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NFL Draft winners & losers 2021: Cowboys, Steelers address needs; Raiders, Packers reach early

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NFL Draft winners & losers 2021: Cowboys, Steelers address needs; Raiders, Packers reach early

The 2021 NFL Draft started with three quarterbacks in three picks — and one surprise in that group. More surprises followed.  

Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson went 1-2 as expected, but then the 49ers surprised by taking North Dakota State’s Trey Lance with the third pick. Did San Francisco make the right decision?  

The quarterback surprises didn’t stop there. The Bears traded up with the Giants to get Ohio State’s Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick. That gave the Bears yet another draft-day-trade quarterback. Did Chicago make the right decision?

Alabama’s Mac Jones, the fifth quarterback taken in the first round, fell to the Patriots at No. 15. That was the only decision at that point. 

Those quarterback decisions weren’t the only source of entertainment in Round 1. Sporting News looks at the winners and losers from the first night:  

MORE 2021 NFL DRAFT:
Live grades | Pick tracker | Top 100 big board

NFL Draft winners & losers 2021

Round 1

Winners: Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones 

The 49ers’ quarterback debate was a mystery until the pick was in, and Lance was their final answer ahead of Fields and Jones.

The North Dakota State star was a top-three pick despite playing in one game for the Bison last fall, and of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round, he is in the best win-now situation with what should be a healthier San Francisco team that is one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. 

MORE: Jones’ walk to stage makes him internet sensation 

Lance will have to win the starting job from Jimmy Garoppolo — and there might be a grooming period in 2021 considering Lance made just 17 starts in college, all at the FCS level — but Lance’s dynamic talent was enough for coach Kyle Shannahan to take a gamble. 

The Bears traded up to grab Fields, who faced the most scrutiny of any quarterback in this draft. Fields enjoyed a prolific two-year stretch as Ohio State’s starter, but continuous questions about his work ethic, his ability to read defenses and the revelation he is managing epilepsy led to him falling out of the top 10. Chicago general manager Ryan Pace needs this pick to pan out; Fields is a dual-threat talent with high upside.

RIVERA: Grading the mock drafts

Then there’s Jones, who was the last quarterback taken in the first round. He slipped to No. 15, but the good news for him is he landed with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. Jones will have to beat out Cam Newton to be the starter, but the conductor of Alabama’s record-setting offense in 2020 is in a winning situation.  

New England could have gone back to the past and traded for Garoppolo. Instead, it will look to the future with Jones, whom it got at mid-round value.   

Losers: Jimmy Garoppolo, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton 

These veteran quarterbacks likely will fall into backup roles in 2021 as a result of three corresponding first-round picks. 

Garoppolo started in a Super Bowl two seasons ago, but the 49ers reportedly tried to strike a draft-day blockbuster with the Packers for Aaron Rodgers before drafting Lance. 

Dalton, who was signed by the Bears on a one-year deal in the offseason, now will likely be a placeholder at best for Fields. It’s a good bet the “Red Rocket” will be shuffled into a backup role like he was with the Cowboys to start 2020. Newton signed an incentive-laden deal with the Patriots last offseason, but Jones might be the better fit in New England’s offense. 

The 49ers, Bears and Patriots will face pressure to make the postseason in 2021. It’s a good bet rookies will lead the respective charges. 

Winners: Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith 

Both Alabama receivers landed in the top 10 and they will be reunited with former Alabama quarterbacks.  

Waddle, who averaged 18.9 yards per catch in three seasons with the Crimson Tide, will be a vertical threat for second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the Dolphins. Waddle was the most explosive player in the FBS before suffering a leg injury last season.  

MORE: Waddle explains why he ignored family after selection

Smith took advantage of Waddle’s absence to turn in a record-setting season that led to him becoming the first Heisman Trophy-winning receiver since 1991. The Eagles traded up with the Cowboys to get Smith, and now he’ll be paired with second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.  

This marked the second straight year in which two Alabama receivers were taken in the first round, and it was part of a night when six Crimson Tide players were selected in the first round.   

Losers: Defensive tackles 

What happened to defensive tackles? A talented crop that featured Alabama’s Christian Barmore, Florida State’s Marvin Wilson and Iowa’s Daviyon Nixon was ignored in the first round. 

This comes just two years after six defensive tackles were taken in the first round. Barmore, Wilson and Nixon will be among the more interesting Day 2 picks, but the position dipped in value with this class. 

Winner: Cowboys  

Dallas worked the draft board by trading down two spots with Philadelphia and picking up a third-round pick.  

Dallas then grabbed Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, the top linebacker on the board. Parsons, who opted out of the 2020 season, should help a defense that allowed 29.6 points per game last season. Longtime linebacker Sean Lee retired.  

Parsons should step in as a starter right away after owner Jerry Jones resisted the urge to trade up to make a splashy offensive pick. Give Dallas credit for making the right pick, and for working with a NFC East rival to do it.  

Loser: Raiders 

The Raiders are no stranger to off-the-wall picks. They took Clelin Ferrell in 2018, and he has had 6.5 sacks in two seasons. Henry Ruggs was the pick last season, and he had an uneven rookie year at receiver. 

This year, Las Vegas took Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood, who was projected to be a second-round pick in most mocks. General manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden continue to go against the grain, and in this case they fell in with the run of first-round tackles. 

Winner: Steelers 

Pittsburgh got its running back. Alabama’s Najee Harris should make an instant impact in a running game that was lacking in 2020. Pittsburgh averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and the offense sputtered in the second half of the season. 

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is back, however, and Harris’ ability to close in the red zone and catch the ball out of the backfield will be a huge plus for a unit that will look to keep pace with AFC North favorites Baltimore and Cleveland. This is a pivotal year for coach Mike Tomlin, and addressing the running game was a priority. 

Loser: Packers 

Let’s be honest. It didn’t matter who the Packers selected after the firestorm that grew from Adam Schefter’s report that Rodgers wants out of Green Bay. The Packers could have traded up for a receiver, but once Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman went off the board, they settled for Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes. 

IYER: Best players available after Round 1

To be fair, cornerback was another pressing need, but the drama with Rodgers is far from over. Green Bay needs to find more immediate contributors on Day 2; it’s time to address receiver. Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore was there for the taking. Was that who Rodgers wanted?

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UFC 262 PPV price: How much does it cost to watch Oliveira vs. Chandler?

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UFC 262 date, start time, odds, PPV schedule & card for Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler

The UFC lightweight title is up for grabs Saturday night.

The belt, which was vacated after the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov, is on the line as No. 3-ranked Charles Oliveira and No. 4 ranked Michael Chandler at UFC 262.

MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 262 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+

Chandler is just in his second bout under the UFC banner after spending the majority of his in-ring career with Bellator. His last bout, a first-round TKO over Dan Hooker at UFC 257 in January, earned him Performance of the Night honors.

Oliveira, the UFC vet, is looking to strap on gold for the first time in his MMA career, and it couldn’t have come at a better time: Oliveira enters this weekend’s fight red hot, riding an eight-fight win streak, whether by knockout or tap-out.

The lightweight belt will find a new waist this Saturday night. Here’s what you need to know.

UFC 262 price: How much does Oliveira vs. Chandler cost?

The main card for UFC 262 is available in the U.S. on the ESPN+ subscription service for $69.99 or $89.99. That portion of the event begins at about 10 p.m. ET.

Earlier fights on the undercard are viewable live on ESPN, ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass.

  • Current yearly subscribers can get UFC for $69.99.
  • Current monthly subscribers can get UFC 262 and an upgraded bundle at a discounted rate of $84.99. They can also purchase the event itself for $69.99.
  • New subscribers can get UFC 262 and a yearly subscription for $89.98, which is a savings of more than 30 percent.

Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.

What channel is UFC 262 on?

  • Early prelims: UFC Fight Pass
  • Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+
  • Main card: ESPN+ (pay-per-view)

Fans will be able to watch the main card of UFC 262 only on ESPN+ PPV with an ESPN+ subscription.

The night is split into three events, per usual: The early preliminaries on UFC Fight Pass, the prelims on ESPN/ESPN+ and the main card on ESPN+ PPV.

What time does Oliveira vs. Chandler start?

  • Early prelims: 6 p.m. ET
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET
  • Main card: 10 p.m. ET

The night gets underway at 6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass, with the show switching over to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET for the prelims. 

The main card gets underway at 10 p.m. ET, with the fighters expected to make their ring walks around midnight ET, depending on the length of undercard fights.

UFC 262 fight card

Early prelims

  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira, women’s flyweights
  • Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz, featherweights
  • Christos Giagos vs. Sean Soriano, lightweights

Prelims

  • ​Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy, featherweights
  • Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko, women’s flyweights
  • Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett, middleweight
  • Ronaldo Souza vs. André Muniz, middleweights

Main card

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler for vacant UFC lightweight championship
  • Matt Schnell vs. Rogério Bontorin, bantamweights
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush, lightweights
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araújo, women’s flyweights
  • Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza, featherweights

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Marlins’ Jesus Aguilar quite literally tries to steal signs from D-backs’ Carson Kelly

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Marlins' Jesus Aguilar quite literally tries to steal signs from D-backs' Carson Kelly

Caught red-handed.

We know that batters can sometimes take a peek at catcher’s signs to try to get as much information as they can. It’s just part of baseball, after all. But Jesús Aguilar took it to the next level Thursday.

With Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly reaching first base, Aguilar decided to take a peak at the catcher’s signs — by lifting up Kelly’s wrist cheat-sheet.

MORE: Padres fan starts brawl after knocking out Rockies fan

Kelly responds with an incredulous, “What are you doing, man?”

Kelly’s disapproval to Aguilar taking a peek results in a hilarious reaction from Aguilar, looking like a kid who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar before breakfast.

Aguilar is one of baseball’s more fun personalities, so there’s nothing to read into here. But it’s not the first time that Aguilar has tried to steal signs. About a month ago, Aguilar stole an index card straight out of Dom Smith’s back pocket during a game against the Mets — presumably a defensive positioning card that players carry with them on the field.

The Marlins would go on to win the game 5-1.

If Aguilar keeps this up, he might be able to score a role in an “Ocean’s 11” reboot. 

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NASCAR lineup at Dover: Starting order, pole for Sunday’s race without qualifying

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NASCAR lineup at Dover: Starting order, pole for Sunday's race without qualifying

The starting lineup for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway was set by applying the statistical formula NASCAR is using for the majority of the series’ races in 2021.

Drivers’ starting positions for the Drydene 400 (2 p.m. ET; FS1, TSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) were based on four factors:

  • Driver’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Car owner’s finishing position from the previous race (25 percent)
  • Team owner points ranking (35 percent)
  • Fastest lap from the previous race (15 percent)

NASCAR is conducting qualifying and practice for just eight Cup Series races in the 2021 season. The next qualifying session will take place prior to the May 23 event at Circuit of the Americas, a road course outside Austin, Texas.

Below is the starting lineup, which was set without qualifying, for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race on Dover’s 1-mile oval.

MORE: Watch Sunday’s NASCAR race live with fuboTV (free 7-day trial)

Who won the pole for the NASCAR race at Dover?

Martin Truex Jr. was tabbed to lead the field to green for the Drydene 400 based on the mathematical formula. Truex is coming off his third win of the season, a dominating performance at Darlington last Sunday. He is the only driver to win more than once in the Cup Series in 2021.

Truex also gained the No. 1 pit stall, which is a valuable piece of real estate at Dover because track position is highly important on the Monster Mile.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is second in the series point standings to teammate Denny Hamlin, who will start in the second position Sunday. William Byron, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher received the other top-10 lineup spots.

NASCAR starting lineup at Dover

NASCAR used a mathematical formula to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway, the Drydene 400, without qualifying.

Start pos. Driver Car No. Team
1 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
2 Denny Hamlin 11 Joe Gibbs Racing
3 William Byron 24 Hendrick Motorsports
4 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick Motorsports
5 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas Racing
6 Kyle Busch 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
7 Ryan Blaney 12 Team Penske
8 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick Motorsports
9 Joey Logano 22 Team Penske
10 Chris Buescher 17 Roush Fenway Racing
11 Christopher Bell 20 Joe Gibbs Racing
12 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress Racing
13 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway Racing
14 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress Racing
15 Brad Keselowski 2 Team Penske
16 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick Motorsports
17 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas Racing
18 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers Racing
19 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi Racing
20 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing
21 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row Motorsports
22 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI Racing
23 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty Motorsports
24 Daniel Suarez 99 Trackhouse Racing Team
25 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty Racing
26 Corey LaJoie 7 Spire Motorsports
27 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row Motorsports
28 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi Racing
29 Justin Haley 77 Spire Motorsports
30 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas Racing
31 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast Motorsports
32 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas Racing
33 James Davison 15 Rick Ware Racing
34 Cody Ware 51 Petty Ware Racing
35 Quin Houff 00 StarCom Racing
36 Garrett Smithley 53 Rick Ware Racing
37 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware Racing

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