Matt LaFleur put the game in the hands of his defense instead of All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers
The order for the top 30 picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft is set, with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking No. 1 and the New York Jets picking No. 2. Could both teams be thinking quarterback with their picks? NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s top-ranked quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) — squared off in the College Football Playoff semifinals on Friday night, with Fields and the Buckeyes coming out on top.
Both the Jaguars and Jets — along with the Miami Dolphins — have two first-round picks in this draft. The Dolphins ended up with the No. 3 pick — thanks to the Houston Texans‘ trade for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil last year — and the No. 18 pick. The Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals round out the top five selections.
The 2021 NFL draft will take place in Cleveland, with the first round on April 29. Rounds 2 and 3 will be on April 30, while Rounds 4 through 7 will be on May 1. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN and the ESPN App.
Check out the top 30 picks below, with Nos. 31-32 projected from the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), which projects the order by simulating the rest of the season 10,000 times.
Jacksonville has had a pick in the top 10 of the first round 19 times as it enters its 27th season, but it never has had the No. 1 overall choice. The last team to make the playoffs the year it had the No. 1 pick was the 2013 Chiefs. The Jaguars have taken three quarterbacks in the first round — Byron Leftwich (No. 7 in 2003), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 in 2011) and Blake Bortles (No. 3 in 2014).
The Jets just missed out on their second No. 1 overall pick. They used their only No. 1 to select wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. The Jets have picked second twice, selecting wide receiver Johnny “Lam” Jones (1980) and running back Blair Thomas (1990). New York was reported to be targeting Anthony Munoz with the second pick in 1980 but reportedly passed on him because he failed a physical. The Bengals took Munoz third, and he made 11 Pro Bowls. Jones never made the Pro Bowl.
The Dolphins, who had three first-round picks in 2020, have two first-round picks this year. All of their first-round picks since 2011 were in the league in 2020, but only one from before 2019 was still with Miami (DeVante Parker, No. 14, 2015).
This is the Falcons’ first top-10 pick since 2015 and their first top-five pick since drafting quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 3 in 2008. Atlanta has drafted two Hall of Famers with top-five picks: Claude Humphrey (No. 3, 1968) and Deion Sanders (No. 5, 1989).
The Bengals are picking in the top five for the 17th time in franchise history and the second year in a row. They’ve used their past four first-rounders to pick offensive players, but only two of them were starters for Cincinnati in 2020 (quarterback Joe Burrow and offensive tackle Jonah Williams).
This is the Eagles’ first top-10 pick since they selected quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 2 in 2016. Of course, they now appear ready to move on from Wentz in favor of 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts.
The Lions are picking in the top 10 for the third consecutive year and 26th time in the Super Bowl era. Could they be looking for the successor to 2009 No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford?
The Panthers have a choice inside the top 10 for just the second time since 2012. They hit big with the other, selecting running back Christian McCaffrey at No. 8 in 2017.
The Broncos are picking in the top 10 for just the second time since 2011. Pass-rusher Bradley Chubb was their pick at No. 5 in 2018. He has 20.5 sacks in his career and made the Pro Bowl this season.
Five of the Cowboys’ past eight first-round picks have represented Dallas in the Pro Bowl, but only three remain with the team — guard Zack Martin, running back Ezekiel Elliott and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. This is the Cowboys’ highest draft position since they took Elliott with the fourth pick in 2016.
Four of the Giants’ past six first-rounders are players around whom they hope they can build their offense, though 2018 No. 2 pick Saquon Barkley will be returning from a torn ACL in 2021. Quarterback Daniel Jones (2019) and tight end Evan Engram (2017) had some injury issues that hampered them in 2020. Rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was a plug-and-play starter this season.
When the 49ers selected wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk with the second of two first-round picks last year, it was the first time they had selected a skill-position player in the first round since 2012. In that same span, they selected four defensive ends.
The Chargers have the luxury of not needing a quarterback, as it appears they struck gold with last year’s No. 6 pick, Justin Herbert. The signal-caller from Oregon established a record for TD passes by a rookie and had multiple TD passes in seven consecutive games, another rookie record.
The Vikings are making their highest pick in the first round since selecting cornerback Trae Waynes at No. 11 in 2015. Of their first-round picks prior to 2018, only safety Harrison Smith (2012) and linebacker Anthony Barr (2014) still wear the purple.
The Patriots have their highest first-round pick since 2008, when they selected linebacker Jerod Mayo 10th. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and played his entire eight-year career in New England, making two Pro Bowl teams.
Of the Cardinals’ past 10 first-round picks spanning the past 10 years, four aren’t even in the league. Five are still with Arizona. The other is 49ers backup quarterback Josh Rosen.
The Raiders, who have made five first-round picks over the past two drafts, have only one first-rounder this year. Each of those previous five was at a different position, but none of those picks addressed linebacker or offensive line.
How the Dolphins use the second of their two first-rounders will depend largely on what they do with their first. They have needs at wide receiver, offensive line and running back.
The four starters on the defensive line, one of the best units in the NFL, are all first-round picks since 2017. Washington could try to address holes on offense with this pick.
The Bears return to the first round after a two-year absence, courtesy of trading away first-round picks to acquire pass-rusher Khalil Mack in 2018. Their first-rounders from 2015 through 2018 were all top-10 picks, but only two of them (quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and linebacker Roquan Smith) remain with Chicago.
The Colts didn’t have a first-round pick a year ago after they traded it away for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. They’ve spent two of their past three first-round picks on offensive linemen and hit on both — center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson have given Indianapolis one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Pass-rushers are hard to come by, but the Titans are desperate to find one after finishing last in the league in sacks. They haven’t taken a defensive end in the first round since Derrick Morgan in 2010.
The Jets have two first-round selections for the first time since 2013. This one belongs to Seattle and was acquired in the trade for safety Jamal Adams. New York has plenty of holes to fill and could go in any direction.
The Steelers, who didn’t have a first-round pick last year after they used it to trade for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, have used their past seven first-round picks on defensive players, including five linebackers.
With the second of their two first-round picks, the Jaguars could bolster the protection for their first pick. They haven’t taken an offensive tackle in the first round since 2013.
The Browns haven’t used a first-round pick on a player outside of a power conference since 1981. They have needs in their back seven on defense.
The Ravens haven’t selected a defensive lineman in the first round since defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006. It certainly is a need Baltimore could look to address.
The Saints hit it big with two first-rounders in 2017, drafting Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore and two-time All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. They probably will be in the market for some help in the secondary.
Since drafting Aaron Rodgers in 2005, the Packers have had 15 first-round picks. They have used 12 of them on the defensive side, two on offensive tackles and one on a quarterback (Jordan Love in 2020). They haven’t taken a wide receiver in the first round since 2002.
The Bills, who didn’t have a first-round pick last year because they used it to trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, have four core starters from their past four first-round picks, including 2020 Pro Bowl selections cornerback Tre’Davious White, quarterback Josh Allen and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
FPI’s projections for pick Nos. 31-32
(FPI projections are as of Sunday, Jan. 24)
TORONTO (AP) — George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s, has died. He was 90.
His death was announced Sunday by the Maple Leafs, who said he died of heart complications, citing his family.
Armstrong had 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 12 seasons as team captain, and remains the franchise’s leader in games played, variously listed at 1,187 or 1,888. The right wing had 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games.
Known as the ”Chief,” Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. Some 41 years later, Armstrong was voted No. 12 on the franchise’s list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season.
”George is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization and will be deeply missed,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement.
”A proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf, but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn’t even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row.”
Armstrong would become one of a few Leafs honored with a banner at Scotiabank Arena, and his number was retired in October 2016 at the team’s centennial anniversary home opener.
In 2015, Armstrong was added to the Leafs’ Legends Row. The team released a statement Sunday with the words from Armstrong’s unread speech that night.
”Hockey is a great game and I love it. I am part of a fading generation that you will never have again. Every one of us is one of a kind, that will never be repeated. To all of my friends and acquaintances, thank you for your advice and direction, that helped make me who I am today … a very, very happy person.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman paid tribute Sunday to the former Leafs captain.
”The National Hockey League family is saddened to learn of the passing of George Armstrong,” Bettman said in a statement. ”For 70 years, he represented his beloved Maple Leafs and the entire NHL with class and distinction as a player, coach, executive and ambassador.
”A humble man and revered leader, Armstrong captained the Leafs for 12 seasons – including to three straight Stanley Cups in 1962, 1963 and 1964 and the stunning 1967 title – and scored the final goal of the Original Six Era in Game 6 of the ’67 Final.
”Our game will miss him dearly.”
After retiring in 1971, Armstrong coached the Toronto Marlboros to Memorial Cup victories in 1972-73 and 1974-75 before accepting a scouting position with the Quebec Nordiques in 1978.
He spent nine years with Quebec before returning to Toronto as assistant general manager and scout in 1988. Armstrong served as interim coach for the final 47 games of the 1988-89 season after John Brophy was fired following an 11-20-2 start.
The next year, Armstrong returned to his role as a scout for the Leafs.
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Armstrong scored 20 goals four times during his career but was better known for his leadership and work ethic, helping restore the franchise’s winning touch. A smart player and talented backchecker, he worked the angles to get the best shot at his opponent and formed a formidable penalty-killing tandem with Hall of Famer Dave Keon.
Born in Bowland’s Bay, Ontario, to an Irish father and an Iroquois mother, Armstrong honed his hockey skills near the nickel mines where his father worked.
It was during the Allan Cup tournament in 1950, specifically a visit to the Stoney Indian Reserve in Alberta, that he got his nickname. When the band heard of Armstrong’s ancestral background, they made him an honorary member with the name ”Chief Shoot-the-Puck” and presented him with a ceremonial headdress.
It was a different era and ”The Chief” nickname stuck. Armstrong, who was proud of his mother’s heritage, would become the first player of Indigenous descent to score in the NHL.
He spent most of two seasons in Pittsburgh with the Leafs’ American Hockey League farm team before making the big league. He made his NHL debut in December 1949 and became a full-time member of the Leafs in time for the start of the 1952-53 season.
Toronto owner and GM Conn Smythe named Armstrong his captain before the 1957-58 season. Smythe would later call Armstrong ”the best captain, as a captain, the Leafs have ever had.”
The Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1962, the first of three straight championships.
Armstrong was 36 when the veteran Leafs won the franchise’s most recent championship in 1967. His insurance empty-net goal with 47 seconds remaining in the clinching 3-1 Game 6 win was the final goal of the Original Six era.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pounder played a few more seasons but suffered a knee injury during the 1969-70 season that forced him to retire. Armstrong was persuaded to come back for the 1970-71 season before quitting for good at age 40.
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Novak played three tough three-setters for Austria as the country’s No. 2 singles player, and he earned a win against World No. 25 Guido Pella. The 6’ righty climbed as high as World No. 85 in March. Now, he is ready to begin another season by representing Austria in the ATP Cup.
Before the start of the 12-country event, Novak sat down with ATPTour.com to reveal how he has been passing the time during quarantine.
What is a day in the life of quarantine like for you?
We wake up, we get tested, we have breakfast. We get ready for practice… We have time to be outside. We come back, do some stretching, eat, shower and then watch some movies and try to kill the time.
Who is your most frequently contacted person during this quarantine period?
Dominic [Thiem]. [We keep in touch by] texting, playing games online against each other.
What games do you play against each other online?
We play a lot of Mario Kart on Nintendo Switch. That’s at the moment the only thing we play [on Nintendo Switch]. I play with Baby Bowser and he takes Toad. I also have a PlayStation with me. I play with his brother [Moritz Thiem]. We play Formula 1 and we have a few more games.
Have you been watching any shows in quarantine?
I just started a new show on Netflix, Shooter. I’m just really into it. I cannot stop. Also a French one, Lupin. But there is only one season out, so it’s only five or six episodes. For Shooter there are a lot more.
Are you reading any books or doing anything else?
I [recently] read two books about Covid, which were really interesting. I like to read biographies of sportsmen. For me, the best sports biography I’ve read was about Niki Lauda.
What are some of the best in-room workout tips that you have found?
You can do a lot just with your body weight and with the band, maybe. I think those are the two things I do the most.
What’s your go-to pick-up order that you have?
A lot of pasta and fish.
You’ve been watching some shows, playing some games. What else do you do to pass the time?
Just watching some news from home in Austria on the Internet, just being on the Internet, playing games, maybe sleeping. But that’s it.
El mercado de fichajes de invierno está a una semana de echar el cierre y LaLiga apenas ha movido ficha. La pandemia sigue causando estragos en las cuentas de los clubes y tras un verano muy pausado en cuanto a traspasos, el mes de enero marcha igual. Los equipos de Primera han reducido un 75,56% sus compras respecto al mercado invernal de 2020.
En lo que va de enero, solo se han realizado once llegadas a los equipos de LaLiga Santander. En el pasado mes de invierno se realizaron 45. Aunque todavía falta por cerrarse algún fichaje más. Como puede ser la llegada del Papu Gómez al Sevilla. Mientras tanto, nueve equipos ya han movido ficha para reforzar sus plantillas. Los que más han sido el Getafe (con Kubo y Aleñá cedidos del Madrid y el Barça) y el Celta (con las incorporaciones de Augusto Solari y de Aarón Martín). Algunos han tenido que recurrir al mercado tras ver como uno de sus futbolistas cogía las maletas y se iba. Es el caso del Atlético, que tras el adiós de Diego Costa fichó a Moussa Dembélé del Lyon. Situación idéntica en San Sebastián, la Real Sociedad ha fichado a Carlos Fernández, del Sevilla, tras la marcha de Willian José a la Premier.
Pero a poco volumen de traspasos, poco volumen de dinero. De las once incorporaciones, solo cuatro han sido una compra, mientras que seis han sido prestámos y solo Aleix García ha llegado libre al Eibar. Por ahora, los clubes de LaLiga solo han gastado 14,24 millones de euros. Un 89,41% menos que hace un año, cuando desembolsaron 134,6M€. Mientras que en este mercado el fichaje más caro ha sido el de Dembélé por 15 millones, la temporada pasada se dieron hasta cuatro traspasos por cantidades superiores: Reinier (30), Alcácer (23), De Tomás (22,5) y En Nesyri (20).
Los clubes deben cuidar su hucha debido a la crisis del coronavirus. LaLiga quería empezar a meter público a principios de 2021 en los estadios para dar un restiro a las cuentas de los equipos. La llegada de la 3ª ola, con la amenaza de la cepa británica y los positivos y muertes disparados, no hace ser muy optimista sobre ese logra. La patronal tenía previsto reunirse la semana pasada con el CSD para tratar dicho tema, pero la cumbre se ha pospuesto. Mientras, LaLiga mantiene su política de austeridad y evitar despilfarros. Aunque en otras competiciones actúen de manera diferente. “No miremos lo que hacen los otros de Europa, ya veremos sus cuentas dentro de poco. En la Premier han mantenido el nivel de contrataciones y han tenido problemas de ingresos. Luego habrá que ver los ratios”, advirtió Tebas hace unos meses.
El presidente de LaLiga pidió a los clubes ajustarse el cinturón y apuntó a los medios que debían hacerlo sobre todo en cuanto a los salarios de sus jugadores. “A final de temporada se puede generar un problema de tesorería en los clubes. Para evitarlo, hay que adecuar la masa salarial y adecuar la deuda. El que se exceda en el límite salarial esta temporada lo pagará en la siguiente”. Un mensaje que iba destinado incluso a los dos grandes de España: “Tienen que tener un año de transición”.
Unas declaraciones que explican la tranquilidad con la que los clubes han llevado este mercado de invierno. La mayoría no pueden afrontar gastos. Y para hacerlo tendrían que seguir el dicho: “Dejen salir antes de entrar”.