Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC Vegas 25, we will see a showdown between two bantamweights in the top fifteen. Thirteenth ranked Cody Stamann (19-3-1) takes on the surging contender, Merab Dvalishvili (12-4).
For Stamann, he will be looking to bounce back after suffering a loss in his last outing. In his last fight, Stamann took on Jimmie Rivera on one of the UFC‘s first cards on Fight Island. It was a competitive fight, but Rivera definitely got the best of Stamann.
That was just the second loss since Stamann joined the UFC back in 2017. His only other loss came against the current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. Sterling is also one of the main teammates of Merab Dvalishvili.
Dvalishvili didn’t get off to a hot start in the UFC. The native of Georgia lost his first two fights inside the octagon against Frankie Saenz and Ricky Simon. However, since those two losses, Dvalishvili has been nothing short of dominant.
Coming into UFC Vegas 25, Dvalishvili has won five fights in a row. Not too mention, he also set the bantamweight record for takedowns in his fight against Gustavo Lopez.
UFC Vegas 25 Prediction
I’m so intrigued by this matchup at UFC Vegas 25 because both guys are so similar. They both have tremendous wrestling and they both have ever-improving striking. It makes for such an interesting matchup.
For Stamann, he’s got to be able to withstand the pressure from Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili is going to come forward right away with a lot of pressure. The game plan for Dvalishvili is going to be to get Stamann tired with activity and pressure.
Usually with two grapplers, the fight ends up being a standup fight. If it is purely striking, I think Stamann has looked a tad more polished. However, Dvalishvili throws a lot and he’s always heavy on the activity.
I think this UFC Vegas 25 matchup is going to be decided early. There is going to be some grappling sprinkled in with this fight and whoever gets the better of it should win a decision. I don’t see a finish in this one, but I have to say, I like Merab Dvalishvili to pick up his sixth straight win in the octagon.
Prediction: Merab Dvalishvili by Unanimous Decision
The New York Mets offense continues to fail hilariously, and the Philadelphia Phillies added insult to injury. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets had their best chance to take the lead against the wild Jose Alvarado. Dominic Smith wasted a 3-0 count with runners on second and third and struck out to leave to tying and lead runs on base.
The fired-up Alvarado made a gesture toward Smith to shut his mouth after Smith was vocal about his lack of control earlier this season. It looked like Alvarado was welcoming a fight as well, and Smith wanted all the smoke. Much like fights in the NBA, the guy who starts it ended up backing away once there was any action. Also, much like MLB fights, nothing came of the bench clearings.
An unfortunate stat from the loss is that the Mets had more bench clearings than runs scored. Another ugly number is their 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position with nine men left on base. Smith was responsible for the lone run with his RBI single but other than that; this was another dreadful game. The Phillies did nothing to earn their runs either as a passed ball in the second inning allowed their only two runs to score.
Stroman’s Strong Outing
Marcus Stroman‘s outing is lost in all of the late-inning chaos. He only needed 64 pitched to make it through five innings but was removed due to a left hamstring issue. Stroman had eight strikeouts, which was his season-high, but fell victim as another tough-luck loser to the Mets offense.
If this rock bottom loss to end the month does not light a fire under the Mets, nothing will. They handed the Phillies their runs, wasted 14 opportunities to score, and were actively challenged to a fight. Hopefully, they can turn the calendar to May and flush the crazy month of April away. Saturday’s matchup will be a true test of the type of character this team is made of.
Taijuan Walker was on the front lines when the bench cleared and will start against former Met Zack Wheeler. The game will start an hour earlier at 6:05 p.m. ET and be ready for plenty of fireworks as the series continues.
The New York Yankees faced the Detroit Tigers in game one of a 3 game set at Yankee Stadium. The Yankee ace Gerrit Cole faced Tarik Skubal of the Tigers. Both teams were at the bottom of their respective divisions. It was a windy night in the Bronx, New York, for baseball. The Yankees shut out the Tigers 10-0.
Robbie Grossman led off against Gerrit Cole by popping out to Torres in the infield. Harold Castro hit sharply to first for the second out. Miguel Cabrera struck out swinging for the 1-2-3 inning for Gerrit Cole. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu led off for the Yankees and ground out to short. Giancarlo Stanton doubled off the right-field wall. Aaron Judge, in his first game back from low body soreness, fly out to left. Stanton went to third on a wild pitch. Gio Urshela singled to left, driving in Stanton for the Yankees one-run lead. Gleyber Torres flew out to the center-field wall to end the inning. New York Yankees 1 Tigers 0.
Jonathan Schoop against Cole stuck out. Jeimer Candelario flew out to Hicks in left-center. Wilson Ramos, with two outs, hit a single to right. Willi Castro struck out to end the half. Aaron Hicks led off the bottom of the second inning by popping out second. Clint Frazier hit a homer to the left-field stands. Kyle Higashioka walked. Rougie Odor walked. LeMahieu flew out to right. Stanton popped up to the right side with Castro making the catch. Yankees 2 Tigers 0.
The top of the third inning saw Niko Goodrum at the plate; he struck out for Cole’s fourth strikeout of the game. Akil Baddoo went down looking. Grossman went down on strikes for 6 strikeouts in the game, four in a row. At the bottom of the inning, Aaron Judge led off with a monster home run (436′) into monument park. Urshela struck out swinging. Gleyber Torres dribbled back to the mound for out number two. Aaron Hicks homered to left-center as the Bombers were piling it on. Clint Frazier lined out to end the inning, but two home runs in the inning made it Yankees 4 and the Tigers 0.
Harold Castro led off against Cole with 40 pitches; he struck out. Cabrera struck out for 6 in a row for Cole. Schoop singled with a bloop to left Candelario singled to center with two outs. With two on and two outs, Ramos Wilson Ramos struck out to end the inning and getting Cole out of a mini jam. At the bottom, Higashioka against Buck Farmer and walked for his second time in the game. Rougie Odor hit into the force that caught Higgy at second. LeMahieu lined to right, and Odor stopped at second. Stanton had a sharp line drive to center, moving the runners up and loading the bases with Yankees. Aaron Judge hit a Grand Slam (357′ second deck of right field ) to put the Yankees 8 runs up in the game. It was his second Grand Slam of his career. Gio Urshela flew out to the left-center. Gleyber Torres walked. Aaron Hicks doubled driving in Torres. Clint Frazier walked on four pitches. A wild pitch allowed the runners to move up. Higashioka struck out to finally end the inning, but the Yankees picked up five runs in the inning. New York Yankees 9 the Tigers 0.
At the top of the fifth, Castro led off against Cole and flew out to center. Goodrum struck out for Cole’s 10th strikeout. Baddoo struck out as Cole showed his electric dominance with eleven strikeouts in five innings. Odor led off the bottom of the inning facing Tyler Alexander, and he went Yard into the second deck of right field. LeMahieu ground out to short. Stanton went back to the pitcher for out number two. With two homers in the game, Aaron Judge grounds ground out to third, but the Yankees picked up another run on the Odor homer. Yankees 10 Tigers 0.
At the top of the sixth, Grossman singled, but Castro hit into a double play. With two outs Victor Reyes in for Cabrera struck out to end the half. Gio Urshela led off the bottom by striking out. Torres singled on a slow roller. Tyler Wade was brought in to pinch-run for Torres. Hicks flew out to the centerfield wall. Clint Frazier went down looking for the first quick inning for the Tigers. Yankees 10 Tigers 0.
At the top of the seventh, Luis Cessa took over for Gerrit Cole that went six scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts. He faced Schoop, who walked. Candelario struck out. Ramos struck out. Castro flew out to Urshela. Higashioka led off the bottom by flying out to the left-center. Odor flew out to the warning track in center. Brett Gardner got a base hit to left. Stanton singled for his third hit of the night. Mike Ford struck out to end the inning. Yankees 10 Tigers 0.
The top of the eighth saw the new New York Yankee reliever Wandy Peralta on the mound against Goodrum, who struck out. Baddoo ground out. Grossman flew out for a 1-2-3 inning for Peralta in his Yankee major league debut. At the bottom, Urshela faced Daniel Norris, who replaced Alexander. Gio singled. Tyler Wade in for Torres singled with two on and no outs. Hicks flew out to right. Frazier hit into a double play ending the inning. Yankees 10 Tigers 0.
With last licks on the line for the Tigers, Harold Castro faced the Yankees’ Lucas Luetge, and he struck out. Victor Reyes struck out. Jacoby Jones also struck out as the New York Yankees struck out 18 Tiger players in the game. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole, and the loser was Tarik Skubal.
The New York Giants selected UCF Cornerback Aaron Robinson with the 71st overall pick after trading up five slots to leapfrog the Dallas Cowboys and several other teams.
The Giants previously traded back in the draft in the first round, acquiring another fifth-round pick from the Chicago Bears, which they utilized to make the jump and land Robinson, who has a few great traits to translate to the NFL level.
Robinson is most likely going to compete with Darnay Holmes as in the slot with the Giants, who have a strong secondary after acquiring Adoree Jackson for three years, $39 million this off-season.
However, this is an interesting move since the Giants desperately needed more interior offensive lineman, especially for a right guard spot that remains a weakness after letting Kevin Zeitler walk in free agency.
Some had Wyatt Davis out of Ohio State being the selection, given the Giants spent additional draft capital to move up. However, Robinson has fantastic athletic attributes and could end up being a premier slot interior corner with the right coaching.
Having fantastic pieces around him and Patrick Graham to help him adjust to the NFL level, Robinson should be able to make an impact in his first year as a third-round pick. Robinson had 10 pass breakups in 2020, showing off solid coverage skills.
A 4-star recruit that originally committed to Alabama, Aaron Robinson transferred to UCF and became the featured slot cornerback in 2019 and 2020 for the Knights. While he has some experience playing out wide, his best fit at the next level is likely in the slot. Robinson is a versatile defender that can function in both man and zone coverage and he will make the run defense better with his ability to fill and defend the D-gap. Overall, he’s a physical player with quick feet and sufficient athleticism. The concerns with Robinson at the next level are his modest coverage instincts, ordinary ball skills, and proving the tackler he was in 2020 is what he will be moving forward and not the inconsistent finisher he was in 2019. Robinson has the ability to become a featured slot corner in the NFL, but he will need to become more sure of himself in coverage and play the game with better angles.
In the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants have selected Georgia edge rusher Azeez Ojulari at pick 50 overall. This selection was made after the Giants traded down from the 42nd overall pick with the Miami Dolphins. The Giants moved down eight spots and added Miami’s 2022 second-round pick.
After moving down in the second round, New York filled a major need at edge rusher with Azeez Ojulari. The Giants snagged a player that was frequently projected as a late first-round pick. However, some concerns over a previous knee injury pushed him down draft boards.
The Giants gained tremendous value in round two, drafting a player considered to be a first-round talent while also adding an additional future third-round pick. Azeez Ojulari is a speedy edge rusher with the juice and bend off the edge to get after quarterbacks.
In 2020, Azeez Ojulari was a menace off the edge for Georgia. Ojulari had 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss along with 4 forced fumbles. New York needed a new pass-rusher off the edge and they met their need with exceptional value in Azeez Ojulari.
With the second overall pick on Friday, the New York Jets chose Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore, a consensus All-American.
If the 34th overall pick is the New York Jets’ only selection on Friday, they made the most of it in the form of Ole Miss receiver Elijah Moore, the 34th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Moore, 21, is coming off an illustrious career in Oxford, earning 2,441 yards on 189 catches (good for fourth in each respective category in school history), scoring 16 touchdowns. He earned consensus All-American honors and first-team All-SEC honors in his senior year.
Moore was welcomed in by former Laveranues Coles, who announced his selection to the crowd gathered in Cleveland. Before revealing his name, Coles called him a “future Pro Bowler”, predicting he would follow in his 2003 footsteps.
Despite playing in only eight games, Moore earned 1,193 yards on 86 receptions in his junior season before opting to join the 2021 draft class. Though his size (5’9) scared some teams off, he earned positive reviews for his separation and route-running.
“He’s not very big, but he’s stronger than his measurables might suggest and he’s shown a fearlessness to make the catch despite impending punishment,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said of the former Rebel, comparing him to Antonio Brown. “Moore has the short-area quickness to snap off crisp routes underneath for separation and the play speed to challenge over the top as well as work the deep middle. He has soft, sure hands and above-average ball skills with a great feel for spatial awareness to hit the sweet spots when working against zone.”
Moore joins a talented and young receiver class that includes incumbents Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder and veteran free agent newcomers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.
Barring any trades, the Jets’ next pick will come in the fourth round, the second selection, and 108th overall.
With their quarterback quandary solved and a blocker in tow, perhaps a bigger challenge awaits the New York Jets on Friday.
Zach Wilson’s aerial talents have landed in Florham Park. He’ll have some protection working with him in the form of Alijah Vera-Tucker, who came by in the 14th overall selection obtained from the Minnesota Vikings. The New York Jets’ problems aren’t fully solved, but at least there’s a path toward officially making things right.
But the immediate stages of that journey leave little opportunity to rest. The NFL Draft continues on Friday night, with the next two rounds being staged in Cleveland (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network).
The Jets accomplished their goals on day one; how can they keep the good weekend vibes going?
Get More Picks
The arrival of Alijah Vera-Tucker came at a major price: the Jets went from three Friday picks to one: the 34th overall choice, also known as the second pick in the second round.
It’s probably silly to assume that the Jets would be willing to send their fans to bed early with only a single pick, especially when their defensive woes haven’t been addressed at all (more on those in a minute). Douglas said in his first-round aftermath that he wasn’t willing to rush things.
“We’ve been able to acquire a lot of picks and you saw the flexibility that that gave us tonight. We’ll see how tomorrow goes,” Douglas said, per Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated. “Obviously, we’re going to have discussions, we’ll see if the phone rings, we’re open to any discussion, as I’ve told you guys in the past. We’ll see how it plays out over the next two days.”
The odds are slightly stacked against them for the time being, but with so much strong talent left on the board, it would be an absolute sin for the Jets to choose only once on Friday night. Even if it means moving out of the 34th slot, something has to be done.
Address the Defense
It’s great the Jets have created a new offensive identity after bringing in Wilson and Vera-Tucker with their opening picks. But it doesn’t mask the issues they have on defense. Their defensive woes…ones that mostly centered on inexperienced projects like Bless Austin, Ashtyn Davis, and Bryce Hall…probably should’ve been addressed during free agency, but they should definitely try to find an instant defensive contributor on Friday. In the final lead-up to the draft, Douglas insisted that the Jets couldn’t afford to focus on one side of the ball and needed a sense of balance in their 2021 draft plan.
“There is a balance you’re trying to strike,” Douglas said, Brian Costello of the New York Post.“You’re trying to build the best team that you can possibly build. That’s offense, defense, and special teams. There also is an importance to really doing everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful. There is some balancing that goes into that.”
The Jets did a solid job of adding veterans of the 4-3 defense in the earlier parts of the offseason (Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis) and could help the presumed transition under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich go a bit smoother if they find rookies who have worked in the formation as well. Zaven Collins, who went two picks after Vera-Tucker, would’ve been a strong fit after his time at Tulsa. Notable names on the draft board include Joseph Ossai of Texas and Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham.
Keep Helping Wilson
This draft obviously centers on Wilson, and rightfully so. Every move the Jets make over the next few days should be dedicated to making him as comfortable as possible. They failed to help Sam Darnold, and now his fifth-year option is getting exercised in Carolina. The best way to do that is to trade back into the second and third rounds tonight, as Friday has often been a perfect place to find instant contributors and depth options alike.
The Jets must also remember to keep the proverbial balance that Joe Douglas has sought. A good defense can help keep manageable game situations for Wilson to work with and improvements on that end should thus not be ignored. New York should also keep building the wall in front of Wilson. His old Provo teammate Brady Christensen would be a match made in gridiron heaven. Even special teams could find their way into the day two proceedings. A player like Western Michigan’s D’Wayne Eskridge (who previously worked with Jets assistant Jake Moreland) is not only one of the MAC’s top receivers but also made a name for himself in the Broncos’ return game.
Last night’s loss to the New York Islanders demonstrated one thing about the young New York Rangers: they still have not learned to win big games yet.
This fact became very apparent in the loss to the Isles as the young Blueshirts were manhandled up and down the ice by the veteran rivals.
“They were just on top of us,” Adam Fox said in his post-game Zoom conference. “They were moving a little quicker and cycling the puck real well and just keeping us in the D zone. It was definitely tough to get odd-man chances, or really second chance opportunities, so credit them for that.”
Of course, most of this is that the Islanders are a veteran, playoff battle-tested team. They have had enough players learn how to win big games and make that part of their team’s DNA.
Not so much for the Rangers.
Fox added, “but you can just see the sustained O-zone that they had and retrieving pucks and stuff like that,” he added. “It’s definitely things that we could use in our game.”
The young New York Rangers will need to learn how to win important games.
The first step to this might be learning how to win close games.
Going into last week’s game against the Flyers, the Rangers had dropped 14 of 18 one-goal games, posting a 4-8-6 record. Then they lost that game on April 22 by….you guessed it, a goal.
Head coach David Quinn touched on what his team need’s to do to succeed in big games against good teams. “I think we’ve got to learn from them and do some of the things they (the Islanders) do, a little bit of a mentality that they have, that, you know, they never beat themselves, Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference. “Now, we’re also built differently, so we’re going to have the ability maybe to score some goals that other teams don’t. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do all the things other teams can do. That’s what we’ve got to get better at. We’ve got to understand situational hockey better and not get frustrated.”
According to sports psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohen, most teams fail to win the big game because of expectation and pressure. Cohen also states that teams and players need to prepare for championship moments all season. Practice championship scenarios, and imagine those moments so when you are in those situations. You feel like you have been there before.
This is not new to most in the New York Rangers staff or most staff in most high levels of sports.
It is just something that takes a while to develop, especially with a team as young as the New York Rangers.
Some of these young Rangers will get a chance to start learning this at the NHL level. Injuries to Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren, and Brett Howden will lead to more playing time. Saturday night’s game still has some importance. While the playoff door has not quite closed, it may be all but shut and locked with a loss.
In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 25, we are going to see a fun showdown in the featherweight division. Top fifteen contenders battle it out as the veteran Cub Swanson (27-11) takes on Giga Chikadze (12-2).
Cub Swanson has been fighting under the Zuffa banner since 2007. Back in 2007, Swanson made his debut with the WEC and he’s been fighting the best in the world since. If you think of a top guy in the lighter divisions, Swanson’s probably fought him.
From Jose Aldo, Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, Charles Oliveira, and I can go on and on. A couple of years ago, it looked like Swanson was nearing the end when he found himself on a four-fight losing streak in the UFC.
Granted, all four of those losses were to extremely talented guys. With his back against the ropes, Swanson took on Kron Gracie. He won that fight by decision and then he knocked out Daniel Pineda at UFC 256 showing that he’s not done yet.
Standing across from Swanson tomorrow night is Giga Chikadze. “The Ninja” enters the contest tomorrow night riding a seven-fight win streak. The striking specialist made his octagon debut back in late 2019.
Since that initial UFC debut, Chikadze has gone a perfect 5-0 inside the octagon. Tomorrow night is the biggest fight of his early UFC career and a victory would be massive for him moving forward.
UFC Vegas 25 Prediction
When it comes to the UFC Vegas 25 co-main event, I think a big factor is going to be the striking range and the grappling of Cub Swanson. When it comes to pure boxing, Cub Swanson is extremely hard to beat in the lower weight classes.
However, he’s going to be at an overall striking disadvantage tomorrow night against Chikadze. For Swanson to be successful on the feet, he’s got to keep the fight in close quarters. One big key for Swanson is going to be takedowns tomorrow night.
In my opinion, he’s going to have to get this fight to the ground or he’s going to have to force a lot of clinches. I don’t like his chances if the entire fight he’s striking at distance with a guy like Chikadze.
As you can imagine, the key for Chikadze is keeping the fight at range. Use his fluid striking and constantly circle while never letting Swanson get a beat on him. While I expect Swanson to make this a tough fight, I just like Giga Chikadze in this matchup.
Thursday’s efforts in Cleveland will help the New York Jets compete in a modern NFL that worships offense.
East Rutherford’s Meadowlands Sports Complex hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for high-scoring affairs. The New Jersey Devils’ championship squads of the mid-90s and early aughts at the arena (then sponsored by Continental Airlines) made their fortune through legendary defense and goaltending. When the NBA’s Nets were still based in New Jersey, their finest hours featured strong defensive efforts (ranking 2nd in the NBA in defense during their run to the 2003 NBA Finals).
Alas, the New York Jets have been adding to this trend in the worst ways possible through their recent endeavors at MetLife Stadium. Despite employing the services of an “offensive guru” as a head coach in Adam Gase over the past two seasons, no team in the NFL has scored fewer points than the Jets, whose final tally stands at 519. To put that number in perspective, last year’s Green Bay Packers came 10 points short of tying that number by themselves. Thus, the Jets were ill-equipped to survive and succeed in the modern NFL, where seven of the 25 highest-scoring games in league history have occurred in the last decade. Numbers predictably don’t improve for the Jets in that span, as they’re 31st in points scored over the last two seasons, besting only Jacksonville…and the Jaguars at least have the consolation prize of coming a few snaps away from the Super Bowl.
The Jets find themselves in a macabre yet almost inspirational situation going into the weekend’s NFL Draft in Cleveland: things have gotten so dire in New York that no matter what they do, they can emerge from the affairs as winners. One would assume that with their search for their latest franchise quarterback, revealed to be Zach Wilson on Thursday night, that their draft plans would center around offensive endeavors. General manager Joe Douglas, however, has stressed finding a balance in the Jets’ expansive capital.
It’s hard and, frankly futile, to argue with that logic. The Jets have plenty of young projects that they can’t wait to work with on defense but can they truly feel comfortable going into Week 1 of the 2021 season with Marcus Maye overseeing raw talents like Bless Austin, Ashtyn Davis, and Bryce Hall. These are areas they’ll have to address at some point as the draft continues on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network), a quest that becomes much harder with each of their third round choices now hanging out with Lou Solverson in Minnesota.
But Thursday night was a night of offensive indulgence, a couple of hours that are finally going to give the Jets offensive momentum.
With the second pick in the draft, the Jets chose BYU’s Wilson, who becomes the fourth first-round quarterback the Jets have taken in the new century. Unlike these prior occasions, the Jets have opted to provide immediate blocking help. With the 14th pick, one obtained from the Minnesota Vikings, the team selected USC interior blocker Alijah Vera-Tucker, ironically ensuring that a former Trojan would play a major role in their offense for years to come.
Immediately grading NFL Drafts, placing letters in articles before the stitching is completed on the draftees’ jerseys, are a fruitless exercise. It’s a task that only creates fodder for the “Freezing Cold Takes” accounts, creating hypotheses with very little evidence. But Douglas and the Jets have set themselves up to compete in an NFL that has spent a decade trying to leave them behind.
“I feel like this ballclub’s improved, and I feel good about the two people and players that we brought in and the leadership that they’re going to bring,” Douglas said of his early selections, per Alex Smith of SNY. “(I’m) just ecstatic really about these two young men.”
Everyone who’s watched a minute of football over the past year knew that Wilson was heading to New York. Once Trevor Lawrence was off the table, the Jets did their due diligence on what was a sizable passing class and eventually came to the conclusion that Wilson was the right man for them. But the abyss beyond the second overall choice was one where utmost caution had been raised, one where the immediate aftermath would bestow passing grades no matter what…any form of improvement looks like a complete makeover when you’re coming off a two-win season…but the Jets had to spend their draft gifts wisely.
With a bit of boldness, a bit of boldness that raised questions that will take months to answer, Douglas made a move that will leave his personal mark on the franchise.
Douglas has made it clear that he’s going to do his utmost to rectify the sins of the Mike Maccagnan era, a tenure of offensive line negligence that set the franchise back years. Blocking renovations have been the defining moves of his tenure thus far. Endeavors beyond the draft have misfired (luring Ryan Kalil out of retirement, spending big on mediocre vets like Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant), he’s gained elite talents from the draft that will serve as the foundation for what the Jets want to build.
The dedication that Douglas has to this cause was perfectly on display through the arrival of Vera-Tucker, winner of the Morris Trophy annually bestowed to the Pac-12’s best linemen on both sides. It’s an honor previously worn by Bruce Matthews, Tony Boselli, and Jonathan Ogden, it’s the exact kind of good vibes the Jets need in this starting lineup. Putting Vera-Tucker on the same side as Becton creates a strong foundation that’s going to immediately make Wilson comfortable. In the end, it might be the Vera-Tucker gambit that might come to define Douglas’ tenure rather than the obvious choice of Wilson. A verstaile, accomplished talent like Vera-Tucker could the jolt of like this dormant unit, a group looking for any sort of clarity since the bliss of the D’Brickashaw Ferguson-Nick Mangold era ended, needs.
Vera-Tucker may come from the opposite coast, but he knows the deal when it comes to the Jets’ ongoing futility. Unlike many who would drone on about the talent that’s already there…though he did have some kind words for Wilson in his first New York statements…Vera Tucker’s looking to be a player that can make a major difference and embracing the high expectations that come with his new role.
“I’ve been in this position before just playing so many sports growing up,” Vera-Tucker said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Not every year is going to be the greatest year. I’m going to come in, I know what the Jets fan base is like, I know they’re pretty intense. I love that type of atmosphere. I’m going to come in and embrace it.”
“I liked their vibe. I liked what they’re doing there, how they’re trying to change things up. I got a good feeling from them. They traded up to get me, so I’m excited.”
There’s no use in grading the Jets’ draft at this point or any in the near future. Meaningful downs of football are needed to fully assess that. But the draftings of Wilson and Vera-Tucker do provide wins in new forms: accomplishing goals and turning themselves into an attractive destination. There are no grades, but there is a path. Douglas showed just how far he’s willing to go make his vision come true, how dedicated he is a worthy cause that has earned positive reviews across the league.
The hire of Robert Saleh was step one, a move that was praised not by the hot take artists but rather the players on the field both abroad (Richard Sherman) and domestically (Quinnen Williams). Much like the Vera-Tucker trade it was a unconventional but bold move that made football-sense, a move made for the purpose of getting wins. Sure, the Jets are still trapped in a rebuild…there are simply too many contenders in the AFC to make much headway in the playoff standings…and paid a hefty price to pull off the endeavor.
But through these moves, and possibly what’s to come on Friday and Satuday, Douglas has shown off his most prestigous draft day hault yet: a vision.