Blackhawks ready for surging Avalanche

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Blackhawks ready for surging Avalanche

DENVER -- Consider it the annual routine: the Chicago Blackhawks always seem to play the Colorado Avalanche when the Avs are surging. And that holds true again this season.

The Blackhawks will play an Avalanche team that has won five in a row, all of them coming on the road. Keep in mind the teams the Avalanche beat are a combined 8-17-3 in this early season, but five road victories is nevertheless five road victories.

So how do the Blackhawks make sure the Avs don't bring their road success home? It starts with playing their own road game.

"We should look to continue on from our game in Phoenix (on Tuesday), that's what we're looking for," said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to the Blackhawks' 5-2 victory. "(The Avs) have pace on their game and we have to respect their team speed."

Dave Bolland has his own concerns.

"(Matt) Duchene and (Paul) Stastny, a few of those guys," said Bolland. "They're on fire right now so we have to be aware of them and their firepower. Our defensive zone (work) is going to be key. And if we stay out of the penalty box and we'll have a great game."

The Blackhawks will also have to contend with Colorado's power play, which is converting a league-best 31.8 percent of its chances right now. But the Blackhawks have killed off 93.3 percent of power plays thus far, the fourth-best percentage in the NHL.

Corey Crawford will get the start tonight against the Avalanche.

Bears' Leonard Floyd: 'Comfortable doing...anything' in 3-4 scheme

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Bears' Leonard Floyd: 'Comfortable doing...anything' in 3-4 scheme

Leonard Floyd was a jack of all trades as a defensive standout at Georgia. Those types of players too often don’t do any single thing well enough to make any mark at the NFL level. But the Bears, and Floyd, think he can in fact be a master of all.

“I played outside, played inside,” said Floyd on Thursday night. “And I also did a lot of three-point stance as well as two, so I’m pretty comfortable doing pretty much anything in the 3-4 scheme.”

The Bears plan to use him as an outside linebacker, rushing the passer for a team that had no rushman with more than Lamarr Houston’s eight sacks. What that bodes for Houston’s future in Chicago, as well as that of outside linebacker Willie Young, who playfully refused to use the “L” word (“linebacker”) when talking about himself, is cloudy at best.

[RELATED: How the Bears landed on Georgia's Leonard Floyd]

Neither Houston nor Young was particularly effective in pass defense but “I’m pretty good in coverage, did a lot in college, covered the tight end,” said Floyd, who was credited with three passes defensed, same as Young, in 2015. “I feel like I’ll be fine at the next level.”

The Bears have no plans to set a heavier weight target beyond the 240’s that Floyd checked in at during the NFL Scouting Combine.

“The last thing you want to do is bulk this guy up and then you’re taking away what he does best,” said Bears GM Ryan Pace. “You see some guys put on too much weight too fast and they look stiff and they lose some of that twitch that makes them a special player. We’ve got to do it the right way. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our strength and conditioning coaches, our sports science director Jen Gibson, to get Leonard at an optimal playing weight to maximize his talent.”

But “I definitely want to add more mass to my body,” Floyd said. “I know Chicago has some of the best coaches in the league, they’re going to coach me up hard, and I’m excited to learn...

“I want to add more power to my pass-rush to go with my speed. That’s a thing I need to learn and pick up in the league.”

Buckeyes nearly match NFL Draft record with five first-round selections

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Buckeyes nearly match NFL Draft record with five first-round selections

Many expected a record-breaking night for Ohio State on Thursday, but the Buckeyes will have to settle for only five first-round selections in this year's NFL Draft.

In what was a phenomenal showing for Urban Meyer's program, five Buckeyes heard their names called during the first 20 picks in Thursday night's first round.

Ohio State came one selection away from matching the NFL Draft record of six players from one school being chosen in the first round, a feat accomplished by Miami, which saw six players taken in the first round in 2004.

Defensive end Joey Bosa got things started when he was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the third pick.

Teammate Ezekiel Elliott immediately followed when the Dallas Cowboys used the No. 4 pick on the star running back.

Cornerback Eli Apple made it three Buckeyes selected in the top 10 when the New York Giants took him at No. 10, instantly earning the new nickname of Eli "Big" Apple.

Offensive lineman Taylor Decker was chosen by the Tennessee Titans six picks later at No. 16, and linebacker Darron Lee rounded it out at five in the top 20 when he was picked by the New York Jets at No. 20.

It was the fourth time Ohio State has had five players picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Buckeyes still have a shot at a modern draft record. Ohio State actually holds the record for the most players chosen in a single draft, with 14 players picked in 2004. As Cleveland.com's Bill Landis explained earlier this month, the all-time record is 17, accomplished by the Texas Longhorns in 1984, though that draft had 12 rounds. The 14 players sent to the draft by Ohio State in 2004 is a record under the current seven-round format.

Days 2 and 3 still figure to feature a lot of big-name Buckeyes. Top Ohio State talent not picked in the first round includes Vonn Bell, Cardale Jones, Braxton Miller, Joshua Perry, Tyvis Powell, Michael Thomas and Adolphus Washington.

Big Ten still without first-round quarterback in NFL Draft since 1995

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Big Ten still without first-round quarterback in NFL Draft since 1995

The Big Ten’s long, regional nightmare marches on.

With no signal callers taken Thursday night, the Big Ten still hasn't seen a quarterback chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1995.

The conference's drought extended to 21 years when the first round came and went with Michigan State's Connor Cook and Penn State's Christian Hackenberg, among others, still remaining on the board.

The last Big Ten quarterback to hear his name called in the first round was Kerry Collins, who was drafted out of Penn State way back in 1995.

Since, 26 Big Ten quarterbacks have been picked, just not in the first round. The skid came close to ending in 2001, when Purdue’s Drew Brees was the first pick of the second round at No. 32, a pick that would be in the first round today given there are now 32 NFL teams.

After Brees, though, the Big Ten went without a quarterback selected higher than the fourth round until 2007, the first of back-to-back years in which a conference quarterback was picked in the second round: Michigan State’s Drew Stanton in 2007 and Michigan’s Chad Henne in 2008.

Between 2009 and 2015, just six Big Ten quarterbacks were drafted: Purdue’s Curtis Painter (sixth round, 2009), Northwestern’s Mike Kafka (fourth round, 2010), Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi (fifth round, 2011), Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (third round, 2012), Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins (fourth round, 2012) and Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian (seventh round, 2015).

Cook and Hackenberg could both be selected on Day 2, and Ohio State's Cardale Jones and Indiana's Nate Sudfeld could also be picked before this year's draft is over.

Here is the complete list of Big Ten quarterbacks selected from 1995 to the present.

— Kerry Collins, Penn State (first round, 1995)
— Tony Banks, Michigan State (second round, 1996)
— Bobby Hoying, Ohio State (third round, 1996)
— Wally Richardson, Penn State (seventh round, 1997)
— Brian Griese, Michigan (third round, 1998)
— Joe Germaine, Ohio State (fourth round, 1999)
— Tom Brady, Michigan (sixth round, 2000)
— Drew Brees, Purdue (second round, 2001)
— Kurt Kittner, Illinois (fifth round, 2002)
— Steve Bellisari, Ohio State (sixth round, 2002)
— Drew Henson, Michigan (sixth round, 2003)
— Brooks Bollinger, Wisconsin (sixth round, 2003)
— Gibran Hamdan, Indiana (seventh round, 2003)
— Craig Krenzel, Ohio State (fifth round, 2004)
— Jim Sorgi, Wisconsin (sixth round, 2004)
— Jeff Smoker, Michigan State (sixth round, 2004)
— John Navarre, Michigan (seventh round, 2004)
— Kyle Orton, Purdue (fourth round, 2005)
— Drew Stanton, Michigan State (second round, 2007)
— Troy Smith, Ohio State (fifth round, 2007)
— Chad Henne, Michigan (second round, 2008)
— Curtis Painter, Purdue (sixth round, 2009)
— Mike Kafka, Northwestern (fourth round, 2010)
— Ricky Stanzi, Iowa (fifth round, 2011)
— Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (third round, 2012)
— Kirk Cousins, Michigan State (fourth round, 2012)
— Trevor Siemian, Northwestern (seventh round, 2015)