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    Instead of preparing for a playoff run, LeBron James is mostly spending the spring playing hoops with his teenage sons and enjoying tea time with his young daughter. And when he isn't binge-watching “Tiger King” with his wife, he is scanning the news for information on whether the coronavirus pandemic will allow the Los Angeles Lakers to finish their impressive season chasing an NBA championship. James is still optimistic about the Lakers' future, but he also knows safety comes first. “I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure if we do not have an opportunity to finish this season,” James said from his home Wednesday on a conference call with Lakers beat reporters. The Lakers were cruising toward their first playoff berth since 2013 when the NBA season was suspended March 11. They have the Western Conference’s best record at 49-14, leading the second-place Clippers (44-20) by 5 1/2 games and trailing only Milwaukee (53-12) in the overall league standings. The Lakers did it following a thorough roster turnover last summer headlined by the arrival of Anthony Davis. They also persevered through a stressful preseason trip to China, followed by the death of franchise icon Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in January. James' 17th NBA season is obviously unique for many reasons, but he is uncommonly proud of what the Lakers have accomplished so far. “I can have some satisfaction on what our team has been able to do this year (with) a first-year coach, first-year system, a whole new coaching staff, bringing on so many new pieces to our team this year,” James said. “I honestly didn’t think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did, just having so many new pieces (and) bringing in Anthony. He spent seven years in New Orleans, so he was coming into a new system, playing along with myself, and how we would be able to come together? I thought it would take us a lot longer than it did, but I was wrong. I was very wrong about that.” And then all that good work abruptly stopped four weeks ago. Two unidentified Lakers players subsequently tested positive for coronavirus, but the Lakers say James and his teammates are all healthy after they completed their 14-day isolation. James will be deeply disappointed if the Lakers don't get a chance to test themselves during a playoff run, yet he realizes what's most important in the upcoming weeks and months. James initially expressed reluctance about playing games in empty arenas, or the possibility of NBA teams gathering in the same city to complete the season in a form of sports quarantine. The 16-time All-Star selection now says he is up for anything that's safe and smart. “If it’s in one single, isolated destination, if it’s Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, then those conversations will be had,” James said. “Once this thing gets a good handle on it and the people in the higher ranks understand it, if they know we are safe, then we can make the next step. But the safety is always the most important, and then we go from there.” James isn't yet back at work with Mike Mancias, his personal trainer. Instead, he says he is training with his wife, Savannah, and playing plenty of hoops with Bronny James, their 15-year-old son, at a thoroughly sterilized court owned by a friend. He also shoots hoops outside at his own home with the whole family. James is doing weekly meditation, but says his mental state is outstanding thanks to his family. He has frequently spoken about missing time with loved ones during the grind of the NBA season, so he is enjoying this intensive togetherness with his kids. “They wake up every day in a positive mind frame,” James said with a laugh. “Maybe one reason is they’re not actually in school, so I know they get to sleep in a lot more now. But also they’re just so appreciative of life. ... Just being able to see my kids wake up with that positive attitude helps. For me, I wake up, I’m able to get a nice breakfast, and then I train. And when I’m training, I’m always in a very positive state of mind.” ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Former Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton has been indicted on a felony charge of injury to a child after his teenage daughter accused him of beating her. A Tarrant County grand jury indicted the 38-year-old Hamilton on Monday. He remains free on $30,000 bond after he turned himself in to authorities on Oct. 30. If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of two to 10 years in prison. Hamilton's attorneys say the Texas Rangers Hall of Famer is innocent of the charge. His 14-year-old daughter told her mother, Hamilton’s ex-wife, that her father struck her after he became enraged by a comment from her. According to an affidavit by a Keller Police Department detective, Hamilton’s daughter told police that he went on a rampage Sept. 30. She says she made a comment to Hamilton that upset him, so he threw a full water bottle overhand at her, hitting her in the chest, then cursed and shouted at her. He pulled away the chair on which she rested her feet and threw it, breaking the chair, she told detectives. It didn’t hit her, but he then grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her from the chair on which she sat. She fell to the floor, and he lifted her up, threw her over his shoulder and carried her to her bedroom. The girl said at this point she was telling Hamilton, “I’m sorry.” Upon reaching her bedroom door, he tossed the teen onto her bed, pressed her face onto the mattress and began hitting her legs with an open hand and closed fist. She said that after he finished striking her, he told her, “I hope you go in front of the f---ing judge and tell him what a terrible dad I am so I don’t have to see you anymore and you don’t have to come to my house again.” As he left the room, Hamilton's daughter said he told her to gather her things for school. When she replied that she had already put them in the car, he responded, “Well, aren’t you just the perfect child.” After Hamilton was the first overall pick out of high school in the 1999 amateur draft by Tampa Bay, his career was nearly destroyed by cocaine and alcohol addiction. He returned to baseball with Cincinnati and made his big league debut in 2007, when he hit 19 homers in 90 games before being traded to the Rangers. He was part of their only two World Series teams (2010 and 2011) and was an All-Star five seasons in a row. An awe-inspiring display in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008 was a highlight of his career, when the first-time All-Star led the American League with 130 RBI while hitting .304 with 32 homers in his first full season. He hit four homers in the 2010 AL Championship Series and had a four-homer game at Baltimore in 2012. Hamilton left the Rangers in free agency, signing a $125 million, five-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels before the 2013 season. He was recovering from shoulder surgery when the Angels traded him back to Texas in 2015 after his two injury-plagued seasons with Los Angeles. He played 50 games for Texas in 2015 but never again after he underwent surgery at least three times afterward.
  • Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said Wednesday that officials believe a 13-game college football schedule would be possible even if the start of the season was delayed until October because of the new coronavirus. The season is scheduled to begin with seven FBS games Aug. 29 before the majority of teams open the following week. Speaking in a live video discussion with the Texas Tribune, Sharp addressed the football season in answering a question about the university system's lost revenue because of college sporting events which have been canceled because of the COVID-19 virus. Sharp said he's gotten many questions about football and whether it will return on time this season, if at all. “In some conversations with SEC officials and NCAA, I think they’ve come to the conclusion that you can probably start football as late as October and still have a 13-game schedule,' Sharp said. Sharp then added that there are many unknowns about football season because of the pandemic that has killed thousands and shut down sports across the globe. “We don’t know when this thing is going to end,' he said. “We don’t know when this is going to happen. For all we know, we may have football where we have coaches and players and referees on a field with a TV camera and nobody in the stadium. We don’t know.' SEC spokesman Herb Vincent said he was not familiar with the conversations Sharp referred to, but addressed the league's hopes for the upcoming season. “Our focus is on preparing to play the season as scheduled,' Vincent said in an email to The Associated Press. “As we have done in recent weeks, using the best available information from public health officials, at an appropriate time we will make decisions about the future.' The NCAA didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment about Sharp's remarks. ___ More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • Kobe Bryant is back atop the best-seller lists, days after the late Los Angeles Lakers superstar was selected to the Hall of Fame. The latest release from Bryant’s Granity Studios, “The Wizenard Series: Season One” will debut at No. 1 on The New York Times’ middle-grade hardcover list that will be published April 19. Earlier this week, it had already hit No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for children’s basketball books. Bryant and daughter Gianna were among nine who died in a helicopter crash in late January Season One, the latest installment of Bryant’s Wizenard story line that follows the progress of a young basketball player dealing with various trials and tribulations, was released last week. Bryant’s company describes it as “a story of strain and sacrifice, supernatural breakthroughs, and supreme dedication to the game.” Bryant was the series creator and envisioned the story lines. Other books created by Bryant’s content company soared in popularity in the days following the basketball legend’s death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. Those other books from Granity to make best-seller lists earlier this year include “Epoca: The Tree Of Ecrof,” “Legacy And The Queen” and “The Wizenard: Training Camp” — the prequel to this best-seller. Bryant’s 2018 book “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” was also a best-seller and has been on Amazon’s top lists for much of this year as well. Much of Granity's work has continued after Bryant's death, including installments of the “Detail” sports analysis series of programs on ESPN. Granity, after Bryant's death, said it would continue his mission of “using creative education to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves.” Bryant won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, retiring in 2016 to spend his full-time focus on Granity and his passion for content and storytelling. The two-time Olympic gold medalist also was an Academy Award winner in 2018, and this past weekend was announced as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. ___ More AP coverage of the life and death of Kobe Bryant: https://apnews.com/KobeBryant ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • It makes little difference to Alexis Lafreniere when, where or how he’ll learn about being selected in the NHL draft. The 18-year-old from Quebec simply can’t wait to begin the next step of his promising career with the NHL's entire calendar of events on hold due to the new coronavirus pandemic. “Growing up it’s the dream of every hockey player. And to see how close we are right now, it’s pretty exciting,” Lafreniere said during a conference call Wednesday after the NHL Central Scouting Bureau had the Rimouski Oceanic forward topping its final ranking of North American draft-eligible prospects. “I think we’re all excited for the draft,” he said. “And for the team that’s going to draft me, I’m going to be really happy to join them.” The only question for Lafreniere and his fellow prospects is when the draft will take place and what form it will be conducted. The draft, scheduled to take place in Montreal in late June, has been postponed. So has the draft lottery to determine the top seedings and the weeklong pre-draft combine in Buffalo, New York. The draft can’t feasibly be held until the playoffs are completed or the entire season canceled. That places the likelihood of the NHL holding the draft in September or as late as October. What’s not in question is the 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds Lafreniere topping the class of prospects. “He makes plays that you don’t even think those plays are possible, and he still makes them,” said bureau regional scout J.F. Damphousse. 'What separates him from the pack is his compete level,” Damphousse added. “He’s willing to play physical. He battles very game, and any time the game is on the line, you want him on the ice.” Forward Tim Stuetzle, the German professional league’s rookie of the year, was the top-ranked international prospect, and considered second behind Lafreniere. Forward Quinton Byfield and defenseman Jamie Drysdale, both from the Toronto area, were ranked second and third among North American prospects. When play ended, Lafreniere was leading the Quebec Major Junior League with 112 points (35 goals, 77 assists) in 52 games. He was the league’s rookie of the year in 2017-18, when he scored 42 goals – the most by a rookie since Sidney Crosby scored 54 in 2003-04. Overall, Lafreniere has 114 goals and 183 assists for 297 points in 173 games. In January, he captained Canada’s gold-medal-winning team and earned MVP honors at the world junior championships. From suburban Montreal, Lafreniere has the opportunity to become first Quebec-born player selected No. 1 since goalie Marc-Andre Fleury went first to Pittsburgh in 2003. Stuetzle is the first German-born player to top Central Scouting’s list. He's in position to become the second German to be selected among the top-five picks, after Leon Draisaitl was chosen third by Edmonton on 2014. Russia’s Iaroslav Akarsov is considered the top-ranked goalie, with a chance of being the first at his position chosen in the top 10 since Carey Price was selected fifth by Montreal in 2005. The draft order remains unknown with the season incomplete and the draft lottery on hold. The Detroit Red Wings had already assured themselves of finishing 31st with a 17-49-5 record and 39 points, 23 behind Ottawa. Only six points separate Ottawa and Buffalo, which sits 25th. Stuetzle has a bit of an edge over many of his North American counterparts, who are forced to work out on their own while gyms are closed. Under German rules, Stuetzle is allowed to hold personal workouts with his trainer, who owns a gym. Still, all prospects face a potentially long wait before they might be able to work out in a team setting once again. “It’s definitely going to be a bit difficult,” said Byfield, a 6-foot-4, 214-pound center, who had 32 goals and 82 points in 45 games for Sudbury in the OHL last season. “But everyone’s in the same boat. Nobody’s going to have been playing hockey for six months.” Central Scouting director Dan Marr said the final rankings are usually released in early April, so he and his scouts missed only about 10 days of evaluation. With uncertainty over holding the combine, which includes two days of prospect testing, Marr said Central Scouting is collecting players’ medical histories, which will be distributed to NHL teams. He added, the top 75 players also conducted on-ice tests at various prospect games this year. —- AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report. ___ For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • While the world wrestles with the coronavirus pandemic, the three biggest U.S.-based sports leagues currently affected by the crisis are trying to figure out if, how and where games can be safely played again this year. The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball have some similar constraints: Public and player health are the most pressing issues and any decisions would have to come with widespread federal, state and local support. But there are also individual challenges for each league, which have unique schedules and playing arrangements that could affect logistics. All three have discussed the possibility of essentially quarantining their players in cities for long periods to play games in a safe environment. Dr. Patrick Mularoni, who is the medical director of sports medicine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, says it's possible, at least on paper. “You’d have to completely isolate the players, staff, coaches, medical staff and likely food-service workers until 14 days. They’d all have to be willing to do that,” Mularoni said. 'And the logistics of having that number of people not make a mistake is the difficulty there. But once you do that, if they are all together and working together, once they’re together, you should be fine because essentially what you created is an oasis where people who have proven that they do not have COVID can be.” A Q&A prepared by some of AP's beat writers on where leagues are with their plans: NBA Q: If safe, how would play resume and when? The NBA is looking at countless restart options, but a consistent theme throughout them calls for a training camp of at least two weeks for teams to get back into some sort of basketball shape. It would seem likely that teams would be quarantined at that time. No decision has been made about whether to resume some of the regular season or go right into the playoffs, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said his league won’t decide anything definitively until at least May. Q: Where would games be held? The idea of having one or two sites for games has been discussed, with Las Vegas and Los Angeles among them. The league has explored several possible sites, for preparation purposes, but has not entered into any concrete deals anyplace. Q: Would fans be allowed? Almost certainly not, at least not at first, unless social distancing guidelines are lifted and public health officials say it is safe. Q: Could they shorten the playoffs? Absolutely. The best-of-seven format could be abandoned for a best-of-five or possibly less, though the NBA seems adamant at this point that -- if the season is going to resume -- it wants as legitimate a champion as possible. Q: What other precautions would the NBA take? The ball itself could be a major issue. NBA players sweat, and sweat a lot. That sweat gets on the floor, gets on other players, but the one thing in the game that everyone is touching is the same ball. — Tim Reynolds reporting from Miami. ___ NHL Q: If safe, how would play resume and when? A: The NHL could target a late June or early July resumption of the regular season or beginning of the playoffs. League officials, coaches, general managers and players expect at least a two week re-training camp before resuming play. If the NHL goes directly to playoffs, either 16 or 24 of the 31 teams would likely be involved. Q: Where would games be held? A: The NHL would like to use home arenas but is also considering hundreds of places to hold games at neutral sites, if need be. Q: Would fans be allowed? A: It would take CDC and Public Health Canada clearance for large gatherings for fans to be allowed. Q: What would be among the upsides in resuming play? A: The playoffs could be the most competitive, with teams icing nearly complete rosters, given most players dealing with injuries will have had time to heal. NHL’s two key broadcast partners, NBC and SportsNet/CBC, have a huge hole to fill in their broadcast schedules with the Summer Olympics being postponed. Q: How late could hockey be played? A: Potentially into September. NHL officials are focused on staging a full 82-game 2020-21 season that could start as late as mid-November with the Stanley Cup awarded in late June. At least a month’s break would be required to allow for the draft and a free-agency period, and to provide players a chance to rest. — John Wawrow reporting from Buffalo, New York, and Stephen Whyno from Washington. ___ MLB Q: If safe, how would play resume and when? Games likely would start about three weeks after teams return to training. Teams and players have looked at the end of the 1994-95 strike as a possible model. Teams accepted the players’ unconditional offer to return to work on April 2, which was the original start of the season, and opening day was pushed to April 25. Q: Where would games be held? MLB’s first choice would be to play in regular-season ballparks. Uncertain whether that will be possible, teams and the players’ association have discussed possibly basing all 30 teams in the Phoenix area, where they would be sequestered for an indeterminate time. There would have to be agreement on economic and logistical issues, and medical and government approvals. Q: Would fans be allowed? At regular-season ballparks, the decision likely would be a city-to-city determination, made by local and state governments. At spring training ballparks in Arizona, there likely would not be any fans and games would be played for television, streaming and radio audiences. Q: How long of a season is needed for it to be considered legitimate? A: There is no one answer, but the early consensus appears to be about 81, half the usual length. Teams played 103-111 games in the strike-interrupted 1981 season and 123-131 in 1918, shortened due to World War I. Q: How would the season change? A: Players and teams want to play as many games as possible, which would increase revenue. Look for more games per week and more doubleheaders. — Ronald Blum reporting from New York. ___ AP Sports Writer David Brandt contributed to this report.
  • First-year head coach Matt Rhule said Teddy Bridgewater’s familiarity with the team’s offensive scheme made him the “right fit” at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and ultimately leading to Cam Newton’s release. Bridgewater spent the 2018 season working under new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady with the New Orleans Saints and the two developed a close player-coach relationship. “His relationship with Joe, knowing the offense, the things that he has done in this offense just made sense to us,” Rhule said. Rhule didn't directly answer whether Newton's history of shoulder and foot injuries played a role in the decision. Rhule called Newton a “great quarterback who can play in any system,' but added that Bridgewater's built-in knowledge of Brady's playbook — one that helped LSU win a national championship last season — will be helpful for the Panthers in what is expected to be a dramatically shortened offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing. The Panthers are one of five teams that hired new coaches and were slated to begin a “virtual” offseason workout program Monday, but the league decided to delay the start until more details can be worked out. 'In a year like this especially where we are all in our homes, I think Teddy is a guy who has been in this offense, knows this offense and had great familiarity with Joe,” Rhule said. “It just made sense to us.” Newton is a free agent for the first time in his nine-year NFL career, and recently said he feels like a fish out of water. There has been no indication where he might play this season. Rhule called the decision to release Newton, the Panthers' No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, a difficult one. He said he developed incredible respect for the 2015 league MVP in the brief time he spent with him this offseason. “I have no doubt that he will play well,” Rhule said of Newton. “He is a great quarterback and we have all seen the things that he has done. I just think as we move forward we thought this was the right time for us. We saw the opportunity to get Teddy and really felt like he was the right fit for us.' While the Panthers gave Bridegwater a three-year, $63 million contract, Rhule added the team wouldn't rule out drafting a quarterback. The Panthers have the seventh overall pick in the draft. “I don’t know if that’s our focus right now, a first-round quarterback, but at the end of the day if a guy drops in your lap that you think, at any position, you think can change your team. ...' Rhule said. 'When you draft you’re not drafting for the next 12 months, you’re drafting for the next four to five to six years, and hopefully on.’’ Rhule also said: — The Panthers' biggest area of need entering the NFL draft is adding depth on the defense. — He was thrilled to sign Browns defensive back Juston Burris, someone the team had targeted since day one of the offseason. — He hasn't decided if Shaq Thompson or free agent pickup Tahir Whitehead from the Raiders will play middle linebacker. He feels as if both have the flexibility to play that position in what he views will be a “position-less” defense. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • To some, it was a surprise when Isaiah Wilson announced along with Andrew Thomas that he would be skipping Georgia's bowl game against Baylor and preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft. Thomas had been seen as a first-round pick for well over a year and had manned the left tackle spot for Georgia for the past two seasons. Wilson though had been playing on the right side of the line and did not have the same national reputation as Thomas. Wilson has repeatedly stated that the reason he decided to skip out on the bowl game was that he wanted to spend time with his family in New York before going off to train for the 2020 NFL Draft. Related: Former Georgia OL Isaiah Wilson reveals years of family sacrifice At the 2020 NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, Wilson admitted that it wasn't an easy decision for him to leave Athens. But he added that his matchups against elite talent let him know he was good enough to succeed at the next level. 'I was fairing well against first-round talent, and touted draft picks. Guys I know that have years on me,' Wilson said. That's when I decided that I think that I'm good enough.' At the beginning of the process, most mock draft experts saw Wilson as third-round pick. He obviously had a lot of tools to intrigue teams, but he was still less polished than the likes of Thomas, Iowa's Tristan Wirfs and Alabama's Jedrick Willis. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. even went as far to say that Wilson outright should've gone back to Georgia for another season. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected guard Michael Deiter with the No. 78 overall pick. He signed a four-year contract worth $3.9 million, with $985,000 of that guaranteed. That dollar amount alone would've validated Wilson's decision to leave Georgia early. 'It was for sure hard. I created a family there,' Wilson said on leaving Georgia. 'My teammates there are brothers, not just teammates and it was tough to decide I was going to leave my last year. 'I decided that I was ready to go to work and attack the next level of my life.' Related: Isaiah Wilson on Georgia's 2020 offensive line: If you're sleeping on them, then they're going to wake you up' But as the draft process has progressed, Wilson appears to be moving out of that draft slot and potentially into a much more lucrative one. Both Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network and Dane Brugler of The Athletic stated that teams they've spoken with see Wilson as a first-round talent. The reason for this is that the NFL draft and really any draft is because it's not so much about what you've done in college but rather what you could be doing in a few years for a team. And Wilson's biggest asset is that he still has gobs of potential. Wilson is a rare athlete for someone of his size. He's listed at 6-foot-6 and 350 pounds. That seems massive but Wilson carries and moves with the weight very well. You can't coach size and Wilson certainly has that. If you were going to pick a Georgia offensive lineman to be the first one off the bus as a way to impress onlookers there's a real case to be made that Wilson would've been that one. While he didn't have the resume of Thomas, it's not like he accomplished nothing in his time at Georgia. He started 24 games over the past two seasons for Georgia and was named Second-Team All-SEC in 2019. Had he returned in 2020, most would've viewed him as one of the best offensive tackles in the country as he would've slid over to Thomas' spot on the left side of Georgia's offensive line. Wilson and Thomas both entered Georgia as members of the 2017 signing class. Thomas entered as the more polished player, which is why he started at right tackle in his freshman season while Wilson had to redshirt while he adjusted to the rigors of the college game. But it's worth mentioning that Wilson came to Georgia as a higher-rated prospect. Wilson was the No. 16 overall prospect in the signing class while Thomas came in at No. 45. The recruiting experts saw the same thing NFL teams are seeing now. Wilson still has room to grow and develop as a football player, which is what is pushing his draft stock up. In all likelihood Thomas is still going to be selected before Wilson will be in the 2020 NFL Draft. But it's becoming more evident that Wilson might not have to wait much longer to hear his name called on draft night. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football could have record 2020 NFL Draft class on tap Former Georgia QB Jake Fromm identifies deep ball issue it's not his arm Georgia football's most underrated defensive player: Malik Herring Georgia football podcast: UGA might get unexpected NFL draft success story Brock Bowers: Nation's No. 3 TE shares why Georgia made his top eight The post Why Isaiah Wilson was always going to move up in 2020 NFL Draft process appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS A record Georgia NFL draft class was predicted more than a year ago, and it appears the Bulldogs could be on the verge of making that vision a reality. RELATED: Why Georgia 2020 NFL class could produce record numbers Eight Georgia players are expected to be selected according to the most recent 7-round mock draft from CBSsports.com, a number that would match the program-high picked in 2013. Seven Georgia players were drafted last year. The 2020 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place April 23-25 in Las Vegas, but it will be closed to the public on account of the coronavirus pandemic. The mock draft, authored by Ryan Wilson, appears as follows: First Round No. 10 Andrew Thomas, Cleveland No. 26 D'Andre Swift, Miami Second Round No. 39 Isaiah Wilson, Miami Fourth Round No. 112 Jake Fromm, San Diego Sixth Round No. 193 J.R. Reed, Indianapolis No. 204 Solomon Kindley, New England No. 212 Rodrigo Blankenship, New England Seventh round No. 248 Charle Woerner, Houston Georgia receiver Lawrence Cager might be another candidate to slip into the draft, even though he was unable to workout at the NFL combine on account of his post-ankle surgery rehabilitation. Defensive lineman Tyler Clark is another UGA player who has appeared in some mock drafts, and tailback Brian Herrien was among the 10 Bulldogs at the NFL combine. Graduate transfer Eli Wolf posted an individual workout that included some impressive results. But Wolf, along with others like defensive tackle Michael Barnett and linebacker Tae Crowder saw their NFL draft hopes diminished when Georgia Pro Day was postponed, and then canceled, on account of the coronavirus. The only true first-round lock in this year's Georgia draft class is Thomas, though it seems very likely Swift will also be a first-round pick. The players' stock is a matter of position, with offensive tackles in great demand, and tailbacks seemingly undervalued. Indeed, there has been recent speculation that Wilson, as raw as some scouts believe him to be, could end up a first-round pick because of his massive size and potential. Swift, meanwhile, is viewed by most as the top tailback in the NFL draft and will be the first at his position off the board. Fromm's draft stock is a little bit more difficult to determine, as he's sure to have interviewed well. Coaches love the possibilities a fast processor and accurate thrower like Fromm could bring to the table, particularly if adjusting his footwork can add velocity and distant to certain throws. RELATED: Jake Fromm identifies deep ball passing issue Reed's drop to a third-day projection has been somewhat puzzling, with analysts citing a lack of athleticism. Reed has been one of the most reliable open-field tacklers in the SEC, and he was rarely caught out of position or beaten deep. Blankenship is another wild card of sorts, as most kickers don't find their way into the NFL draft. It would seem Smart's relationship with Bill Belichick could provide Blankenship a great boost if this projection is accurate. Flashback to 2013 NFL Draft *-still active First Round No. 17. Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh No. 30 Alec Ogletree, St. Louis* Third Round No. 82 John Jenkins, New Orleans* No. 84 Shawn Williams, Cincinnati* Fifth Round No. 134 Sanders Commings, Kansas City No. 161 Tavarres King, Denver Sixth Round No. 188 Cornelius Washington, Chicago No. 191 Bacarri Rambo, Washington DawgNation Georgia NFL draft stories Mel Kiper Jr. Top 10 position rankings feature several UGA players Isaiah Wilson's NFL draft stock rising, per 7-round CBS mock Georgia football Mauler' Solomon Kindley on Atlanta Falcons radar Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Brian Herrien shares Nick Chubb story at NFL combine The post Georgia football could have record 2020 NFL Draft class on tap appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tom Brady entered his final season in New England with a strong inkling that it would be his last with the Patriots. The six-time Super Bowl champion who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last month said Wednesday on SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern Show” it was “just time” for a change, reiterating he has no hard feelings about coach Bill Belichick not making him a Patriot for life. “I think he has a lot of loyalty and I think he and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody’s ever been privy to, and nor should they be,” Brady told Stern during a wide-ranging interview lasting more than two hours. “So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship, or about how he felt about me. I know genuinely how he feels about me,” the four-time Super Bowl MVP added. “Now I’m not going to respond to every rumor or assumption that’s made other than what his responsibility as coach is to try to get the best player for the team, not only in the short term, but in the long term as well.” With Brady and Belichick leading the way, the Patriots won 17 division titles and appeared in nine Super Bowls and 13 AFC championship games over the past 20 years. Brady, who’ll turn 43 in August, said he entered “unchartered territory as an athlete’’ when continued to perform at a high level in recent years. “I was an older athlete, and he started to plan for the future, which is what his responsibility is. And I don’t fault him for that,” Brady said of Belichick. “That’s what he should be doing. That’s what every coach should be doing.” Brady signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs last month, joining a team with the worst winning percentage in league history. Tampa Bay hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007 and doesn’t have a postseason win since its lone Super Bowl championship run 18 years ago. “I never cared about legacy. ... I never once, when I was in high school, said, ‘Man, I can’t wait for what my football legacy looks like.’ I mean, that’s just not me. That’s not my personality. So why would I choose a different place? It’s because it was just time. I don’t know what to say other than that,” Brady said. “I had done everything. I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organization, an incredible group of people. That will never change,” the three-time NFL MVP said. “And no one can ever take that away from me. No one can ever take those experiences or Super Bowl championships away from us.” Brady also talked about moving his family into a furnished mansion he's renting from Derek Jeter in Tampa, as well as his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen, trying marijuana and alcohol as a teenager but not enjoying the lifestyle, and his college career at Michigan. The quarterback also spoke in detail about his decision to skip OTAs in recent years with the Patriots after reading a letter from his wife, who at the time was unhappy with some aspects of their marriage. “What was important to her, what was important to me was our family and our relationship, and at different times, like any married couple, things need to be changed,' said Brady, who said he kept the letter. “A couple years ago she didn’t feel like I was doing my part for the family. ... She felt like I would play football all season, and she would take care of the house, and then all of a sudden when that season would end I’d be like: ‘Great, let me get into all my other business activities, let me get into my football training,’ and she’s sitting there going, ‘Well, when are you going to do things for the house? When are you going to take the kids to school?’ Brady said. “I had to make a big transition in my life to say, ‘I can’t do all the things that I wanted to do for football like I used to,' he added. “I’ve got to take care of things with my family,’ because my family ... the situation wasn’t great. She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage. Brady was asked several questions about his relationship with Belichick, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 draft — No. 199 overall. The quarterback insisted there has never been a rift between him and the coach over who was most responsible for New England's success. “I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine. So the fact that you could say: ‘Would I be successful without him, the same level of success?’ I don’t believe I would have been. But I feel the same in vice-versa as well,” Brady said. “To have him allowed me to be the best I could be. So I’m grateful for that. And I very much believe that he feels the same about me.” ___ AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL