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Extra Points: Mock Draft version 4.0
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 NFL Sports Betting News
Extra Points: Mock Draft version 4.0 04/24 - 12:45
 
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - If this were a typical NFL calendar year, the draft would be kicking off later this week.

Instead a scheduling conflict with the event's long-time home, New York's famed Radio City Music Hall, pushed the draft back a couple weeks to May 8-10.

The absence of the traditional late April time frame has resulted in a bit of draft overkill, giving the second-guessers -- be they actual NFL personnel people or the thousands of self-titled scouts now polluting the Internet -- more time to second-guess their original second-guesses.

Just ask former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, once the No. 1-rated prospect on many boards and a player who may now want to consider adopting Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" as his new theme music.

Bridgewater is among a record 30 top prospects confirmed to attend the 2014 draft in Midtown Manhattan, but it's now a legitimate question to ask whether he will be greeting Roger Goodell on Thursday night or spending an extra day milling around Times Square.

Here's The Betting Express's latest stab at predicting where Bridgewater and everyone else lands on May 8:

1. Atlanta Falcons (trade with Houston Texans) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina - The majority of the 10,726 searchable mock drafts on Google now have the Houston Texans coming to their senses and selecting the most gifted prospect in this draft, Clowney.

Understand, however, that Bill O'Brien was brought to south Texas to fix the quarterback position. It's conceivable the Texans could go chalk and take Clowney to team with J.J. Watt, while looking for the answer at the game's most important position at No. 33 overall (Bridgewater, Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage?). That said, Atlanta desperately needs and wants a difference maker off the edge so it makes more sense for both sides to work out a deal.

PREVIOUS PICK - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida to Houston

2. St. Louis Rams - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - St. Louis also wants to move down, but the Falcons' jump to the top will hurt those chances, meaning the Rams are likely to play it safe with one of the top left tackles in the draft, either Robinson or Jake Matthews. The Auburn star has the bigger ceiling, so you have to believe he will be the choice.

PREVIOUS PICK - Clowney to Atlanta

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - Obviously, Chad Henne is just a bridge, but Mack is one of the four legitimate blue-chip prospects in this draft and Gus Bradley obviously is going to default to defense.

PREVIOUS PICK - Bridgewater

4. Cleveland Browns - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M - A quick look at the Browns' current depth chart revels one gaping hole: the quarterback position. Journeyman Brian Hoyer and the nondescript Alex Tanney are the only players under contract right now.

Manziel is the most polarizing figure in this draft with some scouts believing he will turn into a superstar and others thinking he belongs nowhere near the first round. He flashed a better arm than advertised at his pro day, embraced the big stage and has already improved on what were some shoddy mechanics at times. That should be enough for Ray Farmer and Cleveland to pull the trigger.

PREVIOUS PICK - Manziel

5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - The Raiders are always a wild card, but you can tell the pressure is building on both general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen in Oakland. And that means the Raiders will take the more conventional approach by snaring Watkins to help bolster the receiving corps for veteran QB Matt Schaub.

PREVIOUS PICK - Watkins

6. Houston Texans (trade with Atlanta) - Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida - The trade down will enable the Texans and O'Brien to take the prototypically sized Bortles without the pressure of passing on the real top prospects in this draft.

PREVIOUS PICK - Robinson to St. Louis

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M - Keep an eye on Bortles if he's still on the board because it's clear the new regime in Tampa does not believe in Mike Glennon and veteran Josh McCown is just a stop-gap. That said, with Bortles in Houston, the Bucs will shift to receiver after moving on from the troubled Mike Williams. The lengthy Evans would team with Vincent Jackson to give McCown a similar set-up to what he had in Chicago last season (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery).

PREVIOUS PICK - Mack

8. Minnesota Vikings - C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama - Minnesota clearly needs a franchise quarterback, but after swinging and missing badly on A.J. Feeley while in Miami and reaching for Christian Ponder back in 2011, general manager Rick Spielman simply doesn't have the political capital to roll the dice on any signal caller this early. Add in the fact the aggressive Mike Zimmer is the new coach in Minneapolis and defense is the obvious direction here.

Minnesota has already addressed the front four and cornerback in free agency, but the Vikings have been quiet on the linebacker front, save for bringing back the limited Jasper Brinkley on a make-good deal. Mosley turned a few people off at the NFL Combine by not running the 40-yard dash and refusing to address the media, but if he checks out medically, he could be the type of seek-and- destroy player who could be a terror in a Zimmer scheme and the first real surprise in the top 10.

PREVIOUS PICK - Mosley

9. Buffalo Bills - Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M - It's all about building up around E.J. Manuel in Buffalo, so securing a franchise tackle who was once regarded as a potential No. 1 overall selection is tremendous value here.

PREVIOUS PICK - Matthews

10. Detroit Lions - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - The secondary is the most obvious need in the Motor City, but something is going on in general manager Martin Mayhew's mind when it comes to the interior of the defensive line.

The Lions won't be picking up the fifth-year option on Nick Fairley while Ndamukong Suh had been a no-show at "voluntary" offseason workouts. Donald, although undersized, is the best and most athletically gifted three-technique tackle in the draft.

PREVIOUS PICK - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

11. Tennessee Titans - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State - A lot of people have Tennessee looking at UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr because new defensive coordinator Ray Horton will be shifting to a 3-4 attacking defense. Physical corners, though, also are needed to pull off what Horton wants and that position is a need in Nashville after the Titans lost cornerback Alterraun Verner in free agency. Meanwhile, the Titans picked up veteran Shaun Phillips to help on the edge. That makes Dennard a better fit here than Barr.

PREVIOUS PICK - Dennard

12. New York Giants - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - The signing of Josh Freeman has many speculating the Giants believe Eli Manning is on the descent as a player. Whether that's true is up for debate, but what isn't is the fact that Manning performed awfully in 2013, and if "Big Blue" wants that to change quickly, it needs to protect Peyton's baby brother a whole lot better. Lewan proved to be nearly as athletic as Robinson at the combine and could be a long-term answer in north Jersey.

PREVIOUS PICK - Barr

13. St. Louis Rams - Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State - The Rams need plenty of help in the secondary and could look to add a safety like Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or a corner like Gilbert, who some believe is a top-10 talent. Gilbert's size-speed ratio is the prototype of what NFL teams want on the outside these days and if he proves to be tough enough in run support the Oklahoma State product would give St. Louis the type of presence they were once expecting from Cortland Finnegan once upon a time.

PREVIOUS PICK - Evans

14. Chicago Bears - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama - Rebuilding the defense is paramount in the Windy City and additions at all three levels make sense. With Mosley and Donald out of the conversation, however, safety is the most logical direction and Clinton-Dix has the range and ball skills to be a playmaker early in his career.

PREVIOUS PICK - Donald

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame - Many have penciled in Martin as a Pro Bowl-level guard at the next level, but he was a darn good left tackle at the college level. With former seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum currently penciled in at the starter at LT in Pittsburgh, it makes sense to bring in a safe pick with a ton of position flexibility like Martin.

PREVIOUS PICK - Lewan

16. Dallas Cowboys - Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame - Jerry Jones probably doesn't even know what the Cowboys are going to run defensively this season, but if they stick with a Kiffin-Marinelli Tampa-2 amalgamation, getting a potential impact player at the three-technique and a solid run-suffer at the zero-spot is important. The 'Boys think they filled the hole at under tackle by signing former Chicago star Henry Melton, who is coming off a serious injury. Nix would be the load in the middle they need and a prototypical nose tackle.

PREVIOUS PICK - Nix

17. Baltimore Ravens - Calvin Pryor, safety, Louisville - The Ravens wanted to upgrade the safety position opposite Matt Elam anyway, but James Ihedigbo's exit to Detroit will only expedite things. Clinton-Dix is the better fit but Pryor is a nice consolation prize, an instinctive player with solid range and a nose for the football.

PREVIOUS PICK - Clinton-Dix

18. New York Jets - Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - Michael Vick and or Geno Smith will want a playmaker, but it's hard to imagine Rex Ryan going into a season with Dimitri Patterson as a possible starter on the outside, Roby is the kind of big, press corner who could excel in a Ryan defense.

PREVIOUS PICK - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

19. Miami Dolphins - Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama - The Dolphins could be bluffing but seem to love Kouandjio and his aggressive nature. Plenty of organizations have red-flagged Kouandjio (at least in the first round) for potential knee problems, but others have compared his skill set favorably to his former linemate with the Crimson Tide, D.J. Fluker, who the Chargers eventually took 11th overall in 2013.

One thing that is certain is the Fish need help on the O-line. Miami allowed a league-high 58 sacks and couldn't protect Ryan Tannehill with Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito or without them. The Fish started the rebuild up front by giving left tackle Branden Albert a monster deal, but more needs to be done.

PREVIOUS PICK - Martin

20. Arizona Cardinals - Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State - The Cardinals have quickly morphed into one of the more talented teams in football. Their biggest weakness -- the offensive line -- was addressed in free agency when the team brought former Raider Jared Veldheer in to play left tackle. That move along with the return of the immensely talented Jonathan Cooper from injury should solidify things in front of Carson Palmer.

Arizona should be able to sit back here and think about the future. Snaring Carr as the heir apparent to the 34-year-old Palmer is a luxury the Cardinals can afford.

PREVIOUS PICK - Carr

21. Green Bay Packers - Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA - Yeah, the Packers brought in Julius Peppers to play opposite Clay Matthews, but that is the definition of pounding the square peg in the round hole. Barr is a much better fit as an edge defender in the 3-4, and although the former running back is raw, Barr has the ceiling of a top-five prospect. That's something Ted Thompson will not be able to pass on.

PREVIOUS PICK - Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

22. Philadelphia Eagles - Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State - Chip Kelly is fond of saying big people beat up little people and this will be his answer for DeSean Jackson. Benjamin is a 6-foot-5 monster who commands a double-team in the middle of the field instead of the one Jackson created over the top.

PREVIOUS PICK - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

23. Kansas City Chiefs - Odell Beckham, WR, LSU - Alex Smith gets criticized a lot for being a game manager and failing to push the ball down the field, but one of the major reasons he didn't was the fact Kansas City had no threat outside the numbers to pop the top on opposing defenses. Beckham is the type of dynamic athlete who can stretch a defense and offers a little more size than a Brandin Cooks.

PREVIOUS PICK - Beckham

24. Cincinnati Bengals - Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury and Terence Newman will be 36 in September. That means it's time to upgrade outside the numbers on defense in Cincy and Fuller is a physical, instinctive corner who should push for a starting job early in his career.

PREVIOUS PICK - Pryor

25. San Diego Chargers - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU - The Chargers ranked 29th overall in pass defense in 2013 and dead last in the AFC, so the talent level has to improve on the back end. Verrett is undersized at 5-9 but shapes up as a Captain Munnerlyn-type, a player who battles enough to compete on the outside during early downs before moving into the slot and becoming a difference maker on obvious passing downs.

PREVIOUS PICK - Roby

26. Cleveland Browns - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - The Browns already have a true No. 1 at wide receiver in Josh Gordon and a very good receiving tight end in Jordan Cameron. The team also signed a solid slot option in free agency (Andrew Hawkins) and finally addressed the running back position with Ben Tate. Drafting a true burner like Cooks would give Manziel everything he needed to be successful.

PREVIOUS PICK - Benjamin

27. New Orleans Saints - Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal - The Saints could use a corner but most worthy of this pick figure to be off the board, so why not take a look at perhaps the draft's deepest position and replace Lance Moore? Lee projects as the best route runner in this year's draft and should give Drew Brees yet another solid option rather quickly.

PREVIOUS PICK - Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

28. Carolina Panthers - Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia - The Panthers also are in the market for corners and receivers as well as a tackle to replace the retired Jordan Gross. The corner market will be picked clean by this point and the receiver options are so deep Carolina can wait until the second round to address that. Moses kicked off his offseason with a great Senior Bowl week and has been rising ever since.

PREVIOUS PICK - Marqise Lee, WR, Southern Cal

29. New England Patriots - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina - Rob Gronkowski's health has to be a concern moving forward, and even if Gronk can stay on the field, New England would like to replicate the two-tight end offense it had when both Gronkowski and the now-jailed Aaron Hernandez were at their peaks. Ebron is the best TE in this draft, an athletic marvel in the mold of a Vernon Davis. Some question his physicality and strength, however, so don't be surprised if he falls a bit on draft day.

PREVIOUS PICK - Ra'shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

30. San Francisco 49ers, Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri - Count me among those who believe Aldon Smith may not be long for San Francisco. So why not replace the troubled pass-rushing star with another Mizzou product who is a top-tier athlete capable of playing with his hand down in the 4-3 or transitioning to a 3-4 edge rusher.

PREVIOUS PICK - Fuller

31. Denver Broncos - Xavier Su'a Filo, OG, UCLA - The loss of Zane Beadles in free agency means the Broncos are thin at guard opposite Louis Vasquez. Su'a Filo, the most experienced and NFL-ready member of UCLA's impressive O-line, could step right in as a starter.

PREVIOUS PICK - Su'a Filo

32. Seattle Seahawks - Dee Ford, DE, Auburn - The one real weakness in Seattle is the offensive line, and the team lost Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan in free agency. All of the big uglies worthy of a first-round grade, however, should be gone by this point, so adding another pass rusher to replace the departed Chris Clemons might be the better way to go.

PREVIOUS PICK - Kouandjio

Dropping out:

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois

Ra'shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

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 MLB Sports Betting News
Kluber pitches Indians past Royals 04/24 - 14:43
 
Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Corey Kluber had a career day, tossing a four-hit complete game, as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals, 5-1, in the finale of a four-game set at Progressive Field.

Kluber (2-2) yielded just one unearned run, struck out a career-high 11 and didn't walk a batter in tossing his first career complete game. The right- hander used the strong performance to lower his ERA from 5.40 to 3.90.

Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Indians, who have won four of five, including three of four in this set, to climb to the .500 mark for the season. David Murphy also drove in a pair of runs for Cleveland, which used a five-run fifth inning to give Kluber all the support he would need.

Jarrod Dyson ended with two of the four hits for the Royals, who have dropped four of five overall.

The Indians got to Kansas City starter Bruce Chen in the fifth inning. Carlos Santana began the frame with a double and came around to score the first run of the game when Michael Brantley followed with a base hit.

Later in the frame with the bases loaded, Murphy came through with a single to plate a pair of runners for a 3-0 edge. Then, after Mike Aviles sacrificed runners to second and third, Cabrera doubled them home for a five-run lead and force Chen from the contest.

Michael Mariot came on for Chen and struck out Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis to end the inning without any further damage.

Kansas City did get a run back in the seventh when Omar Infante scored on a fielding error charged to Swisher at first base .

However, it wasn't enough to get Chen (1-2) off the hook. The left-hander was charged with five runs on six hits, striking out two and walking one, in 4 1/3 innings of work.

Replay came into play in the bottom of the first inning. With one out and a runner on third, Kipnis hit a high chopper down the first base line. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer fielded the ball behind the bag, stepped on the base for the second out and fired home, where home plate umpire Greg Gibson called Cabrera out after catcher Yan Gomes applied a tag on a bang-bang play.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona came out to question the call. The umpires reviewed the play at the plate on their own without Cleveland using a challenge and confirmed the call.

Game Notes

Kluber's previous career-best in strikeouts was 10, hitting the mark twice with the last time coming on July 7, 2013, against Detroit ... Kansas City is just 1-3 on its current seven-game road trip that ends with three in Baltimore this weekend ... Cleveland ended a seven-game homestand 4-3.

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 NBA Sports Betting News
Stretching the Field: Portland blazing trail back to Rip City 04/24 - 13:11
 
(SportsNetwork.com) - It's not much of an upset if a fifth seed moves on to the semifinals of the NBA playoffs because it's generally an even matchup.

The Portland Trail Blazers could care less either way and are on the verge of sending the Houston Rockets to an early summer vacation.

Portland is defying the odds on the road and home teams in the conference quarterfinals of the NBA playoffs are 7-9 heading into Thursday's action. Chicago and Houston are staring down 0-2 holes, while Miami is the only 2-0 squad.

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trail Blazers have made Space City a home away from home with an overtime win in Game 1 last weekend and a less gut-wrenching victory Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

Aldridge dusted off the record books in Sunday's 122-120 overtime win by scoring 46 points and grabbing 18 rebounds to become the first player with that many points and rebounds in a road playoff game since Elgin Baylor in the 1962 NBA Finals. The 46 points and 17 field goals (17-of-31) by Aldridge are a playoff franchise record.

Aldridge wasn't done there.

Just when you thought Aldridge would float back down to earth, he tore up Houston's paint again in Wednesday's 112-105 triumph to the tune of 43 points on 18-of-28 field-goal shooting to go along with eight rebounds and three blocks.

Where's Dwight Howard on defense? Or Chandler Parsons? Or Terrence Jones? Is Omer Asik ready to start again and ignite Houston's interior defense? Can the Rockets bring back Hakeem Olajuwon or Ralph Sampson?

Even if the Rockets had Olajuwon or Sampson, I don't think they could stop Aldridge right now. But that's a debate for another day.

Aldridge credited his teammates for finding him again after Game 2. Michael Jordan once said the rim looked like a huge bucket when he was in the zone, but he took more outside shots than Aldridge.

"I came into the game just trying to feel it out and see what they were going to try and do because everybody had made so much chaos over how they were going to guard me and things like that," Aldridge said. "I just went into the game just trying to feel it out and ended up finding my rhythm. I thought coach (Terry Stotts) did a really great job of moving me around."

Aldridge is averaging 44.5 points per game in the playoffs. He is the first NBA player with back-to-back 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James (May 24-26, 2009).

Before clinching their first postseason berth since 2011, the Blazers have shot historically well in the playoffs as evidenced by their 45.9 field goal percentage. They made 43.3 percent in the series opener with Houston, then made 47.6 percent from the field to go up 2-0. Aldridge has obviously swayed those results as well as point guard Damian Lillard.

Lillard and Aldridge combined for 77 of the 122 points in Game 1. Lillard scored 31 points to follow the 46-point explosion from his teammate and recently added a double-double of 18 points and 11 assists for Portland, which entered the playoffs with 101.5 ppg in postseason play since 1970-71. They've bulked up those numbers after two games.

The Blazers have twice won a series in the first round despite not having homecourt advantage (1983 and 1985). They were 2-13 in Game 1 when starting a playoff series outside the Rose City prior to facing Houston.

Stotts was pleased with another road win.

"To get a second win here (Houston) is quite an accomplishment. I liked our demeanor, we withstood some of their blows and kept fighting," Stotts said. "I told the team it's something to be proud of, but we have a tough game on Friday, so it's just on to the next one."

Portland, which has won two road games to begin a playoff series for the second time in team history (1977 conference finals), returns to the Moda Center for Game 3 on Friday and went 31-10 as the home team in the regular season. Aldridge averaged 23 ppg at home and Lillard posted 19.3 points in all 41 home bouts.

Stotts said this is the best he's seen Aldridge play and that's after a fantastic regular season. He complimented Aldridge on his determination, locker room presence and focus. But the Blazers won't move far in the postseason if they don't get contributions from the rest of the team, including the bench -- Dorell Wright and Williams especially.

"I thought Dorell Wright coming off the bench really made a difference," Stotts after Game 2 in which Wright posted 15 points in 18 minutes. "He made a lot of big plays, particularly making some shots, but he had some blocks (3), he had some rebounds (four). We need our bench to play well and it doesn't always mean scoring. It's good to get some points off the bench, but we'll take them wherever we can."

Stotts shouldn't have to worry about a shortage of points from Aldridge with his team on the verge of a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Blazers just have to stick to the plan and not let Howard or James Harden get into a rhythm. It's up to the Rockets if they want to change their defense because whatever they're doing isn't working and it could cost coach Kevin McHale his job.

Harden hasn't found his scoring touch and it's been key to Portland's 2-0 start. That and a couple of 40-point performances from Aldridge have the Blazers on the brink of moving into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.

"I don't think we thought about going 2-0," Lillard said. "We were just focused on Game 1 and we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves. Everybody in our locker room knew we were capable of winning games on the road."

Now it's time for Portland to continue to win at home.

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