Here are 10 things to watch for during the three-day NFL draft beginning Thursday night:
COMMISSIONER HUGGY BEAR
How many hugs can Roger Goodell endure from all the burly offensive and defensive players expected to be selected in the first round? Last year, he embraced many first-round picks who took the stage and was nearly hugged into submission by the likes of Fletcher Cox, Dontari Poe and Melvin Ingram.
SHOW ME A QUARTERBACK
Will any quarterbacks be taken in the first round? Possibilities include Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and EJ Manuel, but this is far from the glamour year of 2012, when QBs were huge: Luck, No. 1; Robert Griffin III, No. 2; Ryan Tannehill (No. 8); Brandon Weeden (No. 22). The last time no quarterback was taken in round one was 1996 (Tony Banks was a second-rounder, No. 42, by the Rams); the last time only one was taken was 2001 (Michael Vick, first overall) and the last time two were taken was 2010 (Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow).
Fashionistas surely will be tracking the expensive, colorful designer suits, hairstyles (think dreadlocks) and even socks of the draftees as they take the stage after being selected. (Think Griffin, the Redskins' top pick in 2012, who wore a baby blue jacket, checkered-patterned shirt, purplish tie with horizontal stripes, and burgundy and gold socks with the words "GO CATCH YOUR DREAM."
When that will be exactly is anyone's guess. Some analysts have Notre Dame's All-American linebacker Manti Te'o back to being a first-round cinch, even after a great season was marred by a poor game against Alabama followed by the hoax involving a deceased "girlfriend." He did not perform well at the NFL combine, but did better at pro day in South Bend. ---
BEEFING UP EARLY
Watch for all the beef early in the first round. There's a chance seven of the first 10 picks could be really big fellas. Among them are offensive linemen Luke Joeckel (306 pounds), Eric Fisher (306), Chance Warmack (317), Lane Johnson (303) and Jonathan Cooper (311); and defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd (297) and Ziggy Ansah (271).
WILL TIDE ROLL AGAIN IN 1ST ROUND?
A year ago, the national champions had four players picked: RB Trent Richardson (No. 3), SS Mark Barron (No. 7), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (No.17) and LB Dont'a Hightower (No. 25). National champs again, there are five that could end up as first-rounders: Warmack, cornerback Dee Milliner, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, defensive tackle Jesse Williams, and running back Eddie Lacy.
--- FAMILY TIES
Every year, a slew of players with family ties to the NFL are draft eligible. This year is no exception, with a few dozen all-in-the-family connections. Among them are QBs Nate Montana (son of Joe Montana) and Jordan Rodgers (brother of Aaron Rodgers), Jake Ryan (son of Pat Ryan), Duron Carter (son of Cris Carter), Luke Tasker (son of Steve Tasker), Kyle Long (son of Howie Long, brother of Chris Long) and Baker Steinkuhler (son of Dean Steinkuhler).
HALL OF FAME PICKERS
A total of 32 former NFL players will be announcing second- and third-round picks for teams, including newly elected Hall of Famers Jonathan Ogden (Ravens), Warren Sapp (Buccaneers) and Dave Robinson (Packers). Others making picks for their former teams include Deion Sanders (Falcons) and Larry Little (Dolphins).
--- BEST STORYLINES
Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.
Hayden was moments from death last November after an on-field collision with a teammate tore a blood vessel off the back of his heart. He was taken to a hospital, underwent lifesaving surgery, and now could be a first-round pick. He ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at Houston's pro day in March, and now he'll wait to see if a team believes his talent and speed is worth the risk.
In 2011, Lattimore tore the ACL in his left knee midway through the season. He returned last year, and in October, the star running back suffered a horrific injury to his right knee against Tennessee - it was dislocated and ligaments were damaged as he was tackled. He had surgery a month later, continued rehabbing, and at South Carolina's pro day recently he impressed NFL scouts so much they applauded after his workout. He says he's confident he'll be ready to play when the 2013 season starts.
As the draft draws to a close Saturday, the fun revs up with the final pick, aka Mr. Irrelevant. As they did last year, the Colts have the honor at pick No. 254. Last year, they went for Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish (Andrew Luck was the Colts' other QB pick - at No. 1 overall). The last pick will be awarded the Lowsman (opposite of Heisman) Trophy during a weeklong celebration at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, Calif. In 2012, Harnish's first trip to California included golf at Big Canyon Country Club, a visit to Disneyland and parties galore. The founder of Irrelevant Week is Paul Salata, a former USC and NFL receiver. The first Mr. Irrelevant was WR Kelvin Kirk in 1976.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Yadier Molina drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning, backing Shelby Miller's strong start last night, and the St. Louis Cardinals returned to the site of their Game 5 NL division series victory last season with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
The other big hit for St. Louis was Allen Craig's two-run double in the third.
Miller (3-1) struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and four hits.
All the Cardinals' runs came against Dan Haren (1-3), who gave up three runs and six hits in five-plus innings.
Edward Mujica pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save. The Cardinals have alternated wins and losses over their last nine games.
Washington has lost seven of 10.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run to break the game open in the eighth inning and lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night.
Mike Adams (1-1) tossed a scoreless eighth inning to help the Phillies split the four-game series. The Phillies snapped a 3-3 tie with a four-run eighth that put the game away.
Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an infield single off reliever Mitchell Boggs (0-2). Dom Brown singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Ben Revere made it 4-3 on a go-ahead single up the middle.
Kratz then hit the first pitch deep into the left-field seats for a three-run homer and a 7-3 lead.
Week 1 – Arizona 9/8 @ 3:25
Week 2 – at Atlanta 9/15 @ noon
Week 3 – at Dallas 9/22 @ noon
Week 4 – 49ers (Thursday) 9/26 @ 7:25
Week 5 – Jacksonville 10/6 @ noon
Week 6 – at Houston 10/13 @ noon
Week 7 – at Carolina 10/20 @ noon
Week 8 – Seattle (Monday) 10/28 @ 7:30
Week 9 – Tennessee 11/3 @ noon
Week 10 – at Indianapolis 11/10 @ noon
Week 11 – BYE 11/17
Week 12 – Chicago 11/24 @ noon
Week 13 – at SF 12/1 @ 3:25
Week 14 – at Arizona 12/8 @ 3:25
Week 15 – New Orleans 12/15 @ noon
Week 16 – Tampa 12/22 @ noon
Week 17 – at Seattle 12/29 @ 3:25
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Brian Elliott stopped all three chances in a shootout for the second straight game, bouncing back after a late goal denied him a fourth shutout this month, and the St. Louis Blues beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 last night to step closer to a playoff berth.
Radim Vrbata's power-play goal tied it with 1:07 to go. The Coyotes, who were blanked 4-0 on Monday by the Sharks, capitalized on a boarding penalty against Blues captain David Backes.
Andy McDonald was the first to go in the shootout and got the only goal, beating Chad Johnson.
David Perron scored his first goal in 17 games for the offensively challenged Blues, who have scored two or fewer goals in 12 of their last 16 games. They've won 10 of those games thanks to tight defense and strong play in goal. They are 5-1 in shootouts.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Carlos Beltran hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth, Adam Wainwright pitched seven solid innings and the St. Louis Cardinals escaped a ninth-inning jam for a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies last night.
Philadelphia put runners at first and third with nobody out against Edward Mujica, but the fill-in closer retired three straight batters to preserve the victory.
Yadier Molina went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for the Cardinals, who had seven hits one night after getting held to Beltran's seventh-inning double in a 5-0 loss to A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wainwright (3-1) wasn't as sharp as his previous start, when he pitched a four-hitter and matched a career high with 12 strikeouts Saturday in an 8-0 win over Milwaukee, but he was still effective.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A.J. Burnett took a no-hitter into the seventh inning nearly 12 years after throwing the only one of his career, pitching the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Burnett (1-2) lost his bid with two outs in the seventh on Carlos Beltran's double to right-center. That was the lone hit given up by the 36-year-old right-hander in seven dominant innings.
The only other runner he allowed came when he hit Daniel Descalso with a 2-2 pitch with one out in the sixth to end his shot at a perfect game. Burnett struck out eight to raise his season total to 35 in 24 innings.
His bid for a no-hitter came on a night when he recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his 15-year career. Burnett reached the milestone when he caught Beltran looking to lead off the second.
The voice of football. The NFL's narrator for generations. A master of restraint.
Pat Summerall soothed American television audiences over four decades — his deep, resonant voice and simple, understated style served as the perfect complement to the boisterous enthusiasm of John Madden, his partner in a celebrated pairing that lasted half of the NFL player-turned-announcer's career.
Summerall died Tuesday at age 82 of cardiac arrest, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center spokesman Jeff Carlton said, speaking on behalf of Summerall's wife, Cheri.
Summerall called 16 Super Bowls and became such a large part of the NFL that it was easy to forget he was the leading voice of the Masters and the U.S. Open tennis tournament, as well.
"He was royalty in the broadcast booth," Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
His final play-by-play words beside Madden were succinct, of course, as he called the game-ending field goal of the Super Bowl for Fox on Feb. 3, 2002, when New England beat St. Louis 20-17.
"It's right down the pipe. Adam Vinatieri. No time on the clock. And the Patriots have won Super Bowl XXXVI. Unbelievable," Summerall said.
Sparse, exciting, perfect. A flawless summation without distracting from the reaction viewers could see on the screen.
At the end of their final broadcast together, Madden described Summerall as "a treasure" and the "spirit of the National Football League" in a tribute to the partner that the former Oakland Raiders coach badly wanted to keep — and did — when he had to switch networks 20 years ago.
"Pat was my broadcasting partner for a long time, but more than that he was my friend for all of these years," Madden said in a statement Tuesday. "Pat Summerall is the voice of football and always will be."
Summerall played 10 NFL seasons from 1952 to 1961 with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants, but it was in his second career that he became a voice familiar to generations of sports fans, not only those of the NFL.
"Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years," CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist said. "He was a master of restraint in his commentary, an example for all of us. He was also one of the great storytellers who ever spoke into a microphone."
Summerall started doing NFL games for CBS in 1964, and became a play-by-play guy 10 years later. He was also part of coverage of the PGA Tour, including the Masters from 1968-94, and U.S. Open tennis.
When CBS lost its NFL deal after the 1993 season, Summerall switched to Fox to keep calling NFL games with Madden. Summerall had hoped to keep working with CBS for other events like the Masters, but network executives saw it otherwise. At the time, CBS Sports anchor Jim Nantz said he was "very saddened" that Summerall didn't get to leave CBS under his own terms.
"Pat Summerall was a hero to me," Nantz said Tuesday. "I treasured the gift of friendship that I had with him. I was his understudy for 10 years. He could not have been more generous or kind to a young broadcaster."
A recovering alcoholic, Summerall had a liver transplant in April 2004. The lifesaving surgery was necessary even after 12 years of sobriety.
After an intervention involving, among others, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, former CBS Sports President Peter Lund and former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beaman, Summerall checked into the Betty Ford Clinic in April 1992.
"I had no intention of quitting, I was having too good a time," Summerall said in a 2000 Associated Press story. "The prescribed stay at Betty Ford is 28 days. They kept me 33 because I was so angry at the people who did the intervention, the first five days didn't do me any good."
Summerall received the liver of a 13-year-old junior high football player from Arkansas who died unexpectedly from an aneurysm. Summerall had an emotional meeting with the teenager's family the following year.
"He always had a joke," Madden said. "Pat never complained and we never had an unhappy moment. He was something very special."
Summerall often shared his testimony with Christian groups and told his story when speaking before other organizations. In his 2006 book, "Summerall: On and Off The Air," he frankly discussed his personal struggles and professional successes.
Long before broadcasting Super Bowl games, 16 for television and 10 more for radio — in fact, before there was even a Super Bowl — Summerall played a role in what is known in football circles as "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the 1958 NFL championship. The Giants lost to the Baltimore Colts 23-17 in the NFL's first-ever overtime game.
"Pat Summerall was one of the best friends and greatest contributors that the NFL has known," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "His majestic voice was treasured by millions of NFL fans for more than four decades. It is a sad day in the NFL."
Born George Allen Summerall on May 10, 1930, in Lake City, Fla., he was an all-state prep football and basketball player there, and lettered in baseball and tennis. He played college football at Arkansas before going to the NFL.
After breaking his arm in the preseason as a rookie for Detroit, Summerall played five years for the Chicago Cardinals before four seasons with the Giants. While he was also a defensive back, Summerall was primarily a kicker, making 100 field goals and 256 of 265 extra points in his career.
The most famous was a 49-yarder through the wind and snow at Yankee Stadium that gave the Giants a 13-10 victory against the Cleveland Browns. The win gave the Giants the home field for a rematch with Cleveland in the playoffs, and a win in that game put New York in the famous title game against Baltimore.
"Pat will always be a great Giant," team president John Mara said Tuesday. "He was one of my father's favorites, and his game-winning kick in the snow against the Browns in 1958 is one of the most memorable plays in our franchise's history."
In a story distributed by the Giants, former teammate Frank Gifford — a longtime broadcaster himself — said Summerall was an underrated player because coach Jim Lee Howell and offensive assistant Vince Lombardi wanted to preserve him for kicking.
"Lombardi didn't want him to get hurt," Gifford said. "But we didn't need him as a football player, we needed him as a kicker. I was going both ways and doing the kicking, too. We picked him up from the Cardinals and that was the end of my kicking career."
When asked about his fondest NFL memories during a May 2009 interview with the AP, Summerall said there were things that stood out as a player and broadcaster.
"You always remember the days as a player. I was in four championship games before there was a Super Bowl, so I remember those very well," he said. "Broadcasting, I remember the last (Super Bowl) I did. Of course, I remember that. I remember the first one most vividly than any of the rest."
Summerall was part of the CBS broadcast of the inaugural Super Bowl in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, 1967. After working the first half in the broadcast booth, he switched places with Gifford at halftime and was a sideline reporter during the second half.
"To look at the Coliseum that day and see that there were like 40,000 empty seats and the most expensive ticket was $12, it's incredible to realize what was going on and what it's grown to over the years," he said during the 2009 AP interview. "It's sort of staggering to me."
Summerall, who spent his final years in the Dallas area, living in Southlake, was a member of the North Texas Super Bowl host committee for the game played there in February 2011 in the $1.1 billion Cowboys Stadium that opened in 2009.
"His presence at an NFL game elevated that event to a higher level," Jones said. "There is no question that Pat broadcast more Dallas games on CBS and FOX than any other man, and this is a great loss for thousands of Cowboys fans who spent their Sunday afternoons in the living room with Pat."
Summerall became a play-by-play announcer in 1974, and it was strictly by accident. He was working with Jack Buck, and CBS boss Bob Wussler thought the two commentators sounded too much alike. Summerall told Wussler that if a change was going to be made that he'd like to do play-by-play, and the following Sunday that's what Summerall was doing.
After his final game with Madden, Summerall remained a full-time broadcaster for Fox one more season, doing primarily Dallas Cowboys games during the 2002 season. He decided to step down the following year when he realized he would spend most of the season away from home.
Summerall did a handful of NFL games for Fox and ESPN the next few seasons. He did play-by-play for Fox's broadcast of the Cotton Bowl's games from 2007-10, then for the bowl's 75th anniversary in January 2011 conducted interviews as part of the pregame show and game broadcast. He also had voiceovers that were part of Masters broadcasts for CBS and game broadcasts on NFL Network.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jake Westbrook still hasn't figured out the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For a day anyway, it didn't matter.
Pittsburgh roughed up the St. Louis Cardinals veteran righthander with four first-inning runs on Tuesday, but a violent thunderstorm storm hit at the end of the second inning and the game was called following a delay of 1 hour, 24 minutes with the Pirates leading 4-2. No makeup date was immediately announced.
Westbrook began the night looking for his 100th career win facing a team he is just 1-7 against. Those numbers didn't appear to get any better after the Pirates turned five consecutive singles into four runs.
The cancellation Westbrook to reset his ERA to this season 0.00 and buy him some time to get a handle on the Pirates.
"It was just one of those things that I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be," Westbrook said.
Westbrook added it's a little strange his nemesis is a team that isn't exactly known for its firepower.
"I wish I could put my finger on it," he said. "I think I had this conversation last year ... it's not like we don't face these guys again. I've got to do my work to figure out what I need to do to get these guys out. I've got to make better pitches."
Manager Mike Matheny said there are no plans to alter the rotation despite the cancellation. Westbrook's next scheduled start is Sunday in Philadelphia. After that Westbrook would face the Pirates in St. Louis on April 27.
Pittsburgh starter Jonathan Sanchez - who came in with a 12.96 ERA - allowed two runs in the first inning but retired the side in order in the second.
Matt Holliday had an RBI single for St. Louis. Garrett Jones, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez all had RBI singles for Pittsburgh. None of it will count, however, and the game will be replayed in its entirety.
The cancellation allows Pittsburgh's depleted bullpen to get a needed day of rest. The Pirates called up reliever Vin Mazzaro from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday for some help after starter James McDonald managed to get through just 1 1-3 innings in a 10-6 loss to the Cardinals on Monday, forcing long relievers Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris to work a combined 6 1-3 innings.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle hoped Sanchez - who made the team out of spring training as a non-roster invitee - would be able work deep enough to get to the setup guys. It hasn't been the best start to the season for the left-hander. He was roughed up by Arizona in his previous start, allowing nine runs in 3 1-3 innings.
It looked like more of the same in the first inning Tuesday. St. Louis spring training star Shane Robinson made his first start of the season and walked on four pitches to start the game. Carlos Beltran followed with a single two pitches later and Holliday dumped Sanchez's next offering into center, bringing home Robinson.
Allen Craig lined out to shortstop Clint Barmes, but the typically solid Barmes made his second error in as many days when his attempt to double off Beltran at second ended up in right field.
Beltran moved to third and then scored on Yadier Molina's grounder to first.
Westbrook began the night 2-0 with zero earned runs charged to him in 15 2-3 innings this season. It didn't take long for Pittsburgh to break through.
Jose Tabata singled with one out, the first of five straight singles by the Pirates. A rare gaffe by the St. Louis defense helped. With runners on first and third and one out, Russell Martin hit a chopper back to the mound and Westbrook threw to second to try and start a double play. Second baseman Matt Carpenter was late covering and was charged with an error when the ball sailed into center as Walker scored.
Both pitchers settled down in the second before the rain started falling.
The series wraps up Wednesday when Pittsburgh RHP A.J. Burnett (0-2, 3.71 ERA) faces Shelby Miller (2-0, 1.46).
Before the game, the Pirates held a moment of silence for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jon Jay and Matt Holliday each had two hits and two RBIs as the St. Louis Cardinals jumped on the Pittsburgh Pirates early in a 10-6 victory Monday night.
Allen Craig doubled and drove in three runs for the Cardinals, who knocked around James McDonald (1-2) with a seven-run second inning. McDonald gave up eight runs, three earned, and walked two in 1 1-3 innings, the shortest start of his career.
Lance Lynn (2-0) labored through five innings to get the win. Lynn allowed four runs, walking three and striking out four.
Starling Marte had three hits and Neil Walker homered for the Pirates, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.