New York Giants draft shows confidence in the offensive line

New York Giants, Matt Peart

Based on the performance last season, most fans of the New York Giants aren’t too confident in the offensive line talent. However, the front office has shown through its actions that it believes this current line can do the job. That’s because the Giants went through the draft without spending a single pick on an offensive lineman.

Some might have thought the Giants were going to do that with the eleventh selection, but the organization instead surprised everyone with an unusual trade down and a selection of promising wide receiver Kadarius Toney. The pick is an intriguing one – but the surprising part is that the Giants didn’t go for an offensive line player even later in the draft.

In some way, this is understandable. The Giants didn’t want to take a lineman with their first pick for the second year straight and it’s unlikely that a later round pick would come in and make an immediate impact. It’s hard to rely on low draft picks to improve a position group, and the Giants showed that they weren’t going to take any lineman just for the sake of drafting one, even if it won’t make a big impact.

However, that does leave the Giants with just the offensive line talent they have now. That offensive line talent includes Will Hernandez, who will compete for a guard spot but has seemingly fallen out of favor within the current offense.

And Nate Solder, who is playing on a pay cut and missed last season entirely. Back when he was an active part of the lineup, his play did little to impress anyone and his previous, massive contract was considered a mistake all around. Solder, who previously signed this huge deal, may very well end up beat out by last season’s rookie Matt Peart.

All in all, there’s potential on the Giants offensive line from some players but it still remains in a precarious position. It was one of the main weaknesses of the team last season. This season, after the Giants didn’t address it in the draft, it may remain a big weakness unless Gettleman’s confidence pays off.

There’s not much other explanation for the Giants not drafting for the offensive line other than confidence in what they have now.

Giga Chikadze stops Cub Swanson in the first at UFC Vegas 25

In the co-main event at UFC Vegas 25, we got to see a fun matchup in the featherweight division. Veteran Cub Swanson (27-11) was looking to pick up his third straight win while Giga Chikadze (12-2) was looking to stay perfect inside the octagon.

It’s been a long but successful career UFC career for Cub Swanson. Swanson has been in there with the best in the world and it’s only been the best guys who have gotten the better of Swanson.

A couple of years ago, it appeared that the end could be near for Swanson in the UFC. He lost four fights in a row and was in desperate need for a win. He took on Kron Gracie and was able to win a decision.

After that win over Gracie, Swanson picked up a TKO of Daniel Pineda at UFC 256 last year. If Swanson could win tonight, it would be massive for him moving forward. However, that was a tall order given who he was facing tonight.

Giga Chikadze has been incredibly impressive since making his octagon debut. He’s won seven fights overall in a row and he’s a perfect 5-0 inside the UFC. Swanson is his toughest test to date, but a win over Cub would really show how good he is.

UFC Vegas 25 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas co-main event started out with two immediate kicks from Chikadze. The kicks seemed to pause the initial pressure from Cub Swanson. A stiff jab lands for Chikadze. Swanson moves forward with the pressure, but Chikadze is looking fast.

A massive body kick lands for Chikadze and Swanson crumbles. Chikadze follows up with a few shots and the referee calls a stop to the action. Massive win for Giga Chikadze who is now 6-0 in the UFC.

Giga Chikadze def. Cub Swanson by TKO – Round 1

New York Giants’ second round pick is PFF’s top rated pass rusher

new york giants, azeez ojulari

The New York Giants might have gotten the steal of the draft when they selected Azeez Ojulari. The Georgia pass rusher was one of the players linked to the Giants in some first round mock drafts, and yet he surprisingly fell out of the round altogether and the Giants were able to grab him later on.

Going into the season, a lot of people will want to know the answer to one question. Did the Giants come away with a massive steal here or was there a good reason why every team avoided Ojulari in round one?

Some signs point to the Giants finding good value. For one, a lot of experts have marked Ojulari as a player with upside and Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade of any of the pass rushers in the draft.

Ojulari has been predicted by many to be as good as any of the others at his position. His college highlights further confirm that he’s for real. And it appears the main reason he was skipped out on in the first round was one that didn’t have to do with play.

Injury history caused teams to pass on Ojulari

A high school ACL injury appears to be part of the reason why Ojulari was passed on for so long before the Giants took him. However, this injury wouldn’t come back to affect him during his college career. He instead is the latest player to see his draft stock tumble because of something that came up late in the scouting process, near the draft itself. In fact, the health problem only came up a week before the draft was set to happen.

However, a week or so before the draft, a select group of players traveled to Indianapolis for medical checks. That’s where Ojulari was red-flagged because of a degenerative lower leg condition according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. Doctors were concerned the previous injury would lead to progressive, often irreversible deterioration, and loss of function in the ligaments.

The other concern is Ojulari’s smaller size compared to other pass rushers. But based on his good performance in college, it seems unlikely that teams would wait as long as they did to take him just because of that.

It looks like the Giants are taking a gamble that his health will turn out fine and that he won’t be another player whose career is cut short by injury, but Giants fans can at least rest assured that there’s no glaring hole in Ojulari’s game that caused him to drop all the way into the second round.

And, if the Giants had reason to believe his health would be a problem, they probably wouldn’t have made the pick.

UFC Vegas 25 Results: Merab Dvalishvili defeats Cody Stamann by decision

One of the more highly anticipated matchups at UFC Vegas 25 was the bantamweight showdown between Cody Stamann (19-3-1) and Merab Dvalishvili (12-4). These two top bantamweights have been paired up before, but this is the first time that the fight actually went down.

Stamann was looking to bounce back after he suffered defeat in his last fight. He took on Jimmie Rivera during the UFC‘s first trip to Fight Island. Since that loss, we haven’t seen Stamann inside the octagon.

Stamann made his octagon debut back in 2017. Since joining the UFC a few years ago the only two men to have defeated Stamann are Rivera and the current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling.

Sterling is one of the lead training partners of Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili got off to a rough start in the UFC losing his first two. However, a switch has been flipped with the native of Georgia.

Dvalishvili has now won his last five fights in the UFC. If he could pick up a win over Stamann tonight, it would likely net him someone in the top ten for his next matchup. There was a lot on the line for both men tonight.

UFC Vegas 25 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 25 main card opener started off with a quick touch of the gloves and immediate pressure from Stamann. A beautiful head kick lands for Stamann to start the striking.

Dvalishvili opens his striking with a big 1-2 and then he connects big with an uppercut. Stamann throws another kick, but Dvalishvili catches it and takes Stamann down. Dvalishvili was heavy on the pressure, but Stamann was able to get back to his feet.

More pressure for Stamann who shoots in for his first takedown. Dvalishvili just shrugs him off, but Stamann goes right back in for a takedown. Again, Dvalishvili defends well and Stamann throws some shots on the break.

Dvalishvili lands a brief takedown, but Stamann pops right back up. A nice jab lands for Dvalishvili, but Stamann staggers him with a big straight right hand. A beautiful 1-2 lands for Merab Dvalishvili.

Straight right hand lands for Dvalishvili and then again. Stamann was heavy on the pressure and Dvalishvili lands a brief takedown. A nice scramble to end the right has Stamann on top. Good round but it’s 1-0 Dvalishvili at UFC Vegas 25.

Round 2

The second round at UFC Vegas 25 started with more pressure from Cody Stamann. Stamann opens the striking with a body kick and he pushes forward. Cody Stamann lands his first takedown and is able to keep Dvalishvili down for about thirty seconds.

Dvalishvili gets back to his feet but eats a clean left on the break. A nice jab lands for Stamann, but Dvalishvili pushes forward and lands a takedown of his own. A scramble gets the fight back to the feet and both men exchange shots.

Dvalishvili times a jab beautifully and takes down Stamann. Stamann reverses the position, but Dvalishvili locks in a deep guillotine choke. Dvalishvili cranks it, but Stamann pops his head out. Another scramble has the fight back to the feet.

Big combination lands for Dvalishvili and he’s turning up the pressure. Stamann pops the jab, but Dvalishvili gets in deep on a takedown and slams Stamann down. Stamann defends well and gets back up.

Dvalishvili has his back up against fence and he’s winging his shots. Stamann is very heavy on the pressure, but he’s not landing. The two come together and Dvalishvili lands a hip toss. The round closes and it’s 2-0 Dvalishvili at UFC Vegas 25 on my scorecard.

Round 3

Heading into the final round at UFC Vegas 25 and I think Cody Stamann needs a finish. The final round opens with a touch of the gloves and Stamann is right back on the pressure of Dvalishvili.

Solid 1-2 lands for Merab Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili pushes forward and both men exchange big shots. Another big combination lands for Dvalishvili and Stamann was starting to look a little tired here in the third.

However, he was still pressing forward looking for big shots. Dvalishvili bounces off the cage and comes forward with a nice right hand. There is just so much activity from Merab Dvalishvili here in the final round. A nice left seems to stagger Stamann.

Stamann throws a flying knee which seems to land, but Dvalishvili just smiles at him. Uppercut and left hook lands for Dvalishvili. Dvalishvili follows it with two straight crisp jabs and it’s all Dvalishvili here in the third.

Dvalishvili goes for a takedown, but Stamann defends extremely well. Stamann is able to get top position and both men start trading shots on the ground. A nice scramble sees the two men in a neutral position. The round closes and despite the top control, I give the third at UFC Vegas 25 to Merab Dvalishvili.

Merab Dvalishvili def. Cody Stamann by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

New York Rangers shut out once again by the Islanders

The New York Rangers were shut out for the second game in a row by the New York Islanders, falling 3-0.

The Rangers and Islanders squared off for the last time at the Nassau Coliseum. The two rivals had played 132 regular-season games & 19 playoff games at that venue.

The Rangers played the game without Chris Kreider, Jacob Trouba, and Ryan Lindgren, who were out due to injuries. This meant that even more of the younger Rangers took the ice on Saturday night. Eleven of the 18 skaters that play in tonight’s game are 23 years old or younger, and seven of those 18 skaters are rookies.

Kreider missed his second straight game, Lindgren missed his first of the season and Trouba missed his sixth straight.

Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals, and Josh Bailey had three assists for the Islanders. The Isles have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third straight season.

The Rangers will have to win every game left while the Boston Bruins will have to lose the rest of their games in order to make the playoffs.

The Rangers finished the season with a 2-5-1 record against their rivals.

The New York Rangers cannot solve Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov

Varlamov made 29 saves for his third straight shutout, including second in three nights and fourth of the season against the Rangers. He leads the NHL with seventh shutouts this season and hasn’t allowed a goal in 213:56, passing Chico Resch (178:26) for the longest in Islander history.

Varlamov did have help from the formidable Islanders defense. Artemi Panarin, Pavel Buchnevich, and Alexis Lafreniere combined for only one shot-on-goal during the contest. Panarin did not register a shot-on-goal in either game against the Islanders.

Alexandar Georgiev finished with 22 saves for the Rangers.

The Rangers host Washington on Monday in the first of two straight at Madison Square Garden.

 

 

 

 

New York Jets undrafted free agency tracker (UPDATING)

New York Jets

Follow along with ESM as we track down the New York Jets’ post-draft free agent signings and activities beyond Cleveland.

As the New York Jets sign undrafted free agents, ESM will update the list below.

(LAST UPDATED: 5/1/21, 9:20 p.m. ET)

OT Teton Saltes, New Mexico-Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Saltes is the most recent winner of the Wuerffel Trophy (awarded to the college football player “who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement”) was one of the top blockers in the Mountain West. (Draft Diamonds)

TE Kenny Yeboah, Mississippi-A transfer from Temple, Yeboah spent last season working with second-round choice Elijah Moore in Oxford and put up career-best numbers (27 receptions, 524 yards, 6 touchdowns). (Matt Barrows)

LB Milo Eifler, Illinois-Eifler started his career at Washington before transferring to the Illini, where he had 63 tackles in 2019 before injuries cost him three contests last year. (Eifler)

DL Michael Dwumfour, Rutgers-Dwumfour transferred from Michigan to spend his final season in Piscataway, earning honorable mentions on the All-Big Ten team. (Dwumfour)

CB Brendon White, Rutgers-White was the Defensive MVP for Ohio State during their 2019 Rose Bowl victory over Washington. (Rutgers Football)

G Tristen Hoge, BYU-The Jets opted to add one of Zach Wilson’s protectors from Provo in Hoge, a Notre Dame. (BYU Football)

OL Grant Hermanns, Purdue-Much like some of their day three collections, Hermanns has been a strong leader off the field too, serving as one of the Boilermakers’ captains and appearing on the Big Ten’s All-Academic team. (James Yodice)

LB Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State-Rashed is best known for dominant junior year, where he set a school record with 14 sacks in 2019. (Jeremy Fowler)

OL Parker Ferguson, Air Force-This Cadet impressed the 18 teams that came to his Pro Day and has earned praise for agility and technique. (Center Grove Football)

CB Isaiah Dunn, Oregon State-At $185,000, Dunn has reportedly been inked to the richest undrafted rookie contract in post-draft history after earning 115 tackles and 18 pass breakups in his final season in Corvallis. (Aaron Wilson)

K Chris Naggar, Southern Methodist-Naggar converted 17-of-21 triple attempts last season (his longest from 48 yards out) and will likely compete with Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin. (Nathan Shackelford)

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Jets land CB Brandin Echols out of Kentucky

brandin echols, jets

The New York Jets continue to spend the back half of their draft providing weapons for Robert Saleh. Brandin Echols, a 5 foot 11, 178-pound corner from Kentucky, is the latest addition. Echols played alongside day two selection Kelvin Joseph and had success in his two seasons down south. The receiver converted to corner and began his career on the JUCO route. After being named a JUCO All American, Echols transferred to Kentucky and quickly earned a starting role.

Echols debuted in his Junior season playing 13 games and racking up 54 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 9 PDs and 2 FFs. Echols caught some eyes and expectations rose going into his senior season. Up against some of the top receivers in the country, Echols held his own, and finished his season with 54 tackles, 2.0 TFLs and an INT.

Echols progressed as a corner and given he is still relatively new to the position he still can grow. He has great fluidity and excellent speedrunning a blazing 4.30 forty. He is a superb athlete who can hang with some of the burners in the league. The expectation is he and Carter Jr. will likely compete for playing time in the slot and in various packages. Echols has shown more in coverage to this point but both players are exceptional athletes.

One thing to note with Echols is that he does have the size to play outside if need be. His game may not fit there as well as Jason Pinnock, but if he can utilize his speed on the outside he could earn playing time there as well, and relatively quickly. This is another high upside swing on a defensive back as the Jets look to round out their secondary.

The New York Yankees should officially be concerned about Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

In his first two games of the season, New York Yankees‘ catcher Gary Sanchez slugged two home runs and appeared to have a fixed swing after three dismal seasons. However, things have gone downhill for him ever since then, leading the team to a point where they should officially be concerned about him.

Since his first two games of the season, Sanchez is hitting .157 with a .483 OPS and just one extra-base hit. The Yankees are also 5-12 in games that he’s played in since April 2.

Those are very concerning numbers as they draw comparisons to 2020 where he had a .147 average with a .618 OPS. What’s also concerning for Sanchez is the fact that the Yankees are 7-2 when Kyle Higashioka starts. Additionally, pitchers have a 1.80 ERA with Higashioka catching and a 3.91 ERA when Sanchez is catching, something that may not be a coincidence.

Ever since Joe Girardi was fired by the New York Yankees, Sanchez hasn’t been the same. His average since the beginning of 2018 is just .199 with a .741 OPS. One of the main reasons why Girardi was fired had to do with his relationship between him and the catcher before Sanchez’s struggles began. But now, looking in hindsight, it may not also be just a coincidence that Sanchez has struggled since Girardi’s departure.

After more than three seasons of struggles for Gary Sanchez, it may be time for the Yankees to move on from him. With young players hitting the free-agent market for the first time in the near future, the team is in their prime time to win a World Series. Sanchez is continuing to be a detriment to the team, and the Yankees could pursue a trade this season and could consider sticking with Higashioka as the starter for now.

Plus, the Yankees have catching prospects Austin Wells, Josh Breaux, and Anthony Siegler in the system, and all are likely to make it to the majors someday. The three of them are each a few years away from being MLB ready, however, the Yankees need someone to step up now. New York could be forced to go the trade route to find a catcher, or they may have to bench Sanchez permanently.

Another cold start for Gary Sanchez is showing that his poor play isn’t a fluke — it’s truly who he is. It’s time the Yankees consider moving on from him and start the search for their future catcher.

New York Jets take DT Jonathan Marshall with final scheduled choice

The New York Jets’ 2021 draft ledger is complete for the time being through the selection of the former Razorback.

The New York Jets completed their scheduled NFL Draft proceedings by taking Arkansas defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall with the 207th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Marshall started only a single year in Fayetteville but impressed on his pro day with 36 reps on the bench with a 4.77-second time on the 40-yard dash. He earned 71 tackles in his career, 11.5 for a loss. Last year was his breakthrough campaign, picking up 35 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

“I’ve talked to several different guys about him. He’s played his way into a draftable player, I believe, and you’re not going to get a whole lot better kid than him if you take him on your football team,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said of Marshall per Otis Kirk of Pig Trail Nation So absolutely. He’s had a really good year and I’m proud for him and I believe he will get looks in the NFL.”

Marshall had problems with pressure but displayed strong power that helped him invade backfields. He also displayed leadership skills, a common theme amongst the Jets’ 2021 draft picks, as he served as the Razorbacks’ defensive captain. Arkansas would also ran the 4-3 defense as part of their base, and Marshall’s experience could help Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich implement the system faster.

Like fellow Jets draft picks Brandin Echols and Hamsah Nasirildeen, he is another multi-sport athlete, also playing basketball at Shepherd High School in Texas.

Marshall’s drafting concludes a streak of six consecutive defenders to end the Jets’ draft proceedings. They haven’t held a seventh round pick since 2016.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Recap: Taillon gets his first win, Yankees 6 Tigers 4

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon

Today’s New York Yankee game was a matinee at 1:05 pm. They met the Detroit Tigers in the second game of the three-game weekend series. Jameson Taillon was on the mound for the Yankees and Spencer Turnbull for the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. It was a beautiful day for a ball game in the Bronx, New York. It was sunny with a game-time temperature of 58 degrees with only a light breeze.

Jameson Taillon took to the mound to start the game, facing Robbie Grossman, who flew to right, but Clint Frazier dropped the ball, and Grossman went to second on the error. Willi Castro struck out. Miguel Cabrera flew out to Frazier. Frazier threw to third, preventing Grossman from advancing. Jonathan Schoop struck out, getting Taillon out of the inning scoreless. The Yankees took to the plate in the bottom with DJ LeMahieu leading off; he had a slow roller for a single. Aaron Judge flew out to centerfield. Rougie Odor lined out to first. Gleyber Torres ground out to end the inning with no score.

The top of the second was led off by Candelario striking out against Taillon. Akil Baddoo walked. Niko Goodrum struck out. Grayson Greiner flew out to center. At the bottom, Mike Ford led off singling on an E4. Aaron Hicks flew out to shallow right. Gary Sanchez singled into the force with Ford out at second. Clint Frazier ground out to third to end the inning. No score.

JaCoby Jones led off the top of the third inning and ground out to LeMahieu at third. Grossman flew to short center, and Torres made a beautiful scoop catch over his head. Castro struck out for Taillon’s fifth strikeout. At the bottom, Brett Gardner popped out to left. LeMahieu walked. Judge singled, beating out the throw. Odor with two on and only one out popped out to short. Torres shot an RBI single down the middle to score LeMahieu for the New York Yankee lead. Mike Ford worked a walk. Aaron Hicks struck out, leaving the bases loaded with Yankees. Yankees 1 Tigers 0.

Leading off the fourth was Miguel Cabrera, who struck out. Schoop flew out to Brett Gardner, who had to battle the sun to make the play. Candelario hammered a homer into the short porch. Baddoo struck out for Taillon’s seventh strikeout of the game, but the Tigers tied it up. At the bottom, Sanchez ground out to short. Frazier ground out to third. Gardner also ground out for three ground-outs. Yankees 1 Tigers 1.

Goodrum led off the fifth with a single up the middle. Goodrum stole second. Greiner flew out to Frazier, with Frazier firing in, holding Goodrum at second. Jones hit Goodrum running to third for two outs. Grossman walked. Castro walked to load the bases. Cabrera struck out on a Taillon fastball to leave the bases loaded with Tigers. Back to the top of the Yankee lineup at the bottom. LeMahieu singled up the middle. DJ tried to steal second and went to third on a bad throw. Judge doubled to the left-field wall scoring LeMahieu with his double. Odor ground out to first, moving Judge to third. Torres ground out to short for the second out. Ford grounded out softly to end the inning. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Jameson Taillon had a good game, but out of the game, Jonathan Loaisiga took over, grounding out Schoop. Candelario singled. Baddoo singled, but Candelario was called out at second. Baddoo stole second. Baddoo went to third on a passed ball by Sanchez. Goodrum walked. Greiner was up with two outs and runners on the corners. Greiner ground out to Ford to end the half and allow Loaisiga to get out of trouble. At the bottom, Hicks was hit by a pitch. Sanchez walked, knocking Turnbull out of the game. The new pitcher was Jose Cisnero facing Frazier, who walked to load the bases with no outs. Gardner popped out to the infield. LeMahieu stuck out. Aaron Judge singled, bringing in two runners. Rougie Odor, with men on the corners and two outs, walked to load the bases again. Torres singled, driving in two more runs knocking Cisnero out in favor of Alex Lange. Mike Ford at the plate, Torres tried to steal second for the last out of the inning. New York Yankees 6 Tigers 1.

At the top, with Justin Wilson on the mound, Jones walked, which was followed by a Grossman walk. Castro struck out. Cabrera ground out, and the runners moved up. Schoop singled, driving in two runs for the Tigers. Candelario singled, driving Wilson out of the game. Chad Green faced Baddo two on, and two outs and was overpowered by Green on three pitches. Ford led off the bottom by grounding out to first. Hicks singled to right. A passed ball allowed Hicks to go to second. Gary Sanchez struck out looking. Frazier went down on strikes. Yankees 6 Tigers 3.

Goodrum led off the eighth with a towering homer into the second deck of the right-field stands. Greiner ground out to LeMahieu. Jones struck out. Grossman flew out to center, but the Tigers picked up another run. At the bottom, Derek Holland took over for the Tigers against Gardner, who walked. LeMahieu flew out to right. Judge struck out. Odor ground out to end the inning. Yankees 6 Tigers 4.

Aroldis Chapman came out to close it out for the Yankees in the top of the ninth. He faced Willie Castro that struck out on a 101 mph Chapman fastball. Cabrera ground out to first. Schoop stuck out, giving Jameson Taillon the win, the loss went to Turnbull, and the save belonged to Aroldis Chapman. The final score was New York Yankees 4 and the Detroit Tigers 4.