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NFL draft: 7 takeaways from Mike Mayock’s NFL combine preview for Bengals, Browns and Buckeyes fans

Published: Monday, February 26, 2018 @ 5:37 PM

Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis pressures Southern California’s Sam Darnold on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. David Jablonski/Staff
HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis pressures Southern California’s Sam Darnold on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. David Jablonski/Staff(HANDOUT/David Jablonski/Staff)

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock took part in a conference call Monday to preview the NFL Scouting Combine coming up this week in Indianapolis. 

He dropped a few nuggets that could be of interest to fans of the Bengals, Browns and Ohio State. 

1. Who is the No. 1 quarterback? 

With the Browns picking No. 1, they can get any quarterback they want. 

Mayock has USC’s Sam Darnold at the top of his board ahead of Wyoming’s Josh Allen. 

He praised Darnold’s ability to make plays on the run but noted his well-known propensity for turning it over. 

Allen has the biggest arm he has seen since LSU’s JaMarcus Russell 10 years ago and noted Cleveland’s new general manager, John Dorsey, traded up to draft a strong-armed quarterback last year when he was running the Chiefs. 

Mayock acknowledged Allen’s low completion percentage (and therefore accuracy) is a concern. 

2. Watch out for Lamar Jackson. 

Last week we made the case the Bengals should draft the Louisville quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy two years ago. 

Mayock called him the most-electrifying player draft and predicted a team that selects him and commits to utilizing his skill set will make the other 31 defensive coordinators very uncomfortable. 

Mayock sees Darnold, Allen, USC’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield as first-rounders with Jackson a wild card in that regard. 

Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph could go in the first round, too, but Mayock implied that might be a reach. 

3. Could the Bengals draft a quarterback? 

If Jackson ends up elsewhere and the Bengals want a new backup quarterback to replace AJ McCarron (who is expected to leave as a free agent), Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta could be a candidate in the third or fourth round. 

Mayock said he is not elite at one thing but is solid at everything, which sounds a lot like McCarron — or Andy Dalton, for that matter. 

RELATED: Lessons from the AJ McCarron debacle

Mayock also said Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside has not gotten enough credit yet because he is a playmaker. He wants to see him throw at the combine. 

4. Mayock noted last year was the worst draft ever when it comes to elite offensive line prospects, but that is not a problem this year, 

That’s very good news for the Bengals because they need one if not two new players to shore up their weakest position group. 

Mayock has Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey rated his No. 1 tackle prospect and sees his former Fighting Irish teammate Quenton Nelson as an elite guard prospect. 

RELATED: Who were the best Bengals this season?

He’s also high on Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown and Connor Williams of Texas as far as potential first-rounders. 

Ohio State center Billy Price joins Nelson in a strong group of interior offensive linemen, and teams should find value there throughout the first three rounds. 

5. Denzel Ward is the best corner and the top Ohio State prospect in this draft

Ward is expected to ace all the workouts this week at the combine, but Mayock expressed concern about his durability because of a slight frame. 

He called Price a plug-and-play interior offensive linemen who could go late in the first round or sometime in the second. 

Sam Hubbard projects as a second rounder unless he runs a faster-than-expected 40-yard dash (like in the 4.5 range). He could play end in a 4-3 or linebacker in a 3-4. Mayock thinks he will test well but not blow anyone away at the combine. If he does the latter, he could be a first-rounder. 

Linebacker Jerome Baker is a physical specimen with the athleticism the NFL craves at that position now, but his tape is inconsistent. 

Jamarco Jones is a solid offensive line prospect who should go in the third or fourth round. 

6. Is J.T. Barrett a sleeper prospect? 

Ohio State’s all-time leading passer has everything teams want in a quarterback except high-level talent according to Mayock, who called him an ideal backup who could play in the NFL for many years. 

He sees Barrett being drafted late on day three. 

“Somebody’s going to buy into him because they love the kid because of what he brings to the table,” Mayock said. 

7. Drafting receivers has been tricky lately. 

The Bengals took Washington speedster John Ross in the first round last year and got next to nothing from him because of injuries. 

Mayock sees that as a common theme lately with multiple teams struggling to find productive pass-catchers early in the draft. 

He has surmised bigger, physical receivers with great ball skills like Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster tend to be safer picks and more likely to be able to contribute right away because they have a better chance to stay healthy and make contested catches. 

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NBA Draft: Middletown’s Edwards selected in second round

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 11:48 PM

Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots  during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Purdue's Vincent Edwards shoots during the first half against the Butler Bulldogs in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Little Caesars Arena on March 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Middletown High School graduate Vincent Edwards was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 22nd pick in the second round of the NBA Draft on Thursday. He was the 52nd overall pick. The Utah Jazz traded the pick to the Rockets.

 

According to reports, in the weeks leading up to the draft, Edwards worked out for the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. 

Edwards, a 6-foot-7 forward, scored 1,638 points in four seasons at Purdue. He made the All-Big Ten second team as a senior, averaging 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 47.6 percent from the field and made 39.8 percent of his 3-pointers.

Edwards is the son of Bill Edwards Sr., a Carlisle High School graduate who is the all-time leading scorer at Wright State (2,303 points). Edwards Sr. was undrafted but played in three games for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1994.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, four men born in Middletown have played in the NBA or ABA: Edwards Sr., Bill Hanzlik (Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin), Luke Kennard (Franklin High School) and Jerry Lucas. 

The elder Edwards played three games for the Phoenix Suns in the 1993-94 season. 

Along with Lucas, a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team, Middletown High School also produced Butch Carter, who played in the NBA for six seasons and was head coach of the Toronto Raptors. 

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Landon Donovan's support for Mexico sparks pitched battle off the pitch

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 2:03 PM

Landon Donovan Causes Controversy With Mexico Fandom

Landon Donovan’s support for Mexico at the World Cup has sparked a pitched battle between the most recognizable name in American soccer and his peers, ESPN reported Sunday.

>> Read more trending news 

Donovan has been part of an advertising campaign for Wells Fargo to support Mexico, which opened its World Cup play in Russia with a stunning 1-0 victory against defending champion Germany on Sunday. Critics of the promotion have criticized Landon, calling his cheerleading inappropriate.

Donovan posted a photo on Twitter on Saturday holding a scarf that read “My other team is Mexico.”

Donovan played this spring for León, which is part of Mexico’s Primera Division. Still, some questioned Donovan’s motives.

“Watering it down for beer/banks won’t enrich the rivalry,” ESPN announcer Sebastian Salazar tweeted.

Carlos Bocanegra, the former captain of the U.S. national team, tweeted “Really?” 

Donovan tweeted back that Bocanegra should “remember where you came from.”

“Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans?” Donovan answered. “Open your mind, stand for something and remember where you came from.”

Donovan’s former teammate, Herculez Gomez, an ESPN analyst, criticized that exchange, ESPN reported, tweeting that it was “an incredibly terrible take.”

The History of the FIFA World Cup

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Middletown’s Kayla Harrison on winning MMA debut: ‘What a rush!’

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 1:33 PM

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28: Olympic gold medal Judoka Kayla Harrison is introduced before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Royals on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Middletown native Kayla Harrison was understandably exhuberant after winning her professional mixed-martial arts debut Thursday night.

“Yeah, man what a rush, huh? Crazy,” she said in a post-fight press conference.

Harrison, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, submitted Brittney Elkin in a Professional Fighters League 155-pound lightweight bout in Chicago.

She got Elkin on the ground early and dominated the fight, finishing it off with an armbar 3 minutes, 18 seconds into round one.

>>MORE: Kayla Harrison shares inspiring message with Middletown crowd | Middletown cheers Harrison to another Olympic gold

“Have you ever stepped in the cage and let them lock the door behind you?” she asked a reporter, who replied he has not.

“I highly suggest it,” she said with a huge smile and a laugh.

Although she made fairly quick work of the more experienced Elkin (3-5), Harrison said she was far from being in a comfort zone in her first competition since she won her second Olympic gold medal almost two years ago.

“Obviously my judo and my instincts from years of doing the same thing over and over again took over, but I don’t want to just be a judo player who gets in the cage,” she said. “I want to be the best MMA fighter in the world. I have a lot to work on. I already told my boxing coach, ‘We’re working every day. That’s it.’ I don’t care if he’s got plans. Forget about ‘em!

“It was a lot of fun. I”m just grateful to my team and everyone who has supported me along the way.”

She was also happy to have supporters in the Windy City from Middletown.

“I grew up in Ohio, so there were a lot of people here from my hometown,” Harrison said. “They like rented a bus or something from Middletown and drove over so this is awesome to fight here.”

As for when she might fight again, she replied, “The sooner the better.”

The Professional Fighters League is a new MMA promotion that held its first event earlier this month.

While a full season of competition is scheduled for men in the PFL, the promotion is still accumulating female fighters and Harrison is their marquee name.

“I think it’s in my contract to fight every four months so maybe October?” she said. “I’m ready. I don’t have time to mess around. I think the more I fight, the more experience I get the more comfortable I’m going to get inside that cage.”

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NBA Draft: Where 3 locals landed and what’s next for them

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 10:19 AM

Who is Kostas Antetokounmpo? Facts about the former Dayton forward

Following the NBA draft live doesn’t appeal to me much because so much changes from moment to moment. 

Of course there’s a great drama factor involved, but these days i don’t have much trouble finding that anywhere so I spent more time watching the Reds beat the Cubs and Kayla Harrison win her first MMA fight

Even if you watched the NBA draft for a while last night, there’s a decent chance some things changed after you went to bed. 

Here’s a look at what went down for Kostas Antetokounmpo (University of Dayton), Vincent Edwards (Middletown High School) and Keita Bates-Diop (Ohio State), all of whom were taken in the second round. 

Kostas Antetokounmpo, forward, Dayton 

The former Flyers reserve was the last pick in the draft, taken 60th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, who traded his rights to the Dallas Mavericks. 

Dallas has fallen on hard times in the Late Nowitzkian Period, missing the playoffs the last two seasons and failing to win a playoff series since upsetting LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals. 

The Mavs got their point guard of the future last year in Dennis Smith Jr., acquired European star wing Luka Doncic on Thursday night (and picked another heady lead guard in Villanova’s Jalen Brunson) so athletic big guys like Antetokounmpo would seem to be a need. 

Conclusion: Anyone who watch UD last season knows Antetokounmpo has potential but is far from being ready to contribute to an NBA team. 

However, this is probably as good a situation as he could have landed in because the Mavs are considered an up-and-coming team with a winning coach (Rick Carlisle). 

Keita Bates-Diop, guard/forward, Ohio State 

The Big Ten Player of the Year was taken 48th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

After years of struggling following the Kevin Garnett era, the T-Wolves made the playoffs last season with a roster built around young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and stalwart Jimmy Butler. 

NBA.com noted before the draft Minnesota badly needed to upgrade its bench, even suggesting Bates-Diop could be a good fit. 

He can back up both Butler and Wiggins as a “3 and D” wing now coveted throughout the league. 

Conclusion: This looks like a very good situation for KDB, who has an NBA-ready game and joins a good team in need of what he can do. He should not have too much put on his plate too soon, but there figure to be plenty of opportunities for him to do his thing. 

Vincent Edwards, forward, Purdue (Middletown High School) 

The second-team All-Big Ten pick was taken by the Utah Jazz with the No. 52 pick but traded to the Houston Rockets. 

Houston had the best record in the league last season and had the Warriors on the ropes in the Western Conference finals but couldn’t finish the job. With All-Star Chris Paul sidelined by injury, the Rockets saw Golden State rally to win the series before taking down Cleveland in the finals. 

They play a unique style that relies heavily on putting James Harden and Paul in pick-and-rolls that let them drive the basket, find a big guy for a lob or dish it out for 3-pointers. 

Conclusion: Edwards has a good face-up game and was a 39.2-percent 3-point shooter in college. If he can continue to stroke it from behind the pro line, he could be a valuable bench player right away for Houston, which needs depth to maintain a high pace of play. 

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