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Archive for March, 2012

Free Agency Blitz: Patriots Continue To Reload

The New England Patriots were very busy on Monday, continuing to reload the team for the 2012 season. The Pats signed WR Donte Stallworth, OL Robert Gallery and TE Daniel Fells.

Bill Belichick and company have been very busy in free agency after many fans were upset for starting slow. Below is a list of the nine players the team has signed so far this off-season.


Bill Belichick and the Patriots are reloading for another run towards a championship next season. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- DL, Kyle Love (re-signed)

- ST/W/S, Matthew Slater (re-signed)

- LB, Niko Koutouvides (re-signed)

- ST/LB, Tracy White (re-signed)

- QB, Brian Hoyer (re-signed)

- OL, Dan Connolly (re-signed)

- DL, Jonathan Fanene

- S, Steve Gregory

- WR, Anthony Gonzalez

- DE/LB, Trevor Scott

- WR, Brandon Lloyd

- TE, Daniel Fells

- WR, Donte Stallworth

- OL, Robert Gallery

- DB, Marquice Cole

Thoughts:

- New England started off the free agency process by re-signing their own players, essentially their core special teamers. Not necessarily the big splash many fans were hoping for right off the bat, but they usually take care of their own players first.

-  The defensive side of the ball has still not received an enormous amount of attention from the team thus far, however, it is still early in the process. Gregory, Fanene and Scott have been brought in to add quality depth and will all be competing for starting positions when camp comes around.

-  Belichick is reloading the Pats receiving corps so far and it should create some great competition in training camp. Lloyd, Gonzalez, Stallworth  have all been brought in to bolster the position. I would not say that the receiver spot is crowded, however, the philosophy seems pretty simple here. The best stay, the rest walk. Simple.

- The Gallery signing gives New England solid depth on the offensive line and also insurance if Brian Waters decides to retire. Although it should be mentioned that Waters is expected to return.

Gallery came into the league and struggled at tackle, but he has been a very good guard for many years; a great move by the front office to bring him in. This also allows second-year offensive lineman Marcus Cannon to continue to develop.

-  The signing of Fells adds depth at the tight end position for next season. Only Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were on the roster last year. The 28-year-old should be able to contribute in this offense and adds a legitimate option for New England as a third tight end.

-  With the team continuing to sign veteran free agents at multiple positions, it gives them tremendous amount of flexibility when the draft comes around.  Running back, linebacker and the secondary positions need to be addressed in the coming weeks. Luckily for the Pats, there are still many options available for them to continue to improve the roster.

-  The New York Jets reached a one-year agreement with safety LaRon Landry. Landry visited New England over the weekend, but I think his  injury concerns scared the team away. The safety market is very thin for the Pats now, but they could look to fill that void come April. Click here to see my latest NFL mock draft.

- Defensive backs Aaron Ross (Giants), Tracy Porter (Saints), O.J. Atogwe (Redskins) are still available and could be on New England’s radar. With Devin McCourty likely to stay at cornerback, safety may be the most glaring need for the team.

-  Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos means Patriots fans can expect a visit from Manning next year, as the Broncos are one of the teams coming to Gillette Stadium. The full NFL schedule will be released next month.

-  As a closing thought, fans should remember that just because the team has signed the player, does not necessarily mean they will be on the team to start the season. It’s about creating competition and building a team stacked with the best possible players. From the looks of it, Belichick and the staff are off to a great start.

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

2012 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

The first edition of my 2012 NFL mock draft.

In this version the Dolphins get a quarterback, offensive lineman are a hot commodity and the Patriots get some help on defense. I will have a new version every two weeks until the draft.

1. Indianapolis Colts – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

2. Washington Redskins – QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor

3. Minnesota Vikings – OT Matt Kalil, USC

4. Cleveland Browns – RB Trent Richardson, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Morris Claiborne, LSU

6. St. Louis Rams – WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Riley Reiff, Iowa

8. Miami Dolphins – QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

9. Carolina Panthers – DL Dontari Poe, Memphis

10. Buffalo Bills – DE Melvin Ingram, SC

11. Kansas City Chiefs – OG David Decastro, Stanford

12. Seattle Seahawks – DE Quinton Coples, UNC

13. Arizona Cardinals – OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford

14. Dallas Cowboys – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

15. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Michael Brockers, LSU

16. New York Jets – LB Luke Kuechly, BC

17. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama

18. San Diego Chargers – OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

19. Chicago Bears – OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia

20. Tennessee Titans – DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

21. Cincinnati Bengals – WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

22. Cleveland Browns – WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

23. Detroit Lions – G Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin

24. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama

25. Denver Broncos – DT Devon Still, Penn Stat

26. Houston Texans – WR Rueben Randle, LSU

27. New England Patriots – S Mark Barron, Alabama

28. Green Bay Packers – LB Nick Perry, USC

29. Baltimore Ravens – C Peter Konz, Wisconsin

30. San Francisco 49ers – DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

31. New England Patriots – DE/OLB Andre Branch, Clemson

32. New York Giants – RB Lamar Miller, Miami

 

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Patriots Add A Receiver, Sign Brandon Lloyd

The New England Patriots have signed free agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to a three-year, $12 million contract. The two sides finally agreed to terms, after several months of speculation that Lloyd could end up in New England.


Brandon Lloyd could give Tom Brady another weapon in an already potent Patriots offense. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Lloyd is the second receiver New England signed on Saturday, after the team added former Colts wideout Anthony Gonzalez according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In an interview with Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England last week, Lloyd said he was “very interested” in playing for New England.

“Very interested,” Lloyd told Curran on his level of joining the Patriots. “And like I said earlier, I admire Coach Bill (Belichick), I admire Tom Brady, I admire how they run things over there. For any receiver to be considered to come in and play on the New England Patriots is gonna be excited just because of the history of success.”

Lloyd, who had a breakout season under Josh McDaniels in 2010, could be a solid addition to an already potent Patriots offense. In their last season together, Lloyd finished with 77 receptions, 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Lloyd was one of the many veteran wide receiver available in this year’s free agent class.

What’s your take? Are you interested in Brandon Lloyd? Any other veteran receivers you have your eye on? Share your thoughts with a comment below!

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Brandon Lloyd Talks Pats, Could He Land In New England?

Free agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd has been regularly linked to the New England Patriots over the past several months. Now that the NFL’s free agency period is about begin, rumors have started to heat up between the two.


Brandon Lloyd could give Tom Brady another weapon in an already potent Patriots offense. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

In an interview with Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England this week, Lloyd said he was “very interested” in playing for New England.

“Very interested,” Lloyd told Curran on his level of joining the Patriots. “And like I said earlier, I admire Coach Bill (Belichick), I admire Tom Brady, I admire how they run things over there. For any receiver to be considered to come in and play on the New England Patriots is gonna be excited just because of the history of success.”

Pro Football Talk’s Evan Silva hints Lloyd may take less money to play for the Pats. If the wide out would indeed take less money to play in New England, I could definitely envision a scenario where he lands on the team next season. There is no question the Patriots have a need at the receiver position, and Lloyd could be type of player to fill the role successfully.

Lloyd, who had a breakout season under Josh McDaniels in 2010, could be a solid addition to an already potent Patriots offense. In their last season together, Lloyd finished with 77 receptions, 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Overall, I think the signing of Lloyd is a great addiction to an already potent Patriots offense. I am not extremely high on Lloyd, but I believe he can contribute and by all accounts, New England brought him in for a very reasonable price.

What’s your take? Are you interested in Brandon Lloyd? Any other veteran receivers you have your eye on? Share your thoughts with a comment below!

Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Combine Wrap: Five Guys Who Stood Out

Over the past several days, 300 college athletes have come to Indianapolis to take part in the NFL Scouting Combine. All 32 NFL teams were present and looking to improve their rosters for the 2012 season.

The Patriots have several needs on both sides of the ball, but are once again in great position to fill holes and make upgrades to the team. Here are a few prospects that stood out throughout the process and could be on New England’s radar this April. -

Biggest Disappointment: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

At the beginning of the pre-draft process, Upshaw was a guy I set my sights on for Patriots to acquire. Several draft experts have made the comparison to Steelers linebacker Lamar Woodley, but the Alabama stand out had a very weak Combine.

Upshaw was very unimpressive in drills and gave people a reason to worry about his athleticism. For a guy who has been slated in the top 20 in almost any mock draft, Upshaw looked stiff and did not seem t have the ability to change direction very fast. Not a reason to pass on the guy, but makes you hesitant to draft him.

Biggest Surprise: Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis

To me, Poe was literally, the biggest surprise.  At just under 6’5 and 346 pounds, Poe is an absolute monster. He is not just a 3-4 nose tackle, Poe is a versatile lineman who could be an absolute beast. The Memphis product is an athlete too. He displayed quick feet for his size in drills and he ran a 4.98 40-yard dash to back it up.

Even though he does not necessarily play at an impact position, I would love to see him play next to Vince Wilfork. Whatever scheme Bill Belichick decides to go with in the upcoming season, Poe could certainly find a way to contribute in New England.

Who Opened Up Some Eyes: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Stephen Hill’s stock is sure to skyrocket after the show he put on in Indianapolis. Hill was one of the most impressive college prospects throughout the event and his number were eye popping.

With the fastest 40-yard dash time for wide outs at 4.30, a vertical jump of 39.5″ and a broad jump of 11’1″, Hill was a true workout warrior. There are some concerns about his production, only 28 receptions last season, but you have to take into consideration the triple option offense he was in at Georgia Tech.

I am always skeptical when the Pats acquire a receiver or defensive back through the draft, especially with the luck they have had in the past few years, but Hill could be a guy to focus on in the next two months. The offense would greatly benefit from a weapon with the ability to play outside the numbers and Hill could be that guy.

The Head Scratcher: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

Kendall Wright has been one of the highest rated receivers in the early stages of the pre-draft process, but after his Combine performance, his draft stock has taken a bit of a hit. He plays with 4.3 or 4.4 speed, but ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at Combine; a very slow number for an undersized receiver (5-10,196).

Wright was a guy I thought could be a dynamic receiver in the Patriots’ offense if he was available, but after his workout and going back over his profile, he does not seem to be a good fit here.

As much as I believe Wright has some great physical skills, when you watch him play, there are some red flags. Most concerning, is his sloppy route running. In a precision offense like Tom Brady commands, receivers have to be spot on; ability Wright has not displayed to this point in his career.

Also, Wright’s lack of effort on running plays or when the ball is not coming his way stood out. He does not seem to be a team player and I have doubts about his capability to pick up a complex NFL offense. There is no doubt Wright is an electric football player, but his Combine performance did raise some red flags.

Who Needs A Good Pro Day: Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall

Vinny Curry is a prospect who really interests me from a Patriots perspective. Here is a guy who is 6-3, 266 pounds and is a very good pass rusher. He has the ability to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, the base formation New England will most likely play in 2012, and is a guy who loves to play football.

Curry has the measurables, started for three years, was a captain, the football IQ and talent. What is his hang up? Curry ran a 4.98 40-yard dash, which is why his pro day might be very important to his draft stock. The Marshall linebacker did have a solid three-cone drill, showing off his quick feet, but his 40 time could dictate where he is drafted this April.

Overall, there are a ton of great prospects in this year’s draft. The Patriots are in great position to select quality players and upgrade the team for next season.

In the coming weeks I will have positional breakdowns, big boards, interviews, Patriots and league mock drafts until the main event in late April. Be sure to check back for more content! Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @PatriotsHaven!