The Weekend NBA & MLB Report - NFL Draft Tackles and Safeties

OUR NFL DRAFT UPDATE CHECKS OUT THE TOP TACKLES AND SAFETIES AND IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO ALL THIS TRADE TALK?

THE NBA PLAYOFFS: WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND

THE BASEBALL REPORT: A SUBWAY SERIES WITH LOTS OF SIZZLE AS METS-YANKEES BATTLE IN THE BRONX THIS WEEKEND

The National Football League Draft is just days away - but you can fully expect all of these wild trade rumors to keep on flowin’ right up until Thursday Night.

Maybe you heard the latest this past week that the Philadelphia Eagles were gonna package picks #12 and #19 and a high draft pick for next year (the first two picks to be acquired from the Cleveland Browns first for QB Sam Bradford and more!) to the Tennessee Titans at the #2 draft slot so that mad scientist/head coach Chip Kelly indeed could land old pal and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

As one New York City area radio voice said about that potential blockbuster, that’s a whole lot of “moving parts” but it all does make perfect sense to all three teams involved as the Eagles/Kelly would get the rookie quarterback really desired, the Titans would net picks #12 and #19 and probably an extra second-rounder next year and the Browns would land Bradford and then look to ship Johnny Manziel to the highest bidder on Draft night.

Could it all “go down”?

It could, but more likely the Titans are either gonna draft Mariota or wait for an even better deal here and thus scuttle the Eagles’ grandiose plans.

If you do wish to prognosticate on what franchises might well trade out of their current first-round draft positions, may we suggest the Atlanta Falcons at #8, the Minnesota Vikings at #11 and the Miami Dolphins at #14 but we believe the Falcs and Vikes would be trading down to add picks while the Dolphins - commandeered these days by former New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum – are looking to shoot up into the top five and make Florida OLB Dante Fowler their primary draft target.

Remember the Browns (#12 and #19) and the New Orleans Saints (at #13 and #31) currently are the league’s only two teams with a pair of first-rounders while Buffalo and Seattle currently don’t own first-round choices after deals with Cleveland (last year in the Sammy Watkins swap) and New Orleans (for TE Jimmie Graham), respectively, but that could change as we’re hearing rumblings that the now-Rex Ryan led Bills and the two-time NFC champion Seahawks both have plans to not only get into the first round but do so inside the draft’s top 15 picks.

Stay tuned.

THE NFL DRAFT REPORT

Our extensive Jim Sez NFL Draft coverage rolls on with a look at the top incoming Offensive Tackles:

BRANDON SCHERFF, Iowa - All along we’ve believed this 6-foot-4, 320-pounder from Denison (IA) would wind up with the New York Giants at the ninth overall pick but there’s been some 11th-hour scuttlebutt about possibly going #6 to the New York Jets or maybe even dropping one spot behind the Giants at #10 with St. Louis. Scherff plays with great power and shows good technique but some folks believe he’s better suited to play guard in the pros and rarely do OGs go in the top 10 picks. Stay tuned for our exclusive Jim Sez NFL Mock Draft next week – but right now we’re leaning to a Scherff-to-Giants scenario.

ANDRUS PEAT, Stanford - Plenty to like about this 6-foot-7, 315-pounder who is considered “tough” and “athletic” if at times a bit too “mechanical” but be sure he’s a top 15 pick one way or the other come the April 30th draft. Peat has work to do as a run-blocker but he projects as a 12-to-15-year pro and would be a nice fit at #14 with the Miami Dolphins (providing the Fish hold onto that pick).

ERECK FLOWERS, Miami - A top 20 type pick, this monstrous 6-foot-6, 330-pounder from right there in Miami could be Dolphins-bound if Peat goes higher than forecast here but some NFL teams are said to be scared off considering some post-knee injury problems and Flowers’ apparent trouble dealing with undersized pass rushers. If you had to pin us down, we’d say Flowers will go #21 to Cincinnati.

LA’EL COLLINS, LSU - It’s generally believed that there will be four or five offensive tackles nabbed in Round I of Thursday’s NFL Draft and this 6-foot-5, 309-pounder from nearby Baton Rouge should slide into the latter portion of the opening round thanks in large part to his strong run-blocking style and mean streak that could play well on this next level. Perhaps he lasts till pick # 25 with the Carolina Panthers.

T.J. CLEMMINGS, Pittsburgh - This Teaneck (NJ) product is 6-foot-5, 307-pounder and projects as a right tackle for years to come with Philadelphia, Arizona and the home town Steelers all sporting major interest in ‘em as we inch near Draft Night.

Our coverage rolls on with a look at the top incoming players at the Safety position,  next up, The Quarterbacks with our complete NFL Mock Draft coming your way in Wednesday’s column right here!

LANDON COLLINS, SS, Alabama - The unquestioned top player coming into this draft at strong safety, the 6-foot, 222-pound New Orleans native has long arms and yet is keenly strong and can cover athletic tight ends and/or physical wide receivers some 30 or 40 yards downfield. Great ability to change directions in a heartbeat and is always attacking. Gut feeling is he’ll get nabbed somewhere in the draft’s top 25 picks and so early-bird forecast here is for ‘Bama stud to go at #24 to Arizona.

DAMARIOUS RANDALL, FS, Arizona State - Considered the best free safety in this draft lot, the Pensacola (FL) native is listed at 5-feet-11, 187 pounds with good speed, quick feet and a mean streak to boot. Randall missed nine games in his junior year in 2013 with a groin injury but he played in all the ASU Sun Devils game a year ago and led the team with 106 tackles, 12 pass breakups and 3 picks. Probably will fall out of Round I but could be very early Round II pick with Oakland.

JAQUISKI TARTT, SS, Samford - Should be among the top 75 players picked in this year’s draft, Tartt has NFL skills, long arms and comes off a strong showing in the Senior Bowl but straight-ahead speed could be a problem and may be late-bloomer type. He’s listed at 6-feet-1, 222 pounds and likely to fill out a bit more between now and September Likely a late second-round or early-to-mid third round choice.

DERRON SMITH, FS, Fresno State - At 5-feet-10, 200 pounds, he’s a bit smaller than NFL scouts would like but makes up for size with great ball skills and awareness of where the ball is at all times. Look for this former Bulldogs star to drop into the middle part of the third round but he’s probably a “missing piece” guy for one of the NFL’s better secondaries that needs a good nickel back or a third safety.

   

THE NBA PLAYOFFS - WATCH THE WIZARDS, ROCKETS AS THEY ATTEMPT SUNDAY SWEEPS

This could well be a heavy-on-the-sweeps weekend in the NBA post-season where the likes of the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors are looking for the KO punch on Saturday while Sunday’s action might well bring us “broom jobs” by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards and the Houston Rockets.

Those last two teams mentioned here - the Wizards and the Rockets - banged out Game 3 wins on Friday night as Washington’s Paul Pierce officially stuck a dagger in Toronto’s heart with those two late-game triples en route to his starry 18-point game but once again rebounding was key as the Wizards won the backboard battle for a third consecutive time in this series (45-to-41 in Game 3) and isn’t it something how Wizards’ reserves Otto Porter and Drew Gooden (a combined 23 points on 8-of-15 FG shooting) were so huge in that 106-99 win/cover as 4.5-point betting favorites.

Then there were the mighty Rockets who bopped host Dallas 130-128 in a pick ‘em affair this past Friday night - yes, James Harden awoke from some Game 1/Game 2 scoring slumbers to pour in a career playoff-high 42 points while the Mavs played without injured/disgruntled PG Rajon Rondo and the net result was Rock Carlisle’s club shot a sizzling 45-of-86 (that’s 52.3 percent) and still lost as Raymond Felton didn’t exactly cut it as the Mavericks’ new starting point guard with 0 points and 1 assists in 13 minutes of play.

Hey, when Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis score 34 points apiece at home, you ain’t supposed to lose... but now here’s Dallas trying to avoid a four-game sweep come Sunday night.

Ditto for the down-in-the-dumps Raptors who try and fend off the sweeperoo come Sunday in D.C.

Maybe the LeBron James and Stephen Curry’s of the world are getting all the post-season love so far from the fast-talking media folks, but better keep your eyes trained on the Wizards and Rockets too - they could be broom-carriers this Sunday and who really wants to deal with either of ‘em come the next round of play?

 

THE BASEBALL REPORT

Think we’re gonna hear any “Let’s Go Mets” chants in The Bronx this weekend?

You bet your decades-old orange-and-blue baseball cap that you will - after all, the still raging-hot New York Mets (13-4 following Friday’s 6-1 loss in The Bronx) were trekking into Yankee Stadium riding a franchise tying-best 11-game winning streak after a ridiculous 10-and-oh home stand and what kind of odds could you have gotten weeks ago that heading into this final April weekend the M-E-T-S would sport Major-League Baseball’s best record!

Okay, so we know all the MLB critics of Interleague play have been snarling the past year-and-change that there’s always at least one National League versus American League series on the daily docket but how can you not get excited about this Subway Series... even if you live in Timbuktu?

The Mets - despite crippling injuries/suspensions to 3B David Wright (hamstring), C Travis d’Arnaud (broken hand), lefty reliever Jerry Blevins (broken left arm) and original closer Jennry Mejia (80-game PED suspension) - basically have ignored all of those rather large obstacles and have roared big-time with great starting pitching - RHP’s Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey are a combined 7-0 out of the starting gate - to go along with timely hitting, great base-running and above-average defense to zoom straight to the head of the class in the NL East and two-of-three wins here against the suddenly surging Yankees (or even another sweep, dare we suggest) would have the Mets revisiting those 1986 memories … yes, the last time the Mets won a World Series and officially “owned” New York City.

On the flip side, don’t sleep on the “under-the-radar” Yanks:

Following a dreadful 3-6 start to this year that included a slew of errors (many of them by Derek Jeter heir SS Didi Gregorious) in a pair of series against Toronto and Boston, the here-and-now Bombers (10-7) have bounced back nicely with a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay last weekend followed by three-of-four wins in frosty Detroit and it sure appears the major worries about aces RHP Masahiro Tanaka and LHP CC Sabathia have been calmed with strong showings for both hurlers in their last two respective starts... now here’s the pitching matchups for this weekend’s New York/New York battle:

On Saturday afternoon, it’s RHP Harvey (3-0, 3.50 ERA) versus Sabathia (0-3, 4.35 ERA); and Sunday Night it’s LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 1.50 ERA) for the Mets versus EHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 3.12 ERA).

They don’t call it “fun city” for nothin’!

NOTE: Get more NFL Draft updates plus NBA Playoff and MLB Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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