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After the New England Patriots signed cornerback, Brandon Browner, to a three-year contract over the weekend, I wanted to get a perspective from someone who has covered him during his time with the Seattle Seahawks. As a result I caught up with, John Boyle of The Daily Heraldfor his take on the newly acquired defensive back.

“Browner’s biggest strength is obviously his physicality,” Boyle said. “When he gets his hands on a receiver in press coverage, that receiver is pretty much out of the play. He also brings toughness and intimidation factor rarely seen from a corner.”

Browner’s size shows up on film as soon as you push play. You don’t see too many guys playing that position who check in at 6’4, 221 pounds. His long arms help him breakup passes thrown his way.

“His length allows him to compensate to a degree for one of his weaknesses, which is a lack of top-end speed for a corner,” said Boyle. “I can’t tell you how many times he’s a step or two behind a receiver — basically beaten on the play — only to get an arm up to break up the pass, or even reach in the punch the ball loose as the receive is pulling the ball in.”

“He also has pretty sure hands, you won’t see him drop many INT chances.” Browner’s had 10 interceptions his last three years with Seattle.

One area that Boyle feels Browner struggles is against small, quick receivers, and the fact his physical play sometimes causes him to commit penalties.

“He lacks top-end speed for a corner, though by no means is he slow, and his aggressive nature can make him susceptible to a double move,” explained Boyle. “In fact he was benched for part of a game early last season after getting beat on a couple of big plays. Smaller, quick receivers are always going to be a tough matchup for him. And of course with any player who plays as physical as Browner, you’re going to have to live with some penalties.”

Seattle encourages physical play, and like Boyle said, Browner’s physicality will lead to penalties at times. The Seahawks led the NFL with 7.9 penalties a game in 2013. In contrast, the Patriots were second-fewest with only 4.2 per game.

Browner is 29-years-old, but he’ll be 30 when he suits up the first time for New England. He spent his rookie season with the Denver Broncos, four years in the Canadian Football League and the past three seasons with Seattle. With that being said, has his play declined?

“I’m not sure I saw his play decline over the past year, though he’s approaching an age that has to be a concern going forward,” said Boyle. “If anything, other corners on the Seahawks roster were just pushing him to the point that he may not have gotten his starting job back had he returned.”

There has been so much talk of Browner’s size and if it might mean a transition to safety now that he’s with the Patriots. I don’t see the move happening, as it would eliminate one his best abilities, press-coverage at the line of scrimmage. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bill Belichick move him around as he’s done with select players in the past.

Boyle feels the prospect of moving Browner to safety is an intriguing one, although it’s hard to say how he would adjust to playing that role.

“It’s hard to say for me how he’d be at safety just because we haven’t seen him do it here, but I do think putting him at safety would take away one of his best attributes in his ability to disrupt at the line of scrimmage,” said Boyle. “That being said, his size and ability to hit makes it an intriguing idea. You know Belichick a lot better than me, but based on what I do know, I could certainly see the Patriots getting creative with him, maybe in some sort of hybrid corner/safety role.”

“This is no knock on New England’s safety play,” Boyle added. “But I do wonder to a degree how much of the Seahawks’ ability to crank out good corners over and over has had to do with their standout safety play, and Earl Thomas’ range in particular, as well as Richard Sherman’s presence on the other side of the field. It’s a lot easier to play aggressive press coverage when you know you have Thomas’ speed behind you to clean things up.”

 

It’s hard to disagree with that take, as Earl Thomas is widely viewed as the league’s top safety — or at least, in the conversation. Devin McCourty is no slouch, though. Not to mention with cornerback, Darrelle Revis, also in the mix, the Patriots have built a similar environment to what Browner had the last few years.

So we have a better idea of what Browner can bring to a defense on the field, but how is he off the gridiron? As has been noted by many, Browner will be suspended for the first four contests of the 2014 season.

He can, however, participate in offseason activities, training camp and play in pre-season games. One of the biggest questions with a new player coming to a team, though, especially an organization like the patriots, is how will he fit ‘the Patriot way’.

“Off the field, the big concern is obviously that he’s another failed drug test — PED or substance abuse — from a long suspension,” Boyle mentioned. “Despite the suspension issues, he’s otherwise by all accounts a good dude. No legal trouble I’ve ever heard of, good to the media, loved by teammates, etc.”

Quick Take: LaFell Adds Competition, Depth at Receiver for Patriots


Brandon LaFell gives the Patriots more size at wide receiver. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots signed free agent wide receiver, Brandon LaFell, to a three-year deal Saturday night.

After re-signing wide receiver, Julian Edelman, to a three-year deal earlier in the day, the Patriots added another guy to the offense. LaFell, who has spent his four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, brings some size to the receiving corps — 6’2, 210 pounds.

In 2013, LaFell caught 49 passes for 627 yards and five touchdowns for Carolina. Looking over the team’s depth chart, height was something the Patriots certainly needed at the position. Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson, listed at 6’3, is the only real lock to make the roster taller than six feet.

What I love most about LaFell’s game is his ability to play all over the field. He’s shown the ability to play the on the left and right side of the field, but also has been productive from the slot.

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the 27-year-old receiver ran 335 of his 532 routes in the slot in 2014. Based on the depth chart, with Edelman, Danny Amendola and Josh Boyce in the mix, it’s safe to assume he’ll be outside more often than not in New England.

LaFell brings more of a play-making threat to the outside, along with a solid red zone target to the Patriots, given his size. He has displayed the ability to make plays after the catch as well. Overall, it’s another weapon for Tom Brady.

My questions with LaFell start with his consistency. He can disappear at times during games and also has some drops from time-to-time. Nevertheless, he appears to be a quality asset for the Patriots offense.

First and foremost, however, it starts with competition in training camp. LaFell will join Edelman, Amendola, Dobson, Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins to fight for a spot of the 53-man roster. When observing camp last season, the lack of competition at receiver was clear, along with the team trying to get younger at the position.

With the upcoming NFL Draft very deep at receiver, along with some veterans available at the position on the open market, it’s possible the team adds another guy to the mix for even more competition and depth.

Stay tuned.

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

Edelman, Patriots Agree To Terms on a New Deal


The Patriots and Julian Edelman have agreed to a new contract. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots and free agent wide receiver, Julian Edelman, have agreed to terms on a new contract, according to several media reports. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Edelman confirmed the report on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

 

Edelman, who has spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots over the past five season, gauged the open market, but ultimately decided to return. He finished last season with 105 receptions, 1, 056 yards and six touchdowns.

The Patriots were the favorites to re-sign Edelman, but other teams had known interest. The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers, who hosted Edelman on a visit this week, all were in contact with the free agent receiver.

Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, will certainly be happy with the deal, because losing his top target in back-to-back years would have been tough for him.

Edelman gives New England a healthy, known, veteran commodity at the receiver position, as they continue to develop Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce. Of course, Danny Amendola will be in the mix as he gets back to full strength from a groin injury.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Patriots look to add another veteran receiver for a reasonable deal now that Edelman’s contract situation has been resolved. Good signing for both sides.

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

Patriots Add Browner, Secondary Becoming Strongest in Years

It’s hard to believe that a defense could change so much in such a short period of time.

The New England Patriots signed free agent cornerback, Brandon Browner, Friday evening. The deal is reportedly three-years, up to $17 million; terms of the guaranteed money have not yet been disclosed.

Less than 48 hours of signing cornerback, Darrelle Revis, New England added another strong veteran to the secondary. Browner released a statement on Twitter Friday night, saying he is honored to be part of a ‘legendary organization’.

With the addition of Browner, the Patriots secondary is the strongest it’s been in recent memory. Revis, Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington are a deep group of quality cornerbacks that will give Bill Belichick and the Patriots a lot of ways to be creative in the upcoming year. Add safety Devin McCourty to roam the back-end and game on.

A few weeks ago fans and analysts talked about re-signing Aqib Talib, but not only did the Patriots upgrade with Revis, they gave the unit a whole new look with two veterans who can play strong, press man-coverage.

New England did play a more aggressive style of defense last year, while allowing their cornerbacks to match-up and play press coverage against opposing wide receivers. These signings, however, just make the team that much better in the same scheme.

Additionally, there’s a trickle down effect. Revis and Browner presumably slide into the top spots, while Dennard, Ryan and Arrington play in sub defensive packages. It’s just a deeper unit, which in today’s NFL, a team cannot have enough quality cornerbacks.

When Browner first came into the NFL, he joined the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2005. After four seasons in the Canadian Football League, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011.  He was named to the Pro Bowl that season.

Browner offers intriguing size — 6’4, 220 — something the Patriots desperately need in their secondary, and has shown during his time with the Seahawks he can play in a scheme that allows defenses to do what I previously mentioned. Playing with Richard Sherman, he’s use to lining up next to one of the best cornerbacks in the league — just like he would with Revis in New England.

Some people have even thrown out the possibility of Browner playing strong safety for the Patriots, given his tremendous size. It’s an interesting notion, one that Belichick may toy around with, but I would also argue it would take away from what he does best; playing man coverage on the outside. Still, could be an interesting wrinkle.

Browner does come with a catch, though.

The 29-year-old cornerback was suspended last season indefinitely by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Browner and his agent, Peter Schaffer, reached an agreement — both with the league and the NFL Players Association — to conditionally reinstate him under certain guidelines.

First, he must to continue to comply with the NFL substance-abuse policy. He then will serve a four-game suspension to begin the 2014 season and will be penalized an additional four game checks after the suspension.

He will be allowed to participate in training camp and offseason activities before serving the suspension, so he has the ability to get into the defensive system.

Without a doubt there are some drawbacks, but after the suspension the Patriots will have a formidable secondary and an overall much different look than in past seasons.

There are still plenty of holes and needs for the team to fill this offseason, but New England has been off to a strong start in the new league year.

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

The New England Patriots signed free agent cornerback, Brandon Browner, Friday evening.

The deal is reportedly three-years, up to $17 million; terms of the guaranteed money have not yet been disclosed. He has spent the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

Browner tweeted a statement about the signing, which I have posted below. –

“Today, I am proud to announce that I am a New England Patriot. I am honored that the Patriots are making me part of their legendary organization, and am grateful for the opportunity Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick, Nick Caserio and the entire team have given me. I intend to diligently work with the same passion and dedication that I have displayed since coming into the NFL to uphold the great traditions and qualities that are embodied by the Patriots.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Seattle Seahawks for giving a CFL player the once in-a-lifetime opportunity to return to the NFL, making a young boy’s dream come true. To Coach Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider, John Idzik, Coach Richard, Rocky Seto, the LOB, my teammates, the training staff, the equipment guys the Seahawks organization as a whole and most importantly the 12th Man, I say thank you for everything you have done for myself and my family.”

“I am a truly blessed person.”

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

The Patriots Upgrade With Signing of Revis


Revis Island has now been established in the New England area. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots made a big splash Wednesday night, signing All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis to a one-year, $12 million contract.

The Patriots lost cornerback Aqib Talib to the Denver Broncos Tuesday night, as he signed a six-year contract worth up to $57 million and $26 million guaranteed. The counter, Pats answer their AFC rival Broncos with signing Revis to a little-to-no-risk deal.

Many thought Talib should be a priority for the Patriots going into the offseason — and he was — but with his hip injury concerns, it was critical the team did not overpay him. The Broncos obviously felt strongly, signing Talib to the contract they did, but it was a smart choice — even more now in hindsight — by the Pats to not raise their price on the cornerback.

It’s a winning situation all around for New England. The Patriots got 23 quality games out of Talib for a fourth round draft pick. They’ll likely receive a third-round compensatory selection in the 2015 NFL draft for Talib’s departure in free agency. The Pats upgrade at the cornerback position with Revis and control their financial future with minimal risk involved.

Talib’s contract averages to about $9.5 million per season. Revis, now scheduled to make $12 million for 2014, is a strong, value upgrade for New England that costs the team an extra $2.5 million for next year.

Overall, Revis is a better player. From 2008 – 2013, Talib allowed 23 touchdowns, 58.6% completion against him, 41 pass breakups and had 23 interceptions. Revis allowed 12 touchdowns, 45.6% completion against him, 68 pass breakups and 20 interceptions according to Pro Football Focus.

Besides the numbers, durability is a big factor. Talib (19) has missed two more games than Revis (17) in their respective careers, but Revis has played all 16 games in five different seasons. Talib on the other hand, zero.

While Talib has consistently missed games in each season during his career, the bulk of Revis’ missed games were due to a torn ACL that forced him to be sidelined for 14 games. Now two years removed from the injury, he can continue to progress and move forward.

By no means am I saying Talib isn’t a quality player, he certainly is, but Revis is a step above.

The Revis addition will be much needed for the upcoming season as some big-time wide receivers are on the schedule for 2014; Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, Eric Decker and Mike Wallace — to name a few.

 

Many have asked, why did the Patriots only sign Revis to a one-year deal?

Well, this contract makes sense for both parties involved. Revis remains the highest paid cornerback in the NFL — something clearly important to him — and plays for a contender in the AFC under head coach, Bill Belichick.

The Patriots add one of the league’s best defensive players, on a short term deal that offers almost zero risk, and now have the ability to see how he fits with the team culture.

For now, don’t rule out a long-term agreement. Let’s just see how it goes this year.

Report: Dobson Has Surgery For Stress Fracture, 2-3 Month Recovery

On Monday night the Boston Herald reported New England Patriots wide receiver, Aaron Dobson, had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot.

 

The timetable of two-to-three months puts his recovery somewhere in June. Why wait to have the procedure? Well, it seems Dobson was waiting to see if the injury would heal on it’s own.

Worst case scenario, Dobson misses the entire June minicamp and some of the Patriots offseason workouts. The offseason program begins on April 21, about six weeks from now.

After the appropriate time period recovering, it would benefit Dobson to workout with Patriots QB, Tom Brady. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston said Monday that while Edelman is not under contract for the upcoming season, he was putting in time with no. 12 in California.

 

Dobson finished with 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns his rookie season. He, along with the organization and fans, are hoping to make a jump in year two. This procedure is the first step in the right direction to a clean slate for next season.

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

2014 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

1. Houston Texans – Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

I have questions about Bortles, and he’s not my top rated prospect, but this selection is gaining traction around the league. Bill O’Brien needs a franchise QB and Bortles could very well be that guy. Pass rush is also a need in Houston, so Jadeveon Clowney might be hard to pass up, but can Houston wait to take a QB?

2. Trade: Atlanta Falcons (from St. Louis via Washington) – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina This makes sense on a lot of levels. St. Louis is in a great position to move down a few spots and still get a player they want. While pairing Clowney with Chris Long and Robert Quinn could be an incredible trio for the Rams, I see Atlanta making an effort to add a dynamic presence to their defense. Thomas Dimitroff isn’t afraid to go for a top prospect — look at what they gave up for Julio Jones a few years ago — it would be a good fit all around.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – 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 – Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M The Browns change of front office regime does not minimize their need for a quarterback. If any of the top three signal-callers are here, look for Cleveland to jump on the opportunity to grab one. There are plenty of questions surrounding Manziel, but his playmaking ability and “it” factor would add some much needed excitement to Cleveland.

5. Oakland Raiders - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

Watkins is a dynamic, play-making receiver that can boost an anemic offense. The biggest question for Oakland — who will throw him the ball? 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. Trade: St. Louis Rams - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

After moving down four spots to collect some more draft pick, General Manager Les Snead and the Rams still get Robinson to help their offensive line. They 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.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

Head Coach Lovie Smith loves defensive playmakers and Mack 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 Bucs would love to add Mack for 2014.

8. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

With Mike Zimmer leading the team now, he could go with a defensive player to fit his scheme. But with Norv Turner brought in to run the team’s offense for 2014 and Carr available at the no. 8 spot, it could be a great fit. His big arm and pre-snap reads are everything Turner loves in his quarterbacks. Do I think this is a reach? Yes. But in today’s NFL if you don’t have a QB you can kiss seriously contending for a championship goodbye.

9. Buffalo Bills – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Even with Cordy Glenn already on the line, if Matthews falls to this spot it would be tough to mass 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 – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

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’s not a perfect prospect, but he fills a big need in Detroit.

11. Tennessee Titans – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

Michael Roos only has a few years left and at 31, David Stewart could be released. Tennessee needs to get younger on the offensive line and they could groom Lewan to be a franchise left tackle down the line.

12. New York Giants – Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

The Giants would be doing cartwheels if Barr fell to them here. Seems like offensive tackle could be a big need as well, but with the top prospects off the board, Barr would add some much needed speed to their linebacking corps. As an explosive pass rusher, the UCLA linebacker has a high ceiling and could be a fun prospect to add to the front seven.

13. St Louis Rams – Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

St. Louis could go in several different directions here, but adding a downfield threat like Evans to the dynamic Tavon Austin would have franchise QB Sam Bradford licking his lips. They acquire picks by moving from no. 2 to no. 6, get a highly rated offensive tackle prospect and then land the second best wide receiver in the draft. Big win for the Rams.

14. Chicago Bears - Timmy Jernigan, NT, Florida State

The Bears need to rebuild their defensive line. Julius Pepper could be a cap-casualty; Henry Melton is recovering from ACL surgery, so adding a player with Jernigan’s ability makes sense. He’s still a bit raw, but the upside is very appealing. Look for them to target help in the front seven.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Watching the Steelers last season, the defense looked old, especially in the secondary. Troy Polomalu, Ike Taylor, they’re just not the same caliber of players as they were a few years ago. Dennard would be a step in the right direction and could thrive in Dick LeBeau’s defense.

16. Baltimore Ravens - Marquise Lee, WR, USC

Dennis Pitta was just re-signed for a new deal, so tight end is no longer a need. Lee, who had a disappointing year last season, comes into an offense thirsty for another weapon. Adding the USC wide out to Torrey Smith, Pitta and Ray Rice would make Joe Flacco’s job a whole lot easier.

 

17. Dallas Cowboys - Aaron Donald, DL, Pittsburgh

The Cowboys need help on defense and Donald seems like a solid fit. He’s been rising after strong performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. It will be hard to pass on the versatile, disruptive lineman for a team that lacks quality players up front.

18. New York Jets - Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina

The Jets and head coach Rex Ryan know what a great tight end can do for a team. Heck, they’ve seen the Patriots roll out some serious talent at the position the past few seasons. With Geno Smith at QB, and little weapons on the offense, New York gets the best prospect available and one that fills a tremendous need.

19. Miami Dolphins - Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame

The Dolphins need help on the offensive line and Martin is rising quickly after his awesome Senior Bowl performance. Martin has four years of experience at left tackle, but can kick inside and play OG if necessary. On top of that he’s a high character player.

20. Arizona Cardinals – Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota

The Cardinals barely miss out on one of the top offensive tackles, but get one of the best defensive lineman instead. Darnell Dockett is getting older and Hageman is a physical specimen that offers high upside. Missouri’s Kony Ealy and Auburn’s Dee Ford are both also under consideration here. Nevertheless, front seven is the target for Arizona.

21. Green Bay Packers – CJ Mosley, LB, Alabama

The Packers have serious needs on defense, and for two year’s in a row let San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick run all over them. The Packers could address their defensive line, but Mosley would be a solid addition at this spot. While some Alabama players have not lived up to the hype in recent years, Mosley is the whole package.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

The Eagles badly need to add a safety to their defense and Clinton-Dix is the best all-around player at the position in this class. He makes an impact in the run and the pass. His presence could go a long way in stabilizing the back end of the Philadelphia defense.

23. Kansas City Chiefs – Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

The Chiefs need another playmaker on offense. Adding Beckham to Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe would make Kansas City’s offense harder to defend. It was clear Alex Smith needed some more weapons after 2013, so this pick would be a step in the right direction.

24. Cincinnati Bengals – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Michael Johnson’s future is uncertain, so to replace him Cincinnati lands one of the most dangerous pass rushers in this year’s class. Not only is Ealy a long, lean defensive end, but his athleticism is off the charts. I could also see cornerback being a target, potentially in round two.

25. San Diego Chargers – Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame

I see the Chargers targeting their offensive or defensive line here. With Nix still on the board, this seems like a good fit for San Diego. By adding an interior defensive lineman, they take some of the pressure off of their younger front seven players and Nix will command attention from day one. They can address guard or cornerback in round two.

26. Cleveland Browns (via Colts) – Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

With Manziel now on the team, the Browns add Benjamin to wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. Cleveland has a stout defense in place, so piecing together some talent on the offensive side of the ball will certainly make them more dangerous in 2014.

27. New Orleans Saints – Dee Ford, DE, Auburn

Rob Ryan loves to attack and Ford is a guy he would love to have in his front seven. The Auburn prospect is a disruptive force and his high motor could bring some heat to a division possessing strong quarterbacks.

28. Carolina Panthers – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama

My only reservation about selecting Kouandjio for Panthers is his health questions. If he checks out, the Alabama tackle could easily go here or even higher depending on his physicals with NFL teams. With left tackle Jordan Gross retiring, there is a big hole protecting QB Cam Newton’s blindside. If that need isn’t filled in free agency, look for Carolina to take a tackle early in the draft.


Despite some questions on offense, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick will most likely continue to build on defense this offseason.
(USA TODAY Images)

29. New England Patriots – Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

I see the Patriots biggest needs (in no specific order) as WR, TE, OL, DL and DB. Cornerback jumps to an immediate need if Aqib Talib is not re-signed, but I believe he will be retained. A tight end is a possibility here, but would the team allocate another high pick to a position that has a lot of money already on the payroll for 2014?

There are some solid interior lineman as possibilities in round two, plus the team could target a veteran wide receiver and defensive end in free agency. While T.J. Ward, Jarius Byrd and Donte Whitner could all be targets in free agency, it will certainly be an expensive acquisition. With all that being said, Pryor makes sense if he falls to no. 29.

Pryor is a fun player to watch on tape. His athletic ability, instinctive play and physical nature would go a long way for New England’s defense. Putting Pryor next to Devin McCourty, with Duron Harmon in a nickel role could be a nice rotation on the back end. The Louisville product plays the run and the pass very well, which is hard to find.

 

I love how Pryor attacks opposing ball carriers; he’s always around the ball, delivering big hits while also wrapping up. I question his angles at times and — very scary thought — I see comparisons to former Pats defensive back Brandon Meriweather. At the same time, a presence like Pryor could be the missing link to help take New England’s defense to the top ten range next season. The comparison could scare fans away, but the need is still strong nevertheless.

30. San Francisco 49ers – Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

Cooks is flying up draft boards after a great performance at the NFL Combine. The Oregon State prospect could come into an offense behind, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and add some speed to the 49ers offense. San Francisco could use some help at receiver.

31. Denver Broncos - Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

The Broncos biggest weakness is in the secondary, specifically cornerback. This may be a slight reach, but Verrett could come in and contribute right away. Champ Bailey is coming to the end of his career, Chris Harris is recovering from ACL surgery and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie is a free agent.

32. Seattle Seahawks – Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

Tuitt is a big-bodied defensive end that could fill a similar type of role as the recently released Red Bryant. With so few needs on their current roster, Seattle could afford to go in a number of different directions. The rich get richer.

Quick Notes: 

- I normally don’t do trades n mock drafts, but the I do feel the Falcons could be aggressive, which is why I have the moving up this year. I don’t believe there will be only one trade, but I decided to not mock any others for this first addition.

Piggybacking off my previous thought, I could easily envision a scenario where Fresno State QB Derek Carr falls to the mid-twenties and a team in the top of the draft, which passed on a signal-caller, could jump back in for him.

- A lot of the selections made are based on current standings, which could all change after free agency and the new league year starts. The second edition most likely will look much different.

- How players perform at their respective pro days from now until the draft could move them up or down the boards. Usually there is some strong movement in the final weeks before the draft, medical news can be a huge factor.

- My second edition will be posted about a month from now. Stay tuned.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think! Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!

Patriots Decide Not To Use Franchise Tag


The Patriots did not place the franchise tag on CB Aqib Talib by Monday’s deadline.
(USA TODAY Images)

The NFL Franchise Tag deadline has come and gone. The New England Patriots decided not to use the franchise tag on Monday, paving the way for Aqib Talib to become a free agent.

All in all, six players were hit with a tag by Monday’s deadline. –

Franchise Tag: Jimmy Graham (Saints), Nick Folk (Jets), Brian Orakpo (Redskins), Greg Hardy (Panthers)

Transition Tag: Alex Mack (Browns), Jason Worilds (Steelers)

With NFL Free Agency beginning on Mar. 11 — on Mar. 8 teams are allowed to talk with players — cornerback Aqib Talib, wide receiver Julian Edelman and the rest of the Patriots free agents will hit the market in about a week. This does not rule out the team agreeing to terms with one of their players, though.

Earlier Monday morning, the Miami Dolphins signed cornerback Brent Grimes to a four-year deal, worth up to $32 million with $16 million guaranteed. This deal seems to have set the market for a guy like Talib.

For now, fans and analysts are in wait-and-see mode, but all eyes are on Talib as the off-season continues.

Quick Take: Patriots To Release Steve Gregory


The Patriots will release veteran safety Steve Gregory in their first cost-cutting move of the off-season.
(USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots are set to release safety Steve Gregory, according to his agent, David Canter.

Gregory is the first cap casualty of the season, as the Pats look to free up money heading into the off-season. By releasing Gregory, New England will save 2.4 million.

Gregory was a much better acquisition than I originally thought he would be, but he was more of a free safety, rotational guy than a starting strong safety. On the roster now, second-year player Duron Harmon may be in-line to start or be the third safety in mix going into next season. Of course, the answer could be in the draft or free agency.

As I have written in the past few weeks and discussed on our Patriots Fourth And Two podcast, the release of Gregory was to be expected. The Pats need to upgrade strong safety and could benefit from adding an enforcer to make opposing receivers think twice before going over the middle.

In cost-cutting moves on the horizon, I expect defensive lineman Issac Sopaga and safety Adrian Wilson to soon be let go as well.

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