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The biggest 2021 NFL Draft mysteries include 49ers (who?), Patriots (what?) and Justin Fields (where?)

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ESPN's Dan Orlovsky shares information on why Justin Fields is seemingly sliding down NFL draft boards

It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. It’s the 2021 NFL Draft.

If NFL Mock Drafts have taught us anything year in and year out, it’s this: No one knows anything. Even the best NFL Draft analysts have a tendency to miss on picks, and that’s totally fine. It’s all a guessing game, after all.

MORE: Compare the experts’ Mock Drafts for 2021

This year, though, it seems to be more wide open than drafts past. With an odd college football season that unfolded in 2020 throwing a monkey wrench into scouting, with players opting out and schools playing modified schedules, NFL front offices have likely been through a tougher time to evaluate prospects heading into Thursday. Sprinkle in that there was no NFL Combine and face-to-face interaction with prospects was at an all-time low, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos.

While the top-five quarterbacks are the talk of the town heading into this year’s first round, there are plenty of other questions that have yet to be answered ahead of April 29.

Here are some of the most interesting.

Who will the 49ers draft?

The 49ers made the first major move of the 2021 NFL Draft cycle, sending the Dolphins two future first-round picks to jump from No. 12 to No. 3 (thanks, Houston). Make no mistake: The 49ers traded up to take a quarterback, because you don’t spend that much future draft capital if it’s not for a quarterback.

But which quarterback? Rumors have suggested that Kyle Shanahan loves Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 3, while the 49ers’ personnel department seems to be hot on Trey Lance.

The Jones stuff is, by far, the most interesting thing to come out of the rumors this offseason: Shanahan has worked well with pocket passers in years past (Kirk Cousins with Washington, Matt Ryan with Atlanta, Jimmy Garoppolo with San Francisco), so opting to take another familiar skill set in Jones makes sense. 

But … 

Lance’s pure physical attributes coupled with his age make him a home run of a pick should he pan out. While Lance opted out of the 2020 college football season, his 2019 tape could be more of a tell than anything.

Who will the Patriots draft?

It’s the Patriot way to enter the draft with no one having any idea what Bill Belichick is thinking.

One of the latest rumors indicates that New England could be interested in Florida QB Kyle Trask. Other reports suggest that the Patriots are looking to make a move into the top 10, presumably to take a passer high.

While the Patriots could be set at quarterback for 2021 with Cam Newton back for one more year, there’s no shortage of options for New England in the draft. The team’s big-time free-agency period dictates that Belichick will be going for it now, meaning the Pats might not look to a future QB until the 2022 draft, which would be something of a left turn heading into this year’s draft.

In any case, the Patriots are in the sweet spot: They can trade up to give a rebuilding team a bit more draft capital in the next year and get themselves a quarterback or sit where they are and simply take the best player available. 

We’ll see what Nike does on Thursday.

Who will draft Justin Fields?

Justin Fields went from consensus No. 2 overall QB in the draft before the start of the 2020 college football season to some questioning whether he’ll be a top-10 pick this year. 

Whatever the case may be, the idea of Fields slipping past the top 10 is wholly unfair to him, but it’s a question that’s going to last heading into Thursday.

With Trevor Lawrence presumably going No. 1 overall and the Jets seemingly falling in love with BYU passer Zach Wilson at No. 2, there’s no telling who will select Fields or where he’ll fall. If the 49ers decide between Mac Jones and Trey Lance, it’s another landing spot off the board. All eyes then turn to the Falcons, who recently restructured Matt Ryan’s contract, and could pass.

Then at No. 5 you have the Bengals, who will likely decide between Penei Sewell and a top offensive weapon for Joe Burrow. The Dolphins at No. 6 seem to be sticking with Tua Tagovailoa and are rumored to trade down.

Could Fields go No. 7 to the Lions? Detroit traded away Matthew Stafford and got back Jared Goff and future first-rounders, too. It may be premature to end the Goff era before it starts. The Panthers at No. 8 could take Fields, if they’re not a true believer in Sam Darnold’s future in Carolina.

Denver at No. 9 seems like a very realistic option, assuming that no other teams jump the Broncos to get him. It’s a very real possibility that Fields falls out of the top 10 — and that would be a damn shame.

Where do the top two running backs go?

Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne are considered to be the top two running backs in the 2021 draft — but don’t be surprised if neither goes in the first round.

Since 2015: 

  • 2015: Melvin Gordon, 82 games, 57 touchdowns.
  • 2015: Todd Gurley, 88 games, 79 touchdowns.
  • 2016: Ezekiel Elliott, 71 games, 56 touchdowns.
  • 2017: Christian McCaffrey, 51 games, 45 touchdowns.
  • 2017: Leonard Fournette, 49 games, 25 touchdowns.
  • 2018: Sony Michel, 38 games, 15 touchdowns.
  • 2018: Rashaad Penny, 27 games, six touchdowns.
  • 2018: Saquon Barkley, 31 games, 23 touchdowns.
  • 2019: Josh Jacobs, 28 games, 19 touchdowns.
  • 2020: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 13 games, four touchdowns.

Obviously, varying degrees of success stories here, with Gordon, Gurley and Fournette no longer on the teams that drafted them. 

A good running back can change an offense, but for how long? There are benefits to taking a running back in the first round, the fifth-year option chief among them; but the fifth-year option doesn’t matter much if guys are starting to slow down into Year 3 or 4. 

Teams have been slowly but surely moving away from drafting first-round running backs since 2000. There are at least two teams that could use a back toward the back end of the first in this year’s draft — Pittsburgh, Buffalo — and one or both could go that route. It would be a readymade move for either team to take a running back now to help with offense: The Steelers were one of the worst rushing offenses in football in 2020, while the Bills were decidedly middle of the pack.

MORE: 2021 NFL Mock Draft with trades

What will the Falcons do?

If you believe that Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and one of Mac Jones or Trey Lance goes 1-2-3 in this year’s draft, then the draft really starts with the Falcons at pick No. 4.

While Atlanta restructured Matt Ryan’s deal to ease the burden of the cap and could look to ship out Julio Jones to help ease the cap as well, there’s no denying that the team will look drastically different on offense come the start of the 2021 season.

With Arthur Smith taking over, could the team look to the future and bring in the next generation of Falcons passer? At No. 4, there will be at least two intriguing quarterback options available, it’s just uncertain which two they’ll be. If rumors and conjecture are to be believed, then both Justin Fields and Trey Lance will be there at three, and both will fit Smith’s new scheme seamlessly.

Ryan, though, isn’t exactly old: He’s 35 and has some big money left on his deal, which isn’t the most endearing situation for any NFL team with a new head coach at the helm.

There are any number of directions the Falcons could go: Maybe they could go with a quarterback, or maybe they draft Kyle Pitts to run in the Smith offense, or maybe they draft a wide receiver to mitigate the future trade of Jones, or maybe they trade down.

With the top three picks seemingly settled entering Thursday, all eyes are on the Falcons at No. 4.

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What channel is UFC 262 on tonight? How to watch, buy Oliveira vs. Chandler on pay-per-view

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Oliveira vs. Chandler purse, salaries: How much money will they make at UFC 262?

It’s strap season for Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira.

After spending the majority of his career with Bellator MMA, the three-time lightweight champ has an opportunity to capture the vacant UFC lightweight championship on Saturday against Oliveira.

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

Chandler has a hungry and ready opponent in the No. 3-ranked Oliveira: Looking for his first UFC title, the veteran enters this fight on an eight-fight win streak, his last bout a unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday night’s UFC event.

What channel is UFC 262?

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

The main card of UFC 262 will air exclusively on ESPN+, with early prelims kicking off the show on UFC Fight Pass, moving to ESPN for the prelims.

As with all UFC PPVs and ESPN, the show will air exclusively on ESPN+ at a PPV cost.

What time does Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler start?

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

The early prelims and preliminaries are expected to start at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET, respectively. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET. Oliveira and Chandler are expected to make their ring walks around midnight. 

How much does UFC 262 cost on PPV?

  • Date: Saturday, May 15
  • Network: ESPN+

The main card will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+, meaning you need an ESPN+ subscription to catch the fight. On top of the subscription, there is a price for the event:

  • For current yearly subscribers, the price is $69.99 on the ESPN+ app.
  • 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 will be able to pick up a yearly recurring subscription and the PPV 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.

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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What time is UFC 262 today? PPV schedule, main card start time for Oliveira vs. Chandler

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What time is UFC 262 today? PPV schedule, main card start time for Oliveira vs. Chandler

Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement from UFC has left a massive void in the UFC’s lightweight division — one that Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler will seek to fill on Saturday.

The division’s Nos. 3- and 4-ranked fighters, respectively, will face off at the Toyota Center in Houston to become just the third non-interim lightweight champion since Conor McGregor took it from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in 2016.

Both Oliveira (30-8-1, eight KOs) and Chandler (22-5, 10 KOs) are coming off multiple wins, setting up a new era-establishing fight for the lightweight division. Will Oliveira earn the belt 11 years after first fighting under the UFC banner? Or will Chandler, fighting for only the second time under UFC since transferring from Bellator, take it?

We can’t wait to find out. With that, here’s everything you need to know to watch UFC 262, including the expected start time for the main event.

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

What time does UFC 262 start today?

  • Early prelims: 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT
  • Prelims: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
  • PPV main card: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
  • Oliveira vs. Chandler: 12:15 a.m. ET (approx.) / 9:15 p.m. PT (approx.)

The main card for UFC 262 is projected to start at 10 p.m. ET. Depending on how long the four prior fights on the card last, Oliveira and Chandler will make their ring walks at roughly 12:15 a.m. ET.

What channel is UFC 262 on?

The early preliminaries and first half of the prelims will stream on ESPN+; the second half of the preliminaries will move to ESPN. After that, the main card can only be watched via PPV on ESPN+.

Click here to learn more about ESPN+ pricing and bundling options.

UFC 262 card

Main card

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler (lightweight championship)
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush (lightweight)
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Viviane Araujo (women’s flyweight)
  • Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza (featherweight)
  • Matt Schnell vs. Rogerio Bontorin (bantamweight)

Prelims

  • Jacare Souza vs. Andre Muniz (middleweight)
  • Lando Vannata vs. Mike Grundy (featherweight)
  • Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko (women’s flyweight)
  • Jordan Wright vs. Jamie Pickett (middleweight)

Early prelims

  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira (women’s flyweight)
  • Kevin Aguilar vs. Tucker Lutz (featherweight)
  • Christos Giacos vs. Sean Soriano (flyweight)

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What time is the Preakness today? Post time, TV channel, horses & more to watch 2021 race

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What time is the Preakness today? Post time, TV channel, horses & more to watch 2021 race

The second jewel of the Triple Crown is up for grabs on Saturday.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes, which will run at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, will help determine whether Medina Spirit can become the first horse since Justify in 2018 to win the Triple Crown. Even if the horse does win Saturday’s race, however, that lofty accomplishment might not be guaranteed.

LIVE: Follow for updates from the 2021 Preakness Stakes

That’s because Medina Spirit returned a test positive for 21 picograms of betamethasone after its win at the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Pimlico decided to let the horse race on Saturday but, if a second test confirms the first, then Churchill Downs will invalidate Medina Spirit’s Derby win and grant runner-up Mandaloun the retroactive victory. The retesting results aren’t expected for several weeks.

Mandaloun is not part of Saturday’s race at the Preakness Stakes.

Just another tantalizing tidbit for bettors and sports fans alike ahead of Saturday’s race, which will include 10 horses and jockeys — including prohibitive morning-line favorite Medina Spirit (9/5 odds).

With that, here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 Preakness Stakes, including the post time and how to watch the event.

MORE: Watch the Preakness Stakes live with fuboTV (7-day free trial)

What time is the Preakness Stakes today?

  • Date: Saturday, May 15
  • Post time: 6:50 p.m. ET
  • TV coverage: NBC

NBC Sports will cover the Preakness Stakes starting at 2 p.m. ET and transfer coverage to NBC at 5 p.m. The race has a scheduled post time of 6:50 p.m. ET at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

What channel is the Preakness Stakes on?

NBC has full broadcast rights for each of the Triple Crown races, including the Preakness Stakes. Viewers can also stream the race on NBC via fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

PREAKNESS STAKES: Full draw and odds for 2021 race

Preakness Stakes horses 2021

Post position Horse Odds
1 Ram 30/1
2 Keepmeinmind 15/1
3 Medina Spirit 9/5
4 Crowded Trade 10/1
5 Midnight Bourbon 5/1
6 Rombauer 12/1
7 France Go De Ina 20/1
8 Unbridled Honor 15/1
9 Risk Taking 15/1
10 Concert Tour 5/2

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