Luck, Griffin, etc.: Profiles of every first-round pick

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Luck, Griffin, etc.: Profiles of every first-round pick

From Comcast SportsNet
1. Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, qb, 6-4, 234, Stanford: A prototypical NFL QB with superior decision-making abilities, arm strength and mechanics. Father, Oliver, was also an NFL QB. 2. Washington, Robert Griffin III, qb, 6-2, junior, 223, Baylor: A fast runner and polished passer, Griffin could be a game-changer. Smart player with intangibles through the roof. 3. Cleveland Trent Richardson, rb, 5-9, 228, junior, Alabama: Compact, strong and polished downhill runner with excellent vision and acceleration. Good enough skills as a pass catcher to start. Could be best RB to enter draft in years. 4. Minnesota (from Cleveland), Matt Kalil, ot, 6-6, 306, junior, Southern Cal: Two-year starting LT with size and strength to protect blind side in NFL. Good in the run game, but will be tested by the better edge rushers. 5. Jacksonville (from Tampa Bay), Justin Blackmon, wr, 6-1, 207, junior, Oklahoma State: Jumping ability, open-field speed and possession-receiver toughness help cover for lack of elite wiggle and crisp route-running. 6. Dallas (from Washington through St. Louis), Morris Claiborne, db, 5-11, 188, junior, LSU: A talented athlete with a receiver's ball skills. Can velcro himself to WRs as long as he keeps his pads low enough. 7. Tampa Bay (from Jacksonville), Mark Barron, db, 6-1, 213, Alabama: Polished safety who can tackle and cover well. Excellent awareness highlights all his physical skills, which are strong across board. 8. Miami, Ryan Tannehill, qb, 6-4, 221, junior, Texas A&M: Good accuracy and a constant running threat, making him a raw project with promise. Converted from QB to WR and back to QB in college. 9. Carolina, Luke Kuechly, lb, 6-3, 242, junior, Boston College: A ready-made pro at inside linebacker, where he can find ball carriers and cover tight ends. 10. Buffalo, Stephon Gilmore, db, 6-0, 190, junior, South Carolina: Physical player who can disrupt WRs routes, but may struggle with advanced techniques. 11. Kansas City, Dontari Poe, dt, 6-3, 346, junior, Memphis: Big, strong and athletic, but not quite fast or nimble enough to move outside. Definitely an interior space-filler, which is not a negative. 12. Philadelphia (from Seattle), dt, Fletcher Cox, 6-4, 298, junior, Mississippi State: Furiously aggressive player who is strong, but raw. Goes for the big play. 13. Arizona, --Michael Floyd, wr, 6-3, 220, Notre Dame: Big, physical player who is a threat for the deep ball and in red-zone situations. Blocking ability a plus. Had off-field issues at Notre Dame. 14. St. Louis (from Dallas), dt, Michael Brockers, 6-5, 322, junior, LSU: Has come this far on substantial physical and mental gifts, could reach potential anywhere along the line. 15. Seattle (from Philadelphia), Bruce Irvin, de, 6-3, 245, West Virginia: A pure pass-rush play, Irvin was a workout warrior, but demonstrated a deep repertoire of pass-rush moves at WVU. Not a three-down player, but may not need to be. 16. N.Y. Jets, Quinton Coples, de, 6-6, 284, North Carolina: A big, powerful player who can disappear from time to time. 17. Cincinnati (from Oakland), Dre Kirkpatrick, db, 6-1, 186, junior, Alabama: Size may indicate a switch to safety, where his speed would play better, too. Sure tackler, but not great on balls in the air. 18. San Diego, Melvin Ingram, lb, 6-1, 264, South Carolina: A smart, athletic player who could be a hardworking contributor as OLB in some schemes. 19. Chicago, Shea McClellin, de, 6-3, 260, Boise State: Country strong, uses small size to his advantage by gaining leverage on linemen and has sure tackling ability. 20. Tennessee, Kendall Wright, wr, 5-10, 196, Baylor: Savvy and athleticism help him play above his physical limitations. Can space out at times. 21. New England (from Cincinnati), Chandler Jones, de, 6-5, 247, junior, Syracuse: A 4-3 DE whose toughness, big frame and motor show lots of potential. 22. Cleveland (from Atlanta), Brandon Weeden, qb, 6-4, 221, Oklahoma State: A 28-year-old who played minor league baseball before college football, Weeden brings maturity, accuracy and NFL-caliber arm strength and size. He has nice quick release and good touch. Struggles to retain accuracy and decision-making under pass rush. 23. Detroit, Riley Reiff, ot, 6-6, 313, junior, Iowa: Not as strong as Kalil, but nimbler and more technically sound. 24. Pittsburgh, David DeCastro, g, 6-5, 316, junior, Stanford: Three-year starter who can get on linebackers quickly in the running game. Nimble and strong. 25. New England, (from Denver), Dont'a Hightower, lb, Alabama.6-2, 265, junior, Alabama: Can shed blockers well and get to running backs. More instinctual than athletic. Some durability concerns. 26. Houston, Whitney Mercilus, lb, 6-3, 261, junior, Illinois: Fast and sudden in pass rush or against run, he can be a home-run swinger who sometimes strikes out. Long arms, relentless. 27. Cincinnati (from New Orleans through New England), Kevin Zeitler, g, 6-4, 314, Wisconsin: A big ol' road-grader in the run game, he could stand to get a bit faster and lighter. 28. Green Bay, Nick Perry, lb, 6-3, 271, junior, Southern Cal: A defensive end in college whose instincts, athleticism and size probably play better at OLB. 29. Minnesota (from Baltimore), Harrison Smith, db, 6-2, 213, Notre Dame: Has physical and mental attributes to be instant starter in NFL. Good athletic ability, but zone coverage is stronger than man. 30. San Francisco, A.J. Jenkins, wr, 6-0, 192, Illinois: Superior speed and acceleration combine with good body control to make Jenkins an appealing prospect. He's willing to go over the middle, but can't always shake DBs on the jam. 31. Tampa Bay (from New England through Denver), Doug Martin, rb, 5-9, 223, Boise State: Another polished, instinctual prospect, Martin does everything well, with the possible exception of holding onto the ball. More quick than fast, his speed is still a strong asset. 32. N.Y. Giants, David Wilson, rb, Wilson, 5-10, 206, junior, Virginia Tech: Dazzling, raw ability with higher risk and higher reward than a player such as Martin. Has speed and vision, though sometimes the cutback lanes he spies are too small.

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

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AP

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

The sports world woke up to some tragic news on Sunday morning.

Former major leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic within an hour of each other, according to multiple reports. A Royals representative confirmed the death of 25-year-old Ventura.

The Cubs and White Sox took to Twitter to give their condolences:

Ventura was a member of the Royals from 2013-16 and won a World Series title in 2015 with Ben Zobrist and Wade Davis, who the Cubs acquired this offseason for Jorge Soler. Ventura also played with White Sox pitcher James Shields in 2013-14.

Marte, 33, played a majority of his seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians. He was teammates with Todd Hollandsworth (Atlanta 2005), Kerry Wood (Cleveland 2009-10), and Miguel Montero (Arizona 2014).