Tag:Patriots
Posted on: July 26, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Ten impactful UDFA signings thus far

Over the past 16 hours or so I've watched as veteran NFL reporters all over the country have taken to undrafted free agency with a feeding frenzy to try to capture the excitement that the scouts and fans all feel now that football is back.

As such, we're seeing undrafted free agents from Goofball State that have very limited chance at actually making an NFL roster being celebrated as if they were a team's first round pick. The reality is that many of the players being signed and celebrated today won't last long.

There are plenty of exceptions, however. These are the ten impactful free agent signings as I see them this morning.

NGs Ian Williams/Sealver Siliga -- 49ers: With incumbent starter Aubrayo Franklin likely to leave via free agency, the 49ers had a hole up front. Williams and Siliga were the two best interior run stuffers available in my opinion. In adding both of them, San Francisco helped themselves at this position as much as could be expected at this early point in the process.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher -- Bears: Sanzenbacher wasn't my highest rated WR available in undrafted free agency (Terrance Toliver was -- he reportedly signed with Houston), but he is a perfect fit for a Mike Martz offense due to his sharp route-running, toughness and reliable hands. Sanzenbacher can make this team and he'll do so by becoming one of Jay Cutler's favorite targets.

QB Adam Weber -- Broncos: Signing Weber almost surely means that the Broncos are going to attempt to move veteran Kyle Orton. I know that Weber was being looked at by a number of teams. He doesn't possess the ideal measureables as he's shorter and owns less of an arm than some talents available, but he's a gutty gunslinger who I could see sticking.

DE Brandon Bair -- Chiefs: I've been quite critical of several of the Chiefs' decisions with their 2011 draft class, but I love the signing of Bair as a developmental defensive end for their 3-4 scheme. Physically and mentally tough, he'll fit right in with this club.

TE Mike McNeill -- Colts: Colts fans saw how relatively easy it was for Indianapolis to continue to feature their athletic tight ends even after losing Dallas Clark to injury because Jacob Tamme is a receiver hybrid with good hands and athleticism. McNeill is cut from the same cloth.

RB Graig Cooper -- Eagles: It isn't that I think Cooper is going to wrestle away significant playing time from LeSean McCoy any time soon, but Cooper (when healthy) has shown starting caliber traits. Cooper is one of several nice signings by Philadelphia.

WRs Kerry Taylor/Tori Gurley -- Packers: The Packers are likely to get some competition for the rights to James Jones and love to push their incumbent receivers with young talent. Taylor and Gurley are each talented players who struggled with injury and inconsistency throuhgout their respective careers but could surprise.

LB Jeff Tarpinian -- Patriots: I spoke to several teams in the days preceding the draft that thought Tarpinian could go as high as the fifth round due to the relative lack of talent at linebacker in this class. Injuries pushed him to free agency. The Patriots could get rewarded for this gamble.

DE Pierre Allen -- Seahawks: Allen was viewed as a 4th-5th round pick by NFLDraftScout.com for much of the pre-draft process, but a nagging hamstring injury kept him from running prior to the draft. As such, he slipped into free agency. Seattle has a myriad of needs, but few loom larger than along the defensive line. Allen could be the crown jewel of what appears to be one of the better free agent classes in the league. 

RB John Clay -- Steelers: A perfect schematic fit, the bruising Clay would give the Steelers the interior power runner that they've often featured in Pittsburgh. If he's motivated (and he certainly should be), Clay could add a degree of size and physicality to this running game.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:36 pm
 

Mallett in New England

Shock ran through Radio City Music Hall when Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett was selected by New England with the 74th overall pick in the third round.

In a very shrewd move, the Patriots leaked out the upcoming pick to Michael Lombardi of NFL Network, hoping to get suitors to trade down while the team made its first of two consecutive moves. With no calls coming, or at least none worth making a move for, GM/Head Coach Bill Belichick selected the troubled Mallett, whose talent could not overshadow his off-field troubles.

Now Belichick simply has an asset in Mallett to keep or move over the next two years, a Brady clone of sorts in terms of his lack of mobility. If Mallett can mature and show enough in one of the next two pre-seasons for the team to get a second or first round pick from another team for his services.

And if something happens to Tom Brady where he's out for a long period of time again, Mallett could step in and perform if he's proven. His arm strength is proven, and he's shown the ability to read defenses like no other quarterback in the draft.

It's a solid investment at the right time of the draft.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter
Posted on: April 14, 2011 12:01 pm
 

New England Patriots draft preview

New England Patriots

   2010 record: 14-2, first place AFC East

 

2011 draft rundown

Nine total picks (round):

17 (1)

28 (1)

33 (2)

60 (2)

74 (3)

92 (3)

125(4)

159(5)

193(6)

 

Top needs

   Outside linebacker/pass rusher: The Patriots never got a consistent pass rush in 2010, as the mix of veterans Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich as well as second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham combined for just 10 sacks from the outside linebacker position. This year's draft is well-stocked with edge rushers, many well-suited for the outside spot in the 3-4. New England clearly needs to find a player from that group - whether moving up to get a guy like North Carolina's Robert Quinn or sitting tight at No. 17 to see who falls - to augment its lackluster and thoroughly ineffective pass rush.   

   Offensive line: With Logan Mankins (franchise player), Matt Light (free agent) and Nick Kaczur (back surgery that cost him all of 2010) having uncertain futures, and Stephen Neal having retired, the Patriots need to add young talent to the line.

   Wide receiver: As much as Tom Brady spread the ball around to his slot options and tight ends last season, he lacks a reliable force to stretch the field. Deion Branch and Wes Welker (on the last year of his contract) aren't getting any younger, bigger or faster. A developmental No. 1 receiver would be a nice addition.

   Quarterback: A serviceable backup to Tom Brady is always a concern, and Brian Hoyer is not a long-term solution.

First-round focus

   17th, 28th overall

   --Thanks to deals with Oakland (Richard Seymour), Carolina (during the 2010 draft, Panthers dealt this year's second-round pick to acquire New England's 2010 third-rounder, 76th overall, and drafted, gulp, Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards, who has been made a receiver) and Minnesota (Randy Moss), the Patriots are fully loaded with draft choices -- two picks in each of the first three rounds and seven in the top 125. That kind of bounty gives Bill Belichick all kinds of flexibility, and you can bet he'll find a way to parlay this year's overstock into a top-shelf pick or two in the 2012 draft. The extra picks might lend credence to the opinion that the franchise must look ahead to life after Tom Brady, and a recent two-day visit with Washington's Jake Locker suggests Belichick doesn't mind that thought out there -- spelling either draft-day trade traction or legitimate interest. The Patriots aren't without pressing needs, and their recent first-round history is sparkling. Their past two first-round picks, CB Devin McCourty (27th, 2010) and LB Jerod Mayo (10th, 2008), are centerpieces of a defense that could use another influx of athleticism in the defensive back eight. They also have key holes to fill on the offensive line. Left tackle Matt Light (unrestricted free agent) and guard Logan Mankins (franchise free agent) aren't guaranteed to be Patriots and guard Stephen Neal retired. An explosive pass rusher who can handle the complicated outside linebacker/defensive end role in the Patriots' scheme is needed. New England was 32nd in the NFL in third-down defense and Belichick has gambled -- and lost, repeatedly -- that his sum-of-parts philosophy would produce sacks from this position. The trouble is, the Patriots greatly value size over speed, and given draft hits such as Seymour, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren, don't bet on Belichick blinking and going up to get Texas A&M's Von Miller or North Carolina's Robert Quinn.

   Brady made the offense work just fine, thanks, without Moss thanks in large part to rookie TE tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. He still doesn't have a player most consider a true, prototype No. 1 receiver. The closest thing to it is Wes Welker, who Belichick prefers in the slot. Welker though is entering the final year of the five-year, $18.1 million deal he signed in 2007. He'd be a no-brainer top receiver on many teams. Sure, he turns 30 on May 1. But he averaged 108 catches in four seasons with the Patriots and his rapport with Brady is undeniable.

  

Eight names on the Patriots' board:

   DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson

   CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska

   C Mike Pouncey, Florida

   DE Cameron Jordan, California

   RB Mark Ingram, Alabama

   OLB Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue

   OL Danny Watkins, Baylor

   OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

  

--Jeff Reynolds, NFLDraftScout.com Senior Editor

Category: NFL Draft
Tags: Patriots
 
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:17 pm
 

Lions get 7th-round pick back

The Detroit Lions will still lose one pick in the 2012 draft, but have had a seventh-round pick this year reinstated following an appeal on tampering charges, the NFL Network reported.

Commissioner Roger Goodell penalized the Lions on Feb. 18 for comments defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who held the same role with Kansas City from 1995-2000, made about players still under contract with the Chiefs in February 2010.

"(Kansas City) keeps wanting to dump their players. I would like to be there to catch a lot of them because I know a couple of those guys," Cunningham told the Detroit Free Press before the start of free agency last offseason.

The paper also reported the Lions were cited for impermissible contact with S Jarrad Page, or his agent. Page was still under contract with the Chiefs but had requested a trade, and was dealt to New England last year.

Instead of a pick this year, the Lions will lose a pick in 2012, and must still exchange fifth-round picks this year (Kansas City gets Detroit's 140th overall pick and the Lions receive the Chiefs' 154th overall selection).

Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor

Posted on: March 21, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Trading places

The five or more trades made during the first round of the NFL Draft each year really ramp up the excitement and anticipation felt during the event. Given the talent available this year, there's no doubt that at least that many will be announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell from the Radio City Music Hall stage on April 28th.

How many trades occur may, in part, be determined by the optimism (or lack thereof) surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

If teams believe the matter will take a year or more to be settled in court, much like the 1987 work stoppage, they will have to assume the league will operate under 2010 rules for the upcoming season(s). That means no rookie wage scale and those initial contracts continuing to include large amounts of guaranteed money.

If, however, a rookie wage scale seems likely to be enacted before this year's draft class signs their deals, teams may be more willing to move up to get the player they want. Paying out $10-$20 million in signing and other guaranteed bonuses to a top-five selection is much more palatable than the $30-$50 million included in each high pick's contract last summer.

Either way, teams anxious to land their top-rated player will undoubtedly pull the trigger on a deal. Here are just six of many intriguing trade scenarios for the first round of this year's draft:

Dallas (#9) trades up for CB Patrick Peterson

Potential trade partners: Cincinnati (#4) or Cleveland (#6)
Possible price: Second-round (Cincinnati) or third-round (Cleveland) picks

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will find it difficult to stay in place if Peterson, the prototypical size/speed corner is still available after the top three selections. San Francisco seems a likely spot for Peterson to land if still available, so Jones will have to make a move to gain the type of star player he typically covets. The Bengals and Browns could easily move down and still pick up a fine pass rusher, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, one of the top two receivers, A.J Green and Julio Jones. Both teams could certainly use the extra picks to build roster depth.

St. Louis (#14) trades up for WR Julio Jones/A.J. Green

Potential trade partner: Dallas (#9)
Possible price: Third-round pick with a late-round sweetener

If the Cowboys aren't enamored with one of the top two cornerbacks (Prince Amukamara being the other), they could move down into the mid-first to pick up an offensive lineman or top five-technique defensive end like Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt. The Rams are obviously in the market for a playmaking receiver to help last year's number one selection, QB Sam Bradford, get the vertical game in gear. They'll need to get ahead of Washington, Houston (#11), and Minnesota (#12) to ensure they can secure the services of Jones or A.J. Green, whoever is still on the board.

San Diego (#18) trades up for DEs Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt

Potential trade partners: Tennessee (#8), Minnesota (#12), Detroit (#13)
Possible price: Early (Tennessee) or late (Minnesota/Detroit) second-round pick; may receive a late round pick in return

The Chargers have multiple free agents among their three-man rotation up front, and there's not a playmaker among them. With the extra second-round pick they received from the Jets in the (for CB Antonio Cromartie) and the extra third round pick brought in from Seattle (QB Charlie Whitehurst), General Manager A.J. Smith is in a position to move into the top ten if he so chooses. Jordan and Watt have value to 4-3 and 3-4 teams, so Smith may need to go up higher than expected to land his guy.

Philadelphia (#23) trades up for OT Tyron Smith/Gabe Carimi

Potential trade partners:  Jacksonville (#16) or Tampa Bay (#20)
Possible price: Third-round and fourth-round picks

Andy Reid is never shy about moving up to get the offensive or defensive lineman he wants. Though Reid has preferred larger line prospects in the past, Smith's growing frame, strength and athleticism may catch the eye of new Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Carimi could also be the type of no-nonsense and strong right tackle Mudd wants to work with going forward, and probably brings a cheaper price tag.

New York Jets (#30) trade up for OLB Jabaal Sheard

Potential trade partner: Philadelphia (#23) or Baltimore (#26)
Possible price: Third-round pick, possibly with a late-round sweetener

Sheard's stock is on the rise, and he would fit in some 4-3 schemes in addition to projecting to a strong, relentless 3-4 rush linebacker. If fellow 3-4 teams New England (#17) and San Diego (#18) don't snap him up, Rex Ryan and company would trade a third-round selection along with another late pick to make sure the Saints (#24), Falcons (#27) or Patriots (#28) don't put Sheard's name on their cards.

Washington (#41) trades up for QBs Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or Ryan Mallett

Potential trade partners: New Orleans (#24) or New England (#28)
Possible price: Future second-round pick and current fifth round pick

If Washington owner Daniel Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan don't believe one of the second-tier quarterback prospects are worth selecting in the top ten, they may trade up to find a signal caller late in the first. A falling Locker would be a nice get for Shanahan, who could consider him a Jay Cutler-type prospect who he could mold into an NFL quarterback. The vertical arm strength of a Mallett or moxie/intelligence of Ponder could also entice the duo leading the Redskins to make a deal.

One barrier to this move is Washington's lack of third or fourth round pick this year due to previous trades for OT Jammal Brown and QB Donovan McNabb. Any teams accepting future picks from organizations like Washington desperate to make a move would have to assume there will be a 2012 draft, or at least make the trade conditional so they would receive their trade partner's second-round pick in the next draft, no matter when it may occur.

--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analust Chad Reuter

Posted on: March 15, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Pouncey "a star," Black slow at Florida Pro Day

All 32 NFL teams were on hand to see Mike Pouncey and the rest of the Florida Gators go through their Pro Day today in Gainesville.

Pouncey was the unquestioned center attraction at the event, as numerous offensive line coaches attended the event, as well as general managers (Jacksonville's Gene Smith) and head coaches (New England's Bill Belichick). The Jaguars' Andy Heck, Bears' Mike Tice, and Steelers' Sean Kugler were among the offensive line coaches in attendance.

Pouncey did not do any of the timed drills after a strong performance at the Scouting Combine, but did do 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.

He also performed very well in positional drills, according to a scout on hand for the workout. The scout characterized Pouncey as "a star" and said, "He is everything you're looking for in an interior lineman. He's a carbon copy of his brother."

Mike's brother, of course, is the Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey, who earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team with a standout rookie season at center for the AFC Champions.

Pouncey, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated interior lineman , is currently projected to be the No. 22 pick in the 2011 draft by the Indianapolis Colts in my recent mock draft. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter has him going 25th overall to the Seattle Seahawks .

This is a relatively down year of prospects for the Gators, with only two other Florida prospects being viewed as potential middle round prospects.

Another lineman, Marcus Gilbert, could make the third round. The 6-6, 330 pounder helped his cause, according to the scout with a solid performance today. A left tackle for the Gators, he projects best on the right side in the NFL.

Perhaps the player with the most on the line in today's workout was safety Ahmad Black. The diminutive Black (5-09, 184) needed a strong workout today to erase the concerns that were raised at the Combine due to disappointing times in the 40-yard dash. Black registered between 4.70-4.82 at Indianapolis and wasn't much faster in Gainesville today, unfortunately.

Scouts love his instincts and penchant for the game-changing play, but in posting another pair of 4.7s in the forty (my source had him at 4.74, 4.76), he could slip to the last two rounds of the draft.

"The kid plays fast, there's no question. But at that size and speed, it is going to be tough to convince a DB coach to get on board during [draft] meetings," the source said about Black.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: December 28, 2010 11:36 am
 

My All-Rookie Team

As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, I was recently asked to fill out my ballot for the All-Rookie Team.

While I reserve the right to change players over the final week of the season (and welcome your review) , this is how I have things now.

Offensive Rookie of the Year : Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year : Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit
Overall Rookie of the Year : Suh

Offense
 
Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Rams: If he can go on the road and beat Seattle to win the NFC West, Bradford may overtake Williams as my Offensive ROY, but I'm not giving it to him just because he's a QB, went No. 1 and played well early. Bradford has faded late this year.

Running back: LaGarrette Blount, Bucs: Free agent leads all NFL rookies with 941 rushing yards while splitting duty.

Running back: Chris Ivory, Saints:
Can't overstate how vital of a role the free agent played with injuries to Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas.

Wide receiver: Mike Williams, Bucs:
Has been dynamic all year long. Leads rookie WRs in grabs (61), yards (924) and TDs (10).

Wide receiver: Dez Bryant, Cowboys:
Only started twice and injury sidelined him early but Dez was dazzling.

Tight end: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Second to Williams in receiving TDs as a rookie with nine; which leads the Patriots.

Center: Mike Pouncey, Steelers: Deserves some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration. A standout here since Day One.

Offensive guard: Mike Iupati, 49ers: A bit inconsistent, but has improved throughout the year and been one of SF's few bright spots.

Offensive guard: Ted Larsen, Bucs: Cut by Pats, signed by Bucs and has started the past 10 consecutive at LG for contending Bucs, giving him the edge over Zane Beadles in Denver.

Offensive tackle: Rodger Saffold, Rams: Overshadowed by Bradford, but has been quietly spectacular at LT this season.

Offensive tackle: Bryan Bulaga, Packers: Has been beaten at times, but versatility is key. Backup at LT, OG early. Has started last 10 at RT.


Defense

Defensive lineman: Carlos Dunlap, Bengals: Situational pass rusher (zero starts) for Bengals, but quietly is 2nd amongst rookies with 8 sacks. 

Defensive lineman: Ndamukong Suh, Lions: Leads all NFL defensive tackles -- not just rookies -- in tackles (60) and sacks (nine).

Defensive lineman: Tyson Alualu, Jaguars: A surprise at No. 10? Yes. A reach? No, considering he's 3rd amongst rookie DTs in tackles, 2nd in sacks.

Defensive lineman: Lamarr Houston, Raiders:
Similar #s, greater consistency, less help around him than Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.

Linebacker: Pat Angerer, Colts: Quietly leads all rookie linebackers in tackles this season (80).

Linebacker: Daryl Washington, Cardinals: Doesn't have Ro McClain's big name or even quite his stats, but has been more impressive this year.

Linebacker: Koa Misi, Dolphins: Overshadowed by Cameron Wake, but versatility standing out (36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD)

Cornerback: Devin McCourty, Patriots: In a typical year, he'd likely win the Defensive ROY. 81 tackles, 21 PBUs, 6 INTs, 2 FF for AFC's No. 1 seed.

Cornerback: Joe Haden, Browns: Similar numbers as McCourty - 58 tackles, 23 PBUs, 6 INTs, 1 FF.

Safety: Eric Berry, Chiefs: Gets nod over Earl Thomas as he's played better late for contending team. 84 tackles, 13 PBUs, 4 INTs, 1 FF, 1 TD.

Safety: TJ Ward, Browns:
Leads all rookies in tackles (116) and is second only to Suh in intimidation. Big hitter over the middle. 


Specialists

Placekicker: Clint Stitser, Bengals: 7 for 7 in FGs (though he's missed two PATs) since signing as UFA. Weak year for rookie kickers.

Punter: Zolton Mesko, Patriots: Unheralded component of Pats' success. Averaging 43 yards per and has zero blocked, returned for TDs against him.

Kickoff returner: Jacoby Ford, Raiders: Tied with Leon Washington for most kickoff return TDs this season (3).

Punt returner: Marc Mariani, Titans:
Better avg. on KOR than Ford; also dynamic as a punt returner. Has returned TDs both ways.


You can always expect the best coverage of the draft at NFLDraftScout.com.

Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:25 am
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