New York Giants forced to settle in new PFF 2022 mock draft

New York Giants

The New York Giants have two high picks in the 2022 draft, but they may not get the top prospects they’re looking for. That’s because there’s a good chance of the Giants looking for an upgrade at some of the most in-demand positions in football: offensive tackle, and edge rusher. The top prospects this year might fly off the board quickly, and that’s the scenario that the latest Pro Football Focus mock draft projects.

According to PFF, by the time the Giants pick, they won’t have a shot at either top tackle Evan Neal or one of the two top pass rushers in this class.

Pick No. 5: New York Giants: OT Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State

At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Ekwonu has guard-tackle versatility but earned a legitimate shot to start his NFL career at offensive tackle after his spectacular 2021 campaign at left tackle with the Wolfpack. He earned a 91.6 overall grade and 93.8 run-blocking grade across more than 800 offensive snaps this season, the latter of which ranks sixth among all single-season marks for Power Five tackles since 2014. He’s a true road grader in the run game with improved polish and footwork in pass protection. A player with his kind of skill set shouldn’t fall past the first 10 picks in the draft.

With that being said, the selection that PFF does project for the Giants isn’t one to scoff at either. Given the team’s absence of right tackle talent, Ikem Ekwonwu is still a player that would come in as an immediate starter. With that being said, the Giants’ record drafting for the offensive line will probably have some fans nervous if they end up with anyone but a player like Neal or Tyler Linderbaum, who are both considered near-locks to succeed at their respective positions.

Pick No. 7: New York Giants (via Chicago): EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Karlaftis will get tagged as just a lunchpail type with a high motor in a lot of lazy analysis this draft season, but he’s so much more than that. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder was extremely productive for Purdue this season and should surprise with his athletic testing at the combine.

Karlaftis, another Feldman Freaks List member, reportedly recorded a 10-foot-1 broad jump, 37.5-inch vertical and 4.69-second 40-yard dash at just over 270 pounds this offseason. Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm also raved about Karlaftis’ efforts on and off the field in a Tailgate interview before the season.

The Giants are projected to target Purdue’s George Karlaftis with their second pick. The decision is owing to the fact that this mock draft has Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux going first and second overall, leaving the Giants to settle if they want to acquire a new pass rusher from this class.

Karlaftis is definitely a less flashy prospect than one of the top two edge rushers, but that’s not a reason to feel entirely bad if he does end up being the only top option on the board for the Giants. According to The Draft Network, he may be the top power rusher in this year’s class. And given the heavy reliance on a couple of players for sacks last year, it’s hard to complain about an addition like that.

Knicks squander comeback with poor 4th quarter against Timberwolves

knicks, mitchell robinson

With 23 seconds left on the clock, the New York Knicks had an opportunity to put away the Minnesota Timberwolves after Patrick Beverley missed one of two free throws. Needing just a two-point shot, Alec Burks heaved up a three-point attempt to try and win the game, having missed his previous two attempts and scoring zero points in the first three quarters.

Burks’s shot bounced off the rim into Minnesota arms, dropping the Knicks below .500 for the second time this season after enjoying a three-game win streak that the Charlotte Hornets broke on Monday afternoon.

Once again, the Knicks stare themselves in the face wondering what they could’ve done differently. Performing better in the fourth quarter would’ve been a good start after posting 40 points in the third quarter against the Timberwolves.

The Knicks’ starters performed admirably on the evening, with Julius Randle recording 21 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds. He missed all four of his three-point attempts but also contributed four blocks and two steals. Randle was far from the problem in the loss, as the bench contributed a combined 18 points on 14 attempts from the field.

After starting the new year on fire, RJ Barrett came crashing back down to earth on Tuesday evening, recording a game-high seven turnovers. While he did add 17 points to the Knicks’ 110 total, his lackluster ball-handling cost the team multiple opportunities to put points on the board. Barrett has earned a down game after recording three 30+ point contests to open 2022.

As a whole, New York shot a measly 31.6% from three-point range but did record 44 rebounds compared to Minnesota’s 38. The turnovers were the difference, as the Knicks piled on 18 and the Timberwolves posted just 12.

One way or another, the Knicks need to find ways to win competitive games at home. If they somehow managed to scrape their way into the postseason, their home court needs to provide an advantage, otherwise they will be exiting early once again this season. The team will look ahead to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night, a team that has won just 16 games this year and lost two consecutive.

Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad voted in “Last man”, unable to attend due to personal reasons

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad was voted into the NHL All-Star Game but will be unable to attend the event due to personal reasons.

New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad has been selected as an NHL All-Star through the Last Men In fan vote, but will not be going to the event due to personal reasons.

Zibanejad, 28, has been selected to his first career All-Star Game and is the third member of the Rangers (Chris Kreider and Adam Fox) to be selected to the event in Las Vegas on February 5.

Zibanejad put a post out via his Instagram account stating that he had to fly to Sweden for personal reasons and was unable to attend the All-Star game next month.

Thank you to all of the fans who voted for me to play in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. Unfortunately, due to a personal situation in Sweden, I will be unable to attend this year.

Being an NHL All-Star, and representing the Rangers with Kreids and Foxy, would have been an absolute thrill. Thank you to everyone for understanding.

Pittsburgh Penguins Jake Guentzel will replace Zibanejad.

Per NHL rules, a player who is named to the All-Star Game but does not participate is suspended for one regular-season game, either immediately preceding or following the All-Star break.

A source, Forever Blueshirts, has told me that the New York Rangers have stated that  Zibanejad will not be suspended for missing the game.

 

 

New York Giants: Could Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll be the future?

Giants, Joe Schoen

Things are heating up for the New York Giants and their search for their next general manager. A vacancy exists in New York’s front office after Dave Gettleman, the team’s GM since 2018, retired at season’s end. The Giants quickly turned their attention toward new candidates to fulfill the position and have now taken forward steps toward the second round of interviews. The Giants completed their second interview (first in-person) with candidate Joe Schoen today, who many believe is the frontrunner to land the job. Many believe that Schoen could bring over another member of the Buffalo Bills to lead the Giants’ coaching staff, too: Brian Daboll.

Giants interested in Joe Schoen

Joe Schoen completed his second interview with the Giants on Tuesday. This was the Giants’ first in-person general manager interview. Schoen met with co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, as well as Chris Mara, the vice president of player personnel.

The Giants have been rather interested in Joe Schoen since the offseason began. Schoen, the Buffalo Bills Assistant General Manager, was the first candidate that the Giants interviewed for their vacant GM position. Many reported that Schoen was the “man to beat” for the Giants’ job. Now, as New York is in its second wave of interviews, it still seems like Joe Schoen is the front-runner.

According to G.T. Bobby Thompson of Fansided, Joe Schoen “really wants the Giants GM position.” Thompson reports that “both sides feel strongly about one another.” With mutual interest, it seems very likely that Joe Schoen could be named the next General Manager of the New York Giants.

Schoen reportedly wants Brian Daboll

Bobby Thompson continued his reporting on the Giants-Schoen situation by providing insight on who Schoen might choose to be the team’s next head coach. Thompson says, “If hired by the Giants for the GM position, Joe Schoen’s number one target will be Brian Daboll to become the HC per source.”

Brian Daboll is the offensive coordinator of the electric Buffalo Bills. Daboll has received plenty of credit for the development of superstar quarterback Josh Allen. Brian Daboll is considered around the league to be one of the top head-coaching candidates in this year’s cycle.

Giants fans would be rather pleased to see their team pluck these two football geniuses from Buffalo. The Bills are one of the best-ran organizations in the NFL and they have put together a tremendous coaching staff to go along with their excellent roster. The brain-trust of Schoen and Daboll could be just what the New York Giants need to get back on track.

New York Yankees: A year makes a difference; view 2022 top prospects

New York Yankees, Jasson Dominguez

The New York Yankees are blessed with one of the best lists of prospects in both leagues. One of the reasons is that they have made good use of the international markets. This year they have picked up the number one international prospect in Rodrick Arias, yet another shortstop to bolster the minor league position. In 2019 they acquired phenom Jasson Dominguez, their number one prospect since then. But as time marches on, so do those rankings.

Here is a look at the rankings from FanGraphs in February 2021:

  1. Jason Dominguez, center fielder. Age 17.10, expected arrival 2025, FV 50.
  2. Deivi Garcia, starting pitcher. Age 21.7, expected arrival 2021 FV50.
  3. Oswald Peraza, shortstop. Age 20.6, expected arrival 2022 FV50.
  4. Clarke Schmidt, starting pitcher. Age 2025, expected arrival 2021 FV50.
  5. Alexander Vargas, shortstop. Age 19.3, expected arrival 2023 FV50.

Since then, there have been some significant changes. Jasson Dominguez has slipped out of first place and now sits at number four on the list. The main reason for the slip is that he didn’t have an overwhelming 2021 at the Tampa A level, even though he remains a powerful hitting from both sides of the plate.

Deivi Garcia slipped from number two to number ten. After a promising season at Scranton and at the Stadium, he had a horrible season at the AAA Railriders in 2021. So here are the 2022 FanGraph rankings.

  1. Antony Volpe, shortstop. Age 20.7, expected arrival 2024 FV60.
  2. Oswald Peraza, shortstop. Age 21.6, expected arrival 2022 FV50
  3. Luis Media, right-hand pitcher. Age 22.7, expected arrival 2022 FV50.
  4. Jasson Dominguez, center fielder. Age 18.9, expected arrival 2025 FV50.
  5. Alexander Vargas, shortstop. Age 20.2, expected arrival 20.2 FV50.

The 2022 list is quite a turnaround from just a year ago. Anthony Volpe wasn’t even in the top ten last year and now sits at the best the Yankees have to offer. He had a stellar year between two teams, Tampa Tarpons and the Hudson Valley Renegades; he hit 27 homers driving in 86 and with a .294 batting average while remaining a good defender at short.

Also, Oswald Peraza and Luis Media had good years last season as well. Peraza advanced three steps to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He hit 18 home runs between the three teams, driving in 57 with a .297 batting average. Luis Media had a 6-4 record with an ERA of 3.81, with two teams advancing to the Somerset Patriots.

My only problem with these rankings is that they placed Deivi Garcia ahead of Luis Gil. Gil made great strides for the Yankees last season, striking out more hitters than Garcia. Gil pitched in six games with an ERA of just 3.07 and a higher (0.4) WAR than Garcia. Look for other Yankees prospects to make an impact this season. You will surely see Clarke Schmidt on the mound sometime this season. You may also see Stephen Ridings on the mound.

Knicks trade target Myles Turner’s value takes a hit after serious foot injury

myles turner, knicks

The New York Knicks‘ prime trade target Myles Turner had been diagnosed with a stress reaction on his left foot, the Indiana Pacers announced Tuesday.

Turner has been out since Friday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks to re-assess his status. His injury was initially labeled as a sore left ankle. A second opinion yielded the stress reaction, a precursor to the more severe stress fracture injury. It appears that Turner will be out for a significant amount of time that could extend beyond the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

With only 23 days left before the trade deadline, this development may force the Pacers to hold on to Turner until the offseason.

Before the injury, Hoopshype reported that the Pacers’ asking price for Turner is two first-round picks or a first-round pick and a young player with a high upside. The injury certainly took a hit to Turner’s value for teams, like the Knicks, who desire a win-now contributor to advance their playoff hopes this season.

Turner also missed a significant amount of time last season after a partial tear in the plantar plate of his right great toe. He only played 47 games.

Turner has $36 million left in his four-year contract before he could hit free agency in 2023. The 25-year old center leads the league in blocks for the third time this season, averaging 2.8 per game with 12.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists. Turner is a defensive big man who can stretch the floor. He is a 35-percent career three-point shooter.

In December, Indy Star proposed a mock trade that would net the Pacers fan-favorite and former lottery pick Obi Toppin and a future first-round pick with Nerlens Noel as a salary filler for Turner. Turner’s latest injury should lower the Pacers’ asking price if they are determined to move the big man before the trade deadline.

The Knicks’ lingering interest in Turner gives us the impression that they view him as a long-term piece. At 25, Turner is an ascending talent, and he fits the timeline of their young core. But a big man with foot issues weighs a significant risk.

If they are all-in on Turner, now is the time to pounce on the opportunity to get him for a much lower price.

Aside from the Knicks, several teams are interested in Turner, including his hometown team, Dallas Mavericks, who are believed to be the frontrunners to land the big man. It will be interesting to watch how Turner’s market shakes out after this injury update.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Does Amanda Nunes leaving ATT signal the UFC is the favorite for Kayla Harrison?

MMA, PFL

Yesterday we learned some interesting news regarding the UFC women’s featherweight champion Amanda Nunes (21-5). Nunes is leaving American Top Team to start her own team in Florida after falling short and losing her bantamweight title back at UFC 269.

Nunes completely changed her career around when she started training with ATT. The news was stunning to many, but perhaps it signals a potential superfight down the road. It’s widely known that Kayla Harrison (12-0) has been one of Nunes’ main training partners at ATT.

Harrison is currently a free agent and she’s being courted by the UFC, Bellator, and PFL. However, many speculate that the UFC is the front runner. In speaking to a few folks, some believe that a Harrison signing could happen in the next week or two.

Harrison attended UFC 269 and watched Nunes take on Julianna Pena (11-4). Nunes was a massive favorite and Harrison was getting the free agent treatment. The UFC even featured her on the big screen which only occurs when the promotion is seriously interested.

However, there were questions surrounding whether Harrison and Nunes would fight considering they train together. Nunes losing to Pena also threw a wrench in that potential plan. Dana White admitted he was interested in that fight. Well, Nunes leaving ATT clears one hurdle for the UFC making the fight happen.

Will Harrison sign with the UFC?

Amanda Nunes has no competition currently in the featherweight division. Harrison would provide a massive challenge and it would make for a very compelling fight at 145 pounds. My guess is that the UFC is making a push to sign Harrison and I think they will ultimately get a deal done.

Does that mean the super fight is going to happen? I don’t believe so. The UFC is currently working on booking the rematch between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena. The immediate rematch needs to take place after Pena shocked the world and took the title from Nunes.

My guess is that the UFC would like to get Harrison in and get her a fight with the promotion. Perhaps booking her against someone like Holly Holm. While Holly Holm is certainly no pushover, I think she would struggle with the grappling skills and strength of Harrison.

On the flip side, Holm would be the first legitimate test for Harrison. Around the same time or even perhaps on the same card, the UFC could book the rematch between Nunes and Pena. If Nunes and Harrison both were to win, the superfight would be back on and the hype would have restored after hitting a speed bump in December.

Time will tell, but I’m expecting a Harrison to sign soon and I’m expecting it to be with the UFC.

Mets have fourth-best odds to go all the way in 2022

The New York Mets didn’t meet expectations in 2021. They led their division, the NL East, for months, only to collapse in the second half after their two biggest stars, pitcher Jacob deGrom and shortstop Francisco Lindor, suffered injuries. They finished third and missed the playoffs in the first season of then-new owner Steve Cohen.

But Cohen, Mets’ president Sandy Alderson, new general manager Billy Eppler and company are working hard to make sure such a scenario doesn’t repeat itself. They went to work in the offseason and managed to make big additions before the lockout.

Yes, they lost Marcus Stroman, Michael Conforto, and Noah Syndergaard, but they also added Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar. They can still bring in some new stars before the offseason is over, but MLB and the Players Association would have to agree on a new CBA deal first.

The Mets added some key players

The influx of talent has the Mets as one of the favorites to win the 2022 World Series, according to some sources. Per SNY, BetMGM has them at +1100 to take the Fall Classic, third in MLB behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros.

DraftKings has them at +1000, fourth in the league behind the Dodgers, the New York Yankees, and the Astros. In any case, they are considered among the favorites to win it all.

Here are the full odds, per DraftKings:

Los Angeles Dodgers: +650

Yankees: +900

Houston Astros: +950

Mets: +1000

Toronto Blue Jays: +1200

Chicago White Sox: +1200

San Diego Padres: +1400

Tampa Bay Rays: +1500

Milwaukee Brewers: +1500

Atlanta Braves: +1500

Boston Red Sox: +2000

St. Louis Cardinals: +2200

San Francisco Giants: +2500

Los Angeles Angels: +3000

Seattle Mariners: +3500

Philadelphia Phillies: +3500

Detroit Tigers +4000

Oakland Athletics: +6000

Minnesota Twins: +8000

Miami Marlins: +8000

Cincinnati Reds: +8000

Cleveland Guardians: +8000

Texas Rangers: +9000

Kansas City Royals: +9000

Washington Nationals: +10000

Chicago Cubs: +10000

Colorado Rockies: +15000

Baltimore Orioles: +15000

Arizona Diamondbacks: +20000

Pittsburgh Pirates: +25000

What’s next for Katlyn Chookagian after UFC Vegas 46?

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC Vegas 46, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Former title challengers were fighting for the second time as Katlyn Chookagian (17-4) was taking on Jennifer Maia (19-8-1).

Both ladies were looking to continue a winning streak on Saturday. Maia was looking for his second straight win while Chookagian was looking to pick up her third straight. With a win, either would be a step closer to getting another crack at the UFC flyweight title.

Unfortunately for Jennifer Maia, UFC Vegas 46 mirrored the first fight between these two flyweights. The key for Chookagian was keeping the fight on the outside and using long strikes. That’s what she did on Saturday and she looked fantastic doing it.

All night long, Maia was unable to get on the inside. She did land some good shots here and there which showed on Chookagian’s face. However, Chookagian was landing much more often and was landing clean throughout the three round contest.

In the end, all three judges unanimously gave the fight to Chookagian. One of the UFC’s top flyweights picked up her third straight win as she hit the open market.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 46?

An interesting wrinkle was revealed after UFC Vegas 46 when it was announced that Chookagian fought out her contract on Saturday night. The promotion failed to extend Chookagian and once the scorecards were read on Saturday, Chookagian became a free agent.

Now, Chookagian made it clear in the post-fight press conference that she wants to remain a UFC fighter. However, that call will ultimately be left up to the promotion and match maker Mick Maynard. In reality, there is one promotion that could make a push for Chookagian.

That promotion would be Bellator. Chookagian has proven that she’s one of the very best in the world, however, it’s hard to see her becoming a champion in the UFC. Perhaps that could push her to Bellator with a lucrative offer. I could see “Blonde Fighter” becoming a champion with Bellator.

However, let’s say that she does stay with the UFC. If she does, who should she fight next? After the fight, she mentioned that she was interested in fighting Miesha Tate. However, Tate is being booked against Lauren Murphy for her flyweight debut.

Chookagian already lost by first round stoppage to Jessica Andrade so that’s not an option. If I had my pick, I would put Chookagian against Taila Santos (19-1). Santos is a very intriguing top contender and the UFC is looking at her as a future title challenger.

If Chookagian could put her away, you couldn’t deny her another title shot. However, if Santos were to win, she would earn her title shot and would present a compelling challenger to Valentina Shevchenko.

Giants could hit home-run with Joe Hortiz as general manager out of Baltimore

joe hotiz, giants, ravens

Out of every general manager candidate the New York Giants are interviewing, Baltimore Ravens Director of Player Personnel Joe Hortiz is the only one that isn’t in the postseason. However, don’t let that dampen your expectations of his qualities, having learned from Ozzie Newsome and some of the best talent evaluators the NFL has ever seen.

Hortiz is considered a future NFL general manager by most, and he’s a legitimate candidate for the Giants. They are in desperate need of a cultural overhaul and talent evaluation process.

Hortiz’s tenure in Baltimore includes consistent winning, notably two Super Bowls and 13 postseason appearances in 22 years. This past season, Baltimore was plagued by injury on defense and offense. Losing Lamar Jackson late in the year and running back J.K. Dobbins undoubtedly put them in a difficult position. However, they narrowly missed the postseason despite working with a number of backups and dwindling down to their third-string quarterback for a moment.

When a team is capable of winning despite injuries to star players, you know the roster has been constructed properly. Baltimore nearly achieved the impossible, further proving that Joe has helped build one of the most sustainable organizations in football.

“Joe almost never makes an evaluation mistake,” a Ravens official told The Post’s Ian O’Connor.

O’Connor goes on to detail how Hortiz has garnered varying reviews on his readiness to become a GM for a big market like New York:

One league executive described Hortiz as a true “scout.” Another scouting source described Hortiz as a “good personality with potential,” but expressed concerns that GM of the Giants is a “big spotlight job” for someone without decision-making experience — which applies to all nine candidates receiving interviews.

Clearly, there is some concern that Hortiz can’t manage the New York market, but as we saw Dave Gettleman, if you stay behind the scenes and let your coaching staff take the brunt of the blame, you can get away with anything.

Thankfully, the Giants are looking outside for the first time in decades at a general manager candidate without any ties to the organization. Hortiz finished his interview with Big Blue this past Saturday but could be back for a 2nd chance to speak with ownership. With 20 years of experience under his belt with one of the most consistent franchises in football, there’s no question that he’s a legitimate option.

Over the past 13 years, Hortiz has helped the Ravens select 16 Pro Bowlers and six first-team All-Pro players. Comparably, the Giants have landed six Pro Bowlers and two first-team All-Pro players, a vast difference, nearly tripling their evaluation success.

Culture can’t be overlooked, though, as players can extract the most of their abilities in the right situation. For years, the Giants have been a laughing stock with coaches who can’t develop players and maximize their strengths. Failure to develop a competent scheme and disciplinary style of play has put the Giants in the dark ages, in which they are hoping a candidate like Hortiz can drag them out.