after hitting a home run in the 2020 NFL Draft, this haul here would give the Dallas Cowboys consecutive home run derby titles. While we’re still a ways away from the draft, and things can change, but this full seven-round mock draft gives us a realistic and exciting haul for the Cowboys here.
Let’s dive in.
Round 1, 10th Overall
Caleb Farley | CB | Virginia Tech | RS Junior | 6’2” 197lbs
As it stands today, there’s no player I would prefer more with the 10th overall pick than Virginia Tech’s own Caleb Farley. Yes, that includes Penei Sewell, any of the big-three wide receivers, and the dynamic offensive weapon in Kyle Pitts. With Farley coming in at #8 on my big board, the Cowboys would getting the top cornerback in the draft, with his best football still ahead of him. Farley possesses the ideal length, athleticism, ball skills, and coverage skills to succeed in any scheme, but fits perfectly in Dan Quinn’s new Cover 1/3 system. Farley has some injury concerns entering the draft, but if medicals check out, grabbing a corner with elite traits, who is still continuing to develop is an ideal scenario for the Cowboys, who will be needing to completely revamp their secondary this offseason. Farley may be considered a “project” by some, but the tape is extremely exciting, and so is the ceiling of the former Hokie.
Round 2, 44th Overall
Azeez Ojulari | EDGE | Georgia | RS Sophomore | 6’3” 245lbs
As we just witnessed in the Super Bowl, pass rush can completely change things for opposing offenses. Azeez Ojulari has the ability to do just that, and that’s exactly what he did down the stretch for the Georgia Bulldogs. Ojulari, only a red-shirt sophomore, is just scratching the surface with what he’ll be three to four years from now. With DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory being the only sure-thing at defensive end for the Cowboys heading into 2021, that position is one that is somewhat of a sneaky need heading into the offseason, and Ojulari could be a big boost. He developed his hand-technique throughout his year at Georgia, and it really took his pass-rush ability to the next level. Ojulari is overall a pretty impressive athlete showcasing fluid hips, and lower-body flexibility to be able to run the arch with ease. Ojulari is also a very good run defender for his size and age, and should continue to develop in that area as he develops physically and mentally.
Round 3, 99th Overall
Marvin Wilson | iDL | Florida State | Senior | 6’3” 319lbs
Marvin Wilson’s career arch has been one that’s really be tough to follow. This time last year, Wilson was a lock top 20 pick and was looking to break into the top 15 with a big year at Florida State. In 2020, he put out some really bad tape, and that left the league souring on the former five-star recruit. While the defensive tackle position needs to be upgraded by the Cowboys this offseason, turning to the free agency pool to find an upgrade at the position is a possibility, but with Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore as the only other quality options at defensive tackle, adding more young talent should also be in the cards for the Cowboys. Wilson has the size, length, and athletic traits to be a force in the middle of a defense for a long time, but his lack of overall technique, steep drop-off in 2020, and a potential knee injury could have him fall all the way to 99th overall. At the point, the risk is worth the reward at a potential first-round talent, that had a down year in 2020
Round 4, 114th Overall
Tony Fields | LB | West Virginia | Senior | 6’1” 222lbs
In today’s NFL, at the linebacker position, you have to be able to cover, blitz, and play with speed. Tony Fields II fits all of those to a “t”. While Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will more than likely get every opportunity to see major playing time in 2021, adding a linebacker that has the talent to push them would be wise. Fields fits in perfectly as a WILL linebacker that plays with tremendous instincts, athleticism, and physicality for his size. All of the things Fields II had success at, at Arizona and West Virginia, are things the linebacking corps for the Cowboys needs in a young player. While drafting linebackers inside the top 50 would be a mistake, the 114th overall pick would make perfect sense for a developmental prospect that can make a contributing impact on defense and special teams right away.
Round 5, 177th Overall
D’Ante Smith | OT | East Carolina | Senior | 6’5” 294lbs
One of my favorite day three tackle prospects is East Carolina’s D’Ante Smith. Possessing ideal height and length, Smith has the making to develop into a quality left tackle in the NFL. On day three of the draft, you’re really drafting on great traits or good tape of players that lacked ideal traits. Smith would fall under the “great traits” label as his 2019 tape was solid, but the lack of tape in 2020, playing weight, and undisclosed injury will have many scouts asking a lot of questions this offseason. They got some very good answers at the Senior Bowl as Smith was one of the most impressive lineman there, dominating both at tackle and guard in practices and the game. Smith’s size, length, and athleticism will give him the versatility to play both guard or tackle at the next level, and that ability and versatility is very intriguing to the Cowboys coaching staff who saw their offensive line change a ton in 2020.
Round 6, 222nd Overall
Jaelon Darden | WR | North Texas | Senior | 5’9” 170lbs
Electric is the best word used to describe Jaelon Darden. Listed at 5’9” 170lbs, Darden lacks the ideal size to play out on the boundary at receiver, but he can find a role as slot receiver, who plays a role in the running game, jet-sweep game, and reverse game as well. While he doesn’t match the ability of Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, it’s fair to view Darden as a off-brand version of the likely top 15 pick. Darden is also a very high-level return man for the North Texas Mean Green, and could be used in that role in Dallas as well. Darden’s speed, elusiveness, and big-play ability is a treat to watch, but questions regarding his size, and ability to beat press coverage will likely push him down the board further than his tape would suggest. As a massive fan of electric play-makers at the wide receiver position, keeping a Texas native in Texas, should be a draft day goal for Dallas.
Round 7, 234th Overall
Jordon Scott | iDL | Oregon | Senior | 6’1” 325lbs
There is nothing more that I want than for the Cowboys to draft Jordon Scott in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s not very often you fall in love with an extremely short, but massive, defensive lineman wearing number 34, but boy did we find him. Jordon Scott is so much fun to watch due to his high-motor, boulder-like presence, and violence he packs in his punch. While he will only be a two-down player in the NFL, those two downs are something the Cowboys have been a mess at for some time. Scott’s natural ability to eat up space, hold blockers in gaps, and makes plays in his gap was very impressive. While he does need to clean up his pad-level, and learn to use his length (it’s not much!!!) better, Scott can play a role for the Cowboys as a space-eating, 1-tech on early downs and goal-line situations, and do so at a high-level. For a big man, Scott has quick hands, and an impressive get-off, but he does lack any sort of really lateral agility and change of direction skills, which are the main reasons he would be available this late.
Why Nikola Jokic is drawing comparisons to LeBron James and Luka Doncic
TIM CONNELLY SENSED something was off with Nikola Jokic. A year after selecting the center No. 41 overall in the 2014 NBA draft, the Denver Nuggets’ president of basketball operations wondered: “Where are all these cool passes?”
Jokic had impressed Connelly with a funky yet effective style of play as a teenager for Mega Basket in Serbia. The rare skill set at 6-foot-11, the on-court instincts, the scoring potential — those were all reasons Connelly and the Nuggets decided to take Jokic, even if they would have to wait a year to get him on the roster.
More than anything else, though, it was Jokic’s passing. One highlight dime Jokic loved to consistently deliver stuck with Connelly.
“He would dive [toward the rim] and catch the ball,” Connelly said. “And without dribbling, he would throw it between his legs on the bounce with pace to the left corner.”
But early in his NBA career, Jokic was reining in his passing panache. Connelly wanted to know what the deal was.
“Well, I can pass with my feet in Mega and still play,” Jokic told him. “But here, I turn the ball over, I am not going to play. So I got to be a little more conservative.”
In the midst of an MVP campaign this season, Jokic has left any fear of flair in the past. He is a point center with the green light to try just about anything. While his career-best 8.6 assists are astounding, Jokic is also posting career-high averages in points (27.3) and rebounds (11.0) per game. With defenses devising ways to take away Jokic’s passing, the center is coming up with other ways to dominate.
Shaquille O’Neal is the only center to win the NBA’s regular-season MVP this century. One of Jokic’s biggest threats in this season’s race, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, is building a case based on familiar big-man traits: interior dominance and all-world defense. Although Jokic plays the same position, his MVP argument is completely different.
“He’s like Luka Doncic but a center,” said one Western Conference assistant coach. “He passes like a point guard, can shoot off the leg like Dirk [Nowitzki]. He’s a point guard.”
Jokic’s abilities are undeniable. But entering the second half of the NBA season, he’ll have to build on a yearslong transformation to snag the league’s top individual award from LeBron James, Doncic and Embiid.
JOKIC WAS READY for the question, one that superficially seemed a little silly: How does his game compare to LeBron’s?
“Oh yeah, the speed is there,” Jokic deadpanned to reporters last month. “We are the same athletic-wise. We are really close. I don’t know, can he jump as high as me, actually? But we are kind of similar. And the quickness. He is a little bit older. I don’t know if he can keep up.”
Then he burst into laughter, unable to maintain the act. When told of the exchange, James chuckled in appreciation. But there are ways in which the comparison is serious, especially in terms of passing.
“The guy has an unbelievable talent of seeing the floor and seeing plays happen before they happen,” said James, who likened watching the big man pass to Arvydas Sabonis.
No center has averaged as many assists as Jokic has this season since Wilt Chamberlain, the only center to have led the league in total assists, according to Elias Sports Bureau. But no one at his size dishes the type of assists that Jokic routinely delivers. Against Minnesota, Jokic grabbed a rebound, pushed it up the court and threaded a bullet bounce pass from the opposite 3-point arc to a streaking JaMychal Green at the free throw line for a dunk.
“[Jokic is] the best passer in the league right now,” Green said postgame.
This season, Jokic is second in the league with 77.1 passes per game and ranks seventh in assist points created per game (21.3), per Second Spectrum. That is on pace to be the most by a center since these stats started to be tracked in 2013-14.
“His overall feel for the game is unsurpassed for a center,” Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said. “His vision, passing skills and desire to involve teammates is exceptional, maybe the best ever for a guy playing that position.”
When watching film in preparation for how to defend Jokic, Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton said he felt anxiety and admiration.
“He is unselfish to his core,” Walton said. “I think he would much rather get an assist than score points.”
In past seasons, opposing defenses found success against the Nuggets by forcing Jokic to shoot. They wanted to take advantage of that overwhelmingly unselfish approach, which could prevent him from being aggressive when necessary.
“You have to take away something,” the Western Conference assistant coach said. “Might as well take away his teammates cutting, because if he is passing and finding his teammates and scoring 30, you’re in trouble.”
That strategy is becoming outdated. Jokic is looking for his shot more this season, especially when the Nuggets have been short-handed because of injury. During a mid-January stretch in which opposing defenses tried to take away Jokic’s passing lanes, clog the back doors and prevent teammates from cutting, he adjusted — upping his scoring average while going nine straight games without reaching double digits in assists.
“I think they are trying to make me a little bit more of a scorer,” Jokic said. “Sometimes the guy is just there, he’s not even digging, he is just like kind of [standing] in the driving lane.”
Jokic has increased his scoring average by 7.4 points per game, the fourth-largest increase by any player over last season, according to ESPN Stats & Info research.
“His teammates said, ‘Hey, sometimes your unselfishness can be selfish,'” Connelly said. “Because [he’s] so effective as a scorer.”
Teams have tried it all, sending help from different directions and in different sizes of defenders. Others have tried getting physical with Jokic. No center has been doubled more outside of Embiid this season, according to Second Spectrum. But Jokic has stayed aggressive, burying 55.6% of shots when contested, which ranks eighth out of 212 players with a minimum of 100 attempts. That is up from 51.8% last season. That aggression hasn’t compromised Jokic’s shooting — his true shooting percentage is up to 65.5% this season from 60.5% last season — making his passing and other aspects of his game even deadlier.
On Tuesday, Jokic collected his 50th career triple-double with 37 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a 128-97 over Milwaukee to become only the second center ever behind Chamberlain (78) to reach 50 career triple-doubles according to ESPN Stats and Info research.
“There is really nothing they can do,” Nuggets forward Will Barton said. “He can shoot the 3. He has post moves. Finishes around the rim. Has touch shots. Can bring the ball up. Midrange game. Face-up. To be honest with you, it is really up to him every night. You can’t stop him.”
AT THE START of training camp, Jokic held his hand up on a Zoom call with reporters to show his newest prized possession, only to realize his wedding band was still tied to his shoelaces.
During the shortest offseason in NBA history, Jokic recharged back home in Serbia and got married, wedding his longtime girlfriend Natalija Macesic in a small ceremony. Video from the union made its way onto the internet showing Jokic, in a sharp blue suit, showing off his dance moves with his new bride.
After the Nuggets stunned the Clippers in the bubble to win the Western Conference semifinals last season, Jokic celebrated with the rest of the team into the early morning at an outdoor restaurant at the team hotel. He taught other Nuggets some Serbian dance moves, locking arms with team members in a group and putting two feet in, then two feet out.
At 26, Jokic is in peak rhythm on and off the court. After growing up in Serbia guzzling three liters of Coke a day, Jokic now is in the best shape of his life. He has extra spring in his step, dunking 20 times so far this season after a total of just 15 jams all of last season. And if there is ever any doubt about his fitness, Jokic is logging a career-high 35.9 minutes a game, nearly four more than his previous career high.
“The Magic Johnsons, Larry Birds, those guys were always coming back with something new in his game,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said. “Nikola, it is not necessarily a new shot or a new move. It is continuing to stay in great shape.”
Jokic has also taken on the responsibility of being the team’s leader and trying to set an example with not only his play but also his actions. That evolution will be key in his MVP push, as he spends the second half of the season working to get the 20-15 Nuggets higher in the West standings.
During a 125-112 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Jokic confronted Michael Porter Jr. during and after the game about his poor shot selection.
“He has taken a step from past years, just being more vocal and just taking that leadership,” said point guard Monte Morris, who has played with Jokic for the past four seasons. “I am glad he took what he did in the bubble and showing everybody that he continues to get better.”
Once Malone finishes addressing the team after every game in the locker room, Jokic immediately goes to the weight room to work out. Half the team typically joins.
“I definitely think there is a motivation that we have unfinished business,” Malone said. “That Nikola has unfinished business.”
Connelly no longer has to wonder where all those cool passes are. Jokic is now dishing the kind of passes that — combined with a few winning streaks — might lead to an MVP trophy.
“He’s a guy who has taken such an atypical path to superstardom,” Connelly said. “I think he is now realizing how good he is and how much he impacts the game on all three levels.”
“I know I shocked the s**t out of him”: When Michael Jordan hilariously explained why David Thompson was his idol during his Hall of Fame induction speech
When Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by David Thompson, many people enquired why.
Jordan addressed those questions in his own Hall of Fame enshrinement speech very succintly:
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately – why’d you pick David Thompson? I know why, and David knows why.”
“When I grew up in North Carolina, I was an anti-Carolina guy, I hated UNC. I fell in love with David Thompson, not only for the game of basketball, but also in terms of what he represents.”
“We all go through our trials and tribulations, and he definitely did, and I am inspired by that. When I called him and asked him to stand up for me, I knew I shocked the s**t out of him. I know I did.”
Everything you need to know about NBA Top Shot, the latest sports collecting craze
Using blockchain technology, fans can buy and sell NBA video highlights that are licensed by the league.
Wait, wait. Go back. Blockchain?
Sorry. Blockchains are databases of information linked together that can be used record ownership or transactions of a product. It can’t be changed and it’s stored in a way so that not one person controls the information — say, when someone buys something — and it’s transparent to all users.
I think I’ve heard of that being used with Bitcoin.
OK, so what does cryptocurrency have to do with NBA highlights?
It’s the technology being used for those who get these highlights and put them into a very secured, encrypted “wallet.”
Can’t I just watch these highlights on YouTube and Twitter?
Yes, you can. But the way this works is that you own an officially licensed highlight like you would own a trading card. And some of those highlights might be limited to just a few “printings,” which drives the price up.
But how is there value in that?
That’s probably the question that I struggle to answer. There’s value in anything that other people value thanks to supply and demand, right? If there are a ton of collectors who see a dollar value in a super-rare, officially-licensed highlight of a big-name NBA player that others want, there’s a market for it.
For a better answer, here’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on his
I get to enjoy knowing I own my Maxi Klieber dunk Moment, along with knowing the serial number and much more. Some people might complain that I can get the same video on the internet anywhere any time and watch it. Well guess what, I can get the same picture on any traditional, physical card on the internet and print it out, and that doesn’t change the value of the card.
And when I want to sell the card, NBA Top Shots offers a marketplace I can sell it in, which by virtue of the site being created on Flow BlockChain offers me the ability to see every Maxi card being offered, the serial number, its price and more. All the foundations required for a consumer friendly, efficient marketplace. But I do have to add that I don’t know why anyone would sell a Maxi Moment. Maxi is a top 10 defender in the NBA, just saying !
How do I go about getting these?
The Top Shot site offers a couple of different ways: you can buy various priced “packs” of highlights, which drop at certain times. Or you can go find highlights offered by other users who are selling them.
Full disclosure: I have tried to buy a pack and fallen well short:
How much money is exchanging hands here?
For example, last year, a LeBron James dunk went for $3,800.
Per the Baltimore Sun, a Zion Williamson block went for $100,000 and a James swat also went for that sum.
Does the NBA make money off of this?
Yes, and so does Dapper Labs, the company that runs Top Shot.
From The Athletic:
Whenever users can cash out, it won’t be for free. Dapper Labs said it charges the $25 fee to cover the costs it’s charged by banks for the wire transfers, but doesn’t profit from withdrawals. Instead, the company generates its revenue from the initial retail sale of every pack and from collecting a fee on peer-to-peer sales. Users that cash-out do so via a wire transfer to a U.S. bank or in the form of cryptocurrency transferred to a Coinbase or Ethereum digital wallet.
The NBA also gets a cut of peer-to-peer sales. The league and Dapper Labs, along with the players union, started talking a few years ago and all work jointly to create the highlight cards.
Are players into it?
It appears so, yes!