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Sports Today: NFL draft day drama gets an early start


Hey there, how’s your NFL draft day going so far? 

Good, I hope. 

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield was dominating the morning news cycle as I sat down to write this, and there were two pretty good reasons: 

First, he totally nailed recreating a classic Brett Favre draft day photo. 

Second, he apparently could be the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns. 

This is a fascinating development because I like Mayfield a lot, and I think he could be a really good NFL quarterback. 

He’s got that chutzpah that likely will either cause him to soar once he hits the league or crash and burn spectacularly. 

That attitude could be good for a Browns franchise that lacks swagger outside of its live-dog mascot, but taking him No. 1 kind of works against conventional draft wisdom. 

Of course, that might not be a bad thing, especially for a franchise that has drafted so poorly. 

RELATED: Can the Browns go wrong with the No. 1 pick?

Mayfield has the ability to star in the NFL, but he might be the least talented of the top five quarterbacks in this draft, too. 

That’s notable because teams typically use their high first-round picks to maximize raw talent on their roster. 

Then again, there is risk involved in taking any of the five quarterbacks, so maybe getting the guy with the best intangibles makes sense… 

As the Cincinnati Bengals season circled the drain in December, I began hoping Mayfield would be the guy their next coach would want to replace Andy Dalton. 

Of course, they somehow righted the ship late in the season, inexplicably retained Marvin Lewis as head coach and committed to keeping Jon Kitna 2.0 as the starter so all that is out the window. 

I still believe — even with Dalton the definite starter this season — Lamar Jackson would be the best pick they could make at No. 21. That would allow them to develop him slowly until he becomes either Dalton’s replacement or a very valuable backup/trade chip. 

I don’t pay a lot of attention to mock drafts, but I have seen more than one pairing Arkansas center Frank Ragnow with the Bengals at No. 21. 

That would be a very strong pick as far as need and value in that slot… 

Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs continue to provide nightly entertainment.  

LeBron James is still doing everything he can to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers into round two. 

He came up with decisive plays on both ends of the floor in the last 30 seconds last night, blocking* a Victor Oladipo layup then canning the game-winning 3-pointer. 

(*It might have been goal tending, but I am guessing LeBron shoots a 3 at the end either way so I’m not sure it matters.) 

Later in the evening, the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook scored 45 points to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder alive in their series against Utah. 

The Jazz blew a 25-point lead but still are on top in the series 3-2. 

Right now all four second-round matchups look pretty intriguing, assuming the Raptors and Cavs take care of business… 

College basketball also made news yesterday with the publishing of a report suggesting various reforms the NCAA should institute. 

I wrote about this yesterday from the perspective of how the model of getting from high school to the pros could change

Perhaps I should have gotten more into the things that were left out, but I knew all the writers out there who are smarter and more progressive than I am and thus hate everything about the NCAA would cover compensation and whatnot, so I didn’t feel the need. 

In an interview with The Athletic, committee chair Condoleezza Rice answered concerns about the current compensation model pretty well. 

“What we wanted to say is there is a value proposition at the heart of the collegiate model that is different from the professional model. That value proposition is, you get to play. You get to hone your sport. You get the best coaching. You get nutrition. You get all of those things and most importantly, you get a college degree, which by the way will give you earning potential a million dollars over a non-college graduate over your lifetime; will give you contacts and mentoring that will serve you well the rest of your life; and, oh by the way, you get it for free as opposed to the kid down the hall who’s taking down loans and working 20 hours a week to get what you can get.”

Defending just about any aspect of the status quo on social media is frowned upon, but that is no excuse for letting so many ignore the many good things that come with the current system (despite its flaws). 

If the whole system were nuked and turned into another minor league, I think a lot of people would be disappointed with the result and more athletes (not to mention fans and local economies) would be worse off than would see real benefits, so I applaud Rice for taking this stance and for spelling out those benefits that are often overlooked... 

Continuing to let Brandon Finnegan work through things in the major leagues continues to hurt the Reds. 

Manager Jim Riggleman might have pulled him too soon in a 5-4 loss to the Braves last night, but it’s hard to blame him for having little trust in the hittable lefty. 

After missing almost all of last year because of multiple injuries, Finnegan pitched only 5.1 inning in spring training and hasn’t been very good in any of his starts since the regular season began. 

Otherwise, his presence in the rotation makes complete sense. 

Anyway, now that the offense is putting up enough runs to provide the bullpen with leads to blow, it feels like the season has finally started for the Reds… 

If you’re wondering about starting pitching in Triple-A, Robert Stephenson is 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts. He has struck out 20 in 21.1 innings, but he has also walked 17. 

Justin Nicolino, a late-spring acquisition, is 1-1 with a 3.0 ERA while Jose Lopez and Jackson Stephens both have ERAs over 5.0… 

Finally here’s a bit of breaking news this morning: Dunbar officials have admitted they messed up in their fight to get back into the boys’ basketball tournament in March. 

All that means is the Wolverines shouldn’t have been allowed to play in a sectional final game they won over Fenwick, fellow-DPS member Thurgood Marshall got a raw deal by not being allowed to play that game and DPS wasted public money fighting the OHSAA in court. 

Oh, and Dunbar is banned from next year’s tournament, too. 

What a disgrace. 

Obviously the players who were involved in the fight that started all this in January bear some blame, but this is another example of adults letting them down. 

How long will that be allowed to continue? 


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