NFL Draft 2018: Baker Mayfield continues fight against Johnny Manziel comparisons


Ahead of April’s NFL Draft, Baker Mayfield’s scouting report on the field is largely similar to Johnny Manziel’s — a dynamic playmaker on the college level who put up wild numbers and collected plenty of hardware.

“And I didn’t want to be portrayed as the villain or somebody like that. I feel like I make a lot of people happy. I do good things within my community. I’m not trying to say those cover up any mistakes that I’ve made, but there’s always a learning curve when you’re growing up. And for me, it happened that I was in the spotlight when I made my mistakes.”

NFL teams have two more months to decide whether they believe Mayfield really is different from Manziel, or if a high draft pick isn’t worth risking on a QB with a propensity to rub others the wrong way.

The Instagram post, which came from a private but verified account, included a photo of a gun and bullets and was hashtagged #HarvardWestlake and #MiamiDolphins. Former Dolphins teammates Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, as well as two other people, were tagged in the post.

When looking back at the Wells investigation released in February 2014, text messages between Martin and his parents reveal deep-seeded issues related to his time at Harvard-Westlake.

The following is a text Martin sent to his mother on April 22, 2013:

“I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a push over, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me. I mostly blame the soft schools I went to, which fostered within me a feeling that I’m a huge pussy, as I never got into fights. I used to get verbally bullied every day in middle school and high school, by kids that are half my size. I would never fight back, just get sad & feel like no one wanted to be my friend, when in fact I was just being socially awkward. Most people in that situation are witty & quick with sarcastic replies, I never have been. I’m awkward around people a lot of the time because I simply don’t know how to act around them…

McCollum scores 26, Blazers end Utah’s 11-game win streak


CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard believe the crucial stretch of the long NBA season starts now and the Portland Trail Blazers have laser-like focus.

“We understand what’s at stake now,” McCollum said. “One game — a loss or a win — could sway the Western Conference playoff race.”

McCollum scored 26 points, Lillard added 24 and the Trail Blazers snapped the Utah Jazz’s 11-game winning streak with a 100-81 victory on Friday night.

Donovan Mitchell had 21 points for Utah. Rudy Gobert scored 15 and Joe Ingles contributed 12 but the Jazz were sloppy with ball.

During their long winning streak, the Jazz consistently came up with loose balls in key scramble situations. Against Portland, the Jazz couldn’t seem to hold on to the basketball, committing 20 turnovers and having numerous rebounds and passes squirt right through their hands.

“Turning the ball over as much as we did makes it really difficult. Obviously, we struggled on the offensive end. To me, it really starts there,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “We just didn’t have that juice.”

The Hornets have had no contact with Kupchak on a possible position, league sources said. Kupchak won two NBA titles as Lakers GM before he was swept out in 2017 upon the arrival of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.

Kupchak became the Lakers’ full-time GM in 2000, and he engineered the Pau Gasol trade in 2008 that led to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. He orchestrated a three-way deal with New Orleans and Houston that would have delivered All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Lakers in 2011, but that was ultimately vetoed by commissioner David Stern.

Charlotte could miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season with a payroll that ranks 10th in the NBA at $117 million. Charlotte has a projected $119 million payroll for the 2018-19 season, with every player under contract except Michael Carter-Williams and Treveon Graham.

Cho was promoted over former president of basketball operations Rod Higgins on draft night in 2014. Charlotte made two trips to the playoffs during Cho’s tenure — in 2014 and 2016.

Traditionally, dunk contests were led by stars in the 1980s and beyond, with Jordan and Dominique Wilkins winning competitions.


This is my 18th edition of Kings of Command (or at least some form of it, though the title has changed over the years), and in those 18 seasons, pitching trends have endured quite the roller-coaster ride.

This analysis began in the steroid era, progressed through a pitching-rich era in the early 2010s, and has now returned to a homer-happy era. Along the way, the league’s strikeout rate has risen monumentally. In 2001, the first year for which I published a list like the one you’ll read below, the average major league strikeout rate was 17.3 percent. Last season, it was a record-high 21.6 percent, and in fact, 2017 was the 10th consecutive season in which a new major league record in the category was set.

Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten earned a bronze medal in Sochi, but he couldn’t follow up that performance here with only a 70.12 score. Ten didn’t even qualify for the final round when all was said and done.

Vincent Zhou is the first American up, skating to Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. He got off to a hot start by landing his historic quad lutz, but the triple toe followup was less than perfect. Otherwise, it was a solid Olympic debut, earning a personal-best score of 84.53.

But as time went on from 1984 when the contest began, fans watched players perform the same dunks over and over again. It got bland to the point where stars no longer wished to compete.

That’s how we were left with the lifeless, subpar battle between rookies Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, Michael Finley and three What’s His Names? (Chris Carr, Bob Sura and Darvin Ham).

The contest featured extremely basic and already seen dunks, including an Allen double-pump fake — which LeBron James has done regularly in real games before — and a Bryant through-the-legs dunk that was executed worse than when it debuted three years earlier.

Starting in 1998, the NBA introduced the 2Ball competition to replace the dunk contest. It lasted three seasons (a lockout canceled the entire 1999 All-Star Weekend) until 2001.

The Rays are obligated to pay about $1 million of Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary for 2018.


And I feel bad for the guys this year who were probably counting on Corey to put up numbers to help the team win. I’m not going to take too many shots. But I think it’s pretty obvious that the guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFA’d.”

Watching the Three-Point Contest is like watching players put shots up in practice. There’s a timer, but the principle of shooting a number of shots from different parts of the court is the same as any shootaround; the difference is that now it’s in front of thousands of people. Yet it doesn’t have the same context as an actual game, with real consequences to each missed shot. If you miss in the Three-Point Contest, your team isn’t let down — you just grab another ball.

The Dunk Contest is slightly different. It has been a disappointment for a while now, with the rare good ones, like Aaron Gordon’s spectacular run, standing in stark contrast with every other year that ended in groans and cries that it needs to be fixed.

The problem here is that dunking is hard. What’s asked for in the contest is much different than what the players do in-game. The contest asks for creativity; judges give scores based on difficulty and personal notions of beauty. Players aren’t spending most of their time practicing those types of dunks in the gym; they’re working on their overall skill set. It’s only when they decide to participate in the contest that they start coming up with creative dunks to do.

The addition of Martinez, who finished third in the majors with a career-high 45 homers in 2017, also helps Boston counter the offseason blockbuster move by the rival New York Yankees, who acquired reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

The NL wild-card-winning Diamondbacks’ July 18 acquisition of Martinez from the Detroit Tigers for three minor leaguers might go down as one of the best midseason pickups in baseball history.

Martinez had a thunderous second half to the season, and it only picked up steam down the stretch. In 62 games with the Diamondbacks, he batted .302 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs.

In September, Martinez batted .404 (40-for-99) with 16 home runs (tying a NL record), eight doubles, 36 RBIs and 26 runs scored in 24 games.

Martinez played outfield in Detroit and Arizona, but is expected to serve primarily as the DH for Boston.

Expect increased tolerance for touchdown celebrations this season.


And, of course, two teams are unable to play today. The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will instead play their game on Week 11 because of the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Florida.

The NFL has always had an awkward dance with celebrations, but even the folks in the home office know they’re being ridiculed for their rules. You’ll know how serious the league is about heeding the “lighten up, Francis” pleas if it doesn’t fine Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs for flashing a peace sign during a 75-yard touchdown pass play against the New England Patriots in the NFL opener Thursday night. To a point, as The Post’s Mark Maske writes, the NFL really doesn’t want to be the No Fun League.

The Carolina Panthers have the No. 8 selection and are widely expected to go with a running back, perhaps Leonard Fournette of LSU or Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. Any team that feels it absolutely must have one of those well-regarded runners might want to get ahead of the Panthers.

The quarterbacks could come into play again with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 13, the Houston Texans at No. 25 and the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 27. If Watson or Trubisky plummets, or if some team is enamored with Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech or Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, a deal to move up could happen.

The trade of WR Sammy Watkins to the Rams left the Bills facing questions about whether they’d given up on this season. And they’re not even the worst team in their own division.

Finding an upgrade will be a lot easier in theory than in practice anyhow. Jaguars fans should be comforted that bringing Bortles back and drafting a quarterback is a far more palatable option than anyone would have expected it would be in August.

Which receiver will the Jaguars prioritize this offseason? The Jaguars’ two best wide receivers — Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee — are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. It will be difficult to keep both, with Robinson being a strong candidate for the franchise tag despite coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2017 season in Week 1. On the plus side, the most talented defense in the league should return almost entirely intact.

The Titans did them one better by scoring 37 in Jacksonville to pick up a key divisional win on the road.


Several potential contenders came into Week 2’s Sunday action looking to avoid starting the season 0-2, and two such teams in the AFC managed to roar back with blowout wins on the road. The Patriots couldn’t be stopped by the porous Saints defense in New Orleans en route to a 36-point day.

Before we dive into the scores, schedules, highlights and key updates from the day, Jason La Canfora writes in his Week 2 notebook about the ugly QB play contributing to a race to the bottom, and John Breech grades every team in action Sunday here.

Prescott exited after two drives, going 7-for-8 for 106 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

This is nothing new for Philly, and just like the last two weeks, no one should be counting them out against the Pats, for a variety of reasons.

First, the Eagles are well coached. They have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and proved as much in a 38-7 thumping of the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. The Vikings had the best defense in the NFC this season, and they were thoroughly exposed by … Nick Foles? The backup to Carson Wentz, shrugged off as a weakness by virtually every prognosticator, became a strength in the biggest game of the year for the Eagles, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns. He was, quite literally, perfect in the second half.

James was unsurprisingly all over the field in Florida State’s easy victory over Louisiana-Monroe, a rescheduled game from early in the season. His wide-ranging skill set should — and likely will — make him one of the first defensive backs off the board in April, if not the first.

He is a massive player with long arms and obvious strength, but he is not an elite athlete from a movement perspective. He is very physical, however, and when his motor is running hot, he is a difference-maker against the run and has the ability to push the pocket on passing downs.

Houston had a chance, of course, with rookie phenom Deshaun Watson under center, but now those playoff hopes are fading fast.


Before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in practice, Watson completed 62 percent of his passes en route to a 19-to-8 touchdown ratio and 103 passer rating. He also was — and still is — the most valuable passer per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating.

Harden’s appearance on the lowlights is likely a one-off due to rust and a minutes restriction, as he made his return to the court after missing several games with a hamstring injury. Gordon picked up the scoring slack for him on Thursday. Luc Mbah a Moute (available in 98.6 percent of leagues) got the start in place of the suspended Trevor Ariza and took advantage with 14 points (5-9 FG, 5 rebounds, 4 3-pointers, 2 assists and 1 steal in 32 minutes). PJ Tucker (available in 97 percent of leagues) also got more run than usual, scoring 5 points with 9 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 3-pointer in 34 minutes off the bench. Both likely have one more game with extended minutes on Saturday on the second suspension game for Ariza and Green before things return to normal.

Things are much more competitive in the NFC, where only the Eagles have at least a three-game lead atop their division. There’s also the fact that the NFC is just better this year:

On offense, the Dolphins will have Jay Ajayi, one of four players in NFL history with three games of more than 200 yards rushing in a single season (the others are Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson and Tiki Barber). Wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the team with 94 catches for 1,136 yards and, since he entered the league in 2014, he has caught 288 passes, tying Odell Beckham Jr. for the most by a player in his first three seasons. Wide receiver Kenny Stills led the team with nine touchdown catches.

On defense, well, there’s Ndamukong Suh, who had 2 1/2 sacks and two tackles for loss in two postseason games with Detroit. Since 2010, Suh ranks second among defensive tackles in the league with 94 tackles for loss and third with 47 sacks. And his fellow defensive end, Cameron Wake, is tied for third in the NFL this season with five forced fumbles and is third in the AFC with 11 1/2 sacks.

Trae Young, right, didn’t take his first 3-point attempt until there was 15:26 left in the second half.


Young fulfilled his vow in the first half against Kansas by not taking any 3-pointers, working the ball inside, drawing defenders on penetration and finding his teammates for open 3-pointers. Jayhawks guard Devonte’ Graham harassed him on the perimeter too, which didn’t help Young find many open looks.

But Graham said he noticed a change in Young.

“I didn’t even know he didn’t take [a 3-pointer in the first half],” said Graham, who finished with 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting. “I felt like he wasn’t being as aggressive or shooting as much as he usually did.”

Only a catch this awe-inspiring could top a 64-yard Super Bowl clincher, Swann’s other big play. They combined to help the Steelers wide receiver reach a record 161 yards and a game MVP award, the first ever for his position. This is proof: Swann mossed people way before Moss was Moss.

The Packers’ third explosion of 50-plus yards for a score in the game (Brett Favre to Andre Rison; Favre to Antonio Freeman), Howard’s return late in the third played the closer role. The first special teams player to be named Super Bowl MVP darted through New England’s coverage for a then-record touchdown and a two-score lead, the final spread.

Peyton Manning can’t regret any pass to Reggie Wayne more than the one he threw in Saints territory with just over three minutes to play in Miami. Porter undercut Manning’s throw and picked it off, weaving, sprinting and pointing his way to the end zone untouched for a two-score New Orleans lead.

It might have been a function of timing, but no one present asked Tomlin about the Pro Football Talk report that some of the franchise’s limited partners were planning to press team president Art Rooney II to remove him as coach. His handling of that question might have been worth the 22 minutes invested in listening to Tomlin speak on this day.

There are plenty who follow the team who contend the team’s social-media follies, periodic me-first antics and obsession with the Patriots — something Tomlin rather invited — are antithetical to the Steeler way. But nothing expresses a greater disconnect with how the franchise has operated historically than to suggest dismissing Tomlin.

Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls from 1974 through 1979. Then he missed the playoffs eight times in the next dozen years.

Bill Cowher coached the Steelers to six consecutive playoff appearances, including one Super Bowl trip, after taking over the team in 1992. Then he went 7-9, 6-10 and 9-7, all three teams missing the playoffs.