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Archive for April, 2012

Gerard Warren To Re-Sign With New England

The New England Patriots will re-sign veteran defensive lineman Gerard Warren, according to Mary Paoletti of Comcast SportsNet New England.

Warren played sparingly last year, mainly as a reserve defensive lineman for the Patriots. The 6-foot-4, 330 pound Warren played in 12 games and gives the team solid veteran depth along the defensive front. After not addressing the interior of the line through the draft this past weekend, re-signing Warren seems like a smart move for New England.

As of now the Patriots current Roster is at 81 players. Once you factor in Warren and the team’s five confirmed Undrafted Free Agent signings, the roster is up to 87; leaving three spots left. The league expanded the roster from 80 to 90 last week.

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

Player Bio: Alfonzo Dennard

Name: Alfonzo Dennard

Position: Cornerback

School: Nebraska

Selected: Round 7, Pick 224

Height: 5 – 10

Weight: 204

Strengths:

- Very good bulk and strength for a defensive back.

- Excellent press coverage skills and also a solid zone coverage defender.

- Uses his hands well and can make a play on the ball.

- Versatile, can play inside and outside

- Not extremely fast, but has tremendous closing speed and has next level burst to make up separation.

Weaknesses:

- Character concerns. Arrested five days before the NFL Draft.

- Not fluid in his back pedal and looks lost when not playing tight on an opponent.

- Too aggressive at times and can get off balance.

- Tends to gamble. Risk, reward type of player.

Analysis:

Overall, the Patriots look like they got a steal in Alfonzo Dennard. He was arrested, but he was considered a first or second round talent throughout the process. The Nebraska standout played exceptional for the past three seasons and not only was he a second team All-American, but he was also voted Nebraska’s MVP on defense.

Bill Belichick held a coaching clinic at the University of Nebraska just last month and supposedly worked out Dennard personally. I would expect for Dennard to come into camp and compete for playing time almost immediately. Hopefully, Dennard is humble and hungry to prove he can play at the next level. If he can, the Patriots look like they got another late round gem on their roster.

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

Kiper: Patriots Reached on Day Two

ESPN’s NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr, released his Day Two: Winners And Questions on Friday night and had some thoughts on the Patriots selections. Here is what Kiper had to say. -

New England Patriots
The picks: S Tavon Wilson at No. 48, DE Jake Bequette at No. 90

“The Patriots actually filled some needs. And I think Bequette will be a solid player for them. His versatility is there, and I can see him as a stand-up pass-rusher. Wilson puzzles me a little on value. A month ago, when I released my draft guide, Wilson was the No. 26-ranked safety on my board. I know some coaches like him, but this is a player both I and colleague Todd McShay think could have been sitting there in the sixth round. These picks fit needs, but both are definite reaches to me.”

Analysis:

Kiper brings up a lot of great points, especially on the word value. Value has been a word the Patriots front office has put a high priority on achieving throughout the draft process and Patriots fans have often times left April’s annual event with a bad taste in their mouth.

Yes, New England did fill some needs for the defense, but it certainly seems they could have traded back and not only collected more picks, but also acquired the players they wanted much later. Of course, that may not have been an option.

The Tavon Wilson pick stands out more than Bequette. Although, I will say I am very anxious to see Wilson play. With Belichick reaching for him in the second round, it makes me very intrigued to what he saw on tape.

In any case, the Patriots have focused on upgrading the unit by dedicating their first four picks of the draft to the defense. After the team struggled so much on the defensive side of the ball in 2012, the injection of youth should do wonders for the team. For that, however, we will have to wait and see.

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

Player Bio: Jake Bequette

Name: Jake Bequette

Position: DE/OLB

School: Arkansas

Selected: Round 3, Pick 90

Height: 6 – 5

Weight: 274

Strengths:

- High effort, high motor player. Relentless pursuit.

- Closes on the ball carrier well and is a strong tackler.

- Despite his frame (6-5, 274), he moves well for his size.

- Team Leader, defensive co-captain in 2010-11.

- Does a great job setting the edge and in run support.

Weaknesses:

- Not a great athlete.

- Can often times get under blockers and be pushed past the pocket.

- Needs time to develop in a NFL defense.

- Might not have the potential to be more than a situational pass rusher.

Analysis:

Jake Bequette seems like the type of guy Patriots fans will love. He is a hard worker, relentless motor and seems to be a well grounded individual. He is probably a rotational guy early on who might have the ability to earn a starting role later in his career, but looks more like a rotational guy from the get go.

The Arkansas standout could add some pass rush ability to the Pats defense and more than likely will seem some snaps early given the teams average defensive squad. He seems like an intelligent player and with the right coaching, should carve out a role for himself in New England.

 

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

Player Bio: Tavon Wilson

Name: Tavon Wilson

Position: Safety

School: Illinois

Selected: Round 2, Pick 16

Height: 6 – 0

Weight: 205

Strengths:

- Tough, physical player that plays the run well.

- Versatile. Has played cornerback and safety.

- Reads and reacts quickly, better in zone coverage.

Weaknesses:

- Can be a liability in coverage.

- Mediocre tackler and must improve to play safety.

- Needs to clean up his backpedal

Analysis:

This is a head scratcher for many Patriots fans. For starters, Wilson was supposed to be a fifth round to even potential undrafted free agent player, not a second round selection. Obviously New England loves him, but I am certainly left wondering why the Pats couldn’t have traded down to acquire the right “value” which they put such a high standard on.

In any case, a second round pick is expected to contribute right away, if not start. I would think Belichick has plans for Wilson to contribute early and he could add some Patrick Chung insurance.

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

Player Bio: Dont’a Hightower

Name: Dont’a Hightower

Position: Linebacker

School: Alabama

Selected: Round 1, Pick 25

Height: 6 – 2

Weight: 265

Strengths:

- Smart, instinctive, versatile and rarely comes off the field. His football IQ is off the charts.

- Great tackler and a force at the point of attack. Very physical.

- Experienced in a pro defense and a consistent playmaker.

- Fast for his size and can get after opposing QBs.

- Strong technique and does a great job shedding opposing players.

- Knows his role and assignment and diagnoses the play very quickly.

Weaknesses:

- Durability concerns. A season-ending knee injury cost Hightower the majority of the 2009 campaign.

- Does not cover a large amount of field

Analysis:

Throughout his career at Alabama, Dont’a Hightower has shown he can play in the NFL. He is a tough, physical, in-the-box defender that can break down plays in a hurry. While being very strong against the run, he also showed he could make plays defending the pass. Hightower has a unique blend of size and speed (ran a 4.62 40 yard dash at the Combine).

Hightower does a tremendous job shedding blocks, fighting through the trash and locating the ball carrier. The massive linebacker is a rare specimen who has the quickness and agility to be able to play in space. In the end, I am not surprised Belichick selected the Alabama captain, it seems like he was meant to be a Patriot.

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

Player Bio: Chandler Jones

Name: Chandler Jones

Position: Defensive End / Outside Linebacker

School: Syracuse

Selected: Round 1, Pick 21

Height: 6 – 5

Weight: 251

Strengths:

- Above average anchor strength, can set the edge

- Long arms and great size. Incredible physical specimen

- Has a ton of potential

- Has some versatility

- Strong bloodlines as one brother (Arthur Jones) plays for the Baltimore Ravens and his other brother (Jon Jones) is the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.

Weaknesses:

- Raw, needs to develop and gain experience

- Average lateral agility

- Struggles in coverage

- Needs to develop as a pass rusher

- Can be washed out by double teams

Analysis:

Chandler Jones is an intriguing prospect for New England. He is raw and also missed five games last season with a knee injury, but he has an incredible amount of talent. Jones is extremely disruptive at the line of scrimmage and can. He has an excellent burst off the line that allows him to get into the backfield on a consistent basis. He needs to develop as a pass rusher, but he is a solid overall player who can blow up runs in the backfield and gets consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Overall, I am thrilled with the selection of Jones. I believe he is an intriguing prospect that adds a dynamic and versatile presence to New England’s front seven. Belichick and the Patriots obviously loved him as they moved up six spots to select him and I can’t wait to see this guy hit the field.

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

2012 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

The third and final edition of my 2012 NFL mock draft.

The NFL draft is finally upon us and there have been a lot of changes from my previous mock. Here’s how I expect the first round to play out. -

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

- There has been a lot of last minute shuffling in the top five picks in the past 48 hours, but I am sticking to my guns and believe each of these picks will make an immediate impact on their respective teams.

6. St. Louis Rams ‚Äď WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Melvin Ingram, SC

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

9. Carolina Panthers ‚Äď CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina

10. Buffalo Bills ‚Äď OG David Decastro, Stanford

- Both Fletcher Cox and Luke Kuechly could be in these last picks, but I believe the Mark Barron rumors are just that.

11. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College

12. Seattle Seahawks – DE Quinton Copples, UNC

13. Arizona Cardinals ‚Äď WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame

14. Dallas Cowboys ‚Äď S Mark Barron, Alabama

15. Philadelphia Eagles ‚Äď DL Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State

- Some quality players in the last five selections that seem to fill a number of key needs for each team. With Barron’s stock rising, Dallas would be thrilled to pick him at fourteen. Also, could the Eagles move up to select Cox? I think it’s a legitimate possibility.

16. New York Jets – DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse

17. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

18. San Diego Chargers – LB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

19. Chicago Bears – OT Riley Reiff, Iowa

20. Tennessee Titans РDL Michael Brockers, LSU

- Chandler Jones stock has been going through the rough, but Courtney Upshaw could be the pick for New York. Dontair Poe was also a consideration for Chicago, but I think they would like to upgrade the offensive line at this point.


Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick could go a number of different directions in this year’s draft. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

21. Cincinnati Bengals ‚Äď OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia

22. Cleveland Browns ‚Äď WR Kendall Wright, Baylor

23. Detroit Lions ‚Äď OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford

24. Pittsburgh Steelers РDL Dontari Poe, Memphis

25. Denver Broncos – DL Jerel Worthy, Michigan State

26. Houston Texans – WR Rueben Randle, LSU

- A pair of receivers and some upgrading in the trenches for the teams in this area of the round. Dont’a Hightower is also a legitimate option for Pittsburgh, but there linebackers have all been taken after the first round; I believe they look to upgrade the defensive line.

27. New England Patriots – LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama

28. Green Bay Packers ‚Äď LB Nick Perry, USC

29. Baltimore Ravens ‚Äď LB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama

30. San Francisco 49ers ‚Äď OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin

31. New England Patriots – LB Shea McClellin, Boise State

32. New York Giants ‚Äď RB Doug Martin, Boise State

- The Patriots double dip in the front seven and come away with two versatile players with a ton of talent. Of course, would it surprise anyone if Bill Belichick trades out? I could certainly envision a move back with one of the selections.

Even though I did not mock any trades into this draft, I would expect the Patriots to trade back at 31 to a team like the Browns or another team trying to select a quarter back. Should make for some interesting drama at the end of the night.

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

On The Radar: Who Have The Patriots Had their Eye on?

Every year each team in the National Football League scouts college prospects across the nation. The Patriots, like the other 31 NFL teams, does their due diligence in acquiring as much information on these players as possible. Whether this information comes from pro days, team visits, private workouts, interviews, the combine, or even a player’s agent; this knowledge allows the franchise to upgrade their roster for the upcoming season.

Our friends at NEPatriotsDraft have complied a list of the Patriots pre-draft contacts that can be found here. Below are a few thoughts on the team’s potential targets thus far.

- The Pats have been busy traveling across the country visiting schools and scouting players that can improve their roster for the 2012 season. While very few top-tier schools are mentioned, it does not mean that the team is not doing their homework on a particular player.


Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will look to improve his roster for the 2012 season through this year’s draft class. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- The defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs hold a good majority of pre-draft contacts. After selecting only one player in the first five rounds of the 2011 draft, I would be in favor of a defense heavy draft for New England. After all, even though the team needs to address some offensive needs as well, the defensive holes on the roster are more pressing at the moment.

- The running back list is surprisingly high in my opinion. After Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley were both selected in the second and third round respectively last season, could the team look to add another young tailback to the team’s committee? Boise State’s Doug Martin is a guy I have my eye on and could present a tough decision for Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office next week.

- The offensive line contacts are very low, which comes at a bit of a surprise to me. After Matt Light reportedly retired earlier this week – although we are waiting for an official announcement – along with Brian Waters contemplating hanging up the cleats, the trenches could use an influx of youth. While I do not think the line needs to be addressed in the early rounds, I am always in favor of giving positional coach Dante Scarnecchia more talent to develop in the Patriots system.

- Returner is a need that I believe has gone under the radar for the team this off-season. The patriots struggled in both kick and punt returns in 2011 and I would love for them to add some talent in the area. Arkansas Joe Adams and Florida’s Chris Rainey are two prospects I have had my eye on throughout the pre-draft process. Both could be options in the mid-rounds if the team decides to upgrade the special teams unit, but Joe Adams seems to be the most dynamic return man in this year’s class.

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

Patriots Fourth And Two Tonight Draft Special (4/19 Now Posted)

Thursday Night at 8PM EST will be another live episode of the internet radio show Patriots Fourth and Two. We will conclude our NFL draft breakdown.

This week will be discussing the quarterbacks, safeties and special teams players of this year’s class.

Hosting the show will be Damien Jarrett of 4th And Long and myself, Derek Havens of Patriots Haven.

We will also be joined by Wisconsin safety Aaron Henry and DraftHub.com’s¬†Steve Palazzolo.

Please join us at 8PM EST for 60 minutes of draft talk by Patriots Fourth And Two. (Click Here for a link to the show.)

_____

 

Listen to internet radio with PatriotsFourthAndTwo on Blog Talk Radio

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