New York Giants land TE Daniel Bellinger from San Diego State, what does he bring?

daniel bellinger, giants

After missing out on the top tight end prospects in the 3rd round, the New York Giants finally addressed the position with San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger.

Bellinger is an intriguing prospect at 6’5″ and 253 pounds, running a 4.63 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That ranks in the 82nd percentile, but a more exciting attribute is his 11-inch hands, which rank in the 99th percentile at the tight end position.

Last season, the San Diego State stand-out contributed 353 yards, and two touchdown passes over 43 targets. Bellinger featured in 127 slot snaps and 505 in-line snaps, utilizing his massive frame as a dominant run blocker. While there’s a lot left to untap regarding Bellinger as a pass-catcher, he can make an impact immediately in the running game, moving defenders at the point of attack.

One statistic that Giants fans will love is that he didn’t drop a single pass last year and hosts a 4.2% drop rate in his entire career. After watching Evan Engram drop routine passes over the past five seasons, the Giants finally moved on to a more reliable player in that category.

Bellinger is known predominantly for his short route concepts, mainly featuring as a security blanket underneath in the Aztec’s offense. However, he has the speed and athleticism to get downfield quickly, an area he will attack more frequently at the NFL level. I imagine the Giants will try to expand upon those skills with TE coach Andy Bischoff coming over from Baltimore.

Some may have preferred the Giants target a tight end earlier, but they walked away with a vastly underrated player who could develop into a tremendous contributor in the future.

Zion Williamson to Knicks rumor can now rest

Zion Williamson, knicks, julius randle

The dream reunion of Duke buddies Zion Williamson with RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish in New York will likely remain like that.

Buoyed by the New Orleans Pelicans’ gallant stand against the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns, Williamson is now upbeat about the future with the small-market team.

“Of course, I couldn’t sign it fast enough,” Williamson said, referring to a rookie contract extension with the Pelicans.

Williamson is eligible to sign a five-year, $181 million rookie max extension this summer.

The Williamson-to-the-Knicks rumors can now rest after they reached fever pitch last year when the former top overall pick stirred the pot after a game in New York.

“New York is the mecca of basketball,” Williamson said in April last year. “I love playing here. I played here in college. This is my first time playing in the pros. I mean, this atmosphere — whether they’re cheering for you, whether they’re booing for you, it’s amazing. Honestly, I think, outside of New Orleans, obviously, I think this might be my favorite place to play. Outside of New Orleans. I can’t even lie to you. I can’t lie to you.”

After an injury-riddled third season and rehabbing away from the team, Williamson’s future with the Pelicans was a big question mark as his contract extension looms. But the Pelicans’ trade deadline gamble on CJ McCollum paid off with their first playoff appearance since 2018.

McCollum’s veteran leadership helped steady the ship and with rookie coach Willie Green pushing all the right buttons, the Pelicans have been a revelation in the Western Conference. Brandon Ingram elevated his game to another level in his playoff debut. Their supporting cast of veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas and their rookie trio — Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado and Trey Murphy III — have been solid.

Watching them in the playoffs has made up Williamson’s mind to stay in New Orleans past his rookie contract.

“Being around the guys, being in Smoothie King [Center], seeing that playoff environment,” Williamson said. “And the locker room — we have a special locker room. My first two years, it was a good locker room. But this year — I guess maybe it was the playoffs — it was more together.”

“Being real, it sucks watching from the sideline. I just want to be out there. Just seeing the potential. We have a lot of great pieces. I’m excited to get out on the court with those guys.”

The Pelicans have a solid core that Williamson can elevate to a sustainable playoff contention when healthy. The Knicks have a lot to catch up to become a perennial playoff contender in a loaded Eastern Conference. Focusing on developing their young talents should be a good start.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Good news takeaways as Nasty Nestor propels Yankees past Kansas City

nestor cortes, yankees

On Friday afternoon, theNew York Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals, posting 12 runs against them and allowing just two. The Bombers are currently on a seven-game winning streak and have won nine of their last 10.

With Nestor Cortes on the mound, he recorded yet another efficient performance, despite allowing eight hits and striking out only three batters. After initial trouble to start the game, the Yankees blew it open in the 7th inning, tallying nine runs courtesy of a few homers and quality contact hitting.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

Cortes has been phenomenal this season, but Kansas City was on his stuff to open the game on Friday, as he noted after the win.

“For the first two innings they were on my stuff,” Cortes said. Obviously you have to make adjustments. I started attacking the outside part of the plate more, and it gave me better results.”

As mentioned above, Cortes allowed eight hits, but he only allowed one earned run over 5.0 innings and 82 total pitches. Cortes didn’t plenty to allow his team to rack up a lead, but they waited until late in the came to find their bats.

“You want to come out and start strong,” Rizzo said. “Obviously the first inning to get three runs for Nestor, who obviously grinded today, whenever you can get our staff runs early, so they can go out and pitch is nice. Judgy breaking it open in the seventh, and us scoring nine late, was another energizing thing for this team.”

Offensively, the Yanks were fantastic, with three batters recording two hits, including DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Aaron Judge recorded three runs, Anthony Rizzo two, Gleyber Torres two, and Kyle Higashioka three. The team only struck out seven times on the day, posting 11 hits.

The Bombers have been on an absolute tear in the batter’s box recently, recording double-digit points in four of their last five games.

The bullpen was also great, striking out two batters and allowing just two baserunners over the final three innings of an eight-inning game.

There wasn’t much bad news in the win, especially with Joey Gallo resting as Stanton featured in right field. Gallo came in as a pinch-runner at the end of the game, and Gleyber Torres launched a two-run homer one pitch later.

Mets players react to combined no-no: A historic day!

The Mets pitched the second no-hit, no-run in franchise history on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies. The game, which ended 3-0, meant that New York now reaches an MLB-best 15-6 record, and features pitching contributions from Trevor Megill, Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo, and closer Edwin Diaz.

It was a historic night: the Mets used the black uniforms, the crowd was electric all night, and the pitching staff was absolutely impressive. A two-run single by Jeff McNeil in the fifth inning, and a Pete Alonso solo home run was all the offense New York needed.

“How often do you see a no-hitter?” Alonso said. “It’s like seeing a white buffalo or a unicorn.” Johan Santana owns the other no-hitter in franchise history, in another magical night 10 years ago.

“It’s something that [will] be in history forever,” said Mets catcher James McCann, who caught all nine innings. “Whether it’s one pitcher or five pitchers, it’s a no-hitter. It’s just special.”

A total of 315 no-hitters have occurred in MLB history: only 17 of them have been combined efforts, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. There was certainly something special about this one.

The Mets certainly enjoyed the no-hitter

The black uniforms, the red-hot Mets, and the hope of finally earning a playoff berth and competing for something built an incredible atmosphere at Citi Field.

Everybody in the building was waiting to celebrate, and when Edwin Diaz got the last out via a strikeout, there was a happiness overdose.

“The best way I can describe it is you shake up a soda bottle, and you’re just waiting for the cap to pop off,” Alonso said. “I feel like all of us knew what was going to happen because all of our guys, when they got the ball, they were just lights-out.”

Brandon Nimmo, who made an important catch for the Mets, referred to Santana’s no-no, saying it’s one of the most frequently seen highlights around Citi Field.

“It’s one of the highlights that we see most often here before games, after games, during rain delays they always play that game again,” Nimmo said. “It’s something that you’re like, ‘I’d like to be a part of a game they just play over and over again.’”

He is now part of one of those games.

New York Giants: A look at the position battle brewing at left guard

joshua ezeudu, new york giants

The New York Giants have a position battle brewing at left guard after spending one of their third-round picks on a new offensive lineman out of North Carolina. Acquiring Joshua Ezeudu should inject more talent into the position. Big Blue signed Pro Bowl alternate Max Garcia this off-season as well to compete with a Shane Lemieux, who is coming off a season on injured reserve after partially tearing his patellar tendon during training camp.

After selecting Evan Neal 7th overall to fill the right tackle spot, the Giants are confident they have plenty of talent to build a competent OL.

New York Giants have a position battle brewing at left guard:

Shane Lemieux:

Back in 2020, the Giants featured Shane Lemieux at left guard over 484 snaps. He posted one of the worst pass-blocking grades in football at 16.9, per PFF. He gave up five sacks, six quarterback hits, and 14 hurries to go with three penalties. Overall, Lemieux was arguably the worst guard in football, but he didn’t get an opportunity to take a step forward in 2021 due to injury.

The Giants will allow them to compete for the starting job this upcoming off-season, but they added plenty of talent to push him. The odds are stacked against him, but Shane will have a fair opportunity to earn reps.

Max Garcia:

Max Garcia spent last season with the Arizona Cardinals, playing in 864 snaps, most of which came at right guard and center. He spent 565 steps at RG and 297 at C, mostly playing at an average level. He allowed five sacks and 15 QB hurries, but his versatility is valuable for the Giants. In fact, Garcia started the season in tremendous form playing both RG and C, but he fell off gradually as the season continued, specifically in the pass-blocking department.

Despite being a Pro Bowl alternate, Garcia is a fringe starter moving forward, or at least that’s what he should be considered. Garcia‘s best season came at left guard back in 2016 with the Denver Broncos when he allowed four sacks and 22 hurries over 1,074 snaps. Given that LG is his best position, the Giants are hoping they can get maximum value out of him for a season.

Joshua Ezeudu:

The Giants drafted Joshua Ezeudu with the 67th overall pick on Friday night, injecting even more talent at left guard. Ezeudu has great size at 6’4″ and 308 pounds, but he has plenty of developmental needs. Mainly, he lacks explosiveness at contact and has sloppy hand placements at times, all of which are coachable. However, Ezeudu features plus athleticism and great footwork, containing the ability to reset and mirror any pass rush moves.

With the right coaching, Ezeudu can easily become a good starter for the Giants at left guard, which is likely what they’re hoping given the position battle that is brewing. In addition, the flexible lineman has experience at multiple positions, including tackle, giving him the versatility to move around if the Giants need him to supplement any injury concerns.

Yankees’ star prospect Anthony Volpe update: Overcoming struggles in Double-A

anthony volpe, yankees

The New York Yankees have been dominating at the Major League level, picking up another blowout win on Friday over the Kansas City Royals. Piecing together eight consecutive wins, the offense has finally picked up the pace, matching the quality of their pitching to open the year. Hosting the 2nd best record in baseball, just behind the New York Mets, the Yankees should be extremely excited about their potential, and that’s not even concerning their top prospect.

Anthony Volpe has begun the 2022 season in Double-A Somerset, hitting .210 to open the year but has been increasingly more effective as he adapts to the change in quality. Volpe has picked up two homers and 12 RBIs over 62 at-bats, but in his last two games, he’s tallied a combined three hits over 10 at-bats, showing an uptick in efficiency.

Yankees’ star prospect Anthony Volpe spoke with Sam Dykstra of MLB.com, noting this transition to Double-A ball and what he’s been trying to improve upon:

I just think it’s been the pitching, how they’re planning to attack me and trying to pick up on that as early in the week as I can to make my adjustments and be better prepared every single at-bat.

The stud shortstop prospect clearly sees the difference in quality from Single-A to Double-A, as players take a more detailed approach to each individual hitter. It seems the preparation and knowledge are advanced, which has taken Volpe time to get used to — understanding his opponent and how they will try to attack him in the batter’s box.

Defensively, Volpe is working diligently to improve his reaction timing and making plays others are incapable of:

Range and getting to the balls that other guys can’t. I work really hard in training and practice and everything to kind of separate ourselves out. Obviously, we’re always taking care of the fundamentals — your hands and your conversion and your throws and stuff like that. So it’s definitely a lot of little things to keep up on, but I’d say probably the range and getting to balls other guys can’t was probably the main priority.

Over 15 games this season, Volpe hosts a .980 field percentage, allowing one error. He’s been mostly stout at SS, showcasing great arm talent and smooth transitions. The Yankees have found their stop-gap solution in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but they must be excited about Volpe’s gradual development this season, so far.