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Archive for February, 2011

College Prospect Evaluation: Running Back

With just a little over two months until the annual NFL draft, the college scouting and evaluation process is in full swing. The NFL combine event will be held Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1st at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More than 300 top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the event. Hopefully, these evaluations will give all fans some ideas of who to focus on at each position of need. Be sure to comment and let me know who you might be interested in.

Position: Running Back

Need Ranking: 4th

Top 5 Prospects –

Mark Ingram: 5’10 – 212 (Alabama) – Far and away the highest rated running back prospect in this years draft. Ingram, winner of the 2009 Heisman award, is a well rounded franchise caliber back. He has great vision, elite burst, and very powerful. He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield and played in a pro – style system. There is certainly a lot to like about him as a potential star in the NFL. If the patriots decide to go this route in the first round, they will acquire a great talent.

Mikel LeShoure: 6’0 – 227 (Illinois) – LeShoure is a prospect with the capability to develop into an every down running back. Leshoure has the size, athleticism and power to be a franchise guy. For a big talent like LeShoure, he displays very good burst and quickness and can make defenders miss. He can push the pile and has the ability to gain tough yards inside the numbers. He can also be a  weapon in the passing game and overall very solid. Leshoure is probably a second-round prospect but has the potential to be pushed in the first round. My only real knock on LeShoure is he is very raw and needs development. With some time in the NFL and the right coaching, he could be a real talent.

DeMarco Murray: 6’0 – 213 (Oklahoma) – Murray is an explosive athlete that could be precisely the type of RB the Patriots need. He runs exceptionally well and when he sees daylight, say goodbye. Murray is an absolute burner and is a real play maker.   He catches the ball, runs routes, and can move like an elite receiver; which in turn makes him a real threat on third down. He is the type of prospect that could be used in a multitude of ways and is extremely versatile; rushing, catching, returns. I am concerned with his injury history, but if he can stay healthy, he could be a featured back on Sundays. I would love to see this young man in a patriots uniform and they could acquire him in the second round.

Jordan Todman: 5’9 – 203 (UCONN) – I must admit, Jordan Todman is one of my favorite prospects in this years draft. The Massachusetts native is starting to pick up steam throughout the pre – draft process. Todman is a very hard runner and can be tremendously explosive. He has great vision and finds openings to accelerate through quickly. Because he lacks receiving experience on third down, he probably is not ready to be an every down back. However, he could help in the return game and also has great potential. Keep an eye on Todman as the process continues.

Ryan Williams: 5’9 – 212 (Virginia Tech) – Williams is another prospect that has a chance to develop into an every down running back. Williams has the vision, initial burst, and speed needed to gain consistent yards. He also makes elite cuts and then explodes through the defense. His running style is very strong and he always seems to fall forward. His ability to hold on to the football needs to be improved and his overall skill set must be polished. I would still say Williams could use some work but he could go in the second to third round.

My Favorite Prospect: Mark Ingram / DeMarco Murray

I apologize for cheating a bit here, but it’s for good reason. The way i see it, there are two routes the patriots can go if they choose a running back. They could chose the potential franchise running back Mark Ingram, or take a guy like DeMarco Murray to join the committee and potentially  be a lead back down the road. Some fans maybe a bit hesitant to take a running back in the first round because of the Maroney failure in 2006, which is understandable. However, if the coaching staff believes that Ingram can contribute the way he is projected too, they should not pass him up.

Sleeper Prospect: Kendall Hunter: 5’8 – 197 (Oklahoma State) – Hunter is a running back prospect that really intrigues me. He could be a great young talent for the Patriots in the late second, early third round. Pairing him with Ben Jarvis Green – Ellis and Danny Woodhead would create a dynamic young committee. Hunter displays great vision, power, and elusiveness when he runs. I believe his best asset is his vision. When he carries the ball, he can stop on a dime and accelerate very quickly. He could be the home run hitter the patriots have looked for at this position.

Analysis: There is most certainly an intriguing debate amongst Patriots nation regarding the running back position. Some believe Ben Jarvis Green – Ellis and Danny Woodhead are the answer. Others believe they need to bring in a veteran free agent or young prospect to add to the committee. Others, say the running back position needs a make over with a franchise player. With the running back class particularly deep this year, this might be the perfect “wait and see how the draft board falls” situations. I am under the belief that running back is a need. I would love to add a versatile weapon to keep the offense in rhythm. In fact, I would love to build up all of Tom Brady’s “best friends”. When I say best friends, I am referring to the defense, offensive line, and running back. Even though I do like Mark Ingram and believe he could be an excellent pro running back, I think the team might be better off grabbing a RB late in order to address a more pressing need earlier (i.e. OLB or OL). In the end, when draft day comes, how the draft board comes together could have a large impact in who is selected for the Patriots this April.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @DerekHavens! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

College Prospect Evaluation: Defensive Line

With just a little over two months until the annual NFL draft, the college scouting and evaluation process is in full swing. The NFL combine event will be held Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1st at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More than 300 top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the event. Hopefully, these evaluations will give all fans some ideas of who to focus on at each position of need. Be sure to comment and let me know who you might be interested in.

 

Position: Defensive Line

Need Ranking: 3rd

Top 5 Prospects –

  1. Marcell Dareus: 6’3 – 306 (Alabama) – Dareus is widely considered the next best defensive lineman after Nick Fairley. Dareus has been slated from a top 10 to early second round selection, so the combine will play a large role in where he is taken. He is versatile enough to play all 3-4 line positions, very strong, and can take on double teams. In my opinion, he is even ore valuable because of his experience in an NFL style defense and coaching at Alabama University. A presence along the line could free up Vince Wilfork to make a play or vis-versa. He does have some off the field concerns though, but with Saban a pipeline for Bill Belichick, he will have the inside information on Dareus.
     
  2. Cameron Jordan: 6’4 – 290 (California) – Cameron Jordan is one of my favorite prospects in this unit. My only question mark with Jordan is his size; great height but he will need to gain some weight. I feel if the patriots want to take a defensive lineman with their first draft selection, number 17 overall, Jordan would be an ideal fit. He plays with an exceptional first step and pursuit of the ball carrier. He is an absolute force in the backfield and possesses elite tackling ability. Jordan is scheme diverse, plays well with his hands, and has a great motor. If the Patriots go this route, Jordan would be a fantastic fit.
     
  3. Adrian Clayborn: 6’3 – 285 (Iowa) – Similar to Jordan, Adrian Clayborn will need to add a few pounds in order to play the 3-4 defensive end position. Clayborn has several rush moves that can make him a force on the defensive line. With Vince Wilfork clogging up the middle, Clayborn could add some pass rush ability to the line. What i love about him, is his ability to play in the opposing teams backfield. He might have the best pursuit of any pure lineman in the draft, which helps him in run support. Clayborn could certainly help fill the void Richard Seymour left when he was traded.
     
  4. JJ Watt: 6’6 – 296 (Wisconsin) – There is an awful lot to love about JJ Watt. Even though this may seem a bit contradictory, I am not in love with the guy. He reminds me a lot of Mike Wright, a guy the Patriots already have. Even though he does not have a large number of rush moves, he does an excellent job of getting after the passer. In an attempt to prove myself wrong, Watt’s capability to hold stout against the run might be the difference in him coming in as a third down player or three down lineman. For a man his size, to move as fast as he does, should be illegal. He carries his weight well, has a great frame and also gets off the line very quickly. Watt could most definitely help the Patriots lackluster pass rush.
     
  5. Muhammad Wilkerson: 6’5 – 305 (Temple) – Wilkerson is a prospect quickly rising up teams draft boards. After the combine, he will widely be considered a late first round selection. The lack of competition he faced in college scared scouts away initially but, Wilkerson  has all the skills teams look for in a 3-4 defensive end. While he is not the pass rush threat some of the previous prospects listed are, he is still a sturdy force to help anchor a defensive front. If he does get to the opposing QB, he has most of his success inside. Wilkerson can shed offensive lineman with ease, has elite type strength and also fights through double teams  remarkably. Even though he has a tremendous frame, he still has enough agility to overwhelm lineman. Wilkerson could be an intriguing option for the Patriots later in the first round if they chose to go a different route earlier.

My Favorite Prospect: Cameron Jordan: 6’4 – 290 (California) – Like I previously mentioned, my only real knock on Jordan is his weight. He could show up too the combine with a thicker frame but until then, he will need to get up around 300 pounds. I believe Jordan could be an ideal fit for the Patriots system. While I do not believe defensive end is or should be the first priority for the pats this April, if Jordan is there the team could certainly improve with his addition.

Sleeper Prospect: Allen Bailey: 6’4 – 300 (Miami) – Okay, I admit Bailey is not a technical “sleeper”. But I like him too much to leave him off of this list. As of now, he is projected as a second round prospect. After the combine, however, he could rise up the draft boards. Bailey is a little small to play defensive tackle but, he could play the 5 – technique defensive end in he Patriots system. He is a very athletic and versatile prospect that could be qualified as a physical specimen. Bailey has a very strong bull rush and can get after the opposing QB. He could be a prospect that scouts will be drooling over after the pre – draft process is complete.

Analysis: Similar to the offensive line, the Patriots have a need on the defensive line as well. With Vince Wilfork being the only sure-thing along the defensive front, the team should look to add some new blood. With the return of Ty Warren next season, the unit should get a boost, but he is entering the final year of his contract. l am a big believer that in this years draft the Patriots should inject more youth and talent in the trenches. Fortunately, this is a very “deep” class for both, so the Pats could have an opportunity to add quality players.

 

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @DerekHavens! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

College Prospect Evaluation: Offensive Line

With just a little over two months until the annual NFL draft, the college scouting and evaluation process is in full swing. The NFL combine event will be held Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1st at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More than 300 top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the event. Hopefully, these evaluations will give all fans some ideas of who to focus on at each position of need. Be sure to comment and let me know who you might be interested in.

Position: Offensive Line

Need Ranking: 2nd

Top 5 Prospects –

  1. Nate Solder: 6’9 – 315, Tackle (Colorado) – Solder is an absolute monster. He has a superior frame with great footwork and agility to take on defenders. While he won’t overpower many defenders, he uses his hands and positions himself well against opposing players. He is very sound fundamentally and does a great job in space. There was not much separation between lineman coming into the draft evaluation process but, Soldier’s terrific Senior Bowl moved him to the head of the pack.
  2. Anthony Castonzo: 6’7 – 292, Tackle (Boston College) - A very strong and talented tackle. From my evaluation of Castonzo, he can play on both sides of the offensive line (LT or RT). I feel the strongest part of his game is run blocking. He is a mauler in the run game and great at the point of attack. Castonzo started 41 games at tackle while at Boston College and proved he could do everything the coaching staff asked of him. I really like his attitude and work ethic. He was noticed during the Senior Bowl (along with Nate Soldier) which may have moved his stock into the mid – late first round range. A strong combine should confirm or deny that thought. A very promising prospect and could be a franchise left tackle when the evaluation process is complete.
  3. Gabe Carimi: 6’7 – 327, Tackle (Wisconsin) - Carimi is another big collegiate left tackle. He is excellent in the run game and has a physical mentality that reminds me of Logan Mankins. However, I am not sure he can continue to play left tackle in the NFL based on his athleticism and footwork. He is a little raw in his technique and could use some coaching but has superior potential. I feel he could step into an offensive line unit on the right side immediately but he will need time to develop into a pro left tackle.
  4. Tyron Smith: 6’5 – 285, Tackle (USC) – A physical specimen and a solid tackle. Smith is one prospect who could rocket up the draft boards during the workout process. He is an athletic, chiseled beast that is a strong pass blocker. He has the agility to block defensive rushers and the long arms to hold them off. Sometimes he relies on his agility too much, but he keeps good balance and has great footwork. Only real concern for Smith, is he has only played on the right side. He seems to have all the tools to develop into a left tackle, but that may take some time. In any case, he is a starting quality right tackle from day one.

  5. Rodney Hudson: 6’2 – 282, Guard (Florida State) – I will start off with Hudson’s biggest liability, his size. NFL teams want their lineman around 300 pounds, so he will need to gain some weight in order to do so. However, this young man should have no problem adding the weight while keeping is agility. He has great feet, works well with his hands, and is the only guard prospect that is a potential first rounder. Technically and fundamentally, he is NFL ready in my opinion. People assume Mike Pouncey is just as good as his brother Maurkice, but in fact, Hudson is the top prospect and has a very bright future.

My Favorite Prospect: Nate Solder: 6’9 – 315 (Colorado) – I believe Solder could be a great addition to the Patriots line. The team needs another young stud besides Sebastian Vollmer. He is best suited at left tackle but could potentially be a right tackle if Vollmer moves to the left side. He could be there when the Patriots pick at the 28th spot and would be a steal. Soldier and Vollmer could be two monster pillars of the Patriots offensive line for many years to come.

Sleeper Prospect: Stefen Wisniewski: 6’3 – 302 (Penn State) – Wisniewski has a high football IQ and is very versatile. He can play all interior-line positions and is a sturdy blocker. If he was stronger, he could be drafted higher, but for now he is cast as a late second round talent. He reminds me of Dan Connelly and if the Patriots decide to move Connelly into a starting role for 2011, Wisniewski could add depth for the future.

Analysis: This might not be the “sexy” pick fans will want, but it is a necessary one. Yes, the Patriots offensive line was voted the best in football in 2010 and has been a top three unit for many seasons but, age is starting to become a factor. One could make the argument defensive line is the second biggest need. But with the uncertain future of over half of the starting unit, I believe this should be a draft weekend priority. Matt Light (34), Logan Mankins (contract dispute), Dan Koppen (31), Stephen Neal (34). The only bright spot of the future is Sebastian Vollmer. If Logan Mankins leaves the team, the offensive line has all the ingredients for a recipe of disaster. This team needs to build in the trenches and protect their most prized possession, Tom Brady. This is a very “deep” class for offensive lineman, so the Pats could have an opportunity to add quality players to their roster well into the second round. And while there is not a real clear cut number one lineman, there are many players with great skill.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @DerekHavens! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

College Prospect Evaluation: Outside Linebacker

With just a little over two months until the annual NFL draft, the college scouting and evaluation process is in full swing. The NFL combine event will be held Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1st at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

More than 300 top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the event. Hopefully, these evaluations will give all fans some ideas of who to focus on at each position of need. Be sure to comment and let me know who you might be interested in.

Position: Outside Linebacker

Need Ranking: 1st

Top 5 Prospects –

  1. Von Miller: 6’3 – 240 (Texas A & M) – Miller is an explosive player that could run a 4.5 40 at the Combine according to Texas A & M sources. He has exceptional top end speed but could be a little small for Belichick’s standards. He is a three down player with excellent tackling ability and strong pass rush capabilities. He plays with terrific pad level but can be over powered by bigger offensive lineman because of his size.
  2. Robert Quinn: 6’4 – 260 (UNC)- Ideal size 6’4, 260 lbs for the Patriots system. Quinn, who was suspended for the entire 2010 college season, is a natural pass rushing monster. He has an unreal motor along with all the intangibles for the position. He can over power blockers but does play a little high at times. He could rocket up draft boards during the pre – draft process.
  3. Akeem Ayers: 6’4 – 250 (UCLA) – One of the most complete 3 – 4 prospects, Ayers can do it all. He is an underrated pass rusher but is fluid enough to drop into coverage. Great tackling ability and very well rounded. While his pass rushing ability did not show up in the statistic column, he does have the capability to get to the quarterback.
  4. Aldon Smith: 6’5 – 260 (Missouri) – One of the many 2011 NFL draft gambles. He truly defines the term risk – reward prospect. Deemed by many any athletic “freak” he is this years Jason Pierre – Paul. He has superior pass rush ability and explosiveness. He might be a bit raw and need some development but, has the potential to be the next DeMarcus Ware.
  5. Justin Houston: 6’3 – 258 (Georgia) – A dynamic multi-faced edge rusher who has experience as 4 – 3 defensive end and 3 – 4 outside linebacker. He does a great job wrapping up when tackling (110 tackles last season) and has the speed / athleticism to play from sideline – to – sideline. Houston can simply so it all and could be a greta option for teams late in the first, early in the second round.

* Da’ Quan Bowers not mentioned because he is a top 3 pick *

My Favorite Prospect: Robert Quinn - Quinn is my favorite prospect because he is a pass rushing beast with the size Belichick loves to have at the OLB position. This Patriots team needs a dynamic edge rusher who can get after the opposing quarterback and I believe Robert Quinn could be that guy.

Sleeper Prospect: Brooks Reed (Arizona) – Brooks Reed is a prospect that could shoot up into the early second round range after the pre- draft process is complete. He is slated as a mid third to late second talent as of now, but that could change in the coming weeks.  Described by NFL Analyst Pat Kirwan as “The next Clay Mathews”, Reed will be a well known commodity after the combine. His size, relentless motor, and ability to locate the ball carrier is exceptional. I believe this could be a prospect worth keeping an eye on before April’s draft.

Analysis: Outside Linebacker is far and away the highest need for the Patriots this off – season. This team has searched high and low for a pass rush threat for nearly three seasons. Not only does the team need help rushing the quarterback, they also need a three down player. Hopefully for patriots nation, this will be the season Bill Belichick and the scouting department can finally land their man this April.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @DerekHavens! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Preparing for the 2011 NFL Draft

After an abrupt end to the New England Patriots 2010 season, the focus of Patriots nation has now turned to the off-season. Even with free agency process being postponed by CBA negotiations, the draft will take place April 28th – 30th regardless. With less than 70 days to go before the 2011 NFL draft (but who’s counting) now is the time for player projection. There are several areas on the Patriots roster that could use improvement. The following are the areas I deem of need for the Pats this April.

  • 3-4 OLB (Pass Rusher)
  • Defensive Line
  • Offensive Line
  • Running Back / Fullback
  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Backs (Corner or Safety)

Luckily for the Pats, they are stacked with picks throughout the draft. This will give them the ability to move up or down the draft board to acquire any player(s) they desire and address any areas of need. The following is a list of the draft picks the Patriots have going into the draft process:

2010 Patriots Draft Picks

1st Round – #17 (OAK – Richard Seymour)

1st Round – #28

2nd Round – #33 (CAR – 2010 3rd Round)

2nd Round – #60

3rd Round – #74 (Min – Randy Moss)

3rd Round – #92

4th Round

5th Round

6th Round (NO – David Thomas)

* Compensatory picks will be awarded later *

Picks traded away:

4th Round – Traded to SEA  for Deion Branch (via DEN Maroney trade)

6th Round (DEN – Laurence Maroney)

7th Round – (Traded to ATL – Quinn Ojinnaka)

Conditional Draft Pick – (KC Jarrad Page) – Unknown

In the coming days, I will be evaluating and rating college prospects that Patriots Fans should focus on in the coming weeks. The annual NFL combine event will be held Thursday, Feb. 24 through March 1st. More than 300 top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the combine in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Hopefully, these lists and evaluations will give all fans some ideas of who to focus on during the NFL combine. Be sure to comment and let me know who you might be interested in, as the event takes place.

- Like what you have read on the site? Stay in touch with me on Twitter @DerekHavens! Whether you want Patriots updates in an instant or just talk about the team, be sure to look me up!

Analyzing Five Patriots Off – Season Questions with Erik Frenz

After the NFL season comes to an end, all of the leagues 32 franchises will have questions to answer. Bleacher Report’s Erik Frenz and I analyze some off – season concerns for the Patriots moving forward.

What Are The Biggest Needs?

Erik - No question at all, defensive end and outside linebacker. The Patriots need to get aggressive in the front seven. For the past two years, the pass rush has been a joke. The Patriots didn’t register a single pressure, let alone a sack of the quarterback against the Jets.

They have many other pieces in place, but the clear missing component of this defense is a pass rusher. Even if the specialist wouldn’t be an every-down player at first, he would contribute on the key third downs… you know, that down that the Patriots defense could never seem to get off the field in 2010.

Derek – After the Jets loss a few weeks ago, Patriots nation was divided for the first time this season. Almost everyone had differing opinions on what this team needed to do in order to be successful again. However, the Patriots biggest need is nearly unanimous, find a pass rusher.

The Patriots need to find three down players at both outside linebacker and defensive end. In fact, they could use two or three players to play OLB. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line is aging and needs to be addressed. Logan Mankins and Matt Light’s contractual situations will have a heavy hand in what this teams priorities are moving forward.

Who Will Rush The Passer?

Erik - Getting back to the last question, I don’t think the Patriots have a legitimate threat off the edge on their defense. Mike Wright was the teams leader in sacks with 5.5. Is that even allowed in professional football? Gerard Warren (or as I like to call him, Warren G) was good in spots, but the reality is the Patriots need someone to come off the edge. Whether it’s a draft pick or a free agent remains to be seen.

Personally, I hope the Patriots take a similar approach at outside linebacker to what they did in the 2010 draft at tight end. If they draft multiple guys with high enough of a ceiling, they could hit big on one or both of them.

Derek – Just as the team has turned over specific positions each of the last few seasons, outside linebacker should be targeted this season. The team could bring in a veteran or two in free agency (pending a new CBA) while also drafting two prospects. To say this team needs an upgrade at OLB would be an understatement. But, they don’t just need guys who can rush the passer, they need guys who can just flat out play all three downs.

Overhauling the position and reloading it with talent could revitalize this team. No secondary can cover forever. NFL quarterbacks are too talented to have the time this defense allowed them last season. A pass rush talent could be the difference of hoisting the Lombardi trophy and talking draft in late January.

Does The Offense Need a Wide Receiver?

Erik - In short, yes, but it doesn’t have to be the most dynamic play maker ever. The Patriots lacked a deep threat against the Jets, but the Patriots offense functioned fine without one against that same Jets defense just six weeks prior. What the Patriots really need is someone who can get separation, who can beat a jam and get off press coverage. They need a big, physical receiver. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be a first-round pick or a big-time free agent, but even just a third- or fourth-round guy who can do work against those physical Jets cornerbacks would suffice.

Derek – Yes, I believe the team does need to add wide receiver talent. This offense executed beautifully when Randy Moss was traded. However, the receiver talent is not as solid as many would think. However, wide receiver is not a top need for this team. I would put it well behind outside linebacker, defensive end, offensive line, and even running back. I would expect Bill Belichick look to the mid rounds of the draft to fill the need.

Does The Offensive Line Need Retooling?

Erik - Age is becoming a serious concern for the Patriots offensive line, with only two of their starting five under the age of 30. That being said, the weakness in the Jets game wasn’t the line. Most of those were coverage sacks, where Brady simply had nowhere to throw. The offensive line consistently gave Tom Brady all day to throw all season long, and opened up holes for their first 1,000-yard back since 2004.

I wouldn’t say they need retooling, they just need reloading. If the Patriots can stock the shelves with a couple of young interior offensive linemen, they’ll be just fine.

Derek – The offensive line most definitely needs retooling. I remain hopeful the Patriots can resign Logan Mankins and resolve this situation. I was questioning Matt Light returning to the team, but I feel with all the question marks along the unit, the Pats may look to keep him. Dan Koppen is adequate but may only have a season or two left in him, and right guard Stephen Neal already said 2011 would be his last. Logan Mankins and Matt Light’s contract situation could put the Patriots offensive line needs from third to first. This area needs to be addressed moving forward.

Will The Patriots Name Coordinators in 2011?

Erik - Matt Patricia and Pepper Johnson split the defensive coordinator duties and thus neither carried the official title of coordinator. Bill O’Brien was the unofficial offensive coordinator, as the quarterback coach made play calls.

If the Patriots are going the coordinator route for 2011, it’s safe to say it won’t be an earth-shattering signing of some big-name coach. The Patriots usually rely on home-grown coaching talent to teach their schemes. It’s worked for them in the past, and I expect that to remain the method going forward.

Derek – The Patriots coordinators position is an intriguing scenario. I expect Bill O’Brien to be named offensive coordinator before next season starts. He certainly earned that title with great work in 2010. I am not as sold on the defensive side because Belichick played such a large role with that unit. Matt Patricia, Corwin Brown, and Pepper Johnson also contributed heavily in the Patriots defense.

I am trying to envision a scenario where Bill names a coordinator on one side of the ball and not the other, but it is hard to do. I am curious if one of the defensive coaches emerges during off – season workouts. In any case, look for the Patriots to hire from with-in the organization.

Have a different take on these questions? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Erik Frenz is a writer for Bleacher Report and also curates the football page for MySpace.com/football. You can also find him on twitter @e_frenz

Kiper ReVisits Patriots 2010 Draft

Nine moths ago, the Patriots had just completed their 2010 NFL draft and added 12 new players to the club. At the time, many people were questioning the Devin McCourty selection and frustrated with the team trading down throughout the draft. Well, few are complaining now as it appears the Patriots had the strongest draft for 2010 and ESPN’s draft guru, Mel Kiper, agrees. Here is what Mr. Kiper had to say -

“It’s one thing for so many picks to see the field, it’s another when so many are immediate starters. So while there were a few value question marks, the Patriots were brilliant in terms of identifying fits. And it’s not like Bill Belichick and the New England brain trust forced guys into action in an attempt to dignify their choices. No, these guys played early and played well, and the team was noticeably better because of it. Devin McCourty landed in the Pro Bowl. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were good enough that they seem to have shifted the whole offensive methodology, with more tight end sets than ever. Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham played a ton. Brandon Deaderick, the 247th pick, was called into duty and showed toughness. Even punter Zoltan Mesko was solid. Good picks all over, and the Patriots will have many more in April”

Draft grade: B-minus | Current Grade: A-plus

ESPN INSIDER

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