The draft is in the books and it was certainly an interesting weekend. As we get ready to head back into another work-week, here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:
Faulk Stole the Show This Weekend – Considering how much pent up animosity most fans had heading into this past weekend’s draft, former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk did a great job at easing a little bit of the frustration when he took the stage to announce draft picks for the team on day two.
The well-respected former Patriot surprised everyone when he stood up on stage and unbuttoned his jacket to reveal a Tom Brady jersey, and caused the room to erupt when he said, “The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select … ” It likely brought a smile to everyone’s face who was watching and it certainly caught the attention of Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio, who each commented on it during their press conferences.
“That’s why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. We all love Kevin Faulk,” said Caserio. “Kevin Faulk’s one of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I think he certainly showed that tonight.”
While Belichick added, “He always makes good decisions. Yeah, he looked sharp out there.”
Most importantly, Faulk told Mike Reiss that he got a congratulatory text from Brady himself, who likely was very appreciative of the support of his former teammate. Good stuff.
Belichick On the Rookies, “They Have No Idea What They’re Getting Into” – Coming into a program that has consistently been an organization that each year is in the running for a title, it’s probably safe to say the players coming in may be in for a bit of a reality check.
Granted many of them come from big programs, where playing for a National Championship is something that’s expected. But then there are the other side of things for the kids coming from smaller schools, and the others in between who were out there playing hard and trying to make a name for themselves.
Each of them now find themselves playing under the same set of circumstances where many have gone from stars to the bottom of the ladder as they come into England. Belichick said during his press conference that this should be a wake up call for all of them, and for those of us who will be following their progress it will certainly be interesting to see which ones rise to the challenge in the coming months.
“They have no idea what they’re getting into,” said Belichick. “It’s not their fault. We all had to go through it at some point or another. They’re going to get a big dose of what they probably haven’t had a whole lot of certainly any time recently. It’s a big load.”
“The competition level is going to step up. The volume is going to step up. It’s not a scholarship. In college they can’t take them away from you. In the NFL you’re fighting for a job so it’s a whole new ball game. Those guys have a lot to absorb, a lot to learn but just like every other rookie class they’ll get through it.”
“We’ll have some ups and downs but we’ll start the process on Thursday night when they come in. We’ll just be grinding away here for the next few weeks.”
Jones should be a nice addition to the Patriots’ defense. (USA TODAY Images)
Jones’ Work Ethic Is Worth Noting – One of the things that stood out from Cyrus Jones’ conference call was the fact Bill Belichick loves guys who loves the game of football, and that’s certainly the impression Jones gave as he spoke to the media this weekend.
Jones talked about his time in the film room, where his coaches felt he ‘should have his own office’ because he spent so much time in there. It’s likely one of the things Jones’ coach, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, talked to Belichick about prior to New England selecting him and it had to be music to Belichick’s ears.
“I love watching film.” said Jones. “I used to get teased a lot at ‘Bama by my coaches saying I should have an office where their offices were because I was in the film room so much and up there almost just as much as they were.”
“I love watching film and think that’s the key to becoming a better player. There are a lot of players in this league that have physical gifts and talent but you know working hard off the field, I think that’s what separates you.”
Jones told the media that he met Bill Belichick the day before their Pro Day, but that prior to that there hadn’t been much contact between the two.
“The meeting before Pro Day went great,” said Jones. “We sat in, it was me and a couple of other players, and we sat in and watched some film from my season and just pretty much talked football and the meeting went great, but prior to that I hadn’t had much contact.”
Now he’s a Patriot and it certainly seems like he’s got the right attitude. Hopefully he’ll take it to the next level as he transitions from Saban to Belichick, who as we know have similar mindsets. If all goes well, they’ll hopefully get similar results and Jones will carry his success into the NFL with his new football team.
Karras’ Football Pedigree Impressive – The selection of Ted Karras will go down as one of the more interesting selections of the weekend, primarily because it’s always fun to have guys who are a little out there, bringing attitude and a bit of an edge with them.
Karras is known for his pregame rituals, where he pours water over his head and yells “like a Viking”, but the thing that was interesting listening to him during his press conference is the fact he’s a guy who has enjoyed what he’s been doing from a young age.
From the time he was young he’s been driven to be a big guy, drinking a gallon of milk heading into high school as he tried to bulk up and continue the family tradition. Karras had seven family members play football in the Big Ten, with four more making it to the NFL. Karras’ achievement this weekend made him number five.
He loves football. He’s tough, and he loves being a lineman. Those are exactly the traits you look for at that position, which should make him a fun guy to follow in the coming months.
“We’re a tough family. We’ve all played and everyone’s an interior lineman,” said Karras during his conference call. “That’s kind of been our MO throughout me growing up. I knew I was going to be a lineman early and they’ve been giving me tips throughout each stage of my career and I’ve been able to deliver so far.”
Playing up front doesn’t exactly get guys a lot of glory, but being a quarterback or a running back never entered his mind. That’s something you don’t expect to hear from a player, but from the time he started playing at eight years old in third grade, Karras’ mind was made up.
“Never. I never had the fantasy of being a quarterback,” said Karras when he was asked about it over the weekend. “I knew from an early age I was going to be a lineman. My first position was nose guard. My first [jersey] number was in the 60s, so it was pretty predetermined for me. I knew what my role was going to be on a football field.”
In a lot of ways he’s sort of reminiscent of former offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who brought a toughness and attitude that made him a great asset during his time in New England. Mankins was a first-round pick while Karras was obviously a late-round selection. The two are obviously very different players, but Karras seems to bring a similar drive.
“I felt I was a leader. I felt I brought a hard-nose attitude,” said Karras. “I worked every day, maybe not considered the most elite athlete but I got the job done and excelled at the job. I not only got the job done but did the job well. That’s kind of how I’ve always been.”
So what he says he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for in hard work and determination. You’ve got to love having a player like that on this football team, and hopefully he’ll be as good or even better than Mankins. In a league where guys who work hard often outlast those who don’t, that should give Karras an opportunity to be successful at the next level.
Mitchell looks to buck the receiver trend for players who have struggled in New England.
Will Malcolm Mitchell Buck the Receiver Trend? – It’s been a while since the Patriots have had any luck in the draft when it comes to the wide receiver position, but there’s certainly a lot to like about the selection of Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell.
He’s an avid reader and even holds a book club for kids called “Reading with Malcolm” where he encourages them to excel while coining the phrase, “The only boundaries are those we create for ourselves.”
Mitchell even has his own children’s book being released this fall called “The Magician’s Hat”, which shows the magical power of books and how kids can acheive through reading.
The former standout from Georgia really has enjoyed that aspect of his non-football life, and it tells you a little about the person he is off the field.
“The book club is awesome,” said Mitchell. “The book club helped me grow into a better individual, a person who learns and grows throughout life in general. I joined the book club probably two or three years ago and from there it just grew into this story that people like to hear, but it was honestly an innocent interaction that I had with someone in the book club that grew into the story that it is today.”
The on-field work will be the next part of his journey and he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play for a head coach like Belichick and a quarterback like Brady where the expectations will obviously be high. There have been players who have struggled in this system and it’s likely the reason why we don’t see too many receivers selected. But Mitchell is focused and he’s ready to come in and get to work and prove he belongs.
“To be completely honest, I’m pretty confident in my ability to learn and, you know, I took a visit with the Patriots,,” said Mitchell when asked about that very topic. “We went over several different things just to see if I would be a good fit for the system so for them to pick me up lets me know that they have confidence in me to be able to make that adjustment and learn what I need to learn to be the most effective player I can be on the field.”
“It’s exciting. [It’s] an opportunity that you can only pray and hope for. For me to get that opportunity, I’m truly thankful. I thank the organization for believing in me and it’s my job to come up there and work as hard as I can to show that they made a good decision.”
Undrafted Free Agents – For those following the undrafted free agent market, according to our friends at NEPatriotsDraft.com, the Patriots added nine players following the draft.
Here’s the list of players they’ve found weren’t selected in the draft but will get a shot, although things will likely remain pretty fluid in this area between now and training camp. So we’ll have to see how it changes in the months ahead before camp opens.
1) Steven Scheu TE Vanderbilt
2) DJ Foster RB/WR Arizona State
3) V’Angelo Bentley CB Illinois
4) Cre’Von LeBlanc CB Florida Atlantic
5) CJ Johnson LB Mississippi State
6) Jonathan Jones CB Auburn
7) De’Runnya Wilson TE/WR Ole Miss
8) Woodrow Hamilton DT Ole Miss
9) Shaquille Powell RB Duke (tryout)
SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY:
Brady, Robert Kraft, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola celebrating the release of Gisele’s book:
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