Our friends over at Pro Football Talk have a whole bunch of good stuff about Colin Kaepernick’s impressive first NFL start for the 49ers last night, but there’s also an interesting little baseball connection. Back in 2009 when Kaepernick was in college at Nevada the Cubs drafted him in the 43rd round as a pitcher…
We are profiling the Ravens’ draft picks as they prepare to start minicamp Friday. Here are three things to know about sixth-round pick, WR Keenan Reynolds of Navy:
1. The biggest push to draft Reynolds came from assistant general manager Eric DeCosta.
DeCosta, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and coach John Harbaugh were visibly moved talking about making the phone call to Reynolds. All of them admire the way Reynolds has handled himself at Navy, both on and off the field.
When Newsome made the call, he put Reynolds on speaker phone so that everyone could hear his reaction. “Everyone in the room could be a part of telling him that we picked him,” Newsome said. “It was a special moment.”
2. Reynolds is much more than just a symbolic pick.
The Ravens believe Reynolds can stick as a punt returner, and that he has the athleticism and work ethic to become a polished slot receiver. Reynolds has many qualities inherent to top punt returners – good judgment, vision, elusiveness, sure hands, and speed. The Ravens also like that Reynolds has been working with CSN’s Brian Mitchell, a former Pro Bowl punt returner with the Redskins.
“Fortunately, we have a great relationship with Brian Mitchell,” DeCosta said. “We did our homework on him. He’s a guy that was a player of interest to us throughout the process. We kept it very quiet and, and it worked out the right way.”
3. The Ravens are willing to wait if military obligations prevent Reynolds from playing right away.
Naval Academy graduates are obligated to a five-year military term, but Reynolds has hope of being able to play this fall. The Patriots drafted Navy graduate Joe Cardona last year as a long snapper, and he was granted permission to play. Cardona spent one day a week working at a Rhode Island naval facility. Reynolds hoped a similar arrangement could be worked out for him.
“I’m hoping and praying, and I’m confident that this potentially could be the same type of situation with myself,” Reynolds said. “It’s a blessing that the Ravens felt I was worthy to take a chance on with the military obligation and my service commitment.”
When it comes to drafting running backs, Scot McCloughan prefers low-mileage models.
Last year, McCloughan took Matt Jones, who had 297 rushing attempts in three seasons at Florida, in the third round. This year the running back pick was Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick who carried the ball 253 times in four years as a Georgia Bulldog.
In contrast, Heisman Trophy winning back Derrick Henry had 395 carries in 2015 alone.
Of course, Henry got the ball a lot because he was consistently productive for the Crimson Tide. Injuries kept Marshall from having a bigger role at Georgia and Jones couldn’t break out of a running back by committee arrangement with the Gators.
McCloughan sees the positive in each of his backs’ situations.
“The thing I like about it, and it was the thing with Matt Jones last year, is the amount of carries he’s had,” he said when asked about Marshall’s lack of college production. “He hasn’t been beat up. With running backs, it’s so important to have the health. The more hits you take, the worse off it is. Again, we’ll see how it shakes out.”
McCloughan may just be trying to put some lipstick on a pig here in talking about the Redskins’ still uncertain running back situation. But it’s a fact that heavy college workloads taken on by backs like Henry do drop their draft stocks. So it makes sense that all other things being equal a back who had a light workload prior to entering the draft should be somewhat more valuable.
As McCloughan said, we’ll see how it shakes out.
When the New York Mets signed Bartolo Colon prior at 40 years old prior to the 2014 season, many in The Big Apple probably saw him as nothing more than a veteran stop-gap arm for the starting rotation.
But at 42 — the oldest player in the big leagues — Colon is still doing his thing with the Mets, and he's making history while he's at it.
After pitching eight shutout innings in Monday's 4-1 victory over the Braves, Colon earned his 220th career win, passing Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez to become the second-winningest Domican-born pitcher in MLB history.
"I think it's truly a great honor," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Colon's achievement, via MLB.com. "Pedro -- as great as he was -- to move ahead of him in wins, it shows the durability of what Bartolo's had to go through to get to this point."
To Collins' point, Colon's durability has been remarkable in New York; since 2014, he's pitched 428 2/3 innings in 70 games, amassing a 31-27 record with a 4.01 ERA in that span. This year he's off to another solid start at 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA and a 27-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He may not have the arsenal he once did a young phenom with the Cleveland Indians, but continues to find ways to give the Mets just what they need.
"I mean, I'm amazed he goes out there every fifth day and just goes through it, and nothing seems to faze him," Collins said.
At 220 career wins, Colon still has a ways to go to catch the all-time winningest Dominican-born pitcher, Juan Marichal, who has 243 victories. But as he nears his 43rd birthday, Colon and the Mets are probably right to only worry about the here and now.
"I can't think about [Marichal's record]," Colon said. "You just can't get your mind set like that. Right now, I'm just thinking about 221."