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Sports Between football, hockey, baseball, basketball, and golf, we’re showing your favourite sports year-round. No matter what the season, we have something for you to cheer about. Who is your favorite player to watch? Which foundational young stars would you want on your team? We polled our NFL insiders to come up with the best players under 25 at every position. The Eagles are obvious picks in the NFC East, but who else will take division crowns? NFL Nation has full breakdowns of all eight.
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Is he the best bet among rookie QBs to have long-term success? More than 16 months into their contract stalemate, one side must look at the clock and decide if it’s worth meeting the other’s demands. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah won’t come to an agreement with the Lions and will play with the franchise tag this season in the last year of his contract, league sources say. No long-term deal is expected between the Rams and franchised safety Lamarcus Joyner by Monday’s deadline, though the two sides continue talking, a league source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin still believes a long-term deal with running back Le’Veon Bell could be reached before Monday’s 4 p.
Michael Irvin sides with HOF on T. Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin supports the decision not to acknowledge Terrell Owens individually during the enshrinement weekend in August. Could 49ers’ George Kittle break out at TE? The second-year tight end out of Iowa arrived with little fanfare, but he’s showing plenty of potential in Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense. There’s a changing of the guard afoot at the tight end position in the NFL, and these six players could become the next household names.
The QB’s versatility extends off the field, where he channels pop culture with a mind that “goes 100 miles an hour” to craft catchy monikers. He didn’t like it at first, but Giants rookie Saquon Barkley is taking his new nickname in a very strong stride. Marshawn Lynch is synonymous with his on-field moniker. Who else answers to unique nicknames?
Here’s one for all 32 teams. The Saints’ dynamic duo has been speaking the same language for 12 seasons, producing one of the most sophisticated attacks in NFL history. It’s in vogue these days to get a head coach who also can call offensive plays, with 14 of the 32 current head men currently holding both roles. We run through the steps taken to develop three plays that were massively successful, from conception to the final execution on game day. Some feel slighted, others don’t care because they’ll edit themselves to a 99.
But on Madden-ratings release day, players take notice of their number. Should NFL worry about referee turnover? The league will have to navigate one of its most complicated set of rule changes with one of its least experienced groups of officials ever. The journeyman QB, now 26, traveled a difficult path to the NFL that has given him thick skin as he steps into a bigger role with the Panthers. Our panel of fantasy football analysts offers expected surprise performers, disappointments and those who will take their game to another level. The Steelers All-Pro has the numbers, but Odell Beckham Jr. Julio Jones are among the elite alternatives.
Antonio Brown at 30: Where will he finish among all-time greats? Anything seems possible with Antonio Brown. As he turns 30, is a run at Jerry Rice’s records in the cards? They’re kindred spirits, and the pass-rusher is enjoying his new chance with Gruden pushing him forward. Which team has the top offensive firepower? Just running backs and pass-catchers — no quarterbacks, linemen or coordinators allowed.
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When he’s not protecting Jared Goff, the Rams tackle has another job as owner of Rise Nation — one of the top esports teams in the country. Here are the crafts that players are working on outside of football. Let your voice be heard and then tune in to the 2018 ESPY Awards on July 18 on ABC! Valanciunas’ physical play draws ire of P. Finally, a loss: When is Steph Curry walking through that door? Michigan hires father of recruit Devin Bush Jr. Big Ten roundtable: Which quarterback battle is most intriguing?
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Will Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas have 2016 to remember? Does Hanley Ramirez’s homer signal start of a hot streak? The View From Section 416: Can we just call it New Wrigley Field? Who is the O’s class clown? Fundraising 1ST RND proudly supports fundraising efforts for organizations of all sizes.
Sign Up for the Roster Sign up for the 1ST RND Roster and be the first to receive exclusive offers and discounts, and to hear about events, autograph sessions, and game day promotions! In keeping with tradition, the morning after the Super Bowl I post a seven-round mock draft. As always, I’ll caution you guys to not get too upset about team needs—because they’re all going to change in free agency—and to remember that I’m still in the process of learning about these players. But that’s never stopped me from having some fun and digging into a mock draft. For me, mock drafts are a great exercise in learning team needs and sorting out my thoughts on players.
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The NFL Scouting Combine in late February will help with that, but this early look touches on where the players are valued and what I’m hearing from NFL teams in regards to what they’re looking for. You’ll notice this mock draft isn’t 256 picks long. That’s because compensatory picks haven’t been announced yet. Once those extra 32 picks are announced, they will be added into future mock drafts.
But that’s important to note because a player drafted in Round 5 of this mock draft might be a Round 4 player with compensatory picks added in. New general manager John Dorsey has one job this offseason—find the Cleveland Browns a franchise quarterback. After the previous regime traded out of chances to draft Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, it’s on Dorsey to find the first franchise quarterback in the rebooted Browns’ history. Going with Sam Darnold not only makes sense, but it’s also what I’m hearing the team is leaning toward.
The USC junior doesn’t have Josh Allen’s arm strength, Baker Mayfield’s playmaking or Josh Rosen’s smooth stroke, but he is the best of all the traits put together. You don’t have to worry about Darnold grabbing his crotch on the sidelines or wearing a “F–k Trump” hat to one of the president’s golf courses, and there aren’t the questions about his accuracy like there are with Allen. Darnold also has the body type to handle the AFC North with his thicker frame and toughness. He was recruited to play linebacker, after all. If the Browns want a franchise quarterback, Darnold is the safest way to go. Will the New York Giants draft a quarterback, or will sentiment rule the room, allowing Eli Manning to return as the starter?
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None of us can know the answer right now, especially with former Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman taking over the job in New York. It’s easy to say that Gettleman, who was with the Giants when Eli Manning was drafted, would bend to the will of ownership and the fanbase in keeping Manning around while developing last year’s third-rounder Davis Webb. What the Giants should do is draft a quarterback. Manning’s play has fallen off as of late, and that won’t be fixed by trading this pick or drafting a pass-rusher. If you’re Gettleman and the Giants, you have to plan to not be drafting this high again anytime soon. That means you get the quarterback. Rosen won’t be a fit everywhere, but I believe he is a fit in New York and would step in and challenge Manning for the starting job immediately.
If the Indianapolis Colts keep this pick instead of trading out to a quarterback-needy team, I expect NC State’s Bradley Chubb to be the selection. Of course, it’s early February and that could change, but the big pass-rusher is exactly what this team lacks. Chubb has power in his 275-pound frame and uses it well to shed blockers, but he’s much more agile than one would expect from someone his size. He can stand up and rush the quarterback or put his hand in the dirt to crash the backfield. Chubb’s scheme versatility is a sell in today’s NFL when defenses rarely stay in a base 4-3 or 3-4.
If not a trade out or Chubb, the Colts front office could go “best player available” here and draft Saquon Barkley from Penn State. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to load up the offense, but the needs on defense make it more likely right now that Chubb is the pick. The best player in the draft lasts until pick No. 4, and John Dorsey’s Cleveland Browns should be dancing in the draft room.
1 pick Sam Darnold gives the Browns a dynamic duo of young players to build the offense around. Add in that Cleveland already has a good offensive line and a budding star in tight end David Njoku, and there is a foundation of greatness. Barkley, as I’ve said before, is the top running back prospect I’ve ever graded. He’s a brick house at 230 pounds, and I expect that he will run the 40-yard dash in the 4. He is also a great person off the field.
1 overall, they can rest easy knowing the pick at No. 4 is the safest and best in this class. The Denver Broncos will be major players for Kirk Cousins in free agency, but in this early mock draft, I’m projecting them to go a different direction—signing Case Keenum and drafting a quarterback of the future. Wiping his hands free of Paxton Lynch in one offseason, John Elway can get a restart at quarterback and have a situation similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs had with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Josh Allen isn’t a Day 1 starter despite rare physical tools. Like Mahomes last year, he needs to work on correcting some mechanical issues with his feet to improve his accuracy.
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But also like Mahomes or Cam Newton, Allen can make some amazing things happen with his arm and his feet. Broncos fans seem dead set on Baker Mayfield, which is a possibility here, but Allen is the quarterback I continue to hear the team linked to. If Kirk Cousins doesn’t land in Denver, where does he go? I’m projecting the New York Jets open up the checkbook and land the prized free agent. With Cousins on the roster, quarterback is no longer a need for the Jets.
That allows general manager Mike Maccagnan to go after the best player on the boardbut for me that’s safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and there’s no way the Jets need a safety. So, on to the second-best player, which is Ohio State’s Denzel Ward. A feisty, tough cornerback with excellent speed and instincts, Ward would fill a huge need for the Jets as the front office tries to continue building a powerhouse secondary. And while pass-rusher is a bigger need, there isn’t one on the board worthy of a top-six selection. The run on quarterbacks benefits the Buccaneers, as my No. 2-ranked player falls into their laps at pick No. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick is the versatile, attacking safety this defense so badly needs.
Fitzpatrick is one of the highest-graded players I’ve come across off the field. Coaches, teammates and even opponents rave about him. He’s as clean as they come, and he backs it up with excellent instincts and a high football IQ. He and Jamal Adams aren’t similar athletes, but off the field they’re like brothers. On the field, I’ve heard Fitzpatrick compared to Jalen Ramsey and Micah Hyde. He’s probably somewhere in the middle for me, but that still projects out to be a damn good player with the tools to rush the quarterback, stop the run, man up in coverage and be the leader of a squad. The Bears land a difference-maker in Quenton Nelson, as he follows his former college offensive line coach to Chicago from Notre Dame.
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And while guard might seem like a boring pick and not a huge need, teams will gladly make a spot on the starting lineup for this monster. Nelson is a violent, brutal blocker, but he’s also a fluid athlete with the movement skills to pull, trap and keep pace with speedy pass-rushers on the interior. Nelson isn’t like anyone else in the NFL currently. He’s meaner than Zack Martin and more athletic than Brandon Scherff. Plug him in at left guard, though, and the entire Bears offensive line is suddenly better. Adding Nelson means less work for Cody Whitehair at center and for Kyle Long at right guard. The balance and power in the middle of the line also means a better life for Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard.