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What We Learned from Patriots Training Camp in Week One

The New England Patriots wrapped up their fourth consecutive training camp practice on Sunday.

The team opened up the first two days in shorts and t-shirts, followed by the last two days in pads to start the 2015 training session. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL clubs are not allowed to wear full pads until the third day.

Here is what we learned from the first week of practices. —

Thursday:

– The first day was almost a “soft” open. No pads, a little slower tempo during and between drills. Bill Belichick also threw a curveball to the media and fans in attendance with the players not wearing any numbers on their equipment.

– Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo both looked sharp Thursday. Garoppolo had an early interception, but recovered nicely. He looks much improved from the last time I saw him live, which was last summer. He looks more confident under center and has command in the pocket.

Brady looked strong as well, picking up where he left off. He had a few beautiful passes, finding Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Josh Boyce regularly.

In a lighter day, mostly quarterbacks and pass catchers are going to stand out. But I was happy with the development from Garoppolo and Brady’s strong showing with everything going on.

– The most impressive player on the field Thursday was Edelman. I don’t want to overstate it, but it was noteworthy. He looked crisp in-and-out of his breaks, ran precise routes and had some very nice catches.

Last summer it looked like he took a step forward and took his game to a new level, that carried over into the season. With nearly 90 players and coaches on the field, he separated himself.

– We didn’t see much of them, but it was good to have linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo on the field coming off injuries. Hopefully both will be ready to go for the opener. Along with Jamie Collins, the Patriots will have a very talented group in the middle of the defense.

Friday:

– One of the biggest takeaways from Friday was the perceived first unit offensive lineman. Sebastian Vollmer was dressed, but spent the afternoon watching the group. There are questions if he is fully healthy and definitely something to monitor as we continue on.

As for the unit that saw the most “first team” reps, Nate Solder (left tackle), Shaq Mason (left guard), Bryan Stork (center), Tre Jackson (right guard) and Marcus Cannon (right tackle).

– With wide receiver Brandon LaFell absent — on all four days to start camp — Aaron Dobson was taking advance of every opportunity. Danny Amendola stood out, running crisp routes and adjusting to the ball well. Brandon Gibson is facing an uphill battle to stick on the roster, but don’t count him out. He made some terrific catches Friday morning.

– Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo were sharp Thursday, but both took a small step back in the second session Friday. A few more incomplete passes, but no interceptions on the day.

I like what Garoppolo has shown thus far, but he does hold the ball for too long at times.

– The front seven showed a few different looks Friday, lining up in 4-3 and 3-4 alignments. It was interesting to see Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones line up at linebacker, with Ninkovich dropping into coverage a time or two. Jabaal Sheard looks solid, moving all over the formations.

– While the top-tier linebacker depth chart is very talented — Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo — the team has some serious depth questions. James Morris got a lot of reps Thursday and Friday. He could find a contributing role if he’s able to stay healthy, a problem early on in his young career.

Just a hunch, but I expect the Patriots to keep an eye on linebackers across the league that become available until now and the start of the season.

Saturday:

– Running back LeGarrette Blount passed his conditioning test and was taken off the Non-Football Injury list as he participated in full pads Saturday. Also, 2014 first-round pick Dominic Easley was taken off of the Physically Unable to Perform list and also was in full pads. Both great signs.

– It’s weird to say, but despite Blount failing his condition test to start camp, he looks to be in phenomenal shape. He’s dropped a few pounds and it’s showing up in his agility. He looks more explosive and poised for a strong season.

– Rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson got a lot more reps at guard Saturday, just like the first two days. Mason stood out with a few strong blocks, once pancaking second-year DL Zach Moore. Both are considered strong run blockers, but need more time to develop pass protection. These reps should help.

– Rob Gronkowski is always a man amongst boys, but new team-mate Scott Chandler has stood out a lot from the get go. Chandler shows smooth hands and good routes. I’ve noticed the team running a lot of crossing routes, perhaps to help give Jimmy Garoppolo a big target to find quickly if he starts the year under center.

Jake Bequette continues to try tight end as he transitions from defensive line. I’ll say this for him, he doesn’t look out of place. He had a strong day Saturday with some quality catches. He recently switched his jersey number from no.92 to no.85.

– During one drill the linebackers were practicing dropping into coverage, then moving laterally to try and intercept a football thrown by the coaches. Jamie Collins showed why he’s one of the best athletes on the team, leaping to the right and making an incredible one-handed grab.

While the team has run a combination of alignments in the front seven to start camp, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich spent a lot of time standing on the edge Saturday. Trey Flowers has been given some quality reps, as well. He brings an intriguing skill set to the table as a rookie.

– Malcolm Butler had a second very good day of practice, a few nice pass break ups and showing a lot of confidence. He was beaten a few times, but still competitive.

– One name to keep an eye on: rookie safety Jordan Richards. He’s flashed each of the first few days. He’s been making defensive calls, showing good closing ability and also competitive in coverage. He had a great pass deflection defending Chandler down the seam Saturday.


Tarell Brown had a few pass break-ups on Sunday, including this one against Julian Edelman.

Sunday:

– Aaron Dobson continues to stand out, having another strong practice Sunday. He’s looked good catching the ball and building a stronger chemistry with Tom Brady. After practice he talked about earning Brady’s trust, it’s clear he’s made that a priority this summer.

– Tarell Brown had a terrific day. He’s been limited during a lot of team drills, but Sunday Brown was more active. He had a few pass break ups, one great play against Edelman and even took some reps as a punt returner.

– Young players from the interior line stood out Sunday. Malcom Brown and Dominique Easley both stood out during drills. They won their fair share of battles in drills, Easley was able to get into the backfield on a few occasions.

On the flip side, center Bryan Stork has been a steady force in a young, talented group of interior offensive lineman. The coaching staff absolutely loves what he brings to the table.

– Edelman went down during Sunday’s session and was looked at by a member of the team staff. It appeared to be a lower right leg (ankle) or foot injury. He watched practice from the sidelines, walking gingerly. For what it’s worth, he had a smile on his face and was having fun signing for fans afterwards.

– A spirited end to practice during goal-line drills. A lot of energy and passion from the players. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Tom Brady were jawing back-and-forth. After the offense punched it in for a touchdown Brady screamed, “Yea! Yea!” looking at the defense, pumping his fist.

The crowd, of course, loved it. Also, Brady walked onto the field to a standing ovation every day to start camp. “Brady! Brady! Brady!” and “Free Tom Brady!” chants broke out throughout the weekend.

Roster Shuffle:

On Saturday evening the Patriots released veteran cornerbacks Derek Cox, Justin Green and rookie linebacker DJ Lynch. Lynch was hurt during Saturday’s session and did not finish.

Justin Green announced his retirement on his Facebook page Sunday. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Green informed Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio he wanted to retire from the NFL. After that conversation Friday, it led to his release.

The Patriots claimed offensive lineman Harland Gunn off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. Once the reported signing becomes official, New England will have two open roster spots.

Gunn, listed at 6’2 310, signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent tin 2012 out of the University of Miami. He also spent time with the New Orleans Saints before joining the Falcons. The 25-year-old (soon to be 26 Aug. 30) will be thrown into the mix at guard.

Final Takeaways:

Overall, it was great to see the team back on the field as they gear up for the upcoming season. There was a ton of energy from the crowd all week, which was definitely noticed by the players.

Every session was in the morning under sunny skies and hot temperatures. The intensity, tempo and competition level rose a little each day, something that will continue as roster cuts loom.

The Patriots will take a day off Monday from practice, but return to the field Tuesday at 1:45 PM. The team will hold and in-Stadium session on Wednesday evening at 7 PM for season-ticket holders. On Thursday, they are back to the field behind the stadium at 1:45 PM.

Looking forward to the upcoming week. Be sure to stay tuned for more news, notes and analysis as we roll into the season.

Saturday Patriots Training Camp Observations: 8/1/15

The New England Patriots took the field for the third day on Saturday morning. Here were my observations from day three. —

– Saturday was the first practice in full pads. The tempo, intensity and competition level all took a step up from the previous two days.

It’s often really hard to evaluate offensive line, defensive line, or defensive players in general during training camp because the contact is not a realistic simulation of a game and for the most part players aren’t hitting or tackling too much.

When the pads are on, however, you have a better chance to evaluate some of those players than when they are in shorts and t-shirts.

– Running back LeGarrette Blount passed his conditioning test and was taken off the Non-Football Injury list as he participated in full pads today. Also, 2014 first-round pick Dominic Easley was taken off of the Physically Unable to Perform list and also was in full pads. Both great signs.

– While Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo have been on the field since the start of camp, they have not to this point participated in team drills. Hightower was wearing a red no contact jersey Saturday, but Mayo has been cleared for contact and was limited in the action. Still, a great sign for both this early in the year.

– Matthew Slater, Brandon LaFell, Derek Cox, Chris Jones, DJ Lynch, Chris White were not spotted.

– Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer participated in a walkthrough to start the day, but spent time during drills watching while Marcus Cannon took his place. Just speculation on my part, but Vollmer appears to be dinged up and not ready for full participation.

Rookies Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson got a lot more reps at guard Saturday, just like the first two days. Mason stood out with a few strong blocks, once pancaking second-year DL Zach Moore. Both are considered strong run blockers, but need more time to develop pass protection. These reps should help.

– Rob Gronkowski is always a man amongst boys, but new team-mate Scott Chandler has stood out a lot from the get go. Chandler shows smooth hands and good routes. I’ve noticed the team running a lot of crossing routes, perhaps to help give Jimmy Garoppolo a big target to find quickly.

Jake Bequette continues to try tight end as he transitions from defensive line. I’ll say this for him, he doesn’t look out of place. He had a strong day Saturday with some quality catches. He recently switched his jersey number from no.92 to no.85.

– Aaron Dobson had a great day of practice and his summer is off to a good start. He had two phenomenal catches, one where he laid out on the sideline after a dart from Tom Brady. It’s not about talent with him, we know he has it, just about staying on the field and putting it together. With LaFell absent, Dobson’s maximizing his opportunities.

– We saw our first real contact drill with the defensive line and offensive line going head-to-head while a running back tried to run up the middle. Chandler Jones was amped up throughout the session, he brings a lot of positive energy to the team.

The play of the day was Sealver Siliga de-cleating Tyler Gaffney. It was such a hard hit you could feel in 50 yards away. To give Gaffney credit, though, he popped back up and walked it off.

– During one drill the linebackers were practicing dropping into coverage, then moving laterally to try and intercept a football thrown by the coaches. Jamie Collins showed why he’s one of the best athletes on the team, leaping to the right and making an incredible one-handed grab.

While the team has run a combination of alignments in the front seven to start camp, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich spent a lot of time standing on the edge Saturday. Trey Flowers has been given some quality reps, as well. He brings an intriguing skill set to the table as a rookie.

– Tarell Brown wasn’t quite ready for full participation in team drills, but has looked competitive when out there.

– Malcolm Butler had a second very good day of practice, a few nice pass break ups and showing a lot of confidence. He was beaten a few times, but still competitive.

– One name to keep an eye on: rookie safety Jordan Richards. He’s flashed each of the first three days. He’s been making defensive calls, showing good closing ability and also competitive on coverage. He had a great pass deflection defending Chandler down the seam Saturday.

 

Friday Patriots Training Camp Observations: 7/31/15

The New England Patriots took the field for the second day on Friday morning. Here were my observations from day two. —

– Another relatively light day for the team. Not as humid, but very hot. That didn’t stop Pats fans from packing the surrounding areas, surely toping the 10,108 reported attendance from Thursday.

Players were in shorts and jerseys, thankfully with numbers Friday. As it states in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs cannot practice in pads until the third day, so we likely won’t see that until Saturday.

– Brandon LaFell, Matt Flynn, Dane Fletcher, Ryan Wendell, Chris Barker, Chris White, Vince Taylor, Caylin Hauptmann and AJ Derby were not spotted.

LeGarrette Blount, Alan Branch and Dominique Easley were seen on the sidelines watching their teammates go through day two.

I spent some time with Blount Thursday. While he has not passed his conditioning test, he does look solid and may have dropped some weight from last season. He should be joining the team soon.

– A lot of energy from the fans again. Breaking out in “Brady!” chants throughout the session. Chandler Jones had a great comment after practice saying, “Tom is a legend. I even get hyped up when I hear everyone yelling his name.”

– One of the biggest takeaways from Friday was the perceived first unit offensive lineman. Sebastian Vollmer was dressed, but spent the afternoon watching the group. There are questions if he is fully healthy and definitely something to monitor as we continue on.

As for the unit that saw the most “first team” reps, Nate Solder (left tackle), Shaq Mason (left guard), Bryan Stork (center), Tre Jackson (right guard) and Marcus Cannon (right tackle).

– James White, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola spent time returning punts.

– White, going into his second season after a quiet rookie year, saw a lot of action in the backfield and looked comfortable catching the football. Dion Lewis was in the mix at tailback, too.

– Aaron Dobson continues to see plenty of action with Brandon LaFell sidelined. Dobson is catching nearly everything coming his way, but he needs to continue to impress with a lot riding on this off-season.

Keep your eye on Brandon Gibson at receiver. He’s fighting for a roster spot and is making his opportunity count. It looks like an uphill battle for him, but he has a chance to slide onto the roster.

– Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo were sharp Thursday, but both took a small step back in the second session. A few more incomplete passes, but no interceptions on the day.

I like what Garoppolo has shown thus far, but he does hold the ball for too long at times.

– The front seven showed a few different looks Friday, lining up in 4-3 and 3-4 alignments. It was interesting to see Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones line up at linebacker, with Ninkovich dropping into coverage a time or two. Jabaal Sheard looks solid, moving all over the formations.

– Malcolm Butler had a few solid pass break ups in coverage, drawing cheers from the crowd. Newly signed veteran cornerback, Tarell Brown, was very competitive in coverage.

– While the top-tier linebacker depth chart is very talented — Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo — the team has some serious depth questions. James Morris got a lot of reps Thursday and Friday.

Rookie linebacker DJ Lynch hobbled off the field and did not finish the day with an apparent lower body injury.

Just a hunch, but I expect the Patriots to keep an eye on linebackers across the league that become available until now and the start of the season.

Also should be noted while Hightower and Mayo were out on the field for position drills, they were not participating in the team drills and spent time running during those sessions.

More notes coming tomorrow. For live updates, follow me on Twitter — @PatriotsHaven

Thursday Patriots Training Camp Observations: 7/30/15

The New England Patriots opened up training camp to the public on Thursday and many observers got their first look at the 2015 squad. Patriots fans were out in full force, no question a sight for sore eyes as football is back.

Here are my observations for Thursday. —
– A lighter day for the team as camp opens up. As it states in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs cannot practice in pads until the third day, so we likely won’t see that until Saturday.

Only some players had shells, most were in shorts and t-shirts. A very hot day, low intensity, as camp gets underway.

– A lot of energy from the players and fans Thursday. Chants from the crowd periodically yelling “Brady! Brady! Brady!” When Robert Kraft walked onto the field, he visited with fans and then was met with a loud round of applause, pumping his fist in the air.

– The players were not wearing jersey numbers on their clothes, which made it difficult to keep track of certain things. Some players are easier to spot than others, but it will limit some of the information we’ll be able to provide.

For those asking, this isn’t standard operating procedure for Bill Belichick and the Pats. Maybe in Organized Team Activities or mini-camp, but not training camp. This move, to me, is about Belichick sticking it to the media with the “Deflategate” narrative rolling on. Unfortunately, the fans are collateral damage.

– Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo both looked sharp today. Garoppolo had an early interception, but recovered nicely. He looks much improved from the last time I saw him live, which was last summer. He looks more confident under center and has command in the pocket.

Brady looked strong as well, picking up where he left off. He had a few beautiful passes, finding Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Josh Boyce regularly.

In a lighter day, mostly quarterbacks and pass catchers are going to stand out. But I was happy with the development from Garoppolo and Brady’s strong showing with everything going on.

– The most impressive player on the field Thursday was Edelman. I don’t want to overstate it, but it was noteworthy. He looked crisp in-and-out of his breaks, ran precise routes and had some very nice catches.

Last summer it looked like he took a step forward and took his game to a new level, that carried over into the season. With nearly 90 players and coaches on the field, he separated himself.

– Staying in the same vein, Brian Tyms and Aaron Dobson had solid days. Both are battling for the fourth receiver role and caught everything that came their way.

– At one point during a special teams drill, Brady took Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Dobson and Edelman to corner end zone. Each player took turns running routes, mostly fades to the corner and slants near the goal line.

Not sure who is taller, but Chandler and Gronkowski are huge. Josh McDaniels will get creative with them in the red zone. Opposing defenses are going to have a hard time slowing the offense down.

– We didn’t see much of them, but it was good to have linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo on the field. Hopefully both will be ready to go for the opener. Along with Jamie Collins, the Patriots will have a very talented group in the middle of the defense.

– The play of the day happened towards the end of practice. Brady handed the ball off to Brandon Bolden, who handed it off to Edelman on a reverse sweep. Brady ran a wheel route off right tackle and Edelman threw a pass to no.12. Brady hauled in the pass with one-handed and kept his feet in bounds down the sideline for the score.

What I’ll Be Watching for As Patriots Training Camp Opens

After a summer hiatus, I’m back.

Ok, I’m sure all of you are more focused on the Patriots returning to the practice field. With the team reporting Wednesday, July 29, we’ll get our first access later this week.

Let’s put the Deflategate narrative aside, we’ll focus on the field. With training camp just about underway, here’s what I’ll be looking for over the weekend. —

– With Tom Brady’s status in limbo for the upcoming season, how will Bill Belichick split up the reps in practice? Will Jimmy Garoppolo have a shot with the expected starters?

In the same vein, how has Garoppolo progressed from his rookie season? Does he have command in the offense? is he able to make progressions and accurate throws? His overall development could have huge implications moving forward.

– The cornerback position will be under a microscope throughout camp. Bradley Fletcher, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Robert McClain and the recently added Tarell Brown will be in the mix to start. After the departure of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington, they’ll be an all new starting lineup in New England.

– Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo did not open up the week on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which was a surprise to many. Will they be able to contribute in camp? Doubtful. But it would be great to see them take part in any drills as they gear up for the season.

– Does Dominique Easley make an appearance? What does he look like? The 2013 first-round pick has a ton of potential, but knee injuries have held him back. Is he the mix? How is he moving? If he can start off the season on a healthy note he could add a boost to the interior pass rush. He will open up camp on the PUP list, so who knows what his participation level will be.

– With Shane Vereen in New York, the third-down tailback role is up in the air. LeGarratte Blount will get a lions share of the carries, but Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray, James White, Dion Lewis, Tyler Gaffney and Travaris Cadet will fight for a legit role in the offense.

– With Dan Connolly retiring, who will fill in at left guard? Josh Kline and rookie Tre Jackson come to mind, but the team could play musical chairs in the first few weeks until the coaching staff feels comfortable with a starting five.

– Defensive end Jabaal Sheard is one of — if not the — biggest free agent signings of the off-season for the team. It’s hard to evaluate line play during training camp practices, but how does he look? Where does he line up? Is he explosive and can he work his way into the starting group or significant reps? Many are hoping the front seven turns up the heat with the secondary in flux, Sheard could be a part of that.

Butler’s Punishment Could be More Detrimental than Construcive

Super Bowl XLIX hero, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, has been absent from the Organized Team Activities to this point and now we have more details on the situation.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported Wednesday afternoon the second-year defensive back showed up late to the first practice and has been held off the field ever since.

Reportedly, Butler scheduled a flight to Boston the day before OTAs began and his flight was delayed due to weather conditions. When he arrived to the facility the next day, he was late for the start and head coach Bill Belichick decided to keep him off the field for the last three weeks.

Howe added while Butler has been held out of workouts on the field, he’s been at the team meetings, film and weight training sessions.

Butler is expected to be back on the field soon, possibly as soon as Thursday when OTAs resume for June 11-12. The Patriots will hold Mandatory mini-camp on June 16-18.

While Howe gave us more clarity on a murky situation, there’s still a question if there’s more to the story. Based on the given information, however, this punishment seems very excessive and could ultimately prove to be more detrimental to Butler’s development.

One line of thinking is Belichick could be trying to bring Butler back down to earth, after a busy off-season filled with public appearances and autograph signings born from his Super Bowl heroics.

But is this the right way to go about it?

It’s hard to question one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, but that doesn’t mean every move is the correct. By keeping Butler off the field for three weeks, he’s lost mental reps as he goes into his second year.

Given the cornerback (lack of) depth, Butler is penciled in as a potential starter. While showing up late to work is wrong, these OTA workouts are voluntary and weather is out of Butler’s control. I guess it’s easy to make excuses with hindsight 20/20, but this seems over the top, even for Belichick.

While each NFL season is a marathon and the team is just beginning this year’s journey, we’ll have to play the wait-and-see approach over the next few weeks and into training camp to see if there’s any ramifications from this incident. Hopefully Butler learns from this and can give himself more wiggle room moving forward.

Do you have a Twitter account? Follow me: @PatriotsHaven


Former Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington has agreed to join the Baltimore Ravens, leaving New England’s cornerback position with more questions than answers. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots released cornerback Kyle Arrington earlier this week, but it didn’t take long for him to find a new team.

Arrington agreed to a three-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday night, pending a physical.

The 28-year-old had two years left on his contract with the Patriots, but the team obviously felt his $4.6 million cap figure was too high given his role with the team.

Arrington released this statement earlier this week, thanking the Patriots organization. —

“Want to take the moment to thank the New England Patriot organization for an incredible opportunity to be apart of such a first class franchise the last six years. Definitely want to thank the fans and New England community as well. This has been my home away from home and it’s been an amazing journey. From ’09-’14 you guys weren’t just my teammates, you are my brothers! Always……#PatsNation”

With Arrington gone, New England has allowed all three starting cornerbacks — Darrelle Revis (New York Jets) and Brandon Browner (New Orleans Saints)  — from last season walk away.

With a retooled secondary in 2014, the Patriots hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in a decade. Now, they have moved in a different direction and are left with more questions than answers at the cornerback position.

Here are the cornerbacks currently on New England’s 90-man roster: Logan Ryan, Bradley Fletcher, Malcolm Butler, Robert McClain, Justin Green, Chimdi Chekwa, Jordan Richards, Daxton Swanson, Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean and Eric Patterson.

Maybe you just read that list and said “Who?” or “Yikes”, heck, if you’re putting a positive spin on the current list of cornerbacks on the roster, all the power to you.

The season isn’t starting this Sunday, so there’s a possibility of a trade or signing before training camp and the regular season begins in four months.

For now, however, all you can do is evaluate the current players on the roster. Based on the list of names, there is not one guy you can pencil in and label as a known commodity. All 11 of these players have questions surrounding them, which is sure to draw fear and frustration from a fan base that saw what a strong unit the team put on the field last year.

Training camp is still a long ways away, but this position will be under a microscope as the players battle for their roster lives. It’s a fluid situation, though. We’ll see if moves are made before now and then. Stay tuned.

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

The New England Patriots traded their fifth-round selection, 147 overall, with the Green Bay Packers. In return, the Patriots acquired the 166 (fifth) and 247 (seventh) overall selections.

The Packers selected UCLA quarterback, Brett Hundley, at the 147th spot.

The Patriots have five more selections in the 2015 draft, as it stands now.

Fifth round: 166

Sixth round: 178, 202

Seventh round: 237, 253 (compensatory)

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

The New England Patriots are in good position heading into day three of the 2015 NFL draft.

Bill Belichick has seven selections going into Saturday, giving him and the front office plenty of ammunition to move around if they wish to do so. To this point, the Patriots have selected three players; Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards and Geneo Grissom.

Here’s how the board sets up on the final day. —

Fourth Round: 101, 111, 131

Fifth Round: 147

Sixth Round: 178, 202

Seventh Round: 253

Quick Take: 

The team has targeted defense with the first three selections, but cornerback has still not been addressed. As it stands now, offensive guard and cornerback are the two most pressing needs from this viewpoint.

Beyond those two needs, running back, wide receiver and linebacker could all be targeted positions in day three.

“There are a number of players that could still be a positive factor for us,” Belichick said Friday night. “There are guys we want to pick. Hopefully we’ll get some of them.”

We’ll see how it plays out.

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

Player Bio: Patriots Select Geneo Grissom in the Third Round


The Patriots added Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom in the third-round of the 2015 NFL draft. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Geneo Grissom

Position: Defensive End / Linebacker

School: Oklahoma

Selected: Round 3, Pick 97

Height: 6’3

Weight: 262

Strengths:

  • Athletic and versatile
  • Long arms, muscular build and NFL frame
  • Strong burst off the ball, shows good pursuit
  • Pass rush ability, can generate pressure from multiple positions
  • Raw, but best football may be in front of him

Weaknesses:

  • No defined position
  • Lacks lateral agility and quickness, struggles in space
  • Playing strength does not match frame

Expert’s Takes: 

“He’s played all over the place at Oklahoma. He can be an edge rusher and can drop into coverage. He is an athlete, is versatile and smart, and fits New England.” — Mike Mayock

Grissom is clearly a work in progress. Once he locates the ball, however, Grissom accelerates quickly and arrives with a pop. A team willing to gamble on his upside could be handsomely rewarded.” — Rob Rang

Analysis: 

Grissom is an intriguing selection. The Patriots front seven is loaded with young talent and Grissom’s athletic ability and versatility will be a nice piece for Bill Belichick to play with as he develops.

The Oklahoma product is still raw and the first step is figuring out where he will play or what his primary role will be as he transitions to the pro level. Over the past several years he’s changed schemes, defensive coordinators and positions, so settling into a more steady environment could be huge for his growth.

Grissom has ideal size, build and length for his projected position on the outside. If he can contribute as an edge rusher in sub packages his rookie season, that should be considered a win. Based on what I’ve seen and read, his upside is worth the third-round selection. He’s a player to keep an eye on during training camp, you can never have enough pass rushers in today’s NFL.

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