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Player Bio: Cameron Fleming

Name: Cameron Fleming

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Stanford

Selected: Round 4, Pick 140 overall

Height: 6’5

Weight: 330

Strengths:

  • Good size, big body and strong hands
  • Explosive and agile for his size
  • Shows good awareness and alertness
  • Three year starter in pro-style offense¬†
  • Very intelligent

Weaknesses:

  • Tight hips, struggles versus speed rushers
  • Could improve finishing off blocks
  • Footwork could improve

Analysis: 

Fleming is an impressive prospect. He might not be totally NFL ready, but he has starting potential. He’s a big-bodied specimen that can move well for his size, showing explosiveness when engaging defenders.

Fleming is a very intelligent player and hard worker. He majored in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. His former college coach, David Shaw, said on ESPN, “The bottom line is he doesn’t get beat.”

He started for three years in a pro style offense and compares to Marcus Cannon a bit. He could play right tackle, may be able to kick inside to right guard. Just a depth guy from the start, but could push for a starting role down the line.

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

Player Bio: James White

Name: James White

Position: Running back

School: Wisconsin

Selected: Round 4, 130 overall

Height:¬†5’9

Weight: 204

Strengths:

  • Good vision, balance
  • Takes care of the football, only two fumbles in 754 carries
  • Excels in pass protection, willing blocker
  • Shifty runner, short-area burst
  • Tough, competitive, highly respected in Wisconsin’s program¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks top-end speed
  • Undersized, short arms and small hands
  • Does not push the pile
  • Hasn’t shown the ability to be a feature back, split carries all four years

Analysis: 

With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen entering contract years, the Patriots were expected to take a running back or two in this year’s draft.¬†White should be able to contribute to the committee right away with his ability to pass protect. New England needed a backup third-dpwn back and White should fill that role.

The Wisconsin tailback has shared carries throughout his collegiate career, displaying excellent ball security. He maximizes runs, showing burst through the hole. He has not shown the ability to be a feature back and most likely won’t at the NFL level.

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

Player Bio: Bryan Stork

Name: Bryan Stork 

Position: Center / Guard

School: Florida State

Selected: Round 4, Pick 105

Height: 6’4

Weight: 315

Strengths:

  • Good size and can handle big defenders¬†
  • Intelligent, called out pass protection at FSU
  • Understands angles, has ability to slide and seal¬†
  • Versatile, can play center and guard
  • Loves to compete, plays with an edge

Weaknesses:

  • Short arms
  • Needs work with hips, stiff movements and has trouble sinking¬†
  • Tends to play too upright, exposing his body and losing¬†leverage

 

Expert’s Takes: 

“He’s got some interior versatility. He can play center or guard. He’s smart, understands blitz pickups and the nuances of playing offensive line.” — Mike Mayock

Good-sized, bump-and-steer blocker ideally suited for a zone-blocking, slide-protection scheme. Smart, tough technician capable of serving as an interior swing backup and could eventually fend for a starting job as a pivot. Will be best developed by a patient, respectful position coach.” — Nolan Nawrocki¬†

Analysis: 

Stork is a big-bodied technician that should fit in well with the Patriots. He loves to compete, has a high football IQ and is versatile. He has the ability to play center and guard, doing both at Florida State. He called the pass protections, too.

Stork needs some time to develop, probably a backup before challenging for a starting role down the line. He is a massive size upgrade over current center, Ryan Wendell. Stork needs work with his hips, focusing on not getting too upright, but should be able to find success with his lunchpail attitude and love for the game.

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

Player Bio: Jimmy Garoppolo


Recently drafted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Jimmy Garoppolo

Position: Quarterback

School: Eastern Illinois

Selected: Round 2, Pick 62

Height: 6’2

Weight: 226

Strengths:

  • Very quick release
  • Mobile, can slide in pocket while keeping eyes downfield
  • Goes through progression, great anticipation
  • Very accurate, can make all NFL throws
  • Poised, mentally¬†tough in the pocket
  • Smart, durable, team leader¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Small hands, had a lot of fumbles in collegiate career¬†
  • Played mostly in shotgun, spread offense
  • Footwork could¬†be improved
  • Could improve pocket awareness¬†

Expert’s Takes: 

“This kid’s got a quick release, good arm and is very athletic. Tom Brady, at his age, and Ryan Mallett’s uncertain status forces this pick. This is an insurance policy for an unknown future. He’s an interesting quarterback. He makes every throw. The feet and quick release are what stand out.” — Mike Mayock¬†

A decorated FCS passer, Garoppolo could excite quarterback coaches with his quick delivery, mental make-up and work habits, yet he still needs to prove he can fit the ball into tight windows and do more than carve up soft shells the way he regularly did on his way to a record-breaking performance in college. Possesses the physical tools to eventually earn an NFL starting job in a rhythm passing game with continued refinement but is more of a caretaker than a game changer and will require some patience adapting to the NFL game.” — Nolan Nawrocki¬†

Analysis: 

Garoppolo has all the tools to be a very good NFL quarterback. He didn’t play against the top competition in college, needs to work on pocket awareness and could benefit from sitting a few years. He comes into a good situation in New England. Can learn a pro style offense, while cleaning up his game. The Walter Peyton Award winner, given to most¬†outstanding FCS player, is a smart guy and a great leader. He should fit great in New England.

Garoppolo was a surprise pick by the Patriots for many people around the league. With Tom Brady not getting any younger and Ryan Mallett only under contract for one more year, it makes sense to bring in another signal-caller. With that being said, it seemed like the team had more pressing needs to address in the second round. The team felt strongly about Garoppolo, obviously, and he’ll be under a microscope in training camp. Could this be Tom Brady’s heir apparent?

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

Player Bio: Dominique Easley


Easley’s upside is immense, and he should be a potential playmaker in the Patriots’ defense. (USA TODAY Images)

Name: Dominique Easley

Position: Defensive lineman

School: Florida

Selected: Round 1, Pick 29

Height: 6’2

Weight: 288

Strengths:

  • Explodes off the ball
  • Great use of his hands
  • Terrific motor and energy
  • Versatile, has played all along the defensive line¬†

Weaknesses:

  • Both knees have required ACL surgery¬†
  • Could add some more size and get functionally stronger¬†
  • Limited experience in two-gap technique
  • Can be overaggressive¬†

Expert’s Takes:¬†

“He was a top 30 pick until he tore his ACL in September. He’s quick and explosive. A lot of people felt like he was going to drop because of the ACL. This is a typical Bill Belichick pick. The rest of league discounted talent, but he’ll be in training camp. The Patriots needed defensive linemen and this kid is gifted.” — Mike Mayock

“Undersized, explosive, athletic, high-motor three-technique whose junior season was cut short in Week 3 by a knee injury. Injury history will likely affect his draft stock, but when healthy, he shows the ability to disrupt the backfield and pressure the quarterback. Fits best in an aggressive scheme in which he could use his quickness to slant, stunt and shoot gaps. Medical evaluations will determine draft standing.” — Nolan Nawrocki

A healthy Easley has exceptional get-off quickness, constantly playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage. But buyer beware. In a draft awash with talent, some team will really need to have a special feeling for Easley to spend a high pick based on potential not attained due to multiple, non-contact injuries.” — Rob Rang¬†

Analysis: 

Easley is a very good pick for the Patriots. Obviously, his knee injuries are concerning, but his upside is immense. Talent-wise, he is a top ten pick in this year’s draft. Easley has shown great versatility and plays with a tremendous motor. If you liked the way former linebacker Brandon Spikes played, you’ll love Easley’s energy.

With Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly not getting any younger, bringing Easley along in the defense makes sense. If you watch his tape, his hand technique is excellent. He explodes off the ball and can get into the backfield with ease. He will be able to contribute right away.

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

Top Five Position Rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft 2.0


Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has made some big moves this offseason, but there are more holes to be filled in this years draft. (USA TODAY Images)

With the NFL Draft only days away, here are my final position-by-position top five rankings for 2014:

Quarterback
1.  Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2. Blake Bortles, Central Florida
3. Zach Mettenberger, Louisiana State
4. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
5. Derek Carr, Fresno State

- There’s no Andrew Luck type quarterback in this class, but there are several prospects that offer intriguing upside. For teams in need of a QB, it will come down to evaluations and fits, but there’s no telling who the first guy off the board will end up being.

Running back
1. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
2. Tre Mason, Auburn
3. Bishop Sankey, Washinton
4. Jeremy Hill, Louisiana State
5. Andre Williams, Boston College

- I’m sticking to my guns. Arizona’a Ka’Deem Carey is my top overall tailback this year. Ignore the 40 time, put on the tape. After watching him play for the last few years, I see a productive NFL running back.

Last year was the first time in over a decade no running back was taken in the first round. Could we see a repeat? I wouldn’t rule it out. While there are some talented prospects, I’m not sure any player is worth taking in the top 32.

Wide receiver
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
3. Odell Beckham Jr., Louisiana State
4. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
5. Marquise Lee, USC

- Watkins and Evans will be the first two wide receivers taken. After that, Beckham, Cooks and Lee could all go in the first round. The receiver class is tremendously deep and there will be players taken in the second, third and fourth round that could end up being starters early on. If you need a wide out this year, you’re in luck.

Tight end
1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
3. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
4.Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa

- Ebron is head and shoulders above the rest, but I tend to believe he will go much higher than he should. Good top overall prospects, but not a very deep position. After the top there’s a significant drop off in talent.¬†There are some red flags around several players, however, there’s a lot of potential.

Offensive tackle
1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2. Greg Robinson, Auburn
3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
4. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
5. Joel Bitonio, Nevada

- Flip a coin for Robinson or Matthews, either could be the top tackle taken this year. I rank Matthews higher because he is more well-rounded and polished at this point. Martin offers tremendous versatility and Lewan is now slouch either. A very good group of top offensive tackles this year. Nevada’s Bitonio has been a fast riser and could sneak into the first round.

Guard
1.¬†Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
2. Trai Turner, Louisiana State
3. David Yankey, Stanford
4. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
5. Brandon Jackson, Clemson

- Unlike last year, I wouldn’t expect a guard in the top 20 overall — which speaks to the talent available at more important positions — but nevertheless, Su’a-Filo, Turner and Yankey seem to be a cut above the rest.¬†Clemson’s Brandon Jackson remains in my top five despite injury his knee during a workout and will have to sit out this upcoming year.

Center
1. Weston Richburg, Colorado State
2. Marcus Martin, USC
3. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
4. Bryan Stork, Florida State
5. Tyler Larsen, Utah State

- Richburg is my top prospect, with Martin right behind. Both guys much more impressive than the rest. Not a sure-fire center in this class, but some guys who should be able to develop.

Defensive tackle
1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
2. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
3. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
4. Dominique Easley, Florida
5.¬†Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota

- A talented group that offers some versatility in multiple fronts. Florida’s Dominique Easley could be a top 20 selection if he wasn’t coming off a knee injury, he’s that talanted. Arizona State’s Will Sutton, South Carolina’s Kelsey Quarles and Penn State’s Daquan Jones are three players sitting outside the top five that could be solid as well.

Defensive end
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. Kony Ealy, Missouri
3. Dee Ford, Auburn
4. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
5. Scott Crichton, Oregon State

- Clowney is the biggest name, but there are some quality pass rushers available in this class. Ford has been very impressive throughout the pre-draft process and Crichton has been rising as of late. Unlike the interior defensive line, the defensive end group is not exceptionally deep.

Outside Linebacker
1. Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2. Anthony Barr, UCLA
3. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
4. Kyle Van Noy, BYU
5. Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

- Some highly rated prospects on the edge this year. Mack has been talked about at the no. 1 overall selection, while Barr could also land in the top 10. There are some athletic linebackers in this group that should translate well to NFL defenses looking for answers in a pass-happy league.

Inside Linebacker
1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
2. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
3. Max Bullough, Michigan State
4. Preston Brown, Louisville
5. Shayne Skov, Stanford

- The inside linebacker position is much thinner than some of the other positions in this year’s class. Mosley is by far-and-away the top rated prospect. While Mosley will almost certainly go in the first round, it wouldn’t be a surprise if another inside linebacker waited until the late-second or early-third round before they hear their name called.

Cornerback
1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
2. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
3. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
4. Jason Verrett, TCU
5. Bradley Roby, Ohio State

- After Dennard and Gilbert, there’s some debate over the next cornerback this year. Even though those two players are listed as the top prospects, there are plenty of questions about how good they can be from day one. In a pass happy league, however, cornerback is a highly-coveted position — so look for teams to reach if the need is there.

Safety
1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
4. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
5. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois

- The safety class isn’t as strong as some of the others, but the top five is a solid group. Pryor and Clinton-Dix seem to be first round talents. Bucannon is an ascending talent that has put his name in first-round discussion.¬†Joyner could be listed at CB, but despite his small frame, is being looked at to play safety; his versatility on the nation’s top team stood out in 2013.

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

Reaction: Five Thoughts on the Patriots 2014 Schedule


Bill Belichick and the Patriots got their first look at the 2014 NFL regular season schedule Wednesday night. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots 2014 regular season schedule was released on Wednesday night.

We knew the opponents, but as a fan and analyst it’s always exciting to see when the team you follow plays certain games. Here’s the schedule and some thoughts below. –

2014 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1 — 9/7 New England at Miami ‚Äď 1:00pm ‚Äď CBS

Week 2 — ¬†9/14 New England at Vikings ‚Äď 1:00pm ‚Äď CBS

Week ¬†3 — ¬†9/21 New England vs Oakland ‚Äď 1:00pm ‚Äď CBS

Week 4 ¬†– ¬†9/29 New England at Kansas City ‚Äď 8:30pm ESPN (Mon Night)

Week 5 — ¬†10/05 New England vs Cincinnati ‚Äď 8:30pm NBC

Week 6 — ¬†10/12 New England at Buffalo ‚Äď 1:00pm CBS

Week 7 — ¬†10/16 New England vs NY Jets ‚Äď 8:25pm CBS (Thurs)

Week 8 — ¬†10/26 New England vs Chicago ‚Äď 1:00pm FOX

Week 9 — ¬†11/2 New England vs Denver ‚Äď 4:25pm CBS

Week 10 — ¬†11/9 ‚Äď BYE WEEK

Week 11 — ¬†11/16 New England at Indianapolis ‚Äď 8:30pm NBC

Week 12 — ¬†11/23 New England vs Detroit ‚Äď 1:00pm FOX

Week 13 — ¬†11/30 New England at Green Bay ‚Äď 4:25pm CBS

Week 14 — ¬†12/7 New England at San Diego ‚Äď 8:30pm NBC

Week 15 — ¬†12/14 New England vs Miami ‚Äď 1:00pm CBS

Week 16 — ¬†12/21 New England at NY Jets ‚Äď 1:00pm CBS

Week 17 — ¬†12/28 New England vs Buffalo ‚Äď 1:00pm CBS

Reaction:

- Well Placed Bye Week:¬†The first thing that caught my eye, a week ten bye for the Patriots. It’s always good to push the bye week until after the second-half of the season so guys can rest after a sufficient amount of games have been played.

- Starts Easy, Ends Tough:¬†When you look over the schedule, the first few teams appear — on paper — to be relatively easy games for an expected contender like New England. Once you get to week nine — the premier matchup hosting the Denver Broncos — however, along with the seven games following the bye week are much tougher. A good way for the team to ramp up their competition level before a potential postseason run.

- Good Four Games For Browner to Miss:¬†One of the biggest free agent acquisitions for the Patriots was cornerback, Brandon Browner. He’s suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season and the stretch looks manageable with him out of the lineup. Three-out-of-four contests are on the road, but the Patriots should be able to handle the opponents without Browner in the mix.

- November Looks Like the Toughest Month:¬†If I had to pick the toughest month — granted, it’s still a long time before the season kicks off — November looks very challenging. The Pats host Denver before the bye week, then go on the road to face the Colts, host Detroit and then go to Green Bay for a showdown with the Packers. It seems like a stretch that could tell us if this team will be able to make a legitimate championship run.

- Nice Slate of Primetime Games: The NFL announced Wednesday morning that flex-scheduling will start in week five this year. This is actually big news because previously it was not until week 11 before networks could change who is playing primetime and who is not.

As it stands now, though, the Patriots have five primetime games. Week four at Kansas City on Monday Night Football, week five vs Cincinnati on Sunday Night Football, week seven vs the Jets on Thursday Night Football, week 11 at Indianapolis on Sunday Night Football and Week 14 at San Diego on Sunday Night Football. If all five stand, it will be a great slate of primetime contests.

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

2014 NFL Mock Draft 2.0


Bill Belichick will look to improve the Patriots roster in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. (USA TODAY Images)

The second edition of my 2014 NFL mock draft.

The NFL draft is about a month away and there have been a lot of changes from my previous mock. Here’s how I expect the first round to play out. –

1.¬†Houston Texans¬†‚ÄstJadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

The Texans are a franchise quarterback away from being an AFC contender, but there isn’t a quarterback in this year’s class that is worth a no. 1 overall selection. Houston goes with the best player in the draft and hope to grab a QB in round two.

2. St. Louis Rams¬†‚ÄstGreg Robinson, OT, Auburn

In my first mock, I had the Rams trading with the Falcons. I still see St. Louis training down, but I’ve decided not to mock trades in this edition.

The Rams have Jake Long, who is recovering from an ACL injury suffered last season,¬†¬†but the Auburn tackle has incredible upside and would be a great addition for the team. They’ve been committed to QB Sam Bradford, so it’s a must they do everything in their power to protect him.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars¬†‚Äď Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

The Jaguars could go in several different directions with this selection. Clowney makes sense if he’s available, as they desperately need help rushing the passer, but Jacksonville needs a face of their franchise. Bridgewater gives them a legitimate QB and would be their best option here.

4. Cleveland Browns¬†‚ÄstBlake Bortles, QB, UCF

I have questions about Bortles, and he‚Äôs not my top rated prospect, but this is an interesting fit. Borltes is by no means a sure-thing, but he has high upside. His 6’5, 232 frame throwing the ball to Josh Gordon and Cameron Jordan has to be tantalizing for a team that has been searching for a legitimate signal-caller. The question for Cleveland, however, is could they find a QB they like with picks at no. 26 or no. 35 for better value?

5. Oakland Raiders¬†‚ÄstSammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Watkins is a dynamic, play-making receiver that can boost an anemic offense. The biggest question for Oakland ‚ÄĒ who will throw him the ball? Is Matt Schuab the plan for their “win now” mentality? The Raiders could potentially move up for one of the top QB prospects, but Watkins would be a nice consolation prize as they look to build on the offensive side of the ball.

6. Atlanta Falcons ‚ÄstKhalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The Falcons could very well trade up for Clowney, but grabbing Mack at this spot would be a nice selection. Atlanta needs a defensive playmaker and the Buffalo product fits the mold. A versatile, aggressive player that could be an impact starter from day one. Getting after the quarterback is key in today’s NFL and the Falcons would love to add Mack for 2014.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers¬†‚Äď ¬†Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

I could easily see new head coach Lovie Smith targeting a prospect to add to the front seven of his defense. But if Clowney and Mack are gone, which is expected, pairing Evans with Vincent Jackson would give the Buccaneers a receiving core that could torture opposing secondaries.

8. Minnesota Vikings¬†‚ÄstJohnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

Fire and ice, that’s what I see with Manziel pairing with new head coach Mike Zimmer. After Manziel’s highly publicized pro day, Zimmer called it a “sideshow”, but I still this as a potential fit. Manziel could develop in the system, handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson and has targets down field with Kyle Rudolph as well as Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings could have a young, explosive offense with Manziel leading the way.

9. Buffalo Bills¬†‚ÄstJake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Back-to-back-to-back Aggies. Even with Cordy Glenn already on the line, if Matthews falls to this spot it would be tough to pass on him. I could see the Bills adding a defensive prospect to their defense, but like the Rams, they’ve committed to a QB and need to protect him. A strong line could really benefit E.J. Manuel as he continues to develop going into his second season.

10. Detroit Lions¬†‚ÄstJustin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

After the signing of wide receiver Golden Tate in free agency, I don’t see Detroit going offense here. The Lions need help on defense, specifically in their secondary. Gilbert brings a tremendous skill-set and high upside to a team with a strong front seven in place. He‚Äôs not a perfect prospect, but he is the best cornerback in this class.

11. Tennessee Titans¬†‚ÄstAnthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Titans need an edge rusher, so Anthony Barr is the selection here. New defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, will be switching the defense to a 3-4 and could use a standup weapon like Barr. Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley just re-worked his contract and pairing him with the UCLA prospect could give them some explosive outside linebackers for Horton’s new scheme.

12. New York Giants¬†‚Äď Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

Ebron is far and away the best tight end in this class. The way tight ends have been used the past few years, every team in the NFL wants the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski on the roster. I’m not sure Ebron is as good, but he can start from week one and do a number for the Giants offense.

13. St Louis Rams¬†‚Äď Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

This pick is gaining traction around the league. Clinton-Dix is a versatile, playmaking safety that can help stabilize the Rams secondary from day one. Good fit, good value, done deal.

14. Chicago Bears¬†‚Äď Aaron Donald, DL, Pittsburgh

Donald would fill a big need for the Bears. Chicago could go in a number of different directions, but I expect them to target interior defensive line early on. They added Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen to the edge, but they could use a young, playmaking defensive tackle. Donald fits the mold and would be a nice addition for the Bears.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers¬†‚Äď Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Watching the Steelers this past year, it was clear the defense needed some new blood. Pittsburgh got old very quickly, so which direction do they go at no. 15? Taking Dennard seems like the most logical choice at this spot. He would fit nicely in Dick LeBeau’s defense.

16. Dallas Cowboys¬†‚Äď Kony Ealy, DE/OLB, Missouri

Moving on from DeMarcus Ware will be tough for a Dallas defense that really struggled last year. Ealy can come in and help replace some of the lost production. Whether it’s Ealy or not, it seems like a lock it will a front seven choice for the Cowboys here.

17. Baltimore Ravens - C.J Mosley, LB, Alabama

The Ravens could go offensive line here, but Mosley would be a welcomed addition to a linebacking core in need of more youth. His high football IQ, versatility and awareness stand out on tape. The Alabama linebacker could be a nice fit for the Ravens as they continue to rebuild their defense.

18. New York Jets¬†‚Äď Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

Despite the addition of Eric Decker, the Jets could use a playmaker like Beckham jr. The LSU wideout has great ability and strong hands that could make New York’s offense much more dangerous than in years past. He has been really impressive during the pre-draft process.

19. Miami Dolphins¬†‚Äď Zach Martin, OL, Notre Dame

The Dolphins have a need on the offensive line and have done some reshuffling along the front. Keeping QB Ryan Tannehill upright will be key in 2014 and the versatile Martin can step into a number of spots to contribute right away.

20. Arizona Cardinals¬†‚Äď Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Arizona could very well go defensive line or safety with this pick, but Lewan is too much value to pass right here. They added Jared Veldheer to play left tackle, Lewan could step in and play right. He comes with some off-field issues, causing him to fall a bit, but this would significantly help the Cardinals offensive line.

21. Green Bay Packers¬†‚Äď Calvin Pryor, S, Lousivile

The Packers have several needs, but safety clearly is near — if not at — the top. Pryor is an aggressive, tone-setting safety that could help solidify the backend of the Green Bay defense. The Packers have wanted to add toughness as they’ve rebuilt their defense the past two years, Pryor would be a solid addition.

22. Philadelphia Eagles¬†‚Äď Marquise Lee, WR, USC

Desean Jackson out, Lee in. The Eagles released Jackson last week and it was clear they wanted to go in another direction. They re-signed wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, but adding another young, talented wideout like Lee could help replace the void the Jackson release created.

23. Kansas City Chiefs¬†‚Äď Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

When Kansas City was bounced from the playoffs last year, it seemed they lacked weapons in the passing game. Besides Dwayne Bowe, who disappears for stretches at a time anyways, the team doesn’t really have a no. 2 option. Cooks is a high character, playmaking receiver that has been rising throughout the pre-draft process. He could be what the Chiefs are missing.

24. Cincinnati Bengals¬†‚Äď Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is recovering from a torn ACL and the team lost defense end Michael Johnson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cincinnati could use some help up front, Jernigan is a bit raw, but would fit their scheme very well. He and Atkins could really give opposing lines fits. Secondary help is also an option here.

25. San Diego Chargers¬†‚Äď Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame

Nix is a weird selection because he really could go within ten picks of this spot and it would not be a surprise. Chargers lost defensive lineman¬†Cam Thomas to the Steelers and can really use a presence on their defensive line. Nix is a tough, versatile player that can start from day one. Defensive lineman isn’t a “sexy pick”, but it could really go a long way for San Diego.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts)¬†‚Äď Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

When you have Joe Haden in your secondary, he won’t be targeted a whole lot, but the other cornerback will. The Browns could go wide receiver here, but Verrett is a terrific man-coverage corner that can fit in to Cleveland’s attacking defense.

27. New Orleans Saints¬†‚Äď Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn

The Saints are somewhat of a wildcard, as they could go in several directions. It doesn’t hurt to give defensive coordinator Rob Ryan another pass rusher to use in his defense, though. From day one, Ford can come in on passing downs and get to the quarterback. His Senior Bowl performance and pre-draft process has him rising.

28. Carolina Panthers¬†‚Äď Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

The Panthers just signed veteran wide receiver Jason Avant, who’s probably their best receiver at this point. That pretty much tells you how badly Carolina needs to get QB Cam Newton some weapons this May. Some forget, however, that left tackle Jordan Gross just retired and they need a replacement for him as well. I expect it to be one of those two positions.

29. New England Patriots¬†‚Äď Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

There’s one thing that bothers me when talking about the Patriots draft, they won’t do (fill in the blank) or won’t draft a certain position. We’ve seen Bill Belichick do the unexpected time and time again, so nothing will really surprise me here.

There’s a good chance they trade down here, adding selections in the second-fourth rounds, but linebacker makes a lot of sense here.

Shazier is an athletic player that can be moved around in the Patriots front seven. They can send him on the blitz, drop him in coverage or whatever the team asks of him. He’s an athletic, run-and-chase linebacker that can rotate in and give New England’s defense more speed up front.

With Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins set to start, Shazier could fill the role¬†Collins did last year and potentially frees up he or someone else to play on the line of scrimmage. He’s not a finished product, but he would be a nice selection for the Pats at no. 29.

30. San Francisco 49ers¬†‚Äď Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

If I were mocking trades, I would say it’s very possible San Francisco trades up for a wide receiver like Odell Beckham jr or Brandin Cooks, as they do have a lot of picks in this draft. If they don’t go receiver, look for the 49ers to target cornerback here. They lost cornerbacks Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rodgers to the Oakland Raiders in free agency, so adding a player or two in the draft won’t be surprising.

31. Denver Broncos¬†‚ÄstXavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA

The Broncos lost Zane Beadles in free agency and have to do some reshuffling on the interior of the offensive line. Protecting Peyton Manning is priority one for Denver, so adding the versatile Su’a-Filo would be a nice addition at this spot in the draft.

32. Seattle Seahawks¬†‚Äď RaShede Hageman, DL, Minnesota

The Seahawks don’t have a whole lot of needs, so this is a bit of a luxury pick for them. They could go receiver, but depth along the trenches is important in the NFL. After losing Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, Hageman could help rotate into Seattle’s defense. He has an incredible amount of upside.

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Patriots Release Safety Adrian Wilson


The Patriots released 34-year-old safety Adrian Wilson on Friday afternoon. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots informed veteran safety, Adrian Wilson, he has been released Friday afternoon.

The 34-year-old was signed to a three-year contract last season, but he was placed on Injured-Reserve before the season began. Wilson had an injured hamstring and was recovering from a torn achilles tendon, facing an uphill battle to made the 2014 53-man roster.

Wilson tweeted this statement on Friday.

The Patriots will save roughly $1.16 million of cap space by cutting Wilson.

Wilson, who appears to be healthy and wants to continue playing, had spent some time training at the Fischer Institute in Phoenix along with other Patriots players, such as newly acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The Patriots signed former Eagles safety, Patrick Chung, on Thursday, who spent his first four years in the NFL with New England.

As of now, the Pats have six safeties on the roster. Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. Although, only McCourty and Harmon are believed to be locks for the team’s upcoming season at this point.

When Wilson was signed, the hope was he could fill the team’s lack of a pure strong safety, also rotating in as a big-nickel in sub packages for the defense. Unfortunately for him and the team, it didn’t work out. New England could look to bring in a rookie or veteran before the season.

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It may be the middle of the offseason, but you wouldn’t know it based on the NFL activity over the past several weeks.

With free agency, pre-draft workouts and transactions around the league, it’s been a whirlwind. With the NFL Draft about five weeks away, veteran signings will slow down until after the annual New York event. Nevertheless, each NFL team has made significant moves that will have an impact in the season ahead.

Here are my thoughts on some NFL and Patriots topics in the headlines:

- Wilfork Restructure a Sigh of Relief to Patriots Nation: After ten years with the Patriots, defensive captain Vince Wilfork’s name carries a lot of weight on and off the field. After a few reports that the 32-year-old was unhappy after being approached for a new deal, he ultimately agreed to a new contract that should make him a Patriot for life.

From a business standpoint, I could see the case to be made on both sides. With that being said, Wilfork remaining with the team leaves them with one less hole to fill. The team could add some more depth to the defensive line, but having Wilfork back will make an impact next season.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald had this quote from defensive back Devin McCourty on Wilfork, “He‚Äôs the heart and soul of not just the defense but the team. Everyone in that locker room listens to Vince when he speaks. He‚Äôs not a guy that is just talking all the time or talking to talk. When he speaks, everyone listens.”

- DeSean Jackson Joins the Redskins: No player has been in the headlines more than former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson the past week. After the Eagles took more than a $6 million cap hit to release the troubled wideout, news broke he could be linked to Los Angeles gangs.

To me, as the week went on, it looked more and more like the Eagles used the gang ties story to calm the Philadelphia faithful after releasing one of the team’s most talented players. While he undoubtedly has his baggage, the team clearly wanted to go in a different direction and the Washington Redskins gave him a new place to call home.

The Jackson signing makes too much sense for the Redskins. With no first-round pick in the year’s draft, Washington had to get creative in adding talent to a mediocre roster. Jackson, combined with receivers¬†Pierre Gar√ßon and Andre Roberts, give quarterback Robert Griffin III a nice trio of weapons on offense.

- Blount Becomes a Steeler, MJD Nearly a Patriot?:¬†The Patriots have a need at running back, but it’s not urgent. Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden are on the roster, but all three are entering the final years of their contract with New England.

Former Patriots tailback LeGarrette Blount signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for two-years, $3.55 million, a contract the Patriots were not comfortable matching. Veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew signed with the Oakland Raiders for three years and said the Patriots were one of three teams he was considering.

New England also hosted free agent Michael Bush, but no contract was agreed upon after the visit. With all of these factors taken into consideration, it’s clear the team feels they need another tailback, but on their financial terms. They haven’t been willing to pay complimentary backs in the past — BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead come to mind — but look for them to draft a running back in this year’s draft or sign one in free agency shortly after.

- Manziel, Bridgewater visits Spark Debate in New England: When a team like the Patriots have one of the league’s best signal-callers, you don’t expect to hear them visiting with some of the top prospects at that position. After all, they have only 30 official visits with prospects and used two on Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel along with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

This sparked some debate on Boston radio and local sports headlines, with fans wondering — Why? To me, this was partly about due diligence. If you bring these guys in, coaches can pick their brain and figure out a better way to gameplan against them. When you face them during the season, you have a better understanding of how they operate.

The other part is this crop of quarterbacks doesn’t draw a consensus league wide. Everyone has their own opinion of how the top guys will work or not, so some could fall to the Patriots first pick at no. 29 overall. If that happens do they want to pull the trigger?

Tom Brady will be 37 in August, which is a reminder that he won’t be here forever. Backup Ryan Mallett hasn’t proven a whole lot and is on the final year of his rookie contract. So whether its due diligence in advanced scouting, preparing for the heir apparent or a higher quality backup, it makes sense for the Patriots to take a deeper look at these prospects.

Chris Johnson could end up in New Jersey: Tennessee Titans running back, Chris Johnson, will be released at any moment. It seems the Titans are ready to move on and Johnson will be a hot name on the market.

While “CJ2K” didn’t live up to his big contract from a few years ago, he still has incredible playmaking ability that will make him attractive for many teams. As I look around the NFL, the New York Jets stand out.

Rex Ryan loves a strong running game and Johnson could add a spark in their backfield. Paired with Chris Ivory, the Jets would have a dangerous ground game to aid whoever takes the ball from under center in 2014. Just a prediction worth monitoring.

2014 NFL Draft Will be a Wild Ride: For hardcore football fans, the NFL Draft is somewhat of a holiday. Personally, I love every minute of it. This year won’t be any different.

As many have said this is a very talented, deep rookie class this year. There will be players in the second, third and fourth rounds who will be starters from week one. It comes down to teams identifying who fits and who doesn’t.

It will be interesting to see who falls on draft day and the top eight picks will have a big hand in that because of the quarterback situation. ¬†When you look at mock drafts around the league, there will be some quality players who fall out of the first round. That’s why you could see many teams, including the Patriots, try to trade down and acquire more picks in rounds 2-4.

With more teams trying to trade down, however, it creates a domino effect and it potentially makes it easier for teams to move up for the guy they want. Come May 8, prepare for a fun and chaotic day around the NFL.

The Patriots Still have Holes to Fill: New England has had a very strong offseason, signing players like Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell. On paper, the team’s depth chart looks solid going into the 2014 season, assuming everyone will be healthy.

As I glance through the potential 53-man roster, though, I see a few needs that could still be addressed. On offense, a running back, pass catching tight end and some offensive line depth could go a long way.

Defensively, another pass rusher, depth at linebacker and more quality at the strong safety position could transform the unit into one of the NFL’s best.

I don’t see the team making many more veteran additions until after the draft, when they have a better idea of what is still lacking and what could be added for a reasonable price. At the end of the day, it still comes down to value for the Patriots and building a strong roster from 1-to-53.

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