This might not be the flashiest of NFL drafts, but a bunch of teams can get a whole lot better at spots of need in the first round.

While there are not a lot of great quarterbacks — some pundits are saying none would go among the top three taken last year — there are offensive linemen and interior defenders galore this season.

Those names will not incite riots in football towns, but they will make teams better where they need to be.

Here are five great fits in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft:

 

Oakland Raiders, Number four: Josh Allen, OLB/DE Kentucky

Allen might just be the best player in this draft. He has got good size (6-5, 262) and even better production (31.5 sacks, 17 in 2019).

The Raiders are completely without pass-rushing talent (ahem…Khalil Mack) tallying just 13 sacks as a team in 2018, which was 17 less than any other roster in the NFL.

Allen both fits a need — and if he is on the board at number four — he will likely be the best talent available. It is a win-win.

 

Detroit Lions, Number eight: Jonah Williams, OT/OG Alabama

Matthew Stafford is the sixth-highest paid quarterback in the NFL, but he is getting protected like he is expendable (40 sacks in 2018, 47 in 2017, 37 in 2016). His contract has two more years before a potential opt-out, and the Lions better protect him if they want to keep him.

Williams would do just that, whether it is at guard or tackle. He is physically gifted and highly productive as well, earning third-team All-American honours in 2017 and first team in 2018.

This is the man to protect Stafford.

 

Denver Broncos, Number 10: Dwayne Haskins, QB Ohio State

John Elway loves his big pocket quarterbacks and Haskins is just that.

The Ohio State quarterback struggles to move a bit, especially when he gets pressured up the middle, but no QB likes pressure up the middle, so that is not too big of a deal.

Joe Flacco has three years left on his deal through 2021, but Haskins could be great insurance if the veteran gets hurt or simply does not produce. The Broncos need a quarterback of the future and Haskins would be exactly what Elway would want.

 

Carolina Panthers, Number 16: Brian Burns, OLB/DE Florida State

For a team with a defensive coach who really bases much of their identity off toughness and stopping opponents' offenses, the Panthers struggled making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable last season.

Carolina tallied just 35 sacks on the year, which was 27th in the NFL, and they need some help with the pass rush off the edge. And with the move to a more hybrid system which needs some versatility, Brian Burns would give it just that.

Burns can play outside linebacker or defensive end and would give the Panthers a pass rusher they can likely rely on early.

 

Indianapolis Colts, Number 26: Marquise Brown, WR Oklahoma

This is where both a prisoner-of-the-moment situation could come into play as well as drafting for need when a team probably should not. The Colts will probably be incredibly tempted to take D.K. Metcalf in this situation but it is just too high. He is stiff in his route-running and is not the quickest guy in the world. Add that to his injury history and this is simply too soon to take him.

Brown, on the other hand, gives Andrew Luck another reliable weapon that not even he can out-throw, and in Frank Reich's offense he would be a good fit as well. Add that to the fact he is valued in the late first round rather than the early second, and he is a perfect fit for Indy.

Robbie Gould is trying to force a trade from the San Francisco 49ers with negotiations over a long-term deal appearing to have broken down.

The veteran kicker, who went 33 for 34 on field-goal attempts for the 49ers last year, was franchise tagged in February.

However, Gould has cut off negotiations with San Francisco and has told the team he wants to be traded, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

"The bottom line is, I'm unsure if I want to play there anymore," Gould said. "At this point, I have to do what's best for me and my family back home [in Chicago]."

Gould has been with San Francisco for two seasons and is 72 of 75 on field-goal attempts and 55 of 59 on extra-point attempts.

The 37-year-old spent the first 11 years of his career with the Chicago Bears before going to the New York Giants for one year prior to landing with San Francisco.

He has made 87.7 per cent of his career field goals and 97.1 per cent of his extra points.

The 49ers signed kicker Jonathan Brown to a two-year deal for depth in March.

The Los Angeles Rams have exercised the fifth-year option on quarterback rookie Jared Goff's contract.

The move comes as no surprise considering Los Angeles drafted Goff with the number one pick in 2016 and relied on him as the starter in Super Bowl 53 against the New England Patriots. 

He is not scheduled to become a free agent until 2021, so the Rams could focus on more pressing matters until then.

"Jared's obviously extremely important to us," Rams coach Sean McVay said last month. "But those are things that, we know we want to get him done at some point.

"Whether it happens this year, next year, those are things we haven't really gotten into in depth about yet."

Goff, 24, threw for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns last season en route to his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. He got off to a rough start as a rookie, posting a 63.6 passer rating and 0-7 record, but has since improved to a 100.8 passer rating after going 24-7 the last two years.

The Rams hold seven picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, which runs from Thursday through to Saturday in Nashville, but appear to be set under center.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark has reportedly been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Seattle will receive a first-round draft pick in 2019 and a second-round pick in 2020, and the teams also will swap third-round picks this year.

In order to facilitate the deal, the franchise-tagged Clark has agreed to a new five-year, $105.5million contract with $63.5m guaranteed, according to ESPN.

The move comes a little over a month after the Chiefs traded defensive end Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick. 

Clark, 25, was selected by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2015 draft and was slated to earn $17m on the franchise tag in 2019.

He is coming off his most productive season in which he registered a career-high 13 sacks.

Amari Cooper has a strong relationship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

The 24-year-old wide receiver was sent from the Oakland Raiders to the Cowboys in late October in exchange for a first-round pick.

Cooper said he instantly clicked with Prescott.

"I feel like the only way to go is up with me and Dak," Cooper said, via the Dallas Morning News.

"We just have a natural chemistry. That's rare, because you can't just combine two players, a receiver and a quarterback, and say, 'Hey, just go out there and have a good game.'

"It takes the quarterback and the receiver, their skill-set has to match. And it just happened like that."

Cooper caught 53 passes for 725 yards and six touchdowns during his nine regular-season games with the Cowboys. He also added 13 receptions and a score in the playoffs.

He said his connection with Prescott has improved in the offseason.

"We've been practicing. We've been throwing," Cooper said. "I know him a lot more. I know how he likes to throw the ball. He knows how I like to run my routes. I feel like we're getting better."

Cooper and Prescott will both be free agents after 2019. Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones said last week the team are having "active discussions" about extending both players.

"Certainly, if there are opportunities there that make sense, then we'll progress," Jones said. "I think pretty much everybody's on it pretty good that there's some pretty active discussions now with Dak and Amari.

"But it doesn't mean that some can't pick up in short order with other players that we have on our roster that we certainly want to keep here in Dallas and have them remain Cowboys in the future."

The Cowboys originally selected Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. They have recorded a 32-16 record in Prescott's starts and reached the playoffs in two of his three seasons.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you could probably guess dual-sport star Kyler Murray will be the top pick of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Other notable names expected to be called early include Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Devin White and Josh Allen.

But what about the up-and-coming players whose names are not mentioned as frequently? After all, some of the league's all-time greats, including Bart Starr (17th round), John Stallworth (fourth round) and Tom Brady (sixth round) were selected late.

Here are five sleeper prospects to watch for ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft:

Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Sweat saw his stock dip in February when his pre-existing heart condition was revealed at the NFL combine, but that does not mean he should be counted out.

Despite his health concerns, which doctors deemed to be low-risk, Sweat remains a sought-after prospect. He impressed at the combine, setting a 40-yard dash record for a defensive lineman by running a 4.41 at 6-5 and 260 pounds. Not to mention he racked up 19 sacks and 98 total tackles in his two seasons with the Bulldogs in addition to back-to-back selections to the first team All-SEC squad.

He will not go as early as initially predicted and a first-round selection was even reported to be a stretch at this point, but that could make Sweat all the more intriguing.

Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor

Hurd got his start as a running back at Tennessee before transferring after the 2016 season. He sat out all of 2017 and later converted to wide receiver as a senior, a move that ultimately paid off as he led the Bears with 69 receptions for 946 yards in his lone season at the position. He managed 1,288 yards rushing his sophomore campaign with the Vols.

His 40-yard dash time of 4.64 seconds at the combine was not great, though his recovery from a knee injury could have been a factor, and he made up for it by hitting 35.5 inches on his vertical jump and over 10 feet on his broad jump. At 6-4 1/2 and 228 pounds, Hurd has both power and speed working in his favour.

Given his experience and ability to contribute in the backfield, Hurd is sure to be a valuable asset wherever he lands.

James Williams, RB, Washington State

Williams' name is not commonly found on mock boards, though he possesses the qualities worth seeking out in a reliable rusher.

In his three seasons with the Cougars, Williams became one of the most productive offensive players in the program's history. He tallied 16 touchdowns last season, just one short of matching the single-season record set by Steve Broussard in 1989, and added a career-high 81 catches, which was the most receptions among running backs at the FBS level.

Williams ended his college career with 2,976 all-purpose yards and 27 touchdowns.

Lamont Gaillard, C, Georgia

Gaillard is not among the most coveted players at his position, but his resume proves he should be included in the discussions.

He measured in at 6-2 5/8 and 305 pounds at the combine, much heavier than he was during his time in Athens in which he started 42 of 44 games played. He also boasts 10 3/8 inch hands, 33 1/2 inch arms and an 81-inch wingspan, all of which he put to good use as he packed powerful punches to pummel defenders.

Gaillard has already had formal interviews with the Los Angeles Rams, Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings in addition to talks with at least five other teams, so clearly his competitive nature and leadership qualities have garnered attention.

Terronne Prescod, G, N.C. State

Prescod's stock took a dive after he failed to draw an invite to the combine and posted lacklustre numbers at the school's pro day.

Nonetheless, the 6-5, 334-pound prospect is a powerful run blocker who moves well considering his enormous size and is a terrific anchor in pass protection. He gave up only six quarterback hurries in 342 pass-blocking plays last season.

Despite dealing with nagging injuries throughout his college career, Prescod is primed for the pros.

The NFL Draft is upon us, which means the surprises will be peppered throughout  eventful first night.

There are a slew of questions that fans and teams alike will have to wait for until the draft kicks off, but there are some predictions, while outlandish, could very well happen.

Here are five first-round surprises that could occur when the event kicks off on Thursday.

Kyler Murray doesn't go No. 1

Many think because of his ties with new Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, combined with current quarterback Josh Rosen's rookie season woes, former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray will be selected by Arizona with the top pick. However, Murray's size, the fact that Rosen only has one year under his belt - which was with fired coach Steve Wilks - and the team's need for a stronger defensive line makes it plausible that they do not go for a quarterback. Do not be surprised if defensive end Nick Bosa or even tackle Quinnen Williams end up being selected with the top pick.

Speaking of quarterbacks...

Let's talk about the other three quarterbacks who have received a lot of hype heading into the draft. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, Missouri's Drew Lock and Duke's Daniel Jones are all predicted to be taken at some point in the first round, but do they all have the clout that NFL teams are looking for? Despite the hype that Haskins and Lock have received, Jones has quietly moved up the draft board in several mock projections. This could become a reality, especially with the New York Giants in need of a young, versatile quarterback. Jones fits that bill, and has developed a relationship with current Giants QB Eli Manning, who trains at Duke during the offseason. Since the Giants are hanging on to Manning for 2019, it makes sense that they draft a quarterback who has built a rapport with him and can transition easily into that starting role.

DE Montez Sweat falls out of the top 10

Many have former Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat being selected No. 8 overall by the Detroit Lions, but his previously unknown heart condition has complicated matters a little. While the condition is considered minor, it could make teams think twice before selecting him. It is believed that several teams have decided to pass on Sweat altogether, likely causing him to tumble down the draft board. His size and talent (Sweat registered 22 tackles in two seasons at Mississippi State) still make him a first-round pick, but many teams do not want to have to worry about any cardiac issues or disciplinary issues (he was dismissed from Michigan State's team for undisclosed reasons).

Remember Quinnen Williams?

The former Alabama tackle was mentioned earlier as being a possible No. 1 pick. While that might be a stretch, Williams will be a top-5 pick for sure. He is giant, freakishly fast and was nothing but dominant with the Crimson Tide. At 6-3, 303 pounds, he ran the 40 at the NFL combine in 4.83 seconds and registered 18.5 tackles for loss in addition to seven sacks last season. No matter how good an NFL team's defense is, adding Williams would not be a waste. If anything, the Oakland Raiders should be licking their lips looking at Williams, especially after they traded Khalil Mack away and were left hurting on defense all of last season. For the record, the Raiders currently have the No. 4 pick.

D.K. Metcalf falls out of the top 20

Yes, the former Ole Miss receiver who went viral over his ripped physique and miniscule amount of body fat will not be taken in the first 20 picks. Why? Lack of experience and injuries. While there is no doubt Metcalf is talented when fit, he played in just two games in 2016 and seven last season due to various injuries. Those injuries mean he had one good season, and is that enough for NFL teams to invest in? There is also the issue of Metcalf's drop issues and his lacklustre shuttle and three-cone times at the combine. While he has been projected to go reasonably high in the draft, there are too many questionable points that make him a questionable choice for many NFL teams. He will still go in the first round, but not as high as many people think.

There has been a lot of attention on a dynamic group of wide receivers from Ole Miss in the lead up to the NFL Draft, but DaMarkus Lodge could be forgiven for feeling like the forgotten man. 

Lodge, having decided to play his college football in Mississippi – the state of his birth – rather than staying in Texas where he played in high school, enjoyed a productive career at Ole Miss and racked up 1,575 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final two seasons.

He then enjoyed a dominant week of practice after being invited to impress NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game but, while fellow Rebels receives D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown are regarded as potential first-round picks, Lodge has been the recipient of comparatively little hype.

Lodge, though, feels that focus on Metcalf and Brown has helped him gain favour with those will make the decisions in this week's draft.

"Those guys are getting the attention that they deserve, they worked hard for it every single day," Lodge told Omnisport. "I saw the time and work put in, those guys deserve everything that they're getting. 

"The attention that they're getting is also bringing attention to me too, I might not get talked about as much but, when those coaches come up and see those guys and see them work out, I'm right there with them so without those guys and all the attention they have, I probably wouldn't have all the opportunities to impress these coaches like I did."

Despite the presence of Lodge, Metcalf and Brown in the receiving room, Ole Miss have struggled in recent times and won just 16 games across the last three seasons.

However, Lodge still believes his time there was beneficial.

"I put a lot of time and thought into my decision and obviously I went with my heart," he added. "Whatever I do I always think hard and long about it so I never regret it.

"I think it was a great decision for me, I got to compete with some of the best guys in the country, couple of first-round draft picks at receiver and a couple future first-round draft picks at receiver. I got to learn from all the guys, I don't regret at all."

Combine numbers that Lodge admits were disappointing, and an Ole Miss offense in which he was largely limited to running straight-line downfield routes, may not have helped his cause. Yet Lodge is confident he can quickly adapt to the full requirements of an NFL playbook.

"I've always trained and worked on every route that I can think of," he explained. "So I don't think I'll have a problem transitioning to it, because I think I'm really smooth and I can run every route pretty well. 

"Due to the limited route tree at Ole Miss, I didn't get to run those routes and a lot of coaches were concerned about that, and I think we got to show them that we can actually run routes at our pro day. I think it'll be a pretty smooth transition, and I actually think it'll be better for me than running downfield and catching fades and posts all game so I'm excited for it."

Lodge's self-belief is well-placed. Though he did not test like he expected at the Combine, on the field he has demonstrated an ability to use his footwork to separate from defenders at the start of routes and make the most of his 6ft 1in and 202-pound frame to haul in highlight-reel leaping catches near the sideline and get both feet in bounds.

It is a skillset he has honed from watching some of the best in the NFL at the receiver position, with Lodge keen to avoid being regarded as a one-dimensional talent.

"It's a couple that I pick and choose from, there's so many good receivers around the league you can't just choose one and try to model after them," said Lodge when asked who he models his game after.

"Michael Thomas, he's so strong and physical he's going to go up and high-point the ball, no matter where it's at, his catch radius is dang good. I take my releases, the top of my routes, from Odell Beckham, kind of get the toe-tapping thing from AB [Antonio Brown].

"So it's a lot of guys around the league that you can pick and choose from, you never just want to put yourself in one box."

Jim Irsay's most recent purchase is "guaranteed to raise a smile".

The Indianapolis Colts owner on Saturday proudly tweeted that he is the new owner of the piano used to compose songs for The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.

The piano, which dates back to 1872 and resided in two homes where John Lennon lived in England, was auctioned on GottaHaveRockandRoll.com to a lone bidder and closed with the final bid of $575,000 after being estimated to sell for $800,000-$1.2 million.

"I'm elated to now be the steward of John's "Sgt. Pepper" upright piano. It's a responsibility I take seriously, with future generations in mind," Irsay wrote on Twitter, adding hashtags #GettingThemBackTogether and #Beatles.

The piano was said to be Lennon's favourite and was used to compose other notable songs, including "A Day in the Life" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Irsay, an avid Beatles fan, owns several other instruments used by the band. He bought a Gibson SG electric guitar used by George Harrison for an undisclosed amount in 2013 and purchased Ringo Starr's drum set for $1.75million in 2015.

He also owns guitars previously owned by Prince, Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia.

Producing successive Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and likely consecutive number one NFL draft picks is no easy feat, but it helps if you have one of the best offensive lines around.

In 2017, Baker Mayfield played behind an Oklahoma Sooners O-Line that featured Orlando Brown – a third-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018 – Dru Samia, Ben Powers and Bobby Evans en route to winning the Heisman and becoming the top pick for the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Samia, Powers and Evans all returned last year when the Sooners allowed just 19 sacks, providing the foundation for Kyler Murray to win college football's highest individual honour and become the favourite for the first overall pick.

Omnisport spoke to NFL-bound guard prospects Samia and Powers to find out the secret to their success.

How did you find the Senior Bowl and working with the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff?

Samia: "It was really awesome, finally got to get into a little of an NFL playbook. I know we only just scratched the surface of the plays that they run, but getting an idea for the vernacular and the vocab that they use as far as communication and the calls that we're making and the different schemes they run, it was really fun, that was the first taste of actually playing NFL football."

Powers: "It was great working with the 49ers and their offensive line coach, it was a lot of fun seeing how an NFL coaching staff goes about teaching new material, working towards practice, the flow of practice, preparing for an opponent."

Having played in an offense that relies heavily on you being athletic, how difficult is it to be mobile as well as big and powerful?

Samia: "It involves a lot of conditioning, but I've spoken to other players at different programs, they just lift and get as strong as possible. But with the type of offense we run, we don't really have that luxury to specialise in either strength or speed, we need to be even across the board, which I feel is beneficial. Obviously there's some downsides, there's some players in the nation who are stronger but I doubt that there's any O-linemen in the nation that have the balance that we have at Oklahoma. The type of offense that we run just brings out the best in you in all areas."

Powers: "It's funny because there may be a blocking play that's tough and our O-Line coach is like, 'Figure it out, do it'. You just do it. You don't think about it, the job has to get done and this is how we're gonna do it."

Zone blocking appeared to be the dominant scheme used at Oklahoma. Are you confident you can fit into any scheme in the NFL?

Samia: "One hundred per cent. Coming into college - obviously in high school I didn't know too much - picked up on that offense pretty quick, started developing from there and I'm confident I can do it again, especially with the growth in my football knowledge, just having a better understanding of the game, it's just going to help the transition that much more."

Powers: "We were a big zone as well as gap scheme team, we only ran power in the endzone in the goalline. Zone and gap scheme, that's Oklahoma's bread and butter. Gap scheme is an aspect of our counter, our regular one-guard counter, and also our tackle counter you see us run. That's a play we love and it's really fun to run."

Four Oklahoma linemen are set to go pretty high in this year's draft. Is that a testament to [offensive line coach] Bill Bedenbaugh?

Samia: "We completely give all the credit to Coach B, he saw the potential in us, he was the one who cultivated it. We put in the hard work - there's no coach in the nation that can coach work ethic - but Coach B saw the potential that we had, cultivated it, taught us the techniques, the mentality and the nastiness that we need to play with, and we just took it from there."

Powers: "That's a testament to Coach B and the amount of work we put in. It's great because all four of us came to Oklahoma together. We all graduated high school in 2015, came in here and got so close together. It's special, we're such a close-knit unit and we're all such good friends."

Samia: "I know exactly what Cody [Ford] and Creed [Humphrey] are good at, what they need help with. They know my deficiencies and the things that I'm good at on the field. Just being able to know somebody so well and the way they play the game, it only makes it easier when you're out there on the field."

Powers: "We've played so much ball together that I know how Bobby is going to play a certain block and I think that was great. I know how Bobby's going to react to certain looks and this and that, and I think that's part of the reason we played so good."

What was the difference between Mayfield and Murray as leaders?

Samia: "Baker would technically be the more vocal person just on a day-to-day basis. Kyler was obviously a vocal leader, he was a great leader in my opinion, led by example perfectly. But Kyler didn't talk too much when it was unnecessary, and I feel like that led the team so, whenever Kyler spoke, people listened because it wasn't him just talking to talk, it was because we need a leader in this moment. Kyler would pick and choose his moments a little more carefully, whereas Baker was an all day, every day-type deal."

Powers: "They're both so calm under pressure and I think that just comes with being great. High-pressure situations come and you just know that they're built for this. Kyler is a better athlete but Baker's a better leader - with no disrespect to either one of them. They're both such great players and those are the only differences I could tell you between them."

Did Murray's ability as a scrambler help or hinder you?

Samia: "I'm not sure it makes it any harder. I felt with Kyler in the backfield he makes thing easy on us to a degree where if we mess up a block, Kyler can turn that into a good play or Kyler can break the pocket and make something out of nothing. I never sat back there and thought, 'Man this is tough to be moving around', I've only been grateful that we have a quarterback that's so fast and talented."

Powers: "It definitely helped because what he was doing was extending the play. As much as we were protecting him, he helped us get out of bad situations. We complemented each other so great. Was it tough to know who and when and where to block the defender? Yeah, but you just kind of do it."

Do you buy any of the criticism of Murray?

Samia: "As soon he gets into the building, if not already, these teams will fall in love with him. You know exactly what you're getting with Kyler. As far as the 'questions' that are surrounding him right now I feel like those are just talking pieces. When it's all said and done Kyler's going to be a baller in the league and that's just how it's going to be."

Powers: "I see so many different articles about Kyler and I'm tired of it because I talk to him on a daily basis, I know the guy. All these articles, they're just there to get people to click on them. It's just complete garbage."

How did you find the challenge of facing [Alabama defensive tackle and likely top-five pick] Quinnen Williams, in the College Football Playoff semi-finals?

Samia: "I learned that you gotta play physical and you've got to trust your technique at the same time because when you face someone like a Quinnen Williams, those are the type of guys you're going to be facing every single day in the league, so you can't overcommit one way to try to stop his power, you can't overcommit leaning forward to try to stop his power because he's going to swat you by and take advantage of that. Quinnen Williams is just the start of it, once we all get into the NFL, these players are too good, you can't give them any opening, you can't give them any advantage so just being more patient while remaining physical is going to be the key."

Powers: "I loved being challenged like that, it gets to show you how good you really are. If you're practicing or playing against guys that aren't the best then what's the point? Being able to play against the best is great. I love it, I look forward to it."

Elijah Holyfield's dad may have been an undisputed boxing world champion at two weight classes, but it is the lessons Evander taught his son away from sport that most resonate with the NFL hopeful.

"It's the way you carry yourself in public and stuff like that," Elijah Holyfield told Omnisport.

"Always being respectful off the field."

However, like most sportsmen, the Holyfields have a different mindset when it comes to approaching their chosen discipline.

Evander, still the only four-time world heavyweight champion, unified both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions in a career that included 44 wins and 29 knockouts.

And Elijah looked like a chip off the old block when he showcased a punishing running style in rushing for over 1,000 yards as a junior at Georgia last year.

"When it's time for showtime, he was probably the meanest man in the world," Elijah said of his dad. "I think I learned some of the stuff that I am now from him."

It is on the gridiron, rather than in the ring, that running back Elijah Holyfield hopes to establish his own legacy.

Though he fought in both taekwondo and boxing as a youngster, the NFL was his true passion and former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was his idol.

Holyfield enrolled at Georgia in 2016 but had to bide his time for two years while future NFL backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were on the roster.

With Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley, an MVP candidate last season, having also come through the same system, Georgia has established a reputation for producing fine NFL backs - a tradition Holyfield is keen to continue.

"I think it's a mindset," he said.

"We're all labelled as one thing when we come in. By the time we move out we become complete backs because you compete with guys who are better at certain things than you.

"There's no running back at Georgia that's the best at everything so you have to always continue to work on a different part of your game and by the time you leave you're a full-rounded back. I think the competition helps a lot."

That system may have prepared Holyfield for the on-field aspect of the NFL, but, by his own admission, he has had to learn to cope with the added off-field scrutiny.

A disappointing 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds at the NFL Combine raised concerns over a lack of breakaway speed - though that was not evident at college - and Holyfield has had to try and shut out the subsequent negativity.

"I've faced a lot of criticism over the last couple of months," he admitted.

"It's just trying to block everybody out. It's easier to block it out when you're playing on a team – it's criticism on a team so you can get with your team-mates and take it all together and bounce back together.

"Now it's you individually at this point. You don't really have anyone to lean on as far as somebody going through the exact same thing as you.

"I've talked to some of my old team-mates that have been through this process. I've spoken to my parents, but I feel like it's something that you really have to get through on your own because no matter what anybody says, if you're still reading the stuff and you let it get to you, you can't help them.

"You have to have an understanding of yourself and become mentally strong and move past that."

Ultimately, though, as his dad will no doubt tell him, it is actions that speak louder than words, and Elijah Holyfield will only get a chance to silence the naysayers once he sets foot on an NFL field.

"I wish the draft was yesterday," he said. "I do not like waiting like this! I'm ready to see what happens."

New England Patriots star Tom Brady has weighed in on Rob Gronkowski's latest stunt.

The Patriots revealed on Wednesday that Gronkowski dented the most recent Lombardi Trophy when the team threw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game on April 9.

The 29-year-old used the trophy as a bat and damaged it while attempting to bunt a warmup toss thrown by Julian Edelman.

Brady took to Twitter shortly after the team released a video of the incident, shocked by Gronkowski.

Edelman also reacted to the news on his Twitter account.

"No comment," Edelman wrote.

Several of Gronkowski’s team-mates, including safety Duron Harmon, discussed the event in an interview with Patriots.com.

"You can't hide a baseball dent in there," Harmon said. "Everybody literally went to the trophy and saw it. I think Rob thought it was more funny than anything.

"The funniest thing about it all was it actually was a really good bunt. Like it was perfect technique. I don't even understand how he controlled the Lombardi. If the Red Sox had bunting practice, that would be teaching tape for them. He does everything perfect."

Meanwhile, Gronkowski announced his retirement on Instagram in late March. He spent all nine of his NFL seasons in New England.

Gronkowski finished his career with 521 regular-season catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He is the Patriots' career leader in touchdowns and is tied for the second-most receiving scores in playoff history.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continued the Presidents' Trophy curse, while the Boston Red Sox are still struggling in MLB.

Russell Wilson is even richer now and Zion Williamson did what everyone expected.

All that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. Historic loss

The Tampa Bay Lightning were one of the best teams in NHL history this season, recording an all-time high 62 wins during the regular season.

Maybe they should have saved some of those victories for the playoffs.

The Lightning were swept by the wildcard Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, continuing a run of losses for the team to win the Presidents' Trophy.

Since the inception of the trophy in 1985-86, only eight Presidents' Trophy winners have won the Stanley Cup. Six how bowed out in the first round of the playoffs. The Lightning were the first to be swept. It was a bitter end to what was a fabulous year.

 

2. Wilson is the now the richest player in the NFL

Russell Wilson gave the Seattle Seahawks a deadline to sign him to an extension this offseason.

Seattle met that deadline.

It was reported the Seahawks and Wilson came to an agreement on a four-year, $140million extension. The $35m in average annual value makes Wilson the highest paid player in the NFL.

Wilson confirmed the news on Twitter.

3. Warriors dealt serious blow

This may be the first time it is believable that the Golden State Warriors' epic run to the NBA Finals is coming to an end.

Golden State lost All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to a torn quad in game two against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday and he is likely out for the rest of the postseason, though the team are still holding out hope he could come back for the Finals.

While Golden State still have four All-Stars on their roster, the Warriors' depth took a significant hit. Now that Cousins is gone that depth is going to be even more apparent down the stretch.

Golden State match up with the Clippers in game three on Thursday.

 

4. The number one pick declares

Zion Williamson made the least surprising announcement in sports history this week – he is declaring for the NBA Draft.

The Duke star, who won just about every single award in college basketball this season, is the prohibitive top selection in this year's draft ahead of team-mate RJ Barrett and Murray State guard Ja Morant.

Now it is just a matter of who takes Williamson. With changes made to the lottery this season, the three worst teams in the NBA now each have a 14 per cent chance to get the top pick.

The New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers have the best shot to get the Duke star.

 

5. Yankees' injury problems continue, but that doesn't help Boston

The New York Yankees continue to deal with injury issues as Greg Bird became the team's fifth starter to go on the injured list since spring training, joining Aaron Hicks, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton.

But, despite these injury issues, the Yankees were still able to sweep rivals the Red Sox in the first series of the season.

Brett Gardner's grand slam in the seventh inning on Wednesday all but sealed the 5-3 win and the sweep.

The Red Sox – who are the reigning World Series champions – now hold the worst record in the American League (6-13) and the second-worst run differential in all of MLB (minus-42).

World Series hangover indeed.

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