Panthers’ draft picks: Projecting 2018 first-round, late-round sleeper

The Carolina Panthers have built a roster with a lot of quality playmakers on both sides of the ball in recent years. This offseason they didn’t make any splashes but did add a few players who will shore up key areas.

“With free agency and what we’ve done, we feel like we’ve got some depth at all the positions, but the draft is about — especially in the first couple rounds — hopefully trying to target future impact players,” said general manager Marty Hurney at the Panthers pre-draft press conference Tuesday. “Guys who can come in and make an impact for four or five-plus years.”

The Cowboys love high-effort linebackers, and Vander Esch falls in line with Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee. Vander Esch also finishes as furiously as he pursues; he is built to cover a ton of ground, likely on the strong side. He was worth all the cheers for the home team of the draft.

Quenton Nelson to the Colts at No. 6 was a no-brainer to support Andrew Luck and their running game. But how about his Notre Dame teammate Mike McGlinchey going much higher than expected, to the 49ers at No. 9? In a chain reaction, UCLA tackle Kolten Miller jumped up to No. 15 to the Raiders, while Wynn at No. 23 capped the run on versatile interior linemen with Frank Ragnow (Lions) and Billy Price (Bengals). There’s still good second-round value left in players such as UTEP’s Will Hernandez, Iowa’s James Daniels and Texas’ Connor Williams. They won’t wait long to hear their names called.

But in addition to Trader Danny’s summer of 2017 overhaul, it was his lower-profile moves that have given injury-depleted Boston a safety net, and a real chance to hang around this postseason.

“Our mentality has always been: It doesn’t matter who’s playing, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play hard as hell and play together.” Larkin said.

Traded the No. 1 pick in the draft to Philadelphia to move down to No. 3, where Ainge drafted soon-to-be All-Rookie first-teamer Jayson Tatum and got a future first-round pick for his troubles (the Lakers will convey their 2018 first-round pick on the slim chance it vaults to Nos. 2 or 3 in the lottery; otherwise, Boston will get the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 first-round pick if it’s not No. 1). Tatum, unfazed by the bigger stage, scored 19 points in his playoff debut Sunday.canucks_659

Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t the only NFL superstar rumored to be on the trading block.

Following an offseason filled with more questions than answers about his status for 2018, the chances of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski being shipped out of New England are gradually increasing, according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard.

“A Bill Belichick-friendly source agreed with my thinking that once a player makes Belichick start to contemplate life without him, Belichick starts to warm to being without that player,” Bedard described, per The Big Lead, with the insider adding, “He imagines you gone.

Though Gronkowski has other endeavors he can concentrate on, whether with the WWE or his budding acting career, should football remain on the radar, a reunion with Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco is said to be one of the most probable scenarios, according to Bedard. The Rams are also reportedly in the mix.

As for Belichick, he’s predictably keeping all talk regarding Gronkowski under wraps.

“I’m not going to speak for anybody else,” Belichick said during the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, via ESPN. “So, conversations I’ve had with the players — and I’ve had a lot of them — I will keep those private between myself and the player. I respect those coach-to-player conversations. I don’t want to speak for anybody else.”

Shurmur said he acknowledged to Flowers what he had been told, that Flowers played through an ankle issue in 2017. He did not allow a sack in more than 300 consecutive snaps, but there is no denying Flowers has been a major disappointment, given his lofty draft status. Right tackle is often a better fit for a big, powerful run blocker. Flowers is big, but he is not a strong run blocker, often leaning into defensive linemen rather than bulldozing them out of the way.

It will not be an easy transition for Flowers, although Shurmur said, “He’s had some experience [on the right side] that maybe is not quite as obvious to people.” Plenty of premier pass-rushers line up on the left side of the defensive line, putting them directly across from Flowers at right tackle.

“The right-tackle, left-tackle thing in itself, you got to protect both edges, and it comes down to the matchup of the rushers a lot of times,” Shurmur said. “There are some guys their whole careers have played on the right or the left, so a move like that would be difficult. But most often because these guys were not just born starters, they’ve had to move around up front, and we’re very confident he’ll have success over there.”

Springer: Baseball is a game where you have to let the good and the bad go and move on to the next one.

This is the time of year when NFL coaches and talent evaluators are scrambling to find that one big insight that will reveal to them which incoming rookies are destined to be stars. Does hand size hold the key Bench press reps Polite manners Browns head coach Hue Jackson has found something else: the ability to make funny noises.

I can say that I was proud of myself for turning the page on a lot of things. Earlier in my career, I might have let something like that affect me and affect the outcome of my next at-bat or my next play.

I’m glad that I was able to take a big step forward in that department. It’s something I know I can do now, whereas before, you might not have thought you could move on that quickly. I’m going to take that into this season.

For us this is a pretty significant change, NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay said during a news conference at the annual league meeting in Orlando on Tuesday. This is not situational protection. … In this, we’re basically getting to a technique that is just too dangerous for both the player doing it and the player that’s getting hit. This has very little requirement to it. This is simply if you lower your head to initiate contact and you make contact with an opponent it’s a foul.

Ohtani, knowingly or not, is ushering in a newfound acknowledgment of Babe Ruth, which is all fine and good — tip your cap to the Babe, if you’re so inclined — but the segregated game the Babe played when he pitched and hit in 1918 bears minimal resemblance to the one Ohtani is playing in 2018.

Maybe the Jets love two quarterbacks and think the Giants will draft Nelson. If so, they’ll be OK. I don’t recall a team ever saying privately or publicly that it loved three or more franchise quarterbacks in a given draft, and if the Jets loved three different passers, there’s a decent chance one of them would have fallen to No. 6. You can certainly understand this Jets move, but it might not be enough of a measure for the Jets to get the guy they want.

Giants add cornerback Teddy Williams

The deal with the Jets was several days in the making, according to Ballard, with talks beginning on Monday or Tuesday. It’s the second trade in less than a week that resulted in teams moving up, with the Bills moving from No. 21 to No. 12 in a deal with the Bengals.

Chances are more deals will be happening before the picks start to be made on April 26.

The Colts do not play their first home AFC South game of the until after their bye week. That’s the razors edge the Rangers are playing on right now.But would those teams be better off with a proven commodity like Romo, who comes with durability concerns?Boller was good and thank him.Peotone’s Chandler Gartner also won a title.

Coming into this game at 1 against the AFC North, the Raiders were down by 3, but ended up 20 to the Browns despite the fact that was 34 of 54 for 351 yards, 2 touchdowns, and interception.And third game was better.I think about the Bowl, and thinking about the guys that come this capacity.Lucky for Detroit, selected Aguirre with the first overall selection.

The Steelers presumably are eyeing Slater for a similar role, given that the Steelers currently don’t need receivers. If they do, Slater definitely isn’t the answer; in 10 NFL seasons, Slater has one career catch a 46-yarder back in 2011.

Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2018 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, the league announced Friday.

The 29-year-old Green caught just 14 passes last year, but that’s not really his job.

I thought they played really well.Rizzuto received the nickname Scooter while the minor leagues, from fellow infielder Hitchcock, who later managed the Majors.The end of the schedule is daunting.However, I know that and aren’t nostalgic, and tend to let veterans go a year before they hit their decline.He’s a lot of fun, but he’s obviously one of the smartest businessmen the world, given what he’s been able to accomplish.49ers_119

NFL Draft 2018: Jets acquire No. 3 overall pick from Colts

The Jets are making waves in the NFL Draft and it’s still more than a month away.

The team announced Saturday on Twitter they have acquired the No. 3 overall pick in the draft from the Colts.

The Giants had two massive holes on the roster for years. Gettleman solved both problems in less than three months on the job.

The Kansas Chiefs decided to shake up the status quo after five straight winning seasons without any payoff in the playoffs. 

Of course, Alex Smith’s trade to the Washington Redskins set the tone for the entire offseason. But the Chiefs are comfortable moving forward with last year’s first-round pick, Patrick Mahomes. Plus, the Smith trade brought Kendall Fuller back in return. Fuller allowed a league-low 55 passer rating last season when covering the slot, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Fuller, along with David Amerson’s addition, allowed the front office to trade Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams. Along with Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali’s exoduses, it’s obvious the Chiefs are trying to build a new culture while continuing their recent winning ways. 

In order to improve upon the team’s previous approach, the coaching staff must be flexible in its approach, particularly with Mahomes taking over the offense. Mahomes’ skill set is very different than what Reid and Co. grew accustomed to with Smith. As a result, the offense required a different type of receiver. 

While the Jets will be initially criticized for paying a heavy price in the trade, it does position them to finally solve their years-long quarterback quandary. New York has been searching for a long-term answer at the position and now might have their best shot to address it.

If the two teams take advantage of this trade, both could reap their desired results.

Moving on from Nelson couldn’t have been fun for Gutekunst, but the swap for Graham was the percentage play.

Going off the second half of last season, Nelson showed the signs of a rapidly declining player. His exceptional chemistry with Aaron Rodgers left open the chance of keeping him around another season, but by last December Nelson’s speed and ability to run after the catch looked like they were gone.

Giants’ interest in John Dorsey affected timing of Browns’ decisions

The Cleveland Browns hired John Dorsey as their general manager before the New York Giants could even get a chance to interview him, league sources told ESPN.

After a 14-2 season and demolishing the Dolphins in the divisional round of the 1999-2000 postseason, the Jags looked poised to cruise to the Super Bowl. But the 13-3 Titans had their own ambitions. The Jaguars entered halftime of the AFC Championship Game with a 14-10 lead. Then the Titans crushed them. Quarterback Steve McNair ran one in. Jags quarterback Mark Brunell got sacked for a safety. Derrick Mason took the safety kickoff to the house. And just like that, it was 26-14. The Titans would tack on another touchdown in the fourth, but the damage was done.

The Jaguars would miss the postseason for five subsequent seasons and have won just one playoff game since 1999.

According to the report, Manziel met the terms of a dismissal agreement made with the Dallas County district attorney’s office. Those terms included completing an anger management class, attending a domestic violence impact panel and participating in a program similar to the NFL’s substance abuse program.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick of the Browns had attempted to continue his career in the CFL after his time in the NFL was a bust.

Although the CFL denied Manziel’s bid to play this season, it left the door open for next year if he is able to fulfill certain requirements set by commissioner Randy Ambrosie in order to be eligible to play.chargers_012

Exum, Jazz still unclear on injury severity

Dante Exum’s return to the Utah Jazz remains a mystery with coach Quin Snyder admitting he still does not know if his Australian point guard will play this season.

Exum suffered last week what could be the second season-ending injury of his short NBA career when he drove to the basket, collided with Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren and damaged his shoulder in a pre-season game.

Jazz guard Dante Exum, who averaged 6.2 points last season, suffered a separated left shoulder and ligament damage and could miss the season, sources told ESPN.

Jazz point guard Dante Exum was taken to a hospital after Friday’s preseason game against the Suns for MRI tests on his injured left shoulder.
“I know they are in the process of evaluating him and planning a course of action, but we’ll get him back as soon as we can,” Snyder told reporters before the Jazz played the Los Angeles Lakers in a pre-season game on Tuesday in LA.

For Boston, an extension might ultimately hinge on what the market sets for Smart’s value. It seems unlikely Boston would be willing to pay Smart the sort of money Gary Harris got from the Denver Nuggets (4 years, $84 million), but there’s a more palpable number for a Celtics team that’s set to live above the cap for the foreseeable future. Staring at an eventual climb back into the luxury tax (and, further out, repeater penalties), the Celtics must still be responsible with their spending, especially considering that many rivals won’t have much to spend on the open market this summer.

Regardless of whether the two sides come to an agreement before next week’s deadline, there’s an obvious urgency to Smart’s play this preseason, and a clear desire to take a step forward this year.


Colts QB Andrew Luck officially out for Week 1

Colts GM Chris Ballard confirmed Monday what everyone expected: His team’s highest-paid player, QB Andrew Luck, will not play Week 1 against the Rams.

Luck underwent shoulder surgery in January and while there have been no reported setbacks, Luck was on the physically unable to perform list during the preseason so he has not been able to work with his teammates leading up to the regular season.

In addition to that, no one has seen Luck throw at all in the weeks leading up to the season. Luck himself said weeks ago that he hasn’t thrown a football either, so his return is in question far beyond Week 1.

Colbert, 60, joined the franchise in 2000, initially spending the first 11 years in the front office as director of football operations before taking over as general manager in 2010. He has helped guide Pittsburgh to three AFC championships and two Super Bowl victories in three appearances.

“I have been very fortunate to have been a part of this organization over the last 17 years,” Colbert said in a statement. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to continue to be a part of our annual pursuit of a championship.”

Not everyone, however, shared the same enthusiasm. Following news of the extension, holdout running back Le’Veon Bell sarcastically tweeted his praise for Colbert.bears_001-223x223

Chargers will hold WR Mike Williams out until October, report says

Chargers rookie Mike Williams will not take the field until October, reported.

Even though the wide receiver is recovering well from a herniated disc sustained last spring, the Chargers want to be careful with their top draft pick.

Williams has been seen sprinting on a treadmill, which indicates he is close to being 100 percent and won’t need surgery.

For now, the Chargers will make sure Williams practices in September so he is in top shape for his October debut.

It’s unclear how the roster will pan out. It hasn’t been said if the Chargers will have Williams on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Ultimately, that depends on how the rest of his recovery goes.

For the first time, the Chargers Pro Bowl running back will play an NFL game in front of his father, Melvin Gordon Jr., who was released from prison in December.

“It means a lot to have my dad out here,” Gordon said (via ESPN). “I’m definitely excited to have him out here and see me go. I think it will be a good one. I know that he’s happy that he can be a part of it now and don’t get left out of the loop.”

The elder Gordon, known as Bo, was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years for trafficking cocaine and served time in a federal prison in Ohio. A court reduced that original sentence, and he got early release last year. Although he and his son communicated regularly during his prison term, Bo had to follow the first two years of his son’s NFL career only through highlights.

Since his release, however, Bo Gordon has been a regular attendee at Chargers practices. The man who inspired and helped develop Melvin Gordon’s NFL career is making up for lost time.

“I embedded it in his head that he was going to the NFL,” Bo Gordon told ESPN The Magazine. “Almost like Floyd Mayweather’s dad. He trained his son from the time he was a baby, and look at him now. It’s the same thing with Melvin.”


Tim Duncan’s former financial advisor gets 4 years in prison for wire fraud

The man who defrauded Tim Duncan will pay for his dishonest crime.

Charles Augustus Banks IV, the former financial advisor of the Spurs legend, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $7.5 million in restitution to Duncan during a Wednesday court hearing in San Antonio, the Associated Press reported.

The offer the Wizards made to Porter at the onset of free agency was short of the max, but the team is ready to match the Kings’ offer, multiple reports say. Should the Wizards do that, Porter would become the highest-paid player on the roster, the Washington Post notes.

Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to be one of Washington’s salary-cap casualties, as he’s seeking a bigger salary than the $4.6 million qualifying offer extended to him by the Wizards.

Porter, who Washington selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, plans to meet with two more teams before making a decision about where he’ll play next season.

Still, a Cubs-Tigers deal for Verlander makes a lot of sense. The Cubs need a starting pitcher for 2017. They’ll need starting pitching help after 2017, with Jake Arrieta and John Lackey both free agents. So if the Cubs do trade for a pitcher, it makes sense for them to go after one signed beyond 2017. Maybe that’s Verlander, maybe it’s a younger guy like Sonny Gray. I don’t know if they’d be willing to part with top prospect Eloy Jimenez; yes, they traded Gleyber Torres last year, but that was a better Cubs team and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer believed Aroldis Chapman was the final piece needed. This year’s team isn’t even a sure bet to make the playoffs.

Even if they want to keep Jimenez, they still have a logjam of position players, particularly if they believe Kyle Schwarber is still in their long-term plans (and, no, Schwarber isn’t good enough to be the centerpiece of a Verlander or Gray deal). They could make Ian Happ or Javier Baez part of a deal for a pitcher.