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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Jaguars target offensive lineman with No. 1 pick, Steelers find Big Ben’s replacement

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Alabama

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 350 lbs

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Projected Team

Jacksonville

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

We’ll be honest, this is a complete, unmitigated overreaction to the semifinal game; Aidan Hutchinson looked human and because the Jaguars can’t find a win they’re stuck here, with the top overall pick. And instead of taking the best player — and Hutchinson remains the best player for us — we have them instead filling a huge need along the offensive line. Look, if teams can reach for quarterbacks, they can reach of other positions of need, too, especially if it means protecting the franchise QB who looked skittish for much of his rookie campaign. And to reiterate: We wouldn’t take Neal first overall but since we do a mock draft every week, we’re mixing it in this version.

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Michigan

• Sr

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• 6’6″

/ 265 lbs

Projected Team

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Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Hutchinson is a great example of a player who got better each and every season, and instead of coming out early he stayed in school, balled out as a senior, and made himself into arguably the best player — on either side of the ball — in the country during the ’21 college football season. Yes, he struggled against Georgia on Saturday, and yes, it’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to his performance (see the No. 1 pick above!) but the reality is that great players have off days and he’s still the favorite to be the first pick in the ’22 draft.

NC State

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 320 lbs

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Projected Team

Houston

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PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

1st

With Davis Mills playing some pretty good football since earning the starting job (though, admittedly, he struggled against the 49ers on Sunday), it sure looks like the team will move forward with him, at least for another season. And if that’s the plan, it seems reasonable to protect him. According to Football Outsiders (which has been confirmed by the eyeball test), the Texans’ O-line has been one of the most inconsistent units in the league. Ekwonu, meanwhile, is one of our favorite players in this draft class. There’s talk that he may have to move inside to guard but when you watch him play, he’s perfectly suited to be a dominant tackle, which is exactly what the Houston needs.

Mississippi State

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• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 310 lbs

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Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

29th

POSITION RNK

5th

The Jets were great for 59 minutes on Sunday, but the fact remains: they have to protect Zach Wilson, and this should be the mantra to begin every draft meeting the team has. Yes, this might be too rich for Cross, but we’ve had him going inside the top 10 in previous mock drafts, he had a really strong showing in 2021, and he immediately upgrades New York’s O-line.

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Oregon

• Soph

• 6’5″

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/ 258 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

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PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

1st

Last week, we had the Giants trading up for Thibodeaux, and this week he falls to them at No. 5. The team needs help on both lines, and while O-line could be a consideration if Neal or Ekwonu are still on the board, Thibodeaux is one of the best players in this class.

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Ole Miss

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 205 lbs

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Projected Team

Carolina

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

1st

Corral suffered a scare in his bowl game on Saturday but he remains our QB1. And while the Panthers desperately need to fix their offensive line, it’s clear that neither Sam Darnold nor Cam Newton are the answer at QB. Meanwhile, Matt Rhule could be coaching for his job in ’22, and if the team doesn’t land a big-name QB in free agency, his best chance at success might rest on the shoulders of a rookie passer.

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LSU

• Jr

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• 6’1″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

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N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

The Jets already addressed the offensive line so here they take the best CB in this class, and perhaps in any of the recent draft classes. Stingley missed the final half of the season because of injury but that will have zero impact on his draft stock.

Iowa

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 290 lbs

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Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

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PROSPECT RNK

5th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Linderbaum, who left Iowa’s bowl game with a lower-body injury, is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. And although a center hasn’t gone higher than No. 18 in the last dozen drafts, a) Linderbaum is that good, b) the Giants need to solidify the interior O-line.

Pittsburgh

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• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 220 lbs

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Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

2nd

There will be plenty of teams talking themselves into QBs in this draft and WFT (along with Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver, Pittsburgh and Detroit) will be in the running in a decidedly weak class. Pickett had a great 2021 season for Pitt and he’ll have several opportunities during the pre-draft process, starting with the Senior Bowl, to prove he’s QB1.

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Notre Dame

• Jr

• 6’4″

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/ 219 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

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PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

The Falcons could be in market for a quarterback but with two already taken, and with Hamilton still on the board, they’ll bolster their secondary. Hamilton is a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed — a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk — and that makes him a Day 1 impact player.

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Clemson

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 200 lbs

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Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

11th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Last year, the team used a first-round pick on Patrick Surtain, who has had a solid rookie campaign. But with only CBs Surtain, Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia under contract after the season, adding a playing of Booth’s talents makes a lot of sense here.

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Ohio State

• Jr

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• 6’0″

/ 192 lbs

Projected Team

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Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

1st

The Vikings could go QB here, if they are ready to move on from Kirk Cousins (despite taking Kellen Mond a year ago), or they could target a cornerback. Instead, we have them going with a wideout. Yes, Justin Jefferson is one of the best players in the league but Adam Thielen will be 32 next season, and more importantly, there’s not much depth behind those two among the wideouts.

Purdue

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 275 lbs

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Projected Team

Cleveland

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PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

The season has slowly fallen apart for the Browns but it feels like most of the wounds have been self-inflicted. This is still a very good team with a lot of young players. That said, there isn’t much depth at pass-rusher after Myles Garrett, and though he’s been special, adding another legit pass-rusher opposite him will make him even more dangerous.

Georgia

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• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 225 lbs

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Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

3rd

This has been a popular pairing in our weekly mocks, partly because the Eagles could use Dean in the middle of their D (even if, historically, they don’t draft off-ball linebackers in Round 1), and in part because Dean has been dominant during the ’21 season. And while he is playing on the best defense in the country, don’t be fooled — he’s not riding on the coattails of a dominant Georgia defensive line — Dean’s been a huge reason for its success.

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Alabama

• Jr

• 6’2″

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/ 189 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

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PROSPECT RNK

24th

POSITION RNK

6th

Quarterback will obviously be a consideration here but only wide receivers Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway and Tre’quan Smith are under contract, and there’s no guarantee Thomas will be back. Williams, who had to transfer out of Ohio State to see the field, was electric this season for ‘Bama.

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Michigan

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 250 lbs

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Projected Team

Baltimore

PROSPECT RNK

60th

POSITION RNK

6th

Prior to the semifinal loss to Georgia, Ojabo was a lot of fun to watch this season, where he took advantage of every opportunity playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. But don’t get it twisted — he’s a twitchy edge rusher who will only get better with experience. In Baltimore, he’ll join another athletic marvel, 2021 first-round edge rusher Odafe Oweh, who has had some jaw-dropping plays as a rookie.

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Liberty

• Jr

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• 6’1″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

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Pittsburgh

PROSPECT RNK

30th

POSITION RNK

3rd

We have a second-round grade on Willis but — and stop us if you’ve heard this already — that doesn’t mean teams looking for a quarterback won’t take one 15 to 30 picks before perhaps they should. It sure feels like the Steelers would be content rolling with Mason Rudolph next year but it’s also early January and a whole lot can change over the next 3-4 months. If Pittsburgh does, in fact, target Willis, it has to be with the understanding that he’ll be a backup in ’22 while the team fixes a suspect offensive line. Willis has all the tools you look for in an athletic, strong-armed QB but he’s also extremely raw. It would be reckless to throw him into the lineup as a rookie.

Florida

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 196 lbs

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Projected Team

Las Vegas

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PROSPECT RNK

26th

POSITION RNK

4th

The Raiders’ secondary has had some bright spots among its young players — rookies Trevon Moehrig and Nate Hobbs have flashed — but the team also cut 2020 first-rounder Damon Arnette this season and could lose several veterans to free agency. Meanwhile, it was a forgettable season for the Gators but Elam’s talents were hard to miss. He has the size (6-foot-2, 190) and athleticism to be one of the best draft-eligible corners in ’21.

Ohio State

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• Sr

• 6’1″

/ 188 lbs

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Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

2nd

This likely won’t be a popular pick because the Eagles have used first-rounders on wide receivers the last two years, but they’ll only have four wideouts under contract after the season, and that includes J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Olave is one of the best route runners in this class and he’d be a nice complement to ’21 first-rounder DeVonta Smith.

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San Diego State

• Jr

• 6’5″

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/ 270 lbs

Thomas, who can play anywhere along the defensive line, set career bests in tackles for loss (20.5) and sacks (10.5) this season for the Aztecs, and he appears to just be scratching the surface on his abilities. He’s as good against the run as he is getting after the quarterback.

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Auburn

• Sr

• 6’0″

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/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

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PROSPECT RNK

33rd

POSITION RNK

5th

McCreary was the most consistent cornerback in college football this fall, and that’s all you want from that position, so while he lacks the high-end athleticism of some of the other names often mentioned as first-round talents, he’s rarely out of position and almost always making positive plays for his team.

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Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 325 lbs

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Projected Team

Miami

PROSPECT RNK

13th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Green can play either tackle or guard and he has the ability to be a Day 1 starter. He may have to kick inside but wherever he ends up, he’s the latest O-lineman drafted early by the Dolphins, who have tried to address the unit in recent drafts but not with the success they were hoping for.

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Georgia

• Sr

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• 6’0″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

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New England

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

1st

J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills have seen the majority of snaps at cornerback for the Patriots and Jackson is in the final year of his deal and he’ll be rightfully looking to get paid in the offseason. If the Pats want to add depth in the secondary, targeting a CB here would make sense. Kendrick is a first-round pick all day long, and he proved that again this season with Georgia after transferring from Clemson. The biggest issue for NFL teams will be off-field issues; if Kendrick has matured since his time with the Tigers, he’ll be worthy of a top 32 selection.

Arkansas

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 225 lbs

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Projected Team

Arizona

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PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

4th

At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Burks has all the tools to eventually be WR1, as was evidenced just about every week in the fall. The Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins (whose season is over because of injury) and Rondale Moore but Christian Kirk is in the final year of his deal and Arizona can move on from AJ Green after the season, if they so choose.

Cincinnati

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• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 188 lbs

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Projected Team

Buffalo

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Levi Wallace is in the final year of his deal and Dane Jackson has been serviceable as his playing time increased following Tre White’s season-ending injury. That said, beefing up the secondary would be reasonable here. Sauce Gardner is a long, press corner, who would have a chance to play immediately in Buffalo.

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Kentucky

• Sr

• 6’5″

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/ 345 lbs

Projected Team

Cincinnati

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PROSPECT RNK

41st

POSITION RNK

1st

Repeat it with me: PROTECT JOE BURROW AT ALL COSTS. Kinnard is a mauler who plays with an edge and he can wreak havoc as both a run and pass-blocker. Cincy made the right decision by taking Ja’Marr Chase but bolstering the O-line is priority No. 1 this offseason.

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Utah

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 235 lbs

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Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

1st

Lloyd is a twitchy, sideline-to-sideline player who fits the mold of off-ball linebackers we’ve seen coming into the league over the last decade. You might note that the Cowboys just drafted Micah Parsons, who excelled as an off-ball linebacker at Penn State, but has emerged as one of the most explosive edge rushers in the NFL. Adding Lloyd can take a suddenly good defense and make it great.

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Penn State

• Sr

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• 5’11”

/ 184 lbs

Projected Team

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Tampa Bay

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

3rd

So, yeah, it appears Antonio Brown’s NFL career ended abruptly Sunday, and suddenly a very deep Bucs team is surprisingly light, especially at wide receiver. Chris Godwin, who was on the franchise tag, tore his ACL last month, and now the team will move forward with Mike Evans, and names like Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson. Dotson might not break many tackles but that suggests defenders will be able to get a hand on him first.

Washington

• Soph

• 5’11”

/ 195 lbs

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Projected Team

Kansas City

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PROSPECT RNK

50th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, we get Tyrann Mathieu vibes when we watch him. We love him as a slot corner who serves as an enforcer in run support and locks down short and intermediate routes, something he did regularly for the Huskies in ’21.

USC

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• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 210 lbs

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Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

5th

By the time we get to the actual draft, we’ll much more clarity on what the Lions’ QB plans might look like, though it feels like Jared Goff’s job in ’22. With its second first-rounder, we have Detroit adding London, who was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season. He won’t run a 4.3 but London is a high-point-catch machine who can take over games, and we love the idea of him playing alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has been a bright spot in the Lions’ passing game.

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Washington

• Jr

• 6’7″

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/ 310 lbs

Projected Team

Tennessee

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PROSPECT RNK

28th

POSITION RNK

4th

Kirkland was the cornerstone of the Huskies’ offensive line and has a chance to be a first-round talent. He may have to kick inside in Tennessee where the O-line has been an issue all season.

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Houston

• Jr

• 6’6″

/ 275 lbs

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Last spring, some people were surprised Payton Turner made his way into Round 1. Don’t be shocked if his Houston teammate, Logan Hall, follows a similar path. He was unblockable at times this season and at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, he can line up just about anywhere.



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PSG need Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on the same page to reach their full potential

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Paris Saint-Germain beat Montpellier HSC 5-2 at Parc des Princes on Saturday to open an early two-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit. Neymar scored twice while Kylian Mbappe opened his account for the season, despite missing a penalty. Yet, the post-match focus was on the hints of tension between the superstar pair.

The Brazilian currently tops both the Championnat goal scoring and assist providing charts with three apiece after an opening day 5-0 win away at Clermont Foot 63 was followed up by the Montpellier drubbing. The Frenchman has taken longer to get going after a domestic suspension from last campaign kept him out of the Trophee des Champions before injury ruled him out against Clermont.

Now that both are back on the pitch along with Lionel Messi, who has also returned to action this term looking focused and in good shape, we are getting our first competitive look at the new balance of power in the capital. The hope, obviously, is that year two will prove to be more harmonious than the big tree’s uneven first go-around. But, no sooner had Mbappe extended his stay with PSG, then reports surfaced suggesting that Neymar was on his way out as part of a major cleanup operation.

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Once Luis Campos was appointed sporting advisor after Leonardo’s departure as sporting director and Christophe Galtier replaced Mauricio Pochettino as head coach, the door was left open to Neymar to play his way back into favor. However, it was abundantly clear that Les Parisiens would field offers for the €225 million man — assuming any arrived.

Despite links with Manchester City, which Pep Guardiola shot down himself, it was always going to be difficult to find any suitors capable of paying a fee for Neymar and covering his PSG salary without this sort of uptick in form. Whether it is enough to convince a club to go all in for the South American this month is doubtful, but his form and conduct so far have been impeccable under Galtier.

“Since July 4, Neymar has been beyond reproach,” said the 55-year-old. “He behaves well, came back ready and prepared well. He is performing very well in all our games. He is happy during those matches and plays for his teammates. He is opportunist with his goals. He works well for the team and in this system that is a must. Regarding what happens between now and the end of the transfer window, I see what is being written. Everyone is satisfied with Neymar regarding his investment.”

Factor in his two-goal haul against FC Nantes in the Trophee des Champions in Tel Aviv before the Ligue 1 season got underway and Neymar has five goals and three assists already this campaign. Two of those strikes have been penalties, admittedly, but it is not just his stats which have impressed Galtier — it is his overall work rate and attitude matching the expectations set upon arrival.

“That he must work for the team,” said the Frenchman of the challenge he set the mercurial No. 10. “We know that he is talented and a world class player. He is one of the best and he performs very well when he is physically and mentally well. He works for the team and puts in good displays. This system needs balance, and he is responding to that. You must be demanding defensively when you lose the ball. Collectively, he knows how to play with his teammates.”

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The worry for PSG is that this is part of Neymar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup preparation phase, with his hot form just as likely to dry up post-Qatar and midway through the current term, instead of lasting for the duration of the season. The same could be said of Messi who has three goals and an assist from three competitive outings so far.

Ultimately, if nobody makes an offer for Neymar which PSG would be willing to accept, debate is futile as he will remain in Paris. Mbappe’s early tensions are understandable given his suspension and injury-hit opening, but there can be no doubting that the team are much better off having two of their three attacking stars firing this early in the campaign while he gets up to speed.

Besides, given Mbappe’s ability to carry this PSG side of the past 12-18 months, getting the best out of him will have been the least of Galtier’s worries. Finding the best way for Mbappe, Neymar and Messi to coexist will now be the key as Campos continues to rebuild the squad with further transfer activity expected this week as the atmosphere within the group receives fresh oxygen.



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The Angels Engineered An Epic Collapse Monday Night

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While the New York Yankees have been sliding, they at least have the comfort of knowing that they’re 10 games ahead in the American League East.

For the Los Angeles Angels, not so much.

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They have been on an epic slide since the end of May and have completely lost their way after a hot start to the season.

At 51-65, there really is no hope at this point for the Halos.

And it keeps going from bad to worse.

The Angels lost another one last night to the Seattle Mariners, and one inning in the game stood out, which ultimately sums up the way their season has gone.

Defense was nowhere to be found, mistakes were being made, and the Mariners kept tacking on more runs.

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Halos Break Down At Crucial Moment

There’s “down bad” and then there’s what took place for the Angels in the top of the ninth last night.

Errors, letting a runner who was caught in a rundown slip by, and just all around back luck is what sunk the Angels in last night’s game.

Can it get any worse for the Halos?

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Obviously, it can.

It ultimately sums up the way the 2022 season has gone for the Angels.

Things began to go south at the end of May, and they haven’t found a way to get it going again.

Firing Joe Maddon didn’t help at all.

And last night, their defensive breakdown wasted another great outing by Shohei Ohtani, who held the Mariners to two runs over six innings and struck out eight.

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It was a collapse of epic proportions for the Halos.

Now, they find themselves 14 games below the .500 mark with no hope of breaking out of their funk.

The post The Angels Engineered An Epic Collapse Monday Night appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Zion Williamson Has His Return On The Schedule

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Fans of the New Orleans Pelicans have been eagerly anticipating the start of the 2022-23 season.

It’s not just because the team did surprisingly well last year and it feels like great things are on the horizon.

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No, followers of the Pels are elated because 2022 will mark the return of the team’s centerpiece, Zion Williamson.

Williamson has been away from the game for more than a year as he has rehabbed from a serious foot injury but he looks ready to go.

Now we know when he will fire up his engines once again.

On October 19, the Pelicans will face off against the Brooklyn Nets in New York.

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This will be the first time that fans have seen Williamson play in ages – and it will also be the first time that Ben Simmons has ever suited up for his Nets.

This is going to be must-see TV.

 

Winning With Williamson

There is a lot riding on Williamson’s return to his team.

The squad showed an awful lot of promise without him but they are very excited to have him back, healthier and stronger than ever.

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If the team was able to make the playoffs last season without Williamson, imagine what they can accomplish when he is back and tearing through the competition like a runaway freight train.

As for the Nets, opening night will be interesting because it will have Simmons finally playing for the team – but he might be missing his two biggest co-stars.

We don’t know what is happening with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but there is a good chance neither player is on the Nets’ roster when the new season starts.

As you can see, this scheduled game will have plenty of reasons to watch.

The post Zion Williamson Has His Return On The Schedule appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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