New York Giants continuing to meet with all of this draft’s top QB prospects

malik willis, giants, falcons

The New York Giants have two top-ten picks in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The belief is that the Giants will utilize these draft picks to add talent to their roster and build around quarterback Daniel Jones. But is there a chance that the Giants could shock the world and draft a quarterback? New York is having pre-draft meetings with all of the draft’s top quarterback prospects.

According to Mike Garafolo, UNC quarterback Sam Howell’s pre-draft visit list includes the New York Giants. The Giants are on this list along with a bunch of quarterback-needy teams like the Saints, Falcons, Steelers, and Panthers. The Giants stand out as the oddball on this list considering their public commitment to the quarterback that is already on their roster.

Sam Howell is not the only quarterback prospect that is meeting with the Giants and he is certainly not the top-ranked quarterback that New York is meeting. The Giants have already met with the consensus top-quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, Malik Willis. The Liberty quarterback met with the Giants,  Steelers, Saints, Falcons, Titans, and Panthers. Again, a list comprised of teams widely expected to draft a quarterback early in the draft, minus the Giants and Titans.

General manager Joe Schoen also made the trip out to Cincinnati recently for the university’s Pro Day. While the Giants were likely there to get a closer look at cornerback Sauce Gardner, they also could have been taking a look at quarterback Desmond Ridder. Ridder could be an option for the Giants in round two.

Why are the Giants meeting with the draft’s top QBs?

The future is uncertain for Daniel Jones and the New York Giants. New head coach Brian Daboll has expressed excitement about coaching the Giants’ current starting quarterback. Joe Schoen has demonstrated commitment to Daniel Jones, too. However, the Giants have not yet picked up Jones’s fifth-year option and it does not seem likely that they will.

The Giants signed Tyrod Taylor this offseason to bet the team’s backup quarterback. But Taylor signed a two-year deal, meaning he could be utilized as a bridge quarterback in 2023. Could this move combined with the Giants’ interest in the draft’s top quarterbacks foreshadow a potential change at the sport’s most important position?

Alternatively, the Giants could just be doing their due diligence. With a murky future ahead for Daniel Jones, the Giants are likely just exploring all of their options. If Joe Schoen happens to fall in love with a quarterback prospect, the Giants are in a position to draft him with one of their two top-ten draft picks. Furthermore, the Giants could be fishing to see if any other teams have fallen in love with one of the draft’s top quarterbacks. Interviewing these quarterback prospects could allow the Giants to uncover information regarding other teams’ interest in the players, positioning the Giants in a perfect trade-down situation.

Daniel Jones seems to be the penned-down starter for the 2022 season. However, it seems unlikely that the Giants will make a commitment beyond this upcoming season. New York could potentially draft a quarterback this year with the plan to give him the keys to the car next year. Or the Giants could even be practicing quarterback evaluation for the next offseason. The New York Giants’ true intentions are unknown, but it is worth noting how diligent they are being with their evaluation of this year’s quarterback class.

Knicks rookie Jericho Sims has more to offer according to Tom Thibodeau

New York Knicks rookie center Jericho Sims is a man of few words. He let his game do the talking.

Sims did just that and delivered his first career double-double, providing the silver lining in New York Knicks’ 110-98 loss to across-the-river rival Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Starting for Mitchell Robinson, who was a late scratch due to a non-COVID illness, the 6-foot-9 Sims was spectacular. The 58th overall pick looked like the steal of the draft after filling up the stats sheet with 10 points on an array of lobs and putback slams, 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocked shots.

“Jericho was phenomenal,” Knicks forward RJ Barrett said. “It’s really great to have a guy like that on our team. He just goes in there and gives it his all.”

Before the game, Barrett pulled Sims and told him: “Roll out fast. I can throw you lobs, so that way, even if we miss a shot, you’re in a good position.”

Sims faithfully followed Barrett’s lead. His first basket was an alley-oop dunk from Barrett at the 8:47 mark of the opening quarter.

“He was great on defense. He was all over,” Barrett said.

Sims set the tone for the Knicks’ swashbuckling first half with an assist, a steal, the alley-oop dunk, and a block in the first three and a half minutes. His energy on both ends of the floor was infectious and pushed the Knicks to a 17-point first-half lead.

It was just the tip of the iceberg. Sims’ best stretch as a pro came in the third quarter, where he scattered six points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Sims had too many highlights — from swatting away Andre Drummond’s layup to meeting Kevin Durant in the air and disrupting the shot with his verticality to catching a lob over Drummond — that rocked the Garden.

With Sims all over the place, the Knicks built a 21-point lead. The Knicks were still leading by 18 when he left in the final 2:20 of the third quarter after playing high-octane basketball for nine minutes and 40 seconds straight. By the time Sims returned to the game, the Nets had already grabbed the lead on Patty Mills’ three-pointer.

The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Knicks, but Sims’ performance should give the Knicks front office insurance if ever Robinson bolts out this summer.

“He played well against these guys the last time. Because you’re going to do more than one thing, his ability to blitz a pick and roll or to hit to get the ball out of their hands and get back to the basket and get back out, then offensively putting pressure on the rim. That’s huge. And the rebounding was critical,” said Thibodeau effusive in praising Sims’ play. “He’s gotten a lot better at it. He’s got great feet. He’s got strength. The athleticism is terrific.”

Then Thibodeau revealed that Sims is just starting to scratch his potential. He has more to offer than just catching lobs and grabbing rebounds.

“We still haven’t seen the playmaking in the paint that he has, but as time goes on, we’ll see that,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a very good playmaker in the paint.”

Sims felt more comfortable out on the court than in the press room. He kept his answers short and just let the game do his talking.

“[It’s] Nothing out of the ordinary,” Sims said about his double-double performance. “I just played a little bit more and tried to get as many rebounds as I could. Finish as many lobs and dunks as I can. It’s as simple as that.”

Sims made it look so simple playing basketball.

His growth is one of the most promising developments for the Knicks after the All-Star break.

Sims said everybody in the team is in his ears at some point, and he’s just soaking everything like a sponge. Taj Gibson has taken him under his wings.

“He’s always in a good position because he’s played for a while,” Sims said about Gibson. “He’ll give me pointers here and there over the course of the game on how we can score and stretch the floor. That’s what I’m looking to do at some point.”

The Knicks got a steal in the draft.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Aleksei Oleinik searching for elusive 60th win at UFC 273 against Jared Vanderaa

Saturday night on the prelims of UFC 273, we will see a battle of heavyweights where one man is searching for his 60th professional win. That man is none other than 44 year old Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1) and he’s taking on Jared Vanderaa (12-7).

Both of these men enter UFC 273 on losing streaks so winning is of the upmost importance. For Jared Vanderaa, he’s been rather underwhelming since making his debut in the octagon last year.

Vanderaa earned a UFC contract on The Contender Series and entered the promotion with a record of 11-4. However, he’s just 1-3 in his four fights with the promotion with the lone win coming against Justin Tafa.

Standing across from Vanderaa is Oleinik who is riding a three-fight losing streak. The grappling expert has really struggled over the past couple of years. He had two back to back big wins in 2020 which included a win over former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum.

However, he then lost back-to-back fights by knockout. He returned last June where he lost a decision to Sergey Spivak. He’s looking for the elusive 60th win and he’s hoping to get it done at UFC 273.

UFC 273 Prediction

Another fight on this UFC 273 card where the game plan for both men is very clear. For Vanderaa, he’s going to look to keep this fight standing at all costs. He does have good power in his hands and we saw that on the regional scene.

Oleinik has shown off a very questionable chin getting knocked out four times since 2019. In addition to his questionable chin, Oleinik doesn’t show the same explosiveness in terms of his takedowns. That will happen when you continue to age.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t even think about who would win this fight. I would fully expect Oleinik to get him down and pickup the win at UFC 273 by submission or decision. However, what I’ve seen lately gives me pause.

I’m not sure Oleinik will be able to consistently get this fight down. I also think he might be a sitting duck on the feet with Vanderaa. While I wouldn’t really be shocked to see Oleinik get the win, I think he’s going to get stopped by the younger Venderaa in this one.

Prediction: Jared Vanderaa by TKO – Round 2

Can Aspen Ladd get back on track at UFC 273 against Raquel Pennington?

aspen ladd, mma

Saturday night on the prelims of UFC 273, we are going to see an intriguing matchup in the bantamweight division. Top ten contenders will battle it out as Aspen Ladd (9-2) takes on former title challenger Raquel Pennington (13-8).

The last time we saw Ladd she was headlining a UFC Fight Night against Norma Dumont. It was a terrible performance where Ladd looked incredibly gun-shy and she lost a decision. That loss dropped her to 1-2 in her last three fights.

There was so much hype with Aspen Ladd in the UFC. However, shaky weight cuts and injuries have really derailed her. Maybe shake off the last fight as ring-rust and if that’s the case, she could be in for a big performance at UFC 273.

That being said, Raquel Pennington is ready to get back into the title picture. Rocky enters this fight on a three-fight winning streak and she’s taking this fight on short-notice hoping it gets her right back into the title picture at 135. If she does win, she’s perhaps in line for a title eliminator in her next fight.

UFC 273 Prediction

A lot of eyeballs are going to be on Aspen Ladd in this one. Many pegged her to be a future UFC champion and as mentioned above, a number of different things have gotten in the way of her achieving the success some thought she would.

There also seems to be a bit of a mental block with Ladd and when she unlocks it, she’s dangerous. However, when it’s locked, she’s tentative and unimpressive. She has to be unlocked to beat Raquel Pennington.

Ladd’s grappling is going to be key on Saturday night. If she can get this fight to the mat, she has a number of ways to win. However, if this fight stays on the feet, Pennington has a path to victory just by staying busy.

I’ve gone over this UFC 273 matchup a number of times and I actually like Raquel Pennington in this spot. Look, Aspen Ladd has the higher ceiling and if both fighters fight to the best of their ability, I’m picking Ladd. However, I find it hard to pick her right now with everything that has happened and I like Pennington to pick up her fourth straight.

Prediction: Raquel Pennington by Decision

Olympian Mark Madsen looks to remain perfect at UFC 273 against Vinc Pichel

Kicking off the main card of UFC 273 on Saturday night is an intriguing matchup in the lightweight division. Former Olympic Silver Medalist Mark Madsen (11-0) returns as he will look to remain perfect in MMA as he takes on the tough Vinc Pichel (14-2).

UFC fans were first introduced to Pichel way back in 2012 when he competed on The Ultimate Fighter. He debuted on the TUF finale when he took on Rustam Khabilov. At the time, Pichel was unbeaten, however, he suffered his first loss that night.

Since then, he’s 8-1 in the UFC. That being said, as you can tell, this is only his tenth fight in the last ten years. Now, he has been more active and is entering this contest at UFC 273 on a three-fight winning streak.

Standing across from him will be Mark Madsen. Madsen will be making his fourth appearance inside the octagon. The last time we saw him was at a Fight Night back in August when he edged out Clay Guida by split decision.

UFC 273 Prediction

This fight was originally on the prelims and it was promoted up to the UFC 273 main card after Kelvin Gastelum pulled out of the event. Not sure the fans are going to be getting an insanely exciting fight to kick off the PPV on Saturday night.

The game plan for Madsen is very clear. He’s going to come out strong in the first round looking for takedowns and he’s likely going to get them. Pichel doesn’t have the best takedown defense and we’ve seen that over his past few fights.

I think he makes Madsen work, but Madsen will get him down. The true story of the fight at UFC 273 will be the second and third rounds. If Madsen’s cardio holds up, I can see him dominating all three rounds with his wrestling.

However, if his cardio is an issue, I think Pichel will really press forward with hooks and pressure. Madsen doesn’t have great striking defense and that’s something that Pichel can take advantage of.

Ultimately, I see a lot of chess in this matchup with Madsen getting the better of things. I don’t expect a finish and I’m expecting a grappling heavy decision at UFC 273.

Prediction: Mark Madsen by Unanimous Decision

Yankees News: Former Astros utility man selected to MLB roster, newly acquired catcher placed on injured list

marwin gonzalez, yankees

New York Yankees’ recent signee Marwin Gonzalez, who inked a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, made the major league Opening Day roster and will open the season with the big league club.

The team announced the respective roster moves: they selected Gonzalez to the 40-man roster and signed him to a major league contract, they designated outfielder Jeisson Rosario for assignment, and they placed catcher Ben Rortvedt on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain.

Rortvedt, who came over from the Minnesota Twins in the deal that netted the Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, was already injured with the Bombers acquired, but they decided to wait for him, as they see him as an important piece in the catching puzzle, together with projected starter Kyle Higashioka.

To cover for Rortvedt’s absence, the Yankees traded for Jose Trevino, a defensive-minded backup catcher.

Gonzalez earned a spot with the Yankees

As for Gonzalez, he earned his spot on the roster with his excellent play during spring training. The former Houston Astros’ utilityman slashed .375/.400/.792 with an impressive 1.192 OPS, and he was second in RBI with 10.

Marwin also hit four extrabase hits for the Yankees in Grapefruit League play: one double and three home runs, scoring five runs in the process. His nine-game cameo was enough to impress manager Aaron Boone and give him a spot, taking advantage of the expanded rosters for the first month of the season.

Gonzalez could be a valuable utility piece for the Yankees, as he is able to play all around the diamond and has plenty of experience in several positions. With the bat, he hasn’t been great in the last couple of seasons, but his best year, 2017, saw him produce a .303/.377/.530 line with a .907 OPS, although those numbers happened to come in the year of the sign-stealing scandal.

Nevertheless, Gonzalez showed he can still carry some offensive potential, and his versatility gave him the edge over other options.  

Former MLB general manager predicts Yankees will land superstar right fielder in trade

juan soto, yankees, washington nationals

Despite the expectation that the New York Yankees will sign star slugger Aaron Judge to a monster contract, it didn’t stop one former general manager from predicting a blockbuster deal between the Bombers and Washington Nationals next offseason.

As we saw last year, Aaron Judge is capable of playing multiple outfield spots, despite right field being his preferred position. He spent 158 innings last year in center field, posting a perfect fielding percentage.

That plays a big part in the theoretical trade proposed by Jim Bowden of The Athletic, who believes the Yankees will make a huge play for Juan Soto:

The Nationals increase their offer to superstar right fielder Juan Soto from $350 million to $390 million and he rejects it, preferring to get to free agency in three years. The Nationals then trade him to the Yankees on Dec. 29 for a package of seven prospects that includes their best prospect, Anthony Volpe.

Soto is one of the best players in all of baseball at just 23. Soto recorded a monster .313 average last season with 29 homers and 95 RBIs. Looking back at his 2019 campaign when he was 2o years old, he hit .282 with 34 homers and 110 RBIs.

Featuring Soto, Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield would give the Yankees the best unit by a significant margin. The Nationals star is also a solid defender, which makes him extremely valuable. However, Bowden states the Yankees will have to give up their top prospect Anthony Volpe to acquire Soto.

Considering general manager Brian Cashman built his entire off-season strategy around Volpe becoming the team’s shortstop down the road, it will be incredibly difficult for him to part ways. Nonetheless, when you’re talking about a player like Soto, an established superstar, you have no choice but to submit to those demands.

The Yankees don’t necessarily need another big-time outfielder, looking at the deal objectively. Soto’s offensive qualities represent the majority of his value, but if Volpe dominated the minor-league system, they may take him off the market entirely, no matter the player. Some may view that as malpractice, and you’d have a good argument.

Giants could snag Penn State linebacker in mid-rounds to plug massive defensive hole

Jesse Luketa, giants

One position the New York Giants desperately need to upgrade is middle linebacker. With Blake Martinez tearing his ACL against Atlanta Falcons last season in Week 3, they were forced to roll with a bevy of different players at the position, starting Tae Crowder as the primary mike linebacker.

Crowder has significant athletic limitations and might be better served as a depth piece rather than a starter. However, the Giants only have so many draft picks they can utilize.

One mid-round linebacker could be a perfect plug-and-play piece this upcoming season.

Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa might be an excellent fit in Wink Martindale‘s scheme. At 6’3″ and 251 pounds, Luketa tallied 61 total tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and recorded an interception, which he took for a touchdown last season. As a two-year starter for the Nittany Lions, Luketa has the make of an aggressive linebacker with phenomenal intangible traits.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had to say about Luketa:

Team-first leader who plays every snap like his hair is on fire. Luketa is self-made and known for putting in the work necessary to go from Ottawa tough guy to productive, two-year starter in the Big Ten. He won’t blink in the face of physical challenges, using his leverage and power to hold his ground or come out on top. He lacks instincts and pursuit speed and is best suited as a 4-3 Sam linebacker but his lone season as a 4-3 end could have 3-4 teams exploring his potential as a developmental outside linebacker. No matter the scheme, Luketa’s toughness and talent should make him a good backup or low-end starter with the ability to shine on special teams as early as his rookie season.

The Giants can use as many leaders as they can get, and Luketa fits the mold well in that regard. While some have him graded as a 4th or 5th round prospect, his draft stock has risen considerably in recent weeks, making him a potential 3rd round selection.

Pairing Luketa with Martinez would do the Giants well, giving him an experience mentor to learn from. However, Zierlein believes that Luketa could end up being an experimental 3–4 linebacker, which is perfect for Martindale who loves to utilize every position as blitzers. If Luketa can develop some solid pass rush moves, his role could expand quickly in the Giants’ defense.

In fact, Big Blue hosted him on a local visit this week, attesting to their interest.

Anderson Silva set for boxing match in Dubai

Anderson Silva is heading back to the boxing ring. The former UFC middleweight champion will be competing on a card that is set to take place on a helicopter landing pad in Dubai on May 14th per TMZ. 

The boxing event will be headlined by Floyd Mayweather who will be taking on “Dangerous” Don Moore in an eight-round exhibition. Silva will be competing on the card against fellow Brazilian MMA veteran Bruno Machado (15-9 MMA).

Machado has won his last six MMA bouts leading up to this boxing exhibition with the great Anderson Silva. He last competed at UAE Warriors 15 in January of 2021 where he scored a unanimous decision victory.

Anderson Silva in Boxing

Of course, all eyes will be on Anderson Silva when these two meet in the boxing ring. This will be Silva’s third trip to the squared circle since his UFC career wrapped at the end of 2020.

Thus far, Anderson Silva has been incredibly impressive in his post-UFC combat career. He started things out with a bout against former boxing world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Despite Silva’s track record of being a dynamic striker, most people didn’t give him a chance against the former champion. However, Silva put on an absolute clinic and I personally scored seven rounds for him.

The fight took place in Chavez Jr’s native Mexico and one of the judges gave him the fight. However, two of the judges got it correct and Silva picked up the boxing victory. He then took on another former UFC champion in his next bout.

At a Triller event, Silva boxed a fellow MMA legend in Tito Ortiz. The match didn’t last long as Silva face-plated Ortiz just 81 seconds into the first round scoring his second straight boxing victory.

Now, Silva will take on Machado who will likely put on a more competitive fight. Silva continues to stay sharp and one day could be standing across the ring from one of the Paul brothers. However, Silva is content just competing for now with potential big money fights down the road.

Takeover Part 2: Can Ian Garry take out Darian Weeks at UFC 273?

Ian Garry

This Saturday night in the featured prelim of UFC 273, we will see one of the more hyped prospects in the promotion return. Ireland’s Ian Garry (8-0) will be making his second appearance inside the octagon when he takes on Darian Weeks (5-1).

Garry had a ton of hype behind him when he entered the octagon for the first time. The 24 year old is a massive welterweight, has sensational skills, and he trains at one of the best gyms in the world in Sanford MMA.

That being said, he faced adversity when he fought at UFC 268. He was cracked a few times by Jordan Williams but ultimately scored a first round knockout. He’s going to get tested again on Saturday night.

While all the talk is about Ian Garry, so many people are sleeping on Darian Weeks. Weeks made his UFC debut on extremely short-notice when he took on Bryan Barberena and lost a decision. However, he showed some solid skills and before that, he was 5-0 with five finishes.

UFC 273 Prediction

People who just focus on names and hype probably think this is going to be a layup for Ian Garry. However, this UFC 273 featured prelim is going to be a very competitive fight. I think many are going to be impressed with Darian Weeks.

Weeks has very crisp boxing and I think he’s going to attack the body early on. For Garry, he’s going to need to use his range and straight punches on this one. He needs to be more slick with his defense because Weeks can crack and he will find his chin.

We didn’t see the grappling of Ian Garry at UFC 268 and I think we might see him mix that in on Saturday. He’s got very good grappling and I could see him mixing that in which ultimately could open up more things with his hands.

I’m expecting a close battle that goes to the cards. Ian Garry will have the bigger moments and ultimately, The Takeover Part 2 will pick up his second straight win in the UFC.

Prediction: Ian Garry by Decision