis for his piece delving into his anti-Westbrook feelings.

Henry Abbott goes long on LeBron’s mileage and whether this is the beginning of the end for his peak.

It turns out it’s not fun watching Andre Roberson brick free throws, just like it isn’t fun watching anyone brick free throws.

Kawhi Leonard is having the best statistical postseason in NBA history so far.

How interesting! Given that All-NBA status matters so much for contracts and cap sheet management these days, the league has decided to announce those honors before the late June awards show so teams can plan around it.

Limited Womens Brett Kern Jersey The other side of this coin obviously is to sign Kovalchuk to a contract and then flip him to a Cup competitor to continue building towards the future; his rights cannot be traded, so if he wants to play elsewhere this season, this is the most realistic route to go. If New Jersey truly believes that they won’t be serious competitors while Kovy is still playing, the best action becomes to move him for prospects and/or draft picks.

There may or may not be a team that feels they are one scoring winger away from being a true competitor come playoff time, and they might be willing to part with some assets to acquire Kovalchuk. Sending him off to a team that is not hesitant to part with a high draft pick, decently to highly valued prospect, or some combination of those parts may not help the Devils this upcoming season, but they certainly could be important building block to have the team be competitive for a string of years rather than just a couple.

Penguins vs. Capitals odds, NHL playoffs 2017: Washington home favorite in Game 2

Authentic Kids David Parry Jersey The Pittsburgh Penguins are 9-3 straight up over their last 12 games, including a 5-1 record so far in postseason play. The Penguins will try to take a 2-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals with a road upset this Saturday night.

Pittsburgh is a +125 road underdog in Game 2 at sportsbooks monitored by In the first game of the series, the Penguins won 3-2 as a +121 road dog. Washington is going off as a -145 favorite at home.

After Russell Westbrook shot 4-of-18 in the fourth quarter in Game 2, he has been leading the hot take train for an entire 48 hours. Everybody has an opinion about the mercurial Thunder point guard, who is likely headed for a MVP trophy and seemingly a first-round exit, too. But Oklahoma City is back home now, and they don’t call it Loud City for nothing. Trust me, I’ve been there and they take that nickname very seriously.

Authentic Kids Paul Posluszny Jersey Some other numbers that show the stark change in the Wild’s performance from last season to the inaugural season under Boudreau:

The Wild scored 50 more goals this season than last; this saw them go from 19th to 2nd in the league.

The Wild’s power play percentage improved from 18.53% to 20.98%. Although the Wild actually scored one fewer power play goal this season than last, they had 35 fewer opportunities (incidentally, the Wild had the second lowest number of power play opportunities this season).

Serge Ibaka proved you actually can put Giannis Antetokounmpo on a poster

Serge Ibaka was everywhere doing everything in the opening quarter of Game 5 between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks.
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He scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting including a shot from deep. He had three rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal, but most importantly he worked Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He swatted his attempt at the rim ¡ª which with Giannis’ length literally meant he did so at the rim ¡ª and held him to 1-of-6 shooting in the first 12 minutes of the game.

Mens Cody Kessler Jersey More importantly, he absolutely put him on a poster.

This ain’t your league just yet, Giannis, said Ibaka, probably. Buchnevich and Zuccarello are both cerebral players that can create plays that could set Miller up with scoring opportunities. Miller was the second highest scorer for the Rangers this season with 56 points, but has been missing that scoring touch in the playoffs. By matching him with creative players, Miller could rediscover his offensive capabilities.

As for the fourth line, Vigneault could continue to deploy Grabner-Lindberg-Fast. This fourth line has been exceptional for the Rangers. Their stellar defensive play has been a major asset for the Rangers in the playoffs. This line has stifled their opponents£ª offense, as the Rangers Corsi against per 60 (31.28), shots against per 60 (7.36), and scoring chances against per 60 (1.84) with this line on the ice are the lowest on the team. No goals have been scored against this fourth line combination either.

He gained national attention for his performance in the 2015 Celebration Bowl against Alcorn State

Cohen has been one of the best running backs in the FCS the past four seasons. He’s the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher with 5,619 yards and was the conference’s first three-time Offensive Player of the Year.

“Naturally I have a chip on my shoulder,” Cohen said. “Being on this stage and being from a small school adds another chip on my shoulder.”

He gained national attention for his performance in the 2015 Celebration Bowl against Alcorn State. He torched the Braves for 295 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on just 22 carries in a 41-34 win.

Explosive is a term used often with football players, but Cohen really is just that. Anything less than that, and he’s probably not doing backflips while catching footballs in both hands. He may not have the size that other NFL running backs do, but he’s clearly got the athleticism and hands.

With the new receiving duo in Philadelphia, Jordan Matthews is likely the No. 3 option in the offense now. Despite solid overall numbers in 2016, Matthews was tied for eighth in the NFL with six drops . He’s also been involved in trade rumors, which doesn’t bode well for his future with the team.

Even if Matthews is ahead of Smith on the depth chart, he would be an upgrade at No. 2. Wentz’s No. 2 receiver last year was Nelson Agholor, who didn’t much value to the offense. Per Bleeding Green Nation, only Corey Brown of the Carolina Panthers has started at least eight games a year and caught fewer passes than Agholor.

Another concern could be Brown’s dip in production as the season went on. His performance against Oklahoma couldn’t be replicated, in part because it changed how defenses prepared for the Buckeyes. He saw a lot more double coverage, and combined with an already struggling pass game, only found the end zone two more times in the 10 games that followed.