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Monday, April 24, 2017


Report: At least four teams looking to trade down from top 10 in NFL Draft

Todd Bowles

With the lack of NFL-ready talent at the quarterback position in this year’s NFL Draft class, it is no surprise there are at least four — and possibly five or more — teams who are reportedly interested in trading back in the first round.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, the Titans, Bills, Jets and 49ers are all exploring the possibility of trading out of the top 10.

Peter King of The MMQB said earlier in the week that the 49ers, Jets and Bears are the “most eager” to trade back, so we can add at least one more team to Cole’s list. That makes five teams that are supposedly actively exploring the possibility of moving back.

Only three or four teams in the top 10 this year have a real need at the quarterback position, and there are really no can’t-miss QB prospects in the draft. On the contrary, other positions like running back, defensive back and tight end are very deep, so it would make sense for some teams to trade back and acquire an extra pick or two while still getting an impact player.

Three of the five teams we consider most likely to make a trade during the draft (see the full list here) have picks in the top 10. That seems to be the common theme, so it would be a surprise if one or two teams didn’t pull the trigger.

Nate McMillan threatens ‘major changes’ if Pacers are swept

Matt Barnes Nate McMillan

Things are bad for the Indiana Pacers right now, and coach Nate McMillan warned that it could get worse if the team is swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

McMillan, seemingly wanting his team to play with pride after blowing a 25-point halftime lead in Game 3, warned of big changes if his team failed to respond after the devastating loss.

McMillan is in his first year as Pacers head coach, so he would stand a decent chance of surviving any clear-out. The real issue may be with their superstar forward Paul George, who may have eyes elsewhere and could ultimately have to make a decision on his future this summer. The Pacers fading like they have won’t make him feel any better about the team’s future.

Warren Sapp: Myles Garrett does not deserve to go first overall

Myles Garrett

Iconic defensive lineman Warren Sapp is not impressed with potential No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett.

Sapp said he didn’t see Garrett take charge of enough games, calling him “lazy.”

“I don’t see it from this kid,” Sapp said Sunday, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I see the splash plays — everybody gets those. Where’s the game he took over? Where? Any defensive lineman who’s the No. 1 pick, you turn up and you say, ‘There it is!’ This kid, no, I don’t. I’m a pretty plain and frank guy, and I watch the tape and he disappears. I watch the tape and he absolutely disappears.

“I see a lazy kid that makes four plays a game. This is the No. 1 guy? No, no, no. This ain’t even close.”

Sapp said he thinks Garrett is worse than 2000 No. 1 pick Courtney Brown, and believes Garrett’s status is down to teams obsessing over measurables.

“It’s all about measurable,” Sapp said. “Once you hit the measurable, it’s tough to get them old scout people off the numbers, and that’s what [Garrett] has. He’s big and he’s fast. Now some defensive line coach is thinking, ‘I can turn him into something.’ How? I’m trying to figure this out. Really? Are we lowering the bar?”

It’s safe to say that NFL executives have a very different assessment of Garrett. One would be curious as to who Sapp thinks is the real deal out of this draft class.

Giants have not committed publicly to picking up Odell Beckham’s option

Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham Jr is one of the most talented wide receivers in football, so picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract seems like a no-brainer for the New York Giants. It would be shocking if they let Beckham hit the free agent market next offseason, but for some reason they have yet to make their decision official.

Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes that there “seems to be no doubt at all” that the Giants will exercise Beckham’s option, yet they won’t say so publicly with the deadline less than two weeks away.

“We are going to discuss that when the time gets closer,” general manager Jerry Reese said on Thursday. “We will keep all of our options open with respect to that.”

The fifth-year option on a rookie first-round pick’s contract guarantees the player an average salary of the third-through-25th highest-paid players at their position. That number will likely work out to around $8 million for Beckham in 2018, which seems like a bargain for a 24-year-old when the highest-paid receivers are making around $15 million annually.

Still, both Reese and Giants co-owner John Mara have been asked about Beckham’s option this offseason, and neither has made it seem like a foregone conclusion that the team will exercise it. Reese did, however, say Beckham needs to “grow up” after the infamous party boat excursion before New York’s playoff game.

“I think he’s a guy that hears what we’re saying,” Reese said recently. “And like John (Mara) said, ‘We are not worried about Odell.’ He’s a young kid, he’s growing up every day, and we think that he’s going to continue being a tremendous football player and a tremendous representative of our organization here.”

The Giants are almost certainly going to pick up Beckham’s option, but the comments from their top executives could indicate they will be slightly more cautious with offering the star wideout a lucrative contract extension. After all, Beckham has done a lot of immature things (see: punching a hole in a hall) and often lets his emotions get the best of him. Investing huge money in players like that is always a risk.

Report: Jimmy Garoppolo trade remains ‘a long shot’

Jimmy Garoppolo

All indications remain that the New England Patriots will almost certainly not trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reported Sunday that trading Garoppolo would be “a long shot,” and it would take “an overwhelming offer” to convince the Patriots to part with their coveted backup.

Guregian does not rule out a renewed approach from the Cleveland Browns or even the Houston Texans before or during the draft, but considers it extremely unlikely that the quarterback will be dealt.

Indications are the Browns have slowly lost hope of trading for the quarterback in the first place. The overwhelming sense coming out of Foxboro is that Garoppolo won’t be going anywhere, as it sounds like nobody is willing to meet New England’s asking price.

Rajon Rondo fined $25K for attempting to trip Jae Crowder

Rajon Rondo trip

The NBA apparently did not believe Rajon Rondo’s explanation for why he stuck his leg out near a Boston Celtics player during Game 3, as the Chicago Bulls point guard has been fined $25,000.

The league announced on Sunday that Rondo has been fined for attempting to trip Jae Crowder in the first quarter of Chicago’s loss to the Celtics.

Rondo, who is out indefinitely with a fractured thumb, stuck his leg out while sitting on the bench after Crowder made a shot near the baseline. You can see the video here. Rondo later claimed he was simply stretching his legs, which he does from time to time since he once had surgery to repair a torn ACL.

The Celtics and Bulls will face off for Game 4 on Sunday evening.

NFL exec: 2017 WR draft class is ‘worst’ I’ve seen in long time

A lot has been made of how weak the 2017 NFL Draft is at the quarterback position, and the situation with the guys who will be catching passes at the next level is apparently not much better.

One executive from an NFC team told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that teams are not going to find much talent at wide receiver in this year’s draft.

“It’s the worst wide receiver draft at the top I’ve seen in a long time,” the exec said.

In comparison, the class is considered loaded at tight end. As one AFC scout described it, many of the tight ends coming out of college are essentially “big wide receivers.” In a poll of 16 scouts conducted by the Sentinel, tight ends were ranked from 1-5 at their position. Alabama’s O.J. Howard led the way with 14 first-place votes and two seconds, and former Miami superstar David Njoku came in second with one first-place vote and 54 points.

“Every once in a while you get a guy like Vernon Davis,” one AFC personnel man said. “Howard and Njoku are impressive physically and they can catch and (block). Difference-makers.

“The last couple years there’s been like eight, nine draftable tight ends, if that. If you took one you felt like you stretched. I could see eight or nine in the first four rounds this year. Guys that can start.”

Scouts are far more split on wide receivers. The top-ranked player at the position in the poll received just 5.5 first place votes, and that was Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. John Ross of Washington had six first-place votes but only 51.5 total points, and Clemson’s Mike Williams had fewer firsts (4.5) but more overall points with 58.5.

Of course, projections can mean very little. Guys miss on should-be top talents every year and vice-versa. However, don’t be surprised to see teams picking tight ends ahead of wide receivers this year, which is unusual. If what one former NFL QB recently said about the 2017 QB class is true, teams could even opt for tight ends over signal-callers.

Steve Kerr reportedly expected to miss entire series

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr’s current condition is so bad that he is expected to miss the entire first-round series between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, according to a report.

Kerr did not coach his Warriors in Saturday’s Game 3 because he is ill — a vague description that encompasses the mystery behind why he is ailing and underplays just how bad of shape he’s in.

Stephen Curry gave us an idea of how bad Kerr is doing when he said he was going to give his coach the game ball following the Game 3 win.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Marcus Thompson reported after the game that Kerr is expected to miss the rest of the Warriors’ first-round series.

Thompson provided some details about Kerr’s condition:

At the worst of this current illness, Kerr was in excruciating pain, according to the sources, and he could barely walk. It was scary because it wasn’t a feeling he’s had before.
Kerr hasn’t felt well all series, according to people around him, and recently it become unbearable.

All of that sounds awful.

Kerr missed the first 43 games of last season as he recovered from a second back surgery following a procedure that went wrong. Kerr had a spinal fluid leak after his first surgery, which resulted in him experiencing many symptoms making him feel ill. If what he’s going through now is nothing like what he experienced in the past, it must be truly scary.

Steve Kerr told Warriors to ‘win one for the Gipper’

Steve Kerr

Steve Kerr was so ill on Saturday that he was unable to coach his team in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, but he still gave them a classic motivational speech.

According to Steph Curry, Kerr told his Warriors to “win one for the Gipper.”

Following Golden State’s 119-113 comeback victory in Portland, Curry was interviewed by ESPN’s J.A. Adande and asked why he was clutching the final ball. Curry said it was because he wanted to give the game ball to Kerr.

“Our coach is going through a lot right now physically,” Curry told Adande. “He told us this morning this is a situation where we need to go out and rally and win a game for him. We felt like the way the game had gone on we had to fight and do it for him. The way he said it was we had to win one for the Gipper. So shout out to Coach Kerr.”

“Win one for the Gipper” is a legendary sports quote with origins dating back to halftime of Notre Dame’s football game with Army in 1928. Former Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne told his players to “win one for the Gipper” during halftime of the game — a reference to late Notre Dame player George Gipp — and they went out and won the contest.

The Warriors were playing without their head coach and pulled off a comeback victory just like the Fighting Irish. They really won one for the Kerr this time and are now up 3-0 in their first-round playoff series.

Paul Millsap has great reaction to Markieff Morris calling him a ‘crybaby’

Paul Millsap won the game along with the grudge match on Saturday.

Millsap’s Atlanta Hawks were victorious in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, and after the game, he had this fantastic reaction to being told that Wizards forward Markieff Morris had called him a “crybaby,” per Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.

The matchup between the two power forwards has indeed gotten quite personal this series with Morris doing some epic trolling and Millsap trying his best to fight off the psychological warfare. But with Millsap finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds to help the Hawks get to within 2-1 in the series (as opposed to just nine points and six rebounds for Morris), Saturday was his turn to tell his rival to hold this L.

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