Saturday is a momentous day in the history of the NBA and the Orlando Magic, as on June 24th, 1992, they drafted one of the most famous players in league history in Shaquille O’Neal. He turned the Magic into a worldwide known entity. led them to the NBA Finals in 1995, but then, fled to the Lakers in free agency in 1996.
Shaq and Kobe Bryant returned L.A. to title town winning three titles in a row in the early 2000’s. But, he will always be know synonymous with putting Orlando on the map.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 24, 2017
So, in honor of Shaq and the Magic’s anniversary, we decided to take a quick look at the #1 overall picks of all the state teams in Florida in the big four professional sports over the last quarter century. It’s filled with names you will know, like Jameis Winston, and with some you likely won’t.
But here goes:
The Magic actually had the #1 overall pick the following year of 1993 and famously took Chris Webber and then traded him to the Golden State Warriors for the third pick, Penny Hardaway, and three future #1’s. Hardaway became an All-NBA caliber player in the 90’s and helped Orlando get to the cusp of the title in 1995. It still is remembered as one of the wildest draft night deals ever.
Orlando also had the #1 overall pick in 2004 and took Dwight Howard out of an Atlanta high school. An eight time All Star and five time 1st team All NBA player, Howard helped the Magic to the ’09 Finals, where they lost again. He eventually, followed Shaq’s lead and went to the Lakers seeking to win a title. It did not happen there, and he has since been on three more teams with a nomadic existence towards the end of his career.
Onto Major League Baseball, where the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays took high school outfielder Josh Hamilton with the 1999 #1 overall selection. But, Hamilton’s well known drug and alcohol issues at a young age ruined his early career and he was no factor in Tampa Bay. He’s gone on to play for several more teams.
The following year, 2000, the then Florida Marlins took then high school first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez with the first pick the draft. “A-Gone” as he’s known, has now played for the Padres, Rangers, Red Sox and currently Dodgers. He’s been a five time All Star, four time Gold Glove winner, and has been part of numerous playoff runs, but hasn’t won a title.
The Rays have had the #1 overall three more times in the 2000’s: high school outfielder Delmon Young in 2003, Vanderbilt star pitcher David Price in 2008, and high school shortstop Tim Beckham the following year, 2009. Of the three, Price has been the best, as a five time All Star, and the 2012 Cy Young award winner. But, was also traded a couple of times, playing for the the Tigers and Blue Jays. Then he signed a huge $200 million free agent deal with the Red Sox.
Next is the NHL, where there have also been a couple of interesting #1 overall picks by either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Florida Panthers in the last 25 years.
The Panthers took junior hockey defenseman Ed Jovanovski with the first overall pick in 1994 and he help lead Florida to the Stanley Cup Finals against Colorado two years later. He’s played for Vancouver, Phoenix and the Panthers again, and also won a hockey gold medal in 2002 Winter Games for Team Canada.
The Lightning took 18 year old junior hockey star Vincent LeCavalier in 1998 and he eventually led them as team captain to the Stanley Cup title in 2004 and hockey immortality. LeCavalier moved on later in his career to the Flyers and the L.A. Kings before recently retiring.
And that leaves us with what we (and presumably you) care about the most, football. And specifically, the NFL teams in Florida and the recent history of #1 overall selections since 1992.
There have actually only been two of them. The Miami Dolphins took Michigan tackle Jake Long in the 2008 draft to solidify their offensive line. He did so, going to four Pro Bowls and helped the Dolphins get back to respectability. We wrote about Long battling injuries recently and finally, calling it a career this off season.
And that brings us to the only other time in the last 25 years that a Florida NFL team picked #1. That is of course, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their selection of Jameis Winston first in 2015 (see above).
The former Heisman winner out of Florida State was a somewhat controversial pick after a sexual assault allegation at Florida State. The Bucs were also entertaining the possibility of taking Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, but now have arguably, their leader for the next decade or so, in Winston on team that already improved to 9-7 in Winston’s second year.
There will be huge expectation on Winston for 2017 and not unlike previous #1 overall QB’s like Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and more recently, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, there is a different kind of scrutiny, when you are tabbed “the best player in this year’s draft.”
Some of the above in the last 25 years have lived up to it. Some have not. It’s Winston’s stage now.
Latest on Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars injuries
With all three Florida teams in the NFL undefeated, their games take on added significance in week three. And there will be more scrutiny over everything, including the injury status of key players in their games.
Let’s begin in Miami with the Dolphins match-up coming Sunday with the Raiders. Miami safety Reshad Jones has been limited with a shoulder injury during practice this week and the Dolphins officially listed him as “questionable” on their Friday injury report. Even though Jones is a veteran, the fact that he was not able to practice this week has to be concerning.
Further, DeVante Parker is now off the injury report with a broken finger that is healed. However, even though he was active for the game last week, Parker was held out on a coach’s decision by Adam Gase. It will be curious as to whether Gase chooses to have him active, again and utilize him in this situation with Oakland.
For the Raiders their most significant injury is to veteran running back Marshawn Lynch who has been Limited in practice with his own shoulder injury. The Raiders did not designate Lynch’s status on their Friday injury report. However, limited practice for all three days would naturally indicate Lynch is questionable to play in the game at Hard Rock Stadium. Oakland has veteran Jalen Richard as a backup.
Next, in Jacksonville is the AFC South showdown with the Tennessee Titans. We have already documented that the Jaguars running back situation is up in the air with both Leonard fournette and T.J. Yeldon questionable with leg injuries. Corey Grant would be the back to fill in for Doug Marrone’s team, if needed.
A late add on Friday to the injury report is defensive back Jalen Ramsey with an ankle injury. He is officially listed as questionable and will likely at least try to play on Sunday.
Meanwhile for the Titans, two significant injury situations exist. One quarterback Marcus Mariota, who could not play last week with the nerve injury in his elbow that is keeping his fingers and hand tingling and numb has still been slowed at practice.
Mariota is officially listed as questionable on the Titans injury report. Veteran backup Blaine Gabbert played the game last week with Houston, which Tennessee won.
So it’s anyone’s guess as to what Mike Vrabel the Titans coach will do at quarterback for this week. Also injured for Tennessee is running back Derrick Henry with a back injury, but after being limited in practice earlier in the week. He was a full go for Friday and should be able to play Sunday afternoon.
Finally, for Monday nights Buccaneers match up with the Steelers. Both teams concluded their final full practices of the week on Saturday. For the Buccaneers, they have already ruled out rookie first round pick defensive tackle Vita Vea, who just returned to practice this week with an injured calf. This means Vea will have not played in the first three games of this season.
The good news is veteran defensive back Brent Grimes (above) has been back at practice with a groin injury and is officially listed as questionable. Grimes is expected to play and be covering Pittsburgh All Pro WR Antonio Brown during much of the game.
The Steelers biggest injuries are to offensive linemen David DeCastro (hand) and Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), who are both questionable. for Monday.
Some week one Fantasy “start’em or sit’em” advice
It’s the opening weekend of the NFL season, and also, fantasy football fans are rejoicing at seeing their season is getting underway, too.
So, with the fact that there’s so much interest in the beginning of the year and there are some unknowns involving the three Florida pro football teams, we decided to give out some quick “start or sit” fantasy football advice.
First up is the Buccaneers matchup with the Saints in New Orleans.
And while Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will be the focus of the Saints secondary, they have veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them. They are probably both still worth the “start” on Sunday, especially Evans, who is off a disappointing season by his standards.
If you’re looking for a “sleeper,” it’s third receiver Chris Godwin, who really came into his own down the stretch of 2017. That included catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds against the Saints in week 17 .
More than likely, running back Peyton Barber (above) isn’t one of your primary backs in your league, but he will be the guy that gets the ball in key situations, including in the red zone and the goal line.
If you drafted rookie 2nd round pick speedster Ronald Jones, don’t expect much this week. While Jones will likely be active, he will probably be third-string behind Barber and Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers. And, he may not see the feel very much.
As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill is back at the helm and that means receivers Kenny Stills and free agent newcomers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson are guys he will look to spread the ball around to against Tennessee.
As a Fins sleeper? We’ve been touting second round draft pick tight end Mike Gesicki. He will especially be a threat to score TDs in the red zone.
Similarly with Barber for the Bucs, Kenyan Drake will likely get the bulk of the carries in this game. However, different from the Tampa Bay situation, it’s veteran Frank Gore is in the Miami mix. And, no one is not clear yet, who will get the ball in the red zone and on the goal line.
So therefore it’s dangerous to play Drake, if you have other options.
As for the Jaguars who are in New York to play the Giants, Leonard Fournette is always going to be a “must-play.” He looks to get his second year off to a big start against a shaky Giants front seven.
The real question becomes whether you trust Blake Bortles to get the ball to any of Jacksonville’s receivers, if you drafted them?
With Marqise Lee lost for the season with his ACL injury, Donte Moncrief will assume the role as the number one receiver. Players like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are also good options. And we will have to play the” wait-and-see game” with how much rookie second-round pick wide receiver D.J. Chark will be used?
Again, most of the Jags receivers would be in the “sit’em” category, if you have other options.
Good luck with your team and roster and just remember this advice is worth every penny that you paid for it
Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaugars had surprises on cut down day
It’s a tough day all over the NFL has every team had to be down to 53 players at 4 p.m. eastern time. That meant for the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars, as well as everyone else, you were saying goodbye to 37 players that have been with you throughout the off-season and training camp.
There were some surprising names put on the waiver wire by each team:
In Tampa Bay, coach Dirk Koetter and staff parted with veteran safety and special-teams ace Keith Tandy. This one was a bit of a surprise because the six year veteran Tandy had moved into significantly more playing time the last couple of seasons. He started five games at the end of 2016 with 41 tackles and four interceptions. And by all accounts, he was a very hard-working and popular player. Bucs will apparently go with rookie Jordan Whitehead and also may move rookie defensive back MJ Stewart to safety some to compensate.
The Buccaneers also released two receivers in Bernard Reedy and Bobo Wilson, who saw a bunch of playing time and each had five catches in the final preseason game with Jacksonville.
Meanwhile for the Dolphins, they also released a veteran defensive back in Tony Lippett Saturday. Lippet had battled back from an achilles injury last year, but obviously was not effective enough for Adam Gase and staff to keep him on board. The Fins do have young DBs in Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, as well as veteran Bobby McCain.
Miami also released fourth string QB Bryce Petty who had an oblique injury the last two weeks of camp. The Fins kept David Fales as the third string QB behind Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler. Also, Miami cut WR Leonte Caroo, who was a third round pick in 2016.
In Jacksonville, a bit of a surprise, as the Jaguars did not keep third string quarterback Tanner Lee. Lee a rookie from Nebraska fared well on Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Buccaneers. However, for now, the Jaguars seem to be content to go with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler as the only two quarterbacks on the roster. Lee could come back on the practice squad.
Jacksonville cut veteran WR Shane Wynn and also injured tight end Ben Koyack in their moves.
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