Miami Herald (Sunday)
Chelsea eliminates Man City to reach FA Cup final
Manchester City’s quadruple dream has been extinguished by Chelsea. Even more concerning could be the injury to Kevin De Bruyne for the ongoing pursuit of a treble.
Chelsea will be back at Wembley Stadium next month for the FA Cup final after a 1-0 victory over City was clinched by Hakim Ziyech on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola will return even sooner next Sunday with City for the League Cup final but with doubts over whether De Bruyne will be fit to face Tottenham.
“It doesn’t look quite good,” Guardiola said. “But we will see tomorrow.”
The influential Belgian playmaker hobbled off with an ankle injury just as City is entering a crunch period of the season.
A 11-point Premier League lead makes collecting that trophy a nearcertainty but there is also a first Champions League semifinal with City for Guardiola against Paris Saint-Germain in what remains the priority title for the club.
“We started the game a little bit slow and struggled a bit in the first half,” City midfielder Fernandinho said.
A Elsewhere: Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala starred for the Bavarian powerhouse to go seven points clear in the Bundesliga before coach Hansi Flick said he wanted to leave at the end of the season. Musiala scored two goals and was involved in the other as Bayern held on for a 3-2 win at third-place Wolfsburg. Following Leipzig’s scoreless draw with Hoffenheim the night before, it meant Bayern is closing in on a record-extending ninth consecutive title with just five rounds of the season remaining. ... A muscle issue will keep Cristiano Ronaldo out of a key Serie A match at Atalanta on Sunday. Third-place Juventus is one point ahead of Atalanta and one point behind second-place AC Milan in the Champions League. ... Spanish right back Pol Lirola grabbed his second goal during injury time as Marseille beat Lorient 3-2 at home to maintain its push for a Europa League place next season. Rennes won 3-0 at midtable Angers in the early French league game to join Marseille and rival Lens in the hunt for fifth place with five games left. Sixth-place Marseille moved level on points with fifth-place Lens, which is away to Brest on
Sunday, while Rennes is one point behind Marseille in seventh.
A NFL: Players on fourmore NFL teams will be skipping in-person voluntary workouts because of the pandemic: the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers. The players posted through their union that they are joining 11 other groups, including the Dolphins, who previously said they would not be on hand for the sessions. This weekend players from the other 16 clubs are expected to announce plans. The offseason sessions begin Monday.
A Tennis: Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas swatted aside unseeded Dan Evans 6-2, 6-1 to reach the Monte Carlo Masters final for the first time and stay on course for a first title this year. The big-serving Greek’s opponent will face sixth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev, who beat unseeded Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5. Rublev aims for his second title of the year, his first at Masters level and ninth overall in his career.
A College basketball: Poised to graduate from Cornell in May and with one year of college eligibility left, Jim Boeheim’s oldest son, Jimmy, will transfer to Syracuse and will play as a graduate student for his father and alongside his younger brother Buddy after three seasons with the Big Red. ... University of Southern California’s Evan Mobley has declared for the NBA draft, closing the final chapter of a single storybook season in which the 7-footer helped propel a program revival, swept the Pac-12 awards and led the Trojans to the Elite Eight.
A Figure skating: World champion Anna Shcherbakova won the women’s free skate at Osaka, Japan, to seal Russia’s first victory at the figure skating World Team Trophy. First after the short program, the 17-yearold Shcherbakova opened with a quadruple flip and followed with a triple fliptriple toe loop combination en route to a score of 160.58 points. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto moved up to second place with 150.29 points after an impressive Matrix routine that included five triple jumps. Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was third with 146.23 points. The result of the women’s free skate ensured Russia, with 125 points, would win its first World Team Trophy. The United States — the defending champion — was second with 110 followed by Japan with 107.
who can contribute for three to four years. That’s it. Nobody is worried about finding a second-contract running back anymore. No one is thinking that far ahead.
Because running backs don’t often last that long. They get hurt a lot. And there’s just so many of them, it’s easy to replace them unless you have a generational talent.
That’s the reason taking them early in the draft, indeed at any time in the first round, requires significant courage and conviction that a player is special.
And even generational talents, the special guys, don’t always pay dividends on the top-pick investment.
Consider: In the past five drafts, eight running backs have been selected in the first round. There have been 17 quarterbacks drafted in the first round at the same time, and 17 wide receivers have gone in the first round in that time.
So already you see teams placing more of a premium on other offensive weapons over running backs — and, yes, the first round is the premium round.
Now consider the players and their production.
Saquon Barkley, drafted No. 2 overall in 2018, was amazing his rookie season, good his second year, and injured (ACL) his third season.
Christian McCaffrey, who went No. 8 overall in the 2017 draft, was outstanding his second and third seasons but was injured (ankle, shoulder) last season.
Ezekiel Elliott, selected No. 4 in 2016, has been an example of consistency and outstanding performance and durability. He has rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three of his seasons and for more than 900 yards in the other two.
But Rashaad Penny? Leonard Fournette?
Sony Michel, who the New England Patriots selected one pick before Baltimore selected quarterback Lamar Jackson?
The jury might still be out on the value of those first-round picks, but it’s leaning against anointing any of them as special.
Bottom line is players such as Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Jonathan Taylor — none of which were selected in the first round — have been greater value picks for their respective teams.
Indeed, the NFL had nine running backs go over 1,000 yards last season.
None were former firstround draft picks.
So the case against picking a running back in the first round is historically compelling.
That brings us to this year’s crop of possible first-round running backs.
There’s maybe two: Harris and Etienne.
Harris is my favorite. He’s 6-2 and 230 pounds and he’s productive as a runner and pass catcher. Would I pick him No. 18 overall?
It would be a desperation pick.
It wouldn’t be a value pick by any means.
But, again, I like the player so I’m open to the idea.
Chris Simms, meanwhile, doesn’t like Harris at all in the first round. Or even early in the second round. The former NFL quarterback, now an analyst for NBCSports, believes Harris is an end of the second-round or thirdround pick.
And now you’re going, “Who cares what Chris Simms thinks?”
Well, NBCSports cares. He’s on national TV every Sunday night during football season.
And last year he was one of the very few draft evaluators who had Justin Herbert not just ahead, but clearly ahead, of Tua Tagovailoa as a draft prospect.
That orphaned opinion a year ago suddenly has many fathers after the 2020 NFL season.
Simms ranks Harris his No. 4 running back in this draft.
“Lack of speed is a real issue,” Simms told the 1.53 million subscribers of NBCSports’ youtube channel. “There is a true lack of speed. ... Just watching him break out in the open at Alabama, it’s underwhelming. If you had to ask me, I would go, ‘it’s 4.65, 4.68, it might be a 4.7-type of running back. I think that’s what he is.”
Simms said Harris not running the 40-yard dash at either of Alabama’s pro days is a red flag.
“Are there some things he does really well?
There’s no doubt,” Simms said. “But man, is he running in a lot of space at Alabama. And that’s where my first question is in the NFL, if there’s nothing there in the NFL, what’s he going to do for you that way?”
Simms doesn’t hate Harris, although he did mention the running back’s “below-average power” for his 230 pounds.
“His ability to catch the football out of the backfield is the best thing he does,” Simms said. “He’s a natural. He’s got a real niche. At the very least,
I’m not going to sit here and tell you Najee Harris is a slam dunk No. 1 NFL running back. I think he’s a No. 2. That’s what we’re getting into. But he will have a real role in the pass game.”
Readers of this space remember Fake GM Mando championed the idea of picking receivers in the first round and addressing the running back need in the second round with
Of course, if Harris is available when the Dolphins pick at No. 36 in the second round, get him. If not, I would accept Williams in the second.
“He could be your 1 [at the position],” Simms said of Williams, “but you’re going to always be, ‘We can get a little bit better.’ ”
Simms ranked Williams No. 5 among the draft eligible running backs.
Simms ranked Louisville’s Javian Hawkins as his No. 3 running back despite the fact he’s 5-8 and 185 pounds. He compares Hawkins to Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert because of his speed.
“He’s a home run hitter,” Simms said.
Simms obviously values speed and discounts size because he’s got North Carolina’s Michael Carter, who is 5-8 and 199 pounds, as his No. 2 running back.
And Simms rates
Etienne as his No. 1 running back in this draft.
Etienne has good size (5-10 and 215 pounds) and excellent speed (4.41).
“The most complete running back in the draft, there’s no doubt about that for me,” Simms said.
“He can be a patient runner. ... But when he sees what he wants, his acceleration, it’s way better than you expect or think. He sees what he wants, he gets to the hole and the second level can’t get there in time to shut him down.
“He’s got no weakness to his game.”
Etienne to Alvin Kamara of New Orleans and Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns. Both those players are very good.
But a reminder: Neither Kamara nor Hunt was drafted in the first round.
Armando Salguero: 305-376-2387, @ArmandoSalguero