May 27, 2024


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Defense Strikes Back This Spring In Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Preview

Inside the Issue: Forecasting the NFL Draft as defenses look for ways to contain a wave of young quarterback stars; Can Major League Baseball recapture its buzz?; NBA’s Joel Embiid stepping up big; Sicilian rugby outlet offers hope; and more

NEW YORK, April 21, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–​The most valuable assets in this year’s NFL Drafts aren’t quarterbacks – it’s the guys who terrorize quarterbacks. Pass rushers will dominate the conversation at the NFL Draft, and two of the most talked-about projected top picks are Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Sports Illustrated senior Writers Pat Forde and Greg Bishop sat down exclusively with both athletes before the NFL Draft, beginning April 28. The Sports Illustrated NFL Draft Preview issue, available online today and in stores on April 21 also includes Tom Verducci on the better-late-than-never MLB season and Nationals hitting prodigy Juan Soto, the 76ers’ Joel Embiid Daily Cover by Chris Mannix, a look ahead to F1’s Miami moment, the National Women’s Soccer League still navigating last year’s fallout from Emma Baccellieri, and more.

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SI forecasts the NFL Draft as defenses look for ways to contain a wave of young quarterback stars in latest issue, on sale now. (Photo: Business Wire)

On the Cover
Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is known for going full-tilt all the time, but with the help of another UM legend – his dad – the predicted No. 1 pick is out to show that his pass-rushing skills are about much more than just max effort, according to Pat Forde. Likewise, Kayvon Thibodeaux has been carrying the weight of others’ expectations for years. Senior writer Greg Bishop reports that heading into the Draft he’s long been expected to dominate, the explosive Oregon edge rusher is taking back control of his story.

NFL Draft Preview
Senior writer Conor Orr takes us inside this year’s NFL Draft, a golden opportunity for defensive coordinators to load up on what they need most. Superhero quarterbacks are everywhere, and NFL offenses are operating with never-before-seen efficiency, but the defense strikes back this spring. This Draft, with increased urgency, is about defusing high-power offenses with unblockable, unstoppable pass rushers.

May Issue Features

  • Baseball Needs Some Buzz: Better late than never, MLB starts its season this month. Thanks to rule changes in the collective bargaining agreement that ended this winter’s lockout – and many others to come – the game will look much different over the next five years. It’s better because baseball’s future depends on its ability to bring some buzz back to the game, says Tom Verducci.

  • Confessions Of A Hitman: One player who can provide baseball some buzz is Juan Soto, who, at 23, already profiles as the greatest hitting prodigy since Ted Williams. The Nationals outfielder is more than a physical marvel – his hitting mind is as beautiful as his swing.

  • Center Of It All: It’s been a season of uncertainty for the Sixers, but Joel Embiid has been the team’s unshakeable anchor throughout. As the NBA playoffs near, the MVP candidate opens up to senior writer Chris Mannix on how he’s been able to ignore the distractions and remain focused on bringing a title to Philadelphia.

  • Weightier Goals: The National Women’s Soccer League is entering its 10th year, surpassing any of its predecessors, and it’s coming off a year of both triumph and turmoil. No club embodies the evolving state of the league more than the Washington Spirit – one of the founding teams that have played under conditions and in environments that have varied wildly over the last decade, writes Emma Baccellieri.

  • Club vs. Mafia: In a struggling Sicilian neighborhood at the base of Mount Etna, a small rugby club offers hope and opportunity in the face of rampant poverty and an entrenched culture of organized crime. According to Sean Williams, it’s also learning the cost of crossing the Mafia.

Also in this issue:

  • Leading Off: As the NHL playoffs near, we spotlight Connor McDavid, Nathan Mackinnon, Cale Makar and Auston Matthews as under-25 stars who routinely dominate regular season stat sheets but are still looking for their first postseason successes.

  • Michael Rosenberg on the long history of sports washing: the tried and true practice of problematic regimes using sports to distract from their problematic behavior.

  • Spotlight of two books from the SI family – Bob Harig’s “Tiger & Phil” and the SI partner publication “Strong Like a Woman.”

  • SI Eats: The Food Network chef Damaris Phillips offers the ultimate Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe.

  • SI Full Frame: A classic photo of Gordie Howe, a Canadian ice hockey player who retired for the first time at age 43.

  • Scientific proof that everything you thought you knew about your team’s mascot is wrong.

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