The answer is that Van Mil can’t locate as well as Young.

There haven’t been five tight ends taken in the first two rounds of the draft since 2006, but that may change. That was the year that featured two in the first round in Vernon Davis going sixth overall to the 49ers and Marcedes Lewis being picked 28 by the Jaguars. That could happen again this year.

Alabama’s O.J. Howard locked up a spot in the first round long before the combine. Coming off an impressive Senior Bowl, Howard had exceptional timing numbers with the fastest three-cone drill (6.85 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.16 seconds) for a tight end. Oh, and he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at 6’6 and 251 pounds.

There is a chance we get to five tight ends in the first two rounds like in 2006. Miami’s David Njoku may not have had an overly impressive showing, but the big-play receiver who averaged 16.2 yards per catch last season should find a spot in the first round. Teams looking for their version of Jordan Reed could go after a player like Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech or Evan Engram of Ole Miss as well.

The answer is that Van Mil can’t locate as well as Young.

The question is how a 7’1 pitcher can’t be as successful as a young Randy Johnson, who was 6’10, threw just as hard as Van Mil, and would have had troubles hitting a bus with his fastball from 60 feet away when he was younger.

The answer is that Van Mil doesn’t have a breaking ball that’s remotely comparable to Johnson’s slider.

If it sounds simplistic, it is. But it’s always worth remembering, and Van Mil provides the perfect opportunity. When analysts wanted to know why Young was successful throwing 85 mph a decade ago, they found half of the answer, and the other half was implied. The perceived velocity made Young’s fastball play up, and he had the command to put baseballs where hitters weren’t expecting baseballs. It seems like the command might be the less important reason for his success, except it most certainly is not.21

NFL insider Steve Smith says Ravens will release Elvis Dumervil

Elvis Dumervil, a guy I’d call one of the most underrated edge rushers of all time, may be best known for the notorious fax incident. His impact as a playmaking pass rusher, however, is something the Ravens will truly miss.

Baltimore, in its efforts to get younger, decided to cut the 33-year-old Dumervil. This was first reported by former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith.

Nonetheless, one can never have too many edge rushers, which means Dumervil will be a hot commodity on the free agent market. At this point in his career, the linebacker is really only a situational pass rusher. However, in the right role, we’ve seen Dumervil can still get the job done. Look for an established contender with at least one quality pass rusher to target Dumervil and line him up on the opposite side. The Ravens did it with Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, and the pairing worked perfectly early on.

In previous years the market for right tackle has been about half as lucrative as the one for the left side of the offensive line. Neither Bryan Bulaga with the Green Bay Packers nor Mitchell Schwartz with the Kansas City Chiefs received deals worth more than $7 million per year, while left tackles Trent Williams and Cordy Glenn each have deals that average more than $14 million.

The question is whether Wagner’s contract represents a rise for the entire offensive tackle market, or the shifting thought that the right tackle isn’t half as important as left tackle. Will the next blockbuster deal for a left tackle be closer to Williams’ five-year, $68 million deal in Washington? Or will it come close to doubling the deal received by Wagner?

While Wagner’s deal is higher than some expected, it’s still reasonable enough that the other offensive tackles will likely be worth less, even though they can provide an instant boost to a starting offensive line. Among the other tackles on the market are Andrew Whitworth, Russell Okung, Ryan Clady, and Riley Reiff.24

Williams has averaged 16.6 points and 8.2 assists in his career since debuting with Utah in 2005.

GOLDEN State Warriors star Kevin Durant faces an indefinite injury lay-off after spraining a knee ligament but could return before the end of the regular season, the NBA team said.

Durant hobbled off the court during the Warriors’ defeat to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday after a collision with teammate Zaza Pachulia.

“It has been determined that Durant suffered a grade 2 medial collateral ligament sprain and a tibial bone bruise,” the Warriors said following a scan.

“We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.” Embiid has not played since January 27. His knee swelled after he took part in a workout last week.

“As our medical team and performance staff continue their diligence in the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of Joel’s injury, we will provide any pertinent updates when available.” The move comes after last week’s announcement by the 76ers that Australian standout Ben Simmons, the top overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, would miss his entire rookie season because his broken right foot has not completely healed. He underwent surgery last October for the break, suffered in the team’s final pre-season training camp workout.

Down the line, Lue could use Williams in the starting lineup, but for now, Williams is happy to contribute any way he can. “It was kind of an easy decision for me,” he said. “I definitely looked at a couple other teams. But once Dallas informed me they kind of wanted to go in a different direction, the Cavs were the first team that jumped out at me. A lot of times you overthink things. I kind of went with my first thought.”

Williams has averaged 16.6 points and 8.2 assists in his career since debuting with Utah in 2005.

He and Korver were teammates for three years with the Jazz, reaching the Western Conference finals in 2006-07.25

Leonard Fournette is not having a great NFL Combine

Leonard Fournette is one of the top running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft class and he’s battling with Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to be the first off the board. But he didn’t help his case at all with a disastrous trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

The LSU running back drew attention at the end of the 2016 season when he announced that he wouldn’t play in the Citrus Bowl so he could be better prepared for the draft process. But when he arrived for the NFL Combine, Fournette weighed in heavier than expected, tipping the scales at 240 pounds.

“I drank a lot of water before I weighed in,” Fournette told reporters Thursday. “So it was water weight. It went away completely. …Most definitely a lot of people think I’m just strong. Some people say I lack speed, lack burst. I mean, tomorrow will show it out.”

He didn’t show it at all, though. His Friday began instead with a 28.5-inch vertical jump that raised plenty of eyebrows.

Only two running backs in the last four NFL Combines have posted a worse mark in the drill — 2015 seventh-round pick Kenneth Hilliard and 2017 draft prospect Matt Dayes. Fournette has drawn comparisons to other big, powerful running backs like Adrian Peterson and Derrick Henry, but his numbers pale in comparison.

Peterson jumped 38.5 inches a decade ago and Henry jumped 37 inches last year. Fournette’s jump was closer to the numbers that an offensive lineman would post.

Fournette was reportedly paying particular attention to the jump drills in training, but after his poor mark in the vertical jump, he withdrew from the broad jump. Whether it was related remains to be seen, but he told NFL Network that he wasn’t surprised by the poor vertical jump, saying “I’m not a jumper.”8

Steelers won free agency before it even began

The Steelers’ top two priorities heading into the offseason: lock up Antonio Brown to a long-term extension and don’t let Le’Veon Bell hit the free agent market.

Mission already accomplished.

On Monday, the Steelers slapped the franchise tag on superstar running back Bell, ensuring he’ll stick around for at least the next season. Pittsburgh later made Brown the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL by signing him to a four-year extension.

Holding onto this year’s top free agent and extending one of the NFL’s best receivers to a long-term deal? Just another day in Pittsburgh.

The league should get rid of the call altogether. It rids referees of the burden that comes with having to make the call and gives players one fewer call to worry about.

Is hanging on the rim really so heinous of a crime that a team should be penalized for it? Half the time, rim-hangs are saving someone from injury. Other times, it’s an instinctive act that comes naturally with attacking the rim.

The NFL has been widely criticized for limiting its players’ creativity during touchdown celebrations. So much so, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins trolled the NFL by walking off the field like a robot after a touchdown.

The NBA has long been at the forefront of innovation, but blowing the whistle on rim-hanging is a prehistoric way of thinking. It’s time for the league, as it has always done, to grow with the times.

Or else, it could risk becoming a league of all robots. And what fun would that be?6

Stephen Tulloch has no regrets about celebration that led to ACL injury

Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch sustained an embarrassing injury in Week 3. Tulloch was celebrating a sack when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season. But the veteran linebacker says he has no regrets about how the injury occurred, saying that he’d do it again if given the opportunity, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Tulloch said, “Just a matter of time.” So it sounds like he doesn’t really blame the injury so much on the fact that he chose to celebrate. He said that he’s played a “long time” in the NFL and that players are simply “susceptible to this kind of injury when you go out there and play.”

Murray is coming off his best season, when he rushed for 1,121 yards on 5.2 yards per carry.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers organization have been adamant that due process will need to play out before McDonald receives any punishment. On Friday, Harbaugh said that he is being “patient” with the process.

“I’ve lost family members that I was able to get over. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this,” he said. “It makes me emotional all of the time. I’m one of those guys, I don’t take stuff for granted most of the time. And it really hit me more after his death that this life that we go about every day like it’s nothing, it’s really not something to play with.”

Moss and Taylor both grew up in the same area in Miami, but it wasn’t until they became teammates in Washington that they formed a bond that was more family than friend. And while Taylor was known to be guarded with the media, behind the scenes he wasn’t afraid to show emotion.6

The Bills could release their two most important offensive players thanks to big guarantees tied to the 2017 season

The Patriots want to run the fake bubble screen with the two vertical routes (yellow circles). Pump to the bubble, draw the defensive backs downhill and target the seam or outside fade to move the sticks. It’s not there. But instead of panicking (as we see often from young quarterbacks), Garoppolo calmly maneuvers in the pocket to find an open lane and continues to keep his eyes down the field. This allows Garoppolo to reset his feet/platform and hit Amendola when the wide receiver separates across the field. And the quarterback takes a shot too after throwing this ball. It was a big-time play to move the sticks and continue to drive.

Look, I want quarterbacks who battle, guys who show up in critical moments of the game. Yes, this is only one play. And I get that. But given the situation — down in the fourth quarter and needing a play to continue the drive — I love Garoppolo’s ability to manage the chaos and find a way to advance the sticks against a very good defense.

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas CowboysNFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

The Bills could release their two most important offensive players thanks to big guarantees tied to the 2017 season. McCoy cemented his place as one of the league’s top tailbacks after running for 5.4 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns, while Taylor earned his second straight Pro Bowl invitation — though that may be more a condemnation of the AFC’s roster than the quarterback’s strength. At cap hits of $8.875 million and $15.9 million, respectively, the pair could prove too expensive for a new regime in upstate New York.

Buffalo could mitigate losing its starting running back by handing his duties over to Mike Gillislee, who was the only qualified player in the league to have a better yards-per-carry average than McCoy. Replacing Taylor would be tougher. The team could turn to Cardale Jones instead, but the former Ohio State standout looked every bit a rookie in his lone appearance last fall.

 

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It can be a touchy subject for quarterbacks because they’re simply operating out of the offense that’s in place at the school.

“I don’t know that they can’t play in our league, but it becomes more of a projection when you’re trying to determine if a guy can go in a huddle, call a play, go to the line of scrimmage, make an adjustment, take a snap, read a coverage and deliver the ball,” Smith said.

It can be a touchy subject for quarterbacks because they’re simply operating out of the offense that’s in place at the school. At Baylor, for instance, Bryce Petty rarely had to run through a call or work under center. That changed at the Senior Bowl, where the Tennessee Titans coaching staff made him play from under center and call plays from a huddle.

“You don’t know things until you live it out. You can hear about it as much as you want, but until you’re actually in there and doing it, you have no idea,” Petty said. “It’s a learning curve a little bit, going from what we were doing at Baylor to what we’re doing now, but it’s all part of the process.”

Petty may have been the benefactor of participating in the Senior Bowl. It was an opportunity some quarterbacks, like Marcus Mariota of Oregon, turned down despite playing in offenses that rely heavily on cards.

“He taught me so much that I was able to have enough information for four years,” Fowler said. “He was just a great coach. A player’s coach type of guy. He’s smart. I was hurt when he left but I knew he was going to do great things.”

Now with Quinn owning the eighth overall pick in the draft, maybe he and Fowler can reunite and do great things together in Atlanta.

“I feel like, as a rookie, you have to come in and be versatile,” said Duke tackle Takoby Cofield. “Unless you’re going to come in and be a day one starter, you have to come in and know, at least, how to play the opposite side. So, if you’re a left tackle, you have to at least know how to play the right tackle spot.

Terrelle Pryor loves the Browns and wants to stay in Cleveland

Terrelle Pryor says he loves being with the Browns, and he wants to stay in Cleveland. That should help the Browns work out a long-term deal with Pryor, Cleveland’s top receiver last season.

“I know this is an important month,” Pryor said via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “But I do love being with the Browns and like I said before, this thing isn’t about joining a different team because a different team’s good.”

Hue Jackson has earned Pryor’s loyalty, and Jackson is a primary reason Pryor wants to remain with the Browns.

Jackson and Pryor’s relationship was cemented in 2011, when Jackson was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Jackson took a chance on Pryor in the third round of the supplemental draft. Now, Pryor wants to be a part of what Jackson is building in Cleveland.

He’s not the only one. Pryor’s teammate, left tackle Joe Thomas, wants to remain with the Browns and help Jackson rebuild.

“I’m a Clevelander,” Thomas said, via ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill. “I’ve spent the majority of my adult life here. Every day when I come to work, it’s ‘Let’s turn this team into a consistent winner.’“

The Browns signed linebacker Jamie Collins, a midseason acquisition via a trade with the New England Patriots, to a four-year, $50 million contract extension in January. Now the team’s top focus is locking up Pryor.

Cleveland hopes to come to a long-term agreement with Pryor and avoid using the franchise tag.

Pryor, who converted to wide receiver after spending his college career playing quarterback at Ohio State, does carry some risk for the Browns. He’s coming off a productive season, with 1,007 receiving yards and four touchdowns. But Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus identifies Pryor as a free agent who has the ability to demand top dollar despite uncertainty about how he will perform going forward.

Enter Conan O’Brien and Ford, who presented White with a Ford F-150 on O’Brien’s late-night talk show.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave his MVP truck from Super Bowl XLIX to cornerback Malcolm Butler as a way of saying thanks for his game-saving interception. This year, he said running back James White deserves it.

But there was one notable problem: Since Super Bowl XLIX, the Super Bowl MVP has no longer received a truck.

Enter Conan O’Brien and Ford, who presented White with a Ford F-150 on O’Brien’s late-night talk show.

I don’t see how Jay Cutler comes back. Both sides need a clean break. Eight years is enough. But regardless of what happens to Cutler (trade or release), the Bears have to draft a quarterback at some point. They have to explore every possible option to upgrade at quarterback — and keep doing so well beyond 2017. If the worst-case scenario is the Bears strike out on Garoppolo, draft a developmental quarterback, and re-sign a veteran such as Brian Hoyer to begin the year, then so be it. I just can’t envision Cutler being part of any future plans.

Garrett, a Texas A&M defensive end who hadn’t officially declared for the NFL draft at that time, addressed Jerry Jones, owner of his hometown Cowboys, and Dallas coach Jason Garrett.

“All right, I’m speaking to you, Jerry,” Garrett said. “Mr. Garrett, make it happen. Dak Prescott is leading our team right now. I need you to take Tony Romo, take a couple picks, give them to Cleveland so you can pick me up. Please. I would love to play in Dallas. Just make it happen.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn relieved former defensive coordinator Richard Smith of his duties earlier in the week, with Smith now reportedly interviewing to be linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Chargers. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Quinn took over playcalling duties from Smith late in the regular season, during a Dec. 4 game against Kansas City.