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  • Weston Richburg drove his old Chevy truck recently from Mesa, Arizona, where he was training, to the Arizona Cardinals facility for a visit with the team. Then he drove home, 10 hours straight to Bushland, Texas — population 130 — where he grew up. There isn’t too much in the way of frills when it comes to Richburg, the blue-collar Colorado State center who just might be the best at his position heading into the draft.

    After playing well at the Senior Bowl and testing well at both the NFL combine and his pro day, Richburg has proven that he deserves a chance to play with the big boys. Not long ago, almost no one thought that was possible. He was a fringe college prospect who had to beg college teams to come look at him, and the Rams’ coaches took a leap of faith on a 240-pound offensive linemen who had missed two high school seasons with a torn ACL.

    Their gamble was rewarded. After 50 college starts, Richburg has shown the requisite talent and toughness to be considered as early as the

    Read More »from NFL draft: Q&A with Colorado State C Weston Richburg
  • Patterson is a hot commodity in early mock drafts. (USAT)

    Place your ear to the grapevine this time of year and chances are you’re bound to hear stories of despair, mediocrity and, of course, excessive hype …

    This group of draft prospects is RISING. That group is FALLING. Everyone in this class is destined to overachieve/underachieve.

    The wild speculation, whether positive or negative, is seemingly endless. Sonny Weaver, the fictional general manager of the Cleveland Browns in ‘Draft Day,’ would certainly agree. Just look at the insane rumors regarding former Pitt QB Tom Savage and Drake's brother from another mother Johnny Manziel.

    Smokescreens or not, fantasy owners, who function similarly as GMs over fledgling virtual franchises, face identical dilemmas. Receive poor intel and you’re likely headed to an early grave filled with constant ridicule and liquid therapy. However, buy into rock solid intel, and jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash aren’t a figment of the imagination, they’re reality.

    We may be months away from meaningful football, but the buzz surrounding a number of players is rapidly building. To ensure you don’t fall into a Ryan Leaf deathtrap, here’s my take on seven commodities sure to be sensationalized in fantasy drafts come August:

    Cordarrelle Patterson, Min, WR (Current ADP: 51.5, WR22)

    The Buzz: Under the direction of vertical-minded Norv Turner, CP is sure to take a major leap forward possibly topping out as a high-end WR2 in 12-team leagues.

    Believe or make believe? BELIEVE. Slow out of the gates in his rookie season, Patterson turned on the afterburners from Week 13 on as then OC Bill Musgrave finally pulled head out of posterior, calling the youngster's number often. During that stretch he totaled 375 combined yards and six touchdowns. His resulting 14.7 fantasy points per game average in standard formats ranked top-five among wideouts and carried owners to championship glory. Because of his route rawness, much of that production came on the ground, in the return game or on designed wide receiver screens. On 11 targets beyond 22-yards he caught just one pass and only one of his TDs was scored beyond 10 yards. In his second season, he should add some polish becoming a more complete WR. With Norval calling the shots, he could transform into a poor man's Josh Gordon.

    Bottom Line: Patterson's length, catch radius, versatility and breakaway speed has Turner's ticker pumping with anticipation. The OC will get very creative with his new toy. However, the $64,000 question remains: Who will pass him the rock this fall? Matt Cassel and burning couch Christian Ponder are back, but it seems highly likely the Vikes will entertain a QB (Manziel anyone?) at No. 8 overall in next month's draft. Regardless who is under center Week 1, Patterson should vault up draft boards as the summer progresses. In 12-team drafts, snapping tendons for his services early in Round 3 wouldn't be moronic.

    Read More »from First Down: Should you buy the hype on Patterson, Foles, others?
  • [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    6. Not being able to see a few hours into the future

    On Monday I brought up Matt Cooke's status as a repeat offender who was told to stop acting like a piece of garbage who tried to injure everyone all the time, and did so successfully across three seasons for two different teams.

    But then about 10 hours after that published, Cooke went knee-to-knee on Tyson Barrie, and every columnist who never forgave him or thought they saw through his pretty transparent media campaign following his alleged transformation into St. Francis of Assisi got to break out a

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Repeat offenders, Lady Byng and overtime thrillers
  • The wonderful thing about baseball is the story we expect to dominate headlines entering a game or a series can often be overshadowed by something unexpected or historic. You just never know which direction it will take, which keeps things unpredictable and gives us endless topics to discuss.

    Such was the case during the anticipated Los Angeles Angels-Washington Nationals series this week featuring the first-ever regular season battle between Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. We expected the spotlight to be trained on the two young phenoms throughout, but it was 41-year-old Raul Ibanez who stole the show on Monday with a three-run double in the eighth. Then on Tuesday, a red hot Albert Pujols connected for career home runs No. 499 and 500, which had many fans focusing on his milestone and thinking back to his explosive early days as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001. 

    On Wednesday, though, we finally had a moment that put the spotlight on both Trout and Harper, but by the time the play was over

    Read More »from Mike Trout robs Bryce Harper with impressive diving catch
  • (YAHOO)
    It’s still a little too early to panic in Seattle, but another Mariners loss to the Houston Astros on Wednesday may have pushed fans to the brink. Seattle dropped each of the first two games in the series and came in losers of eight straight overall.

    The outlook didn‘t look good here either with Houston holding a three run lead in the seventh inning, but one player and two swings turned that all around.. Third baseman Kyle Seager, who hadn’t homered in a game since Sept. 3, 2013, got Seattle on the board with a two-run homer in the seventh and then lifted them to a 5-3 victory with a three-run walk-off homer in the ninth.

    It was obviously a much needed win for Seattle, who were on the verge of back-to-back sweeps against Miami and Houston. Just the same, it was a much needed confidence boost for Seager. A .260 hitter over the first three years of his career, Seager came in hitting only .156 with two RBI on the season. Despite his struggles, manager Lloyd McClendon was determined to

    Read More »from The Grand Slam: Mariners snap eight-game losing skid on Kyle Seager’s walk-off homer
  • Prince Fielder is one of many early drafted hitters off to slow starts (USAT)

    As someone who recommended taking starting pitching early this year, Clayton Kershaw getting hurt and Stephen Strasburg currently sporting a 5.33 ERA sure hasn’t helped my case. But after those two, most have been as advertised (give or take). I’m in no way claiming victory with this strategy (and admittedly, I was high on Danny Salazar, Homer Bailey and Zack Wheeler. Chris Sale and Alex Cobb are also currently on the DL), but the biggest disappointments so far have been hitters for the most part. Before I go any further, I want to be clear I expect almost all of these hitters will be fine moving forward. We are still dealing with small samples. But there are some serious star hitters off to pretty horrendous starts.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking slumping sluggers and a look around the league
  • No. 1 Star: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

    Kane was his usual dynamic self in Game 4 versus the St. Louis Blues, scoring twice, including the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory, and adding an assist. His game-winner was a remarkable bit of poise, as he backed off the defense before beating Ryan Miller high. 

    No. 2 Star: Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars

    Skating a game-high 32:48 in the Stars' 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks that evened the series at two, Goligoski led the Stars with two points, a goal and an assist. Cody Eakin got the game-winner, but Goligoski's goal was the one that put the Ducks away. Check out the assist from Vernon Fiddler:

    No. 3 Star: Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

    Dubinsky scored a huge goal in the Blue Jackets' 4-3 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, tying the game with just 24 seconds to go. He also picked up an assist on Ryan Johansen's powerplay goal that cut the Penguins' lead in half:

    Honorable mention: Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves in the

    Read More »from Stanley Cup Playoffs Three Stars: Stars, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets all win to even series at two
  • Last summer, Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge was the subject of trade rumors that would have moved him from the only NBA team he's ever known. Nearly a year later, he's clearly been the best player of the first few days of the 2014 postseason.

    For the second consecutive game, Aldridge terrorized the Houston Rockets' defense. Coming three days after his 46-point, 18-rebound performance in Portland's Game 1 win, Aldridge scored 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting to lead his team to a 112-105 win and a 2-0 series lead, giving Portland a huge advantage as the series heads to their home court for Games 3 and 4.

    Aldridge's performance places him in impressive historic company. He is the first player in Blazers history to score 40 or more points in two playoff games over his entire tenure with the team, the first player to score 40 points in consecutive playoff games since LeBron James in 2009, and the third player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in both Games 1 and

    Read More »from Blazers top Rockets with historic LaMarcus Aldridge performance, grab 2-0 lead
  • There's an old saying when it comes to the playoffs: a series hasn't even begun until a team wins one on the road. 

    Supposing that's true, through four games, the first-round series between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues has yet to even begin. After going down 2-0 in St. Louis, the Blackhawks did what they had to, winning both of their home game.

    The Game 4 victory came thanks to Patrick Kane, who gave them a 4-3 overtime win with this beautiful overtime winner:

    You could see this one coming, and not just because we know Kane has a playoff gear because he has a playoff haircut, or because he was in that gear all night, with 2 goals and an assist. 

    He was dancing all overtime. You had to worry about what would happen if he got a little time and space, and what do you know, this is what happened.

    There are few players in the NHL more terrifying on an odd-man rush, because Kane can just about do it all. We've seen him make incredible passes, and we've seen him deke his way

    Read More »from Patrick Kane scores in OT as Blackhawks win Game 4 to even series (Video)
  • Drouin has scored or set up 8 of Halifax's last 10 goals (CP)

    No. 1 star: Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

    Any night where a player ties Mario Lemieux for career playoff points is usually a good night. Drouin now has 98 points in 47 games over the past three post-seasons after putting up five on Wednesday, matching what Super Mario put up for the old Laval Voisins from 1982 through '84 in a much higher-scoring era.

    Drouin (2G-3A, +1, with seven dangerous shots) carried Halifax to a 5-4 series-tying win at Val-d'Or in the QMJHL's road-warrior semifinal. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect's massive night started innocuously enough with a mere two power-play assists during the opening stanza to pull the Mooseheads, who have Kevin Darveau in goal instead of national team 'tender Zach Fucale, even after 20 minutes.

    Halifax has had a knack for big second periods in these playoffs. Drouin scored through an Andrew Ryan screen 2:57 into the frame. Just more than two minutes later, after rookie Andrew Shewfelt drew a penalty, Drouin set up Nikolaj Ehlers for the 4-2 goal.

    The Foreurs dominated the final period, but a Drouin breakaway goal gave Halifax just enough cushion.

    Read More »from Jonathan Drouin earns 5 points in Mooseheads’ series-tying road win: Wednesday’s 3 Stars

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