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Chiefs, Jaguars left in race for No. 1 draft pick

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Chiefs, Jaguars left in race for No. 1 draft pick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The joke running through Jacksonville these days carries the same punch line as the one in Kansas City:

``Our team is so bad it can't even stink in the right year.''

The Chiefs and Jaguars will vie for the top pick in the NFL draft in separate games Sunday. But the value of ``winning'' the race to the NFL's worst record is debatable in a year without a clear, franchise-changing prospect.

There's no Andrew Luck in this unlucky draft.

No Robert Griffin III, either.

Just a collection of talented young players who could fill holes at left tackle or linebacker or defensive end, but hardly push the needle for teams in desperate need of massive overhauls.

The Chiefs and Jaguars are both 2-13, but the Chiefs hold the tiebreaker for the No. 1 spot because of their weakness of schedule. The only way Jacksonville can jump them is if they lose to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City beats the Denver Broncos, who are playing for an opportunity to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That would give the Jaguars the worst overall record by themselves.

``You don't want to be in this position,'' Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. ``Just like we didn't want to be in that position in Atlanta when we drafted Matt Ryan (in 2008). But if you pick up the right guy, it can make a huge difference for you and get you out of that position.''

The Jaguars have never drafted first overall. They had the second choice in their expansion year of 1995 and again the following season. But they're also the only team in the NFL to pick in the top 10 each of the last six seasons, counting the upcoming draft.

That's a big reason why general manager Gene Smith, the architect of their past four drafts, might not be around to make their choice, regardless of whether it's No. 1.

Kansas City is in similar shape.

The Chiefs have never had the No. 1 pick as members of the NFL - they chose Hall of Fame defensive tackle Buck Buchanan first overall in 1963, when they were still a part of the AFL. The closest they've come since the merger is second overall in 1978, `79 and again in 1988.

That's a big reason why GM Scott Pioli could be on the way out, too: Pioli's Chiefs could be historically bad.

One thing Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel isn't thinking about is how valuable a loss to the Broncos would be in relation to the first overall pick.

``I think you play to win,'' Crennel said Wednesday. ``Whether you win or lose, that's what everybody looks at and that's what counts. Nobody puts an asterisk in that win-loss column, saying they lost because they wanted the first pick, something like that.''

The Chiefs and Jaguars are both desperate for a quarterback in a year in which the crop of players at football's marquee position is thin. West Virginia's Geno Smith, USC's Matt Barkley and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon are considered the top talents available, but most analysts have been putting their value somewhere in the mid-20s of the first round.

That means the Chiefs and Jaguars would be reaching for a franchise quarterback.

``This year, there's no strength at the top,'' ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said on a recent conference call with reporters. ``You don't have the quarterback, you don't have the running back, you don't have the cornerback or safety.''

Not like last year, when Luck and Griffin were available.

The Colts managed to snag the former Stanford quarterback with the first overall pick, giving them a flawless bridge from their Peyton Manning past to their Luck-filled future.

Now, after losing 14 games last season, Indianapolis is back in the playoffs.

That's right where the Redskins could be this weekend after choosing Griffin, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, at No. 2. Washington needs to beat the Dallas Cowboys or have the Vikings and Bears both lose Sunday to get into the postseason.

Just how valuable is that franchise quarterback?

``It's hard to win in this league if you don't have one,'' said Bruce Arians, who served as the Colts' interim coach until Chuck Pagano's return this week.

The gap between choosing first and second has proven sizeable some years. In 2009, the Lions landed Matthew Stafford with the first overall pick. The Rams at No. 2 wound up with offensive tackle Jason Smith, who has started just 26 games and is already on his second team.

It was a similar story in 2004, when the Chargers picked Eli Manning first and then shipped him to the Giants. Oakland had the second pick and grabbed offensive tackle Robert Gallery, who has been a productive player but far less valuable than Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP.

Whoever is in charge has to get it right, too, for the first pick to matter.

The Raiders failed to do that in 2007, when they chose JaMarcus Russell first. He was out of the league after three years, while the Lions' second overall pick, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, just broke Jerry Rice's record for yards receiving in a single season.

Smith and Pioli may be out of jobs come Monday, though, and who the Chiefs and Jaguars will have orchestrating their draft is about as clear as whom they'll select.

Perhaps that's why Crennel was channeling his inner Herm Edwards on Wednesday.

``We play to win the game,'' he said, when asked about a loss guaranteeing the Chiefs the first overall choice. ``That's the only way I know how to do it.''

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AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., contributed to this story.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

NBA Rumors: Lakers reportedly waive DeMarcus Cousins

After signing Markieff Morris to a contract following the former Wizard's buy out from the Pistons, the Lakers reportedly waived center DeMarcus Cousins to open a roster spot. 

Health has been a major issue over the last two years for Cousins. He hasn't played a game this year thanks to a torn ACL he suffered before the season, and he missed all but 30 games last year due to an Achilles injury he suffered with the Pelicans midway through the 2017-18 season. 

Before injuries robbed Cousins of the majority of his prime, he was arguably the best big man in the game. Prior to his Achilles injury in New Orleans, he was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 47% percent from the floor and 35.4% from three on 6.1 attempts per game. 

For the Wizards, Cousins could represent another low risk, high reward big man acquisition that the Lakers couldn't find any use for. Washington acquired both Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner from LA for practically nothing and both have played well after their relocation to D.C. 

Also, John Wall played with Cousins at the University of Kentucky and both have mentioned a desire to play together again at some point. Neither player is expected to return from injury this season, so they could both go on an NBA revenge tour together alongside Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura. 

In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see what Cousins decides to do. According to ESPN's Bobby Marks, Cousins won't officially be waived until Sunday. The team who claims him will be able to offer him up to $4.2 million in salary this summer. 

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Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Three things to look for during the Orioles first spring training game Saturday

Baseball isn’t quite in full swing yet. But it’s close enough. 

The Orioles will open up their spring slate of games on Saturday against the Braves in North Port, Fla. It’s both the first game of spring training for both teams. 

The game can be listened to on Orioles.com or on the MLB At-Bat app. 

So here are three things to pay attention to during the first game of the spring: 

1. The starting pitching

The pitching was, to be frank, atrocious last season for the Orioles. 2020 doesn’t figure to showcase a large jump, either. 

Baltimore will start Chandler Shepherd against the Braves, a pitcher who started three games last season in Baltimore. He allowed 23 hits and 14 earned runs in 19 innings pitched and posted a 6.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Ty Blach will pitch in relief of Shepherd. Blach pitched in five games last season for the Orioles and threw 20 ⅓ innings with an ERA 11.32. 

While neither will likely make the Opening Day roster, it’ll give an interesting look at what could be in store for the rest of spring training in Sarasota. 

2. How much the prospects play

For most major league clubs, there’s not much to get excited about for the first few games of spring training. The Orioles, though, are in a bit of a unique circumstance. 

In the second year of a rebuild, the Orioles are placing their future in the hands of younger prospects, meaning there’s always a chance for a few players to stand out in the first weeks of camp. 

While the lineups aren’t known yet, both for Saturday’s game and for the immediate future, getting a glimpse at some of the younger prospects like Adley Rutschman, Grayson Rodriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and DL Hall is what fans have been clamoring for. 

3. The return of baseball

It’s not the return of baseball in the truest sense of the phrase.  

The Orioles aren’t going to play their top of the line prospects, or their major league club. But the first game of the spring means that baseball, officially, is back for Baltimore. 

Even though the 2020 season almost assuredly won’t be one that resembles any kind of contention, the Orioles hitting the field once again is always an exciting time.

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