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MLB’s Owners Put Their Finger on the Nuclear Button

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

TheNYExtra.com

06/09/08 mets charity event at richards greenwhich ct fred wilpon left and jeff wilpon right Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

Bob Manfred, reportedly in the voice of God, said there shall be baseball this year!

If the owners and players, who look more greedy and stubborn with every reported case of Covid-19, can’t agree on a deal to restart the season, Manfred has the power to enact a 48-50 game, uh, season.

And you thought there was bad blood between Leah Remini and the Church of Scientology.

Just wait until after the 2020-21 season when baseball’s collective bargaining agreement is up for renewal. I wouldn’t set foot in that negotiating room without Jimmy McGill and Dirty Harry’s law firm of Smith & Wesson.

The owners latest offer, delivered Friday afternoon according to published reports, calls for a 72-game season with 70-percent of prorated salaries. Players would max out at 80-percent of their prorated salaries if the postseason is completed.

“Just so y’all know, 70% of prorated salaries at 72 games is the exact same as … wait for it … full prorated at 48 games,’’ Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer Tweeted. “Nothing to see here. Same exact offer in different clothing. Just a reallocation of risk.”

The players had offered an 89-game season with full prorated salaries earlier this week.  Manfred had said on ESPN that the owner’s next offer will be a “significant move in the players’ direction” but “if we have to we’ll exercise that right” to set a 48-game season. Sounds like threatening divorce before the marriage.

The owners offer includes a Sunday night deadline. Then they can use their nuclear option –  the 48-50 game season.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams said on Twitter the button had been pushed

“It expired as soon as they hit send.”

What’s so enraging about this is that both sides seem to be operating as if they’re in a bubble, that could burst Sunday night.

It seems pretty clear that whatever decision is reached in the next few days will raw wounds that will barely have even begun to heal when next negotiation begins. Worst case:

We could be looking at one 48-game season, one full season and no season in 2021.

Here’s what makes this so disheartening. So many sports fans would be willing to part with their lucky jersey to watch a live sporting event that doesn’t take place in an octagon. You know one played on grass and leaves pristine white pants looking as if they got dragged through a monster pull.

I’m itching to see an upper deck home run, a pitching gem, a manager being ejected, a 10-year-old fan snagging a foul ball. I can’t wait for the day I can jump the No.7 train to Citi Field. Or the No.4 to Yankee Stadium, which could be sponsored by the pharmaceutical company that discovers the vaccine for the coronavirus and returns us to some semblance of normalcy.

It could take years before the virus of 2020 is completely under control. But it could take forever for baseball to convince fans the virus of greed and stubbornness doesn’t beat in the heart of the sport.

JUST VOTE — Kudos to Hofstra University for its announcement that all varsity teams will not have any mandatory team activities on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, aka Election Day, so athletes can vote. “We think it is incredibly important for our student-athletes to have their voices heard and their votes count,’’ athletic director Rick Cole, Jr. said in a statement.

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Kneeling in the NFL: A Trump Nightmare, An Editorial by Lenn Robbins, Editor – In – Chief ,The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

The ownership of the New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com, does not in total agree with the statements of Mr.Robbins, but gives him full editorial privlege of Freedom of Speech to express his views. Neil Miller,Publisher

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

9/04/08 Andy Roddick Vs. Novak Djokovic at Aurther Ashe Stadium: US Open night session Real Estate mogul Donald Trump enjoys tonight’s game. Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com copyright 2020

President Donald Trump is irked at the NFL, which could be some of the best news the beleaguered league has received lately.

The President believes that the league’s recent admission that it was “wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest”. meant to Trump that Roger Goodell and the franchise owners were now condoning that players could kneel during the national anthem,

Trump tweeted:

“Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”

The league didn’t use the word kneel but that’s about as peaceful a protest as you get.

 When Saints QB Drew Brees, whose grandfathers both fought in WWII, was met with swift and overwhelming condemnation by fellow players for saying, ‘I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of American or our country,” the league stayed mum. Not Trump.

No, the man who acknowledged he avoided military service by making up a fake injury (bone spurs) was doing what he does best, divide and conquer. He’s done it well enough to win an election for the highest office in the free world he’s proven time and time again that when times get tough, he defaults to what he knows best.

From the day he was sworn in and bragged about having had the largest inauguration crowd in history, to claiming he would build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, to separating families at the border, to blowing up environmental legislation, to stating there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville, to pushing through a new tax code that favors the uber rich, Trump has proven to be a human Molotov cocktail.

The NFL has been one of his favorite topics for stoking division. He criticized Brees for apologizing.

He Tweeted that players should stand for the anthem in 2017, “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

He upped the rhetoric in May of 2018 saying that if a player doesn’t stand, “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” 

Times are changing right in front of the President’s face. It’s the kind of change a hate monger doesn’t like.

The Carolina Panthers yesterday removed the statue of its former owner, Jerry Richardson, who was exposed in a 2017 Sports Illustrated article as having used a racial slur and creating a hostile work environment.

 Also yesterday, NASCAR announced it was removing the Confederate flag from all racetracks.

The voices the president doesn’t want to hear are being heard around the country and the world. When that happens, the malevolent child in chief usually throws a tantrum.

I’m betting he will. Maybe not today or tomorrow but surely by the first week of the NFL season when players protest peacefully. He’ll lash out at the NFL which needs to back its recent statements with actions.

If Trump doesn’t like it, he shouldn’t be in the country.

The NBA is Back! Sorry Knicks Fans

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By Lenn Robbins

05/31/13 tulsa shock vs ny liberty at prudential center newark nj liberty lead 37-29 at the half owner james dolan at the game tonite Neil Miller/The New York Extra/TheNYExtra,com copyright 2020

Basketball is back.

Never have those three words been more joyous to write.

Basketball is back.

The NBA approved a resumption of the season with a target date of July 31st. The NBA Players Association is scheduled to approve the restart plan during a virtual conference call on Friday morning according to published reports.

July  31st!

Since March 11th, the day the coronavirus forced the most harrowing league-clock violation in NBA history, we have been left with replays, Top 10 lists and the Michael Jordan biopic, “The Last Dance.”

Sadly, today is not a joyful one for Knicks fans, but then again, most days during the NBA season are lacking in positive experience. The Knicks, along with the Hawks, Cavs, Warriors, Timberwolves, Pistons, Bulls and Hornets, will not resume play under the 22-team format.

Those teams comprise the Golfer’s Bracket. Steph Curry can start practicing with Phil Mickelson now.

The draft lottery will be held August 25th and the draft itself on October 15th according to published reports. Knicks fans can remain in quarantine and not risk missing anything. Yes, even on a day of good news, it’s hard to be a Knicks fan.

There is a lot of to be done before we can embrace returning to The Garden, with masks on our faces instead of bags over our heads

A coach needs to be found. A logical and realistic rebuilding plan needs to be implemented. James Dolan, the owner who didn’t see the value of making a statement on the most recent senseless murder of a black man, should remain in a silent vacuum.

The first order of business for Knicks fans should be to find which horse to back in the playoffs, an annual rite. I’m going with the Trail Blazers. It would be epic to see Rip City celebrate, Damian Lillard has been working on a four-point shot, and maybe Weber State will reproduce his No.1 jersey.

These are as good reasons to pick a winner as any in a season that will play out like no other.

If Giannis wins MVP, was it because LeBron didn’t have enough time to close the season on some mortal-defying run before he turns 36 or will the Greek Freak rise to new heights?

Can the Raptors, arguably the most dismissed NBA champion since the 1975 Golden State Warriors, repeat? If they do, will be considered a tainted repeat, which is ridiculous.

Will we get to see to the Lakers and Clippers do battle? Should Nets fans stick to NBA 2K and enjoy a fantasy in which Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are healthy?

Zion Williamson! Good Lord, we get to see the sneaker-ripping manchild play when he’s not answering questions about how he got all his sneakers to go to Duke. Wonder if RJ Barrett will be pulled into this investigation? Of course, he will. He plays for the Knicks.

Will any player still need load management?

Ah! Basketball is back.

Never have those three words been more joyful to write. Unless of course you bleed orange and blue and your psyche is black and blue. Then today is sad day. And July 31st will be worse.

Struggling to Find a Way Forward – Again by Lenn Robbins, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

My father was one of those men who was ahead of his time. He was studying to be a doctor when he went into the Army and came out of WWII destined to become a chiropractor and practice modalities and manipulations when it was considered voodoo medicine.

When he woke me one Wednesday morning in 1963 and said we were going on a road trip, I thought it was just dad being dad. As we made our way to Penn Station I did what most three-and-a-half years did:

“Where are we going? What king are we going to see? Why are there no white people on this trains?

I was a lot scared and a little excited.

I don’t remember the man with the voice as smooth as rolling waves speak about a dream but I remember the energy in Washington, D.C. It was like getting too close to a generator and feeling a tingling as the hair rose on the back of my neck and the top of my scalp.

My fear dissipated as strangers – most of them black but some white –  smiled at me as I bobbed along on my father’s shoulders. I was handed a tiny American flag with a gold point that made it through three moves.

I think of August 28, 1963 as my first emotional memory. I was disappointed because I never got to see a king. But I heard him. I heard people cheering and saw others crying. The Reflecting Pool was as big as an ocean and a tall pointed building was a rocket ship pointed to the sky.

More than a decade later I began to piece together that wonderful gift my father gave me. The school zones in Brooklyn were reconfigured. Black students were bussed to Canarsie High School. There were riots. Parents pelted yellow school buses with rocks and slurs.

I remember after one Saturday football game, a group of white kids with bats chasing a black kid down Rockaway Parkway. One of the white kids threw his bat and it struck the black kid right in the temple.

His legs went all rubbery and I stood, frozen in time and fear, as the rioters descended on the black kid who was slumped against a car right in the middle of the four-lane street. A car stopped and a school administrator opened the door and tossed the injured kid into the back seat like a sack of potatoes. The car sped off. Only then did I realize I was not breathing.

I never learned what happened to that kid or who he was. Hopefully he was not seriously injured physically, but I can only guess at the emotional trauma he’s had to carry with him. When he enters a store and a white security guard follows him, what does he feel? Fear? Anger? Both?

When he’s walking down the street and a group of white men are walking toward him, does he cross the street? White people tend to think they’re the ones that cross when coming across a group of people of color. Is it possible we’ve both got it wrong?

I puked on the sidewalk that Saturday, so shaken by what I had seen. I don’t remember how I got home but as soon as I did I stumbled into my father’s office and slumped into one of his chairs. I told him what I had seen. It was the first time I confronted my own naivety.

My dad spoke to me, trying to explain the poison known as racism that is as much a part of this country as corn. We had many family dinners talking about inequality and injustice. Now my world was changing right before my eyes, rotating into a darkness where a foreign language was being spoken. Ugly words. Ugly emotions. An ugly society.

The rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in Canarsie went on television the next day and said, paraphrasing here, “If these students were white, no one would be making a fuss.” He was fired the next day. The priest at St. Jude’s across the street supported the rabbi but he was smart enough not to say it on TV.

I began to notice things: The name of the group on Avenue L was Concerned Citizens of Canarsie. CCC. KKK. Where was I, what was I, who was I to have been oblivious to all this?

The one thing my father said that day, that still resonates – and he said it more than once – was this:

Never think that just because you believe all people are equal that you know for one second what it’s like to be a colored person in America.

How right he was.

When Eric Garner was murdered at the chokehold hands of officer Daniel Pantaleo for allegedly peddling cigarettes, there was disbelief, sadness. When the video showed Garner pleading, “I Can’t Breathe,” 11 times before he said it no more, I felt like I was standing on Rockaway Parkway, watching a young man get clubbed.

George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe multiple times before he didn’t say anything for the final two minutes and 53 seconds that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Michael Chauvin’s knee acted as a death vise on Floyd’s neck. I gagged in my bathroom when I saw the video.

I’ve wanted to add my voice and actions to what I hope will be a watershed moment in our nation’s lurching and frustrating trek to equality more than I want baseball to return. But I feel inept and unmoored and confused.

I believe the overwhelming majority of law enforcement personnel in NYC do one of the toughest jobs on Earth with professionalism and care. Recently I attended the Anniversary Banquet and Fundraiser sponsored by the 69th Precinct in Canarsie where neighborhood policing is becoming a beacon for communities across the city.

Obviously, there are the Pantaleos and Chauvins and, perhaps even more dangerous, the covert compromised cops that need to be systematically rooted out so a better system can flourish; so that good police don’t have to endure nights being pelted by bricks and bottles and Molotov cocktails.

There will never be another Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but there are so many smart, strong, sensitive men and women of all colors that can step forward and lead without violence. The words of former Harvard basketball star Seth Towns, now at Ohio State, former NBA star Kareem Abdul Jabbar and former Stanford star and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker have helped me better understand the toxic gulf of racism that poisons this nation.

My father has been dead for some 12 years but I keep his words, especially now, close. I do not portend to know what it is to be a man of color in this nation. Nor do I have a clue what emotions must roil within officers that have sworn to protect and serve yet find themselves vilified.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

We need to end the violence and let the latest horrifying death of an innocent black man move us closer to fulfilling a dream that has never felt farther away.

NFL Draft: Jets and Giants Improve; Patriots Do Not

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By Lenn Robbins

  Now what?

  The NFL Remote Draft is in the books and the next live sporting event we can look forward to is…?

 Commissioner Roger Goodell looked stiff and uncomfortable throughout the first round. Bill Belichick’s dog, Nike, would be considering a holdout after his outstanding draft poise but he knows his owner would unceremoniously trade him.

The Giants and Jets fared fairly well. Both teams fulfilled Mission A – bolster the offensive line. And both upgraded their secondary with potentially fantastic safeties.

Two of the league’s better GMs – Belichick and 49ers John Lynch – didn’t fare as well as usual. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta hit it – again while the Panthers and Jaguars, often mistaken for each other, bolstered their defenses.

The Cowboys, with CeeDee Lamb will have to outscore teams. The Raiders (Henry Ruggs III) will have to outrun teams.

Aaron Rodgers is not a happy camper. Kirk Cousins is. Go figure.

Speaking of figures, here are our draft grades, from best to worst:

 Jaguars – Best pick: Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado – Our second favorite playmaker in the draft. Fave pick: Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami – one of the more under-appreciated players in the draft. Skinny: No misses and a revitalized defense. Grade: A+

Panthers – Best pick: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois – Eric Weddle redux. Fave pick: Runs like a deer, hits like a rhino. Fave pick: Tony Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame. Smart and speedy. Skinny: They got three starters on defense and Pride might make four. A+

Ravens – Best pick: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State – Gets to the ball carrier quick and hard. Fave pick: James Proche, WR, SMU – Won’t win any races but will catch any pass. Skinny: The Ravens are about defense which they got with LB Patrick Queen, DT Justin Madubuike and Harrison. Grade: A+.

Bengals – Best pick: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – No reason to believe he won’t develop into an elite QB. Fave pick: Akeem Davis-Gather, OLB, Appalachian State – He can run and hunts like a Power Five backer. Skinny: A franchise QB who can throw it up to Tee Higgins and A.J. Green have. Grade A.

Browns – Best pick: Grant Delpit, S, LSU – The next great LSU DB. Fave pick: Nick Harris, C, Washington – We’ve sworn off using steal but getting this brawler in the 5th round? Larceny! Skinny: And they got the second-best OT with the 10th pick. Grade: A.

Bucs – Best pick: Tristian Wirfs, OT, Iowa – Getting the best tackle with the 13th pick –  wow! Fave pick: Antoine Winfield, Jr., S, Minnesota – If every football player played with his tenacity – ouch! Skinny: And fifth-round pick, WR Tyler Johnson, is going to be a Brady favorite: Grade: A.

Cowboys – Best pick: Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – Take Byron Jones’ locker. Fave pick: Our No.1 WR, CeeDee Lamb at No. 17? Touchdown! Skinny – Boys filled defensive needs and gave Dak Prescott as dangerous a WR corps as there is. Grade: A.

Cardinals – Best pick: Josh Jones, OT, Houston – A starting tackle in the 3rd round? Wow! Fave pick: Evan Weaver, ILB, Cal. – Not an elite athlete but the 6th-rounder is tackling App who just might stick. Skinny: A tackle for Khyler Murray and the best $LB in Isaiah Simmons. Grade: A-.

Broncos – Best pick: Lloyd Cushenberry III, C, LSU – A third-round pick he can be the Day 1 starter. Fave pick: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State – slotted between first-round pick WR Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Skinny: Drew Lock’s April Christmas. Grade: A-

Vikings – Best pick: Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – Perfect opposite Adam Thielen. Fave pick: Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State – Pencil in this second-rounder as a 10-year starter. Skinny – If seventh-rounder Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, sticks, GM Rick Spielman nails another draft. Grade: A-.

Chargers – Best pick: Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – All this pre-draft talk about being an introvert is bollocks. Fave pick: Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma – plays like he’s pissed off.  Skinny: If Herbert wins the starting job at any point this season, the Chargers will be thrilled. Grade: B+

Giants – Best pick: Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – The best safety in the draft – Round 2! Fave pick: Cam Brown, LB, Penn State – even if he never becomes more than a special teams star, high character addition. Skinny: Just can’t help wondering why they made Andrew Thomas the first OT off the board. Grade: B+.

Dolphins – Best pick: Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise St. – He’s not the second coming of DeMarcus Lawrence but he’ll get after it. Fave pick: Malcolm Perry, WR, Navy – Former Navy QB is a player. Skinny: Feels like this was a draft for two years out. Grade: B – could be an A or an F.

Jets – Best pick: Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal – One of the best athletes in this draft. Fave pick: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia – Jets defensive backfield has quality depth. Skinny: If 1st-round pick Mekhi Becton keeps his weight down, the Jets finally have a solid GM in Joe Douglas. Grade: B

Lions – Best pick: Julian Okwara, OLB, Notre Dame – Third-round pick with a first-round first step. Fave pick: D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia –  RBs aren’t highly valued but Georgia is RB U. Skinny: Lot of pressure to win now. Does this draft really accomplish that? Grade: B.

Redskins – Best pick: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – Memo to NFC QB’s: The Redskins have as good a DL as you’ll find. Fave pick: Saahdiq Charles, C, LSU – they got a second-round talent in the 4th round. Skinny: Make D.C.’s team great again? Not so fast. Grade B.

Saints – Best pick: Zach Baun, DE/OLB, Wisconsin – A first-round talent in the third round. Fave pick: Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton – Another weapon for Drew Brees. Skinny: Saints only had four picks and nailed at least three of them, especially if Trautman is a quick contributor. Grade: B.

Seahawks – Best pick: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford – Can see Seattle using a lot of two tight-end alignments. Fave pick: Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – The hits just keep on coming. Skinny: If second-round pick DE Darrell Taylor can be a force, Seahawks defense trends up. Grade: B.

Titans – Best pick: Isaiah Thomas, OT, Georgia – The offense is about winning the line so they add a 6-foot-7, 350-pound lineman. Fave pick: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State – Even Derrick Henry needs a break. Skinny: Matt Vrabel stuck to the team’s personality. Grade: B-.

Chiefs – Best pick: Willie Gay, Jr. ILB, Mississippi State – Terrific size and speed for a sideline-to-sideline backer. Fave pick: LaJarius Sneed, S, Louisiana Tech – With his speed, a special teams player at worst. Skinny: Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round? Nope. Grade: B-.

Steelers – Best pick: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame – Big Ben needs more than JuJu Smith-Schuster. Fave pick: Last season’s trade for S Minkah Fitzpatrick. Skinny: The Ben Roethlisberger era is closer to twilight than sunrise. Not sure this draft did enough to help him win now. Grade: C+.

49ers – Best pick:  Brandon Aiyuk, WR, ASU – It has to be because San Fran needs another outside playmaker. Fave pick: Charlie Woerner, TE, Georgia – Might give the 49ers a goal line jumbo package. Skinny: GM John Lynch’s golden touch tarnished. Grade: C.

Patriots – Best pick: Josh Uche, OL, Michigan – Maybe not Isaiah Simmons light but in that mold. Fave pick: Josh Uche – See above. Skinny: S Kyle Duggar dominated at Lenoir-Rhyne but it was, well, Division II Lenoir-Rhyme. Skinny: Bill Belichick is as proven as it gets but this was an off year. Grade: C.

Bears –  Best pick: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah – Got one of the better corners in the middle of the second round. Fave pick: Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame – Best tight end in the draft, by far. Skinny: Bears now have 10 tight ends on the roster, making for the core of an excellent rugby team. The NFL isn’t rugby. Grade: C-

Eagles – Best pick: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU – QB Carson Wentz at least has one target. Fave pick: Jack Driscoll, OL, Auburn – An NFC East blue collar blocker. Skinny: We like QB Jalen Hurts but not in the second round and not with other needs. Grade: C-.

Falcons – Best pick: Matt Hennessy, C, Temple – A Jersey brawler. Fave pick: Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse – Watch this kid punt in Mile High. Skinny: They never recovered after reaching for first-round pick, CB. A.J. Terrell. And if the punter is a fave pick, ooh. Grade: D.

Packers – Best pick: None. Fave pick: None. Skinny – Not only did the Pack fail do anything to help Aaron Rodgers, but by trading up for QB Jordan Love, they started the Hall of Fame QBs clock. Grade: F.

Raiders – Best pick: Amik Robertson, CB, La Tech – Fourth-rounder plays with a chip. Fave pick: Lynn Bowden, Jr., WR – A player, plain and simple. Skinny: If the NFL was a 7-on-7 league, Raiders would compete. But it’s not. Vegas fans consider season distancing. Grade: F.

OTHER WINNERS

AREA CODES. Everyone now knows the area code for Cincy QB Joe Burrow’s hometown of Athens, Ohio.  Burrow wore a shirt with Southeast Ohio’s area code, 704. This is the greatest boost to area codes since Reggie Bush wore 619 on his eye black, San Diego’s area code.

PRICE ALERT: QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys continue to try to work out a new deal. If they don’t, he plays under the franchise tag next season, when he will have Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Zeke Elliott and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb to throw to. Price alert.

SOAP OPERAS – For such a storied franchise, Green Bay has become the soap opera capital of the NFL. Brett Favre didn’t welcome Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers didn’t take to Mike McCarthy.

 Enter Jordan Love, who The Pack traded up to get, setting the stage for Season 3 of TittleTown Tantrums (Hulu). Rodgers, 36, is in win-now mode. The Packers didn’t do much to help him. The over/under on how many times TV cameras focus on any interaction between Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur is 26, where Love was drafted.

GHOSTS – If you were in Jon Gruden’s home for Thursday night’s draft, you were one of a select few who swear they heard the laughter of the late Al Davis seeping up from the basement like a chill.

The Raiders used pick No. 12 on speedy Henry Ruggs III, who we had as the No.3-ranked WR, behind CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy. Then they used the 19th pick on Ohio State CB Damon Arnette, who almost certainly would have been available in the second round.

Davis was known for always being smitten with speedy wide receivers, some of whom didn’t pan out, and being a contrarian. The Raiders went for the Davis cycle. Listen closely, “Just Win Baby.”

COUCH POTATOES – George Kinlaw, Javon Kinlaw’s dad, was in total couch potato mode, half asleep on the couch, until the 49ers, George’s favorite team, drafted Javon. Pops fell off the coach and proceeded to take a “victory flight” around the room.

NFL Draft: Giants, Jets Go Big; Packers go Bizarre

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

There is no place like the Big Apple. Courtesy of the Giants and Jets, it just got a little bigger – and maybe safer for their quarterbacks.

Credit Twitter

The Giants opted not to trade down and fulfilled Dave Gettleman’s vow to improve the offensive line. But instead of going with Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Jr., Iowa’s Tristian Wirfs, or Louisville’s Mekhi Becton with the No.4 pick, Gettleman took Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.

“We spent a lot of time on this and we want to fix this offensive line once and for all,” Gettleman told reporters. “Andrew has a hell of a pedigree. Three-year starter. He’s played big-time ball in front of a lot of people … He’s ready.”

The Jets had their choice of Wirfs or Becton and went with the most massive player in the draft. Consider this, at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds, Becton can dunk a basketball – and not blow out his sneaker.

“He brings an edge for us,” coach Adam Gase told reporters on a conference call. “He brings nasty to our offensive line room.”

The draft, perhaps because of the complications caused by the coronavirus, was lacking in wheeling and dealing early on. But made up for it late with four trades. There were six 1st-round trades last year.

It was the Packers who shocked the NFL world by trading up to take Utah State QB Jordan Love. One problem. The Packers have a QB by the name of Aaron Rodgers (36). He expects to play for another Super Bowl or two.

  1. Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – After turning in perhaps the greatest statistical season in college football history, capped by a national championship, Cincy hopes Burrow is the second coming of John Elway. Or at least not the second coming of JaMarcus Russell.
  •  Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – Ron Rivera starts the Redskins major rebuild with an elite pass rusher. The big questions in D.C. – is Dwayne Haskins the answer at QB or is it “Tank for Trevor?”
  • Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – No drama. No trade. Okudah is the best CB prospect we’ve seen since Patrick Peterson (2011). That’s worked out pretty well.
  • Giants – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – Dave Gettleman stays true to his word and drafts a Hog Mollie. But did he get the right one? We had Iowa’s Tristian Wirfs rated hired. Our streak of opening 3-for-3 snapped.
  • Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – If the hip, and the rest of his body hold up, he has everything to be a franchise player. Most accurate QB in the draft and a terrific young man. Aloha nui.
  • Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – Let the debate begin: Herbert or Tagovailoa? Another top-shelf young man. Herbert has a stronger arm and no injury worries. Tua more mobile and accurate. We shall see.
  • Panthers – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn – Goodbye Gerald McCoy. Hello Brown. A high-character, high-effort, highly unmovable presence in the middle of the line. Brady, Brees beware.
  • Cardinals – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Ever since the Cardinals made Deone Bucannon a $LB in 2014, teams have been searching for hybrid defenders. Swiss Army never made a knife as versatile as this defender.
  • Jaguars – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – Jalen who? The only CB in this draft that can be mentioned in the same sentence as Okudah. His 4.39 speed and 6-foot-1, 204-pound frame, he replaces Ramsey, without the baggage.
  1. Browns – Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama – Baker Mayfield just got the protection he needs to emerge as an elite quarterback. Wills blocks like he has a personal vendetta against any defender.
  1. Jets –  Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisville – The Zion Williamson of the NFL. A man 6-foot-7, 364 pounds who runs 5.1 40. Jets will have to keep a tight eye on his weight. He won’t hard to find. Flagged drug test. J-E-T-S.
  1. Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama – They can move the franchise to Bora, Bora, the Raiders can’t resist speed. Ruggs is the fastest player in the draft. Is he the next Tim Brown or Darius Heyward-Bey?
  1. Bucs (from 49ers) –  Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – Tom Brady continues to live a charmed life. GOAT career. Model wife. Signs with a team that has a bounty at WR. The best tackle in the draft falls to the Bucs who move up.

14. 49ers – (from Bucs, plus No.117) Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – Lose      DeForest Buckner in a trade, replace him with a 6-foot-5, 324-poud disrupter. GM John Lynch continues to build inside out. Smart.

15. Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Courtland Sutton, a 6-4 target and ball snatcher broke out last season. Team him with Jeudy, last year’s No.1 pick, TE Noah Fant, RB Melvin Gordon, and QB Drew Lock just might take the next step, ending John Elway’s QB curse.

16. Falcons – A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson – The second truly baffling pick, behind the Giants. Terrell has all the tools to be an elite corner but is he the third best corner in this draft? Atlanta better have gotten this right or it becomes Hotlanta.

17. Cowboys – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – The Cowboys had their choice of S Xavier McKinney or DE K’Lavon Chaisson but when a talent like Lamb, our No.1-rated WR, it’s too good to pass up.

18. Dolphins – Austin Jackson, OT, USC – There are more NFL-ready tackles than the 20-year-old. But this makes a lot of sense if the Fish “redshirt” Tagovailoa, giving Jackson a year to develop.

19. Raiders – Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State – Okudah got all the publicity but Arnette would have been the Buckeye’s best CB in most seasons. Just not a first-round pick in this draft.

20. Jaguars – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Not too long ago, this was one of the best young defenses in the NFL. They might be there soon again. With Chaisson off the edge and Henderson at the corner it’s a good night in Jax.

21. Eagles – Jalon Reagor, WR, TCU – New aspect to the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry: Lamb or Reagor? Both are highlights waiting to happen. It would have been negligent not to give QB Carson Wentz a big-time playmaker.

  • Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – Lose Stefan Diggs in a trade, add a WR that wins a lot of contested balls.
  • Chargers (from Pats)  – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Chargers are severely lacking at linebacker and Murray is the best pure linebacker in the draft. Was it work giving up a 2nd and 3rd? Hmmm.
  • Saints – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – Simple. Before Drew Brees heads to the broadcast booth, the Saints need to do everything to help him get one more ring. Ruiz can play center or guard. Not a need but insurance.
  • 49ers (from Vikings) – Brandon Aiyuk, WR, ASU – The Niners needed to address this position in a big way. Aiyuk has a catch radius that would make an NBA forward proud. Jimmy Garoppolo, meet Baker Mayfield.
  • Packers (from Dolphins) – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – Aaron Rodgers eventually replaced Brett Favre. The cleat is on the other foot: Love is the heir apparent. No WR for Rodgers. Another Green Bay soap opera.
  • Seahawks – Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech – A mean, sideline-to-sideline linebacker who is addicted to hitting. The Red Raiders weren’t very good and Seattle has other needs. They thought best player available.
  • Ravens – Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU – LSU has replaced Miami as my favorite college for NFL talent. The Tigers play with a speed and tenacity that’s a football purist’s joy to watch. So do the Ravens.

29. Titans – Isaiah Wilson, OT, Georgia – Poly Prep’s latest product. Wilson still needs a little experience but imagine this: The 6-foot-6, 350-pounder blocking for the 6-3, 238-pound Derrick Henry. Pity the cornerback.

30. Dolphins – Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn – There is no better athlete in the draft. In addition to corner he’s a terrific kick returner. But the Dolphins just signed Byron Jones and have Xavien Howard.

31. Vikings (from 49ers) – Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU – Cornerback, WR, OT were the positions that were up for debate. Gladney makes up for his lack of height (5-10) with speed (4.48) and tenacity. Guess they wouldn’t take Trevon Diggs, huh?

32. Chiefs – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RD, LSU – Just what the NFL wants – another weapon for Patrick Mahomes. E-H is not the best RB in this draft but he’s the best for KC. The 5-7 back is a great receiver. Lot’s of YAC, the Chiefs M.O.

We’ll be back Sunday with our grades. Stay safe. Boo Goodell.

The No-Trade NFL Mock Draft That Won’t Happen

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

You’ve got to hand to CBSsports.com.

For the last several weeks the experts have seemingly provided an NFL mock draft every day – sometimes two. There are one-round drafts, two-round drafts, three, five, seven. Drafts with trades. Drafts with no trades. Drafts based on each team’s fan base’s voting.

By the time Roger Goodell steps to the podium, or whatever stage they’ll have constructed in the commissioner’s Bronxville home’s basement, there will be millions of quasi-GMs around the country ready to boo or cheer their team.

Here’s how the draft should go –  with no trades allowed.

  1. Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – In a draft riddled with questions: Who’s the best WR? Who’s the best OT? Who’s the second-best cornerback? The question of who’s the best QB prospect is not up for debate. The Andy Dalton era ends and the Burrows era begins; forget hand size.

2. Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – The Redskins need a lot of help but unless they get a trade offer they can’t pass up, Ron Rivera sticks with his defensive roots. Washington’s offense doesn’t have enough to compete. But a defense with Young and Ryan Kerrigan might steal a game or two.

3. Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – As with the Redskins, the Lions are fielding offers like bees to honey. Okudah is one of the most complete college corners we’ve seen. There’s a significant drop off at cornerback after Okudah so if the Lions are going to trade down, it’s going to take a monster offer.

4. Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Ever since the Cardinals made Deone Bucannon a $LB in 2014, teams have been searching for hybrid defenders. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons runs a 4.39 40, the second-best time for a LB since 2003. The question? Does Dave Gettleman not take the Hog Mollie of his choice?

5. Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – The Dolphins reportedly have been flipping coins between Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, who shined in pre-draft workouts. Tagovailoa’s health – not just the serious hip injury – but the two ankle injuries (one surgery) and a quad injury – are real concerns.

6. Chargers – Tua Tagovailva, QB, Alabama – The Chargers know exactly what they have without Phillip Rivers and with Tyrod Taylor – no future at football’s most important position. Chargers fans need a reason to make the trek up I-5 to the new stadium they’ll share with the Rams. RED FLAG: Injury concerns.

7. Panthers – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn – Tough call for Carolina. They lost Gerald McCoy and Luke Kuechly. Derrick Brown could be a 10-year plug on the DL but Simmons, if he drops, can change a game with his ridiculous skill set. Can’t see the Panthers not finding that irresistible.

8. Cardinals –  Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – The great debate after who is the best WR is who is the best OT. We favor Wirfs for his combination of athleticism and technique. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has built a tradition of producing technically sound, tough O-linemen. We love O-lineman that were wrestlers.

9. Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – A penetrating interior lineman who uses his 6-foot-5, 324-pound frame to disrupt, well, everything. He gets to the QB better than Brown and he blocks kicks as well as sacking QBs. Just two years ago the Jags had one of the best young defenses. The rebuilding begins.

10. Browns – Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama – They believe they have their QB in Baker Mayfield, who needs to stop talking and start playing at an elite level. In fairness to Mayfield, he needs better protection. Willis is a Day One starter. With a better line and his choice of weapons, Mayfield is out of excuses.

11. Jets – Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisville –Some have taken to calling Becton the Zion Williamson of OTs. Not a bad comparison for a man 6-foot-7, 364 pounds who can run a 5.2, 40 and dunk a basketball. RED FLAG: Becton could fall after having his drug test flagged at the NFL Combine.

12.  Raiders – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – The Raiders also are moving into a new stadium, no less a new state. There’s a need at CB and there are two elite QB prospects next season –  Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. This has never been a patient franchise and Love can learn behind Derek Carr for a year.

13. 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – A lot of mocks have Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy rated as the best WR and he is a terrific prospect. But Lamb has the ‘it” factor. Lamb opposite last year’s first round pick Deebo Samuel with George Kittle at TE takes this offense to the next level.

14. Bucs – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – This just in, the Bucs have a new quarterback with six Super Bowl trophies and a chance to win another within the next two seasons. Protect Tom Brady at all costs. Thomas is maybe a half-tick lower than Wirfs, Becton and Wills, Jr. but maybe not.

15. Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Courtland Sutton, a 6-4 target and ball snatcher broke out last season. Team him with Jeudy, last year’s No.1 pick, TE Noah Fant, RB Melvin Gordon, and QB Drew Lock just might take the next step, ending John Elway’s QB curse.

16. Falcons – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – The only CB in this draft that can be mentioned in the same sentence as Okudah is Henderson. His 4.39 speed and 6-foot-1, 204-pound frame give him the perfect makeup to emerge as a No.1 corner. He’s been trending up with the Bucs and 49ers showing interest.

17. Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Dallas has a tough choice here between addressing the defensive backfield and edge rusher. Relying on Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory as your rusher opposite DeMarcus Lawrence is like relying on Villanelle not to kill anyone on the next season of Killing Eve.

18. Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Just as the Bucs are all about Brady, the Fish are all about Herbert. Jones allowed just one sack and four pressures his senior season. If you think it was because he didn’t face elite competition at Houston, he was voted the top offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.

19. Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama – The thought of Jordan Love to Henry Riggs III conjures of memories of Daryle Lamonica to Fred Biletnikoff. Las Vegas could use a cornerback but opt for a WR for two reasons: the move to a new stadium and, well, it’s the Raiders. Imagine Ruggs vs Tyreke Hill twice a year?

20. Jaguars – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU – Henderson has a bit more speed but Fulton is the second-best corner in terms of press coverage. He plays with an edge. RED FLAG: Fulton was suspended for 2017 for falsifying specimen for a drug test. It was for marijuana. But, hey, it’s the Raiders.

21. Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – In almost any other draft, Jefferson is the first WR off the board. In any other draft, the Eagles would never get a WR of this caliber at 21. Bottom line, they must get QB Carson Wentz a big-time WR. Both the player and the team win here.

22. Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State – With Everson Griffen gone, the Vikes need someone opposite Danielle Hunter. When you face Aaron Rodgers & Matt Stafford twice each season, you must get pressure. Vikings needs a WR but Gross-Matos is the last 1st-round rush end left. Mike Zimmer chooses defense.

23. Patriots – Zach Baun, OLB/DE, Wisconsin – The focus in New England, and throughout the NFL, is Tom Brady’s change of address. But this defense lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton. Baun is one of our favorites for his intelligence and versatility. In other words, he’s a Belichick player.

24. Saints – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Saints need to do everything they can to give Drew Brees his best chance at one last Super Bowl before he heads to the broadcast booth. The defense was solid if unspectacular last season. Murray, who plays nasty, becomes an anchor in the middle.

25. Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson – A lot has been made about Higgins’ comparably slow 4.54 40. But the 6-foot-4 Higgins is a beast in the red zone with a ridiculous catch radius. With Adam Thielen on one side, Higgins on the other, Kyle Rudolph over the middle and Davin Cook out of the backfield – wow!

26. Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia – Georgia has become Running Back U and Swift carries on that tradition. He has speed, vision, the ability to make defenders miss and will stick his nose in on pass protection. Miami loaded up the D in free agency. They’re all in on offense with a QB, OT and RB.

27. Seahawks – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – For all of the brilliance of Russell Wilson, and that can’t be overstated, Pete Carroll loves to run the football. Ruiz is very agile for an inside interior lineman and he plays with a real nasty streak. It may not be a sexy pick but it’s the smart one.

28. Ravens – Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU – LSU has replaced Miami as my favorite college for NFL talent. The Tigers, especially on the defensive side, play with a speed and tenacity that’s a football purist’s joy to watch. Queen fits the mold. The Ravens have tried to cover up the loss of C.J. Mosley. Hasn’t worked.

29. Titans – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – We went with an O-Lineman in our first draft but CB is a more of position of need with Ryan Logan apparently headed elsewhere. Diggs and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell are neck and neck. Diggs’ experience as a former WR gets the edge. Great hands.

30. Packers – Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado – The Vikings believe they have a Super Bowl caliber roster. The loss of Stephon Diggs via trade needs to be addressed. With the ball in his hands Shenault Jr. is one of the most exciting players in this draft. RED FLAG: History of injuries based on physical play.

31. 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – All any 49ers fan needs to do to find the No.1 position of need is to cue up a replay of the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill combined for 13 catches for 203 yards. The need is more CB than S, but McKinney can play either safety spot and is Day 1 talent.

32. Chiefs – Antoine Winfield, S/CB, Minnesota – This is my favorite defensive player in the draft because of the way he plays. Yes, he’s only 5-foot-9, 203 pounds but he hits like a man constantly in a bad mood. Injury history could turn off some teams, moving Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.

 –

Live From Goodell’s Basement: The NFL Draft

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

A LIVE SPORTING EVENT!

O.K. it’s not a game or even a preseason game or even an exhibition, but Thursday night sports fans hungering for a live sporting event will be sated by the NFL Draft.

It may not be the Super Bowl but the draft is arguably the most important day of the year in a franchise’s fortunes. The undisputed winners will be ESPN/ABC and the companies that locked in ads long before COVID-19 decimated the sports landscape.

The ESPN/ABC family of networks televised the draft last season, posting a record 47.5 million viewers. The price for a 30-second ad cost in the mid $100,000. With no other game in town, last year’s record could be shattered.

If you haven’t been invited to a remote draft party, you will be. Or host your own. Start a pool in which everyone picks the first round and the most accurate prognosticators take home prize money. You’ll just have to use Venmo.

As for the draft itself, there could be a lot of trade action as quarterback hungry teams jockey to secure the rights of Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love.

 The Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, Patriots and Saints all are in the market for their quarterback of the future. The Bears should be. The Titans need a backup to Ryan Tannehill.

A live sporting event is just 10 days away! Here’s our mock draft cheat sheet. Stay safe.

  1. Bengals – Joe Burrows, QB, LSU – In a draft riddled with questions: Who’s the best WR? Who’s the best OT? Who’s the second-best cornerback? The question of who’s the best QB prospect is not up for debate. The Andy Dalton era ends and Burrows era begins; forget hand size.

2. Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – The Redskins need a lot of help but unless they get a trade offer they can’t pass up, Ron Rivera sticks with his defensive roots. Washington’s offense doesn’t have enough to compete. But a defense with Young and Ryan Kerrigan might steal a game or two.

3. Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – As with the Redskins, the Lions are fielding offers like bees to honey. Okudah is one of the most college corners we’ve seen. There’s a significant drop off at cornerback after Okudah.

4. Raiders (from Giants) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – Stunning trades and out-of-the box No.1 picks are part of the Raiders’ DNA. The franchise doubles down on its move to Vegas. They send the Giants their two, first-round picks –  12 and 19 – to the Giants, even though trading down is not in GM Dave Gettleman’s DNA.

5. Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – The Dolphins reportedly have been flipping coins between Tagovailoa and Herbert. By sitting tight, they don’t have to gamble on Tagovailoa’s health. Herbert is one of the smartest players in the draft and he answered a lot of questions through the predraft process.

6. Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – The Chargers know exactly what they have without Phillip Rivers and with Tyrod Taylor – no future at football’s most important position. Chargers fans need a reason to make the trek up I-5 to the new stadium they’ll share with the Rams. Terrible.

7. Panthers – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Tough call for Carolina. They lost Gerald McCoy and Luke Kuechly. Derrick Brown could be a 10-year plug on the DL but Simmons can change a game with his ridiculous skill set. Can’t see the Panthers not finding that irresistible.

8. Cardinals – Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisville – Anyone claiming they know which of the four elite tackles will be selected first is not being honest. Becton is the biggest of the bunch and he possesses amazing athleticism (5.2 40 time) for a man listed at 6-7, 364-pounds.

9. Jaguars – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn – Just a few short years ago the Jaguars had one of the elite, young defenses in the NFL. Gone are Patrick Ramsey, Marcell Dareus, and Calais Campbell (Ok, not so young). We believe in building from the inside out.

10. Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama – They have their QB in Khyler Murray and a great new target in D’Andre Hopkins (still find this hard to fathom). Time to make sure this connection stays healthy. Wills is a Day 1 starter.

11. Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – If this comes to fruition, Jets fans have reason to hope their luck is turning (finally!). Wirfs was coached at Iowa by Kirk Ferentz, a former longtime offensive line coach who has built a tradition of producing technically sound, tough O-linemen.

12. Giants (from Raiders) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – If this comes to fruition, Giants fan have reason to hope their luck is turning. The Giants trade down and still get a starting OT. Next pick is just six spots away when Big Blue. Can they get another starter, on the other side of the ball?

13. 49ers – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Frankly we like CeeDee Lamb a tad more than Jeudy, but it’s impossible to argue against Jeudy’s 4.45 speed, broad jump of 10 feet, vertical jump of 35 inches and magnificent route running. He teams with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle to give Jimmy Garoppolo a terrific trio of targets.

14. Cowboys (from Bucs) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – The win-now Cowboys need to replace Byron Jones. Knowing the Falcons at No. 16 are in the CB market, Dallas trades up with Tampa Bay. Henderson has the speed and athleticism but he needs to hone his tackling.

15. Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – Courtland Sutton, a 6-4 target and ball snatcher broke out last season. Team him with Lamb, last year’s no.1 pick TE Noah Fant, and Melvin Gordon, and Drew Lock just might take the next step, ending John Elway’s QB curse. Lamb is our favorite receiver in this WR-rich draft.

16. Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Atlanta has a tough choice here between addressing the defensive backfield and edge rusher. When you’re in a division that now has Tom Brady and Drew Brees, you better be able to get pressure.

17. Bucs – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – Every move the Bucs make must consider how it will maximize Tom Brady’s ability to excel. Jameis Winston was sacked 47 times. He also led the league with 677 drop-backs. And he is more mobile than Brady. Ruiz plays with tenacity and technique and he can play center or guard. Bucs mandate: Protect Tomba.

18. Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Just as the Bucs are all about Brady, the Fish are all about Herbert. Jones allowed just one sack and four pressures his senior season. If you think it was because he didn’t face elite competition at Houston, he was voted the top offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.

19. Giants – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – After trading down for the first time, Gettleman thinks, “This isn’t a bad way to go!” If getting Thomas at No.12 wasn’t good fortune, getting Kinlaw here sure is. He’s a better rusher than Brown and more athletic.

20. Jaguars – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama – I’m still not sold on the Jaguars being sold on Gardner Minshew II, III, or IV. But even if this turns out to be a one-season audition, get the man the fastest receiver in the draft. Ruggs, seen as a Tyreek Hill-like weapon, certainly could be off the board by this point.

21. Eagles – Josh Jefferson, WR, LSU – And so begins the run on WRs. A healthy Carson Wentz can be as effective as almost any QB in the NFL, if he has legitimate targets. No receiver in this draft wins contested balls like Jefferson. He can play all three wide receiver positions.

22. Vikings – Brandon Aiyuk, WR,  – The loss of Stefon Diggs hurts. He’s is an upper echelon WR and keeps Adam Thielen from facing constant double teams. Denzel Mims, Baylor is bigger. Jalen Reagor, TCU is the most explosive. Any of the three could go here.

23. Patriots – Zach Baun, OLB/DE, Wisconsin – The focus in New England and throughout the NFL is Tom Brady’s change of address. But this defense lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton. Baun is a smart, versatile defender. In other words, he’s a Belichick player.

24. Saints – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Saints need to do everything they can to give Drew Brees his best chance at one last Super Bowl before he heads to the broadcast booth. We know the Saints can score. The defense was solid if unspectacular last season. Murray, who plays nasty, becomes an anchor in the middle.

25. Vikings – A..J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa – Everson Griffen is gone. The Vikes face two terrific passers – Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford –  twice each season. With Epenesa, who has a great motor, on one side and Daniel Hunter on the other, the Vikes should be able to get pressure.

26. Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia – Georgia has become Running Back U and Swift carries on that tradition. In addition to his speed, vision and ability to make defenders miss, Swift will stick his nose in on pass protection. He gives Herbert a serious upgrade over Jordan Howard.

27. Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State – The $17-18 million question is whether or not Jadaveon Clowney returns. The thinking here is that he heads to Cleveland, leaving a neglected defense with a major hole. Gross-Matos is one of the DE’s that is also good against the run.

28. Ravens – Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU – LSU has replaced Miami as my favorite college for NFL talent. The Tigers, especially on the defensive side, play with a speed and tenacity that football purist’s joy to watch. Queen fits the mold. The Ravens have tried to cover up the loss of C.J. Mosley but it’s time to address this second level of defense.

29. Titans – Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State – Boise State doesn’t send a lot of players to the league in comparison to Bama, Ohio State, etc. But the ones that come off the blue turf have excellent success – DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Matt Paradis, Alexander Mattison. The Titans offense is focused on Derrick Henry. Cleveland wowed in pre-draft workouts.

30. Packers – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson – After Devante Adams there is a significant drop off at the WR spot. With a QB such Aaron Rodgers, not having another top target on the opposite side is a waste of talent. Higgins is a step slower than the WRs that already have gone but at 6-4, he’s a red zone ball winner.

31. 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – All any 49ers fan needs to do to find the No.1 position of need is to cue up a replay of the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill combined for 13 catches for 203 yards. Richard Sherman is still a quality corner but he’s 32.  McKinney can play either safety spot.

32. Chiefs – Antoine Winfield, S/CB, Minnesota – This is my favorite player in the draft because of the way he plays. Yes, he’s only 5-foot-9, 203 pounds but he hits like a man constantly in a bad mood. He’s instinctual, versatile and has great bloodlines. Only concern is that he hits so hard he hurts himself.

A Live Sporting Event Just One Week Away

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

A LIVE SPORTING EVENT!

O.K. it’s not a game or even a preseason game or even an exhibition, but next Thursday night sports fans hungering for a live sporting event will be sated by the NFL Draft.

It may not be the Super Bowl but the draft is arguably the most important day of the year in a franchise’s fortunes. The undisputed winners will be ESPN/ABC and the companies that locked in ads long before COVID-19 decimated the sports landscape.

The ESPN/ABC family of networks televised the draft last season, posting a record 47.5 million viewers. The price for a 30-second ad cost in the mid $100,000. With no other game in town, last year’s record could be shattered.

If you haven’t been invited to a remote draft party, you will be. Or host your own. Start a pool in which everyone picks the first round and the most accurate prognosticators take home prize money. You’ll just have to use Venmo.

As for the draft itself, there could be a lot of trade action as quarterback hungry teams jockey to secure the rights of Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love.

 The Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, Patriots and Saints all are in the market for their quarterback of the future. The Bears should be. The Titans need a backup to Ryan Tannehill.

A live sporting event is just 10 days away! Here’s our mock draft cheat sheet. Stay safe.

  1. Bengals – Joe Burrows, QB, LSU – In a draft riddled with questions: Who’s the best WR? Who’s the best OT? Who’s the second-best cornerback? The question of who’s the best QB prospect is not up for debate. The Andy Dalton era ends and Burrows era begins; forget hand size.

2. Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – The Redskins need a lot of help but unless they get a trade offer they can’t pass up, Ron Rivera sticks with his defensive roots. Washington’s offense doesn’t have enough to compete. But a defense with Young and Ryan Kerrigan might steal a game or two.

3. Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – As with the Redskins, the Lions are fielding offers like bees to honey. Okudah is one of the most college corners we’ve seen. There’s a significant drop off at cornerback after Okudah.

4. Raiders (from Giants) – Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama – Stunning trades and out-of-the box No.1 picks are part of the Raiders’ DNA. The franchise doubles down on its move to Vegas. They send the Giants their two, first-round picks –  12 and 19 – to the Giants, even though trading down is not in GM Dave Gettleman’s DNA.

5. Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – The Dolphins reportedly have been flipping coins between Tagovailoa and Herbert. By sitting tight, they don’t have to gamble on Tagovailoa’s health. Herbert is one of the smartest players in the draft and he answered a lot of questions through the predraft process.

6. Chargers – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – The Chargers know exactly what they have without Phillip Rivers and with Tyrod Taylor – no future at football’s most important position. Chargers fans need a reason to make the trek up I-5 to the new stadium they’ll share with the Rams. Terrible.

7. Panthers – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn – The defense lost Gerald McCoy and Luke Kuechly. The 6-5, 315-pound Brown can be a Day 1 starter for the next decade, plugging the middle. This might not be the sexiest pick but it’s the smartest.

8. Cardinals – Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisville – Anyone claiming they know which of the four elite tackles will be selected first is not being honest. Becton is the biggest of the bunch and he possesses amazing athleticism (5.2 40 time) for a man listed at 6-7, 364-pounds.

9. Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – Just a few short years ago the Jaguars had one of the elite, young defenses in the NFL. Gone are Patrick Ramsey, Marcell Dareus, and Calais Campbell (Ok, not so young). Kinlaw offers more of a pass-rushing threat from the tackle spot than Brown.

10. Cardinals – Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama – They have their QB in Khyler Murray and a great new target in D’Andre Hopkins (still find this hard to fathom). Time to make sure this connection stays healthy. Wills is a Day 1 starter.

11. Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – If this comes to fruition, Jets fans have reason to hope their luck is turning (finally!). Wirfs was coached at Iowa by Kirk Ferentz, a former longtime offensive line coach who has built a tradition of producing technically sound, tough O-linemen.

12. Giants (from Raiders) – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – If this comes to fruition, Giants fan have reason to hope their luck is turning. The Giants trade down and still get a starting OT. Next pick is just six spots away when Big Blue. Can they get another starter, on the other side of the ball?

13. 49ers – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Frankly we like CeeDee Lamb a tad more than Jeudy, but it’s impossible to argue against Jeudy’s 4.45 speed, broad jump of 10 feet, vertical jump of 35 inches and magnificent route running. He teams with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle to give Jimmy Garoppolo a terrific trio of targets.

14. Cowboys (from Bucs) – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – The win-now Cowboys need to replace Byron Jones. Knowing the Falcons at No. 16 are in the CB market, Dallas trades up with Tampa Bay. Henderson has the speed and athleticism but he needs to hone his tackling.

15. Broncos – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – Courtland Sutton, a 6-4 target and ball snatcher broke out last season. Team him with Lamb, last year’s no.1 pick TE Noah Fant, and Melvin Gordon, and Drew Lock just might take the next step, ending John Elway’s QB curse. Lamb is our favorite receiver in this WR-rich draft.

16. Falcons – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Atlanta has a tough choice here between addressing the defensive backfield and edge rusher. When you’re in a division that now has Tom Brady and Drew Brees, you better be able to get pressure. Vic Beasley is gone and 2017 first-round pick Takkarist McKinely hasn’t emerged.

17. Bucs – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – Every move the Bucs make must consider how it will maximize Tom Brady’s ability to excel. Jameis Winston was sacked 47 times. He also led the league with 677 drop-backs. And he is more mobile than Brady. Ruiz plays with tenacity and technique and he can play center or guard. Bucs mandate: Protect Tomba.

18. Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Just as the Bucs are all about Brady, the Fish are all about Herbert. Jones allowed just one sack and four pressures his senior season. If you think it was because he didn’t face elite competition at Houston, he was voted the top offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.

19. Giants – K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU – After trading down for the first time, Gettleman thinks, “This isn’t a bad way to go!” If getting Thomas at No.12 wasn’t good fortune, getting Chaisson here sure is. He’s a high-character, high-athletic prospect.

20. Jaguars – Henry Ruggs, WR, Alabama – I’m still not sold on the Jaguars being sold on Gardner Minshew II, III, or IV. But even if this turns out to be a one-season audition, get the man the fastest receiver in the draft. Ruggs, seen as a Tyreek Hill-like weapon, certainly could be off the board by this point.

21. Eagles – Josh Jefferson, WR, LSU – And so begins the run on WRs. A healthy Carson Wentz can be as effective as almost any QB in the NFL, if he has legitimate targets. No receiver in this draft wins contested balls like Jefferson. He can play all three wide receiver positions.

22. Vikings – Brandon Aiyuk, WR,  – The loss of Stefon Diggs hurts. He’s is an upper echelon WR and keeps Adam Thielen from facing constant double teams. Denzel Mims, Baylor is bigger. Jalen Reagor, TCU is the most explosive. Any of the three could go here.

23. Patriots – Zach Baun, OLB/DE, Wisconsin – The focus in New England and throughout the NFL is Tom Brady’s change of address. But this defense lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton. Baun is a smart, versatile defender. In other words, he’s a Belichick player.

24. Saints – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Saints need to do everything they can to give Drew Brees his best chance at one last Super Bowl before he heads to the broadcast booth. We know the Saints can score. The defense was solid if unspectacular last season. Murray, who plays nasty, becomes an anchor in the middle.

25. Vikings – A..J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa – Everson Griffen is gone. The Vikes face two terrific passers – Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford –  twice each season. With Epenesa, who has a great motor, on one side and Daniel Hunter on the other, the Vikes should be able to get pressure.

26. Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia – Georgia has become Running Back U and Swift carries on that tradition. In addition to his speed, vision and ability to make defenders miss, Swift will stick his nose in on pass protection. He gives Herbert a serious upgrade over Jordan Howard.

27. Seahawks – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State – The $17-18 million question is whether or not Jadaveon Clowney returns. The thinking here is that he heads to Cleveland, leaving a neglected defense with a major hole. Gross-Matos is one of the DE’s that is also good against the run.

28. Ravens – Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU – LSU has replaced Miami as my favorite college for NFL talent. The Tigers, especially on the defensive side, play with a speed and tenacity that football purist’s joy to watch. Queen fits the mold. The Ravens have tried to cover up the loss of C.J. Mosley but it’s time to address this second level of defense.

29. Titans – Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State – Boise State does send a lot of players to the league in comparison to Bama, Ohio State, etc. But the ones that come off the blue turf have excellent success – DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Matt Paradis, Alexander Mattison. The Titans offense is focused on Derrick Henry. Cleveland wowed in pre-draft workouts.

30. Packers – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson – After Devante Adams there is a significant drop off at the WR spot. With a QB such Aaron Rodgers, not having another top target on the opposite side is a waste of talent. Higgins is a step slower than the WRs that already have gone but at 6-4, he’s a red zone ball winner.

31. 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – All any 49ers fan needs to do to find the No.1 position of need is to cue up a replay of the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill combined for 13 catches for 203 yards. Richard Sherman is still a quality corner but he’s 32.  McKinney can play either safety spot.

32. Chiefs – Antoine Winfield, S/CB, Minnesota – This is my favorite player in the draft because of the way he plays. Yes, he’s only 5-foot-9, 203 pounds but he hits like a man constantly in a bad mood. He’s instinctual, versatile and has great bloodlines. Only concern is that he hits so hard he hurts himself.

Get Well Soon, Mr. Dolan; Then Sell the Knicks

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

File Photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra/The NYExtra.com

The most disliked man in metropolitan area sports has tested positive for the most insidious virus in most of our lifetimes. James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, Rangers and The Garden, became one of about 60,000 New Yorkers to have contracted this disease.  That number grows as I type.

It is not some karmic justice that Dolan has COVID-19. It’s a sad, unfortunate coincidence.

Some feeble-minded fans have taken to social media, which at times serves as the cesspool of society, to express their glee. Which means this is an ideal opportunity for a COVID-19 realty checkpoint.

This consists of my knowledge of this coronavirus: It has no agenda but to thrive, which means finding as much sweat, saliva spit and snot as possible and hitch a ride from person to person. It does not ask for, or even has any interest in, a person’s ID – rich, poor, tall, short, white, black, blue collar, white collar, no collar.

It has no conscience. Neither do some Dolan haters.

If you’ve visited this space you know we have no love lost for Dolan. We’ve asked Knicks fans to boycott. When that didn’t have the desired effect, we suggested fans appeal to Dolan’s love of the Knicks and try to convince him to sell for the good of the team. That, too, has not succeeded.

We will continue to try to be an agent for change.

In fact, we think the sooner he sells the Knicks, the quicker the team’s fans and, possible Dolan himself, will find happiness. He can enjoy their future success just like any other fan.

But only someone lacking in soul, like the virus itself, wants to see real harm come to Dolan. He is, after all, a husband, father of five, son, musician and absolutely incompetent owner when it comes to the Knicks.

Yet on the same day that the Knicks announced on Twitter that Dolan had tested positive it was reported by The New York Post that the owner had established The MSG Relief Fund to keep paying venue employees at least through May 3. Initially funded with a $1 million donation from the Madison Square Garden company and matched by the Dolan Family Foundation and a $300,000 from the MSG team.

I couldn’t care less if this is all one big tax deduction. It’s a right thing to do and Dolan did it.

Look, it’s fine to find some humor in this coronavirus plague. Humor is good medicine. Trevor Noah’s joke, that even COVID-19 doesn’t want anything to do with the Knicks, is true comedy.  So is his mission to make Social Distancing an Olympic sport.

When it comes to feeling happy that Dolan has the virus takes away our essence as humans, which just might be COVID-19’S end game. Here’s our message to Mr. Dolan:

Get well soon. Then sell the team.

HIS BEST ASSIST: Former Knicks point guard and Coney Island native Stephan Marbury is trying to secure the purchase of 10 million N95 masks for hospital workers and first responder. After a 14-year career in the NBA, Marbury’s professional and financial careers got huge boosts in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Marbury teamed with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to help with delivery arrangements. Marbury reportedly will purchase the masks at cost ($2.75) as opposed to $7.50 retailers have been trying to rip off the city.

 “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” Marbury told The Post in a telephone interview from his home in Beijing. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”