Final 2021 NFL Mock Draft

After a trade at the QB position for the Broncos on Wednesday and more info leaking, I have adjusted my mock draft!

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
6DolphinsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
7LionsPenei SwewellOTOregon
8PanthersJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
9BroncosMicah ParsonLBPenn State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamJustin FieldsQBOhio State
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansElijah MooreWROle Miss
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsCaleb FarleyCBVirginia Tech
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersAsante Samuel JrCBFlorida State

2021 NFL Mock Draft

1JaguarsTrevor LawrenceQBClemson
2JetsZach WilsonQBBYU
349ersMac JonesQBAlabama
4FalconsKyle PittsTEFlorida
5BengalsPenei SewellOTOregon
6DolphinsJa’Marr ChaseWRLSU
7LionsDeVonta SmithWRAlabama
8PanthersRashawn SlaterOTNorthwestern
9BroncosJustin FieldsQBOhio State
10CowboysPatrick Surtain IICBAlabama
11GiantsMicah ParsonsLBPenn State
12EaglesJaylen WaddleWRAlabama
13ChargersChristian DarrisawOTVirginia Tech
14VikingsKwity PayeEDMichigan
15PatriotsTrey LanceQBNorth Dakota State
16CardinalsChristian BarmoreDTAlabama
17RaidersTrevon MoehrigSTCU
18DolphinsAlijah Vera-TuckerOTUSC
19Football TeamWalker LittleOTStanford
20BearsRashod BatemanWRMinnesota
21ColtsSamuel CosmiOTTexas
22TitansJaycee HornCBSouth Carolina
23JetsGregory RousseauEDMiami (FL)
24SteelersNajee HarrisHBAlabama
25JaguarsElijah MooreWRMississippi
26BrownsJeremiah Owusu-KoramoahLBNotre Dame
27RavensJaelan PhillipsEDMiami (FL)
28SaintsGreg Newsome IICBNorthwestern
29PackersKadarius ToneyWRFlorida
30BillsJayson OwehEDPenn State
31RavensTerrace Marshall Jr.WRLSU
32BuccaneersTravis EtienneHBClemson
Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

It was September 3, 2017, Brent Honeywell Jr. took the mound for the Durham Bulls in front of just 3,073 fans at Coolray Field against the Gwinnett Braves. He went 5.1 innings that day, striking out five and giving up no runs. His first strikeout victim of the game was Ronald Acuna Jr., another of the strikeout victims that day was first baseman Matt Tuiasosopo. 16 days later Honeywell took the mound against the Memphis Redbirds and the Bulls won the Triple-A National Championship.

In 2018 the Gwinnett Braves were rebranded the Gwinnett Stripers, Acuna made his big-league debut and won Rookie of the Year, Tuiasosopo was out of affiliated ball and retired after a season in the Indy ball circuit. Meanwhile, Honeywell was out the entire season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training and ending up going under the knife for Tommy John Surgery.

Fast forward to April 11, 2021, Acuna is in year three of an eight-year $100 million dollar contract, Tuiasosopo is the manager for that Gwinnett Stripers club, and Honeywell finally made his long-awaited MLB debut against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. There have been 1,316 days between that outing at Coolray Field in 2017, exactly 1,300 since a game that counted, and his debut in 2021, and Honeywell had thrown precisely zero pitches in a regular season game.

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Throughout that time, Honeywell wound up undergoing four separate elbow surgeries and went from the guy with the most talked about pitch among prospects, his plus screwball, and flirting with being a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, to a guy MLB.com has ranked at the 19th ranked prospect in the Rays system.

Still, when he toed the rubber at the Trop on Sunday afternoon, it was truly a goosebump inducing moment for all that had followed his career, and he shut down all six Yankees he faced, two via the strikeout.

Despite only pitching the first two innings of the game, those weren’t without high tension moments. Austin Meadows was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, Honeywell was asked if he considered taking justice into his own hands, he replied “I think I took justice into my own hands and shut them down for the two (innings) I was able to work.”

The Rays wound up falling 8-4 and Honeywell was optioned back down to the alternate site after the game, but Honeywell has plenty of confidence he will be back, saying “I know I belong here.”

MLB Needs to Change This Rule

How’s that for a title? Any idea what I’m talking about? If you don’t, in an era where the powers that be can’t help themselves, tinkering with ridiculousness under the laughably absurd false pretense that the games are too long. But hey, if you think they need robot umps for balls and strikes, I can’t really fault you. Home plate umpiring is terrible and only getting worse. If you think they need a universal DH, that’s ok. You can be wrong and still be a decent person.

But this isn’t about any of that. This is about the tragicomic way the recent Mets Marlins game ended, when Michael Conforto was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. You can check out Jomboy breaking it down here. Or for a quick recap, here’s what went down:

With the sacks packed in a tie game, Marlins reliever Anthony Bass threw a two strike slider to Conforto that was well in the strike zone. Conforto, possibly sensing he’d been beaten, leaned out and stuck his elbow pad into the pitch. The ball grazed the pad and nestled firmly in the catcher’s mitt. Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, a special brand of terrible unto himself, actually started ringing up Conforto for strike three, and mid flourish, changed his mind and awarded Conforto first base, and the Mets the game.

Obviously, Bass and Marlins manager Don Mattingly argued the call but the damage was done. Kulpa and umpiring crew went under the hood to review the play, but could only make the determination that Conforto was indeed struck by the ball. Why? Because that’s all they were allowed to review.

By rule, a batter must make a reasonable effort to avoid being hit by a pitch. If the umpire rules that he doesn’t, then he doesn’t get awarded first base and the pitch is called a ball, assuming it’s out of the strike zone. From this rule, it can be inferred that a batter cannot deliberately put himself in the path of a pitch either, which Conforto clearly did. But, alas, not reviewable.

Moreover, also by rule, if a batter is struck by a pitch that is in the strike zone, the umpire is to call a strike and not award the batter first base. Bass’ pitch to Conforto was clearly a strike – even Kulpa was ringing him up before having last second change of heart. But of course, this is also not reviewable.

Why are they not reviewable? Who the heck knows, to be honest. The confederacy of dunces that runs Major League Baseball will do what it’s going to do. That said, when it comes to replay review, the line does have to arbitrarily be drawn somewhere. Where is that line? I don’t know and I don’t care.

However, what I do know is that MLB can take a cue from another major professional league who constantly struggles with its much maligned replay system, and what can and can’t be reviewed. The NFL automatically reviews all scoring plays. Someone scores a touchdown? Ok, let’s just make sure nothing wonky happened. Seems reasonable, right?

Here’s what MLB can do, and start doing immediately. Automatically review all plays on which a winning run scores. In 99% of cases it will be academic anyway as there won’t be any dispute. But in the odd case that there is, like we just had with Miami and the Mets, the review office can make a swift determination that shenanigans went down.

Sure, rule changes have to be collectively bargained or whatever, but I can’t see the Players’ Association fighting this. And if they do, Joe Torre can tell Tony Clark to go eff himself and make the change anyway. What are the players going to do? Strike?

Who knows, maybe the Mets would have won the game at some point anyway. But maybe they wouldn’t have. And maybe the Marlins will finish the season one game out of a playoff spot. MLB has to do everything in its power to ensure things like that don’t happen due to a butchered call.

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers secure Easter Sunday Win at Colorado Rockies

It was not the start to his Colorado Rockies career that Austin Gomber had envisioned, opening the game with a walk, E1, walk, then allowing Mookie Betts to score on a wild pitch that really should have been an out at the plate had Gomber held onto the ball. His first inning wound up with a stat line of three runs on zero hits that ended with a cannon of a throw from Charlie Blackmon to double up Max Muncy at third base on a sac fly from Gavin Lux.

The second inning didn’t start out much better as Gomber gave up a leadoff double followed by a sac bund before walking Betts a second time. Betts proceeded to be thrown out attempting to steal second and Gomber escaped the second without any damage. He got out of the third unscathed despite walking the leadoff hitter, then got the Rockies first hit of the game in the bottom of the third and was replaced on the mound by Chi Chi Gonzalez in the fourth.

That was one of only three hits Julio Urias gave up in his season debut, the last coming in the eight inning on an infield single by Ryan McMahon who eventually came around to score on a double by Garrett Hampson off Jimmy Nelson.

The first run of the game to come off a base hit was a solo home run by Will Smith to lead off the top of that eighth against Robert Stephenson.

In the end, it was a quickly played game, nine minutes shy of three hours that saw eight total hits and the Dodgers coming out on top 4-2 despite on the back of that three run, no hit first inning. Gomber loses his Rockies debut while Julio Urias picks up his first win of the season and Cory Knebel his first save.

DraftKings MLB Tournament Lineup – 4/1/21

Is there a better day of the year than Opening Day? In honor of my favorite day of the year, here’s the DK tournament lineup to make you rich.
Early in the season, your biggest opportunities to field a powerful lineup is the lag in which it takes pricing to catch up to new aces. If you want to start the powerful Dodgers in hitter friendly Coors? Ok. Then you need to either punt multiple positions or find value with your starting pitchers.
You won’t see Woodruff and Alcantara available at these prices by June, or maybe even May. Now is the time to pounce. Here is today’s money maker. Use it. Or don’t, and let me get rich alone.

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

World Series ChampionsToronto Blue Jays
AL PennantToronto Blue Jays
NL PennantLos Angeles Dodgers
AL EastNew York Yankees
AL CentralChicago White Sox
AL WestOakland Athletics
AL Wild CardToronto Blue Jays
AL Wild CardMinnesota Twins
NL EastAtlanta Braves
NL CentralMilwaukee Brewers
NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild CardSan Diego Padres
NL Wild CardNew York Mets
AL MVPMatt Chapman 
AL Cy YoungLucas Giolito
AL ROYBobby Dalbec
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.
NL Cy YoungJacob deGrom
NL ROYKe’Bryan Hayes

Best Low-Key NFL Free Agent Signings So Far

It’s the big money deals that make us ooh and aah, isn’t it? After all, they’re what grab the headlines. However, it’s often the case that the biggest impact signings are of the smaller, more under-the-radar variety. This is especially true in football. While bona-fide stars infrequently hit the free agent market, the resulting scarcity driving up the price of comparative also rans to comical levels, savvy GMs are targeting quality if unflashy veterans to do what they always do – put in a solid shift and help the team.

Here are the five best of the unheralded signings of the free agent market so far.

Honorable Mention: Corey Bojorquez

This is cheating a little bit, hence why he’s included here instead of on the actual list, but whomever signs Corey Bojorquez is going to get a hell of a punter. The 24-year-old California native averaged just below 51 yards per punt for Buffalo last season, which is absurd. Buffalo signed Matt Haack, who isn’t terrible, in a weird move. With the enhanced attention paid to analytics in football, and the resultant emphasis on field position, it’s weird that the Bills would let a guy who flips the field better than anyone else go. And given his youth, one can realistically expect Bojorquez to continue to improve.

5. John Brown, WR. Las Vegas Raiders

The Patriots have certainly opened some eyes with their spending spree on pass catchers, a certain departure from the last two decades of free agent philosophy under Bill Belichick, it is after all the post-Tom Brady era in New England. But while they snagged the headlines for shoveling well north of 100-million dollars in multi-year deals to the likes of Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, the Raiders got Brown for less than four million on a one-year deal. Yes, Brown does come with a bit of an injury history but he’s one season removed from a career year. If he can stay healthy, an admittedly big if, he’s as good of a deep threat as there is in the game. If he doesn’t, the Raiders risked little and will have lost little.

4. Yannick Ngakoue, DE. Las Vegas Raiders

I swear, we aren’t Raiders fans. But for all of the deserved criticism they’re getting for dismantling their offensive line, you cannot argue with the value here. While Shaquille Barrett, Leonard Floyd, Bud Dupree, Trey Hendrickson and others are signing huge money deals for four plus years, the Raiders inked Ngakoue for two years and a modest 26 million. It can be argued maybe Ngakoue isn’t quite in the class of a Barrett, but you can make a strong case that he’s better than Bud Dupree, who is both older and three times as expensive.

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB. Washington Football Team

Quick reminder, the FT made the playoffs last season. They accomplished this in spite of a 7-9 record, and ruinously bad quarterback play from the likes of Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. It’s true, the team performed better under the leadership of Alex Smith, but if we’re being honest, the heartwarming story of his comeback from a limb and career-threatening injury somewhat obscures the fact that he didn’t play that well either. It wasn’t until Taylor Heinicke emerged from the very definition of nowhere that the team got any kind of inspired play at the position. While he makes for another nice story, a team with playoff aspirations may want to see more than a couple of inspired performances before hitching their wagon to him. Enter Fitzpatrick, the beloved veteran of now his ninth team. Fitz’s occasional turnover problems are well known, but he’s a tough guy, a leader, and every single team he has every played for has been better because he was on it. While teams like the Rams and Colts shelled out draft capital to upgrade their lots in life at the QB position, the FT did it for one year and ten million. Solid business.

2. Malcolm Brown, RB. Miami Dolphins

There’s an old saying about never having too many running backs. There’s also a saying about not paying top dollar for running backs. And if there isn’t, there should be. There were and still are some big names on the running back market. Aaron Jones re-upped with Green Bay, but household names Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette (fresh off a dominant Super Bowl performance) and Kenyan Drake remain out there. The Dolphins snagged Brown, a productive and dependable veteran for one year at less than two million.

1. Alex Mack, C. San Francisco 49ers.

It’s not often that a 35-year-old center clearly in the twilight of his career is the signing that moves the needle. But while the headlines are on the gazillion dollar deal the Niners reached with Trent Williams, replacing the injured Weston Richburg was of tantamount importance. So they got the best guy available. (Note, Rodney Hudson ended up being traded before he was released, so he was never technically available.) Mack may not be the dominant force of nature anymore that he was early on with Cleveland, but he’s still been good for Atlanta the last few years, and there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to be. The one year deal Frisco gave him is well worth the risk to find out. Also, fun fact. Mack’s real first name is Javon, making him the only white guy named Javon in NFL history. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I didn’t feel like looking up an image history of every NFLer ever named Javon.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know on Twitter @thestainsports. Thanks for reading.

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Spring Training of 2021 is as unique as there has ever been. Typically the oddities are limited to seeing minor league guys come up wearing a number in the 70s or 80s pinch hitting with the massive MiLB dual flapped helmet while listening to the announcers shuffling through their notes to try and find the player’s name. Instead, the minor league guys are wearing single flapped helmets and there aren’t any call ups for the day thanks to the limited number of players in camp, but the rest of the game has gone odd, here are the ones that stand out:

7 inning Games

The default length of a game this Spring is just 7 innings. With the previously mentioned limited rosters there aren’t the guys to fill out the 8th and 9th inning duties, so most games end after seven, which is just weird to watch MLB games essentially last as long as a local High School game.

6 Inning Games

If 7 inning games are odd, 6 inning games are downright bizarre. In no level of baseball are there games scheduled to go just 6 innings, except Spring Training 2021. A number of games have been scheduled to go just six due to pitching availability.

8.5 Inning Game

The March 4 game between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks was scheduled to go 8.5 games regardless of the score. The D-Backs happened to be up 9-2 after the top of the 8th, so the box score looks normal, but had the score been flipped, there still would not have been a bottom of the 9th!

Double Walkoff

On March 2, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after 6 innings thanks to not one, but two winning free passes. Bases loaded tied 2-2 with Christopher Sanchez in the mound, Riley Adams gets hit by the pitch to give the Blue Jays the 3-2 victory. One problem, the Phillies wanted to see more from Sanchez, so they allow Phillip Clarke to step into the batter’s box where he proceeds to draw a walk to walk it off….again.

Free Substitutions

Also on March 2, John Means got the start on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees. Means gave up a single, fly out, single, groundout, single and was pulled from the game in favor of Jay Flaa who got a fly out to end the inning. Fast forward to the top of the second, replacing Flaa on the mound was, yup, John Means! He after struggling with his feel in the first he took a breather then went back out despite having already been removed from the game and finished the second inning on his own, but only going 1.2 innings.

Box Score Glitches

So, this one is more of a glitch, or somebody asleep on the job, or both, but the Phillies-Yankees game from Sunday March 7 showed a bizarre scenario. DJ LeMahieu lined out for the first out of the second inning before Aaron Judge is called out on strikes for out number two, then it gets weird. I have yet to confirm what actually happened, mainly because I don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story, but apparently Zach Britton, the pitcher, “starts inning at 3rd base” despite there having already been a grand slam earlier in the inning and he was not on base, and he is immediately out at third. No explanation, not play-by-play just out at third. The box score after the game does not list Britton as having participated in the game, and the Yankees opened the next inning with Aaron Hicks, who was batting behind Judge in the lineup.