To Tag or Not To Tag
If you had asked me two weeks ago if the Patriots should apply the Franchise Tag to JC Jackson I would have said a resounding yes. However, over the past two weeks, I have looked at the possibility that Jackson won’t be tagged.
JC Jackson has an incredible knack for making interceptions. He has quick reactions to tipped balls and just has what is called “a nose for the ball”. He understands leverage in pass coverage and the roles that all players have. He leads all defensive backs in Interceptions over the last three years. His pass defense is very good but not elite. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the #6 rated available Free Agent. If Carlton Davis gets the Franchise Tag then Jackson becomes the top-ranked Man Coverage DB in Free Agency.
For all the good that Jackson has done for the Patriots, they still got shredded by Buffalo’s Josh Allen. Jackson had Stefon Diggs in one-on-one coverage several times and got burnt consistently. If the Pats don’t have Jackson, how much worse off will they be? We didn’t see anything of DB Shaun Wade a 5th round pick of Baltimore last year. Wade fell because of what was perceived to be a down year for him (He still made consensus All-American 1st team). He moved from slot corner to outside corner with mixed results. They can be attributed to a knee injury and a bad turf toe. The turf toe lasted through the workout process and his one-timed 40 was 4.46, not the 4.41 he was expected to run. Could Wade fill the slot corner and Jonathan Jones move outside? I believe the Patriots are going to draft a CB in the 1st round of the draft and that CB is the position of greatest need.
Jackson is going to get paid, but it was disingenuous of him to come out to the media and refer to himself as Mr. INT. Contract talks during the season broke off without an agreement, then last week Jackson stated in a press conference that the Patriots hadn’t contacted him since the talks broke down. The Patriots are not going to bid against themselves in this Free-Agent process. They may just grant Jackson what he wants and that is Free Agency without the burden of the Franchise tag. Perhaps the Patriots feel the market is not as strong as Jackson does. Perhaps they don’t want to piss off the defensive back and sour the relationship they have. They might ask him to go and get his best offer and come back and see if the Patriots can match it or even better it.
Mike Reiss in his Sunday column has said the same thing, the percentage is low that the Patriots tag Jackson.
Be prepared for life without JC Jackson.
Buzz from the NFL Combine
Tariq Woolen CB University of Texas, San Antonio is expected to have a big combine. The buzz is that he will run a 4.3 40 yards dash. At 6’4” 205 lbs, that is flying. Some scouts think he can break 4.3. If he runs anything under 4.4 his draft stock will jump.
Calvin Austin III, WR Memphis is another that is expected to run a 4.3 40. Austin is only 5’8” 173 lbs. He likes to run crossing patterns and is a generally reliable pass catcher. I am interested in seeing him run the gauntlet passing drill. On this drill, the player starts at the 50-yard line, on one sideline, with his back to the QB. He jumps around and the ball is on its way. He catches it and immediately discards it to jump around to the other side where another QB tosses him a quick pass. He then proceeds down the 50-yard line at 3 quarter speed, trying to run in a straight line. QBs are set at intervals and fire the ball. They catch and discard as they run down the 50-yard line. The final catch near the opposite sideline is caught and the receiver turns up the field.
Washington has a pair of CBs that could go in the 1st round. Kyler Gordon is supposed to test well at the combine. Trent McDuffie has been ranked slightly ahead of Gordon, but a bump from a good combine workout and interviews could change that. Both players should be on the Patriots’ radar.
Dare Rosenthal OT Kentucky is expected to have a good combine workout. At 6’7”, 327 lbs he is massive. He is expected to drop in the rankings and is not expected to be selected until the 3rd day. A three-year starter at LSU, he was suspended three games in 2020 for a “team violation”. It was rumored to be marijuana. Rosenthal elected to leave LSU because of it. He enrolled in the transfer portal and elected to stay in the SEC with Kentucky. He beat out incumbent LT Darrian Kinnard for the spot. Kinnard is the more heralded lineman and is probably a 2nd round selection. He should be on the Patriots’ radar if they can overlook his transgression. I am sure this will be a topic in the interview process.
NFL Network starts their coverage of the Combine on Thursday, March 3rd at 4 PM EST. Daniel Jeremiah listed the following players that he is interested in watching. Completely without seeing this video by Daniel Jeremiah I selected the same two players, the two cornerbacks from Washington, Gordon, and McDuffie. He also is interested in seeing Treylon Burks, WR Arkansas. He is 6’3” 225 lbs and an estimated 4.45 40. Burks is said to have an 11” hand size.
Reports from the combine stated that top-rated CB Derek Stingley of LSU will not work out at the combine and will wait until his Pro Day on April 6th. QB Matt Corral from Mississippi also won’t work out. I can understand a QB wanting to control what throws he makes and throws to WRs he knows. Look for a few more players not to work out because of injuries. Stingley suffered a Lisfranc injury this past fall and only played three games. He will participate in the medical exams and team interviews.
Only one player from Historically Black Colleges and Universities has been drafted in the last two years. This year, with the HBCU Legacy Bowl and the combine at the Senior Bowl, we should see an uptick in that number. The following four players have been invited to the Combine:
Ja’Tyre Carter OT Southern 6’5 306lbs 5.10 40
Decobie Durant CB South Carolina St 5’ 9” 174 4.47 40
Joshua Williams CB Fayetteville St 6’ 3” 193 4.52 40
Markquese Bell SS Florida A&M 6’2 200lbs 4.45 40
Former local reporter Rhett Lewis of NFL Network is intrigued to see the only player invited to the combine from the National Association of Interscholastic Athletics (NAIA), Andrew Rupcich. These are small schools that would be the equivalent of NCAA D3 schools.
Rupcich, an OT from Culver-Stockton College stands 6’6” weighs 319lbs, and ran a 5.27 40 He is a 4 year Captain that averaged 10 pancake blocks a game. Rupcich played in the NFL Player Association Collegiate Bowl game this year.
There is a nice article about the Patriots’ director of Scouting Administration, Nancy Meier on NFL.com. She is the jack-of-all-trades in the scouting department, having worked for the Patriots Scouting Department for 45 years. https://www.nfl.com/news/next-woman-up-nancy-meier-director-of-scouting-administration-for-the-new-england
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason