White Sox

What to watch for in the NFL draft

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What to watch for in the NFL draft

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- The NFL draft begins Thursday night with the first round, continues Friday night with the second and third rounds, and runs through Saturday, when the final four rounds will be held at Radio City Music Hall. The Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams both went 2-14 last season and had the top two picks, but the Rams traded the second spot to Washington.Some things to look for in this year's draft:------AT THE TOPThe first two picks will be quarterbacks: Andrew Luck of Stanford, who will go to the Colts, followed by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor, who is headed to the Redskins.Luck is considered the most NFL-ready quarterback since Peyton Manning left Tennessee in 1998 for the Colts. Oddly, he will wind up as Manning's replacement in Indy after the four-time MVP was released by the Colts and signed with Denver. Rarely do college quarterbacks call their own plays or have total freedom behind center. Luck did.RGIII is more of a running threat than Luck and has a stronger arm. He did not play in a prostyle offense the way Luck did in college, but Griffin's skill set and intelligence make him just as attractive as Luck.------A CRIMSON FIRST ROUNDFrom national champions to first-round draft picks.Five members of the Alabama Crimson Tide could have their names called Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, four from the outstanding defense.Safety Mark Barron and linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Trent Richardson all are highly touted. Richardson is expected to go in the first six picks."We want to help them develop as a football player, which means have a great career here, win a championship and see if you can play at the next level," Tide coach Nick Saban said.Alabama has eight players likely to be drafted. The others are nose tackle Josh Chapman, cornerback DeQuan Menzie and wide receiverkick returner Marquis Maze.Roll Tide.------TOP JUNIORSThe first round will be packed with players who had eligibility remaining, including top choices Luck and Griffin. Richardson, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, all projected to go in top 10, are underclassmen.A total of 65 underclassmen, the most ever, applied for the draft. Not all of them will get picked, but some will earn big bucks. Look for other non-seniors to go in the first round, such as Alabama's Hightower and Kirkpatrick, linebackers Luke Kuechly of Boston College and Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, defensive linemen Nick Perry of Southern California and Michael Brockers of LSU, and guard David DeCastro of Stanford.------STRONGEST POSITIONQuarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defensive ends who pile up sacks are the glamour positions. They are not always the deepest positions in the draft.This year, only three quarterbacks are expected to go in the opening round: Luck, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M. The strength in this grab bag of a draft is at cornerback and on the defensive line.It's possible that four cornerbacks will come off the board in the first 32 picks, beginning with Claiborne. Others to watch for at that position are Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jackson of North Alabama. Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron is another defensive back almost certain to go early.Defensive lineman likely destined to disappear in the first round are Perry, Brockers, Cox, Quinton Coples of North Carolina, Melvin Ingram of South Carolina, Kendell Reyes of Connecticut, Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, Devon Still of Penn State, and Upshaw, who can play linebacker or end.------SLEEPERSFive players who could sneak into the first round:Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis -- At 6-foot-4, 346 pounds, he can clog the middle by himself, but he is incredibly streaky. His workouts showed more talent than his game tapes.Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor -- Experienced receiver with lots of speed and the moves to be a factor from the slot. Excels after the catch.Cordy Glenn, OT-G, Georgia -- Started as a freshman in the SEC, which is impressive. Versatile and durable, outstanding in the run game.Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State -- A 28-year-old who played minor league baseball before college football. Brings maturity, accuracy and NFL-caliber arm strength and size.Shea McClellin, LB, Boise State -- Has the size to play inside or outside, and he never backs down. Could also be a factor on special teams.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What are the White Sox getting in Nomar Mazara?

The White Sox made a late night trade at the Winter Meetings, acquiring right fielder Nomar Mazara for 2018 second-round pick Steele Walker.

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss the trade, why it was made and, love it or hate it, is it the right move for the short term? (1:25) Then, Rangers beat writer Evan Grant from the Dallas Morning News answers the question: What are the White Sox getting in Mazara? (15:43)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million deal

Yankees sign Gerrit Cole to a record nine-year, $324 million deal

In terms of big-time free agent moves, it doesn't get bigger than the New York Yankees new deal with sought-after pitcher Gerrit Cole. On Tuesday, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that the Yankees and Cole were agreeing to a record nine-year, $324 million deal.

Cole was dominant in 2019, finishing with a 20-5 record and a 2.50 ERA. The wins, losses and ERA  were all career-bests for Cole. He continued his dominance in the MLB playoffs, where he pitched 36 2/3 innings, going 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA. He was especially unhittable in the 2019 ALCS, where he very impressively gave up no earned runs over 212.1 innings pitched against the Yankees, who scored the most runs in the MLB in 2019. His 326 strikeouts in 2019 made him the Astros franchise-leader in Ks in a season, adding even more mystique to a year that felt like something out of a movie.

Despite the dominant season for Cole, he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting to former teammate Justin Verlander as he was a part of an absolutely awesome pitching staff that has now been dealt a big blow. Cole will now be joining another staff that has a chance to become elite over time, as the Yankees will add his elite arm talent to a group that includes Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and Domingo German.

Cole is likely to be in the Bronx for the long haul, though he does have an early opt-out clause.

The Yankees rode their great offense all the way to a Game 6 in the ALCS, despite their pitching ranking a ho-hum 14th in the league in ERA (4.31). With Cole now in tow, there is reason to believe that the 'Evil Empire' is truly back.

And while the Cubs and White Sox were not considered to seriously be in the running for Cole's services, his signing means that there will likely be developments soon in regards to the other top arms on the market, some of which have been linked to Chicago. This list includes names like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. 

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