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The recruiting process for the Alabama Crimson Tide trying to land quarterbacks in the 2017 class may have been completed Monday night when Hawaii’s Tua Tagovailoa committed to the SEC powerhouse.
Tagovailoa broke the news on KHON-TV, a local Hawaiian news station, stating, “I am making my commitment to the University of Alabama” donning an Alabama hat to help announce his decision. When asked about his thoughts on why he picked Alabama, Tagovailoa responded with, “Coach [Nick] Saban is a really good guy, a really humble man, soft spoken but the words hit.”
College coaches started to take notice of Tagovailoa after he passed for 2,583 yards with 33 touchdowns against just three picks during his sophomore season. In 2015, Tagovailoa helped guide St. Louis High School to a 9-2 record, passing for 2,932 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The dual threat rushed for 576 yards in 2014 and another 481 yards off 77 carries last season with 11 additional scores.
The majority of recruiting offers coming in for the 6-foot-1 210-pound talent were from Pac-12 programs like UCLA, USC, Oregon, Arizona State, and Washington but a few SEC schools took notice. Texas A&M and Ole Miss also offered Tagovailoa. The 4-star recruit visited the Tide on April 7 and followed that up with a trip to Oxford on April 9.
Alabama Crimson Tide 2017 Verbal Commit List (9)
SS Xavier McKinney, 6-1, 185, Roswell HS, Roswell, GA
LB VanDarius Cowan, 6-4, 217, Palm Beach Gardens HS, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
LB Gary Johnson, 6-1, 225, Dodge City Community College., Dodge City, KS
DE Aaron Sterling, 6-1, 270, Stephenson HS, Stone Mountain, GA
OL Alex Leatherwood, 6-5, 298, Washington HS, Pensacola, FL
RB Najee Harris, 6-2, 210, Antioch Senior, Antioch, CA
RB Brian Robinson, 6-1, 215, Hillcrest HS, Tuscaloosa, AL
QB Tua Tagovailoa, 6-1, 210, St. Louis HS, Honolulu, HI
ATH Chadarius Townsend, 6-0, 180, Tanner HS, Tanner, AL
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.
Dabo Swinney is everyone's favorite coach.
The head coach for Clemson entered the #RunningManChallenge that has taken over social media. He's got his own special rendition, featuring the Chick-Fil-A cow. Goals.
Swinney always steals the show.
If you can't get enough of Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock, you're going to enjoy what Fox Sports 1 has planned.
If you're among the rest of the population, you're scared for your life. The two "hot-takers" are reportedly joining forces for a debate show, similar to ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption." It makes the most sense because Whitlock and Cowherd were both employees at ESPN and PTI is the network's highest-rated show, so why not try what worked for the worldwide leader.
The title being thrown around for the show is "Speak For Yourself," although haters of Fox Sports could probably come up with other options they'd like for it to be called.
FS1 is about to launch a "PTI"-style debate show with Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock. SBD's story: https://t.co/FUZbvreT7T— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) May 2, 2016
Although Skip Bayless is reportedly heading to Fox Sports, there are no talks of him on this particular show. Thank goodness... could you imagine the three of them on one show? Your television might explode.
Another offseason, another busy year in the SEC’s assistant coach carousel. There’s usually no shortage of movement within the league or changes on staffs each offseason, and 2016 brought several moves to the contenders or teams looking to take a step forward in the standings. LSU’s hire of Dave Aranda as the program’s new defensive coordinator is one of the best by any team in the nation this offseason. On the offensive side, Georgia and Texas A&M are turning to veteran hands to direct improvement. The Bulldogs hired Jim Chaney from Pittsburgh to coordinate their attack, while Noel Mazzone left UCLA for College Station to call the plays for the Aggies. Former Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt returns to Tuscaloosa as the defensive coordinator after Kirby Smart left for Georgia.
Which assistant coach hires could make the biggest impact in the SEC for 2016? Here’s a look at key coordinator and assistant moves to watch this fall:
The SEC's Top 15 Assistant Coach Hires for 2016
Dave Aranda, Defensive Coordinator, LSU
LSU’s defense upgraded when coach Les Miles hired Aranda to replace Kevin Steele. Aranda is one of the rising stars in the assistant ranks and comes to Baton Rouge after three successful seasons at Wisconsin. Under Aranda’s watch, the Badgers finished in the top three in the Big Ten in scoring defense from 2013-15 and finished fourth nationally by limiting opponents to 4.4 yards per play last season. Prior to Wisconsin, Aranda called the defensive signals at Utah State for one year (2012) and at Hawaii from 2010-11. LSU’s defense surprisingly finished 10th in the SEC in points allowed last season. However, with Aranda calling the signals, expect this defense to finish near the top of the league in 2016.
Terrell Buckley, Assistant Secondary Coach, Mississippi State
After a standout career in college at Florida State and a 14-year stint in the NFL, Buckley is working his way through the assistant ranks and lands at Mississippi State after a two-year run at Louisville. Prior to Louisville, Buckley worked as Akron’s cornerback coach from 2012-13 and also spent from 2007-11 as an off-field assistant with Florida State. The Mississippi native returns to his home state tasked with coaching the secondary and leading the program’s recruiting efforts.
Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator, Georgia
Chaney is a well-traveled assistant, as his stop in Athens with the Bulldogs is his fourth coordinator position in the last eight seasons. As Pittsburgh’s play-caller in 2015, Chaney helped the Panthers average 28.2 points a game and rank fourth in the ACC (conference-only games) in rushing offense. In addition to recent stops at Arkansas, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, Chaney worked in the NFL with the Rams and also coached at Wyoming and Purdue under Joe Tiller. Having a veteran offensive play-caller like Chaney should be critical for Georgia and new coach Kirby Smart, as the Bulldogs look to develop five-star freshman quarterback Jacob Eason. Additionally, Chaney’s background in spread offenses and pro-style, power-run attacks should provide a nice blend of schemes for the Bulldogs.
Eddie Gran, Offensive Coordinator, Kentucky
Kentucky is looking for a breakthrough year in coach Mark Stoops’ fourth season. After back-to-back 5-7 seasons, the Wildcats are hoping a favorable schedule could lead to the program’s first bowl trip since 2010. Improving the offense was Stoops’ top priority this offseason, as Kentucky averaged only 17.5 points in SEC games last season. Stoops jettisoned first-year coordinator Shannon Dawson after 2015 and hired Eddie Gran away from Cincinnati to call the plays in 2016. Gran is known as a strong recruiter but also proved his ability as a play-caller over the last three seasons with the Bearcats. Under Gran’s direction, Cincinnati averaged at least 30 points a game from 20013-15 and led the American Athletic Conference in yards per play (6.60) in 2016.
Torrian Gray, Defensive Backs Coach, Florida
Even with Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal leaving early for the NFL, Florida’s secondary should be one of the best in the nation in 2016. Additionally, this unit received a boost with Gray’s arrival from Virginia Tech in early February. Gray is a veteran defensive backs coach, spending from 2006-15 at Virginia Tech and 2004-05 with the Bears. Gray was instrumental in developing a handful of standouts in Blacksburg, including cornerbacks Kyle Fuller, Brandon Flowers and Jayron Hosley.
Herb Hand, Offensive Line Coach, Auburn
After two seasons at Penn State, Hand is returning to the SEC as Auburn’s new offensive line coach. Hand is also reunited with Gus Malzahn, as the two worked together at Tulsa from 2007-08. Prior to Penn State, Hand worked for three seasons at Vanderbilt (2010-13) and also has stops on his resume from West Virginia (2001-06) and Clemson (1999-00). Not only is Hand a good addition for Auburn’s offensive line, but he’s also one of the best coaches in the nation to follow on Twitter.
Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
Offense has been Texas A&M’s strength since joining the SEC in 2012, but this unit’s scoring average has decreased in each of the last four years. Coach Kevin Sumlin is looking for a spark and is handing the keys to the offense to veteran play-caller Noel Mazzone. The New Mexico native has worked as a coordinator for a handful of teams, including stops at Arizona State, UCLA, Ole Miss, NC State and Auburn. Under Mazzone’s direction at UCLA, the Bruins averaged at least 30 points a game in each of the last four years. Mazzone should be a solid addition to Texas A&M’s staff.
Sam Pittman, Offensive Line Coach, Georgia
Pittman is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top offensive line coaches and joins Kirby Smart’s staff at Georgia after three successful years at Arkansas. During his tenure with the Razorbacks, Pittman developed standout groups in the trenches, as Arkansas led the SEC in fewest sacks allowed for three consecutive years (2013-15). Prior to his stint in Fayetteville, Pittman spent one year at Tennessee (2012), worked from 2007-11 at North Carolina and also has stops on his resume from Northern Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Jeremy Pruitt, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama
Pruitt returns to Tuscaloosa after short stints at Florida State (2013) and Georgia (2014-15). Under Pruitt’s watch, the Seminoles limited opponents to 4.1 yards per play en route to winning the national championship, while the Bulldogs finished third in the SEC in scoring defense last season. Prior to calling the signals for Florida State’s defense in 2013, Pruitt worked as an assistant for Alabama from 2007-12 and was a high school coach from 1998-06. Even though Kirby Smart played a key role in shaping the defense, the Crimson Tide won’t miss a beat with Pruitt calling the signals in 2016.
Paul Rhoads, Defensive Backs Coach, Arkansas
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has a track record of hiring good assistant coaches and his 2016 hires of Rhoads might be one of the best positional coach hires of the offseason. Rhoads worked as Iowa State’s head coach from 2009-15, guiding the Cyclones to a 32-55 record over the last seven years. Prior to his stint in Ames, Rhoads was a successful defense coordinator at Auburn (2008) and Pittsburgh (2000-07). The addition of Rhoads is a huge boost for a unit that ranked 103rd nationally in pass efficiency defense last season. Expect Rhoads to make a big-time impact on Arkansas’ secondary this fall.
Travaris Robinson, Defensive Coordinator, South Carolina
Robinson has worked under Will Muschamp for the last five years and was one of his first hires at South Carolina this offseason. The Miami native is tasked with helping Muschamp coordinate the defense and is also slated to coach defensive backs. Robinson was instrumental in the development of Florida’s defensive backs from 2011-14 and helped Auburn’s secondary finish No. 31 nationally in efficiency defense in 2015. He’s also regarded for his work on the recruiting trail and should help the Gamecocks upgrade the talent on defense over the next few seasons.
Kurt Roper, Co-Offensive Coordinator, South Carolina
South Carolina’s offense is in need of major improvement after averaging only 21.9 points a game last season. And for the second time in Will Muschamp’s head coaching career, he’s turning to Roper to engineer improvement on this side of the ball. In Roper’s only season at Florida, the Gators showed progress on the stat sheet (30.3 points a game), but the staff was dismissed after a 6-5 regular season mark. Roper also has stops on his resume from stints at Ole Miss, Kentucky, Tennessee and Duke and should mix some of the up-tempo/spread approaches with pro-style principles.
Bob Shoop, Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee
Tennessee’s defense wasn’t bad last season, but this unit should take the next step under new coordinator Bob Shoop. The Pennsylvania native is one of the nation’s most underrated assistant coaches and arrives in Knoxville after two seasons at Penn State. Under Shoop’s watch, the Nittany Lions ranked among the best in the nation in fewest points allowed (2014-15) and led the Big Ten in fewest yards per play allowed in 2014 (4.3). Shoop also worked as Vanderbilt’s defensive play-caller from 2011-13, helping the Commodores finish fifth in the SEC in fewest points allowed (18.7) in 2012.
Peter Sirmon, Defensive Coordinator, Mississippi State
Sirmon’s arrival at Mississippi State is one of the league’s most intriguing offseason hires. After Manny Diaz left for Miami, coach Dan Mullen hired Sirmon after a two-year stint as USC’s linebacker coach and interim defensive coordinator in the 2015 Holiday Bowl. Before his two seasons with the Trojans, Sirmon worked at Washington (2012-13), Tennessee (2010-11) and Oregon (2009). Additionally, Sirmon isn’t too far removed from his playing days, as he spent seven years in the NFL with the Titans (2000-06). Sirmon has accumulated a solid overall resume in just a few seasons as an assistant. However, this will be his first full year as a coordinator.
Jim Turner, Offensive Line Coach, Texas A&M
The overall performance of Texas A&M’s line has slipped since Turner left College Station to work with the Miami Dolphins prior to the 2012 season. But improvement could be on the horizon for the Aggies, as Turner is back at Texas A&M and should play a key role in developing some of the team’s young talent in the trenches. While Texas A&M’s hire of Noel Mazzone is getting most of the attention, Turner’s return is just as critical.
Other Key Assistant Hires
Kurt Anderson, Offensive Line Coach, Arkansas
Shane Beamer, Tight Ends/Special Teams, Georgia
Dameyune Craig, Wide Receivers Coach, LSU
DeMontie Cross, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Missouri
Karl Dunbar, Defensive Line Coach, Alabama
Glen Elarbee, Offensive Line Coach, Missouri
Shawn Elliott, Offensive Line Coach, South Carolina
Osia Lewis, Outside Linebackers Coach, Vanderbilt
Bryan McClendon, Co-Offensive Coordinator, South Carolina
Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn
Mel Tucker, Defensive Coordinator, Georgia
Now that the 2016 NFL Draft has concluded, we might as well move on to 2017, right? After all, it's never too early to look at where the SEC's best players will further their careers.
This year, the SEC had 51 players drafted. For the 10th year in a row, the SEC led the way among its Power Five brethren (Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12). The SEC has proven time and time again that it has the most talented players in the country. But will that streak continue in 2017?
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame
Here is an early look at the top 25 NFL Draft prospects (in alphabetical order) out of the SEC for 2017.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU (Jr., 6-1, 211)
As a sophomore in 2015, Adams started all 12 games for the Bayou Bengals and earned second team All-SEC honors. Before that, Adams was a consensus freshman All-American. He should be poised and ready to make the jump to the NFL.
Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama (Sr., 6-3, 294)
It’s no surprise that Allen is projected to be at least a top-10 pick in 2017. He probably would have been taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft if he had entered his name. In the fall, Allen should be able to fine tune his skill set, which will benefit him greatly this time next year.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee (Jr., 6-3, 257)
Tennessee’s top prospect, Barnett, made his name known early in Knoxville with 20.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks as a true freshman. Opposing offenses tried to double-team him more in 2015, but Barnett still managed to finish third in the SEC in sacks.
Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 252)
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (Jr., 5-10, 220)
After a gruesome knee injury in the Tennessee game cut Chubb’s 2015 season short, he took a backseat to LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry. Now, Chubb looks ready to make a triumphant return this fall. Pro teams are hoping for Chubb to get back to the level of production he was at before the injury.
Tony Conner, SS, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-0, 215)
Going into last season, Athlon had Conner listed as a first team All-American. He was nearly a unanimous preseason first team All-SEC selection. Unfortunately, injuries hampered Conner from being very productive. He has a chance to improve his draft stock this fall.
Travin Dural, WR, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 203)
Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-3, 227)
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (Sr., 6-1, 240)
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (Jr., 6-1, 230)
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (Jr., 6-5, 262)
Garrett has wreaked havoc on SEC offensive lines since his arrival to College Station two years ago. Now, not only has he gotten bigger, but he has improved his speed and agility. As one of the most purely talented players on the board, Garrett is expected to be taken early in the first round.
Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M (Sr., 6-6, 260)
Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri (Jr., 6-3, 255)
Mizzou’s defense, which has been the strength of the team under Barry Odom, is led by Harris. As a sophomore, Harris earned second team All-SEC honors. He has played in every game in his career at Missouri and has been the key factor in the Tigers’ defensive success.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (Sr., 6-6, 242)
Eddie Jackson, SS, Alabama (Sr., 6-0, 194)
Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss (Sr., 6-2, 215)
Skai Moore, OLB, South Carolina (Sr., 6-2, 218)
The Gamecocks haven’t had much going on defense the past couple seasons, but Moore has done his job and then some. The senior linebacker was a team captain for South Carolina last season and led the team with 111 tackles. That was the second-highest total recorded by a Gamecock in the last 25 years.
Lewis Neal, DE, LSU (Sr., 6-2, 264)
Greg Pyke, OG, Georgia (Jr., 6-6, 313)
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (Jr. 6-6, 327)
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State (Sr., 6-2, 207)
With Dak Prescott slinging passes, Mississippi State has had a handful of productive receivers, but arguably none more so than Ross. Now that Prescott is gone, it will be interesting to see how head coach Dan Mullen uses Ross on offense this fall. He is shifty and will probably be desired in the slot as next year’s draft approaches.
Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas (Sr. 6-10, 326)
Without a doubt, Skipper will be the tallest tackle at the Scouting Combine next year. He has been a key piece in opening holes for Arkansas’ punishing and productive running game. Skipper blocks well into the whistle. Although pass blocking isn’t the strongest part of his game, he won’t be too hard to develop. His reach certainly won’t be a concern.
Cam Sutton, CB, Tennessee (Sr. 5-11, 186)
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida (Jr., 6-0, 191)
At this point in time, Tabor is probably the most highly touted cornerback prospect out of the SEC. He has had the luxury of playing opposite of Vernon Hargreaves III for most of his career. This fall will be Tabor’s time to prove that Hargreaves wasn’t the only talented pass defender for the Gators.
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU (Sr., 5-11, 191)
Talent does not always guarantee becoming an NFL Draft pick. Dozens of college football stars did not hear their name called during the 2016 NFL Draft. Many of these players have now signed with teams as undrafted free agents and will be competing with draft picks to make an opening-day NFL roster.
Who were the most notable omissions in the 2016 NFL Draft? Here's a look at the best players (in alphabetical order) still left on the board when all seven rounds of the draft were in the books:
Jack Allen, C, Michigan State
Allen is a former high school wrestling state champion in Illinois. Those grappling skills translate well in the trenches. He shows great toughness and leverage in making blocks. Allen has strong hands and can force defenders away from gaps. His smaller frame, along with average athleticism and flexibility caused him to fall out of the draft. But Allen's aggressiveness and tenacity will earn him a chance to prove himself.
Signed with: New Orleans Saints
Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Speed kills in the NFL and Alexander has it in spades. He totaled 210 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and three sacks over his final two seasons with the Sooners. Alexander has enough foot speed and lateral quickness to zero in and bring down running backs and dual-threat quarterbacks before they take off in the open field. He has some size and strength limitations inside, but could flourish on the outside.
Signed with: Cleveland Browns
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Few quarterbacks can match the dazzling playmaking ability Boykin displayed over his final two seasons with the Horned Frogs. During that two-year stretch, he threw for 7,474 yards and 64 touchdowns and rushed for 1,319 yards and 18 scores. Boykin is an accurate passer and an elusive runner. He's a bit undersized and NFL teams are understandably nervous about his maturity following an arrest for punching an officer in a bar fight led to him being suspended from the 2015 Alamo Bowl.
Signed with: Seattle Seahawks
Devon Cajuste, TE, Stanford
Freakish athleticism and an ability to move the chains helped Cajuste carve out a role as a two-year starter for the Cardinal. He is an underrated pass catcher who could find a niche as a slot receiver or tight end at the next level. His size and muscular frame helped him haul in contested catches and he has potential as a blocker.
Signed with: San Francisco 49ers
Jeremy Cash, S, Duke
In a draft where defensive backs flew off the board, seeing the ACC Defensive Player of the Year remain unselected feels odd. Cash certainly has a good enough skill set to stick on an NFL roster. Cash has an outstanding first step and possesses strong enough vision to adjust his coverage on the fly. He is equally strong in both run and pass coverage. Cash has a strong chance to carve out a niche playing a safety/linebacker role.
Signed with: Carolina Panthers
James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah
Cowser's age (26 years old) scared away some teams, but he has enough drive to turn into a fearsome NFL defender. During his time at SUU, Cowser set FCS records for career sacks (42.5) and tackles for a loss (80). He was a four-year starter who used strong hands and an even stronger motor to consistently make big plays. His maturity, strength and production level should translate well to the NFL.
Signed with: Oakland Raiders
Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa
After being plagued with injuries early in his career, Garrett led the nation with 1,588 receiving yards on 96 catches as a senior. His length and ability to build up speed are assets on longer and deeper routes. Garrett hauled in 28 catches of 20 or more yards in 2015. He isn't as quick going on underneath routes, but his length and production will earn him a shot to make an NFL roster.
Signed with: Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
What he lacks in size, Jones makes up for in athletic ability. He totaled seven interceptions for Auburn over his final two seasons. Jones can match quickness with most receivers and has good enough foot speed and fluid hip movement to shadow receivers on most routes. Injuries are a concern with Jones suffering a broken ankle, a hamstring injury and undergoing foot surgery during the last three years.
Signed with: Jacksonville Jaguars
Tyvis Powell, S, Ohio State
One of 30 early entrants who did not get drafted, Powell has a nice combination of size and speed to be an effective defensive back. He led the Buckeyes with three interceptions as a junior and also finished last season with 71 tackles. Powell's ability to make big plays in big games could get an NFL team to give him a second look.
Signed with: Seattle Seahawks
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma
Striker (above, right) set himself apart as one of the top pass rushers in the nation last season. He is explosive in getting to the ball and lives in opponent's backfields. Over three years as a starter with the Sooners, Striker totaled 46.5 tackles for a loss and 23 sacks. His versatility and excellent pursuit speed will help him overcome being undersized
Signed with: Buffalo Bills
Other players of note not drafted (alphabetical order): Vernon Adams, QB, Oregon; Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Minnesota; Quinshad Davis, WR, North Carolina; Trae Elston, S, Ole Miss; Jason Fanaika, DE, Utah; Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois; D.J. Foster, WR, Arizona State; Darrell Greene, G, San Diego State; Tom Hackett, P, Utah; Byron Marshall, WR/RB, Oregon; Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State; Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor; Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado; Landon Turner, OL, North Carolina; Antwaun Woods, DT, USC.
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.
Eli Apple's mom Annie is quickly becoming everyone's favorite sports mom.
While the newest Giants player is getting settled for life in the NFL, his mother is no doubt watching his back. Mrs. Apple tweets about the thirsty girls that inevitably come with being a rookie in the league and the tricks they will pull to get near her son. Just know she stays "woke" on all the girls trying to slide in her son's DMs.
Praying for all the thirsty girls sliding in new NFL rookies DMs with heavy booty & cleavage action pics. Only Jesus can quench your thirst— Annie Apple (@SurvivinAmerica) May 1, 2016
Eli knows what all kids know about their moms... that they are strong, unapologetic women and it's just best to accept them for who they are.
Mom never chilling 🙈🙈 https://t.co/4oGbRZTojb— Eli Apple (@EliApple13) May 1, 2016
Moms are all special, it would be impossible to rank them.
We love sports moms because no matter what happens, they will always keep their athletic sons and daughters in check. They never let their heads get too big or caught up in all the fame and fortune. It's an extremely tough job but they handle it with no problem. Here's some of our favorite moms in sports.
Olivia Manning (Peyton & Eli Manning's mom) - Olivia had a couple quarterbacks that made it to the NFL. That's a tough job in itself. She's never been shy about expressing her opinion, including when she expressed her feelings on Peyton's most recent Super Bowl win and the future of his career. A mom is always going to say what you should do with your life, even after you just won the Super Bowl.
Leigh Anne Tuohy (Michael Oher's mom) - Even though Oher was adopted by the Tuohy family, they are very much family. If you saw the movie The Blind Side, you'll understand how important Oher is to Tuohy and the rest of the family. She will protect them (and Ole Miss football) at all cost.
Pamela McGee (JaVale McGee) - The only thing harder than having your mom at the majority of your games is if she played the game as well. Major pressure. Pam does not take it easy on JaVale because she was a former basketball player, and could probably still school the majority of people in the world. It's like having a coach and mom all in one.
Wilma McNabb (Donovan McNabb's mom) - One of the most famous mom's of all-time. Wilma's commercials with her son are some of the most memorable in sports mother history. Who would've thought that making sure your child eats good would land a major endorsement deal?
April Justin (Landon Collins' mom) - Who could forget Ms. Justin's reaction to her son committing to Alabama over hometown LSU? A mother's dedication to her son's future is unmatched. Both were good choices and the issue is probably water under the bridge now.
Gina Lillard (Damian Lillard's mom) - Damian's mom has the difficult task of keeping her son grounded. Lillard is a star in the NBA, but obviously she still treats him the same. For a player who's becoming the face of the league, that could be hard to do. The best part about the Gina-Damian dynamic? He still lives with her.
"My mom still tells me to put my dishes in the sink. She doesn't treat me like a big shot." -- @Dame_Lillard— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 9, 2015
Dee Dee Bonner (AJ McCarron's mom) - Dee Dee likely popped up on everyone outside of Alabama's radar when she tweeted about then-FSU quarterback Jameis Winston's speech after they won the BCS National championship. In a tweet that was immediately delete (screenshots for the win!), McCarron's mom criticized the way Winston speaks.
Mary Babers (Draymond Green's mom) - Draymond is a special NBA player, with a special mother. When there are so many people coming after the Warriors and critiquing things they may be doing wrong, it's good for the team to have someone like Ms. Babers on its side. She even wrote a letter to Golden State's critics. That's dedication only a mother could provide. Not even NBA refs are immune to her wrath.
Iguodala playing.. These REFS are MARSHMALLOWS!— The Green Effect (@BabersGreen) May 4, 2016
Annie Apple (Eli Apple's mom) - Annie is a somewhat new-comer to the sports spotlight. Her son, Eli, was a standout at Ohio State and is now a member of the New York Giants. That selection gives young Apple a lot more exposure than many other teams in the NFL, and his mom is well aware of the thirst buckets that will be after him because of it.
Praying for all the thirsty girls sliding in new NFL rookies DMs with heavy booty & cleavage action pics. Only Jesus can quench your thirst— Annie Apple (@SurvivinAmerica) May 1, 2016
Wanda Durant (Kevin Durant's mom) - Wanda is perhaps one of the most recognizable moms in sports. She was the inspiration behind the "you the real MVP" memes that took over social media at one point, and is now getting her own Lifetime Original movie. Wanda is the real MVP.
When there are so many great moms in the world, there are really no losers here.
Wow it seemed like the NFL Draft crept up out of nowhere didn't it? Suddenly shifting gears back to fantasy football is a top priority. Fear not fellow football degenerates, Athlon Sports will have you covered from here on out.
These rankings are an update from the Very Early rankings you may have read a while back. The difference being 50 more players are ranked, players have been suspended, failed drug tests (AGAIN), and of course that little event called the draft has happened too.
There will be more updates to come as the offseason progresses, and of course be on the look out for when the new fantasy magazine hits newsstands this summer. In the mean time, hopefully this will keep the juices flowing or perhaps even help you in your dynasty leagues.
|4||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||WR|
Oklahoma's Eric Striker did not hear his name called during the NFL Draft.
The outside linebacker had an emotional moment with his family and friends after realizing his fate, showing the intense vulnerability of those who don't get drafted.
Striker was able to sign with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent after the draft.
Another NFL Draft has copme and gone, and the 2016 edition was a big year for the Big Ten, specifically the Ohio State Buckeyes. Looking forward in time, however, and it looks as if next year could be big for Ohio State's archrival, the Michigan Wolverines.
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame
Because it is never too early to turn the page and look ahead to the 2017 NFL Draft, here is a look at 25 of the top players from Big Ten, in alphabetical order, that could be hearing their name called a year from now.
J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (Jr., 6-2, 225)
After having to win the starting job during the 2015 season, Barrett is now in sole possession of the quarterback reigns in Columbus. A junior, it is unknown if Barrett will make the leap to the NFL in 2017, but if he turns in a solid season in Urban Meyer’s offense, he could be one of the names to watch in the draft conversation.
Riley Bullough, LB, Michigan State (Sr., 6-2, 230)
Michigan State’s fifth-year senior linebacker will benefit from another year of starting experience, and that could see him end the year as one of the Big Ten’s best at the position. Bullough earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and should finish his time in East Lansing as one of the conference’s top defenders, regardless of position, this fall.
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan (Sr., 6-6, 250)
Butt is already one of the top tight ends in the nation, and there is no reason to suspect that will change in 2016. Butt will continue to be a reliable passing option for Michigan’s offense and that should help prepare him to be one of the first tight ends off the board in 2017.
Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan (Sr., 6-3, 200)
Chesson took the next steps in his development under Jim Harbaugh in 2015 by coming through for 764 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. The senior should remain one of the top offensive players for Michigan in 2016, which could be a promising season for the Wolverines. He can even dabble in some special teams work.
Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin (Sr., 5-11, 214)
A dreaded sports hernia injury put Wisconsin’s featured running back on the shelf for the bulk of the 2015 season, so Corey Clement will be itching to make up for lost time this fall. He has 1,000-yard potential as Wisconsin’s top running back, which should help him jump back into what will be a deep pool of running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Demetrious Cox, CB, Michigan State (Sr., 6-1, 198)
LeShun Daniels Jr., RB, Iowa (Sr., 6-0, 225)
Iowa’s second-leading rusher in 2015 will take on the leading role in Iowa's running game, giving him a terrific opportunity to prove what he can do on the field when he gets a chance to run the football.
Pat Elflein, OL, Ohio State (Sr., 6-3, 300)
Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana (Sr., 6-4, 310)
The big offensive lineman figures to be a solid addition to any NFL roster but he has one more year with the Hoosiers. One of the top Big Ten offensive linemen, Feeney has received first-team All-American honors in addition to being named to the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award watch lists as well as a team captain.
Nate Gerry, SS, Nebraska (Sr., 6-2, 210)
Over the past three years, Gerry has established himself as a true leader for the Nebraska defense, and he will enter this coming season as one of the top safeties in the Big Ten. Gerry has nine career interceptions and 199 career tackles to his credit.
Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa (Sr., 6-4, 310)
Iowa’s defensive line was tough to get by in 2015, and defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson was part of the reason why. After starting all 14 games for the Hawkeyes last season, Johnson recorded 45 tackles and four sacks for Iowa. A solid follow-up performance and Johnson will be ready to go in the draft.
Desmond King, CB, Iowa (Sr., 5-11, 203)
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan (Sr., 5-10, 175)
William Likely, CB, Maryland (Sr., 5-7, 175)
Maryland’s top defensive playmaker joins a promising class of defensive backs from the Big Ten in the 2017 NFL Draft. His playmaking ability on special teams also could boost his stock.
Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois (Sr., 6-5, 225)
Illinois could have one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season, and playing under Lovie Smith could be a nice boost to Lunt’s NFL hopes. Smith has plenty of experience at the NFL level and may be able to help Lunt become more pro-ready as his college journey comes to a close.
Erik Magnuson, OT, Michigan (Sr., 6-6, 305)
A three-year letterman in Ann Arbor, Magnuson continues to improve and become one of the top offensive linemen the Big Ten has to offer. Magnuson has appeared in 32 games entering the 2016 season, including 24 starts.
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State (Jr., 6-6, 280)
Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State (Jr., 6-2, 240)
Jabrill Peppers, S/CB, Michigan (Jr., 6-1, 208)
Jonah Pirsig, OT, Minnesota (Sr., 6-9, 316)
The mammoth offensive tackle brings plenty of size to Minnesota’s offensive line, and a productive year should keep him in the running to be among the first tackles off the board in 2017. The redshirt senior brings experience to the line, which should lead to a promising fall.
De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan (Sr., 5-11, 228)
Michigan’s leading rusher in 2015 is coming off a season with 753 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Smith may need to show an ability to increase that production a little bit to improve his draft stock, but being the leading man on the ground for a Harbaugh-coached offense will not go unnoticed.
Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin (Sr., 6-3, 301)
After earning second-team All-American honors in 2015, Voltz returns to Madison to stand firm in the middle of Wisconsin’s offensive line. Voltz has put together a solid reputation around the Big Ten and should easily be one of the top centers in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Anthony Walker, ILB, Northwestern (Jr., 6-1, 235)
A consensus first-team All-Big Ten linebacker in 2015, Walker could make the jump to the NFL next year following his redshirt junior season. Walker was second in the nation in 2015 with 19.5 tackles for a loss as the leader of the Wildcats’ gritty defense.
Nyeem Wartman-White, ILB, Penn State (Sr., 6-1, 252)
Linebacker-U’s top candidate for the 2017 NFL Draft will be fifth-year senior Wartman-White. His 2015 season was cut short with a season-ending injury in Penn State’s season opener, so look for a big bounce-back season this fall.
Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan (Sr., 6-5, 303)
Back for a fifth year of eligibility, the big lineman should lead the way in the trenches for the Wolverines’ defense. Wormley appeared in 12 games last fall and made 10 starts on his way to earning third-team All-Big Ten honors.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for CollegeFootballTalk.com, TheComeback.com and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
As the 2016 NFL Draft comes to a close, even though it’s early, it’s time to look forward to 2017.
The ACC had 26 players drafted in 2016, good for fourth among all conferences, with Clemson leading the way with nine players selected. In the next cycle, look for the loaded Tigers to again carry the flag. The top overall pick of the draft could be Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, but there are plenty of other players worthy of mention.
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame
Here is an early projection for the top 25 prospects from the ACC, listed alphabetically.
Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh (Sr., 6-6, 300)
An All-ACC performer at left tackle, Bisnowaty was one of the top draft-eligible players to stay in school and figures to be a hot commodity this time next year.
Quin Blanding, S, Virginia (Jr., 6-2, 205)
One of the bright spots for a struggling Virginia program, Blanding should be one of the first safeties off the board. A first-team All-ACC selection, Blanding made 115 tackles as a sophomore.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (Jr., 5-11, 206)
The running back class as a whole is outstanding, but along with LSU’s Leonard Fournette, Cook is right up near the top. The speedster became the Seminoles’ all-time single-season rushing leader as sophomore with 1,691 yards.
Ken Ekanem, DE, Virginia Tech (Sr., 6-3, 255)
Can find a home somewhere either at defensive end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Has started 26 consecutive games and posted totaled 26 tackles for a loss with 14 sacks over the last two seasons.
Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech (Jr., 6-2, 191)
Will have to answer some injury questions, as he suffered a broken leg in 2014 and was granted a medical hardship waiver. A third-team All-ACC performer in 2015, he broke up 10 passes opposite Kendall Fuller, who was just drafted in the third round by Washington.
Devonte Fields, OLB, Louisville (Sr., 6-4, 245)
Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech (Jr., 6-2, 190)
Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson (Jr., 6-1, 215)
Gallman could no doubt be overshadowed by the number of top-shelf prospects at the position in the 2017 class, but his production could lure some interest, as he rushed for 1,565 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, SS/OLB, Louisville (Sr., 6-5, 212)
Jon Heck, OT, North Carolina (Sr., 6-7, 300)
Has started 37 of a possible 39 games for the Tar Heels since his redshirt freshman year. A second-team All-ACC player last year, Heck has been a starter at right tackle during his time at UNC.
Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech (Jr., 6-7, 245)
Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State (Jr., 6-7, 307)
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (Jr., 6-4, 210)
After his true freshman year, many considered Kaaya a potential top overall pick. After some inconsistencies as a sophomore, Kaaya is still seen by many as the second-best QB option behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
Keith Kelsey, ILB, Louisville (Sr., 6-1, 233)
Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson (Sr., 6-5, 255)
Nick Linder, C, Miami (Jr., 6-3, 300)
Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State (Jr., 6-1, 303)
Caleb Peterson, OG, North Carolina (Sr., 6-5, 300)
James Quick, WR, Louisville (Sr., 6-1, 191)
A highly recruited player coming out of high school, Quick has begun to live up to the hype over the last two seasons with 75 receptions for 1,190 yards and eight touchdowns.
Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson (Jr., 5-11, 190)
Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson (Sr., 6-1, 195)
DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State (Sr., 6-3, 273)
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson (Sr., 6-3, 300)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (Jr., 6-2, 205)
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (Sr., 6-3, 205)
— Written by Adam Kurkjian, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and is a reporter for the Boston Herald. He has covered the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Marathon and Little League World Series, among other events from the high school, college and pro ranks. Follow him on Twitter @AdamKurkjian.
The 2016 NFL Draft is complete as 253 players have taken the first steps in their professional football careers. From a college football standpoint, the focus now shifts to next year. Which players are next in line to hear their name called when the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft commences next spring?
Here are Athlon Sports’ top 50 college players to keep an eye on this fall. Make no mistake; this list will change, especially once the action resumes on the field, but you can’t really go wrong with a list that’s headlined by a pair of Heisman Trophy finalists from last season and a guy who could very will win it this year.
Power Five Conference 2017 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch
ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC I Notre Dame
Athlon Sports' Early Top 50 for 2017 NFL Draft
Richard Brickhouse. Dick Brooks. Lennie Pond. Bobby Hillin Jr.
These names are just some of the one-hit wonders the largest, at-times scariest, oval on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit has produced. In the past, Talladega’s speeds made for danger at every turn; the test of man and machine gave an opportunity for upset winners to peer through the smoke.
Now? Restrictor plates, slapped on the engines in the name of safety provide parity for all 40 cars in the field. It could have cost $40,000 or $4 million to bring your team to the track this weekend but everyone starts the race with roughly the same amount of horsepower. Talladega’s snake-like draft leaves everyone virtually connected by a magnet; the right chess moves in a sea of traffic can get any car headed toward the front. It’s 188 laps of 40 cars in a too-close-for-comfort environment, creating bumper-to-bumper action that provides little room for error.
And when that mistake comes? The “Big One” is in full effect, a frightening wreck that typically wipes out half the field and changes the complexion of what’s typically a photo finish anyway. Talladega: the one-hit wonder on the NASCAR schedule that provides enough scary moments to make us wonder why we race there yet enough heart-stopping unpredictability to keep everyone coming back for more.
2016 GEICO 500
Time: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
Track: Talladega Superspeedway (Talladega, Ala.)
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90
Who’s at the Front: Carl Edwards
The story of the week has been Edwards’ bump-and-run of Kyle Busch, teammates sparring on the last lap for victory at Richmond. Edwards kept control, moving the No. 18 out of the way and earning a win that left Busch privately fuming. Joe Gibbs Racing had itself a tense team meeting this week although all sides are saying publicly the incident has been put behind them.
Lost in that shuffle has been the success of Edwards, the new Sprint Cup points leader, who now has back-to-back victories for the first time since November 2010. So much of NASCAR’s early-season storyline has been the trio of Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson battling up front that Edwards’ consistency behind them had been forgotten.
Not anymore. New crew chief Dave Rogers, formerly Busch and Denny Hamlin’s head wrench, has paid major dividends and given the 36-year-old Edwards a boost of confidence. Is this No. 19 car the final piece in a quartet of early favorites to make November’s final four?
Who’s at the Back: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
I mention Stenhouse here because a solid start has faded in the midst of a contract year for him at Roush Fenway Racing. He had a fifth-place finish at Fontana and another top 10 within his first five starts; ever since, he’s done no better than 16th place and looked rather pedestrian. Bristol, one of the few tracks Stenhouse has run consistently strong over the year, left him fighting to simply finish on the lead lap.
The slump has left him 19th in points, just 12 out of a Chase spot and easily in a position to recover. But now is the time of year where Stenhouse really digs himself a hole, never to be heard from during the race, aside from when a wrecker comes to pick up the pieces of his car. That type of poor performance won’t fly anymore with others waiting in the wings at RFR. This weekend, the unpredictability of ‘Dega offers a chance for the No. 17 team to pick things back up.
Say what you want about the way Tony Stewart chooses to criticize NASCAR. But Stewart’s concern over safety regarding lug nuts, comments that caused a $35,000 fine, have paid major dividends. On Monday, NASCAR announced new rules claiming every team must have all five lug nuts on and tightened for each tire after a pit stop; intentionally leaving off lug nuts could result in a suspension if discovered after the race is completed.
Autism Delaware also couldn’t be happier about Stewart’s fine. The Driver’s Council had offered to pay the $35K but Stewart chose to donate to charity instead, supporting one of the key non-profit organizations that partners with NASCAR and will help sponsor the race at Dover next month.
Over in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series, David Starr has been released from his No. 44 ride at TriStar Motorsports after failing to earn a top-15 finish all season. J.J. Yeley, a former full-time Cup driver who was once aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing, has been tapped to replace the 48-year-old Starr. Yeley, who started the year start-and-parking with the program, was 12th at Richmond in a one-race “audition” of sorts running the car for Starr.
NASCAR by the Numbers
The points deficit Tony Stewart, who returned to the series at Richmond faces, to reach 30th place in the Sprint Cup standings. Stewart was a solid 19th on Sunday and faces a series of tracks coming up (Kansas, Charlotte, Dover) where he’s got a total of six career victories. A potential playoff opportunity is still well within reach.
Laps completed out of 400 by Reed Sorenson of Premium Motorsports Sunday. That still left him dead last in the 40-car field as NASCAR’s tendency for all teams to finish races without mechanical failure continues throughout the 2016 season.
Playing the Odds (Fantasy Spin)
How can you talk Talladega without mentioning Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Earnhardt is the defending champion of this race and won for the first time here in over a decade last spring. People said his father, Dale Sr., could “see” the draft and the son certainly isn’t far off that pace. Earnhardt loves the strategy of plate racing, always circles this date on the calendar and arrives with one of the most prepared cars in the field provided by Hendrick Motorsports. Wrecks always leave any fantasy play a risk in its own right but without some sort of unforeseen problem Earnhardt is an automatic top-5 finish here.
Denny Hamlin, who won the Daytona 500 to start the season, has a streak of five top-10 finishes going at Talladega’s sister track – a nearly impossible feat considering how quickly the “Big One” can gobble anyone up. He hasn’t had the same luck at Talladega but is first and ninth in his last two spring races here. Potentially that type of good mojo can carry over?
The other three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers (Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth) flexed their muscle in the first restrictor plate race of the year and remain the prohibitive favorites going into any weekend. The parity of ‘Dega evens things out but if you have a laps led bonus in your league know these guys will spend the majority of their time in front of the pack.
Martin Truex Jr. hasn’t had the best restrictor plate luck throughout his career. But he was fifth and seventh at Talladega last year and the No. 78 team benefitted from Joe Gibbs Racing dominating the Daytona 500. Furniture Row Racing gets their engines and chassis from TRD and Truex will likely be connected to their four-car freight train the entire day. Expect a strong performance.
The current restrictor plate rules package, while still leaving room for underdogs has made it just a little bit harder for them to break through. The last unexpected ‘Dega win was David Ragan for Front Row Motorsports back in the spring of 2013; last spring, we only saw one true “underdog” sneak inside the top 10 (Josh Wise driving for what became Premium Motorsports).
With that in mind, though there are two guys I want you to watch out for concerning your roster: Regan Smith and Michael McDowell. Smith had a strong showing in February’s Daytona 500, looking like a potential top-5 finisher with his Tommy Baldwin Racing outfit before getting shuffled back. McDowell, meanwhile was a top-15 runner back at Daytona, drives for a team in Leavine Family Racing that has restrictor plate success under their belt and always has a knack for avoiding wrecks. That duo, considering they’re hard to pick anywhere else, would be perfect if you’re rooting for a top-10 finish or better from this tier heading to the finish line.
What Vegas Thinks
Dale Earnhardt Jr. currently leads the pack with 9-2 odds heading into the GEICO 500. Jimmie Johnson is next with 8-1 odds followed by Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.
What I Think
In a sea of photo finishes that has been the 2016 season this one won’t disappoint. It’ll be a barnburner down the stretch and I’m going to go with a surprise winner (at least for him): Martin Truex Jr. Truex has seen tough luck on plate tracks at times but with the Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota connection the No. 78 team should have what it takes to find its way to the front.
(Photos by ASP Inc.)
While Laremy Tunsil was no doubt sweating it out waiting for his name to be called in the draft, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell found the moment "exciting."
After the leaked video of Tunsil smoking from a gas mask, teams were hesitant to take the Ole Miss player. His slide finally ended with the Dolphins at lucky No. 13. A once-projected No. 1 pick, fell and it's hard not to think it had anything to do with that video.
"I think it's all part of what makes the draft so exciting," Goodell said. "Clubs make decisions. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don't, and we'll see. Hopefully he is going to turn out to be a great young player."
Tunsil took matters into his own hands to end his slide.
How did Laremy Tunsil end his slide? First, he told agent Jimmy Sexton it was him on the video & it was 2-yrs old. He owned it right away— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2016
Agent Jimmy Sexton called in to war room and put Laremy Tunsil on the phone to teams. Tunsil himself owned his past drug use in the video.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2016
Laremy Tunsil's message to coaches & decision makers: It was me, I did it. I've learned from my mistakes & will improve. Dolphins believe it— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2016
Although it may have been exciting for the viewers, this probably wasn't the best thing for the commissioner to say about a young guy about to become employed by the league. Tunsil was no doubt scared and ended up losing millions of dollars thanks to whoever has it out for him to ruin such a big night.
In 2015, there were 25 second-round picks who played in at least 14 games as rookies. Of the 17 NFL Rookie of the Week winners, eight were picked outside of the first round. Sure, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Todd Gurley and Amari Cooper were elite-level draft picks and performed as such. But championship teams are built on Day 2 selections.
So after 31 (not 32) picks on Day 1, here are our favorite players left on the board for Day 2 (second and third rounds):
A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama
Unless the NFL knows something major that the rest of the world doesn't, there is literally no reason this guy should still be on the board. Baring another Tunsiling, there's no excuse for this type of slide for a player as physical and as dominant as Robinson. Teammate Jarran Reed, also still available, might be the best run-stopper in this entire class.
The Injured Linebackers
Both UCLA's Myles Jack and Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith are special athletes. They've probably been the best athlete on any field they've ever stepped on. But both are dealing with severe knee injuries and teams are clearly scared off by the risk involved. If healthy, they are both superstars.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
There may not be an elite QB prospect on the board like there has been in the past around this time of the draft (Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees). But Connor Cook, Christian Hackenberg and Dak Prescott all possess the size, leadership and talent to be a starting NFL quarterback. Especially, for the “have-nots” in the league right now.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
He may be a touch undersized but he has elite-level playmaking ability, great quickness/change of direction skill and played at a high level against the toughest competition FBS has to offer. The Freshman All-American turned first-team All-ACC corner will be a great value pick on Day 2.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Smallish receivers tend to go in the mid-to-later rounds and we saw two excel last year in Tyler Lockett (3rd, Seattle) and Stefon Diggs (5th, Minnesota). Shepard doesn’t have the explosiveness of either but he is extremely mature, runs great routes, has elite hands and is a leader on and off the field. He will catch a ton of passes in the slot.
Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
The former five-star prospect stated his collegiate career at Ohio State but finished it dominating at the lower ranks. He’s very open about his off-the-field issues (which is smart) and if those mistakes are behind him, his athletic ability plays on Sundays in a big way.
Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
He isn’t a tackle on the next level but he’s going to be a great guard. All Whitehair did at Kansas State was start 51 times in four years, earning some sort of All-Big 12 honor after each season. He is tough, has great instincts and can play right away.
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
He will need to get bigger and tougher but make no mistake; this is a three-down tight end that should start right away in the NFL. Henry was an elite prospect who was a three-year starter and Mackey Award winner as the best tight end in the nation. He has every possible tool needed to excel on the next level.
Su’a Cravens, LB, USC
He should remind fans of last year’s first-round Pac-12 safety-turned-linebacker Shaq Thompson. He has great instincts, natural athletic ability and is great in space (as a former defensive back should be). He’s undersized for the LB position but makes up for it with toughness and athletic ability.
Also considered: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State; Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina; Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor; Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana; Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida
Chris Berman is ESPN's resident know-it-all for everything NFL.
It probably wasn't the best night for the analyst to spew the wrong information. In the days leading up to the draft, ESPN makes sure all its talent has every little nugget of information you could ever imagine, so when Berman said this was the first time a school had three picks in the top 10 it was a head-scratcher.
Not to take anything away from Ohio State but this was actually the 13th time it has happened.
Do not rely on Chris Berman for your draft facts pic.twitter.com/gyUBwTUIoy— Deadspin (@Deadspin) April 29, 2016
Maybe he was just having an off night.
On the heels of Laremy Tunsil's social channels being hacked by an unknown person, conspiracy theories are running wild. Of course, everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, especially in sports. When Michael Jordan unexpectedly retires? Conspiracy. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins a race after his daddy died? Conspiracy. Anytime Duke gets a seemingly easy NCAA Tournament draw? Double-dog conspiracy. But none of those tongue-in-cheek cheats made this list. These are the top five conspiracy theories in sports history:
1. 1919 World Series — Chicago Black Sox Scandal
“Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
Eight members of the Chicago White Sox — “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude “Lefty” Williams, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg and Oscar “Happy” Felsch — were banned from baseball for conspiring with gamblers and gangsters (notably New York’s Arnold Rothstein) to throw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The plan worked, as the heavily favored White Sox — one of the era’s highest profile teams and arguably one of the most talented squads of all time — fell to the Reds, 5-to-3, in the best-of-nine series.
Strangely, “Shoeless Joe” hit the 1919 World Series’ only home run and led all batters with a .375 average (12-for-32), six RBIs and five runs scores. But Jackson’s implication in the scandal ended his career at only 32 years old, with a .356 career average and three top-5 finishes in AL MVP voting.
As a result of what would become known as the “Black Sox Scandal,” Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named the first “Commissioner of Baseball” in 1920.
2. Super Bowl III — New York Jets upset Baltimore Colts
“We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it.”
Joe Namath backed up his famous guarantee with the New York Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts, 16–7, in Super Bowl III. But since “Broadway Joe” trotted off the field pointing No. 1 to the sky, there have been more than a few rumblings that the Colts took a dive against the Jets.
The legitimacy of the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 was greatly aided by the AFL’s win in Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969. The fact that the game was won by New York — a massive media market with a coverboy quarterback — was icing on the cake. In hindsight, it could be argued that the Jets’ win over the Colts was a triumph worth not just millions but billions of dollars for the league.
“That Super Bowl game, which we lost by nine points, was the critical year (for the AFL),” Colts defensive end Bubba Smith famously told Playboy. “The game just seemed odd to me. Everything was out of place. I tried to rationalize that our coach, Don Shula, got out-coached, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if any of my teammates were in on the fix.”
Baltimore had a 13–1 record in 1968 and dominated the Cleveland Browns, 34–0, in the NFL title game. Meanwhile, New York went 11–3 and barely escaped with a 27–23 win over the Oakland Raiders in the AFL title game — thanks in large part to a fluke play late in the fourth quarter, when the Jets recovered a lateral fumble that the Raiders thought was an incomplete pass.
The Colts committed five costly turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback Earl Morrall. One interception was particularly suspicious. With Colts receiver Jimmy Orr wide open near the end zone, Morrall checked down to running back Jerry Hill only to throw an errant pass intercepted by Jets safety Jim Hudson.
“I’m just a linesman but I looked up and saw Jimmy (Orr) wide open,” said Colts center Bill Curry, currently the head coach at Georgia State.
Baltimore coach Don Sula — who would later coach Morrall with the Miami Dolphins — may have the most damning non-quote of all. Smith wrote in his autobiography, “Kill, Bubba, Kill,” that he believed the fix was in at Super Bowl III. Shula’s response was the classic husband-caught-cheating reply.
“I think it’s too ridiculous for me to comment on,” said Shula.
3. Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston — “Phantom Punch”
“Get up and fight, sucker!”
Muhammad Ali stood over Sonny Liston shouting at him to get up, while ringside photographer Neil Leifer captured the iconic moment in what many have called the greatest sports photograph in history.
Ali-Liston II was originally scheduled for Nov. 16, 1964 at the Boston Garden. But the fight was postponed after a pre-fight injury suffered by Ali. Rumors of organized crime connections to the fight promotion caused the city of Boston to reject the fight. Then, amid continued fixed fight talk, the city of Cleveland followed suit and also denied the fight.
Finally, on May 25, 1965, the heavyweight championship bout took place at St. Dominic’s Hall in Lewiston, Maine, and was refereed by former heavyweight champ Jersey Joe Walcott. The fight did not last long, however. Liston went down in the first round — as rumors swirled that Liston owed money to the mafia and/or had been threatened by the Nation of Islam.
Worst of all, Ali was reportedly overheard asking his corner crew a crucial question about the so-called “phantom punch.”
“Did I hit him?”
4. 1985 NBA Draft Lottery — Patrick Ewing to the New York Knicks
In 1985, Georgetown center Patrick Ewing was a “can’t miss” NBA prospect. Ewing lived up to his advanced billing, as an 11-time NBA All-Star and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He never won an NBA championship, primarily due to the greatness of Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. But Ewing was the centerpiece of 13 playoff teams for the New York Knicks — a team that acquired the 7-footer via the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery.
After watching the footage, several oddities stand out. When putting the seven envelopes into the drum, the fourth envelope is noticeably thrown against the side of the clear sphere — bending one corner of the envelope — while the other six are simply dropped into the bottom of the drum. Then, Commissioner David Stern lets out a stressful deep breath before diving his hand into the drum, passing over several envelopes and drawing what turned out to be the New York Knicks — Stern’s self-proclaimed favorite team. Along with the bent-corner theory, many have speculated that the Knicks’ envelope had been frozen prior to the drawing.
Since the Ewing scandal, the NBA Draft Lottery has cleaned up its act. The ping-pong ball lottery takes place in a room with no cameras, then the “results” are announced by opening the envelopes on television. Stern is nowhere near the event. Who has been involved? The trustworthy employees of Ernst & Young, whose honest oversight experience also includes the fraudulent accounting practices of Lehman Brothers.
It’s all on the up and up. The Bulls received the right to draft Chicago native Derrick Rose, despite only a 1.7 percent chance of “winning” the Lottery. The Orlando Magic won back-to-back No. 1 picks, including Shaquille O’Neal. The New Jersey Nets won the No. 1 pick in Rod Thorn’s first draft running the Nets, after 15 years of Thorn being Stern’s right-hand man in the league office. The Cleveland Cavaliers got the top pick the year the best player in state history (LeBron James) was available and the year after King James left town. The most recent Lottery was won by the New Orleans Hornets — a team owned by the NBA during the 2011-12 season, before being sold to Tom Benson.
If the real lottery were run the way Stern runs the NBA Draft Lottery, no one would buy a ticket. And the right to draft Ewing, Shaq, LeBron, etc., is worth more than the PowerBall.
5. 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals, Game 6 — Sacramento Kings at L.A. Lakers
Tim Donaghy was an NBA referee from 1994 to 2007, officiating in 772 regular season games and 20 playoff contests. But rumors of fixing games caused Donaghy to resign in July 2007. Concrete evidence presented by the FBI resulted in Donaghy pleading guilty to federal charges and being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.
After being released, Donaghy began telling tales of NBA officiating, gambling and controlling the outcome of games. His legal team even filed loosely veiled allegations against the NBA in U.S. District Court.
Although he does not name team or referee names, it is clear that Donaghy’s attorney is referring to Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.
“Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series.
“However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew Referees A and F to be ‘company men,’ always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6.
“Personal fouls (resulting in obviously injured players) were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the Referees. Conversely, the Referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players.
“The referees’ favoring of Team 6 led to that team’s victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series.”
The referees that May 31, 2002 night were Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney and Steve Javie. The Kings led the Lakers, 3–2, in the best-of-seven series. A Kings win would send Sacramento to the NBA Finals, where it would face the New Jersey Nets. A Lakers win would force a Game 7 and keep alive the dynasty dreams of the two-time defending champions.
Kings centers Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard both fouled out of the game. Pollard picked up two fouls in 14 seconds, fouling out with 11:34 remaining in the fourth quarter; Divac fouled out with 2:56 remaining. Kings forward Chris Webber picked up three fouls in the fourth quarter, his fifth foul coming with 3:07 to play.
The Lakers led the Kings in free throw attempts, 40-to-25. In the fourth quarter, L.A. went 21-of-27 from the free throw line, while Sacramento was 7-of-9 in the final period. And in a symbolic display of unfairness, Kings guard Mike Bibby was called for a foul after being elbowed in the nose by Kobe Bryant.
After the game, Ralph Nader called for investigation. But Lakers fans smiled all the way to a 106–102 Game 6 win, a 112–106 Game 7 victory and a four-game sweep of the overmatched Nets in the NBA Finals, en route to a star-studded three-peat led by Shaq, Kobe and Phil Jackson.
“I’m not going to say there was a conspiracy,” said Pollard. “I just think something wasn’t right. It was unfair. We didn’t have a chance to win that game.”
As optimism grows surrounding what may be the most potent offense head coach Dana Holgorsen has had in Morgantown the schedule also is much friendlier than it was in 2015.
While the Mountaineers’ out-of-conference schedule is significantly tougher than last season their Big 12 slate is a little more manageable with marquee opponents spread throughout the season rather than all in one month.
2016 West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule
Byes: Weeks 3, 6
|1.||Sept. 3||Morgantown, WV|
This will be the Mountaineers’ first SEC opponent since facing Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl in 2014. Dana Holgorsen is 0-2 against SEC opponents since taking over at WVU.
|2.||Sept. 10||Morgantown, WV|
The Penguins will be the Mountaineers’ easiest opponent in 2016. This will be only the second meeting between the two schools, the first being in 1938.
|4.||Sept. 24||Landover, MD|
The Mountaineers finish their out-of-conference schedule at a neutral field against a first-time opponent in the Cougars.
|5.||Oct. 1||Morgantown, WV|
West Virginia has yet to beat the Wildcats as a member of the Big 12 Conference (0-4). Last season’s 24-23 loss was one of the most heartbreaking to Mountaineer fans. WVU will look to finally get its first win against Bill Snyder at home in its conference opener.
|7.||Oct. 15||Lubbock, TX|
The Mountaineers have had the Red Raiders’ number over the last two seasons, winning both games. However, those victories have been by a combined eight points. This is always a close game. Last time the Mountaineers were in Lubbock it took a late drive and last-second field goal to win.
|8.||Oct. 22||Morgantown, WV|
Joining the Big 12 at the same time it is no secret the Horned Frogs have experienced more success than the Mountaineers. However, with the exception of last season’s 40-10 blowout this matchup has been fun to watch. WVU is 1-3 against TCU since joining the Big 12 including two overtime games and a one-point loss in 2014.
|9.||Oct. 29||Stillwater, OK|
The Cowboys came to Morgantown last season at the start of a brutal four-game stretch for the Mountaineers. Despite being favored, the Mountaineers lost 33-26 on Homecoming. No doubt WVU has this game circled on the calendar.
|10.||Nov. 5||Morgantown, WV|
Like most seasons this should not be a contest. However, this matchup is a little different in 2016. The Jayhawks will be accompanied by former WVU assistant coach Joe DeForest, who left the Mountaineers after the 2015 season. DeForest is now the special teams coordinator and defensive assistant for David Beaty at Kansas.
|11.||Nov. 12||Austin, TX|
This is one of those games Mountaineer fans hate to lose. The Mountaineers handled the Longhorns in Morgantown last season. But this game is never a guaranteed win for either school.
|12.||Nov. 19||Morgantown, WV|
With the exception of 2013 (16-7 final score) this is usually a high-scoring game with the Sooners always coming out on top. With the Mountaineers’ potent offense this looks to be no different in terms of scoring. This will be the latest meeting between the two since 2012.
|13.||Nov. 26||Ames, IA|
Despite always being favored the Mountaineers have never truly handled the Cyclones. With the exception of last season (30-6 victory) this game is usually closer than predicted including a 52-44 victory for Iowa State in 2013.
|14.||Dec. 3||Morgantown, WV|
This may be the highest scoring game in the Big 12 this coming season. Baylor is known for racking up the points, especially against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have split with the Bears since joining the conference. West Virginia will look to seek revenge revenge for the 63-38 beating in Waco last season.
— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of BlueGoldSports.com, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow BlueGoldSports.com on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.
Once upon a time, many draft experts expected Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to be selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. After some controversy and more character-related concerns surfaced prior to the start of draft, he slipped out of the top 10 entirely.
For years, the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line has struggled for years. So with the 13th pick, the team thought Tunsil was too talented to pass up.
The three-year starter at Ole Miss was rated the best player on a lot of team's draft boards until a video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask smoking through a bong appeared on his Twitter account. The video was quickly erased, but the damage had been done.
Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said they didn't think they could get Tunsil, but he was the No. 2-rated player on their board.
"We are excited to have Laremy (Tunsil) on our roster," Grier said. "We had heard rumors, but we had done work. We had known about it. The video is two years old. So, from all the information we had, we were comfortable with it."
Tunsil’s explanation? "Somebody hacked my account," he claimed to NFL Network's Deion Sanders.
Many experts thought Tunsil could have gone as high as No. 1 to the Tennessee Titans before they traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams, which selected California quarterback Jared Goff. Even after the move and Philadelphia trading with Cleveland for the second pick (Eagles took North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz), the belief was that Tunsil was very much in play at No. 3 for the San Diego Chargers. But they decided to take Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa instead. Once Tunsil slipped past the Jaguars at No. 5, there were thoughts the Ravens could select him, but they reportedly took him off of their draft board entirely and chose Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley instead.
Tunsil slipping to 13th in the draft could be a blessing in disguise for the Dolphins and particularly quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami has allowed the most sacks in the NFL over the last three seasons and may have added arguably the best pass protector in this year's draft class.
Tunsil has the prototypical size (6-5, 310) for an NFL tackle. He shows great effort in both run- and pass-blocking situations. Tunsil is an intelligent tackle as he knows when a blitz is coming and also knows how to pick up defenders well.
On paper, the selection of Tunsil is as good of a first-round pick the Dolphins have made in years. Tunsil could come in immediately and fortify the Dolphins’ offensive line.
Tunsil said he is ready to prove the doubters wrong. "You can't judge a book by its cover,” he said during his introductory press conference. “I'm a good person. I'm a laid back person."
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)
The first round of the 2016 NFL Draft is in the books. There are still six rounds and 222 picks to go, but it’s always the first round that gets the most attention and usually the most scrutiny.
So although none of these guys have signed their contracts let alone play a single down in the NFL, it’s never too early to size up the moves teams made. The first two picks went according to plan and were followed by more trades with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
The end result? Thirty-one former college players heard their name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. When it comes to initial reaction, several teams fared well in my classroom while others left me scratching my head. Here are one football fan’s grades for the first round.'
2016 NFL Draft: First-Round Grades
1. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Give credit to the Rams for doing what was necessary to get their guy. However, the cost to get the first pick from the Titans can’t be ignored. Goff may be Los Angeles’ choice for No. 1, but he’s not considered the “can’t miss” type of quarterback that Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck were nor is he on the same level as Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota from last year’s draft for that matter. But Goff is the Rams’ guy and hopefully he will end up being worth trading all those picks away.
2. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Let’s not forget that the Eagles made two trades to get to No. 2. They first sent Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell to the Dolphins to move from the 13th pick to eighth, and then sent that and four other selections to the Browns. The end result is Wentz, who didn’t even face the same level of competition as Goff did. Between all the capital spent in the trades to get him and the unresolved Sam Bradford situation, the Eagles may need Wentz to produce positive returns even sooner than Goff to justify the moves.
3. San Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The first surprise of the draft? Perhaps, but the moves made by Los Angeles and Cleveland made it apparent that San Diego would have the pick of non-QB litter. For some, Bosa was the No. 1 player on the board, while for others his stock slipped after an uneven showing at the Scouting Combine. Regardless, the safe bet was Bosa would go somewhere in the top 10 and the Chargers hope they have found their playmaker on defense.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Running back was certainly not the Cowboys’ biggest need, but many think Elliott can be special. Jerry Jones has never been one to shy away from going against the grain, as it’s no longer common for running backs to be drafted this high. However, when you factor in Elliott’s skill set and his appealing upside and combine that with one of the best offensive lines in the league, you really can’t quibble much with this pick.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Ramsey proclaimed himself to be the top player in this draft, a sentiment that was echoed by others. Whether he’s a safety or a cornerback or a hybrid defender remains to be seen, but this is a solid pick by Jacksonville. Ramsey becomes the latest building block for a young Jaguars team that has addressed most of its needs through the draft and free agency over the past two offseasons.
6. Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
If Jalen Ramsey made it here, I think he would have been the pick, but Baltimore also needed to address its offensive line. The Ronnie Stanley vs. Laremy Tunsil debate will probably rage on, but the Ravens went with the left tackle that best fit their team. My guess is Joe Flacco approves of this choice too.
7. San Francisco 49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon
Ignore the Oregon connection with Buckner and new head coach Chip Kelly, this is all about rebuilding a 49ers defense that was terrible last season. Given where the 49ers were picking, taking Buckner makes plenty of sense. The question is will be produce like a top-10 draft pick?
8. Tennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
I thought the Titans would capitalize on their inventory of picks to move back up and get a tackle. I just didn’t expect it to Conklin, at least not initially. The trade with Cleveland cost Tennessee its third-round pick this year and a second-rounder in 2017, but it’s a price the Titans could afford after acquiring the picks from Los Angeles. Credit Tennessee for using free agency and now the draft, to build around its cornerstone, Marcus Mariota.
9. Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
The Bears moved up two spots, sending their fourth-round pick to the Buccaneers, to grab Floyd. The measurables and athleticism are there and everyone knows that John Fox is a defensive-minded coach. But the production at Georgia doesn’t match his top-10 status, so this is a pick based more on potential than track record. Chicago didn’t have to pay much to get their guy, but was the cost worth it in the first place?
10. New York Giants: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Between the Laremy Tunsil situation along with the other tackles going in the first eight picks and Dallas taking Elliott at No. 4, the board didn’t exactly go the Giants’ way. That said, I was surprised that Apple was the choice when New York decided to go with a defensive back, especially with Vernon Hargreaves and William Jackson still on the board. The name (both first and last) certainly fits with the G-Men, but does the player?
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
He may not possess ideal size, but Hargreaves showed he has plenty of game during his years with the Gators. Not only did the Buccaneers get what some analysts thought was the best defensive back available, they also got him two spots lower and acquired a fourth-round pick in the process.
12. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville
The Saints need all the help on defense they can get. Rankins’ versatility should help bolster both the run defense and the pass rush. He won’t be a miracle worker, but he can certainly be part of the solution to New Orleans’ defensive woes.
13. Miami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Whether we ever get the full story of what transpired Thursday night to cause Tunsil to tumble all the way out of the top 10 remains to be seen. But the end result is the player that ESPN’s Mel Kiper had No. 1 on his final big board fell into the Dolphins’ lap. Ryan Tannehill certainly approves of this choice. If Tunsil plays as advertised, this could be viewed as the steal of the draft. But it’s certainly not a choice that doesn’t come with risk, as Tunsil’s first press conference showed.
14. Oakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
The prevailing thought was the Raiders would go defense with this pick, but I’m not sure how many figured Joseph would be the choice. The hard-hitting safety certainly looks the part when you think Silver and Black defensive back and someone is going to have to replace Charles Woodson. But Joseph is coming off of a torn ACL so there’s some risk here too.
15. Cleveland Browns: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
You had to figure Cleveland wouldn’t reach for a quarterback if it stayed put, but I’m not sure this is the direction I would have gone. The Browns need help in so many areas it’s hard to say this is a “bad” pick. And wide receiver is one of the areas that needs to be addressed, but did it need to be done with the first pick? Coleman is fast and he put up video game-esque numbers at Baylor. But that was college and there’s no guarantee Coleman’s athleticism will immediately translate into success as a NFL wide receiver. Look no further than fellow Bear and now teammate Robert Griffin III. Fortunately, the Browns still have quite a few picks left (and more in 2017 and ’18).
16. Detroit Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Detroit was last in the league in rushing and gave up 44 sacks last season. Decker isn’t a sexy name, but all he did at Ohio State was consistently get the job done. Solid pick for a Lions offense that will be going through a transition this season with Calvin Johnson retired.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Dan Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator before he became the Falcons’ head coach so you know how he values big defensive backs. Whether Neal will become part of the east coast version of the “Legion of Boom” remains to be seen, but he looks the part and should provide the Falcons with a physical presence on the back end.
18. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
You can quibble about taking a center this early, but the Colts had to get some help for Andrew Luck. With the other tackles off the board, why not take the No. 1 center and a guy who was a three-year starter for Alabama? Maybe Luck and Kelly can become what Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday were for the Colts all those years.
19. Buffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
There’s some concern regarding his shoulder, which will probably require surgery at some point, but the risk is somewhat mitigated by taking Lawson here. One of the most productive pass rushers in college last season, Lawson will be asked to do more of the same for a Bills defense that struggled mightily (21sacks, 31st in NFL) in that department in 2015. As long as the shoulder holds up, this is a great pick for Buffalo.
20. New York Jets: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
The Jets are loaded on the defensive line and have Darrelle Revis anchoring a fairly stacked secondary. Now they add an athletic, rangy linebacker that can cover a lot of real estate and has the potential to develop into an every-down contributor in the middle. Who needs a quarterback with this defense?
21. Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
Houston gave Washington a 2017 sixth-round pick to switch places and get DeAndre Hopkins a tag-team partner. Fuller has the speed and was considered the best vertical threat in this draft. His big-play ability could make him and Hopkins a formidable duo for years to come. It all depends on the quarterback. Between Fuller and the signing of Lamar Miller (not to mention all that money), Brock Osweiler has no one to blame but himself if he doesn’t succeed with the Texans.
22. Washington Redskins: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Doctson is an intriguing talent. His numbers at TCU speak for themselves and he appears to have all the tools necessary to develop into an effective NFL wide receiver. The quibble here is that Doctson wasn’t Washington’s biggest need. Adding some sort of defensive piece made more sense.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
After finishing second to last in the league in passing offense in 2015, it was pretty clear the Vikings needed to give quarterback Teddy Bridgewater more weapons. Mission accomplished. While some questions have been raised about Treadwell’s speed, the size (6-2, 221) will certainly play in the NFL and you can’t question his production at Ole Miss. He may not be a burner or a big-play machine, but Treadwell should provide Bridgewater with a big, physical target on the outside and in the red zone.
24. Cincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Wide receiver was the bigger need, but once the first four were taken it made sense for the Bengals to change their focus. Jackson had plenty of positive momentum entering the draft and appears to be a good fit for the Bengals’ defensive style and system. A team also can’t have enough reliable cornerbacks in today’s pass-happy NFL.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
The Steelers need secondary help, especially after finishing 30th against the pass last season. But is Burns a first-round talent that belongs in the same class as the defensive backs taken before him? He has the tools, but it still feels like a reach here.
26. Denver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
John Elway sent a third-round pick to Seattle to move up five spots to get his quarterback. Lynch will certainly come a lot cheaper than Brock Osweiler. The size and strong arm certainly appealed to the Broncos, but it would probably be in the team’s and Lynch’s best interests if he’s not thrust into action right away. That means Mark Sanchez (or someone else) needs to seize the starting job. Lynch arguably has just a high a ceiling, if not higher, than Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. But it will take time.
27. Green Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
B.J. Raji is taking a break from football, so the Packers need another big body up front. Clark certainly fits that bill (6-3, 314). He’s young (won't turn 21 until October), got plenty of starting experience with the Bruins, was highly effective against the run and made strides as a pass rusher. The only question I have was he the best option here? Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Butler, A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed were all on the board when the Packers went with Clark.
28. San Francisco 49ers: Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford
29. Arizona Cardinals: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
The “Most Interesting Man” in this draft ended up being a first-round pick. Red flags/character questions aside, Nkemdiche landed in an ideal situation. If there’s a head coach whose personality would seem to mesh with the eccentric Nkemdiche it’s probably Bruce Arians. And if there’s one thing Arizona’s defense is missing it’s an impact playmaker up front. If he can show he’s learned from his mistakes, Nkemdiche could make the Cardinals look like geniuses. Remember, Arizona took a chance on an All-American-caliber defensive player with character concerns a few years ago in LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu and that has worked out pretty well so far.
30. Carolina Panthers: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Butler may not have the name recognition of Alabama’s Jarran Reed or A’Shawn Robinson, but what the former Bulldog has is a rare combination of size (6-4, 323), strength and athleticism for a defensive tackle. The potential is there for Butler to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player, he just has to put forth the effort and bring it every play he’s on the field.
31. Seattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
There was some talk that Seattle had traded this pick (Cleveland?) but in the end the Seahawks stayed put and addressed their biggest area of need. Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy both left in free agency, so Ifedi makes all the sense in the world here. Where he plays, guard or tackle, will be determined, but chances are Ifedi will be a part of Russell Wilson’s protection detail fairly early once the season gets started. And don’t forget the Seahawks added a third-round pick in swapping places with Denver before taking Ifedi.
Note: There were only 31 picks in the first round because New England forfeited its selection as part of the punishment associated with the Deflategate scandal.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)
All eyes are on Laremy Tunsil at the NFL Draft.
Ten minutes before the draft, they were on him as well. From Tunsil's verified twitter account, there was a video of him smoking from a bong. Tunsil said it was an old video, but it was still a bad look for the young player.
Someone just did Laremy Tunsil diiiiirrrttyyyyy pic.twitter.com/jjWIydkP6l— Kyle (@IgglesNest) April 28, 2016
Laremy Tunsil's Twitter account posted a video of him smoking a bong minutes before the NFL Draft 😳 pic.twitter.com/Ixb9VygMcj— WORLDSTARHIPHOP (@WORLDSTAR) April 29, 2016
No word on who let the video leak, but you can be certain it wasn't someone Tunsil can call a friend.
Tunsil has since apologized for the video.
I apologize for the recent video uploaded. Reassuring everyone I am prepared to train and work my hardest #NFLDraft2016— Laremy Tunsil (@laremytunsil78) April 29, 2016
The hacked activity didn't stop there. Later in the evening, his Instagram account was allegedly hacked as well. He also admitted to taking money from a coach. Uh oh.
Somebody is out to get Tunsil. It's evident. Hacking into his IG now. pic.twitter.com/9TvD5hCMwK— Jasmine Watkins (@JasmineLWatkins) April 29, 2016
Sometimes having no social media accounts can be a good thing.
Ezekiel Elliott is the "hero in a half-shirt" and he's definitely embracing it.
The Ohio State running back showed up to the NFL Draft in Chicago in a crop-top dress shirt. At least he won't have to worry about running into someone wearing the same thing.
Never change, Zeke.
The NFL Draft prospects have been making their rounds on all the football shows to talk about their stock. Key & Peele's Hingle McCringleberry is no exception.
The NFL hopeful talked to ESPN's Trey Wingo about his preparation for the draft and just the kind of player he is. Things took an unfortunate turn for McCringleberry when he realized the Browns were going to move up in the draft.
Braden Gall, Mitch Light and David Fox are back in the studio talking college football, previewing all five power five conference and more.
- Should Art Briles' job be in jeopardy because of what has happened at Baylor?
- Idaho is dropping to the FCS ranks, will this be a developing trend?
The guys then broke down all five Power 5 leagues, previewing the upcoming magazine. For the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12, the guys answer these questions:
- Which team is the toughest to pinpoint?
- Which team is the best sleeper candidate?
- Who is the darkhorse Heisman candidate?
- Who made the best coaching hire in the off-season?
- What is your favorite conference matchup of the year?
Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall @AthlonMitch or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com/podcast, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.