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Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 310 pounds

2016: 14 starts

Bench press: 25 reps

Is Ryan Ramczyk the next Lane Johnson, or is the 2017 NFL Draft prospect another Danny Watkins? Because even the mere possibility of the latter might be enough to convince the Eagles to keep their distance.

Much like the last two offensive linemen the Eagles selected in the first round of the draft, Ramczyk’s college football career evolved from modest beginnings. Johnson played tight end at a community college before making the jump to Oklahoma, where he became an offensive tackle. Watkins was a Canadian training to become a firefighter at a junior college in Texas before finding his way to Baylor as a 25-year-old junior.

Ramczyk made the jump from Division III to the Badgers in 2015, where after a redshirt year, he wound up playing only one season. Obviously, it was impressive, because he earned first-team All-Big Ten and All-American honors. Still, the small body of work is concerning.

Actually, there’s even less tape of Ramczyk at a major college program than there was of Johnson or Watkins, who each spent two seasons as a starter before making the leap to the NFL. And like Watkins, scouting reports question Ramczyk’s passion for football -- though say nothing about a predisposition to firetrucks over playbooks.

Despite the unconventional background, Ramczyk could be the first offensive lineman off the board this year. There is not much in the way of consensus over who the top offensive tackle is in the draft, but his name often at the top of the list. Ramczyk may be the only one who potentially warrants a top-15 pick, too.

Tackle could certainly be viewed as a need for the Eagles. At this point, you never which season could be Jason Peters’ last. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection rebounded after a disappointing and injury-riddled 2015 campaign, but the writing is on the wall. Peters will be 36 in January and entering the final year of his contract, and already isn’t as dominant as he once was.

The Eagles might not want to make too many assumptions about Johnson, either. While he’s been groomed to eventually take over for Peters at left tackle, some feel the four-year veteran is better suited for the right side, while recurring PED suspensions threaten to knock him out action.

Under optimal circumstances, Johnson takes Peters’ place on the left, but who replaces Johnson? The Eagles have some candidates on the roster, notably Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Right tackle isn’t necessarily a first-round type of need, either. Regardless, it’s a question mark.

In theory, Ramczyk could play on the left or right, providing the Eagles with options when Peters is finished. Taking a player who isn’t expected to play or contribute with the No. 14 pick in the draft probably isn’t ideal, but it certainly goes a long way toward bolstering Carson Wentz’s protection for the future.

That is, if Ramczyk is more Johnson than Watkins. To be fair, Watkins was sort of a unique case in that he was literally going to school to follow his dreams and accidentally became a football player. Ramczyk was never really sure what he would do after high school, according to Rob Rang for CBS Sports, so why not play football professionally?

No doubt, those are the kinds of questions NFL teams are asking, along with checking into his medical history after undergoing offseason hip surgery. Perhaps then it’s notable the Eagles did not have Ramczyk in for an official top-30 pre-draft visit.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams

Dodgers fan wearing Chase Utley jersey catches Justin Turner home run ball for 2nd year in a row

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MLB

Dodgers fan wearing Chase Utley jersey catches Justin Turner home run ball for 2nd year in a row

Dodgers fans had a reason to be ecstatic on Sunday night after Justin Turner hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cubs, 4-1, and give Los Angeles a 2-0 lead in the NLCS.

But not as ecstatic as one fan in particular.

Keith Hupp, a retired police officer and lifelong Dodgers fan, was waiting under the home run ball in the center-field stands and snagged it with his son's glove. He was also wearing a Dodgers Chase Utley jersey.

He even made the catch with his non-preferred hand.

“I’m a lefty,” Hupp said to J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register. “I’ve dislocated my right shoulder so many times, I had to resort to my son’s glove on my left hand. So the last five or six home run balls I’ve caught, I’ve caught with my left hand.”

And the craziest part about this story is that it wasn't the first time it had happened. Hupp caught Turner's sixth-inning solo homer in Game 3 of last year's NLCS against the Cubs in almost the same place, the center-field stands at Dodger Stadium.

Although he has 24 home run balls in his collection, Hupp won't be keeping last night's game-winner. After making the catch, he gave the ball to a security guard, and was escorted underneath the stadium to meet Turner and make a trade with him. 

In a postgame interview with MLB.com, Turner said Hupp couldn't decide what he wanted for the ball right away. They exchanged information and agreed that Hupp will get back to Turner in a few days when he decides what he wants.

Twitter had some good responses to Hupp's memorable home run catch:

Hassan Whiteside responds, doesn't back down from Joel Embiid rivalry

Hassan Whiteside responds, doesn't back down from Joel Embiid rivalry

Joel Embiid and Hassan Whiteside battled on the court on Friday night and then on social media following the Sixers' victory over the Miami Heat to finish off the preseason.

Embiid seemingly got the better of Whiteside, sending Philadelphia fans into a frenzy when he told Whiteside his "+/- was ass."

It appears as if Whiteside is taking it all in stride and actually has a pretty good level of respect for Embiid. The Miami big man was asked about the trash talk after practice over the weekend.

"It's funny to me," Whiteside said according to the Sun Sentinel. "I'm going to talk trash back if somebody talks trash to me. Maybe when I was younger, I would have been a little more angrier, I would have been a little madder.

"But, you know, that's the kind of guy he is. He makes jokes. He's a good player, so it's all fun to me. I can go all day with it."

Embiid has shown glimpses that he has the potential to be one of the greats of the NBA game on the court, while he's already one of the best at entertaining off of it. Whiteside will clearly have his hands full but he knows a little trash talk on social gets fans excited.

"Yeah, man, you know fans love it, man. Fans get into it. I love it, too," he said. "Because I know the next time we play him, he's going to give it his all, he's going to go as hard as he can. And as a competitor, that's what you want. You want your opponent to play at his maximum speed."

Playing at maximum speed is something Sixers fans hope and pray they get to see out of Embiid this season on a more regular basis. The trash talking is bonus fun.

"It's not him talking about somebody's family," Whiteside said. "It's not nothing crazy. It's just basketball. He called me softee. Come on, man. He knows that's not true. I'll be on his team's scouting report."

The Heat and the Sixers meet again on Feb. 2. Let's just hope both Embiid and Whiteside are out on the court to go another few rounds off of it afterward.