The New York Yankees Opening Day pitcher Gerrit Cole, his story

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Gerrit Cole

Tomorrow at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York Yankee pitching ace Gerrit Cole will take to the mound for the Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays. How the game will turn out is anyone’s guess, but when he opened for the Yankees last season against the Washington National at Nationals Park, he pitched five innings and only allowed one hit.  Here is his story right up to his second Opening Day start for the Yankees.

New York Yankee’s general partner and owner Hal Steinbrenner spent $324 million on to see Gerrit Cole in a Yankee uniform and pitching for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Cole, 30, was born on September 8, 1990, in Newport Beach, California, to Mark and Karen Cole. Cole’s father was from New York and a Yankee fan. His father would tell him stories of Lou Gehrig and other famous Yankees, and the young boy would quickly become a baseball fan and Yankee fanatic.

On weekends one could see the young boy playing baseball at local ball fields, playing any position so that he could play. His father certainly nurtured Cole’s interest in the Yankees by flying him across the country seven times to Yankee Stadium to see his idols, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte. Cole was a member of the Tustin Western Little League team of Newport Beach.

In 2001 hiS Dad would take the young Cole to the World Series in Arizona to see his favorite Yankees play. The eleven-year-old could be seen in the stands with a Yankee uniform and cap on while holding a sign saying “Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever.” Being a lifelong Yankee fan had to, in some way, sway him to being the pitching Ace for a club he loved all his life? The signing of Cole is not the first time Cole and the Yankees have interacted. The Yankees drafted Cole in 2008, but Cole decided to attend college at UCLA. They were also outbid by the Pirates for Cole when he got out of college.

Cole attended Orange Lutheran High School and played on the team as a pitcher. In this sophomore year, he once pitched 45 innings without allowing a run. In his junior year, his fastball reached 94mph. At the start of his senior season, fifty baseball scouts would attend his opening start. He would go 8-2 that season with a .047 ERA while striking out 121. The Yankees would select Cole in the first-round draft in 2008, but Cole would attend college instead.

At UCLA, Cole’s introduction to college pitching would be a bit rude, as he faced more talented players. He would go 4-8 with an ERA of 3.49. His next year would be more successful as he went 11-4, with an ERA of 3.37 with 153 strikeouts. In 2011 Cole would sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole attended spring training in 2012 but was optioned to the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League. Cole pitched to a 2.90 ERA before being promoted to the Indianapolis Indians, a triple-A Pirates minor league team. There he would go 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in twelve starts.

Injuries on the Pirates would cause Cole to be brought up to the majors; he made his MLB debut on June 11, 2013. In his first appearance, he struck out his first batter in just three pitches. In the game, he would also get his first hit. He gave up two earned runs in the game but got his first win as a major league pitcher. He would hit his first home run on Sept. 7, 2014, his second on August 26th, and his third for the Pirates, on May 26, 2016, a three-run blast into the visitor’s bullpen.

For the Pirates, he would go 10-7 in his first year, 11-5 in his second, and an amazing 19-8 in his third year while being an All-Star, MVP nominee, and coming in fourth in the Cy Young voting. He would have an offseason in 2016, going only 7-10. 2017 would be only slightly better when he went 12-12. At the end of the season, he would be traded to the Houston Astros. With a new pitching coach and new technologies, Cole would again find his form. He would go 15-5 in 2018 while posting a 2.88 ERA. Cole’s 2019 was even better, going 20-5 with an ERA of 2.50.

During the 2019 postseason, Cole would get his second taste of postseason play, and he would dominate. In 2018 he would go 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA. He would go seven or more innings in all five of his 2019 starts, sometimes going over 100 pitches. On October 5, against the Rays in the ALDS, he would not allow a run in the 3-1 win. On 10/10, he would again face the Rays and pitch to a .057 ERA in the win. On 10/15, he would lose to the Yankees but post an ERA of just .040. In the ALCS against the Nationals on 10/22, he would get a 5-4 win. To finish off his postseason, he would get another win against the Nationals on 10/27 while allowing only one run in the 7-1 Houston win. He would end the postseason 4-1 with an ERA of 1.72.

Once interviewed by David Laurila, he would ask Cole what his hitting approach is; Cole would answer, “I try to get early contact and keep it on the ground. I like to keep the ball down as much as I can. Strikeouts are something that happens. You don’t go for strikeouts because your pitch count gets too high. When you get that opportunity, you have to put them away with whatever is working that day. That’s the approach I’ve always had to have. I’ve got to keep my pitch count down. If you want to go deep into ballgames, you have to stay under that 100 mark.”

Cole is a fearless monster on the mound and attacks hitters. He is durable and goes deep into games, something that will rest the Yankee bullpen. He has been an All-Star three times in his short career, been an MVP nominee twice, and voted for the Cy Young Award three times, coming in second in the voting in 2019.

Although he has turned out to be the New York Yankees’ winningest pitcher, he doesn’t seem to be the dominant pitcher he was for the Houston Astros in 2019. He appears to have struggled at times, even in the games that he has won. Also, Cole has given up home runs; lot’s of them. He has given up a home run in every one of his starts during 2020. The Yankees have lost the last four games that Cole started as the season came to a close. In those games, Cole gave up eight home runs while walking nine hitters. In 2019 he was 21-5 with an ERA of 2.51; last season, he was 7-3 with an ERA of .284.

Cole is totally healthy, and although he seemed to struggle at times during this spring, throwing a lot of pitches, he had a 3-0 season with a 2.45 ERA. Against Toronto last season, he was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

New York Yankees: Last-minute Opening Day news and lineups

Tomorrow is the day New York Yankee fans have been waiting for what seems like forever; it will be Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Fans haven’t been able to attend games since the 2019 postseason. Now, 10,850 lucky fans will be allowed to attend in person.

There is no question that it will be celebratory, but not without its unpleasantries. According to the Yankees, fans will have to carry some type of proof that they have received the vaccine or subject themselves to a PCR COVID test before arrival at the stadium that must be negative. Then before entering, you must pass a temperature check as well. Once inside, you will be seated in pods of from 1 to 8 fans. You must wear a mask except for when you are actively drinking or eating. Concessions will only accept plastic. According to reports, there will be no interaction between players and fans. Here is the statement from the Yankees.

Please note the required timeframes associated with each option so you can plan ahead accordingly. Guests holding valid game tickets who cannot present proof of either a negative COVID-19 test within the required timeframes or proof of a COVID-19 full vaccination will not be allowed inside Yankee Stadium. There is NO COVID-19 Testing available at Yankee Stadium.

The proof of vaccination or negative PCR test can be shown on your mobile phone. For more information, click here.

Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Opening Day lineups:

The New York Yankee starter will be Gerrit Cole. This will be Cole’s second opening day start for the Yankees. During the shortened 2020 season, Cole had 12 starts and went  7-3 with a 2.84 ERA. During the postseason, he had an ERA of 2.95 in three postseason games. Although he seemed to struggle at times during this spring, throwing a lot of pitches, he had a 3-0 season with a 2.45 ERA. Against Toronto last season, he was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

Here is the New York Yankee lineup: (spring training stats/last season)

  1. DJ LeMahieu 2b, .216/.364. DJ has gotten off to a slow start in spring training with just one home run. He had 3 walks.
  2. Aaron Judge RF, .256/257. Last year Judge got off to a hot start hitting 9 home runs in his first 18 games. He had 1 homer during the spring. Judge has suffered from allergies the last few days.
  3. Aaron Hicks CF, .205/.225. Hicks has had one homer during spring and has made some great plays in the field.
  4. Giancarlo Stanton DH, .314/.250. Stanton played in only 18 regular-season games but hit 6 HR in 7 postseason games. Stanton is healthy to start the season and is hitting hard.
  5. Gleyber Torres SS, .273/.243. Torres has been hot. He has 5 home runs in just 18 games, compared to 3 all of last season.
  6. Gio Urshela 3b, .150/.298. Gio has gotten off to a languid start with only one home run in 14 games.
  7. Gary Sanchez C, .200/.147. Gary got off to a hot start hitting 3 home runs in 9 games; he’s gone stone cold since then.
  8. Jay Bruce 1b, .206/.198. Jay was headed to the minors until Luke Voit required knee surgery.
  9. Clint Frazier LF, .217/.267. Clint has been spotty in spring training, but defense is still there.

The Toronto Blue Jays will start their ace, Hyun Jin Ryu. This is also his second opening day with the Jays.  Toronto has their pitching problems this season with pitchers injured. Ryu was excellent last season. He pitched to an ERA of 2.69 and came in third in the Cy Young Award competition. Last season he had a record of 5-2 in twelve starts. Ryu gave up 3 home runs to the Yankees on September 8, 2020.

Here is the Jays starting lineup for tomorrow:

  1. Cavan Biggio 3b, .267/.250. One homer in the spring.
  2. Marcus Semien 2b, .223/.223. Home run machine 3 during spring training.
  3. Bo Bichette SS, .313/.301. Bichette has always been a problem for the Yankees. He had 2 homers this spring.
  4. Teoscar Hermandez RF, .214/.289. He had 16 home runs last season and  2 this spring.
  5. Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1b, .421/.262. Vlad has been the Blue Jays hottest hitter during the spring with 2 homers.
  6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF, .250/.308. Lourdes has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season but doesn’t have 2 homers.
  7. Rowdy Tellez DH, .196/.283. Tellez is another Blue Jay that has had a slow start in spring. He had one homer.
  8. Randal Gruchuk CF, .231/.273. Randal has one homer in the spring.
  9. Danny Jansen C, .152/.183. One homer during the spring.

The biggest question other than who will win the game is the weather for the Opening Day festivities. It has held pretty steady for the last several days that there will be rain turning to showers in the morning. Although it will remain cloudy, precipitation should stop in time for the Opening Day celebration. It will be chillier than the Florida games, with a temperature that will hover in the mid-40s.

As far as the game is concerned, this one is a real toss-up. It will probably come down to which pitcher allows home runs and which team leaves the fewest players on base. There is no question that the New York Yankee lineup will have a tough time with Ryu, especially if the bats remain relatively silent as they have in the last few games of spring training. One thing is for sure this will be one of the most exciting games of the regular season.

The game will be at 1:05 pm and will be televised on the YES Network, ESPN, and MLB.TV. The YES Network will have extended coverage of all the Opening Day festivities starting at 11:30 am.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen about Francisco Lindor: ‘It takes two to tango’

New York yankees, Francisco Lindor

Opening Day is just a few hours away, and the New York Mets and star shortstop Francisco Lindor, who is on the last year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the season, remain apart by about $60 million in his contract extension negotiations.

The Mets acquired Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco at the start of the year in a trade. New York knew that Lindor was going to command a contract north of $300 million, but they didn’t expect his asking price to approach $400 million.

Right now, the Mets are offering a 10-year pact worth $325 million, while Lindor’s camp is asking for a 12-year commitment worth $385 million. The player established Opening Day as a hard deadline for contract negotiations.

“Lindor is a heckuva player and a great guy,” Mets’ owner Steve Cohen said. “I hope he decides to sign.” Cohen and Lindor reportedly had dinner over the weekend to discuss a potential agreement, but as of Wednesday morning, the two sides aren’t close. That could change, though.

The Mets could be approaching record territory

For reference, the 12-year, $385 million contract would be the second-largest guaranteed pact in American professional sports history, behind only Mike Trout’s Angels deal worth $426.5 million.

“I hope they pay him $400 million,” Mets’ teammate Pete Alonso said of Lindor. “He’s worth every penny.”

Cohen’s tone is that of a disappointed man about the turn that the negotiations have taken in the last few days. He also said that “it takes two to tango,” clearly referencing that he wants Lindor to lower his demands.

Here are the largest contracts in MLB history, per the league’s official site:

Mike Trout, Angels: 12 years, $426.5 million

Mookie Betts, Dodgers: 12 years, $365 million

Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres: 14 years, $340 million

Bryce Harper, Nationals: 13 years, $330 million

Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (signed with the Miami Marlins): 13 years, $325 million

What the New York Giants’ 2021 defense could look like post NFL Draft

new york giants

The New York Giants are well on their way toward one of the best defenses in football next season, especially after the acquisition of CB2 Adoree Jackson.

In 2020, the Giants had one of the best units in the NFL, ranking ninth in points allowed per game despite a massive hole at the second corner position and a severe lack of a pass rush. Injuries to Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines kept them out for nearly the entire campaign, so coordinator Patrick Graham had to compensate for their loss.

With Carter and Ximines expected to return in 2021, the Giants will have a semblance of a pass rush and potentially elite cornerback paired with James Bradberry. If they can remain healthy, the Giants will be in great shape moving forward, and that’s not even considering who they land in the 2021 NFL draft (mock).

New York Giants’ top players on defense post-NFL-Draft:

DL: Leonard Williams

DL: Dexter Lawrance

DT: Danny Shelton

OLB: Lorenzo Carter

OLB: Oshane Ximines

MLB: Blake Martinez

MLB: Micah Parsons (11th overall pick)

CB: Adoree Jackson

CB: James Bradberry

CB: Darnay Holmes

CB: Julian Love

S: Logan Ryan

S: Xavier McKinney

S: Jabrill Peppers

In this theoretical scenario, the Giants select Micah Parsons out of Penn State with the 11th overall pick. During his Pro Day, Parsons ran an insane 4.39 40-yard yard dash at over 240 pounds. He is an athletic unicorn at his size and possesses the skills to be an elite run-stopping linebacker and potential pass rusher at the next level. Despite opting out in 2020, teams have seen enough from him to justify him being a top 10 pick, who could easily slip to the Giants at 11 with so much great talent in this year’s draft. During his last season of production, he posted 109 tackles, 14 for a loss, 5.0 sacks, five passes defended, and for forever fumbles.

At the end of the day, Parsons is a player most teams would build a foundation around, and the Giants already have a stellar unit that would only take a step forward with his presence. With upside as a pass-coverage linebacker, Parsons has the versatility and position-less nature to fit perfectly in Graham’s scheme.

With elite corners, a trio of safeties that brings a dynamic style of play to the football field, and the return of a few adequate pass rushers, the Giants could be looking at the best defense in football, and that is something management will be considering heavily when the 11th pick occurs in just under a month.

Should the Knicks consider signing center DeMarcus Cousins?

New York Knicks, demarcus cousins

The New York Knicks need support at center after losing Mitchell Robinson to a fractured foot against the Milwaukee Bucks. While they do have Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson on the roster, they are both susceptible to injury at their age, especially Noel, who has had any issues in the past.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau is perfectly fine utilizing Noel as their primary starter, considering he’s been phenomenal on defense this year. He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Knicks this past off-season, and while he’s only about 27 years old, injuries have hurt him in the past. He’s much younger than Gibson, who is currently 35 but still displays fantastic physicality when on the floor.

However, New York could look to an offensive-minded big man, someone like DeMarcus Cousins, who has been an All-Star four times, a two-time All-NBA player, and an All-Rookie in 2010. The problem, Cousins, comes with baggage, but he has enjoyed 25 appearances, and 11 starts this year with the Houston Rockets. Due to an ACL injury, he missed the entire 2019-20 season and was only averaging 9.6 points with Houston before being released.

Historically, Cousins is a fantastic offensive player on the interior and adequate defensively, averaging over 25 points per game during his phenomenal run between 2014 and 2018. He’s played for a bevy of teams, including the Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, and Golden State Warriors.

Whether the Knicks consider Boogie is up to president Leon Rose, as Thibs mentioned several weeks ago when asked if he’d consider adding another center.

“That’s a Leon question,” Thibodeau told reporters. “We have more than enough on the roster, so we’ll figure out a way. We have guys that can play multiple positions, and then we’re going to have to take care of the rebounding, gang rebound. Everyone has to contribute in that area.”

After his win at UFC 260, what’s next for Vicente Luque?

This past Saturday at UFC 260, Vicente Luque (20-7-1) had a massive opportunity in the co-main event of the evening. Luque got the chance to take on former welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley (19-7-1).

Entering UFC 260, Luque was 12-2 in his last fourteen fights inside the octagon. The only losses in that stretch were to Leon Edwards and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

Taking on a former UFC champion gave Luque the opportunity to get the biggest win of his career and he didn’t let it pass him by. Tyron Woodley has been extremely passive over his last few fights.

The former welterweight champion just seemed zoned out and as a result, he was dominated in three straight fights. On Saturday night, his back was against the wall and he fought like it.

Instead of moving immediately backwards, Woodley ran across the octagon and threw big shots. The former UFC champion was desperate for a win and you could tell. However, Luque remained calm during the storm.

Late in the round, Woodley landed a massive shot that seemingly buckled Luque. However, Woodley came in wild and Luque was able to land an even bigger shot that completely rocked the former champion.

The fight didn’t last long after that. Luque continued to hurt Woodley which forced the former champion to shoot for a takedown. It was a sloppy attempt and it allowed Luque to lock up a choke and get the massive win at UFC 260.

What’s next after UFC 260?

With his win on Saturday night, Luque jumped up to the sixth spot in the updated UFC rankings. After the fight was over, Luque called for a fight with Nate Diaz. This is the second straight fight he’s done this.

However, he’s not going to get that fight. Last night, it was announced that Diaz would be fighting Leon Edwards at UFC 262. With that, Vicente Luque is going to have to look at different options.

To me, there is a perfect opponent right next to him in the rankings. The perfect opponent for Luque next is Michael Chiesa (18-4). Chiesa is unbeaten at welterweight and whoever were to win that potential matchup would be ready for a title eliminator.

New York Mets: Give Francisco Lindor Years (And Money) He Deserves

Opening Day is less than 48 hours away, and the time to re-sign Francisco Lindor is quickly dwindling away. The New York Mets have made their offer of 10-years/$325 million, and Lindor countered with a 12-year/$385 million offer. Lindor’s camp said they are not budging on their offer, but one expensive variable remains. Will Steve Cohen open up the wallet more to secure his superstar?

Just discussing an extension this large is an example of the franchise’s growth since Cohen purchased the team. The Wilpons would never acquire a player of Lindor’s talent (unless he was 36 years old) and then contemplate offering a $300+ million extension. The Mets offer has Lindor earning a $32.5 million AAV, while Lindor’s offer gets him an AAV of just over $32 million. Negotiations are not about the money; they are about the length of the deal. After years of watching great talent leave them to win elsewhere, why waste the best talent they have acquired?

Who Cares About Two Extra Years?

To put things in perspective, it will be 2033 when Lindor’s 12-year deal finally concludes. Current Manager Luis Rojas will be 52, Steve Cohen will be 77, Jacob deGrom will be 45, and Jarred Kelenic will be 34. For anyone to have any idea about how Lindor’s deal will affect the “30s” Mets roster is speaking out of a part that cannot be mentioned in this article.

Another way to look at it is that not a single Met from their 2009 roster is still with the team. Oliver Perez and Darren O’Day are the only 2 out of 53 players who are still on big-league rosters. The Mets have to get themselves through the decade that just started before worrying about the following one.

If the first ten years of Lindor result in at least one championship, would anyone complain about having him for two more seasons? The Mets organization and its fans have been through too much pain and turmoil since 1986 to worry about the last two years of a potential hall of fame career. This discussion is with only one World Series mentioned. If multiple rings came to Flushing, the Lindor statue would glow in front of Citi Field before he retires.

Jacob deGrom’s Cy Young caliber years can no longer waste away on losing teams, and he will produce greatly if given the opportunity in the postseason. Getting Lindor here was the first act to change the franchise, and act two ensures that he will finish his career in blue and orange. The extension is the final piece to show the Mets are as legitimate as their cross-country rivals in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Make The Commitment

Lindor is a modern-day ironman, averaging 154 games in his first four full seasons and playing in all 60 during 2020. He was an All-Star in all four seasons with three top-10 MVP finishes. Lindor also won two Silver Sluggers, two Gold Glove Awards, and a Platinum Glove award. The Mets have not had a two-time Silver Slugger winner since David Wright (2007-08) and a two-time Gold Glover since Wright and Carlos Beltran (2007-08).

Lindor’s worst season in 2020 was better than any season Amed Rosario will ever play at shortstop. Even if the Mets attempt to test the free-agent waters, none of the shortstops compare to Lindor. He has recorded three consecutive seasons of a 40% or better hard-hit rate to go along with his 39 career defensive runs saved. Lindor is a 20 stolen base, 30 home run, 40 doubles player who puts him in the same boat as the other MVP candidates in baseball.

Steve Cohen made it clear that he expects to deliver a World Series winner in 3-5 years and keeping Lindor is the foundation to achieving that goal. Lindor’s all-around talent, splendid leadership, and fan-favorite ability make him as worthy as David Wright was to the franchise. Despite the stalemate between both sides, Mets fans should continue to be hopeful that a deal will be completed all the way up to 7:09 p.m. on Opening Day.

How the Knicks will supplement the massive loss of Mitchell Robinson

nerlens noel, new york knicks

The New York Knicks are still unsure if center Mitchell Robinson will be able to return from a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot this season. After landing awkwardly in the Knicks’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks several days ago, there is no timetable set for Robinson’s return. In fact, there’s a solid chance he misses the remainder of the 2020-21 season, which would significantly hurt the starting five and force the team to supplement with veterans.

Before Mitchell’s injury, he was averaging 8.3 points and a career-high 8.1 total rebounds, making his way back from a fractured hand injury. Clearly, this is not Robinson’s year, but luckily the Knicks have a few solid pieces to supplement his loss.

However, Robinson has one more year on his deal, a club option for the 2021 season, and it seems as if the Knicks will ride out the remainder of his rookie contract before considering an extension. There was a reason to believe that if Robinson performed well and remained healthy, he would’ve received an extension, but clearly, that won’t be the case.

In his absence, head coach Tom Thibodeau will roll with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson. Noel has been phenomenal this season as a rotational piece at center, averaging 5.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and a career-high 2.0 blocks per game. His defense has been incredible, starting more games this year than any of the previous three seasons.

Unfortunately, the Knicks were unable to lure  Andre Drummond to New York, as he elected to take his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers. Drummond would’ve been a phenomenal addition, but the Knicks aren’t yet appealing to players looking for new teams mid-season.

In addition to Noel, Gibson also offers a strong presence on the interior. While he is past his prime at 35 years old, he’s averaging 4.6 points over 19.2 minutes but is a physical rebounder and savvy veteran. The only problem with the Knicks’ current plan is that both Noel and Gibson are more rotational pieces based on their age and durability.

One free-agent piece that could be worth exploring is DeMarcus Cousins, and considering his connection with Kenny Payne during his time at Kentucky, there could be an increased interest.

However, Cousins has gone into his fair share of trouble, and while he doesn’t offer elite defense, he is a solid offensive piece that can provide double-digit scoring per game. At this point, New York is running out of options, and everything must be on the table.

New York Giants: Reviewing an incredibly difficult decision with the 11th overall pick

Rashawn Slater, New York Giants

With teams maneuvering around the New York Giants in the 2021 NFL draft, they have a fantastic opportunity to sit pretty at 11 and pick the best player available. Co-owner John Mara recently stated that the Giants don’t necessarily have to take a receiver or a cornerback after signing Kenny Golladay and Adoree Jackson, which opens the door for many different prospects to be considered.

The Giants could look to a player like Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern to bolster their offensive line, or they could provide Daniel Jones with another elite weapon like Jaylen Waddle or Kyle Pitts, given they’re on the board. Even the defense could be a focal point, with players like Micah Parsons or even a pass rusher.

At the end of the day, the Giants have an opportunity to secure a premium prospect that will make an impact on day one, and with the expectation that four quarterbacks will be off the board in the top 10 picks, there will be a stud available at 11. Let’s take a look at two players the Giants could consider, upgrading either side of the ball significantly.

Micah Parsons Vs. Rashawn Slater:

During Parsons’ Pro Day at Penn State, he answered a lot of questions about his athleticism. Running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, Parsons proved he has elite straight away speed, with the ability to play as a sideline to sideline linebacker.

“I feel like I really helped myself,” Parsons said. “I think a lot of people had me like 4.5, 4.6 maybe. But I think I’m the fastest linebacker in this draft, and I really showed people how good I can move. I think a lot of people slept on that. They knew I was fast, but I don’t think they knew I was that fast.”

While Micah opted out of the 2020 season, his 2019 tape tells the entire story. Securing 5.0 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles, Parsons is capable of stopping the run at an elite level but also rushing the passer with above-average moves for an MLB. Pairing him with Blake Martinez, the Giants’ current starting MLB, would be devastating for opposing offenses.

Parsons is ultimately a player you build around, a foundational piece that lays the groundwork for the future. Adding him to a defense that recently acquired Adoree Jackson and is already considered a top 10 unit would be incredible. If the Giants really believe that defense wins championships, this should be an easy decision for them, as they can always find an offensive guard in the second round and a receiver in the third, given how deep this current draft class is.

Alternatively, Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern could be an efficient move, considering the Giants cut starting RG Kevin Zeitler, saving $12 million in cap space. This move left a gaping hole in the OL, and Slater is capable of playing on the interior and also kicked outside at tackle.

His versatility makes him an elite prospect and one that has been shooting up the draft boards as of late. Premium offensive linemen are often selected in the top 15, but with so many talented players in this draft and the lack of information, Slater could fall to the Giants at 11, giving them an opportunity to secure a position of need but also add a player with All-Pro potential.

Slater does have smaller arms, indicating he could be a better fit at guard, but the Giants can do what they please with him. This brings up the best player available complex, as the Giants could argue that Slater would fill a big need, and Parsons is much more of a luxury pick.

Personally, I believe Parsons has generational upside and the potential to make the Giants’ defense one of the best in the NFL, if not THE best. Slater hasn’t played in over a year, and most of his hype is based around his tangible traits and some solid film. He might take a bit of time to refine, and with the lack of information out there, the connection the Giants have with Parsons, and their own coaching staff with Spence Chaos makes more sense in my eyes. Of course, Micah’s off-the-field issues are something to consider, and I would rely on the Giants’ coaches to determine the severity and implications of those actions.

New York Giants: Passing attack and O-line improve in PFF two round mock

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The outlook is unclear for the New York Giants going into the draft after they addressed some of their big needs in free agency, but Pro Football Focus sees the franchise focusing on the offense when the time comes. The Giants have of course already added a premier weapon in wide receiver Kenny Golladay, but a team can never have too many threatening receivers, and there is a chance the Giants will be able to take one of the best players in the college game with the 11th pick.

That player is the current Heisman winner DeVonta Smith, who could fall due to his National Championship injury and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase being the preferred prospect. The two round mock draft sees the Giants managing to land him at an undervalued spot.

DeVonta Smith’s reported weight (170 pounds) shouldn’t keep the Giants from pulling the trigger on the Heisman Trophy winner if he falls into their laps at No. 11 overall. And while the team did just break the bank for former Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay, Smith is an instant upgrade over Darius Slayton or Sterling Shepard — one who will benefit from playing a rotational role split between the outside and the slot.

Similar to Miami’s situation with Tua Tagovailoa, New York needs to do everything it can to see if Daniel Jones can be “the guy” for the franchise before making the decision to either move on from him or offer an extension. Adding Smith is a step in that direction.

Taking a look at round two

There’s been a lot less talk and discussion about which player the Giants will take in the second round, but that will be important too. If the mock draft is accurate, the player that the Giants will settle for in round two is Alabama center Landon Dickerson.

This is of course a pick that would have a chance of improving the offensive line right away by giving competition to Nick Gates, who doesn’t look like the long term option at the spot. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent, after all. Gates has overachieved to get in the spot he’s in, but at the end of the day, the Giants would benefit from someone with a higher ceiling.

Joe Judge was notably a former part of the staff at Alabama. It won’t be surprising if the Giants end up taking at least one player from the Crimson Tide in the draft, considering how Judge has already brought over some of the hallmark cultural aspects of college football’s top dynasty.

Even if the Giants don’t take Smith, that player may end up being Dickerson, who recently showed off with cartwheels that he’s over an ACL injury that might have raised questions for scouts.