Some New England Patriots news and notes on this Monday morning:
– Coming off of the team’s OTAs, one positive heading into training camp appears to be the fact the Patriots are off to a good start following April’s NFL Draft. That’s been a weakness in past years for the team and if ever there was an offseason where they needed to change their approach – however strange (no pun intended) that weekend felt – there’s no question that so far, it feels like they’ve come away with players who may potentially make significant impacts in 2022.
– Reports were strong on Cole Strange, whose athleticism appears to be a trait that may have been a little underrated by his critics, while reports and film on Tyquan Thornton were also positive after seeing the speedy receiver early in practices. Even better, fourth-round pick Jack Jones looked more pro-ready than some expected and was already spotted getting reps with the first team. That news alone is incredibly encouraging given the state of their secondary, which was obviously one of the biggest questions in an offseason where everyone knew J.C. Jackson likely wasn’t coming back. That ended up being exactly the case after he ultimately got his big payday out in Los Angeles with the Chargers.
– Throw in running backs Pierre Strong Jr., who was said to look smooth in his movements along with the strength and power shown by Kevin Harris, and things appear to be trending in the right direction. If 6th-round defensive lineman Sam Roberts ends up looking anything like he does on his college film in the coming weeks, things would look even better. And that isn’t counting Marcus Jones, who was limited during OTAs but received high marks from scouts. Needless to say, for a team that had so many questions this offseason, this draft appears to have potentially netted quite a few answers. If they’ve truly hit on so many contributors, it could end up being the key to their success in 2022 as well as moving forward.
– Bill Belichick put a lot of faith in Matt Groh, who clearly appeared to be behind the majority of the players selected in April. So far, given what we know, despite the criticisms and questions people had, a majority of that group taken in April seem like they could be factors this season. Considering all the past swings and misses, the club had a roster with not a lot of margin of error heading into this offseason and they appear to have potentially solved some of those problems. The only possible issue could be next offseason if all this ends up holding true and other teams take notice. That could potentially test what’s seemingly been an environment where, Josh McDaniels and who he poached aside, coaches and personnel people have moved on at a surprising rate in recent years.
– Mac Jones continues to receive praise from his teammates. Tight end Jonnu Smith appeared on Good Morning Football and talked about his quarterback, saying Jones’ approach and demeanor is something that has impressed the veteran. “Honestly, man, just the way he can turn it on,” said Smith via NFL.com. “Mac is definitely one of the most goofiest guys in the locker room, to be honest, man. But when he steps on that field, he’s a different character. He’s just got so much ability and so much dog in him. Once he flips that switch, he’s a whole different character. Some guys don’t know how to cut that on and cut that off when it’s time to do it. He’s so young. He’s poised. He’s got a little swagger to him, man. I’m glad he’s throwing us passes. That’s my guy.”
– FYI, the above link includes a video that has Jones’ Top 10 passes from the 2021 season, which is definitely worth watching. The video appears at the top of the article with Smith’s comments, and it’s a reminder of why there is plenty to look forward ot this season.
– The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin brought up an interesting point in his Sunday column on the state of this year’s group of second-round selections, which has seen just 16 of the 32 picks signed to this point. He points some of the potential issue at Houston GM Nick Caserio, who guaranteed the first three years of safety Jalen Pitre. Pitre was the fifth player taken in the round and became the first player not in the top two to see that year of the deal guaranteed. Now, other players are reportedly seeking similar terms.
– Caserio also reportedly caused a problem in the fourth round. Volin points out that only 25 of 38 picks in that round have signed, including 3 of the top 15. He points to the fact the Texans gave a $25,000 workout bonus in the 2023 season to their pick, Dameon Pierce, who was the second player taken in the fourth round. That’s now apparently set up another sticking point other players are fighting with their respective teams over. Fortunately, the Patriots don’t have any issues as the remainder of their players all got their deals done this past week.
– Down in Pittsburgh, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is apparently enjoying not knowing how life after Ben Roethlisberger is going to turn out. So far, things seem to be pointing to Kenny Pickett potentially starting the season, with Mitchell Trubisky also set to make a case for himself in training camp. “I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with that uncertainty,” Tomlin said on The Pivot podcast. “So it doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned. But, with all that cool stuff being said, it’s scary. But exciting.” This is a situation that will bear keeping an eye on as the Patriots will face the Steelers on the road in Week 2.
– It sounds like Jimmy Garoppolo may finally be dealt out of San Francisco, as the whispers appear to be pointing that way. The 49ers appear ready to move on from the former Patriots QB, with San Francisco apparently willing to even accept a later-round pick for the sake of getting something in return for him. For a team that thought they held the cards in that one, it’s amazing how badly they blew it.
– It’s hard not to keep coming back to the opportunity they had prior to last year’s draft when they attempted to hold Belichick hostage by reportedly being a little greedy and seeking multiple high-round picks to consummate a deal. Belichick instead went the other way and then struck gold with Jones when he fell to the 15th overall selection, leaving the 49ers with no other suitor fo Garopplo and they’ll now potentially get little for him. The Browns appear to be Garoppolo’s best landing spot, as Deshaun Watson could possibly end up missing the 2022 season depending on how things go. The fact Garoppolo could end up in a city where he won’t be their guy isn’t ideal, but he’ll potentially go back to his home state and that mess will finally be over.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger Bill Belichick Cole Strange Dameon Pierce Deshaun Watson Houston Texans J.C. Jackson Jack Jones Jalen Pitre Jimmy Garoppolo Jonnu Smith Josh McDaniels Kenny Pickett Kevin Harris Mac Jones Marcus Jones Matt Groh Mitchell Trubisky Nick Caserio Pierre Strong Jr. Pittsburgh Steelers Sam Roberts Tyquan Thornton