New Ads

New ads

Monday, April 29, 2019

OSU's Rutschman Continues Rocket Ride To Stardom

by Harry Cummins

     As is our season-long custom here at Craw's Corner, its time for our periodic update on the exploits of switch-hitting Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, a lock to be selected Number 1 by the Baltimore Orioles in the upcoming MLB draft.

     After 42 games, Rutschman is batting a lusty .429, third best in NCAA D-1 baseball.  He has hit 14 home runs and driven home 51 for an Oregon State team that has won 16 of their last 17 Pac-12 Conference games.  Rutschman leads all NCAA D-1 players in both on-base percentage (.576%) and base on balls (54) for the 31-10-1 Beavers.

     All of this from a guy who three years ago, as a high school senior, was only 19 picks away from being the last pick of the draft in the 40th and final round.  He was picked 1,197th out of Sherwood High School in Sherwood, Oregon by the Seattle Mariners.

     After a freshman season at OSU, where he hit an anemic .234, he turned everything around by batting an amazing .408 last year, finishing the year with a .567 batting average in the College World Series and winning the Most Valuable Player Award.

     A complete package as a player, Rutschman has refined his receiving and throwing skills while at Oregon State.  He has a big league arm to match his bat.  Scouts say he typically throws a ball to second base in 1.8-1.9 seconds.  Reports from OSU say he has also been clocked at 96 mph off the mound if he were a pitcher.

     In these approaching weeks before the 2019 MLB draft, Adley Rutschman should become a household name in the baseball world.  He joins San Francisco Giants prospect Joey Bart as the two most exciting catching phenoms in recent history.

     From 1,197 to No 1 in three short years.  It appears there is still much to be said for a college education.



Sunday, April 28, 2019

Craw’s Corner Is Expanding

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Look for some exciting announcements coming up from Craw’s Corner as we are expanding and the future is bright.

We are always looking for contributors/writers, so if you have a passion for sports and think you can’t write (yes the can’t) is not a typo, please contact me, Thank you readers for making us a huge success.

Craw’s Sports Biz, 59 Seconds

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The MLS is growing and wants to grow even more. Eventual goal will be to get to 32 teams. MLS is a unique business model for many teams, who have created stadiums where they are the only tenant or limited use for others. Something to watch like all leagues that grow rapidly and successfully, will there be labor issues down the road?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Vlad Jr. Arrives-- Will Danny Ainge's Record Survive?

Danny Ainge Revisited.  

by Harry Cummins

     OK, the 'legend in his own time' is finally here. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., amid great fanfare and anticipation, made his  major league debut this weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays.  After three games, hitting in the heart of the lineup, he is batting .250.

     So now the Great Chase begins.  We have 33 days (or less) to find out if the cherished record of Danny Ainge will survive yet another assault. say?

     For the uneducated or uncaring, the current President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge remains as the youngest player ever to hit a home run for the Toronto Blue Jays.  He struck the immortal blow at the tender age of 20 years and 77 days.  Vlad Guerrero Jr is 20 years old, plus 44, days at the time of his debut. 

     Ainge's historic home run was the first of..well..the first of TWO he hit during his brief baseball career.  Ainge was selected in baseball's 1977 amateur draft, and made it to Toronto in 1979. Mostly a second baseman, he played third and the outfield as well and ended his short time as a baseball player after playing in 211 games.  He hit .220.

    Deciding to pursue a career in basketball, he was drafted in 1981 by the Boston Celtics who had to buy out his contract from the Blue Jays.  He remains one of only 13 men to have played in both MLB and the NBA.  The list includes the likes of Dave DeBusschere, Gene Conley, Chuck Conners and Dick Groat.

    Ainge became an important part of the Celtic teams that won NBA titles in 1984 and 1986.  In 1990 Ainge, a native of Oregon, was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and helped them reach the NBA finals in 1992.  He later went on to coach the Phoenix Suns for 3 seasons.

     Nearly forgotten now was the multi-sport excellence displayed by Ainge, who to this day, remains the only person to be named a national high school first team All-American in football, basketball and baseball.  He led North Eugene High School to back to back state basketball championships and was considered one of the top prep recruits in the nation in football as well.

     Fans of BYU basketball won't ever forget, nor will I, the 1981 March Madness tournament game against Notre Dame when his coast to coast drive produced a one point win in the final seconds. It's a journey I can still see in my imagination.  By the way, Ainge concluded his senior season at BYU by winning the John Wooden Award as the best college basketball player in the nation.

     Now 60 years old, Daniel Ray Ainge must now wait, along with the rest of us, to see if one of his more obscure records will yet endure another highly celebrated challenger.

     Although the Boston Celtics are in the middle of an NBA playoff run, what do you want to bet their GM has a watchful eye on the daily box scores of the Toronto Blue Jays?


College Hoops Suggestions

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Now that college basketball is over until next October, I have 2 suggestions for 19-20 season, after seeing 142 games live, start to finish.

WOMEN: As your game happily continues to grow, keep up the great 3- point shooting and at same time work on your lay-up game. Astonishing how many wide open lay-ins are missed in women’s hoops.

MEN: Rule makers get off your high horse and go to 4 quarters, instead of 2 halves. More excitement, more strategy and much more fun for fans. Don’t be the only basketball game in world that plays halves. Yuck.

Craw’s Sports Biz, 59 Seconds

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

The iconic New York Yankees have a 2019 payroll of $203 million. 41 percent of that payroll or to be more exact, 13 players have been on the injury list at least one or more times. Yankees fan or not, that is literally painful.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Steven Weldon's NFL Draft 2019 Round 1 Mock

By Steven Weldon

Today is the day! With just hours remaining to the draft, I've been crafting ideas on what players should go where. I'll insert tidbits about why in specific spots as well. Let's go!

  1. Arizona Cardinas- QB Kyler Murray
  2. San Francisco 49ers- DE Nick Bosa
  3. New York Jets - DE Ed Oliver : Oliver is rising on draft boards, I think the Jets take him here to preempt any rash decisions by the Raiders.
  4. Oakland Raiders- DT Quinnen Williams
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - LB Devin White
  6. New York Giants - OLB Josh Allen
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars - OL Jonah Williams
  8. Detroit Lions - OLB Montez Sweat : Sweat was misdiagnosed with a heart condition, he doesn't fall further than here.
  9. Buffalo Bills- OT Andre Dillard
  10. Denver Broncos - TE T.J. Hockenson
  11. Cincinnati Bengals- LB Devin Bush
  12. Green Bay Packers - DT Christian Wilkins
  13. Miami Dolphins- DE Clelin Ferrell
  14. Atlanta Falcons - OL Jawaan Taylor : Taylor has fallen due to injury concerns, but I doubt he falls further than here.
  15. Washington Redskins - QB Dwayne Haskins
  16. Carolina Panthers- OLB Brian Burns
  17. New York Giants- QB Daniel Jones
  18. Minnesota Vikings - C/G Garrett Bradbury
  19. Tennessee Titans - C/G Erik McCoy
  20. Pittsburgh Steelers - CB Greedy Williams
  21. Seattle Seahawks - DE Rashaun Gary
  22. Baltimore Ravens - OT/G Cody Ford
  23. Houston Texans - CB Byron Murphy
  24. Oakland Raiders - RB Josh Jacobs
  25. Philadelphia Eagles- WR DK Metcalf
  26. Indianapolis Colts - S Johnathan Abram
  27. Oakland Raiders- TE Noah Fant
  28. Los Angeles Chargers- OL Greg Little
  29. Seattle Seahawks - S Nassir Adderly
  30. Green Bay Packers - WR Marquise Brown
  31. Los Angeles Rams - OL Chris Lindstrom
  32. New England Patriots - TE Irv Smith Jr.

There it is! My mock draft. Check back here for more analysis!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Guest NFL Mock Draft Presented by Brandon Suydam

Today, I'll bring you a guest mock draft. Brandon Suydam is a man who takes the day off for the NFL Draft, eats, breathes and sleeps NFL football. I am pleased to bring you the mock draft of a person I believe should be working as a football analyst because he knows the game so well.

1. Arizona Cardinals -Kyler Murray QB Oklahoma

The long-awaited will-they won’t-they is done. With the first pick on the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cardinals will select their QB of the future. Everyone knows the story on Murray, a Heisman Trophy winner who was drafted to play baseball by the MLB’s Oakland Athletics. A kid with such resounding talent, he could waver on whether he would choose quarterback or shortstop and still get drafted in first rounds. Arizona has long looked for a young franchise QB, but they think they found him in the form of Murray, who looks to be the new breed of QBs like Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson. Not since drafting Matt Leinart in 2006 have the Cardinals fan base been so excited, and rightfully so with Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

2. San Francisco 49ers -Nick Bosa DE Ohio St

Not since Aldon Smith was mentally all there have the 49ers had an elite pass rusher, and even then, that was for about two good seasons. “Baby Bosa” brings a pedigree of consistency and relentlessness that Justin Smith would be proud of. No team needs a better draft than John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, and no team needs a pass rush like the 49ers do. This is a dream come true for the bay area’s true professional football team.

3. New York Jets -Josh Allen OLB Kentucky

I want to say its Quinnen Williams here, but that’s the old Jets. That’s the Jets that loaded their front-line defense and didn’t account for an elite pass rusher. That’s the Jets that spent high first-round picks on Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. They’ve been there and done that. If there’s one thing new head coach Adam Gase understands is you need to get to Tom Brady, and you need an elite pass rush to chase around the Bills Josh Allen. Well, this is awkward. Insert Kentucky’s Josh Allen. He’s a bit of the classic “tweener”, but this dude knows how to get to a QB. Allen will help rebuild this promising young Jets defensive unit.

4. Oakland Raiders-Quinnen Williams DT Alabama

The king of the draft process Mike Mayock has been given the keys to the Oak-Vegas Raiders with a caveat, head coach Jon Gruden having a heavy influence. Nothing excites me more than this pairing, and they would’ve loved for Allen or Bosa to fall to them. Quinnen Williams is the pick and this isn’t one to laugh at. Williams is the best player available and is at a position of need. The truth is, the Raiders need ANY talented defensive player as they likely wouldn’t stop Quinnen’s alma mater Alabama any day.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Devin White LB LSU

Bruce Arians has a full plate of issues to take care of. Besides figuring out if Jameis Winston is the QB of the Bucs ship, they have a mess of a defense. Gerald McCoy isn’t getting any younger, Vita Vea looks promising on clogging the middle for year two and Lavonte David is still one of the best coverage outside linebackers in football. What will make everyone better on defense is a legit Mike linebacker and that’s what Devin White can bring to the plunder. So eat your hearts out Bucs fans and enjoy the fruits of your bounty! Yar, land ‘ho!

6. New York Giants- Ed Oliver DT Houston

Year two under Pat Shurmur could be a solid year for New York’s older brother of football with a few key fixes. One is keeping Eli Manning upright and the other is adding talent everywhere on defense. A lot of people are putting a QB here, like Duke’s Daniel Jones or even Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State. I just don’t see it this early for a team that needs so much other help. Ed Oliver was once projected to go number one, but an up and down season pulled the reins on that. Oliver has size, speed and the capability to stop the run like recently shipped out Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison was so good at, but unlike ‘Snacks’, Ed can get to the QB. Something that has become increasingly difficult to find in an interior lineman.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jawaan Taylor OT Florida

Blake Bortles is gone and Nick Foles is the new signal caller. Tell me how this an upgrade? It’s hard not to go with one of the promising tight ends from the great state of Iowa in Noah Fant, but when given the choice of keeping Foles upright and giving him a target, they’ll go with upright. Taylor is mean and physical and can play either side of the line. Give Foles a better offensive line, five seconds to throw, and watch the magic happen baby! Or so we hope...

8. Detroit Lions- Devin Bush LB Michigan

No, we’re not putting Bush here because he’s from Michigan. He can legitimately help Matt Patricia’s defense in year two. Once again, talented tight ends are available and they could go back to the offensive line and grab Jonah Williams of Alabama or Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State. Unfortunately for those guys, Bush’s talent outweighs the needs on offense. This could be one of the early steals of the draft with how versatile Bush can be. He legitimately reminds me of Lavonte David with his coverage skills, but he is also a relentless pursuit player. Keep an eye on him a few years into his NFL career.

9. Buffalo Bills- Jonah Williams OT/OG Alabama

Josh Allen moves around like a magician and has the arm of Daunte Culpepper, but every QB needs an offensive line and the Bills is laughable. Seriously, if you’re in New York state and you hear laughter, its either someone laughing at all the accents or its about western New York’s Bills and that offensive line. Williams is either huge guard who can move mountains, or he’s a huge tackle who will wait for the mountains to come to him and then move them. I would throw him on the right side, and watch the man go to work in the run game while punishing pass rushers attempting to make the move to get to the squirrely Allen. The Bills get a behemoth, building well for the post-Brady AFC East. However long that will take.

10. Denver Broncos- T.J. Hockenson TE Iowa

One of the first-round tight ends goes at 10! Joe Flacco is in heaven as he finds a new target on his new team. Flacco had his best statistical seasons when Dennis Pitta played at a high level and that’s what Elway and company are going for here. Once again, why aren’t the QB’s being taken? The Broncos have nothing to gain by picking a first round QB. They can either have a surprise season and Flacco can redeem himself into a Denver playoff berth, or Denver is middling or worse next season for a better QB class.

11. Cincinnati Bengals- Greedy Williams CB LSU

The Bengals finally, FINALLY have a new head coach, but they also have a roster in flux. Seems like every mock draft has Cincy grabbing a new QB. I just don’t see it. I think maybe the Bengals grab one later. Let’s be completely honest here, Andy Dalton is at least the man for next season and this defense needs help. Insert Greedy Williams, the best-projected DB in the draft who can play on the outside as a true corner or also move inside and play some safety. Think Tyrann Mathieu in versatility and Antonio Cromartie in skill.

 12. Green Bay Packers- Rashan Gary DE Michigan

Green Bay has moved on from Mike McCarthy in the prime of Aaron Rodgers career. Less talked about is how they moved on from franchise sack leader and perpetual roughing the passer penalty receiver Clay Matthews. Even LESS talked about is the release of former first-round draft pick Nick Perry. The point is, they need a pass rusher and more big guys up front. This could be Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat or even Florida State’s Brian Burns. In the end, Green Bay goes with the former Wolverine.

13. Miami Dolphins- Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio St

The Dolphins have once again moved on to a new regime, and I’m not entirely convinced former head coach Adam Gase was the issue here. With all the reports of toxicity in the organization last season, including a report that the coaching staff had no communication with star receiver Devante Parker after being out with an injury, and an assistant being caught with cocaine the season before, maybe a change was necessary. Though, do you really think the Dolphins can afford to start Ryan Fitzpatrick and his dad bod for the first year of their new era? Haskins was once thought to be a top overall pick before Kyler Murray made his decision to get pummelled by bodies rather than balls. The real wild thing about his slipping was that he hasn’t done anything wrong. He tested well at the combine and pro days, and supposedly put together good interviews. Haskins also hasn’t blown anyone out of the water. Seems like a Josh Freeman or Jake Locker 2.0, but taking a QB is a must for the Dolphins.

14. Atlanta Falcons Montez Sweat DE Mississippi St

Sweat opposite Vic Beasley will be nasty for the dirty birds. They can look strong and hard at Brian Burns here, but Sweat looks like the stronger more effective rusher. I can’t see the Falcons continuing their struggles from last season if they add more talent to the defense and learn to get Julio Jones scoring again. This team is better than their 2018 record and it should show if Sweat gets off to a strong start for Dan Quinn and company.

15. Washington Redskins- Brian Burns OLB Florida St

Alex Smith is on injured reserve for the foreseeable future and this team needs a QB like they need a new team name. Kidding, I love the Redskins and personally believe its all about respect … But what do I know? I’m a Cleveland Indians fan! The truer statement is they need a franchise QB and I don’t think anyone left is worth a mid-first-round pick risk. Burns is worth the risk. A classic development-type prospect with more speed than strength and actually compares well to the aforementioned Vic Beasley. Good pick for a Washington team that needs to step up on defense to make up for what could be a very inept offense next season.

16. Carolina Panthers- Andre Dillard OT Washington St

No team needs a steady force at tackle like the Panthers after going all in on the Kalil brothers. Taylor Moton projects well on the right side, but someone needs to protect that ever important blindside. Dillard is a big bodied OT who has excelled under Mike Leach in Pullman.

17. New York Giants- Daniel Jones QB Duke

The Giants will leave Thursday night in Nashville in a great spot. They grabbed one of the best overall players in the draft to rebuild their defense in Ed Oliver at #6 and now grab the Eli Manning protege in Daniel Jones. This is the guy they wanted at 6 but they were willing to risk it. The best part is he doesn’t have to start right away. Ideally, they have a Ravens/Lamar Jackson-like season and leave the 2019/20 campaign with a franchise QB in place. The only difference is the New York Giants will handle Eli Manning with much more respect than other franchises would.

18. Minnesota Vikings- Garrett Bradbury C North Carolina State

This is a Vikings pick if I’ve ever seen one. Mike Zimmer’s team’s record does not reflect how good they can be. Give Kirk Cousins a cleaner pocket and a better run blocking group and this team can compete with the top tier teams in the league. Bradbury is legitimately the best true center in this draft and projects very well in the NFL. I often wonder why they aren’t drafted with as much precedence as other linemen, since they do so much for the line. This is a great pick here for the purple people eaters.

19. Tennessee Titans- Noah Fant TE Iowa

This is a classic cause and reaction pick. This team still employs Delanie Walker. But with the new NFL and the multi-tight end sets, having two elite tight ends is essential. I look at Noah Fant and see a young Jimmy Graham. He is big, athletic and could possibly be getting drafted too high, but at this point, much of the top players are off the board and Fant could really help out dink-and-dunk Mariota.

 20. Pittsburgh Steelers- DK Metcalf WR Ole Miss

Who needs Antonio Brown now? DK Metcalf was one of the most intriguing prospects in years. He has the hype of David Boston, without the roids, and the potential of DeAndre Hopkins. I don’t think Juju Smith-Schuster is a number one receiver and the Steelers likely agree. After the worst, yes WORST offseason in Steelers franchise history, giving Big Ben a fresh face to throw to is a great move.

21. Seattle Seahawks- Christian Wilkins DT Clemson

Seattle is in a division with Todd Gurley and David Johnson. This is relevant because they need to stop the run. Wilkins isn’t the flashy top of the draft DT like Oliver or Williams, but he can stop a run and work a gap like a pro. You don’t always get a Warren Sapp or Aaron Donald, but sometimes you can get a Kevin or Pat Williams type of player to anchor your inside defensive line. Good pick for Pete Carroll’s rebuilding defense. It’s not an Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman replacement, but there is more than one way to skin a cat build a defense!

22. Baltimore Ravens- Marquise Brown WR Oklahoma

Go ahead and name me a current Ravens wide receiver. Hear that sound? That’s people saying Michael Crabtree. Well, he’s long gone, and so is former first-rounder Breshad Perriman. The Ravens haven’t had the best of luck with drafting wideouts in the first round, and, well every round. Most of their successful pass catchers either are brought in via free agency or play tight end. Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, and Derrick Mason were all free agent additions. Which brings us to Marquise Brown. Honestly, the potential is off the charts, but I think he compares better to Golden Tate or DeSean Jackson. He’s shifty and blazingly fast and looks like a great addition to an offense that is suddenly speed heavy. This isn’t your older brothers Ravens offense, so look for Brown to fit right into the new flashy Ravens O!

23. Houston Texans- Cody Ford G Oklahoma

There are a bunch of solid defenders here for Bill O’Brien and the Texans to snatch up. Outside of Lonnie Johnson at corner, I just don’t see an incredible need for all these big defenders like Jeffery Simmons or Clelin Ferrell. Cody Ford adds a solid run blocker at guard who is improving in his pass blocking. This is a need just because it helps keep the offense running and more importantly DeShaun Watson upright.

24. Oakland Raiders- Clelin Ferrell DE Clemson

The Raiders rebuild continues after losing Khalil Mack. Is it really losing when you made the move? They grabbed themselves a great DT earlier in the draft with Quinnen Williams, and now they look at the edge rusher to pair together. Jon Gruden won a Super Bowl with a couple of cats named Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, well, meet your Simeon Rice. Ferrell is big and a more traditional 4-3 end than Mack ever was. It’s unorthodox the way the Raiders have begun their rebuild, but it’s very orthodox when you look at the blueprint and the foundation they’ve laid down. This is Tampa 2.0.

25.Philadelphia Eagles- Lonnie Johnson CB Kentucky

If anyone could use a young corner that can play inside out, it’s the Eagles. The other option here is Jeffery Simmons and pairing him with perennial pro bowler Fletcher Cox. I just think grabbing a solid corner with Johnson's’ potential is too good to pass up for the Nick Foles-less Eagles. If this team really wants to get back to where they were two seasons ago, they need that defense to become turnover enforcers once again. Well, also make sure that young QB stays healthy.

26. Indianapolis Colts- Jonathan Abram S Mississippi St

Mississippi State is going to have a lot of good players drafted, and rightfully so. Abram is the best safety in this draft and would be a great pairing with Malik Hooker who can play back in more of an Ed Reed type role. Every Ed Reed needs a strong safety to commit to playing in the box to free up that acrobatic ball-hawking style. This might be the most underrated pick of the draft, just like the position of safety itself.

27. Oakland Raiders- Josh Jacobs RB Alabama

Normally, being lightly used in college is a bad thing. When you’re Alabama’s third-best running back, you’re probably still a top-10 back in the nation talent wise. I was skeptical about whether a running back in this draft was a first rounder or not. Jacobs has a good amount of power and instincts for the hole when running, which would make him an ideal Jon Gruden back, as he is very well-rounded and loves to run north to south. He might be the Warrick Dunn of this draft and should be able to perform on all three downs.

28. San Diego Chargers- Jeffery Simmons DT Mississippi St

Mississippi State shows up one more time in the first round, and this time it’s big boy Simmons. I want more than anything for the Chargers to grab a QB here to be ready for when Rivers hangs up the cleats, but I think it would be a waste as I don’t think he would play well with others, much like Ben Roethlisberger. Simmons is coming off a torn ACL which really shouldn’t affect his stock too much. Los Angeles’ other team could use a fresh face in the trenches, and Simmons will add that while competing to stop the run. A solid pick for the Bolts.

29. Seattle Seahawks- Byron Murphy CB Washington

Honestly, pre-trade, I had the Chiefs selecting Murphy here and nothing has changed. Besides the fact, the Seahawks are now grabbing the versatile DB here instead. The Hawks grabbed Wilkins at 21 to shore up the interior defense, and now they nab Byron Murphy to help in the secondary. Unfortunately, there isn’t another player that can fill the Frank Clark role the way he has done so well for Seattle the last few seasons. So if you can’t get to the quarterback the way you would like, make sure no one is open to throw to.

30. Green Bay Packers- Chris Lindstrom G Boston College

The Pack need to rebuild that offensive line if they plan on squeezing out any more championships in Aaron Rodgers’ golden years. Lindstrom is an absolute steal here and should play right away protecting #12. Sure, they need a bunch of help on defense, but the best defense is a good offense…or something like that. Now find a running back that can stay healthy and get you 4 yards per carry and Green Bay is back in business under rookie head coach Matt LaFleur.

31. Los Angeles Rams- Elgton Jenkins- C/G Mississippi State

I told you Mississippi State would represent in the first round! Jenkins is one of the top true centers in the draft that is versatile enough to jump to guard if need be. The Rams may still be the most talented team in the NFL and surely could use a linebacker, rusher and another big man inside to stop the run. With Jenkins, you get something that may be more important than all of that, keeping a clean pocket for Jared Goff. It’s not a sexy pick, but sometimes the best picks are the ones that keep your team consistent.

32. New England Patriots- Dexter Lawrence DT Clemson

We’re here! The very end of the first round and the evil empire is up to the podium. Do they draft a Tom Brady replacement? Do they reach for the third tight end in the first round? No way! Bill Belichick doesn’t panic in Super Bowls and he certainly doesn’t panic picking 32nd in the first round. The Patriots have drafted Benjamin Watson, Logan Mankins, and Malcolm Brown at 32 after winning Super Bowls. What is the point of this stat besides seeing if my brother who hates useless stats is reading or not? The point is that sometimes you hit (Mankins!), sometimes you’re average (Benjamin Watson!) and sometimes you miss (Malcolm Brown) really bad. Lawrence could be a top 10 pick if the NFL hadn’t evolved past 350lb defensive tackles. The Patriots don’t care, they will beat you any way they can, and have proved it through the years. This is Vince Wilfork if I haven’t seen him before. Expect a bunch of run stuffing and a force that can pressure the pocket. Job well-done Pats, you win again. And again. And again.

Follow Brandon on twitter, @BamBamSuydam, and check him out on The Vision Obscured Podcast.

NHL viewpoint-2nd round preview Colorado/San Jose Carolina/NY Islanders

Last night was a black eye for the NHL in regards to game 7 between the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks.  You can't ask for anything better than a game 7 overtime thriller but the events that led to all of the excitement came down to one of the worst officiating decisions in NHL history.  The major penalty and misconduct assessed to Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin for crosschecking Joe Pavelski of the Sharks after the face-off at the 9:13 mark of the 3rd period giving the Sharks a 5 minute power play was flat out the wrong call.  It should have been no more than a 2 minute minor or a maximum of a double minor. Many others on social media who were mostly neutral observers thought there should have been no penalty at all.  Eakin definitely cross checked him after the face off  which caused Pavelski to lose his balance while at the same time colliding with Paul Stastny of the Golden Knights and landing on the side of his head.  The force of the collision knocked Pavelski out leaving him strewn on the ice bleeding.  Both referees NEVER raised their hands indicating it was a penalty and it is debatable whether either of them even saw the play.  Since they could not review the penalty the severity of the injury convinced the officials to assess the 5 minute major.  At the time of the penalty the Golden Knights were in complete control winning 3-0.  With the 5 minute penalty the Sharks scored an incredible four goals to take the lead and win in OT.  How can the referees who didn't see the play assess a major penalty?  Why is there no rule in place to have any major penalty reviewed in the playoffs?  In 2019 we arguably had the worst referee non-call decision in NFL history during the Rams-Saints NFC championship game and now the NHL puts their hat in the ring with an equally horrible decision.  The NHL playoffs have been phenomenal so lets hope they can remain controversy free the rest of the way.  And no Bennett Salvatore did not switch careers and ref the game last night.............

Here are the other 2 previews of the conference semi-finals

Colorado-San Jose

Positives for Colorado  They arguably have the most dangerous scoring line left in the playoffs with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog who combined for 9 goals and 12 assists in the 1st round against the Calgary Flames.  Goaltender Phillip Grubauer who carried the Avalanche in the last part of the regular season gave up only 10 goals in the 5 games against the Flames.  The Avalanche will be a well rested team having 7 days off before game 1 in San Jose especially helping Rantanen and Landeskog who were both banged up at the end of the regular season.  The Avalanche are playing with house money being the #8 seed so there is no pressure on this team so they will continue to play at their fast paced style and put the pressure on their opponents.

Negatives for Colorado  The Sharks won all 3 games in the regular season scoring 14 goals and are the more experienced and playoff battled tested team.  The Avalanche were ranked 25th in penalty kills during the regular season and the Sharks power play unit ranked 6th overall.  Conversely having the 7 days off might kill some of the momentum they had after dominating the Flames in the 1st round. The Avalanche don't have the blue line presence and offensive threats like the Sharks.

Positives for San Jose  The Sharks tied for the 2nd most goals scored during the regular season and got huge goal scoring performances in the 1st round from Logan Couture and Thomas Hertl with 6 each against Vegas.  They have two of the most dominating skilled defensemen in Brent Burns and a healthy Erik Karlsson who have combined for 12 assists so far in the playoffs.  Many of these players have been through the playoff wars and know how to handle the pressure of the playoffs.

Negatives for San Jose  Not sure what the status will be for Joe Pavelski but he will be missed if not on ice scoring 2 goals so far in the playoffs and had 38 during the regular season.  Martin Jones in goal has had a very erratic season typified by his playoff run.  He got pulled in games 2 & 3 but did bounce back big in games 5 & 6 saving 88 of 91 shots but which Jones you get against an Avalanche team that averaged 41 shots on net in the 1st round is the big question.  The Sharks just completed a grueling, emotional seven game series against Vegas including the last 2 games going into overtime and are facing a well rested Avalanche squad.

I like all of the positives with Colorado going into this series with their offensive fire power, Grubauer in net, and being a well rested squad.

Avalanche in 6 games

NY Islanders/Carolina

Positives for the NY Islanders  The Islanders dominated the Pittsburgh Penguins sweeping the series and only trailing for only about 5 minutes for the entire series.  Goaltender Robin Lehner gave up only 6 goals in the 4 games with a save percentage of .956.  The Islanders gave up the least number of goals during the regular season and Barry Trotz won the Stanley Cup as coach of the Capitols last year.  They are well rested having 10 days off before their first playoff game in the 2nd round.  The Islanders won the regular season series 3-1 against the Hurricanes and only gave up 7 goals in those games.

Negatives for the NY Islanders  They have gotten good contributions from Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, and Jordan Eberle in the playoffs combining for 10 goals but the Islanders don't have any real tip of the spear goal scorer and were 22nd in the league during the regular season in goals per game. Their power play was ranked 29th during the regular season while the Hurricanes had the 8th best penalty killing unit during the regular season.  They will have home ice but not quite the raucous crowd they had at the Nassau Coliseum as they will be moving their home games to the Barclays Center for the 2nd round.  Conversely for the Islanders having 10 days off might bring out the rust factor and might kill all the momentum they had after winning in the 1st round.

Positives for Carolina  The Hurricanes are not a flashy team but have good goal scoring depth with 12 different Hurricanes scoring 10+ goals during the regular season.  Jordan Staal missed about 40% of the regular season but has been a huge presence in the playoffs scoring 3 goals and also Warren Foegele has emerged in the playoffs with 4 goals.  They are 2nd overall in giving up the least amount of shots on goal for the playoffs and have not lost at home during the playoffs.  Two Hurricanes defenders have been big offensive producers in the playoffs as Dougie Hamilton has scored 3 goals with 3 assists and Jacob Slavin has chipped in with 9 assists including 3 tonight in game 7.

Negatives for Carolina  Goaltender Petr Mrazek has just been average during the playoffs and is the only playoff goalie with a save percentage under .900 who is still playing.  A tough 7 game series capped off by a game 7 double OT win against the Washington Capitols and now having to play a well rested Islander squad starting out on the road.  They have the lowest rated power play for all of the teams left in the playoffs and the San Jose Sharks are the only team worse than the Hurricanes in penalty kills.

I like the Islanders for the following reasons:  Well rested, hot goaltending, and a team that is perfectly built for the playoffs with arguably the best coach behind the bench in Barry Trotz.

Islanders in 6 games

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

NHL 2nd round previews and predictions Dallas-St Louis Columbus-Boston

How good has the 1st round of the NHL playoffs been?  Hoping it will carry over to the 2nd round.  Here is 2 conference previews with the next 2 coming tomorrow.

Dallas/St Louis

The 3rd and 4th place teams in the Central Division of the Western Conference rose up as underdogs to win their 1st round match ups in 6 games.  Both teams used similar formulas to get to the 2nd round with tight defense, outstanding goaltending, and clutch 2nd line scoring.  Stars goalie Ben Bishop continued his impressive run from an outstanding regular season to a stalwart performance in the 1st round. Bishop allowed 2 questionable goals in a game 3 loss but overall Bishop's numbers were impressive recording a 1.90 GAA and .945 save percentage against the Nashville Predators and capped it off by saving 47 of 48 shots in the game 6 OT thriller last night. Goaltender Jordan Binnington for the Blues held his own against the high scoring Winnipeg Jets recording a 2.63 GAA and .905 save percentage.  Every Blues victory against the Jets was by a single goal and Binnington made a huge clutch save at the end of game 1 and finished it off with a big save against Patrik Laine in game 6 to clinch the series.  The Stars got enough production from their top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov with 7 goals and 11 assists but the 2nd line of Jason Dickinson, Roope Hintz and Mats Zuccarello also combined for 7 goals.  The top line for the Blues Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron, and Victor Tarasenko combined for 6 goals but like the Stars got huge production from their 2nd line of Brayden Schenn, Oscar Sundqvist, and Jaden Schwartz combining for 7 goals including a game 6 hat trick from Schwartz.  The Stars in their series did not allow a power play goal. 

Both teams are very similar to one another and with no huge differences so this is an even match up.  The Blues will have home ice but home ice hasn't meant a whole lot so far in the playoffs. Binnington has been sensational in net for the Blues but Bishop has been better and I think the Stars are a little more explosive on the offensive side.  Also the Stars have more scoring threats on the blue line with John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, and Miro Heiskanen.  The one player who could come alive and carry the Blues is Tarasenko so if he gets hot he could be the big difference maker.  My pick is Dallas. 

Stars in 6 games


The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the world not only by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning but sweeping them in four games.  The Boston Bruins had to win 2 elimination games including game 6 in Toronto and beating the Leafs tonight 5-1 in game 7.  The most impressive aspect of Boston's game 7 win tonight was getting 4 combined goals from their 3rd and 4th scoring lines.The Blue Jackets were dominant in all phases in the 1st round averaging 4.75 goals per game, converting 50%  of their power play chances, and only giving up 8 goals in the series against the high powered Lightning.  The Bruins for most of their 1st round series except for some game 1 defensive lapses played consistent hockey and got good performances from their top forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak and got solid goaltending from Tuukka Rask. On the defensive side Zdeno Chara still looks sharp at the age of 42 and Charlie McAvoy seems to get better each game. 

Can the Blue Jackets rise up again and pull the upset against the Bruins?  One possible big advantage that the Blue Jackets will have is they will be the fresher team going into game 1 having 9 days off while the Bruins were extended to seven games.  Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is in peak form and they have a lot of scoring depth with Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and the suddenly hot Steve Duchene.  Jackets coach John Tortorella did a masterful job of getting his team ready for the Lightning and will try again to push all of the right buttons to get them ready for Boston.  I think Columbus can extend this series to 6 or 7 games but the Bruins just don't beat themselves and are playing solid mistake free hockey.  My pick is Boston

Bruins in 6 games

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: NFC South

By Steven Weldon

With two days to spare, we've finally made it to the final division - the NFC South. I saved this division for last because of one reason, and you will see in the breakdown why.


The Falcons were banged up this season, and then just lost running back Tevin Coleman in free agency. Atlanta really needs to work on their secondary and shoring up their running backs, as Devonta Freeman cannot seem to stay healthy. Unfortunately, neither of those are very strong in this draft. They could reach for Greedy Williams out of LSU, or trade down for him. The safe pick here is an offensive lineman or defensive lineman. Christian Wilkins of Clemson could be the defensive lineman available, or Andre Dillard of Washington State could be the offensive lineman available.

They're a far cry from the team that was close to beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. They have work cut out for them, but they're still one of the better teams in the NFC.

NEED: Defensive backs!
WANT: Devonta Freeman from 2015 back.
QUESTIONS: How long can Matt Ryan carry this team on his back, and will Calvin Ridley become a marquee receiver?


The Panthers need to protect Cam Newton at all costs, and they'll look to add an offensive lineman in the draft. Another need they can target would be a wide receiver after losing Devin Funchess, but that seems like a reach judging by the talent of the wide receivers and the fact the Panthers hold the #16 pick. They also need help in the secondary, as is a common theme among NFC South teams.

There are many different ways they can go, if there is a reasonable offensive lineman pick available, they'll take him. However, they could go with the rest of the crowd and take a defensive player like Clelin Ferrell of Clemson. The other defensive player they'd look at would be Byron Marshall of Washington, a nice cornerback piece.

WANT: Some nice defensive backs to get the ball back to the offensive side.
QUESTIONS: The Panthers started strong and finished weak, how can they change that going forward?


The Saints don't own a first-round pick, a third-round pick, or a fourth-round pick. They're going to have to use this draft to shore up their already win-now mode team, and they can do it by selecting the best player available. They can target a cornerback late, which would be a big help. They can also find a nice wide receiver for their entertaining offense that manages to find talent out of seemingly nowhere. This isn't the draft for the Saints, so they'll do what they can to improve.

NEED: Sustain excellency!
WANT: The only future hole they'll have will be at quarterback, it's just a matter of time.
QUESTIONS: Drew Brees is 40. How many years will the Saints get out of him?


ARR, WE BE HERE. The final team to cover before the draft. This one hits home, as it is my favorite team. It's been a rough ...many years to be a Buccaneers fan. Last season looked great at first, the players were firing on all cylinders in the first two games and the team looked great. It crumbled fast. Ryan Fitzpatrick came back down to earth, the running game was non-existent, and the defense, oh god, the defense. It surprises me that a team with so many talented individuals had such a bad defensive presence throughout the season. It did not help that many players got hurt on that side of the ball, but largely the players weren't out for too long. Kwon Alexander was out for a majority of the season, and he was a good piece of the linebackers.

This season is Jameis Winston's last chance. He needs a big season under new head coach Bruce Arians in order to earn his next contract. We've seen the potential, but he couldn't pull it together the last two seasons. The running game needs improvement as well, but the Buccaneers took Ronald Jones in the first round last year, preparing him for the future.

I've said the Buccaneers need to improve their defense, and with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves returning and malcontent corner Brent Grimes not, the secondary will still be reasonably weak. The Bucs will need to select the best edge rusher or lineman available, and it's looking like that will either be Josh Allen or Devin White. 

It's hard to be a fan of a team in the opposite corner of the United States, but it is easier when I do not have to see news about them constantly. Regardless, I'll be in Seattle on November 3rd to cheer them on, as a great fan always does. Siege the day!

NEED: Any defense. Anything. Also a running game.
WANT: Recapture the glory of 2002
QUESTIONS: When will the Buccaneers make the playoffs again? Is Arians the answer?

I've come to the end! Mock draft incoming, as well as a guest mock draft! Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: AFC South

By Steven Weldon

The final two divisions remain to be covered with five days until the draft! Today, the AFC South.


This team looked like the class of the AFC South just a year ago. This past season though, Blake Bortles imploded, Leonard Fournette got hurt, and the Jags looked pedestrian. This coming season, they've added former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to replace Bortles, and will hopefully lead Jacksonville back into the AFC contender conversation. They have a lot of work to do.

This draft they are in prime position to take the best offensive lineman, and that could be Jawaan Taylor of Florida or Andre Dillard of Washington State. They're going to need to keep Foles upright, and any future quarterback they may target.

NEED: To sustain a great season, and carry it over to the next season.
WANT: The second half of the 2017 AFC Championship back.
QUESTIONS: Will Leonard Fournette bounce back from a disappointing sophomore campaign?


The Titans are in a holding pattern that can only change if the offense gets it together. Marcus Mariota has never played a full season, and there's been a revolving door of skill position players who have not panned out. Regardless, they've signed some nice pieces in free agency, and the draft is where they can go two directions.

On the offensive line, they ought to select Garrett Bradbury from North Carolina State. His stock has risen to the middle of the first round recently, and he can be proficient protection for Super Mariota.
If they choose the other side of the ball, Christian Wilkins from Clemson is a good defensive tackle.

The prevailing question is still "Who was the better 2015 Draft Quarterback?", and largely neither Mariota or Jameis Winston have been able to definitively answer that question.

NEED: Mariota to use his new receiver options to propel the Titans to the playoffs.
WANT: An impact rookie that can greatly increase the likelihood of the above sentence.
QUESTIONS: How much time will coach Mike Vrabel get with this team?


Deshaun Watson needs protection. He was pummelled 62 times by the opposing team last season, and that's just official sacks. The Texans could not pick up protection in free agency, so they will likely look to the draft. Greg Little of Ole Miss may be the right pick for the offensive line improvement.

The Texans did very well this season, but it all crumbled in the wild-card round to their division rival, the Colts. Improvement is necessary, or they'll experience a similar fate to what the Jaguars experienced.

NEED: Someone protecting Watson!
WANT: To jump that small hump they can't get over. The Texans have never been to the AFC Championship game, and this could be the season.
QUESTIONS: Will Deandre Hopkins become the true best wide receiver in the game?


The Colts shocked everyone, having an incredible season on the back of a finally healthy Andrew Luck and rookie standout offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. Their other draft picks filled excellent needs on defense, and it was a perfect storm that got them an upset win in the wild-card round.

Unfortunately, they ran into an on-fire Patrick Mahomes and crumbled in the divisional round. This may have been due to a somewhat weak secondary, and with their low-enough draft selection, they can get a talented cornerback with the pick. Byron Murphy of Washington is a legitimate option here, or the Colts could look at Rock Ya-Sin from Temple as well.

NEED: Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton to have career years, and a good secondary.
WANT: It would be nice if Marlon Mack had a breakout year and became a nice compliment to the Colts' offense.
QUESTIONS: How high is this team's ceiling, now that Luck is healthy?

One more division to cover, and then a mock draft on the way! Thanks for sticking around!

Divine Oduduru, Michael Norman SHOCK Track World Saturday!

Divine Oduduru celebrates his 200 meter win at 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene,Oregon

by Harry Cummins

     Less than an hour after running the 100 meters in a world-leading 9.94 seconds, Texas Tech sprinter Divine Oduduru ran the second fastest ever 200 meters by a collegian in a stunning 19.76 to complete a spectacular double Saturday afternoon at the Michael Johnson Invitational in Waco,Texas.

     Oduduru's 200 meter time was also the fastest in the world in 2019, with both 100 and 200 times wind legal marks.  It was the first ever sub 10 second 100 meters for the Texas Tech junior sprinter from Nigeria as he also shattered both the stadium 100/200 records set by Trayvon Bromell.

     Oduduro won the 200 meters at the past two NCAA Championships--the outdoor last June in Eugene, Oregon, and the indoor this March in Birmingham, Alabama.  In his outdoor win in Eugene, he surprised the field in winning from Lane 8 in a time of 20.28, then celebrated with a "bird-dance" in front of the appreciative Hayward Field spectators, myself among them.

     Meanwhile, another 2018 NCAA title holder, Michael Norman, became the 4th fastest 400 meter man in history when he opened his 2019 season with a shocking 43.45 400 meter win at the Mt SAC Relays in California.  It was Norman's first race as a professional following a decorated career at USC.

     The 21 year old Norman won the 2018 NCAA outdoor title in Eugene with a collegiate record 43.61 last June.  His 43.45 time Saturday is the fastest a human being has ever run for 400 meters in the month of April and Norman has put the track world on notice that a world record is within his reach this season.

Here is the list of All-Time 400m Performers:

1. 43.03 Wayde van Niekerk
2. 43.18 Michael Johnson
3. 43.29 Butch Reynolds
4. 43.39 Michael Johnson
5. 43.44 Michael Johnson
6. 43.45 Michael Norman
    43.45 Jeremy Wariner

     With such amazing early season marks for Oduduru and Norman, it is hard not to imagine what each of these athletes can do with a full season of training ahead of them before this summer's major competitions.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: AFC East

By Steven Weldon

Here comes the division of champions! Well, one champion. How will the AFC East respond to the continued Patriots' dominance?


The J-E-T-S were A-W-F-U-L last season, but can you blame them? Sam Darnold began his NFL career and tried as hard as he could, tossing 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The entire rushing attack could barely muster 1300 yards, and their two most talented defensive ends managed a total of 12 sacks. That's not enough.

In this new era with Adam Gase, Darnold will have help with new running back Leveon Bell as well as the addition of a real linebacker in C.J. Mosley. All that money to those two new players means a star rookie is going to have to be a big help. The picks that make the most sense at their #3 pick would be defensive lineman Quinnen Williams of Alabama, or edge rusher Josh Allen out of Kentucky. They've got a nice pick in this defense deep draft.

The Jets are in a much better spot than their New York counterpart, but they have had much less to show for it. While the Giants have won two super bowls in the last 12 years, the Jets haven't been to the playoffs since 2010. It's getting old.

NEED: Fresh legs on the defense, Sam Darnold to improve in year two.
WANT: Leveon Bell to quit making music and get in the workout room after a year off.
QUESTIONS: Big moves, will they pan out? Or is it just another year in the doldrums?


The Ryan Tannehill experiment is over. Adam Gase has taken his talents north to New York. It is time for the Dolphins to start from scratch. Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to be the starter a quarterback for this project and that is just a sad sentence to write.

They can build toward the future with the #13 pick by taking an offensive lineman, which is where a great team comes from. Jonah Williams of Alabama could be here at the pick. On the other side of the coin, drumming up excitement in South Beach could be Dwayne Haskins, a quarterback from Ohio State who has fallen in many draft boards.

Buckle up 'Fins fans, it's going to be a long year.

NEED: Devante Parker to catch everything possible and Kenyan Drake to have a breakout year.
WANT: Ryan Fitzpatrick to duplicate what he did in the first two games for the Buccaneers last season, all season long.
QUESTIONS: Who is the centerpiece of the Dolphins' rebuild?


The Bills have improved their offense and are ready to build around Josh Allen. The quarterback, not the edge rusher for Kentucky. After a flurry of free agency moves to shore up the offensive line and receivers, the Bills will likely look to draft a talented defensive player, as many of the top-ten picks may be.

Montez Sweat, of Mississippi State could be their pick here. He dropped a little due to a heart condition that was found, but it's not as serious as it could have been.

NEED: To be taken seriously! Also, make the playoffs.
WANT: Everyone to forget about Nathan Peterman.
QUESTIONS: Is it neck and neck between the Bills and Jets for the second best team in the division?


Ah, the defending champions. A large majority of people and pundits went through the season doubting whether this Patriots team was the real deal. They turned it on at just the right time. While flashing a shiny ring answers a lot of questions, losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement creates more. Julian Edelman is still here, as is solid running back Sony Michel. It's all about maintaining in New England, and as long as Tom Brady is the quarterback and Bill Belichick is the coach, they'll have stability.

A particular need, however, is a playmaker on offense. #32 pick could be too late to take a talented tight end to replace Gronkowski, but just in time to take AJ Brown, a wide receiver from Ole Miss. Also, a talented wideout could be Parris Campbell out of Ohio State.

NEED: A good value at a late pick, building for the future.
WANT: Tight end of similar quality of Gronk. 
QUESTIONS: How long do the Patriots have at this rate? When will Tom Brady kick tires on retirement?

NHL playoff notes

Wishing all of our readers a Happy Easter!

How crazy and unpredictable are the NHL playoffs?  The top seeds in both conferences were eliminated in the first round and if you combine the wins for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary Flames, and Pittsburgh Penguins it was a grand total of 1.  Here is a breakdown of each series as we get closer to the 2nd round. 

The NY Islanders surprised a lot of the pundits not by only winning the series but sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins led for only about a total of 5+ minutes for the entire series and their high powered offense scored only 6 goals in the series with Sidney Crosby recording only 1 assist in the 4 games.  The same formula that worked in the regular season has worked in the playoffs with their tight checking defensive style and the stellar goaltending of Robin Lehner who saved 130 of the 136 shots he faced. Offensively they have gotten huge contributions from Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey who combined for 10 goals.  The only negatives heading into the next round is the injury on the defensive side to Johnny Boychuk who will miss the next series, having to move from a major home ice advantage the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, and possibly the effects of a long layoff between their next series against the Carolina-Washington winner which could be up to 10+ days.

A rarity so far in the NHL playoffs is that the home team has won every game in the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitols series.  A great job of the Hurricanes holding serve at home by shutting down the Caps in games 3 & 4 giving up only 1 goal winning 5-0 and 2-1.  Goaltender Petr Mrazek saved 48 of 49 shots in the 2 wins.  Tonight in game 5 it was all Washington routing the Hurricanes 6-0 as they scored 3 power play goals and goaltender Braden Holtby pitched the shutout with 30 saves. Two side notes to this series was the absolute obliteration that Alex Ovechkin gave to young Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov in an early 1st period fight in game 3.  Svechnikov suffered upper body injuries and a concussion and probably won't return for the rest of the series.  For Washington T.J. Oshie suffered a serious upper body injury in game 4 after being knocked down from behind by Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele and will likely miss the rest of the playoffs. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets finished off the stunning sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning winning game 4 at home with an emphatic 7-3 win.  The Matt Duchene trade paid huge dividends in the playoffs with Duchene scoring 3 goals with 4 assists.  Two former Portland Winter Hawks Seth Jones and Oliver Bjorkstrand were huge contributors in the series.  Jones scored the game winning goal in game 1 and had 2 goals and 2 assists in the series while Bjorkstrand's tiebreaking goal late in the 2nd period of game 4 ended up being the clincher. Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continued his hot play and came up big in the playoffs stopping 109 of the 117 shots he faced.  Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos for the Lightning combined for only 1 goal and 3 assists while goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy got bombed out giving up 15 goals in the 4 games with an .856 save percentage.  This was the first playoff series win in Blue Jackets history and they await the winner of the Toronto-Boston series.

The Toronto Maple Leafs can exorcise some major playoff demons if they can close out the Boston Bruins at home Sunday afternoon in game 6.  After splitting the first two games in the series the Leafs came up big on the road winning game 5 2-1 scoring both goals in the 3rd period.  Auston Matthews broke the scoreless tie at the 11:33 mark and Kasperi Kapanen added the insurance goal at the 13:45 mark. There was controversy for the Matthews goal per it looked like possible goalie interference on Zach Hyman who made contact with Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask when the puck was released but the play was reviewed and the goal allowed.  The announcers on the NBC television broadcast did not think the goal would count and it was a very debatable call.  If Bruin NESN homer announcer Jack Edwards was doing the broadcast he would have been 100% sure it was not a goal and probably cried that it should have been a game misconduct on Hyman.

The St Louis Blues closed out the Winnipeg Jets tonight winning game 6 at home 3-2. Jaden Schwartz was the hero again tonight recording the hat trick after scoring the game winning goal in game 5.  The Blues held a 3-0 lead heading into the 3rd period and the Jets got within a goal with 38 seconds left in the game but the Blues held on and will face the winner of the Dallas-Nashville series.  The obvious turning point of the series was the remarkable game 5 comeback for the Blues.  Trailing 2-0 going into the 3rd period the Blues got an early Ryan O'Reilly power play goal and tied it up with a Brayden Schenn goal at the 13:52 mark.  It looked like the game was heading to overtime but with only 15 seconds left in the game Schwartz delivered the gut punch to all Jets fans with the game winning goal after a great pass from Tyler Bozak to set him up. The big mistake was by Jets defender Jacob Trouba who tried freezing the puck in his own end to kill the clock but Alexander Steen poked it away, fed it to Bozak who whipped a pass in the crease and Schwartz beat goaltender Connor Hellebuyck for the game winner.  Schwartz scored only 11 regular season goals but has now scored 4 goals in the playoffs. 

The Colorado Avalanche closed out the top seeded Calgary Flames with a dominating 5-1 game 5 win in Calgary.  If you watched this series you had to be impressed by the overall speed of the Avalanche and they were easily the better team outscoring the Flames in the last 4 games of the series 17-7.  The Avalanche top scoring line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog dominated the series with Rantanen scoring 5 goals with 4 assists, MacKinnon with 3 goals and 5 assists, and Landeskog with 1 goal and 3 assists.  The amazing statistic from this series was during the regular season the Calgary Flames were the #1 team in the NHL in giving up the least number of shots against per game at 28.1 but during this playoff series they averaged giving up 41 shots against per game!.  Flames veteran goaltender Mike Smith actually played a decent series pitching the shutout in game 1 and getting games 2 and 4 into overtime making many spectacular saves.  In the game 3 6-2 loss Smith faced 56 shots and made 50 saves.  If you watched that game the Avalanche could have easily scored 10+ goals if it wasn't for Smith.  Besides the defensive breakdowns the Flames top scorers Johnny Gaudreau, Shane Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk combined for only 3 goals after combining to score 104 goals during the regular season. Avalanche goaltender Phillip Grubauer continued his outstanding play giving up only 10 goals in the series and stopping 153 of the 163 shots he faced. 

The Vegas Golden Knights can close out the San Jose Sharks at home by winning game 6 at home Sunday night. The Sharks held off elimination by winning game 5 at home 5-2.  The big story of this playoff series has been the continued struggles in net for Sharks goaltender Martin Jones.  Jones was pulled in games 2 & 4, has given up 15 goals, and has a save percentage of .866.  He did have a solid effort in game 5 stopping 30 of 32 shots and will have to come up big in game 6 for the Sharks to have any chance to extend the series. Jones coming into the playoffs was the only playoff goaltender with a save percentage below .900 during the regular season.  The big story for the Golden Knights has been the scoring onslaught from Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny who have combined for 12 goals and 16 assists so far in the series.  Give credit to Golden Knights GM George McPhee who acquired Pacioretty and Stastny in the off season and added Stone during the trade deadline.

The Dallas Stars can close out the Nashville Predators Monday night after a huge game 5 road win in Nashville this afternoon.  Alexander Radulov and Jason Dickinson scored 2 goals apiece and Stars goaltender Ben Bishop stopped 30 of 33 shots to preserve the win.  Going into this series the big question for the Stars was their scoring depth but the second line of Roope Hintz, Jason Dickinson, and Mats Zuccarello have combined for 7 goals matching the 7 goals that their top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov have scored.  Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has not been sharp in his last 2 games giving up 4 goals in game 4 while getting pulled in the 1st period and giving up 5 goals today.  However all the blame can't go to Rinne in game 5 today as the Predators defensively have been awful in their own end leading to Stars goals.  Ben Bishop after giving up 2 questionable goals in game 3 has bounced back nicely and has been the better goaltender in this playoff matchup. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: NFC East

By Steven Weldon

Here comes the division with the most attention placed upon it every season, the NFC East!


Phew, the Giants have needed this rebuild for years. They're loaded with picks, 12 to be exact. Two in the first round at #6 and #17, the latter thanks to the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. They'll be looking to improve in all facets, but it seems like they could target defense first. Defensive linemen Rashan Gary of Michigan and Ed Oliver of Houston look like they'd be available at the sixth pick.

Originally, many mock drafts had the Giants going for a quarterback of the future to replace Eli Manning. If they'd like, they can wait another year and go with another solid defensive player late, like Clelin Ferrell out of Clemson. If not, Duke's quarterback Daniel Jones may be the guy here.

The Giants have a lot of holes, and are not expected to compete this year. You will expect to see them on television frequently, though.

NEED: To replace the corpse of Eli Manning
WANT: Fire sale!
QUESTIONS: Just how bad will they be this season?


The Cowboys were saved by trading for Amari Cooper, but it left them with no first round pick. Alas, their explosive offense can't save them every time. With their draft picks, the Cowboys ought to target defensive backs and defensive linemen, possibly finding a gem.

Juan Thornhill, a safety from Virginia could be the pick in the second round. Also, Taylor Rapp of Washington is another safety that could add depth.

NEED: Get a good start to the season and sustain it, leading to the playoffs again.
WANT: Everyone good! Jerry Jones has money, let's go!
QUESTIONS: Will Ezekiel Elliot become the true best running back in the game this season?


Alex Smith was not to be the future, only the stop-gap. It seems Case Keenum arrives on scene in the same situation. Regardless, this team needs a future quarterback. There aren't too many crazy talented in the draft, and the Redskins may have to reach into the trade pocket to get one. There's a lot of factors that play into this pick. If the Cardinals are done with Josh Rosen, could he be moved to Washington? Will Dwyane Haskins or Kyler Murray experience a meteoric drop in the draft?

The Redskins also need to address their receiving corps and offensive line. I think a good selection at their pick would be Cody Ford of Oklahoma, an offensive lineman that can learn and protect Keenum until next year's QB talent is released.

NEED: A team name change maybe, quarterback of the future to go with it.
WANT: A quarterback that won't get hurt!
QUESTIONS: Where is this team going??


The Eagles answered their questions of need by picking up running back Jordan Howard, depth wide receiver Desean Jackson and interior defensive lineman Malik Jackson in free agency. This draft they could look to draft an offensive lineman at pick #25. It seems to be a good option to take Chris Lindstrom of Boston College, and/or Garrett Bradbury of North Carolina State. If they'd like to add to the defensive line, a player that could be there would be Christian Wilkins of Clemson.

The Eagles barely made the playoffs, and then barely made it by the Bears, then barely lost to the Saints. For a recent champion, they're going to need to be strides better to match where they were just a year ago.

NEED: Consistency, and Carson Wentz to stay healthy.
WANT: Desean Jackson deep bombs, apparently.
QUESTIONS: This is now Carson Wentz's team. Oh, that wasn't a question. Or is it??

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: AFC North

By Steven Weldon

Let's take on the AFC North!


The Bengals are at a turning point. The running game is looking solid for the future with Joe Mixon, their passing attack is effective with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert, but could the one piece holding them back be Andy Dalton? The Bengals hired Zac Taylor as their new head coach, and it may be time to change the guard in southern Ohio.

On the other hand, Dalton is only 32 and may hold stable for the next few years. The Bengals have a large need for a linebacker, and now that the head-case Vontaze Burfict is gone, it's time to get the Bengals defense back to nasty. Devin Bush or Devin White may fall to the #11 pick, but if neither are available they can always prepare for the future and pick up quarterback Drew Lock from Missouri. They still have the #25 pick in the first round, and a different quarterback in Daniel Jones of Duke could be available too.

NEED: QB of the future, a new linebacker corps leader.
WANT: Andy Dalton to go nuclear with his weapons next season.
QUESTIONS: How will the team respond after Marvin Lewis' departure after a million years with the team?


BREAK UP THE BROWNIES! The Browns are poised to finally make the playoffs this season, and by golly, there's no tricks or curse on this run. Baker Mayfield is here and he's got Odell Beckham Jr. to throw to. They've taken a flyer on the now-risky Kareem Hunt, but their offense was quite good last season. The Browns don't have a first-round pick, but some value could be found in their second and later rounds.

Look for the Browns to target undervalued defensive players such as defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons, who is very talented, but suffered an ACL injury last season. Another good play would be a cornerback, such as Justin Layne of Michigan State. There's no true weakness on this Browns team, but it will be more exciting when games aren't being played on paper.

NEED: To both develop for the future and win now at the same time.
WANT: Odell Beckham Jr. and Baker Mayfield to have spectacular years and make the playoffs.
QUESTIONS: Is this for real? Can this year be different?


What a circus. Leveon Bell has gone off to the J-E-T-S and Antonio Brown was traded to the Raiders. Alas, it's time to turn the page. James Conner played his tail off in place of Bell this season, and Juju Smith-Schuster has quickly risen to one of the better receivers in the game. It only appears that to stay the course and improve, the passing offense needs to have more stability. Noah Fant, a tight end from Iowa could be a safe option here. They could also choose an Ole Miss wide receiver, one of AJ Brown or D.K Metcalf.

The hallmark of the Steelers has always been defense, and they do need to improve if they are to make the playoffs. A rookie outside linebacker will definitely help, and they ought to look at Brian Burns out of Florida State. 

NEED: 53 men playing for each other, rather than where they get their next contract.
WANT: Ben Rothlisberger to stay standing. They need it too.
QUESTIONS: Will the Steelers be the odd team out again this season?


It's Lamar Jackson's team now. He's got the legs, but that won't be enough to carry the offense. He still needs some talent to pass to since both his main targets in Michael Crabtree and John Brown left in free agency, it's time to get the wide receiver of the future. Marquise Brown of Oklahoma would be a great pick here, as well as Parris Campbell. 

While the Ravens made the playoffs this past season, they're sitting in a tough division that got even better than they attempted to improve this offseason. It's a wait and see on this team, but the season lives and dies on Lamar Jackson's legs.

NEED: Receivers.
WANT: Receivers.
QUESTIONS: Is this team good enough to match last season?

Seattle Mariners- Another Long Ball, Another Loss

by Harry Cummins

     When Jay Bruce connected on his 8th home run of the young season Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians, it marked the 20th consecutive game that a Seattle Mariner has hit a home run, extending their Major League Baseball record for consecutive homer games to open a season.

     The previous record was 14 games, set in 2002 by their opponent last night, The Indians.  Seattle is now just seven games shy of the MLB record of 27 games with a homer at any point in a season, set also in 2002 by the Texas Rangers.  The Mariners franchise record for consecutive games with a home run is 23, set in 2013.  They are just 4 homers short of breaking that mark.

     The bad news, or in this case the bad streak, came last night as well, as the M's dropped their 5th straight game and fell out of the American League West lead for the first time this year.  After starting the season 13-2, Seattle has totalled just 9 runs in their last 4 games and have watched the Houston Astros string 10 consecutive wins together to take over the Division lead.

     Bruce's 2019 stats seem to epitomize the Mariners Jekyl and Hyde season so far.  Bruce is second in the AL with his 8 home runs, but is struggling with a .175 batting average.  In their last four games, Seattle has struck out a massive 47 times and has batted just .172.  In their defense,they have faced four of the best pitchers in the American League in Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, and Shane Bieber.

     Seattle will hope the right the good ship Mariner Wednesday afternoon at home, hoping to avoid yet another negative streak, as they have dropped the first 5 games of a 6 game home stand ending today.  More bad news as they will face Indians 17 game winner last year, Carlos Carrasco.

    I will leave you with good news, tho, as Carrasco surrendered 6 hits and 6 runs in just 2/3 of an inning in his last outing against Kansas City.  Yes, one of those hits was a home run!


Monday, April 15, 2019

Two Americans Go Sub 2:10 at Boston Marathon

Scott Fauble
by Harry Cummins

     Scott Fauble and Jared Ward both broke the two hour, ten minute barrier at the 123rd Boston Marathon today, the first Americans to accomplish that feat in a marathon ,other than Galen Rupp, in the last 5 years.

    Fauble and Ward also both earned the 2020 Olympic standard by virtue of their top 10 finishes Monday.  Fauble ran 2:09:09, a personal best, to finish in 7th place.  Ward clocked 2:09:25, his best ever time, to finish just behind in 8th place.

     Last year (2018) 160 men ran under 2:10 for the marathon.  Only one of those men was an American.  Galen Rupp.  It had been 5 years since any U.S. runner other than Rupp had broken the barrier and signaled a resurgence in U.S. distance running.

     Fauble runs for the HOKA NAZ Elite team in Arizona.  Ward is a statistics professor at BYU in Utah and the father of four children.

     Lawrence Cherono of Kenya outkicked Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia in the final few strides to win the overall race in a time of 2:07:57. 

     Marathoning doesn't get any better than this, as the 26.2 mile race came down to a 100 meter sprint.  TWO SECONDS separated the top two runners.  This was the closest finish to the Boston Marathon in the last 30 years!!

     In the women's race, Worknesh Degefa outclassed the field with a winning time of 2:23:29.  She ran the last 20 miles alone in first place. Former Oregon Duck Jordan Hassay was third in a time of 2:25.20

     Joan Samuelson, celebrating the 40th anniversary of her 1979 Boston victory (as Joan Benoit) clocked an outstanding 3:05.18.  Perhaps the best age-graded performance of the spectacular day.

Precious Gem At Nike Hoop Summit

Precious Achiuwa
by Harry Cummins

     Most of the headlines from this weekend's Nike Hoop Summit in Portland deservedly went to the great backcourt battle between the USA's Cole Anthony (25 pts/8 Reb's) and the World's Nico Mannion (28 pts/5 assists/5 Reb's), who is headed to Arizona next year.

    Also showing out in the annual high school All-Star game was 7'1" James Wiseman, who did nothing to hurt his chances of being the Number 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.  Wiseman, the Gatorade High School Player Of The Year, hit 6 of 8 shots, scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and blocked 6 shots for the winning USA team.

     Perhaps the player with the most upside, however, was 6'9" Precious Achiuwa of the World team.  The still undecided senior from Mali and Montverde Academy, had a double-double 15 points and 11 rebounds in the 93-87 loss to the USA team.  He also had 2 steals and 4 blocks in an energized performance.

     Both the chiseled and athletic Achiuwa and  Anthony have yet to declare their choice for a college, easily the top two remaining high school players in the nation still undecided.  They both will be followed closely in the days ahead.

     A longshot choice?   They both sign with North Carolina.  Stay tuned.


UCLA Leads Pac-12 Teams To Top Of College Baseball Rankings

by Harry Cummins

     Thanks to a career-high 13 strikeout performance by right-hander Ryan Garcia, the UCLA Bruins swept East Carolina over the weekend, winning their 6th straight game, and remaining Number 1 in the nation in the latest Baseball America college baseball poll.

     UCLA (27-6 ,9-3 in Pac-12) went 4-0 for the week, all of their wins coming over nationally ranked opposition.  With Stanford remaining  Number 2 in the poll, and Oregon State moving up to number 5, the Pac-12 now claims 3 of the top 5 spots in the rankings.

     In the D-1 College Baseball Poll also announced today, UCLA is also ranked Number 1, while Oregon State grabs the Number 2 spot, while Stanford is Number 4.

     The Bruins host Pepperdine (17-14) in a Monday night showdown at Jackie Robinson Stadium and then play host to a 3 game Pac-12 series with Cal starting Thursday.

     Garcia was the first Bruin pitcher to post double digit strikeouts in consecutive appearances since Griffin Canning in 2017.  The 13 strikeouts this weekend against East Carolina were the most by a UCLA pitcher in over 5 years.

UPDATE   The Bruins rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to defeat Pepperdine Monday night 3-2 and increase their longest winning streak of the season to 7 games.

Is Omaha Beach A Super Horse?

Omaha Beach Wins Arkansas Derby

by Harry Cummins

     In a thrilling race that sent the top 3 finishers to the May 4 Kentucky Derby, Omaha Beach held off Improbable down the stretch to claim a one length victory in the $1 million Arkansas Derby this weekend over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park.

     A winner of his last 3 starts, Omaha Beach is now in a position to claim the favorites role in the Kentucky Derby.  It was the second graded stakes win at Oaklawn Park by Omaha Beach, both times defeating trainer Bob Baffert's top Derby hopefuls.

     Prior to defeating Improbable in the Arkansas Derby, Omaha Beach also edged Game Winner, Baffert's 2018 2 year old champion, in the recent Rebel Stakes.  County House, by finishing third in the Arkansas Derby, earned enough qualifying points for the famed Run For The Roses at Churchill Downs in 2 weeks.

     Omaha Beach's win at Oaklawn presents his jockey Mike Smith with a tough decision.  Smith also rode the Baffert trained Roadster (see rankings below) to a win last month in the Santa Anita Derby and now must choose between the top two contending mounts in the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

 Here are the current Top 5 3 year-old horses in the land  according to the latest NTRA Poll:

1. Omaha Beach
2. Roadster
3. Tacitus
4. Game Winner
5. Improbable


Jose Altuve: Little Man, Big Bat!

Jose Altuve
by Harry Cummins

 What a week for Jose Altuve, the Houston Astros diminutive second baseman!

 Rebounding from a sub-par 2018 season and also from off-season knee surgery, the 5'6" All-Star infielder had a lot to prove.  In week 4 of the MLB season, he did just that.

After Houston put the finishing touches on a 3 game sweep of the Seattle Mariners yesterday, Altuve's anything but routine week at the office looked like this:

*6 Home Runs
*Home Runs in 5 consecutive games
*10 Runs batted in.
*10 for 25  .400 BA

It now appears Altuve's performance dip last season was the result of playing half a season with a broken knee-cap.   His 2019 heroics have rescued a slumping Houston offense to start the year.  With Sunday's sweep of the Mariners, the Astros have now reeled off 9 straight wins.  Altuve is now 2nd in the American League in HR's with 7, trailing only Oakland slugger Kris Davis, who has 10.

Houston's second baseman is back in All-Star form!!

NFL Draft Needs, Wants and Questions: NFC North

By Steven Weldon

Continuing around the league for the next twelve days leading up to the draft: I cover the NFC North!


Here are the Lions, another year of cellar dwelling and wasting Matt Stafford's career. After consecutive 9-7 years not being good enough for the front office, Matt Patricia took over the head coach reigns. It's on to year two, and he'll need a lot more help to get the team into even the wild card.

As with many mediocre-to-bad teams, defense is a point of improvement. LSU's Devin White is a great option for a weak linebacker corps, and may be available at the #8 draft pick. Another solid pick would be edge rusher/linebacker Josh Allen, provided he falls that far. It's unlikely but could happen. The Lions just picked up Trey Flowers, so they addressed one of the defensive line issues. 

The Lions will also want to look toward help in the secondary and receivers. Julian Love, of Notre Dame, could be a reasonable option for their cornerback depth. He is a little short, but that hasn't stopped many top quality corners.

NEED: Consistency, especially on defense.
WANT: Consistency, everywhere.
QUESTIONS: Jim Caldwell had the team middling, but can Patricia get them back to the playoffs and win a wild-card game?


Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, but he can't carry a team on his own. It's also even harder to carry a team with a bad knee. Now that he'll have a full year removed from his knee injury, it's time to improve with a new head coach as well. One of the main things the Packers struggled with was defense, as a common theme with teams sitting under .500. Fortunately, two first rounders await for the Pack.

With their #12 pick, Green Bay needs to take the best available defensive player. With how low that is, it could be Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, Zach Allen or Brian Burns. All of those linemen/edge rushers should be in the target zone.

Their second selection should be used to shore up their offensive line, as they'll need to protect Rodgers in his waning years to stay competitive. Greg Little from Ole Miss could be the pick here. Honestly though, if Josh Jacobs, running back from Alabama is there, they need to take him. The running game is suspect and has been for years.  

NEED: Better defense! Better running game! Actual weapons for Aaron Rodgers!
WANT: Solid start for the new head coach, Matt LaFleur.
QUESTIONS: Is this not their division to take anymore? What will it take to get back to prominence?


So close, yet so far away. It's strange that a team improving their quarterback regressed. Alas, the Vikings are the clear cut second best team in the division and will look to challenge closer to the Bears next season. They will need to improve on a few things, including their offensive line. Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Stephon Diggs, and Adam Thielen need it desperately.

Cody Ford, a lineman from Oklahoma could be the pick in the first round. If they choose to do so, Greg Little could be reached for. Considering Ford did not test well at the combine, this could happen. Also, Chris Lindstrom of Boston College is a nice option as well.

NEED: Progression for the offense, continued improvement on the defense.
WANT: Kirk Cousins to look like he sounds on paper.
QUESTIONS: Is this the bounce back year?


The Bears addressed their draft needs last season by trading for Khalil Mack, effectively establishing they had little draft needs this season. Their first pick is in the 3rd round, and will have to be a value pick or player who can develop.

A good target for the pick would be running back. Jordan Howard was traded to Philadelphia this offeseason, and now that Tarik Cohen is the main man, they'll need a development plan. Enter Penn State's Miles Sanders. He ought to be available at that round, and played very well after Saquon Barkley left school.

The Bears will be counting heavily on Mitchell Trubisky to improve and Cohen to be the main man now. 12-4 is nothing to sneeze at, and it's an impressive improvement over the past few years.

NEED: Running back depth, a kicker
WANT: A kicker, but that's not a good idea to draft.
QUESTIONS: Can the Bears stay atop the division, and what will Trubisky do in the staple 3rd year of his career?