New York Giants would take a different OT if 2020 Draft happened again

New York Giants, Tristan Wirfs

The New York Giants didn’t have the worst draft in the world in 2020, but they could have done better. According to ESPN, they also would have taken a different player if it happened again. The player they took in reality was of course offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, but that pick has brought mixed results.

Thomas was quickly compared to a bust based on his early games, but was able to take steps forward with a change in coaching methods over the course of the season. Still, his performance will leave Giants fans looking for a big step forward next season.

ESPN believes if the Giants were to draft again, they would skip the uncertainty and select Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs ended up being picked lower than the other top tackles in the draft, but is on the All-Rookie team and is set to play in the Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Bucs.

It came down to Thomas and Wirfs for the Giants in the real draft. They were atop their board at this position of need. It’s hard after their rookie years not to lean toward Wirfs. He played at an All-Pro level while Thomas allowed the most pressures in the NFL. It was tough to pass on Justin Jefferson in this exercise, but Wirfs was equally impressive at a more premium position. — Jordan Raanan

Things aren’t all that bad for the Giants. Based on the improvements Thomas has made compared to his earliest games, it looks like the Giants managed to avoid ending up with another Ereck Flowers. But they do have a player on their hands that has some more ways to go before reaching his full potential.

Hopefully, for the sake of Daniel Jones, that step forward does come this season.

New York Giants could add veteran CB2 in free agency

xavier rhodes, New York Giants

The New York Giants are making it a point of emphasis to upgrade their offense this offseason. New York’s offense was pitiful in 2020, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game (second-worst in NFL). The strength of the Giants’ roster is their defense. However, there is room for improvement on that side of the ball, too.

The Giants’ defense has a couple more holes to fill before it establishes itself as one of the best units in the NFL. One area of weakness is in the Giants’ otherwise strong secondary. New York’s secondary features a formidable safety trio of Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney. Their number one cornerback James Bradberry is also dominant in his own right. But opposite of Bradberry is a weaker link.

The Giants’ secondary cornerback position was an inconsistent, revolving-door of players all year round. New York started the likes of Cory Ballentine, Ryan Lewis, Isaac Yiadom, and Julian Love at that position, with no one truly standing out as a competent starter on the outside. With the Giants likely to target an offensive player in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, one avenue they could take to improve their cornerback position is through the mean of a veteran in free agency.

Free agent cornerbacks

The New York Giants are going to be balling on a budget in the 2021 offseason. New York is already a few million dollars over the salary cap. They will make plenty of cuts, though, to get under the cap ahead of free agency. But this will still likely lead the Giants to shop in the bargain bin for some positions.

One position that the Giants could go a cheaper route with is cornerback two. If New York spends a lot in free agency, it will likely be on a wide receiver. There are plenty of cheaper, veteran cornerbacks for the Giants to choose from, though.

Joe Haden

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a cap pinch and are very likely to move on from veteran cornerback Joe Haden this offseason. Haden is an eleven-year NFL veteran. He spent his last four seasons with the Steelers after starting his career in Cleveland with the Browns.

Despite being 31 years old, Haden is still a really solid starting cornerback. He is only one year removed from his 2019 Pro Bowl appearance in a season where he racked up 5 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 65 combined tackles. He followed that up with another respectable season in 2020. This past year, Haden snagged 2 interceptions, defended 12 passes, and combined a total of 52 tackles in 14 games.

Signing Joe Haden would bring stability to the Giants’ second cornerback position. Haden would be a more expensive signing than some other options, but given his age and slight regression in performance, the Giants should be able to sign Joe Haden to an affordable contract if they want to.

Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes is another veteran cornerback whose team might not be able to afford him in 2021. Rhodes signed with the Indianapolis Colts last offseason after seven years with the Minnesota Vikings. The end of Rhodes’s time in Minnestoa saw him regress from being one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL to about league average. But a change of scenery in 2020 seems to have revitalized Xavier’s career.

Xavier Rhodes recorded 2 interceptions in 2020 with 12 passes defended and 42 combined tackles. His interception and passes defended totals were his best since his 2017 All-Pro season. The Giants could consider Xavier Rhodes opposite of James Bradberry once he hits free agency. According to Spotrac, Xavier Rhodes’s projected market value is around $7 million, making him an affordable option for New York.

UFC Vegas 18 Preview: Diego Ferreira – Beneil Dariush

Kicking off the main card of UFC Vegas 18 is a banger in the lightweight division. Top 15 lightweights will battle it out in a rematch as Diego Ferreira (17-2) takes on Beneil Dariush (19-4-1).

The two of these men originally fought back at UFC 179 in 2014. That night, Dariush was able to pickup the unanimous decision. Dariush will carry a five-fight win streak into UFC Vegas 18.

It’s not just that Dariush has won five in a row, but it’s the fact that he’s finished four of those fights that’s been impressive. Dariush is one of the most underrated lightweights in the UFC.

The division is so stacked that people often forget about him. However, he’s banging on the door of the top ten and he has a good matchup in front of him to get him through that door. However, Diego Ferreira is not the same guy he was almost seven years ago when they first fought.

Like Dariush, Ferreira will also carry a win streak into UFC Vegas 18. However, Ferreira has won six in a row. Ferreira’s first career loss came against Dariush. After that fight, he was knocked out by Dustin Poirier. However, he hasn’t lost since then.

The win streak that Ferreira is on has been incredibly impressive. He’s defeated the likes of Anthony Pettis, Rustam Khabilov, and Mairbek Taisumov. Ferreira is so much better than he was when they first fought, but has he closed the gap enough since UFC 179?

UFC Vegas 18 Prediction

The odds for this lightweight matchup at UFC Vegas 18 are essentially a toss-up and for good reasons. Both of these lightweight contenders are carrying in a ton of momentum and both are incredibly talented.

When looking at the two of them, I believe that Dariush has more advantages. Ferreira has looked sensational in his last few fights, however, I’m not sure he has the striking style to beat Beneil Dariush.

Dariush is very good with striking from range and he carries a ton of power in his hands. Ferreira is more of a volume guy and he’s very square when he closes the distance which could be a problem against a guy like Beneil Dariush.

Another problem Ferreira is going to have is in the grappling. We’ve seen his pressure-like style chained together with his grappling frustrate opponents. However, that’s not going to be as effective in a fight against the better grappler in Dariush.

When these two meet at UFC Vegas 18. I see Dariush getting his hand raised. Overall, he’s the better striker and he showed in the first fight that he can out-grapple Ferreira. I believe he will still hold those advantages and I actually believe we will see a fifth straight Dariush finish tomorrow night.

Prediction: Beneil Dariush by TKO – Round 3

MLB Breaking News: Trevor Bauer to the Dodgers for big money

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

In the biggest MLB news of the day, Trevor Bauer is no longer in free agency. The Los Angeles Dodgers have scooped the season’s biggest prize for an annual deal bigger than the Yankees Gerrit Cole. In the deal, he will be paid $40 million this year as the Dodgers stack their starting rotation after the San Deigo Padres stack theirs.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports it’s “a three-year deal that has opt-outs after Years 1 and 2.”

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports, “Trevor Bauer gets $102M for 3 years from Dodgers, per source. He has opt-outs after each of the first two years; $40M in 2021, $45M in 2022. He’ll be the highest-paid player in MLB history in ’21, then again in ’22.”

Stay tuned to EmpireSportsMedia.com for more on this deal as more details are released.

New York Giants: OC Jason Garrett expected to return to the Giants

New York Giants, Jason Garrett

New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was interviewing for the Los Angeles Chargers head coach vacancy several weeks ago. The Chargers went with Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley over Garrett. The Chargers were the only team that asked to interview Garrett this offseason. Garrett is expected to come back and be the New York Giants offensive coordinator for the second straight year.

Giants’ OC Jason Garrett is expected to return after a shaky season in which the team finished 31st in total offense and points scored, per Jordan Raanan, ESPN Giants beat writer.

Raanan also stated, “although Garrett will stay, there will be some changes to the Giants’ offensive staff, among them the possibility of internal alterations when it comes to the responsibilities of those currently on staff. Increased responsibility for quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is possible.”

If you remember when Garrett got Covid-19 during the season, Kitchens was called upon to call plays for New York against his former team, the Cleveland Browns. Tolbert, meanwhile, is a solid option for some power-sharing, but he’s beginning to draw interest for other roles throughout the league. Currently, the Minnesota Vikings have their eye on him to become their offensive coordinator.

However things ultimately shake out, it would appear as if Garrett will make his way back to East Rutherford next season and resume his role as the team’s offensive coordinator for the 2021 season.

New York Mets lose Trevor Bauer to the Los Angeles Dodgers

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

The New York Mets, who were viewed as the favorites all along (especially in the last couple of days) lost the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes, as the free agent right-handed pitcher decided to join the Los Angeles Dodgers, reigning World Series champions, in a three-year contract.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported via Twitter that Trevor Bauer will get $102M for three years from Dodgers, citing a source. He has opt outs after each of the first two years; $40M in 2021, $45M in 2022. He’ll be the highest-paid player in MLB history in ’21, then again in ’22.

Rachel Luba, Bauer’s agent, had tweeted during Thursday evening that his client was down to two teams, which ended up being the Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Mets are in a good place despite failing to bring Bauer

Bauer won the National League Cy Young award in the 2020 season while pitching with the Cincinnati Reds. He had a 1.73 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, and a 3.25 FIP in eleven starts and 73.0 innings, with a phenomenal 12.33 K/9 and a very good 2.10 BB/9.

The New York Mets’ rotation, when healthy, will be among the league’s best, even without Bauer. Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi and, starting in June or July, Noah Syndergaard, are the primary options.

The Mets are still in the hunt for a center fielder, with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Albert Almora as potential targets.

Despite losing out on Bauer, the offseason wasn’t bad at all for the Mets. They brought reliever Trevor May, catcher James McCann, and they traded for shortstop Francisco Lindor and starter Carlos Carrasco. They failed to capture George Springer’s and Bauer’s signature, but they are top contenders in the NL East.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, are now the clear favorites to repeat as World champions after securing the services of the talented, yet controversial Bauer.

UFC Vegas 18 Preview: Alexandre Pantoja – Manel Kape

In all honesty, the one fight that I’m looking forward to the most at UFC Vegas 18 is this matchup. This is a massive flyweight fight between Alexandre Pantoja (22-5) and Manel Kape (15-4). Kape will be making his highly anticipated debut with the UFC.

Manel Kape officially arrives tomorrow after signing with the UFC last year. While many in the fight world were excited about the signing of Michael Chandler, Manel Kape was another massive signing for the promotion in 2020 that didn’t garner as much attention.

The UFC gave Kape the same treatment that they did Chandler. Kape’s first real appearance for the promotion was being the backup for the title fight back at UFC 256. The former RIZIN champion is riding a three-fight winning streak into his debut.

Kape is going to have his hands full with his first opponent. Alexandre Pantoja is a very dangerous contender at 125 pounds. Outside of the champion, he might have the most power in the division.

If you count Pantoja’s stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Pantoja holds two victories over top contender, Brandon Moreno. He went toe-to-toe with Deiveson Figueiredo and tagged the champion multiple times in their fight. He’s earned his ranking inside the UFC‘s top five.

UFC Vegas 18 Prediction

This matchup is going to be so much fun. These are two of the most powerful guys at 125 pounds and neither man has ever been finished by strikes. While both have incredible power, I don’t know if that stat changes at UFC Vegas 18.

Manel Kape has incredible footwork and very good boxing. Pantoja has incredible all around striking and he possesses very good skills on the ground. For the most part, I think we are going to see a standup war between these two flyweights.

I’m torn on this one to be honest. We’ve seen Pantoja perform at a high level against UFC competition whereas Kape is somewhat unproven. However, I really like the footwork and pure boxing skills of Manel Kape in this matchup. Call me a believer of the hype, but I think Kape gets it done in a war tomorrow.

Prediction: Manel Kape by Unanimous Decision

Paige VanZant open to fight Bec Rawlings in BKFC on one condition

Will a Paige VanZant-Bec Rawlings rematch happen in BKFC?

Back in December, Rawlings floated her interest to fight VanZant in BKFC.

“With Bare-Knuckle signing Paige, it’s definitely garnered a lot of interest in people wondering if I’m going to fight her,” Rawlings told mmafighting.com. “I would love that fight. [I’m] sure we could probably try to work something out with Bellator and Bare Knuckle, doing a cross-promotion thing. I don’t know, I’d be down for that. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

But when asked for her reaction, VanZant isn’t as excited as Rawlings about the prospect of a rematch.

“Of course, she wants to fight me again. I knocked her out with a head kick the last time we fought. [I’m] really interested in fighting people who I haven’t fight yet or haven’t beaten. So if she wants to come back to BKFC, that’s totally fine, and if the matchup makes sense, but I’m in Bare Knuckle Boxing working my way in the division for a title. And I just don’t want to fight people because they want to call me out,” VanZant told Empire Sports Media in an exclusive interview last Tuesday ahead of her BKFC debut against Britain Hart.

Aching for Payback

VanZant will headline BKFC’s Knucklemania tonight, and if she emerges victorious, a Rawlings rematch could be in the pipeline.

Rawlings has a perfect 3-0 record in BKFC, including a split decision against Hart, before she returned to MMA via Bellator.

The Australian brawler wants to exact revenge for her 2016 loss to VanZant in UFC. VanZant won the fight via a second-round TKO with a stunning switch kick.

The loss to VanZant started the fall of Rawlings in the UFC. She never recovered as she also lost her next three fights and was subsequently released.

Rawlings revamped her career with BKFC.

Crossover Star

But unlike Rawlings, VanZant left UFC on her terms. While she lost her last UFC fight against Amanda Ribas, VanZant left the MMA octagon with a solid 8-5 record. She successfully became a crossover star and one of the most recognizable MMA fighters after reaching the finals of the Dancing With Stars in 2016.

While VanZant maintained her focus is on BKFC for now, she’s keeping her options open. She revealed that her BKFC contract has a clause that will allow her to fight in the octagon again.

“The fortunate thing about Bare Knuckle, I could take an MMA fight, boxing fight during my contract with them. I definitely haven’t closed the door on MMA at all or straight boxing. I think I’m just excited about this opportunity. I think it opens up the doors for me to continue to compete and be a more well-rounded martial artist,” VanZant said.

But first things first, the 26-year old VanZant needs to take care of business tonight against Hart.

She’s confident that she’ll shock the world after her six-month training with American Top Team.

How to watch VanZant-Hart fight:

The VanZant-Hart fight will be available Live on Pay-Per-View including DISH, DIRECTV, IN DEMAND, ROGERS, SASKTEL, SHAW, and VUBIQUITY, and via the digital app FITE, as well as the BKFC website www.bareknuckle.tv/orderppv.

KnuckleMania starts on PPV at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PM and will be distributed by Multi Vision Media.

Two Free Preliminary Fights will be broadcast on the BKFC YouTube Channel and Facebook pages starting at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC Vegas 18 Preview: Clay Guida – Michael Johnson

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 18, we will get to see a fun one in the lightweight division. Veterans, Clay Guida (35-20) and Michael Johnson (19-16) will battle it out on the main card. For Michael Johnson, he’s fighting for his UFC career tomorrow night.

When you look at Michael Johnson’s career in the UFC, it really makes you scratch your head. When you look at the highpoints, he’s defeated guys like Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and Edson Barboza.

However, he also has four losing streaks in the UFC that range from two to three fights. Currently, he’s on a three-fight losing streak and he was finished in two of those. Johnson has beaten some of the best guys in the world, but he’s also lost to people he should’ve easily beat.

With losing three in a row, he could be cut from the UFC should he lose tomorrow night. He’s got a tough test in front of him in The Carpenter. Clay Guida has been with the UFC since 2006. He’s always been a very good fighter, but never an elite fighter.

Guida has some great wins in the promotion like defeating Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, and Rafael Dos Anjos. However, every time he came close to a title shot, he lost. Guida has lost two in a row leading into tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 18 Prediction

When you look at this matchup at UFC Vegas 18 on paper, Michael Johnson should win this fight. He’s got the better striking, he’s got very good hand speed with pop and he has good grappling skills. Overall, he just is more skilled than Clay Guida.

Those skills are why he has some of the big wins that he has in the UFC. However, with Michael Johnson, you don’t always get the best version of him. Sometimes he sits back a little too much and let’s the action pass him by.

Clay Guida is a tornado who’s going to constantly be moving and throwing. His activity level is always extremely high which could pay off here. For Guida to pickup the win tomorrow, he’s going to have to outwork Johnson. He needs to push Johnson at a high pace and score points while doing so.

If Guida is able to keep the pace high and avoid power shots, he should get the decision. However, if the best version of Michael Johnson shows up, he will win tomorrow. With his career on the line at UFC Vegas 18, I think we get a good version of Michael Johnson and I believe he’ll get the win here.

Prediction: Michael Johnson by Unanimous Decision

Fangraphs releases list of top 47 New York Yankees’ prospects

New York Yankees, Jasson Dominguez

Spring training is around the corner. Baseball season is getting closer! And this time, as of now, there will be a minor league season. That, for the New York Yankees in particular, is extremely important and encouraging given that most of their top-end talent is in the lower minors. These players need games and reps badly to develop.

Several outlets and publications have published their list of top prospects, and the usual names on the Yankees’ organization are Jasson Dominguez, Deivi Garcia, and Clarke Schmidt.

However, Fangraphs’ took it up a notch. Expert Eric Longenhagen published his list of the 47 best prospects in the New York Yankees’ system.

Yankees’ Dominguez is the “highest variance prospect in baseball”

Unsurprisingly, he ranks Dominguez as the best of the bunch, with a 50 “Future Value” evaluation. Longenhagen wrote that “we still only truly know about Dominguez’s showcase tools (what it’s like to watch him take BP and run, both of which are scintillating) and very little about how he’ll perform against pro pitching.”

“It’s hard to find switch-hitters with power like this, let alone ones who already have usable swings from both sides of the plate at this age. Dominguez got very jacked in 2020 and looked more like a Mr. Universe competitor than a baseball prospect,” he said about the Yankees’ teenage phenom, closing with the argument that “he’s the highest-variance prospect in baseball, and maybe the highest-variance athlete in sports.”

Garcia was ranked second by Longenhagen when it comes to Yankees’ prospects. He wrote about him that “the entire repertoire is either average or a shade above it, and I think Garcia will end up working around 140 innings and generating 2-ish WAR annually.”

Here is the complete ranking:

1 Jasson Dominguez CF

2 Deivi Garcia SP

3 Oswald Peraza SS

4 Clarke Schmidt SP

5 Alexander Vargas SS

6 Luis Medina MIRP

7 Kevin Alcantara CF

8 Ezequiel Duran 2B

9 Yoendrys Gomez SP

10 Antonio Gomez C

11 Alexander Vizcaino SIRP

12 Austin Wells RF

13 Luis Gil SIRP

14 Anthony Volpe SS

15 T.J. Sikkema SP

16 Oswaldo Cabrera 2B

17 Everson Pereira CF

18 Josh Smith 2B

19 Ryder Green RF

20 Anthony Seigler C

21 Beck Way RHP

22 Antonio Cabello CF

23 Matt Sauer SP

24 Josh Breaux C

25 Nicio Rodriguez SIRP

26 Anthony Garcia RF

27 Denny Larrondo SP

28 Trevor Hauver 2B

29 Marcos Cabrera 3B

30 Estevan Florial CF

31 Dayro Perez SS

32 Albert Abreu SIRP

33 Brooks Kriske SIRP

34 Alfredo Garcia SIRP

35 Brandon Lockridge CF

36 Glenn Otto SIRP

37 Raimfer Salinas CF

38 Osiel Rodriguez SP

39 Alan Mejia CF

40 Randy Vasquez MIRP

41 Yoljeldriz Diaz SP

42 Roberto Chirinos SS

43 Jake Agnos MIRP

44 Ken Waldichuk MIRP

45 Chris Gittens 1B

46 Nelson L Alvarez SIRP

47 Madison Santos CF