Kiper has Te'o, Eifert projected as first-round picks

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Kiper has Te'o, Eifert projected as first-round picks

In the sense of competing for a National Championship, getting their degrees and being captains on the team that brought Notre Dame back, the decisions of Manti Teo and Tyler Eifert to return to South Bend for their senior seasons look like pretty good ones.

Id be kicking myself if I couldnt be a part of this team, Eifert said in November.

But for the pairs next step, the move to return certainly improved each players draft stock.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., has Teo ranked No. 2 on his early big board and Eifert as the best tight end in Aprils NFL Draft, although theres obviously plenty of potential for movement over the next four months.

For Eifert, Kipers comments were essentially what coach Brian Kelly has been getting at all year -- the seniors production may be down, but hes a much better tight end than he was a year ago. With one game left, Eifert has 19 fewer catches and 179 fewer yards than he did in 2011, when he led all FBS tight ends in receptions and yards.

But Eifert won the Mackey Award -- given to the nations top tight end -- in 2012, signaling there are plenty outside South Bend who see him as more than just a pass-catcher.

He has great ability to adjust, he has great ball skills, go up and get it, Kiper explained. And his blocking has significantly improved. He's a complete tight end. blocking was the big thing he answered very positively and definitively this year.

John Mullin: 2013 draft could see 5 OTs taken in first round

Eiferts a guy who some Bears fans have keyed on as the solution for the teams tight end woes, understandable given his success and Kellen Davis shortcomings. Others have looked to Teo as Brian Urlachers successor, although having No. 5 suit up for Chicago is far more of a pipe dream.

Kiper expects Teo to be selected in the first five picks, a rarity for an inside linebacker. But he explained Teo made strides in his pass-coverage ability, helping ease concerns about his ability to be a three-down linebacker.

But with such a high projection comes added scrutiny -- and despite Teos seven interceptions (most by an FBS linebacker since 2000) there are questions about his ability to be a three-down linebacker.

There's still going to be some concern about (pass coverage), because at the pro level there's a little different from playing at Notre Dame and the kind of opponents, college players you're seeing, Kiper explained. There still are concerns, what his 40 time ends up being, there are people that will say what's his 40 time going to be, how fast will he prove out to be?

In a normal year, Kiper would project Teo somewhere in the No. 10-12 pick range, but without an elite skill player entering the 2013 draft hes likely to be among the first few to come off the board.

NFC North: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater suffers dislocated knee, torn ACL

NFC North: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater suffers dislocated knee, torn ACL

The Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL, likely ending his 2016 season before it began.

Bridgewater suffered the injury during Tuesday's practice, which was cancelled immediately following the non-contact incident. The 23-year-old quarterback was carted off the field and transported to a nearby hospital in an ambulance.

Vikings Director of Sports Medicine and Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman released this statement on Bridgewater:

Teddy Bridgewater suffered a non-contact injury today at practice. The injury was quickly identified as a dislocated knee. The injury was stabilized, and he was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment and evaluation. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined that Teddy suffered a complete tear to his ACL and other structural damage. Fortunately, there appears to be no nerve or arterial damage. Surgical repair will be scheduled within the next few days. Although the recovery time will be significant, we expect Teddy to make a full recovery. I would like to thank all of the medical professionals and our athletic training staff for all of their help today. Teddy has already displayed the attitude needed to overcome this injury and attack his rehab.

Bridgewater, the Vikings' 2014 first-round draft pick, led Minnesota to their first division title since 2009 last season.

In two seasons, Bridgewater is 17-11 with 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions with 6,150 passing yards and a 87.0 QBR.

Why the Cubs skipped Tim Tebow's showcase

Why the Cubs skipped Tim Tebow's showcase

The Cubs have built the scouting-and-player-development machine Theo Epstein promised when he took over baseball operations at Wrigley Field, assembling the game’s best team with homegrown talent, shrewd trades and big-money free agents.

The Cubs will kick the tires on just about any idea that might make the organization incrementally better, which makes their absence from Tim Tebow’s showcase on Tuesday so telling.

The Cubs skipped Tebow’s workout on the University of Southern California campus, sources said, viewing it as a promotional stunt for the former NFL quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. With all due respect, as Joe Maddon might say, whenever the manager quotes Will Ferrell’s Ricky Bobby character in “Talladega Nights.”

Tebow’s name recognition and high-powered representation (Creative Artists Agency) helped him reportedly draw scouts from 27 major-league clubs to watch him run the 60-yard dash, react in the outfield and take batting practice.

Tebow — who won two national championships at the University of Florida, works as an ESPN analyst and stays involved with faith-based charities — hasn’t played baseball since high school.

“I saw his swing on the video — it was a decent hack,” Maddon said. “At 29 years old, it’s not easy to pull off, but good for him. If he wants to give it a run, go for it.”

White Sox closer David Robertson's foundation big part of MLB's Louisiana flood relief efforts

White Sox closer David Robertson's foundation big part of MLB's Louisiana flood relief efforts

DETROIT — David Robertson’s charitable foundation is at the head of Major League Baseball’s drive to help victims of this month’s Louisiana floods.

High Socks for Hope, which Robertson created with his wife, Erin, received a $62,500 donation on Tuesday from MLB and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, which made a joint $250,000 contribution.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which was established by former Louisiana State players, also received $62,500 and The American Red Cross got $125,000.

The Robertson’s foundation originally was formed to help victims of an April 27, 2011 tornado that rocked Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Birmingham, resulting in 64 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries.

“We’ve evolved over the years,” Robertson said. “Passing time we’ve worked toward helping a lot of the veterans and now MLB has been gracious enough to give us this donation and we’ve already got people on the ground there feeding thousands of people, both volunteers and those who are down there who have lost everything. We’re going to continue to help out as much as we can down there. We’re not a monster of an organization, but we do what we can, we stretch every dollar and with this generous donation we’re going to find a way to help those that have been affected by this terrible flood.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

White Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo pitched at LSU and has been active in raising funds, too.

“It’s good to see young guys getting involved in stuff like this because the game doesn’t last forever,” Robertson said. “But these charities can keep going and there’s always a chance for us to give back and we’re given so much as baseball players that it’s only fitting that we return the favor.”