2020 NFL Draft First-Round, Burrow Selected First

The Cincinnati Bengals underwent a grueling 2-14 2019-2020 season. In exchange for that, they were awarded the number one overall pick, which they used to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

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Burrow being selected first overall wasn’t a surprise, as the Bengals expressed their intent to draft the potential franchise quarterback long ago, especially after Andy Dalton hit the free agent market. (no Zoom hijinks occurred either. Everyone thought the Bengals would mess up and lose WiFi connection.) Another unsurprising pick was from the Washington Redskins, who selected Ohio State University defensive end Chase Young with the second pick. Young is as good as prospects come and is the safest pick in the draft.

The first-round started to spice up when quarterbacks were selected back-to-back, with Tua Tagovailoa, despite health concerns, going to the Miami Dolphins and Justin Herbert landing with the Los Angeles Chargers, who parted ways with long-time quarterback Philip Rivers in the offseason.

At 12th overall, the Las Vegas Raiders (that was weird to type) selected Henry Ruggs III, making him the first receiver off the board. Once he was taken, the receivers were selected at a high rate. Jerry Jeudy was taken by the Denver Broncos at 15 and CeeDee Lamb was taken by the Dallas Cowboys at 17, who didn’t think Lamb would fall to them and readjusted their draft board to select the promising young prospect. Even though Dak Prescott doesn’t have a new contract, the offense is loaded and the Cowboys organization

The Jacksonville Jaguars went all defense with their two picks in the first-round, selecting cornerback CJ Henderson at nine and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson at 20. The betting odds have them at five-and-a-half wins for next season, but this is a potential “tank for Lawrence” team.

To no one’s surprise, the New England Patriots traded out of the first-round (we get it BB, you’re witty). But if there were a draft the Patriots needed to be aggressive, it was this draft. The talent in the first round was deep and has a steep drop off after the second-round.

The biggest storyline of the first round is the selection of quarterback Jordan Love of Utah State to the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were one game from the Super Bowl last season and decided to draft a project for the future instead of immediate needs. Love threw 17 interceptions last season, so he wasn’t a must have prospect. Aaron Rodgers, who is now 36, was drafted when Brett Favre was 36.

Gronkowski Traded To Bucs

After expressed interest from Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots have traded the retired tight end to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pairing him with former teammate Tom Brady.

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Gronkowski had a one-year, $9 million remaining contract with the Patriots, thus creating the need for a trade. After his initial retirement, Gronkowski said that when his body felt right, he would return to the gridiron at the right time. Yesterday, he decided it was the right time.

Although Gronkowski has spent his retired life on beaches and in clubs, he has remained in what he says the best shape of his life and maintaining his 260-pound frame.

In the trade, the Patriots will receive a fourth-round pick and the Bucs will receive a seventh-round pick. Leave it to the Patriots to receive a draft pick for a player who is retired.

Gronkowski has not played since the 13-3 Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams, a game in which he and Brady made the most important play of the game to set up the only touchdown of the game. In that 2018 season, he caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns.

In his nine seasons with the Patriots, Gronkowski finished with over 1,000 receiving yards four times and accumulated 79 receiving touchdowns. Only Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates have connected on more touchdowns as a quarterback-tight end duo than Brady and Gronkowski have.

Even if Gronkowski can’t be the consistently dominant force that he routinely was, the chemistry between him and Brady will spread throughout the roster and bring in more championship pedigree. With his size, he can still be spread out wide on the goal line and be used situationally to garner attention or catch a touchdown pass off a fade route.

The Bucs continue to chase Super Bowl contention, as they own the 14th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Last Dance Viewership Numbers

On Sunday, the first two episodes of The Last Dance, which chronicles the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls, premiered to an audience of 6.1 million viewers.

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The first two episodes acted as more of an introduction to the main characters in the story and the setup to the drama that ensued during the 1997-1998 season for the Bulls. There were pictures and videos from the high school and college days of Michael Jordan (who was called Mike Jordan before he became the best player in the world) and Scottie Pippen (who was called Scott Pippen when he was drafted. Why does your name get shortened when you’re not famous yet?).

The footage used in the documentary is unique, especially for Pippen, who went to an NAIA school and was drafted with relatively no expectations. What was most surprising about the documentary was Pippen’s contract with the Bulls he signed in 1991, which was for seven years and $18 million. In 1997, he was the 122nd highest paid player. That title is given to Andre Roberson in today’s league. And Pippen was arguably a top five player in the league during his career.

Of the 6.1 million viewers, 3.5 million were in the 18-49 age demographic. This documentary, which wouldn’t have been possible without the insertion of LeBron James in the “goat” conversations over the past couple years (seriously, after the 2016 NBA Finals, Jordan told them to make the documentary after the tapes had been held for nearly 20 years), and the recent rise in documentaries, is a great way for the NBA fanbase to come together during a period of no sports.

Jordan represents an era of yesteryear that featured an entirely different play style. The young basketball audiences will now get to witness what makes Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time. And for the older basketball audiences, they get to relive a time when the Bulls were The Beatles.

With eight more episodes left, two will be released every Sunday for the next four weeks.

Jalen Green Skips College For G-League

The number one prospect in the 2020 ESPN 100, Jalen Green, announced that he would be forgoing his college experience and taking his talents to the NBA G-League.

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The NBA has been coordinating with its’ G-League affiliate to give a more complete transition for top prospects to consider other avenues besides the temporary one-year stint at a university. This transition includes a one-year, $500,000 contract to elite prospects like Green to experience the NBA life directly out of high school.

Green is scouted as being the number one overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

His decision can now set a new precedent for future top prospects. Instead of taking the “one-and-done” route with colleges, prospects can transition directly into a professional development system while being paid to do so. The worst part about the college experience is that it offers nothing educationally or financially, exposing the athlete to injuries and future setbacks with little payout.

Joining Green in shaking up the system are prospects LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, who chose to play professionally in Australia instead of spending a season at a college. Both the NBA G-League and international leagues offer professional coaching and facilities in leagues that offer more talent than the NCAA.

Multiple shoe companies are prepared to offer Green, who has a significant social media following and would be the number one overall pick this year if he were eligible, a seven-figure shoe contract.

Fan-Free Sports In The Near Future

The nations top disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently discussed the near future of sports and how likely a return to normalcy will be.

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This time of year would normally see the NBA playoffs starting and the MLB season in full swing. But instead, sports are on a full hiatus, with the only saving grace being the years of past performances and moments that sports has to offer. This is the peak of throwback sports.

According to Fauci, a return to normalcy could be a longshot, so it’s time to start being creative and coming up with some ideas.

One idea that has been thrown around by leagues and Fauci is a “fan-free” sporting event. The WWE has tried this and wow, was it a spectacle (WWE relies entirely too much on the entrance of each wrestler and the crowd reactions during each event). The NBA has considered many ideas revolved around games with no fans. This includes the idea of playing in a practice facility with limited cameras and personnel in the area.

Even though this would be a far cry from the normal playoff atmosphere that fans and players are accustomed to, just seeing the product on the court would be good enough for fans.

The MLB has discussed fan-free games as well, with the two leagues considering playing their games in Arizona and Florida strictly and being in Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. The MLB doesn’t want to cancel the season, so efforts will be made the field teams and showcase the talent offered by baseball.

President Donald Trump has been regularly meeting with owners and commissioners across different leagues to discuss sports moving forward this summer.

McCaffrey Signs Record Extension With Panthers

Carolina Panthers 23-year-old running back Christian McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million extension with the team, earning $16 million on average per season, becoming the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

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After three years in the NFL, McCaffrey is averaging the seventh-most scrimmage yards per game at 113.4. That is elite company that includes players like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders.

In recent memory, running backs have become devalued and deemed as not part of a winning formula. Overpaying for skill players is tough, especially given how easy it is for a defense to key in on one player and cripple an offense.

But McCaffrey can be that exception.

He is a transcendent talent who’s pay matches the production. Last season McCaffrey rushed for 1,387 yards (fourth in the league) and had 1,005 receiving yards (28th in the league). His ability to stretch the field always keeps the opposing defense honest and guessing.

Once the Los Angeles Rams gave Todd Gurley his extension, the dual threat running back become the hottest commodity on the field, as if they were a shiny new car to be shown off. Combine his rookie contract with his new contract and McCaffrey will be under contract until he’s about to turn 30, which is when the running back shelf life starts to run empty.

The Panthers, who are now without quarterback Cam Newton, are in a process of retooling their team for the future. Without any big contracts to give out, the expensive contract for McCaffrey is worth it. They can now spend the next few years selecting young offensive and defensive talent in the draft to build around in the future.

Gobert And Mitchell Relationship; Cooks Trade

When Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19, tensions rose across the sports world, as tournaments were canceled and whole sports seasons were postponed.

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Within minutes of Gobert testing positive, the NBA postponed the season until further notice. Upon learning of Gobert, the rest of the Jazz team were tested, with guard Donovan Mitchell testing positive as well. Since that time, the relationship between the two All-Stars has become “unsalvageable”.

Before Gobert tested positive, he was at a press conference joking about the impending pandemic and making it a point to physically tough everything in the room. Because of Gobert’s level of unseriousness about the situation, Mitchell is now requesting a split between the duo.

Even with Gobert donating money to COVID-19 research, Mitchell is still upset with the center, which could lead to a monumental trade. Mitchell is the star offensive player for the Jazz, while Gobert is the defensive anchor who is an excellent rebounder. The tough decision will need to be made, but either way the franchise has now changed.

In just his seventh season, wide receiver Brandin Cooks is now on his fourth team. Although his hefty contract makes him seem overrated, Cooks has six 1,000-yard receiving seasons on teams that routinely stay in Super Bowl contention.

The Los Angeles Rams were able to trade the former New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots receiver to the Houston Texans for a second-round pick. What’s puzzling about the trade is the unwillingness from the Texans to pay Deandre Hopkins like a top receiver, yet trade for Cooks, who is paid like a top receiver, but isn’t one.

In the Hopkins trade, the Texans traded for David Johnson, who hasn’t rushed for 1,000 yards since 2016 and has proved to be injury prone.

NFL Names All-Decade Team

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has all sports at a standstill, the NFL selected the All-Decade team for the 2010s, which featured eight unanimous selections.

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The selection committee consisted of 48 Hall of Fame members who all agreed on the decade brilliance of Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Aaron Donald, Joe Thomas, Marshal Yanda and Justin Tucker. All but Thomas and Yanda, both offensive linemen, are active. Of the eight unanimous selections, only Brady, Miller, Yanda and Tucker won Super Bowls during the decade.

The NFL’s All-Decade team offense features Brady and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback; Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore at running back; Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson (who retired in 2016 by the way. Yeah, he was great) and Julio Jones at wide receiver; Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce at tight end; Thomas, Jason Peters, Tyron Smith and Joe Staley at tackle; Yanda, Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins and Zack Martin at guard; and Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey at center.

The NFL’s All-Decade team defense features Watt, Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan and Julius Peppers at end; Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Deno Atkins and Fletcher Cox at tackle; Miller, Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Willis, Chandler Jones and Khalil Mack at linebacker; Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman at cornerback; Eric Berry, Earl Thomas and Eric Weddle at safety; and Chris Harris and Tyrann Mathieu were added at defensive back.

The two coaches selected were Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. The Seattle Seahawks have the most selections with five total players, as their defense has consistently been one of the best throughout the decade. During the decade, Peterson was the only non-quarterback to win the MVP award.

Kevin Durant And Other Players To Compete In 2k Tournament

With the recent shutdown of all sports, 2k and the National Basketball Players Association has partnered to air an NBA 2k tournament between players on ESPN.

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The tournament will start on Friday, April 3rd, from 7-8:30 p.m. on ESPN and then switch to ESPN2 from 8:30-11:30 p.m. No games will take place on Saturday, but will resume Sunday, April 5th, from 12-4 p.m. on ESPN2. The quarterfinals are on Tuesday, April 7th, from 7-11 p.m. on ESPN, with the semifinals and finals taking place on Saturday, April 11th on ESPN. No time has been set for the final two rounds.

Kevin Durant leads a star-studded cast of athletes to compete in the tournament. Durant, who hasn’t played this season due to injuries, has long been a fan of NBA 2k and has admitted to rival LeBron James being his favorite player to use within the game.

All players were seeded based on their in-game rating. The player seeds and their in-game overalls are below.
1. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets (96)
2. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks (90)
3. Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trail Blazers (87)
4. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz (87)
5. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (86)
6. Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers (85)
7. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (85)
8. Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers (85)
9. Domantas Sadonis, Indiana Pacers (85)
10. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns (85)
11. DeMarcus Cousins (81)
12. Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (81)
13. Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards (79)
14. Patrick Beverly, Los Angeles Clippers (78)
15. Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings (78)
16. Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat (78)

The winner will be given $100,000 to donate to a charity of their choice. With all the jobs being lost to the current COVID19 situation, this is a great way to give back to communities in need.

Quarterback Carousel

Recently, a number of quarterback changes have occurred across the NFL. With so many teams changing signal callers and tanking for college prospects, established quarterbacks are now in new places.

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The Carolina Panthers, who recently allowed quarterback Cam Newton to seek a trade partner, released him instead. Newton is now on the open market. As of right now, Newton is not linked to any teams, although he had a physical in Atlanta earlier in the week. During his time with Carolina, Newton became the first rookie quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards. He also won the MVP in 2015, the same year he led Carolina to the Super Bowl.

In a one-year deal, Philip Rivers left the Los Angeles Chargers (still weird) to join the Indianapolis Colts. Now that the CDC has recommended crowds remain below 10 people, how is the Rivers household remaining afloat? Rivers now replaces Jacoby Brissett, who took over after Andrew Luck suddenly retired, leaving a playoff roster in shambles. The deal for Rivers is worth $25 million.

Joe Flacco was waived by the Denver Broncos after only eight games with the team. The former Super Bowl champion passed for 1,822 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions as a member of the Broncos.

After the struggles of Mitchell Trubisky, the Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles, giving the Jacksonville Jaguars a fourth-round pick in the process. Foles notably led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl win over the Tom Brady led New England Patriots (Brady still passed for over 500 yards but whatever). Last year, the Bears entered the season as a dark horse Super Bowl contender. Trubisky passed for 3,138 yards, 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, with lots of low moments in the second half of games.

The Patriots, who lost Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed Brian Hoyer to a one-year deal worth $2 million. Hoyer is familiar with the Patriots system and could help Jarrett Stidham learn the ways of a Bill Belichick offense.