Todd: Time to clear some space off the sports hard drive, as playoff fever around here is as strong as hay fever’s going to be now that spring seems to have finally arrived.  Not only that, the Red Sox have the best record in baseball through 24 games and were winning at a clip not seen since ‘Morgan Magic’ (ask your parents about that run, kids).

But I want to start with last night’s NFL Draft, the first time since the event went prime time thatI actually watched a decent chunk of the coverage.  Not sure what drew me to watch—perhaps the impending end of the Patriots dynasty combined with other AFC East teams drafting high in what is supposedly a QB-rich draft.

Maybe in a few years we’ll look back at last night as the division’s changing-of-the-guard, as both the Jets and Bills traded up into the top ten and took what they hope will be franchise signal-callers.  The J-E-T-S had to be ecstatic when Sam Darnold—considered the consensus #1 overall pick—was there at #3 for the seemingly cursed Gang Green.

Of course, if there’s an NFL franchise that messes it up more than the Jets, it’s the Cleveland Browns (Version 2.0), who instead of taking Darnold with the first pick, decided that 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, talented but smaller than your average QB, was the way to go.  If Mayfield and recently acquired Tyrod Taylor both make it on the field next season, they will become the 29th and 30th quarterbacks to take a snap for the Browns in 20 seasons since the franchise resumed playing in Cleveland.  Any wonder why some experts are questioning the Browns’ selection?

Also assisting in the Jets landing Darnold were their Jersey roommates, the Giants.  Eli Manning is 37 years old and his backup is a kid they drafted in the third round last year (if you know who Davis Webb is, you must be a Giants fan).  Also of note, Eli has taken the G-Men to one playoff game in the last six seasons.  Yet the boys of blue still took running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick instead of Darnold?  Could this be the most disastrous #2 draft pick since Sam Bowie (again kids, ask your parents who he is).

Maybe Darnold won’t become the Michael Jordan of the NFL.  But he’s still supposed to be really good and is only 20 years old.  Have to think the Jets’ luck has finally turned in their favor, as they haven’t drafted a QB this high since Broadway Joe (see above, kids).

Then the Bills traded up to #7 to take the 6’5” Josh Allen, choosing to ignore late reports about his high school days on social media.  Regardless, the kid is physically talented.  Guess we’ll see if either Allen or Mayfield become the next great QB in the AFC East.

BTW two players Bill Belichick’s Patriots were supposedly eyeing with their first pick at #23 were OL Frank Rignow and LB Rashaan Evans.  Those two players were ultimately chosen with the 20th and 22nd picks by Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions and Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans.  Coincidence?

Speaking of quarterbacks, 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson has been hyped by some as the most dynamic QB in the draft, and another name connected with the Pats and Belichick.  But Bill passed on the kid not once, but twice, at #23 and #31.  That opened the door for outgoing Ravens GM to trade up for Philadelphia’s 32nd pick and take the former Louisville star.

As for who the Pats actually picked last night, let’s hope that Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel turn out to be suitable replacements for free agent departures Nate Solder and Dion Lewis.  At the very least, the two newest Pats should possess a Bulldog mentality.

I know I went long on football, so some quick thoughts on the other Boston teams.  The Celtics are a fun playoff story, because with no Kyrie and no Hayward, I have no expectations and can simply enjoy the games.  It’s been an entertaining series so far with Milwaukee and their ‘Greek Freak’ playing like a bona fide star.  And the Green have two young stars of their own in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.  Can I be the first to suggest that Boston will have a ‘Big Four’ next year?  But back to the present, I like Boston to win Game 7 and advance to what should be a good series with Philadelphia.  Bucks and Sixers?  Is this the 1980s all over again?

It may not have come easy for the Bruins, but over seven games they proved they were better than the Toronto Maple Leafs, a franchise who, like the NFL’s Browns and Jets, haven’t been true championship contenders since the 1960s.  For all those B’s fans worried about Tuukka Rask’s performance, he is still one of the top ‘tenders in the league and I think he’ll play better going forward.  I see the Bruins taking down the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games, despite not having home ice.

Fun factoid that means nothing, but I’m pointing it out anyway.  Wednesday night, two Boston teams beat two Toronto teams, one in each city.  Same thing could happen again Saturday as the B’s open their series in Tampa (in Amalie Arena, Mike) while the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays play at Fenway (again, didn’t we just see them at Fenway?)  Feels like it happening with two different sports cities in such a short time is a pretty rare feat and worth me mentioning.

What to say about the Sox and their fast start except it’s the best in MLB since the 2003 Yankees began 20-4. Don’t think they’re even playing their best baseball, but the return of Bogaerts from the DL will help.  Eighth inning bullpen situation still needs to be sorted out, and while I like J.D. Martinez as a hitter, does he really need to play the outfield every other day?  I don’t care if JDM doesn’t envision himself as a full-time DH.  If it were me, I’d only play him in the field once a week and let the ‘Killer Bs’ do what they do best, both defensively and offensively.  Only exception would be if JBJ continues to hit around .220, then I’d consider making him more of a late-inning defensive replacement.

Mike: I'm not going to get into it here, but because of some stupid commercials for Amalie Motor Oil in the 1990s, the name Amalie Arena makes my skin crawl.

But I digress. I did watch a good chunk of the first round of the NFL draft, at times wondering why, since it is really a nothing event, every 15 minutes or so, the commissioner comes out (gets booed) and then reads a name, and that's it. The rest of the time is filled by screaming guys with a hairspray addiction telling us why the team who just picked screwed up, or why this pick is going to make them a Super Bowl contender.

Really guys? If you know that much why are you an analyst instead of running a team?

I was a bit underwhelmed by the Patriots' picks, mostly because I haven't heard of them. Both were former team captains, so that fits a mold, but otherwise, I've got nothing. I'll wait until they get on the field to get excited about them.

I do hope the Pats take a decent QB in this draft though. I wasn't sold on Lamar Jackson, just because he was so different than what the team runs for an offense, that it might be hard for him to fit in, so I wasn't too upset that they passed. But, the reality is that they need to start looking to the post-Brady years, and it sounds like there are still some decent prospects left.

I'm just going to wrap this up quickly here. Touching on the Red Sox, I am amazed at their start this year, I really didn't have huge expectations, and they could still come back to the pack, but I am impressed with the team so far. It looks like they made the right decision when they hired Alex Cora to manage, and so far, so good! Let's hope it stays that way, that could mean a fun summer.

As for the Celtics, I see them losing to Milwaukee. They have gone about as far as they can go with injuries, and I think the future is very bright for them. If they do get past this round, I don't see them going much further than that, but they can hold their heads up, with all the injuries they have dealt with all year, they have stuck together, and even got some valuable experience to young players who will be the core of a very good team going forward.

One last thing, the Bruins game 7 win over the Leafs was the perfect example of why the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs are the best playoffs in pro sports. That game was so exciting and back and forth, and the Boston crowd really made for a great atmosphere. I'm glad they won, because it means more playoff hockey, and that's never a bad thing.

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