Sports Today: Can the Browns go wrong with the NFL draft’s first pick?

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 18: Chomps mascot of the Cleveland Browns against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Broncos defeated Browns 26-23.  (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)
Andrew Weber/Getty Images
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 18: Chomps mascot of the Cleveland Browns against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Broncos defeated Browns 26-23. (Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)(Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

The obvious answer is yes, but hear me out…. 

I already posted my seven takeaways from NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock’s annual pre-combine conference call yesterday, so check those out if you would.

Here’s something else I found interesting: His top two quarterbacks both have pretty sizable red flags, at least if you are talking about using a high first-round pick on them. 

That of course could present quite a conundrum for the Cleveland Browns, who have the No. 1 and 4 picks in the draft. 

(Maybe they should make it easy on themselves and take Penn State running back Saquon Barkely with the first pick then be happy with whoever falls to them at four, but I doubt that is going to happen.) 

Mayock has USC’s Sam Darnold on top of his quarterbacks board with Wyoming’s Josh Allen second. 

Different physical attributes are the reason. In the case of Darnold, it is his ability to extend plays and find the open man. 

For Allen, that magical right arm has everyone drooling. 

The problem is Darnold turns the ball over too much and Allen has accuracy issues. 

These, of course, are the two worst things a quarterback can do on the field, so it’s hard to dismiss either of them no matter how much you like the other things you see. 

Adding much intrigue to this is Lamar Jackson. The Louisville quarterback could end up being the draft’s ultimate wild card even though the big question about him is probably more solvable than those about Darnold and Allen. That would be, “Can you run an offense in which Jackson can thrive?” 

The answer to this should be yes, but likely few NFL teams are willing to make that bet on themselves even as they would be willing to risk turning their franchise over to a guy who might never protect the ball adequately (Darnold) or another who perhaps can’t make it go where he wants consistently (Allen). 

Weird, huh? 

I’m not sure how the Browns will play this. 

They could end up liking UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield better than any of those other three. 

(I’ve already laid out the case for the Bengals taking Jackson, by the way, and if Mayock’s prediction he goes somewhere in the second half is correct, there could still be an opportunity to trade back up and snag him after addressing the offensive line at No. 12.) 

Monday was a pretty good day for Ohio State basketball. 

Chris Holtmann was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in men’s basketball while the player of the year honors went to a man and a woman from the Scarlet and Gray. 

(He was wise to snap that up this year since the Buckeyes will likely be too good for him to be considered in future seasons because voters are a bit too committed to that line of thinking.)

Keita Bates-Diop and Kelsey Mitchell earned those honors, marking the third time OSU had the top player in both genders since 2006. 

In 2006, it was Jessica Davenport and Terence Dials while Evan Turner and Jantel Lavender were so honored in 2010.

Mitchell (who shared POY honors with Megan Gustafson of Iowa) is Ohio State’s third three-time Big Ten Player of the Year on the women’s side since 2007, joining Davenport and Lavender (who actually won the award all four years she was a Buckeye). 

Ohio State center Stephanie Mavunga also made the All-Big Ten first team. 

A late-season injury may have cost Middletown’s Vincent Edwards a spot on the all-conference first team, but the Purdue senior still landed on the second team… 

Sticking with Ohio State, Mayock covered five Buckeyes in his pre-combine conference call yesterday: 

“I think they're tied with Alabama for 33 players invited to the combine in the last three years. Kind of crazy,” Mayock said.

“(Cornerback) Denzel Ward to me is a top 10 pick in this draft. Billy Price, the center/guard, is a late 1 to mid 2, a solid plug-and-play guy. The defensive end, (Sam) Hubbard, is not flashy, but he's going to come in and start immediately for somebody. Probably second round, worst case, third round.

"I already mentioned (Jerome) Baker, the linebacker, who I think is going to light up this combine. He's got some good days and not so good days, but I think his physical specifications match up with today's NFL. The left tackle, Jamarco Jones, probably a third or fourth round type of guy. Very solid player.

“The free safety [presumably Damon Webb] I think is more of a third-day guy.”

Earlier in the call, he predicted Baker will impress scouts with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at 225 pounds, and later he said Hubbard “checks off all the boxes” scouts want to see and could become more of a sure-thing first-rounder if he runs something like a 4.5 in the 40. 

He also said he worries if Ward is too “light and lean,” which seems a bit odd. 

Ohio State's J.T. Barrett talks about life after football

Perhaps most noteworthy were his thoughts on the Ohio State quarterback in this draft class. 

“J.T. Barrett is a hard one for me because I love the kid,” Mayock said. “I got to meet him a little bit at the East-West game. You can see the leadership attributes. Everything you want in the quarterback he has, except for the high-level talent.

“So from my perspective, he's probably going to be a later third day guy, and somebody's going to buy into him because they love the kid and what he brings to the table in the meeting room and try to give him a chance to develop over time. He's an ideal back-up or third quarterback, and I think he'll play in the league for a lot of years.” 

Sounds a lot better than the chances he’s been given up to this point, but then almost all draft speculation prior to January is pretty much worthless. 

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Jesse Winker: Reds ‘are going to ride the wave’

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 4:01 PM

Reds closer Raisel Iglesias celebrates a victory over the Cubs on Sunday, June 24, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds closer Raisel Iglesias celebrates a victory over the Cubs on Sunday, June 24, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Jesse Winker bounced as he rounded third base, hopping high into the air before slapping hands with third-base coach Billy Hatcher.

“I was pretty happy,” Winker said.

Winker did come back down to earth after his pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning. The Cincinnati Reds, however, continue to soar. Their 8-6 victory against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday at Great American Ball Park gave them a season-high seven victories in a row and 10 wins in their last 12 games.

» RELATED: Injured Senzel sees Reds play in person for first time

Winker’s home run came in a seven-run seventh inning as the Reds rallied from a 6-1 deficit to sweep four games from the Cubs in Cincinnati for the first time since April 1983. None of the current Reds were born when that sweep occurred. Joey Votto was born five months later.

“We were focused on today’s game,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “It wasn’t about a sweep. It’s about trying to just get better and better and win some ballgames. We just really have put a nice string of games together. These other games we were up and really played flawless. Today we were down and kept pushing and came back and got it.”

» PHOTOS: Reds beat Cubs 8-6

While the Reds (32-45) still sit in last place in the National League Central Division, four games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates, they are making up ground fast. They trailed Pittsburgh by 9½ games on June 9. The Reds trailed first-place Milwaukee by 17½ games on June 9 and are now 13½ games back.

“We know what we can do as a team,” Winker said. “We can all play this game. It’s fun to win. But I don’t think anybody’s surprised by what we’re doing. If you look around, we’re all kind of acting pretty normal right now. It’s what we expect to do. It’s cool coming to the field expecting to win. It’s a very good feeling. Right now, we’re on a good wave, and we’re going to ride the wave.”

» RELATED: Reds set sights on escaping basement

The Reds completed their first perfect homestand of at least six games since May 2008. In the last seven games, Reds batters are hitting .322 with 14 home runs.

The Reds even got home runs by pitchers on consecutive days for the first time since 2006. One day after Anthony DeSclafani hit a grand slam in an 11-2 victory, Michael Lorenzen hit a solo home run with the Reds trailing 5-0 in the fifth.

“You just feel the momentum in here,” Lorenzen said. “A game like today, it just feels like we’re not meant to lose.”

Lorenzen and Winker hit pinch-hit home runs, making Riggleman look good.

“With Lorenzen, it’s a matter of not using a bench player with nobody on base,” Riggleman said. “If we had somebody on base, we would have had somebody else hitting. With Wink, he’s a great option to have off the bench. He’s done great things coming off the bench.”

NOTES: Joey Votto went 3-for-4 and drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh with a double. He raised his average to .305. … Raisel Iglesias recorded his 13th save with a perfect ninth inning. … The Reds and Cubs drew 36,818 fans on Saturday and 30,508 fans on Sunday. It’s the first time this season the Reds have topped 30,000 fans in back-to-back home games.

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NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini hit by car while jogging

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 10:36 AM

NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini, right, is recovering from injuries after she was hit by a car while jogging Saturday in California.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini, right, is recovering from injuries after she was hit by a car while jogging Saturday in California.(Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini suffered a skull fracture and concussion Saturday after she was hit by a car while jogging in Novato, California, according to a news release from Venturini Racing.

>> Read more trending news

Venturini, 39, was in California to cover Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup race in Sonoma. She will remain in the hospital for several days, the news release said.

“She’s completely coherent and conversational, and I have talked to her on two occasions today," said Doug Rice, president and general manager of Performance Racing Network. "They told her she would have a really good headache for a couple of days.”

Venturini's father, Bill, is a two-time Auto Racing Club of America champion who founded Venturini Motorsports in 1982, The Sporting News reported.

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Three newest members of Dayton women’s basketball team arrive on campus

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 12:09 PM

Dayton coach Shauna Green watches the team practice before the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Dayton coach Shauna Green watches the team practice before the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 15, 2018, at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

The three newest members of the Dayton Flyers women’s basketball team — Ella Skeens, Amari Davidson and Kyla Whitehead — arrived on campus this weekend. The University of Dayton’s second summer session begins Monday and ends with exams Aug. 3-4.

“Very excited to finally have these three on campus!!” Dayton coach Shauna Green wrote on Twitter. “Can not wait to see what the future holds for them.”

» STAFF NEWS: Dayton hires new assistant coach

“Excited to have Ella, Amari and Kyla on campus!” assistant coach Calamity McEntire wrote on Twitter. “They have a sign hanging in their apartment that says, ‘Don’t wish for it, work for it.’ I loved it!!”

Here’s a quick glance at the three Dayton freshmen:

• Skeens, 5-foot-11 wing: She finished her career with 2,283 points. She’s the all-time leading scorer in the history of Chillicothe Southeastern High School, Ross Country and the Scioto Valley Conference. Skeens committed to Dayton on June 4, 2017.

• Davidson, 6-2 forward: The Avon High School graduate committed to Dayton on Aug. 17, 2017. She’ll be the third member of her family to play college basketball. Sierra Davison, a 6-0 forward, played in six games last season as a junior at Cleveland State. Shay Davidson, a 5-11 forward, played in 18 games last season as a freshman at Notre Dame College.

•  Whitehead, 6-2 forward: She helped lead Pickerington Central to the Division I state championship in March. She had nine points and five rebounds in a 49-45 victory against Solon in the title game. Whitehead committed to Dayton on Sept. 26, 2017.

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Reds set sights on moving out of NL Central basement

Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018 @ 1:05 PM

The Reds' Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton celebrate at home plate after a grand slam by Votto in the third inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park.
David Jablonski - Staff Writer
The Reds' Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton celebrate at home plate after a grand slam by Votto in the third inning against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

About six weeks ago, Cincinnati Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman talked to his club about setting short-term goals.

“Let's go catch that fourth-place club,” Riggleman said. “Then after that, let's go get that third-place club.”

The Reds seemed destined to spend all season in the National League Central Division basement at the time, and that still seemed the case earlier this month. The Reds were 21 games under .500 on June 9.

» BAD NEWS: Top prospect out for season

However, after winning nine of their last 11 games, including six in a row entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, the Reds (31-45) have moved within five games of fourth-place Pittsburgh.

Riggleman hasn’t given any motivational speeches to get the team going. He gave those speeches more often in the first month on the job. Now he talks to the team after each game and reviews the game while looking ahead to the next one. He’s more selective about when he makes big speeches.

With the Reds playing almost every day, Riggleman can’t approach the job as a football coach would.

“It’s too much,” Riggleman said. “It’s kind of like, ‘Jim, again with the talk?' I leave them alone a little big and get their attention another time. I think a lot of people think you've got pound in every message every day. It's more subtle in baseball.”

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