Giants land perfect draft pair in 1st round with Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal selections

kayvon thibodeaux, new york giants

As the 2022 NFL draft unfolded, the New York Giants weren’t exactly sure what players would be available with the 5th overall selection. However, after the New York Jets selected Sauce Garden out of Cincinnati to fill a role in the secondary, meaning the Giants had their pick of all three offensive tackles and Oregon stand-out pass rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux.

General manager Joe Schoen had a big decision to make, stay put and take his offensive tackle of choice or snag Thibodeaux and prevent the Carolina Panthers from stealing him prior to the 7th overall selection.

Schoen made the obvious decision, landing Thibodeau and settling for whichever tackle fell to him two picks later. Last season, Kayvon produced 7.0 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 49 total tackles, presenting impeccable tangible traits and leadership capabilities. With an outstanding charismatic personality, Thibodeaux fits the New York media to perfection, and the Giants executed diligent research on him to make sure he could handle the load.

Clearly, they thought highly enough of him, selecting 5th overall and injecting him into a young defense that features Azeez Ojulari on the opposite side. Having two cost-controlled pass rushers is the perfect way to rebuild a team, and the Giants can now move forward with confidence knowing their defensive line is set.

However, they didn’t forget about Daniel Jones and protecting him at the line of scrimmage. The Giants went ahead and snagged Evan Neal at No. 7, solidifying right tackle for the foreseeable future. The Giants now have two rookie contracts in Andrew Thomas and Neal at offensive tackle, which is a fantastic situation to build around.

Last season, Neal enjoyed 1073 snaps, including 650 pass-blocking. Evan is already a dominant run blocker coming from an NFL-ready program in Alabama, making him a perfect fit and transition player.

The first round couldn’t have unfolded better for Big Blue, and social media reacted accordingly.

Good news and bad news as Yankees demolish Orioles in series sweep

aaron judge, yankees

On Friday, theNew York Yankees picked up their second consecutive series sweep, overcoming the Baltimore Orioles to string together their seventh straight win.

At home against Baltimore, the Yankees finally found their offensive groove, posting 12 runs in the first game of the series, five in the second, and 10 in the third. Over the last four games combined, the Bombers have tallied 37 total runs, completely blowing expectations out of the water after a tough start.

Now that the team is finally headed in the right direction, things are looking up for the Yankees.

Let’s take a look at the good and bad news for the Yankees from Friday’s win over the Orioles:

Thanks to five fielding errors from Baltimore, the Yankees easily managed to overcome their opponent. Collectively, the team recorded 10 hits, nine RBIs, and four walks, striking out nine times. Anthony Rizzo continues to rake, recording two hits and an RBI, elevating his average on the season to .290. Aaron Judge is nearly hitting .300, contributing two hits and four RBIs, including a three-run homer in the 8th inning.

Reserve outfielder Tim Locastro was phenomenal on the base paths, driving in two runs and tallying two walks to boot. He hosts a .286 average this season and has served valiantly defensively in centerfield.

As for the team’s pitching, Jameson Taillon lasted 4.2 innings, giving up two earned runs and seven hits, striking out four batters. It was a great sign to see Taillon toss 83 pitches, 55 of them being strikes. He has earned a 3.26 ERA on the season, and while he might not be happy with the number of hits he gave up, two runs over nearly 5 innings isn’t anything to be concerned about.

The bullpen was mostly great until the latter portion of the game, and the individual performances were stout in the final game of the series.

There were two primary negatives from the win — the performance of Joey Gallo and Ron Marinaccio. Gallo reserved back to his strikeout ways, tallying three on the afternoon but driving in a run after picking up a walk in the 6th inning.

On the other hand, Marinaccio was given an opportunity to close the game with a sufficient lead but gave up three earned runs and four hits over 0.2 innings. He struck out two batters, but the team needed to call in Lucas Luetge to finish off the game.

Marinaccio has now put together two iffy performances, giving up two earned runs in one inning against Cleveland last Sunday. He’ll be looking to get back on track in the future, but the Yankees won’t be putting him in any high leverage situations anytime soon.

PFL 2 Preview: Heavyweights & Featherweights

PFL

Tonight the PFL is back with their second event of the 2022 season. The main card starts at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN 2 and on this card we will see the promotion’s heavyweights and featherweights take center stage.

In the main event of the evening, the 2021 PFL heavyweight champion Bruno Cappelozza (14-5) will take on Stuart Austin (15-7). Austin will be making just his second appearance with the PFL tonight.

Last year, he had one appearance where he took on Renan Ferreira and lost by knockout in 31 seconds. His road in the promotion doesn’t get any easier as tonight he takes on the defending champion Bruno Cappelozza.

Capppelozza had a sensational year last year going 4-0 with three knockouts on his way to winning the PFL title. Overall, he’s 7-1 in his last eight fights with the lone loss coming against top UFC contender Jiri Prochazka in RIZIN.

PFL Featherweights

Despite having the defending heavyweight champion on the card, arguably the two most highly anticipated fights come from the featherweight division. In particular, the PFL 2 co-main event has my attention.

In that contest, former featherweight champion Lance Palmer (22-5) will be taking on last year’s runner-up Chris Wade (20-7). 2021 was not kind to Lance Palmer who lost both of his fights in PFL.

He lost his first fight to Bubba Jenkins before losing to Movlid Khaybulaev who would go on to win the PFL title. Khaybulaev is not competing in the 2022 season after suffering an injury which has hindered him from competing in the first half of the season.

Chris Wade had a great run last year going 3-1 which included a win over Bubba Jenkins. He’s hoping to get his 2022 season off to a good start by handing Palmer his third straight loss in the PFL.

Another big fight to watch is the contest between Brendan Loughnane (21-4) and Ryoji Kudo (10-2-1). Like Wade, Loughnane’s only loss in PFL last year was a loss to the eventual champion.

It was a razor close split decision and he’s hoping to be the champion in 2022. His opponent tonight, Kudo, is making his first appearance with the promotion. You can see the full fight card below.

Alabama OT Evan Neal listed as Giants’ most likely pick at five overall by ESPN

evan neal, giants

The 2022 NFL Draft is only a day away. The New York Giants are in an exciting position with two top-ten draft picks in the first round. The Giants hold picks five and seven overall this year and are excited for the opportunity to land two of the best prospects in this year’s class. New York’s options are plentiful, but most analysts predict that the team will be drafting an offensive tackle with its first pick. The question is, which tackle are the Giants most likely to select? Based on things he is hearing around the league, Jordan Raanan of ESPN lists Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal as the most likely player to be drafted by the New York Giants with the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

There are many strong options in contention for the Giants’ fifth overall pick. Other offensive tackles like Charles Cross and Ikem Ekwonu are also strong possibilities. Defensive prospects like Ahmad Gardner could also be considered. But, as Jordan Raanan points out, “Neal makes a ton of sense for the Giants.” Evan Neal has experience playing both left and right tackle, giving him an edge over the other offensive tackles in this draft class.

Why Evan Neal makes the most sense for the Giants

The New York Giants need to upgrade their offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Thomas developed into a great player last season, but opposite of him, there is a huge hole at right tackle. The combination of Nate Solder and Matt Peart proved to be insufficient during the 2021 season. Thankfully for New York, there are a few offensive tackle prospects that make up the top talents in this year’s draft class.

The Giants have options at five overall if they are selecting an offensive tackle. Evan Neal (Alabama), Ikem Ekwonu (NC State), and Charle Cross (Mississippi State) are all strong contenders. Really, the Giants cannot go wrong. However, Evan Neal stands out as the best fit for Big Blue.

Evan Neal is the only one of these offensive tackle prospects that has spent a significant amount of time playing right tackle. Neal started at right tackle for Alabama in 2020, playing a total of 765 career snaps at the position. In comparison, Charles Cross played 4 career snaps at right tackle and Ikem Ekwonu played 1 career snap at right tackle.

Evan Neal is a mammoth of a human being with a well-rounded skill set as an offensive tackle. He is solid as both a run-blocker and a pass-protector. Neal competed against the best of the best at Alabama and should have little struggle while transitioning to the NFL game. The New York Giants would be wise to make Evan Neal the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Bellator Match Maker: Kyoji Horiguchi – Juan Archuleta

Kyoji Horiguchi

Last weekend at Bellator 279, we saw the Bantamweight Grand Prix kick off with two tremendous matchups. In one of those matchups, the interim bantamweight championship was on the line as former champion Juan Archuleta (25-4) took on Raufeon Stots (18-1).

Archuleta was looking to regain a piece of the Bellator title after losing it to Sergio Pettis. However, Pettis’ teammate Stots had different plans. After going back and forth through the first couple of rounds, Stots ended things quickly in the third with a head kick.

Earlier on in the Bellator 279 card, another former champion returned. That former champion was Kyoji Horiguchi (29-5) and he was taking on grappling expert Patchy Mix (16-1). Horiguchi was coming off of a loss to Sergio Pettis where he was dominating before getting knocked out.

This fight was going to come down to where it took place. Horiguchi needed to keep things standing as he was the much sharper fighter and had much better speed. He showed that at Bellator 279 when there were striking exchanges.

However, in three of the rounds, Mix was able to land takedowns and control the majority of the rounds. For that reason, the judges gave the fight to Mix 48-47 across the board and handed Horiguchi has second straight loss.

Bellator Match Maker

Prior to Bellator 279, the only two men in the tournament to have held gold were Horiguchi and Archuleta. Now, both men are out of the tournament before it reached the semifinals and now they need a new opponent.

See where I’m going with this? To me, the next matchup for Bellator is very easy to make. The move is to pair the former champions against each other with the winner staying relevant in the title picture despite being out of the Grand Prix.

Horiguchi has never lost two consecutive fights in his career. Now, the former Bellator champion has and his back is against the wall. Archuleta has also lost two consecutive fights for the first time in his career.

Both of these former Bellator champions need a win and both will be desperate for one. That should translate to an excellent fight and it’s the one the promotion should look to make.

New York Giants decide on Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence’s 5th-year options

daniel jones, new york giants

With the 2022 NFL Draft quickly approaching on Thursday evening, the New York Giants made a decision on the 5th-year options for quarterback Daniel Jones and interior defender Dexter Lawrence.

According to Judy Battista of NFL.com, the Giants declined the 5th-year option for Jones, who failed to take a step forward last season under the leadership of Joe Judge and Jason Garrett. Jones tossed 10 touchdowns and failed to breach 2,500 yards, a number he reached in both his rookie and sophomore seasons.

With the decision to decline his option, the Giants avoided guaranteeing $22 million to Daniel in 2023, putting the ball in his court to justify an extension or moving on with a clean slate.

Since Jones was a Dave Gettleman selection back in 2019, this was the right choice for new management, who owe no allegiance to the former first-round passer. Nonetheless, new management does believe that Jones has all the tangible trades to become a quality quarterback in the NFL, but his time is quickly running out if he doesn’t take the necessary steps forward. If Jones ends up playing will in 2022, the Giants can offer him an extension well under the projected $35+ million franchise tag, given his small sample size of play. That would be best for both sides, giving him a big pay-day and allowing him to progress under Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka.

Aside from Jones, the Giants picked up the 5th-year option for interior defender Dexter Lawrence, who will now count $10.73 million against the salary cap for the 2023 season.

Given the Giants have upward of $100 million projected for next year, they can easily afford to retain Lawrence, who should take a nice step forward with defensive line coach Andre Patterson coming over from the Minnesota Vikings. Patterson is known for developing Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen into the pass rushers they are today, suggesting that Lawrence could gain a solid bit of knowledge from the veteran coach.

However, Lawrence has also disappointed the past few seasons, but is capable of being an above-average player. Given Wink Martindale requires his front forward to be stout in run defense, Lawrence is a people mover in that area, giving him solid value. While he did show up to camp a bit overweight, you won’t find many humans at 6’4″ and over 340 pounds that move like Dexy.

Yankees’ slugger reaches incredible milestone in latest win

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees took Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles 5-2. Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery allowed just a couple of runs in 5.2 innings, Mike King was incredible from the mound again, and Clay Holmes earned the save in the latest victory.

The Yankees are now 12-6, leading the AL East by half a game over the 12-7 Toronto Blue Jays. The win also featured home runs by Joey Gallo, his second in consecutive games, and Giancarlo Stanton.

Speaking of Stanton, he reached a cool milestone last night: 350 home runs in his career. In fact, he is the seventh-fastest player to reach that numbers in terms of games played, with 1,341.

“It’s pretty cool,” the Yankees’ slugger told MLB.com. “When I began this journey, I didn’t really know what to expect or where I’d be, or how long I’d be around. So it’s a cool feat, and it helped us get a win and keep pushing.”

A no-doubter for the Yankees’ outfielder

Stanton’s homer was a majestic two-run shot that traveled 417 feet and left his bat at 108.6 mph. “That guy, he’s a baller,” Aaron Judge said. “He shows up every day ready to work. I know when he first got here in ’18, he got a lot of criticism and a lot of weight was put on his shoulders, but he handled it the right way. He continues to be a leader in this clubhouse and grow every single year I see him.”

A lot has happened since he hit his first home run, back in 2010 against Matt Garza. That was a grand slam, and those days, the Yankees weren’t even in the back of his head: he played for the Miami Marlins.

“That was a completely different player, to be honest,” Stanton said of his 2010 self. “My stance was completely open. I was weighed down. I was swinging as hard as I could, every pitch. Sometimes I get back to that, but I’m just learning and evolving from that person. There’s still plenty of room to evolve.”

The six players who reached 350 home runs faster than Stanton are Mark McGwire (1,280), Juan Gonzalez (1,298), Alex Rodriguez (1,301), Harmon Killebrew (1,319), Albert Pujols (1,320) and Babe Ruth (1,329).

UFC books Alexander Gustafsson – Nikita Kyrlov

Alexander Gustafsson, UFC

The UFC announced today that they are returning to London in July and we already know one of the fights that will be on the main card. Frontkick Online was the first to report yesterday that Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) is returning to light heavyweight to face Nikita Krylov (29-7).

The fight will take place on July 23rd and as mentioned, it will go down in London. When Krylov makes the walk at the second UFC London show of the year, he’s going to be looking to snap the current funk he’s been in.

Krylov has lost two straight leading up to this fight with Gustafsson. He had a four-fight winning streaking that went to 2018 and led him to a fight with former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

Starting with the fight against Blachowicz, Krylov has gone just 2-4 in his last six UFC fights. Now, he did look good against Paul Craig back at the first UFC London show. However, Craig did what Craig does and he caught Krylov in a triangle choke in the first round handing him his second straight loss.

Gustafsson’s UFC Return

For years, Alexander Gustafsson was one of the best light heavyweights in the world. However, the problem he ran into is the fact that he was competing at the same time as the two greatest light heavyweights arguably of all time in Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier.

Gustafsson got three cracks at UFC gold and came up short all three times against the two men. He retired briefly after a 2019 loss to Anthony Smith before opting to return at heavyweight where he lost to Fabricio Werdum on Fight Island.

That fight took place in 2020 and we haven’t seen him since. He was supposed to compete against Ben Rothwell at heavyweight, but Rothwell was released by the UFC and Gustafsson was rebooked. Ultimately, he decided to take this fight and return to light heavyweight.

Krylov is currently ranked 11th in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings. If Gustafsson can win when they fight in London, I would expect him to vault back into the rankings. Another couple of wins after that and The Mauler will be back in title contention.

Yankees receive great news regarding their struggling slugger

joey gallo, yankees

The New York Yankees are coming off back-to-back wins against the Baltimore Orioles and have strung together a five-game winning streak, winning seven of their last eight games in total. The Bombers have finally hit their stride offensively thanks to a bit more continuity from their sluggers.

One of the more polarizing players to open the year has been Joey Gallo, who had struggled considerably to provide any sort of production until he finally broke through against Baltimore on Tuesday. Before then, he was hitting a putrid .146 with a .167 slugging percentage, but fast forward two days, and he’s now hitting .161 with a .286 slugging percentage. However, in that time span, Gallo has hit two home runs and recorded two RBIs.

Several days ago, it was reported that the Yankees had considered trading him to the San Diego Padres, but the two teams couldn’t solidify a deal. After 18 games of the regular season, Cashman might be shaking his head given Gallo’s struggles, but manager Aaron Boone has continued to rely on him and provide him with more reps to try and break out of his funk.

Finally, it seemed as if Gallo is starting to blossom, despite striking out a team-high 41.3%. Taking a look at his other metrics, Gallo features a 23.3% barrel rate, 50% hard-hit percentage, and 90.7 exit velocity. His launch angle sits at just 16.6°, down 6° compared to 2021.

There is a reasonable argument to make that Gallo has been getting unlucky, making great contact but resulting in outs. Alas, his strikeout rate is still unbelievably high, and his batting average, while disregarded by the Yankees, is terrible.

In fact, over his last three seasons, Gallo hasn’t hit above .200, which is borderline embarrassing. Yes, he had 38 homers last year and won a Gold Glove, but it seems his only value is the long ball offensively, generating just nine hits this season over 63 plate appearances. If you take away his two homers, he’s only posted seven hits, basically an automatic out.

Nonetheless, if he can begin hitting home runs at a more frequent rate, his value will improve and the Yankees will get great run production toward the latter portion of the batting order. Gallo has dropped all the way to the seventh spot, just before Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Final New York Giants 2022 Mock Draft Rounds 1-7: The best player available approach

evan neal, giants

This week, there have been many conflicting reports regarding the New York Giants and their 2022 NFL draft plans. Ideas suggesting a trade back in the first round have been presented, but there’s also a good possibility they stay put and take impact players with the 5th and 7th overall picks.

New general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll understand that the roster has plenty of needs, notably at right tackle, pass rusher, and potentially in the secondary with the expected departure of James Bradberry.

This year, containing nine selections, Schoen has plenty of draft capital to allocate but multiple positions of need in the first two days of the draft.

Final New York Giants mock draft:

5.) Alabama OT – Evan Neal

With the 5th overall pick, the Giants elect to draft Evan Neal out of Alabama. The 6’8″, 345-pound behemoth has more right tackle experience than the other top 2 OTs, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross (combined).

There is no doubt that Neal has tremendous upside in the NFL, especially given his phenomenal size. Last year, he enjoyed 1073 overall snaps, including 650 in pass protection and 423 in run blocking. He allowed two sacks, six quarterback hits, and 11 hurries over that sample size, which are pretty phenomenal numbers given the number of reps.

The Alabama product’s physicality gives him instant impact traits in the run game, but he has the upside to become a great pass protector as well. Pairing him with Andrew Thomas would give Daniel Jones a fighting chance in 2022.

7.) Florida State EDGE – Jermaine Johnson

With the 7th overall pick, we were stuck between Derek Stingley Jr. out of LSU and Jermaine Johnson from Florida State. Johnson, ultimately, gained our favor given his positive health history. Over 736 snaps in 2021, Johnson tallied 11.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 70 total tackles.

Johnson immediately provides the Giants with a run-stopping edge defender, but his pass-rush upside is also notable. At 24 years old, there is concern that Johnson may have already hit his physical peak. He’s a bit old for a rookie, but I don’t think the Giants hold much stock in that argument.

The Giants are looking for reliable players, and Johnson averaged 61 snaps per game last year, meaning he doesn’t come off the field very often. He is a three-down defensive lineman, and he’s versatile with his capabilities, playing in the 3–4 and 4–3.

36.) Wisconsin LB – Leo Chenal

There has been a lot of hype regarding Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal and the Giants in the second round. Chenal is a physical bruiser who could fit perfectly next to Blake Martinez. Considering Wink Martindale loves to play an aggressive blitz-heavy style, Chenal can be routinely used in that way. Standing at 6’3″ and 250 pounds, he is a brick of a human being and bounces off blockers at the second level.

The main concern is Chenal doesn’t fare well in coverage, so the Giants will have to be careful how they use him. They can’t expect him to man up against running backs or tight ends, but Martindale’s system rarely operates in that way, to begin with.

67.) Kentucky IOL – Darian Kinnard

With the 67th overall pick, the Giants go with Darian Kinnard out of Kentucky. Last season, Kinnard enjoyed 825 total snaps, giving up one sack and two quarterback hits. By alignment, Kinnard spent every season at right tackle but projects as an offensive guard at 6’5″ and 328 pounds. However, having that versatility is beneficial, and the Giants may like that about him.

Another factor to love is that Kinnard is a dominant run blocker. If the Giants really want to focus on extrapolating on Saquon Barkley’s skill set, having a powerful front five makes a ton of sense. At the NFL level, Darian will be forced to take on very physical interior defenders, and thankfully he’s known for throwing around 300-pound human beings.

81.) Ohio State TE – Jeremy Ruckert

After allowing Evan Engram to walk in free agency this off-season and cutting Kyle Rudolph for financial reasons, the Giants will likely target a tight end in the draft. Now that we are in the fourth round, the Giants have a few options on the board, but Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert stands out as a potential fit with new TE coach Andy Bischoff.

Ruckert was a hidden force at OSU, not being used frequently in the passing game, but he has phenomenal hands and upside as a blocker. He tallied 309 yards and three touchdown receptions last year.

Ruckert is known for his run blocking, capable of moving defenders at the point of attack. That is an extremely exciting attribute considering he also has underrated receiving abilities.

Reminiscing about Engram’s drops in the middle of the field, Ruckert dominated that portion, giving Daniel Jones a great security blanket underneath.

112.) Alabama RB – Brian Robinson Jr.

There have been reports that the Giants are intrigued by Georgia running back James Cook, but there’s an argument to be made that drafting a bruising option like Brian Robinson out of Alabama could be just as beneficial. In short-yardage situations, Robinson could be a great fit for Big Blue. His big frame also makes him a solid pass-protector, a category Barkley struggles with routinely.

Robinson recorded 1343 yards rushing last year and 14 touchdowns, meaning he’s accomplished back of the collegiate level.

147.) Clemson WR – Justyn Ross

Justyn Ross is an interesting player who had his best season as a freshman but failed to improve in future campaigns. Last year, he only recorded 514 yards receiving and three touchdowns, but he has a good frame at 6’4″ and 210 pounds. Ross isn’t limited by a strict route tree, and inconsistencies at quarterback disrupted his flow.

Looking at Kenny Golladay and his frame, the Giants, may be intrigued by Ross as a developmental prospect who might be able to fill the possession receiver role to supplement injury. Ross only dropped one pass last year, so he has solid hands.

173.) Sam Houston State CB – Zyon McCollum

Since we haven’t addressed the cornerback position in this draft, Sam Houston State DB Zyon McCollum is a nice developmental prospect to consider in the late rounds. At 6’2″ and 199 pounds, McCollum has a solid frame and plenty of experience as a five-year starter.

At the Senior Bowl, McCollum struggled against better competition, but he is an extraordinary athlete who could become a serviceable player if given the right coaching.

182.) Western Kentucky QB – Bailey Zappe 

Not many players have thrown 62 touchdown passes and nearly 6,000 yards in a season, but Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe accomplished that last year. At 6’1″ and 220 pounds, Zappe isn’t the ideal quarterback regarding frame, but his statistics speak for themselves, and he is a well-tested quarterback at the collegiate level.

If the Giants find him on the board in the seventh round, taking a flyer on him isn’t a bad idea. Zappe understands leverage and has solid accuracy, completing nearly 70% of his passes last year. He doesn’t have the strongest arm and is limited with his mobility in the pocket, but with a good offensive line in front of him and time, he has the IQ to get the ball where it needs to go in the short to intermediate ranges.

At first glance, he feels like a knockoff Mac Jones.