John Baron II was among millions of football fans watching the NFL playoffs in January for Chicago kicker Cody Parkey’s infamous “double doink,” missing a potential game-winning 43-yard field goal in the Bears’ wild-card game loss to Philadelphia. “I definitely felt for him,” said Baron, who struck up a friendship with Parkey at a kicking camp a few years ago. “It wasn’t a good moment. You never want to see anyone do bad, especially at that level. It was hard to watch.” The difference between Baron and everyone else watching that day is the San Diego State kicker’s life was directly impacted by that moment. Such is the life of a professional kicker. One man’s agony is another man’s opportunity. Parkey was released last month, so the Bears were among the teams in looking for a kicker entering the draft. They didn’t select one during the seven-round affair, but got their man within an hour of the last pick. … [Read more...] about Aztecs’ K John Baron (Bears), S Parker Baldwin (Falcons) sign NFL free agent contracts
Falcons best tight end
Dave Birkett Detroit Free Press Published 9:27 AM EDT Apr 19, 2019 Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s desire to trade down in Round 1 is real, so I thought I’d try and incorporate some trades into this, my penultimate mock draft. Here goes: 1. Arizona Cardinals DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama – Kyler Murray is still the favorite to go No. 1 and I might put him back here when my final mock drops next week. But there is chatter now that the Cardinals will go in a different direction. 2. San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State – It’s nearly a consensus that Bosa and Williams are the two best players in the draft, and in this mock they’re the first two off the board. 3. New York Jets OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky – The Jets are a team that desperately want to trade down, but even with Murray on the board it’s a huge price to pay for a team in the teens to come up to No. 3. 4. Oakland Raiders QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma – Murray … [Read more...] about NFL mock draft 4.0: Detroit Lions trade down, but pick whom?
Dave Birkett Detroit Free Press Published 12:54 PM EDT Apr 10, 2019 Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett peers into his crystal ball to predict who the Detroit Lions will select with the No. 8 pick in the 2019 NFL draft: 1. Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma – The Cardinals haven’t put Josh Rosen on the trading block yet, but it’s happening. More: Kyler Murray to be among 23 player attendees for 2019 NFL draft 2. San Francisco 49ers DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State – There’s an outside chance Bosa could still go first overall, but he won’t slip past No. 2. 3. New York Jets OLB Josh Allen, Kentucky – I continue to go back and forth between Allen and Quinnen Williams, but after whiffing on Anthony Barr to be their edge rusher, Allen seems like the better fit. 4. Oakland Raiders DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama – The Raiders took two defensive tackles in last year’s draft, but Williams is the type of game changer that’s too … [Read more...] about NFL mock draft 3.0: Detroit Lions get another top-10 tight end
We knew it was a possibility, maybe even a probability. But the news Sunday night that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was retiring from the NFL still hit so hard that you could relate to Sergio Brown. If there is an athlete in Boston sports history that also combined Hall of Fame talent, production and big-moment reliability with genuine joy and authenticity, I’m too busy watching a Gronk retrospective in my mind — hopefully he’ll eventually be the most satisfying “A Football Life’’ documentary in the series — to remember that other athlete right now. It’s always hard to accept watching an athlete so special leave, even when it should not come as a surprise. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to choose not to accept it, at least that this farewell is final. Willie McGinest last played for the Patriots 14 years ago, but make no mistake: The current NFL Network analyst remains a member of the Patriots’ … [Read more...] about Here’s to hoping that Rob Gronkowski’s retirement is brief
DENVER • Nate Polk’s an Arizona kid, so he has seen what Tucson offers a Division I athlete.The senior from Scottsdale’s Saguaro High liked it, too. I mean, come on. The sunshine, party life, scenery — who wouldn’t? But the Pac-12 football program was not his choice.The University of Utah was another option. Four bowl wins in five years, a Pac-12 division title last year, big-time coach in Kyle Whittingham. What’s not to like? OK, it’s Utah, but other than that.“It wasn’t that the other schools weren’t great,” Polk told me in a phone chat. “They were.”San Diego State, Louisville, Oregon. They all called, some offered full-ride scholarships.And Polk, a 6-foot-2 safety with NFL genes, on Wednesday signed with the Air Force Academy. He’s the highest-rated recruit to sign there in at least 12 years, according to 247Sports’ rankings. Now that’s an athlete with a long-term vision. That’s a … [Read more...] about Paul Klee: Alabama, Georgia … Air Force? Falcons signees reflect on ‘really special’ recruiting class