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Broncos mock draft: What happens if Denver aggressively pursues franchise quarterback?

Broncos mock draft: What happens if Denver aggressively pursues franchise quarterback?

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729595

It’s hard to envision what the future holds for the Broncos until they find an answer for the most important position on the football field.

The franchise has been doing its due diligence in evaluating this year’s class of quarterbacks. Broncos general manager George Paton attended North Carolina QB Drake Maye’s pro day. Head coach Sean Payton, who believes it’s “realistic” for Denver to trade up, said the team held a private workout for Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy after his pro day. Meanwhile, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. took a top-30 visit to the Broncos facility.

Payton will do whatever it takes to get the player he desires, even if that means trading up in the draft. In this latest mock draft, we examine what happens if the Broncos get aggressive in their quest to land their next franchise quarterback.

First Round (No. 4 via Cardinals)

Denver trades: No. 12, No. 76, 2025 first- and second-round pick 

Denver receives: No. 4

QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan 

Denver goes all-in to answer the biggest question on the team. McCarthy, a five-star prep recruit, is Michigan’s career program leader in interception rate (1.54), completion percentage (67.6%) and passer rating (160.5). He can hit targets in tight windows and is effective in making off-balance throws. He recorded 44 touchdowns and nine interceptions over the last two seasons while leading the Wolverines to a national title.

“He has a quick mind (and) release,” NFL draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “Just everything he does is real smooth. I wrote in my notes that he never gets bored with completions. Some other guys in his class get in trouble for big-play hunting. If you are going to get him check-downs or completions, he is just going to.”

Fourth Round (No. 121 via Dolphins)

CB Elijah Jones, Boston College 

After making their big trade, the Broncos wait until Day 3 to make their second pick. Jones has length and quality ball skills. In 2023, he had five interceptions and eight passes defended in nine games. He allowed 13 catches for 194 yards and one touchdown on 40 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones is lean and won’t provide much support in the run game. But the Broncos could value Jones’ turnover production, especially after releasing safety Justin Simmons.

Fifth Round (No. 136 via Panthers through Browns)

EDGE Jalyx Hunt, Houston Christian 

Hunt comes from a small school but has potential with loads of speed and athleticism. During Hunt’s two-year stint at Houston Christian, he had 58 tackles (20.5 for loss) and 13.5 sacks. He can also drop back in coverage if needed, as he was a defensive back before becoming an edge rusher. A source told The Denver Post that the team brought Hunt in for a top-30 visit on April 5, so the interest is there.

Fifth Round (No. 145 via Jets)

TE Jaheim Bell, Florida State

Bell spent three seasons at South Carolina before transferring to Florida State. In his lone season with the Seminoles, he caught 39 passes for 503 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. He had 87 receiving yards against Syracuse — the most by an FSU tight end since 2014. Bell can line up anywhere on the field and is a talented runner after the catch. He averaged 9.2 yards after the catch during his college career, according to Pro Football Focus.

Fifth Round (No. 147)

OT Javon Foster, Missouri 

Denver has added three offensive linemen through free agency, but that might not stop the team from adding another in the draft. Foster, a three-year starter at Missouri, has good size and was solid in pass protection. He was among a handful of players who stood out during the Senior Bowl in February. He could be a swing tackle for the Broncos as a rookie with a larger role in the future.

Sixth Round (No. 203 via Texans through Browns)

RB Cody Schrader, Missouri 

Schrader has an interesting story. He spent four seasons at Truman State, a Division II school, before walking on at Missouri in 2022 and playing in 13 games (11 starts). In 2023, Schrader was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press after he rushed for 1,627 yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 205 yards against Tennessee, 112 against Georgia and 114 in a loss to LSU.

Sixth Round (No. 207 via 49ers)

DT Marcus Harris, Auburn 

After signing run-stopper Malcolm Roach, the Broncos continue to add depth up front by drafting Harris, a two-year starter at Auburn. Harris might lack arm length, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and motor. He had 40 tackles (11 for loss) and seven sacks in 2023. He could be a rotational player for the Broncos.

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Chris Perkins: Dolphins shouldn’t give Tua an extension, and certainly not superstar money

Chris Perkins: Dolphins shouldn’t give Tua an extension, and certainly not superstar money

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729534

I’ve said this numerous times: the Miami Dolphins can win a Super Bowl with Tua.

There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

The bigger question is whether the Dolphins can win a Super Bowl with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa commanding, say, $30 million or more per year against the salary cap.

I’m not certain on that one.

This is the dilemma facing the Dolphins every day of the offseason.

His contract extension talks, Tagovailoa told us Thursday night from his third annual “Luau with Tua” at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, are ongoing.

“Just letting my agent deal with that and talk to the team about that,” Tagovailoa said. “For me, my focus is, when OTAs come, go to OTAs, show up and be the best teammate I can be.”

Tagovailoa is a legit Pro Bowl player and all-around good guy. 

I like him. I respect him.

He’s also never won a playoff game and remains an injury risk.

So what’s the magic (salary cap) number for Tagovailoa for the 2024 season, the number that allows Miami to build around him so it remains in Super Bowl contention?

What’s Tagovailoa’s magic (salary cap) number for the next few seasons?

In the Dolphins’ world, the Tagovailoa contract extension is where the 2024 salary cap becomes real.

This, for the Dolphins, is that time, after you’ve restructured all the contracts and written all the checks that allow you to manipulate the numbers, that the 2024 salary cap becomes finite and limiting.

I’ve said I’d have Tagovailoa play this season on his fifth-year option and not give him the extension right now. I’d wait until after the season.

If Tagovailoa and the Dolphins don’t agree to a contract extension, Tagovailoa, the No. 5 pick of the 2020 draft, will play this season on his fifth-year option salary of $23.1 million with the same figure counting against the salary cap.

That’s a bargain. 

It would allow the Dolphins to add talent and build around Tagovailoa.

But, speaking broadly, Tagovailoa playing the 2024 season on his fifth-year option leaves both sides exposed to huge risks.

For the Dolphins, one more good season from Tagovailoa (Pro Bowl berth, playoff appearance, staying healthy, etc.) and his contract extension soars even higher.

For Tua, one more injury, and a few more missed games due to injury (hamstring, knee, or, gasp, concussion), and lots of guaranteed money likely disappears.

Tagovailoa was impressive Thursday night.

It had nothing to do with his obvious weight loss, a topic he artfully sidestepped when asked.

It had to do with his overall comfort and composure.

Tagovailoa, married, a father of two kids, and entering his fifth NFL season, seems complete, content and stable in many ways.

That’s a good thing.

For the Dolphins, it means they can move ahead while comfortably knowing Tagovailoa’s strengths (accuracy, anticipation, timing, vision) and weaknesses (mobility, agility, improvisation).

To me, the Dolphins need to proceed with rarely-seen prudence and caution when it comes to Tagovailoa’s extension.

What I mean is that they can’t insult Tagovailoa, but they also can’t follow the market.

Quarterbacks are chewing up so much of the salary cap it seems the NFL might have to implement an NBA amnesty-style market correction sometime soon.

I exaggerate.

But common sense must take over at some point or the Super Bowl dream becomes untenable for many teams with good, not great, quarterbacks.

Some of these quarterback salary cap hits are absolutely crazy.

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes will count $37 million against the Chiefs’ salary cap this season. That’s reasonable. Heck, let’s be honest, that’s bargain basement.

The New York Giants’ Daniel Jones will count $47 million against the salary cap this season. That’s unreasonable.

Dallas’ Dak Prescott will count $55 million against the Cowboys’ salary cap this season. That’s highly unreasonable.

Cleveland’s DeShaun Watson will count $63 million against the Browns’ salary cap this season. That’s absolute madness.

And the numbers are going up at an unsettling rate.

New flash: 80% of these quarterbacks aren’t worth the money they’re getting.

These guys aren’t that good.

Tagovailoa is a high-quality quarterback, but he needs help.

He does well helping himself in the offseason.

Last year, it was jiu-jitsu to help learn how to fall in hopes of avoiding concussions.

Perhaps his current weight loss hints at the need for mobility and agility.

Whatever the case, Tagovailoa needs on-field help, such as from a turnover-producing defense or a security blanket-style No. 3 receiver.

If the Dolphins award Tagovailoa a contract extension this offseason, here’s hoping they leave sufficient space under the salary cap so that they can build around him for the next couple of years.

I don’t usually root for the organization over the player.

But when it comes to a Tagovailoa contract extension, at this point, a team-friendly deal is best for everyone.
Dramatic duel for elite Winter Springs and Windermere weightlifters ended in stunning fashion

Dramatic duel for elite Winter Springs and Windermere weightlifters ended in stunning fashion

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729535

Two-time state champ Andres Giron won’t be able to make it a three-peat in next week’s FHSAA Class 3A boys weightlifting championship meet.

In a stunning turn of events, the Windermere High School senior failed to make a successful clean-and-jerk lift at last week’s Region 2 meet and bombed out of title contention.

Giron, Florida’s weightlifter of the year as a junior, lost it all because he made a daring all-or-nothing bid to top Orlando area rival Kody Taylor of Winter Springs at the regional level. Taylor exceeded Giron’s lifts for the 183-pound weight class in regular season and district meets, setting the stage for what was expected to be a dramatic matchup between state favorites who developed a friendship as they kept track of each other’s performances.

Taylor took the regional lead by lifting a career-best 260 pounds in the Snatch phase, 5 pounds better than Giron managed.

In his attempt to trump Taylor, Giron asked for a massive 330 pounds to be placed on the bar for his go-in clean-and-jerk lift. His hope was to make that on his first attempt and then pump 340 and 350 on his two final lifts to pave the way for victories in the Olympic style and Traditional titles.

It didn’t happen.

Giron tried 330 three times. Three times he lifted the bar from the floor to his shoulders but was unable to hoist the weight over his head to complete the jerk technique.

“I felt confident going with 330 after smoking 315 in the back room in warmups,” Giron said in a phone interview several days after the meet at Freedom High School. “My thinking was ‘Go big or I might go home’. Unfortunately, not everything went as planned.”

Windermere weightlifter Andres Giron seeks FHSAA championship and citizenship

It was Taylor’s turn to dominate. He powered up 300, 315 and 330 on his three clean-and-jerk lifts and finished with a 330 bench press. Taylor claimed region titles with a 660 total in the Traditional competition (bench and clean and jerk) and 590 in the Olympic style (snatch and clean and jerk). Both are the best for 3A this season.

As Giron stepped onto the platform and reached down to grasp the bar for his third and final clean-and jerk-attempt with a hushed crowd of teammates, coaches, lifters and spectators looking on, Taylor could be heard saying, “Come on Andres. … You got this.”

When Giron failed, he walked — head down — off the platform and out the gymnasium door at Freedom.

“I feel so bad. He’s always been my bud and competitor,” Taylor said moments later. “He’s a senior and he’s worked so hard.”

Giron’s achievements during the past three seasons, including placing in national meets, spurred Taylor.

“I watched crazy lifts Andres was posting [on social media]. It gave me major motivation to get stronger.”

A year ago Giron swept state titles in the 169 weight class, totaling 660 in Traditional and 580 in Olympic. Taylor, in the same weight division, took third in both with totals of 620 and 525.

While Giron struggled with hamstring and shoulder injuries this season, Taylor overcame October tendinitis in both knees to excel.

“I’m all the way back. I feel 100% now,” Taylor said.

Giron hopes Taylor takes home the state titles.

“It was two of the best in the sport going at it,” Giron said of the region meet. “I respect Kody entirely as an athlete and as a friend. I’m just rooting for him now. If all goes well, he will be the state champ for sure.”

Giron is moving on. His application to UCF was accepted and he plans to commute for college and continue to train in weightlifting while studying engineering.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s qualifying totals are 50 pounds better than any other state qualifier in his weight class. A Winter Springs teammate, Luke Deal, was second in Olympic qualifying with a 540 region mark.

Taylor hopes to go at least 10 pounds higher for all three lifts at the April 19 state meet at RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

“Winning at state would be amazing,” Taylor said. “It’s been my goal.”

Windermere High's Andres Giron lifts during the Class 3A Region 2 boys weightlifting meet at Freedom High School in Orlando on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Two-time state champion Andres Giron of Windermere High failed to advance to the state meet from this regional qualifier last week. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Varsity content editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at
In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still reflects America’s racial divides

In death, 3 decades after his trial verdict, O.J. Simpson still reflects America’s racial divides

13/04/2024, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31729536


For many people old enough to remember O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, his 1995 exoneration was a defining moment in their understanding of race, policing and justice. Nearly three decades later, it still reflects the different realities of white and Black Americans.

Some people recall watching their Black co-workers and classmates erupting in jubilation at perceived retribution over institutional racism. Others remember their white counterparts shocked over what many felt was overwhelming evidence of guilt. Both reactions reflected different experiences with a criminal justice system that continues to disproportionately punish Black Americans.

Simpson, who died Wednesday, remains a symbol of racial divisions in American society because he is a reminder of how deeply the inequities are felt, even as newer figures have come to symbolize the struggles around racism, policing and justice.

“It wasn’t really about O.J. Simpson the man. It was about the rest of the society and how we responded to him,” said Justin Hansford, a Howard University law professor.

Simpson died of prostate cancer in Las Vegas, his family announced Thursday. He was 76.

His death comes just a few months before the 30th anniversary of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Much like the trial, the public’s reaction to the verdict was largely shaped by race.

Today, criminal justice reforms that address racial inequities are less divisive. But that has been replaced by backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion programs, bans of books that address systemic racism, and restrictions around Black history lessons in public schools.

“The hard part is we’re going to keep cycling through this until we learn from our past,” said University of Pennsylvania sociologist and Africana Studies professor Camille Charles. “But there are people who don’t want us to learn from our past.”

During the trial, African Americans were four times as likely to presume Simpson was innocent or being set up by the police, said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, who at the time was a young sociologist writing a book about the different ways Black and white Americans saw the trial.

“The case was about two different views of reality or two different takes on the reality of race in America at that point in history,” he said.

Simpson’s trial came on the heels of the 1992 acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which was caught on video and exposed America’s deep trauma over police brutality. For many African Americans in 1995, Simpson’s acquittal represented a rebuke of institutional racism in the justice system. But many white Americans believed Simpson and his defense team played the race card to get away with the killings.

The difference could also be seen in the ways Black media outlets covered the trial compared to mainstream publications, Hunt said. Those outlets tended to raise questions about whether the justice system was really fair in terms of “what might be called the Black experience,” he said.

Polling in the last decade shows most people still believe Simpson committed the killings, including most African Americans, but the racial and historical dynamics at play in the trial made it about more than the deaths.

Hansford, the Howard University law professor who is Black and was 12 years old at the time of the Simpson verdict, said he remembers the differences in white and Black reactions even in liberal environments like Silver Spring, Maryland, the Washington suburb where he grew up.

“When he was acquitted, all the Black students celebrated and ran into the hallways, jumping up and down,” he said. “And the white teachers were crying.”

One of Hansford’s white teachers said something about Simpson that he didn’t agree with, and when he responded, the teacher rebuked him.

“It was one of the worst ways a teacher has ever talked to me,” Hansford said. “The O.J. Simpson trial created a situation where people were dug into their sides.”

The racial turmoil embedded in the court case was at the center of the 2016 Oscar-winning documentary “OJ: Made in America.” Instead of focusing on the killings and the evidence presented at trial, director Ezra Edelman placed the crimes within the context of the Civil Rights struggle, from which Simpson was largely insulated by the warm embrace of the white mainstream.

“All O.J. had to do to get recognized is to run a football,” Edelman told the AP in 2016. “And almost concurrent to that you have a community of people whose only way to get recognized is to burn their community down during the (1965 Watts) riots. Those were the two tracks I was trying to home in on, knowing that they will intersect 30 years later.”

Simpson had married a white woman in a nation that had historically punished Black men who dared to explore mixed-race relationships. But Simpson also was a former football star, a wealthy Hollywood actor and brand spokesman whose money and privilege distinguished him from impoverished Black men that the criminal justice system punished.

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.,” he liked to tell friends.

He had been admired as a one-of-a-kind celebrity whose transgressions, including a pattern of spousal abuse, were overlooked as incompatible with his All-American persona.

“He actually seemed to go to quite a bit of trouble to distance himself from Black folks,” but the Black support for him wasn’t about that, said Charles, the University of Pennsylvania sociologist. “I think it was about seeing the system work the way we were told it was supposed to.”

Even as systemic racism in criminal justice systems remains an issue, Charles thinks Black Americans have grown less likely to believe in a famous defendant’s innocence as a show of race solidarity.

“The one thing that has changed is that you didn’t see the same kind of getting behind (R&B singer) R. Kelly or Bill Cosby,” Charles said.

“There was much more open conflict about them, and many more Black people were willing to say publicly, ‘Nah, he did that.’ I think it also could represent a better understanding of celebrity and wealth,” she said.


Graham Lee Brewer reported from Oklahoma City, and Aaron Morrison from New York. They are members of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team.