Tag Archives: Patriots linebackers

Kyle Van Noy, “Proving People Right” for the Patriots

Steve Balestrieri
January 25, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

Kyle Van Noy, From Bust to Key Cog in the Patriots Defense

There’s nothing like a change of scenery to alter one’s perceptions is there? For a player like Kyle Van Noy, that change of scenery in 2016 marked the first of three straight Super Bowl seasons he’s enjoyed.

And Van Noy was arguably the most impressive player the Patriots had on defense in the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City.

But much more than the change of venue, it is the career resurgence he’s had – on the field that has been astounding.  The Lions took Van Noy with the 40th pick in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft and used him as a DE. It was a position that he was not suited for and it showed in his production.

After having core surgery which ruined his rookie season, he was moved to the SAM or strong side LBer role. He didn’t play much in his sophomore season either but was playing a larger role and starting in his third. However, the Lions were ready to move on from him.

The Patriots traded their 6th round draft pick (#217) for Detroit’s 7th rounder and Van Noy at the trade deadline in 2016. The Lions used that pick on Miami QB Brad Kaaya. It is a trade that was an absolute steal for the Patriots.  

The Patriots took their time with him and he went from a healthy scratch to a sub-package linebacker in his first few weeks. But Bill Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff did what they always do, they didn’t dwell on what Van Noy doesn’t do well, they focused more on putting him in positions where he’d succeed. And he has. Just a few weeks after the trade, Van Noy intercepted Rams QB Jared Goff, something the linebacker hopes he can replicate in about 10 days. By the Super Bowl against the Falcons, he was on the field for nearly 65 percent of the defensive snaps and had a half-sack, half of a tackle for a loss and a QB hit.

Last season with Dont’a Hightower on the shelf, Van Noy, despite having a nagging leg injury of his own he started 12 of 13 games for the Pats and was third on the team on the team in tackles with 73 and second on the defense in sacks with 5.5. Van Noy wore the green-dot communication device on the field and was asked to fill in at a number of different roles for the defense which went to and lost last year’s Super Bowl.

This summer during training camp, Bill Belichick spoke on how much Van Noy has grown into his role here in New England. “Kyle’s done a really good job for us. He was a player that didn’t start his career here, but has come in and really understood the way that we try to do things,” said Belichick. “He’s embraced it. He’s become very much of a leader in doing his job and doing it the right way but also helping other guys, particularly guys that transition on to the team as he did. He has a good perspective for that.”

“He’s been very durable, and dependable,” Belichick added. “He’s a smart football player. He’s versatile, can do a lot of different things defensively and in the running game, in the passing game, and in the kicking game. He’s got a good skill set, and he’s a smart player with experience and can fill a lot of different roles for us. Hard to find players like that. He’s been a valuable guy for us.”

This year, with a healthy Hightower playing in every game this season, Van Noy has been mostly terrific on the Patriots defense. The unit had their bumps on the road, especially early in the season, but they’ve been getting progressively better and since the bye week has been much, much better.

Against the Chargers Van Noy and Hightower were outstanding. With the Patriots trying to pressure Philip Rivers, the two were instrumental in disguising and creating pressure in the “Amoeba Defense” while keeping the Bolts offensive line off balance.

Last week against the Chiefs, as we said in our podcast this week, Van Noy was outstanding, he was flying all over the field, he made a game-high 10 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss, five run stops and six QB pressures.

Thru it all, Van Noy has maintained a good relationship with the media and a great one with his teammates despite what one local radio talk show host continues to say about his “arrogance” off the field. Having been down there at Gillette, albeit infrequently, we’ve never seen that type of attitude as depicted. Van Noy has always been polite, funny and willing to talk.

This week in preparing to face the Rams, he was asked if he enjoys proving people wrong. He smiled and said, he’d rather prove people right, …family, teammates, and coaches who believe in one another and have each other’s backs. The entirety of that interview can be seen on Patriots.com here:

If the Patriots are to be victorious next Sunday, they’ll need another big performance both offensively and defensively. And rest assured, Van Noy will also play a big part of that. He’s been a steal for the team and winning a second Super Bowl in three years would be proving a ton of people right.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

New England Patriots News 7-22, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
July 22, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, Here is your Sunday’s Patriots news 7-22, & AFC East Notes. This is our last Sunday before football is back among us until 2019. It seems like a long time has passed since the Super Bowl. Three days and a wake up until football returns.

Quick Hitters:
Tom Brady has made it clear that he’ll not only be on time but report early for training camp. Brady is expected to arrive at Foxboro today for the beginning of the 2018 season. Brady missed all of the voluntary spring workouts but did attend minicamp.

Darrelle Revis has now voted himself off the island. The veteran cornerback has decided to call it a career and retire. The future Hall of Famer was on another plane for many years with the Jets and came to the Patriots for the Super Bowl season of 2014. He returned to the Jets before ending up with the Chiefs last year. He was one of the very best to ever play cornerback. And his countdown to Canton has already begun.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was among those who went to pay respects to the family of fallen Weymouth police officer Michael Chesna at his wake this week. Chesna was killed in the line of duty by a man who then killed an old woman. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Smart move. Julian Edelman announced that he will not take his appeal of his PED suspension to Federal Court. As we all saw in the Tom Brady case, the league and the commissioner have the ability to hand out punishment as they see fit.

Andrew Jelks is stepping away from football and announced his retirement on Friday. He hasn’t played since his sophomore year at college and has had ACL injuries. The Patriots took a flyer on him in 2017 and it appears that his knees will not allow him to play again. Sadly we’ll never get to see what they valued so highly.

Things you just shake your head at… just a few hours after the Miami Dolphins announced that they would take discipline on players protesting the national anthem, the NFL and NFLPA issue a joint statement regarding the new rules. Sadly, they’ll never get it.

You know it is summer time when Jimmy Garoppolo’s date with a porn star is top news.  

Veterans Who Will Be Fighting For Their Jobs in Camp:

Every summer, we always take stock of the 90-man roster and try to make sense of the comings and goings without the benefit of sitting in the coach’s offices. We report on what we see on the field, but what they see may differ radically.

But, the one constant in the Patriots roster thru the Belichick years is change, the roster is always changing and evolving and this summer will be no different. Several veterans are looking at fighting for their jobs this summer. They include:

Dwayne Allen: Allen was hoped to replace the blocking and production in the passing game of Martellus Bennett. And he only was successful in the former, not the latter. Allen was a complete afterthought in the passing game, something the Patriots really needed considering Rob Gronkowski has had injury problems in his career.

Allen this summer will have to show much more in the passing game. With the seeming emergence of Jacob Hollister in the passing game this summer, the 2nd year TE seems poised for a much bigger role and if he shows he’s better in the blocking game this year, Allen’s days in a Patriots uniform may be numbered, despite Belichick being in his corner.

His salary for 2018 is $5 million dollars which is very steep for a blocking tight end. Consider this, the Patriots balked at paying Danny Amendola $6 million and think about all of the clutch plays he produced in his time in New England.

If Gronkowski gets a new deal during training camp, Allen’s salary cap situation will bear even closer watching. The Patriots brought in blocking tight ends Troy Niklas from the Cardinals, Ryan Izzo in the NFL Draft (7th Round) and small school Shane Wimann as a UDFA. Those three will bear close watching as well.

Elandon Roberts: Roberts, the undersized but downhill thumper at linebacker was thrust into a starting role for much of 2017. And a lot of it didn’t go well. Several times Roberts burst into the wrong hole in the running game or was caught up in the wash at the second level.

While he’s showed effectiveness as a blitzer up the A-gaps, he’s also a liability in coverage. The Patriots drafted two linebackers this spring, one of them, Ja’Whaun Bentley is a bigger more physical presence on the inside. His drafting doesn’t show great confidence in Roberts’ ability to get the job done.

The battle in the middle will also include Harvey Langi and Dont’a Hightower as well and bear close watching this summer.

Mike Gillislee: Gillislee was signed last year and promptly scored three TDs against KC in the blowout loss in the opener. But his star quickly lost its shine as he was a healthy scratch more often than not down the later stretches of the season.

Gillislee ran fairly well when he was in the game, however, his lack of production in the passing game became an issue. Because when he was in the game, the Patriots offense became what they hated to be: predictable.

Dion Lewis took over Gillislee’s role and the offense took off. This year, with Lewis gone, the team used a 1st round draft pick for Sony Michel and he has the versatility in the running and passing games to easily become a threat like Lewis was.

Gillislee and Jeremy Hill, who is looking to resurrect his career in New England are probably fighting for one roster spot. Hill, in the past, has been more productive in the passing game while with the Bengals. This battle will bear watching, as another player in the backfield.

Brandon Bolden: Every summer it seems Brandon Bolden is put on the list of those to get cut…even here. But then every fall, he’s on the roster, giving very valuable reps as a Special Teams standout, a core member of all four units.

That’s because Bolden has a hard-nosed, goes all out when he’s on the field, is an outstanding teammate who is very popular in the locker and has the versatility to do many things.

As a runner and pass receiver, he’s a .260 hitter, not bad, not great but will fill in as the fourth option when his number is called. He has Tom Brady’s trust as a blocker, runner, and receiver.

So yes, he’s in a roster battle to keep his job. It is nothing new for him. He’ll approach this as he does every summer. And with the new rules on special teams, guys like Bolden, Matthew Slater, and Cordarrelle Patterson may be even more valuable. Don’t be surprised if he’s around for one more season. And we’ll revisit it again next summer.

Jordan Richards: Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Richards finds himself annually on this list as well. Like Bolden, he’s a standout special teams player, but unlike the running back when he’s asked to play defense, he’s a disaster.

Every summer in preseason we watch him take poor angles in the secondary and turn small plays into big ones. That carries over into the regular season. Replay the end of the Pittsburgh game and Richards takes a brutal angle which turned a 3-yard Roethlisberger slant into nearly a 79-yard touchdown (tackled at the 10). That carried over into the Super Bowl where when he was on the field, Nick Foles and the Eagles went right after him.

So, will this summer be any different? I liked what I saw from David Jones last year but he was cut, brought back to the practice squad for the entire season. He was the Patriots practice player of the week six times in 2017, so perhaps the bigger and more athletic (also a punt returner) will push Richards.

Cyrus Jones: Jones is in a make or break season for the Patriots. After a disastrous rookie campaign in 2016 after being the team’s top draft pick, he was lost to a torn ACL and meniscus in the preseason of 2017.

He looked better (after forgetting how to cleanly field a punt in 2016) before his injury last summer and in the secondary as well. We’ll see how that transpires this summer. With Julian Edelman’s looming suspension, the punt returner slot is an instant roster spot ripe for the taking. There may be several punt returners vying for the position this summer and should be a lot of fun to watch.

But he wasn’t all the way back this spring, and that may force him to begin camp on the PUP. This will bear watching.

James Harrison Talks Belichick/Tomlin and Tom Brady:

Harrison who spent just a brief amount of time in New England after being released by Pittsburgh before Week 17, got the Western Pennsylvania population riled up this week when asked about the differences between Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin on the Fox show “Undisputed”.

Asked if Belichick is a better coach “by far”, he answered, “to me, yes.” He stressed Belichick’s discipline and the coaching staff which takes a page out of his book.

“The big thing with Belichick is he’s very regimented,” Harrison said. “He’s disciplined, everyone is going to be on the same page, there’s not going to be anything as far as someone doing their own thing. And I think over there [in New England] their whole coaching staff is like that.”

Harrison then added the kicker, “Man, I’ve seen Tom Brady run into a meeting scared to be late. I don’t even know what happens if you’re late to a meeting over there.”

On the subject of Brady, Harrison told the hosts, he at first wanted to hate him but added that he was “the ultimate teammate and person.”

“Tom is a great QB — the best ever. I’ve never seen anyone with his study habits, his preparation. He’s filling up a whole notebook of notes with each game.”

Patriots Preseason Broadcast Team Changes:

The radio duo of Bob Socci and Scott Zolak who do the Patriots’ games on the flagship radio station of 98.5 are moving to the television broadcast booth for the four preseason games. Joining the popular duo as always is Steve Burton who does the sidelines reporting and interviews while Andy Hart and Paul Perillo will provide commentary again from in the studio. Former Patriot Rob Ninkovich joins the broadcast team as the veteran sideline reporter.

The radio duties will fall to Dan Roche who called the games for the past several years on television and former SB champion Matt Chatham who moves from the sidelines to the color position for the preseason.  

Training Camp 2018, Dates and Times:

The Patriots training camp sessions begin this coming week and as a reminder:

Practices are free of charge and will be open to the public. Entrances will open about one hour before practice begins.

The schedule as of right now (and subject to change) is as follows:

Thursday, July 26: Practice Time – 9:15 a.m.

Friday, July 27: Practice Time – 9:15 a.m.

Saturday, July 28: Practice Time – 9:15 a.m.

Sunday, July 29: Practice Time – 9:15 a.m.

Check in periodically on the Patriots website for any changes on the scheduling of practices and fan events.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes: No AFC East Notes this week, we’ll be back with those next Sunday.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots 2018 Training Camp Primer – Linebackers

Steve Balestrieri
July 17, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

Health of Hightower Key in 2018

The Patriots head into training camp in just eight days and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we are breaking down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. We’re on to the linebackers.

There was arguably no position that got more grief than the linebackers last year. Dont’a Hightower, Harvey Langi, and Shea McClellin were placed on IR. Kyle Van Noy was then put in the unenviable position of being asked to do too much. David Harris proved the Jets were right when they thought he was done. Elandon Roberts was boom or bust and proved to be a liability in coverage. Marquis Flowers played meaningful snaps on defense in sub-packages and played well. The team brought in veteran James Harrison at the end of the season and he was arguably the team’s best linebacker in the playoffs.

This spring the Patriots got back Hightower and Langi and concussions forced McClellin to retire. The drafted two linebackers, Ja’Whaun Bentley in the fifth round and Christian Sam in the 6th. We thought they’d address the position earlier in the draft but they passed.

So, with that in mind who are locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy

The healthy return of Hightower is an absolute priority this spring, we wrote last year he was the one guy on defense they could not replace with anyone on the roster. Hightower is a run-stuffer inside who has shown the knack for being a good disruptor and blitzer on the edge as well as up the A-gaps. The question is, do they move him back to the inside or let him go back to the edge where they had him early last season.

Knowing that Hightower hasn’t been able to make it thru seasons unscathed is a huge question mark for the defense. The coaches saw how badly they struggled without him last year. How he’ll be used and how much, especially in the summer will bear watching.

Van Noy is a much better player when Hightower is on the field and they allow him to do what he does best. Which is a little bit of everything. He wore the green dot and became the leader of the defense on the front seven. While not a great athlete or a flashy player, he’s grown into a very dependable, versatile member of the defense. With Hightower back, look for Van Noy to have a very solid 2018.

And although it seems like the former first rounder has been in the league a long time, he’s just 27 years old and should be at the top of his game for the next few years.

Near Roster Locks: Marquis Flowers

Flowers prior to coming to the Patriots in 2017 had played a grand total of two (2) defensive snaps. Last year the Patriots used the athletic, STs maven as an outside linebacker who gained valuable experience as a stopper against athletic QBs and in coverage. He needs to get better in run support, but he had an overall pretty solid season in 2017.

We did our first 53-man Roster Projection after minicamp and left him off. On second thought, that was probably an oversight. With a good summer, he should be a near lock to secure a spot in 2018. The team gave him a new contract worth up to $2.55 million this spring.

On the Bubble: Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Christian Sam, Nicholas Grigsby, Brandon King (STs)

This group of six players is probably competing for four roster spots. Roberts was a starter for most of 2017. The slightly undersized LB from Houston is a downhill thumper in the running game. But at times his aggressiveness hurt him as he filled the wrong hole and was a liability in coverage. The Patriots were not good against the run in 2017, allowing an average of 4.7 yards per rush. Part of that issue, but certainly not all of it was the play of Roberts.

Langi was an intriguing UDFA, who the Patriots gave a good chunk of guaranteed money to sign with New England last spring. He made the team out of training camp and then tragedy struck. He and his wife were rear-ended in a serious car crash at a stop light in Foxboro in October and both ended up in the hospital. His injuries were severe enough to lose him for the rest of the season. Now he’s healthy and will have a lot of work to do to earn himself a spot on the roster this season. But he’s versatile and can play in several different positions.

Bentley is a big, thumper inside. He looks to be primarily an early down run-stuffer. Like Roberts, however, he’s a liability in coverage. But the fact that they drafted him shows, at least in some people’s mind, that they weren’t pleased with Roberts.

Sam was the OLB they drafted in the 6th round and is another intriguing guy. He’s strong and did 28 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine. He’s got versatility and some explosiveness but doesn’t have a ton of experience. He may be an STs guy with an eye to 2019.

Grigsby is an ST’s guy and doesn’t offer much on defense. But he filled in well once he was signed after a slew of injuries hit the team in the middle of the season. He’s kind of a long shot to make the roster but with the Patriots emphasis of STs, he’ll be in the mix.

Ditto for Brandon King. King was a safety in college, but practices with the linebackers and is a core special teams, standout player. He’ll be a tough guy to knock from the roster given his special team’s expertise, despite him being a linebacker in name only.

Next up our training camp primer on the secondary…stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Trent Harris, “Toolbox Trent” Fits the Mold, For a Patriots UDFA

Steve Balestrieri
May 8, 2018 at 8:40 am ET

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before. This guy is too small, too slow, is easily blocked in the running game too often and has little chance to make the team. Except that all he does is make plays and keeps showing up on the highlight reel tape.

“That guy”, in this case, is former Miami Hurricane DE Trent Harris, a UDFA defensive end who wasn’t invited to the 2018 NFL Combine and went undrafted in last month’s 2018 NFL Draft, despite leading the Canes in sacks in 2017.

Harris logged 8.5 sacks, six QB hurries, 37 tackles with 10.5 for a loss. He finished his UM career with 126 tackles (26.5 for loss) and 15 sacks.

Standing at 6’2, 250 pounds, Harris doesn’t have the length that the Patriots and most teams are looking for and he’s light, especially in a Patriots system that requires the defensive end to set the edge first and then rush the passer.

But despite those limitations, he’s been amazingly adept at rushing the passer. At the “U” his teammates nicknamed him “Toolbox Trent” because he had a vast array of moves and used his smarts and football savvy to beat defenders rather than just raw speed and athleticism.

He was also versatile for Miami. During one possession sequence, he lined up as a defensive end, middle linebacker (Mike), and a strong-side linebacker (SAM). Those are the kind of small things that will get you noticed and may keep you around during the dog days of training camp. He has played all three linebacker positions as well as a rush end. Plus he’d immediately play on Special Teams.

“I love defensive end, hand in the dirt, getting to the quarterback,” he said. “Who doesn’t love getting to the quarterback? But I’m pretty versatile, so wherever the coach needs me, that’s where I’m happy to play.”

Often you’ll the term, “his tape doesn’t measure his timed speed.” Which means although a player may run well in the 40-yard dash but his playing speed is much slower. For Harris, the opposite may well be true. He ran a slow 5.02 time in the 40 at his Pro Day. But watching his tape, while he’s not a burner by any stretch, he’s quick off the ball and relentless. He uses his hands well and has a nice closing burst.

His former defensive line coach at Miami Craig Kuligowski, now with Alabama, told the media back before the draft that Harris will play in the NFL.


“He’s got special pass-rushing skills,” Kuligowski said. “He’s a guy that can play on every special teams. He’s very smart. If Trent gets drafted late, he’ll be a steal.”

How the Patriots envision Harris will be interesting to see. He could be sub-package defensive end who gets after the quarterback or they could envision him as a linebacker that is able to blitz off the edge or up the interior gaps.

The patriotic Harris (already a perfect fit) honored his brother by saluting every time he sacked an opposing QB. His brother is a paratrooper in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Harris is a longshot to make the roster right now, but as we’ve seen before, UDFAs have a way of getting a chance to show what they’ve got with the Patriots. Every year at least one seems to make the roster and many provide significant snaps. Will Harris be that guy? Time will tell.

For the kid who is too small, and too slow, this may be the perfect place to get noticed. All he does is make plays. We’ll be watching him this spring and summer and watch him empty the “toolbox” in an attempt to make the roster.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots News 4-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 29, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 4-29, & AFC East Notes

Quick Hitters: The Patriots made a curious decision to hold their post-Day 2 draft press conference immediately after the second round, while the 3rd round was just getting underway. While the Patriots didn’t have a third-round pick in the draft, they were essentially telling the world, that they weren’t interested in getting involved in it either.

When Nick Caserio came out on Friday night, the third round was just getting started. It just seemed a little odd to call it a night so early when there were many intriguing prospects on the board.

For those who are interested in these things,( I know I am), taking a look at the Patriots draft room when Belichick and Kraft called new addition Duke Dawson on Friday night, the Pats room looked like a ghost town compared to some of these other teams with a slew of staffers and coaches packed in the room like sardines. Belichick keeps it small and tight and while neither is right or wrong, it is just interesting.

If you’re trying to compute the final compensation for the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, good luck with that. The team’s trade has now taken it to the 2019 NFL Draft with the Bears second-round pick. And that may be in a prime position to….YES! Trade back.

Day 3 Highlights, Pats Get Going Late:
After trading back twice in the early going of Round 4, the Patriots finally selected a player at #143 with ILB Ja’whaun Bentley from Purdue. Before the draft, we all said that with no picks in over 100 selections, the Patriots would trade back in to not lose out on the mid-rounds talent. Well, they did it anyway, 87 picks went thru before the Patriots selected again.

Bentley is a big, 6’2, 260-pound thumper, a two-down run stuffer who is a liability in coverage. For those who were wanting an athletic, fast, sideline-to-sideline player, this isn’t it.

He will no doubt take on Elandon Roberts for a roster spot and could see duty as an inside linebacker on running downs but as we saw in the Super Bowl, the RPO game which is becoming the norm in the NFL, will not be a strong suit.

However, with their next pick at #178, the Patriots selected an athletic linebacker, arguably the best one they now have in Christian Sam from Arizona State. He’s got speed to get to the outside and takes very good angles to the ball. He covers good ground in coverage and has better than average ball skills.

He’s never out of position, strong and athletic. We had him going much earlier than this so it is a bit of a draft steal for the Patriots.

The Patriots traded back again at 198 and picked up  233 and 243 from the #198 pick.

With the # 210 pick, they selected slot receiver Braxton Berrios from Miami. He’s a small, fast, athletic player who can return kicks which will get him a look.

At #219, LSU QB Danny Etling was taken, the 6’2 three-year starter is a long-shot to make the roster and is likely a camp body. They then added CB Keion Crossen at #243 and TE Ryan Izzo with #250. Izzo is a big, physical blocking tight end.

With all of the talk about needing an off-the-ball linebacker and help on the edge, they didn’t take any linebackers until #143 and didn’t take any edge help. While they may sign a few of both with UDFAs, that should tell you that either, A. Belichick is planning on signing a free agent or making a trade or B. That they feel getting Hightower and Rivers back along with the addition of Adrian Clayborn will be enough. We shall see.  

Second Round Flurry of Activity Nets Dawson:
The Patriots have always been big draft day traders, the only year that Bill Belichick didn’t make a draft day trade was 2004. And the second round on Friday was a prime example of the wheeling and dealing Belichick as the team moved down twice and up once in the round.

The team had the #43 pick netted in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade plus their own pick #63. We thought the 43rd pick would be the place that they’d trade down and they did.

They traded #43 to the Detroit Lions for the #51 and a 4th round pick #117. They then flipped the #51 to the Chicago Bears for a 2019 2nd round draft pick and 4th round pick #105 this season. The team is banking on the Bears being as bad as most pundits think they’ll be this season. Then that 2nd round pick would be at the top of the round.

They then took their own #63 and #117 from the Lions and moved back up to #56 to select Florida slot corner, Duke Dawson. Dawson had been on a visit to Foxboro this spring and they liked the feistiness, versatility and compete level. Our analysis of the pick was here:

Patriots Go and See Red Everywhere Early in the Draft:
The first three additions by the Patriots all came from teams wearing red jerseys and have high ceilings that could really help the team in 2018 and beyond. But coincidentally all come with red flags medically that could also make their floors really low as well.

Georgia T/G Isaiah Wynn is a player that was considered a guard in the NFL due to his height (6’2) despite his playing at left tackle at a high level for the Bulldogs. He was the third-rated guard in the draft but the Patriots are planning on keeping him at tackle. He’s got a quick first step, moves well for a big man and uses his hands well against power rushers. And despite his lack of length, handled speed rushers well in the SEC.

But he is coming off labrum surgery on his shoulder and while he says he’ll be ready for mini-camp, that probably won’t be in the cards as they will err on the side of caution.

Wynn’s teammate in Georgia RB Sony Michel is a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has a nice blend of size, speed, and power. He has excellent vision, is quick to the hole and runs excellently between the tackles with true breakaway speed. While not as elusive as Dion Lewis, he has much better speed once he gets to the second level. He’s very good in both the running game as well as the passing game.

But Michel has red flags of his own with a knee that has already had ACL surgery. With Michel, the only question is will he stay healthy long enough to become a star in the NFL because he has the star quality at the position and was arguably the second-best player at the position. But his knee turned some teams off.

The Patriots made a trade with the 49ers early on Friday before the Day 2 of the draft opened, getting RT Trent Brown and the #143 pick for the Patriots pick #95. Brown is a huge right tackle at 6’8, 355 and was considered one of the pass blocking tackles…when healthy. Are we seeing a trend here?

The 2015 7th round draft pick is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery that he had at the end of last season. He is also in the final season of his contract which pays him $1.9 million in 2018, which isn’t an issue. But by trading for Brown, is that a bad sign that starting RT Marcus Cannon who himself is coming off of IR isn’t going to be ready to go.

So in looking at the Patriots first three draft acquisitions this spring, while the ceiling is certainly high, the floor because of injuries is also very low. Shoulder injuries, like those suffered by Wynn and Brown, can be similar to that which has limited Dont’a Hightower. This will bear watching moving forward.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Get Their QB and a Premier Linebacker:
The Buffalo Bills had a solid 2018 draft. They entered needing to land a franchise QB and they did just that in Round 1 by selecting gunslinger Wyoming QB Josh Allen. He won’t be rushed into service however as they signed A.J. McCarron as their bridge guy. They also signed one of the best linebackers in the draft with Tremaine Edwards from Virginia Tech. They also added depth on the DL with Harrison Phillips and a good slot or nickel corner in Taron Johnson.

Dolphins Don’t Get a QB But Load Up:
The Miami Dolphins also had a solid draft, they wanted to beef up a defense that had issues covering tight ends so they drafted three possible solutions to it. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick was the Fins’ first pick and the 11th overall. They then added Ohio State Linebacker  Jerome Baker in Round three, as well as linebacker Quentin Poling, and defensive back Cornell Armstrong.

On offense, the Dolphins needed help at tight end and drafted two, taking Penn State’s Mike Gesicki and Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe in the fourth. They also added running back Kalen Ballage

Jets Grab Darnold and Need Herndon to Step Up as a Rookie:
The New York Jets got their franchise QB in Sam Darnold from USC. Most people thought Darnold would go to the Cleveland Browns with the #1 pick and Baker Mayfield would go to Gang Green. But the situation was reversed and the Jets ended up with the talented Darnold, who should be ready to handle playing in the  Big Apple.

But with no Austin Seferian-Jenkins who left in free agency, Darnold needs a security blanket in the passing game. The Jets hope that they found one in Chris Herndon from Miami in the fourth round.  

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Podcast: Patriots 4th & 2 Video Interview with BSJ Greg Bedard

Steve Balestrieri
April 16, 2018 at 11:05 am ET

The PatsFans.com  podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” did a video podcast of an interview we did with Boston Sports Journal’s founder Greg Bedard late last week as we spoke about the upcoming NFL Draft.

We also took a look at where the roster is and tried to get a feel for how the Patriots will proceed in the first two rounds of the draft.

You can click on the link to take you to the video, it will also be released later as just an audio podcast soon on our BlogTalkRadio site.

We also encourage our readers to subscribe to our YouTube channel and to our podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Mock Draft 3.0, Building Depth on Defense

Steve Balestrieri
April 13, 2018 at 9:25 am ET

 

Most Draft Boards Are Starting To Stabilize

The Patriots have several options for the first two rounds in the upcoming draft that begins on April 26. They may opt to move up to take a quarterback to eventually succeed Tom Brady, stand pat with their picks or slide back, something they’ve done quite often.

While most people had the Patriots taking a tackle early if not in the first round of the draft, we felt that was not going to be the case. After investing in Tony Garcia last year and bringing back LaAdrian Waddle, our take is that they may draft one, but more for depth. Now with the news that Garcia is fully ready to go, we’ll double down with that.

For our third mock draft, we didn’t do any trading to move up or down the draft board, however, the feeling is that the Patriots will be moving around the board. They currently have no 4th or 5th round draft picks, and that will undoubtedly change. But we went with building the depth especially on defense with two linebackers, two edge players and a corner. Future concerns at QB and TE were addressed, and the latter is ready to produce immediately.

We have been using the draft tool that the folks at Fanspeak.com that we’ve been touting for awhile and it is really good and highly recommended.

In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of several big boards to choose from. The boards are all updated every Tuesday.

The big boards for each site differ and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated until it is your time to pick.

For this third mock draft (4-12), I used the big board of NFL Draft Scout.

Here is our third mock draft attempt this year: PatsFans Mock 3.0

Round 1, Pick #23 Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama:

Once again Evans was still on the board at #23 and was too good a prospect to pass up. He has tremendous speed, range, and agility. Evans was the Alabama team leader in tackles, flies around the field from sideline to sideline, can cover, blitz off the edge and stuff the run. A Day 1 starter and the kind of sure-hit player the Patriots like to take in Round 1. Subsequent rounds are for reaches Read our draft profile on him here:

Round 1, Pick #31 CB, Mike Hughes, Central Florida:

Hughes is a very good press man, lock-down corner, despite not having great size, (5’10, 195-pounds) has the mentality and skill to be a very good corner at the next level. He is a physical corner that is adept at throwing receivers off their timing and is a very good tackler and run defender. He’s a versatile player with special teams value, returning a kickoff, punt and interception for touchdowns in 2017.

Round 2, Pick #43 TE, Mark Andrews, Oklahoma:
The Patriots could use an eventual replacement for Rob Gronkowski and Andrews has the same qualities as a receiver, with excellent hands, the ability to stretch the field and attack the seams and is an absolute mismatch against linebackers and most safeties.  Andrews has good size at 6’4, 254 pounds, who won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end catching 62 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns for the Sooners. He’s not a great blocker…yet, but with some coaching can improve there.

Round 2 Pick # 63 QB, Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State:
Rudolph has the boxes checked with the prototypical size of NFL QBs at 6’4, 230 pounds and was a four-year starter for the Cowboys in their spread, up-tempo passing game. He throws an excellent deep ball with very nice touch and ball placement. The knock on him is that he played in a very simplified system and had a tendency to stare down his receivers. He’ll have to learn to process faster in the NFL and go thru his progressions, something he’ll have time to learn behind Brady.

Round 3, Pick #95 OT, Jamarco Jones, Ohio State:

Jones was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes who have developed quite a pipeline for tackles in the NFL. Jones has good size at 6’5, 310 and is a very good pass blocker, and has shown the quick feet and agility to rarely get beat by speed rushers on the edge. He’ll need to get stronger and become more physical, especially in the running game at the next level but under the tutelage of Dante Scarnecchia, he’ll get there. With the Garcia news that he’s healthy and ready to go, Jones won’t be hard-pressed to produce as a rookie.

Round 6, Pick #198 Edge, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas:

Armstrong had a tremendous 2016, with 20 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks as his coaches had him pinning his ears back. In 2017, going to a more read-and-react style, those numbers dropped to 9.5 TFL and just two sacks. But he has very good speed and a quick first step. Armstrong has dropped into coverage at times, something the Patriots ask their edge players to do occasionally. He’s a good, athletic player who tackles well but needs to add some bulk at the next level.

Round 6, Pick #210 LB, Kenny Young, UCLA:

Young is an undersized, speedy, athletic linebacker who may be a candidate for the “big nickel” linebacker role the Patriots like to run in their sub-packages. He’s got plenty of speed and athleticism to play sideline-to-sideline and cover backs and tight ends in the passing game. However, he lacks the bulk and strength (6’1,236) to play on every down. He may be a Special Teams player first and work his way into a subpackage role.

Round 7, Pick #219 Edge, Joe Ostman, Central Michigan:

Ostman is a guy who’s draft profile is all over the place. While most have him as a 6th-7th round draft pick, others have him as high as a 3rd-4th round selection. He’s a high-motor, slightly undersized edge player at 6’2, 250 pounds that wins with second effort. He uses his hands well and possesses a nice spin move. He was very productive in the MAC but will have to get stronger at the next level.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Mock Draft 2.0, Post Trade Edition

Steve Balestrieri
April 6, 2018 at 9:26 am ET

 

Lots of Opportunities to Move Up

With the trade of Brandin Cooks to the Rams, the Patriots draft picks now look vastly different than they did a week ago. With two picks now in both the first and second rounds, they now have plenty of options to move up and around the draft board.

For this particular mock draft, we didn’t do any trading to move up or down the draft board, although we do feel that they will most certainly do so at some point as they now have no picks in the 4th or 5th rounds of the draft.

We have been using the draft tool that the folks at Fanspeak.com that we’ve been touting for awhile and it is really good and highly recommended.

In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of several big boards to choose from. The boards are all updated every Tuesday.

The big boards for each site differ and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated until it is your time to pick.

For this second mock draft (4-5), I used the big board of Draftek.

Here is our second mock draft attempt this year: PatsFans Mock 2.0

Round 1, Pick #23 Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama:

Evans somehow was still on the board at #23 and was too good a prospect to pass up. He’s a quick twitch, versatile linebacker who can line up in the middle at the Mike, or on the outside and has tremendous sideline-to-sideline speed. He can cover tight ends, running backs and is a tremendous blitzer up the A-gaps. He’s a big-time difference maker on defense and is a Day 1 starter. Read our draft profile on him here:

Round 1, Pick #31 Edge, Sam Hubbard, Ohio State:

We stuck with our original pick at #31 with Hubbard as he was still there using a different big board. He’s not a one-trick pony that can scream off the edge and nothing else. But the Patriots with their style of defense want players who can set the edge first and also rush the passer. Hubbard is a well-rounded, good defensive end prospect.

He gives that needed depth on the edge, can step in and play at a high level on Day 1, can play either side so he’s versatile and can do a bit of everything.

To see our draft profile on him click here:

Round 2, Pick #43 TE, Mike Gesicki, Penn State:
The Patriots pick up a long-term replacement for Rob Gronkowski who is/was contemplating retirement. While no one can replace the best tight end in the NFL, there are several very good options in the draft.

Gesicki has good size and moves pretty well for a guy at 6’5, 250-pounds. While he’s not an elite athlete that will leave defenders in the dust, he has the best hands of any TE in the draft and is a classic overachiever. He’s limited as a blocker and could use some more strength but would be a very good option in the flex or “move” tight end role with Gronk.

Round 2 Pick # 63 OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon:
Crosby is an aggressive road grader in the running game, a mauler at 6’5, 320 pounds with excellent strength and power.

He has improved in pass protection and has played both tackle positions as a four-year starter for the Ducks.

Round 3, Pick #95 QB, Kyle Lauletta, Richmond:

Lauletta has been widely mock drafted to the Patriots all spring…which usually means that he won’t be coming. But by Round 3, the majority of the highly sought after quarterbacks were taken. Lauletta has the skill set to do very well with the Patriots.

He throws a nice ball and leads his receivers well, he won’t throw them into big hits. Lauletta has a quick release, very good footwork, moves well in the pocket and was a team leader. Doesn’t have a cannon for an arm but is very tough, physically, and mentally. Learning from Brady for a year or two may be just what the doctor ordered.

Lauletta’s draft profile by us can be seen here:

Round 6, Pick #198 CB, Levi Wallace, Alabama:

Wallace was a walk-on at Alabama because his father was from Tuscaloosa. High football I.Q. and considered to be a very high character player and person. Paid his dues and worked his way up to be a starter in 2017.

Was the “other guy” on the Bama defense that opponents tried to pick on. He responded with three interceptions and 18 passes defensed. Sets the edge extremely well in the running game. Lacks experience but a good developmental prospect. Good length at 6’0, 185 pounds.

Round 6, Pick #210 LB, Nick Deluca, North Dakota State:

Deluca is a three-year starter, a three-down middle linebacker who has smarts, leadership, and toughness. Deluca is a very instinctive linebacker while not a burner and doesn’t have great speed, he consistently plays faster because of his instincts. Has very good size at 6’2, 243 and covers well with good depth and can play both zone and man. Was an outstanding special teams’ player and will immediately become part of the core unit in the NFL.

Round 7, Pick #219 RB, Jordan Wilkins, Mississippi:

Wilkins has good size at 6’0, 215 and had 1000 yard season in the SEC as a senior in 2017. He paid his dues and came on strong after very little wear and tear on his body. Had only 311 career touches in his five years.

Wilkins runs with a low pad level but at times tries to bounce too much to the outside. Had 26 catches as a senior, and would be a nice addition to the running back by committee approach. His best football is still in front of him.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Draft Profile, Darius Leonard, LB SC State

Steve Balestrieri
April 3, 2018 at 9:05 am ET

Leonard a Small School Stud at LB

As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots are in need of an off-the-ball linebacker, one who can cover as well as come off the edge as a pass rusher. Last season the team lost Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin and Harvey Langi to season-ending injuries. McClellin was cut and will probably retire due to concussion issues. And depending on how they decide to utilize the other two either as edge rushers or linebackers will also factor in.

Right now the team has Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, Marquis Flowers, and Nicholas Grigsby on the roster. Van Noy and Flowers played key roles during the season, Van Noy especially, but the one area that really hurt them was running backs in the passing game.

Seven times during the season opposing running backs caught passes totaling 50 yards or more. During the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, they were gashed by Corey Clement for 100 yards on four catches and a touchdown. So a dose of speed and athleticism is in the cards for the Patriots this spring at the linebacker position.

Darius Leonard from South Carolina State is a small school standout who definitely has the speed, athleticism, and instincts to play at the next level. Leonard was a standout high school player in South Carolina but got no love from either South Carolina or Clemson, (who offered him a walk-on chance). Rather than dwell on it, he used it as fodder to drive him.

Signing with South Carolina State, he strove to become a better player. “I used that as a little chip on my shoulder to show teams what they could’ve had,” he said. “I’m still that guy because I came from a small program, so I’ve got a point to prove.”

The 6’2, 229-pound linebacker had outstanding production for the Bulldogs in 2017 with 114 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two passes defensed and two interceptions. Playing against top-flight competition in the Senior Bowl, he piled up a game-high 14 tackles.

He’s got the issues with he could use more muscle onto his lanky frame, which is already close to being maxed out. He could be more physical and won’t be a stout edge guy (at least initially) at setting the edge against bigger offensive linemen.

But his game is based on speed and athleticism, much like the league is going to today. He’s versatile and can play inside or outside as a 4-3 WILL linebacker.

Pros:

– Outstanding length and speed

– Excellent production

– Good in both zone, man coverage

– Good tackler

Cons

– Slightly underpowered

– Frame is almost maxed out

– May need a year of seasoning

What his Role Will Be:

Leonard would step into a subpackage coverage role from Day 1 as well as being an effective chip to blitz off the edge.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, in Year 2 with time in the strength and conditioning program, he could become a very productive starter.

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

None, with McClellin and David Harris gone and James Harrison a free agent, there are already open spots for him to snatch up.

What is his ST Value?

He’d immediately become a core special teams guy with his athleticism and physicality.

Conclusion:
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein in his profile wrote that “Long and twitchy with athletic ability and straight-line speed that should light up the combine. Leonard has packed on the pounds since hitting campus, but it hasn’t compromised his play speed as he has posted dominant production throughout. He lacks play strength and there are times you want to see him play nastier in his field demeanor, but he has the traits and talent to become a good, three-down linebacker who can play 3-4 inside backer or 4-3 WILL.”

Leonard’s speed, athleticism, and instincts make him a very attractive  Day 2 prospect. He was the two-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, with outstanding speed and athleticism. He’s excellent at timing delayed blitzes and getting to the quarterback.

Leonard is versatile and can play inside or at the WILL linebacker role which he may be best suited for. He handles coverage very well and can cover a lot of ground. Watching him, he gets very good depth in his drops and can fly around from sideline to sideline to make plays. He is good in the running game with his ability to slip blocks.

He may take a bit of time to find his way in the NFL game and get some more playing strength but with the trend going to smaller, faster linebackers, he’s a guy whose arrow is pointing upward. He’s described as a “mature, respectful individual, an old soul” according to his coaches.

He answered the bell when the questions were asked about playing against top competition at the Senior Bowl and against Clemson (19 tackles) and can be a very productive player at the next level.

Leonard’s highlight reel tape from Rashaad Lemon can be seen here: 

His tape at the senior bowl was put together by the Dallas Cowboys.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Draft Profile, Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Steve Balestrieri
March 31, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

Carter Has a lot of Potential Upside in the Pros

As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

In an earlier post, we wrote about the Patriots issues on the edge in 2017. They had too many losses to work around because of free agency, retirement, and injury. Others that they brought in, that just didn’t work out (Kony Ealy, Cassius Marsh), added to the issue.

With some players getting back from injury this year, things should automatically look up from 2017. And the Patriots did address the position during free agency. The team signed Adrian Clayborn this spring which immediately helps.

Hightower, Rivers and Langi return, they’ll join Trey Flowers, Deatrich, Lee, and Adam Butler but they could really use another young edge player which could facilitate moving Hightower and Langi back to linebacker. That would be the best thing, as they really need some help at Inside Linebacker.

At the outside linebacker position, they’d have Marquis Flowers and Kyle Van Noy, as well as Derek Rivers, returning. They could still shift either Hightower or Langi back on occasion to the outside but would still require some needed depth and athleticism at the position and there are players available in the draft.

Lorenzo Carter from Georgia is an intriguing prospect that played in the SEC. He’s one of those players that may become a better professional than he was a college player. After being one of the most highly recruited players in the country, his college football resume never really materialized the way most thought it would.

Carter has an incredibly long and rangy frame (6’6, 250) and played as both as a hand in the dirt defensive end and as an outside linebacker standing up. He had some experience covering tight ends and backs and even at times receivers. Although he generated a lot of quarterback pressure, Carter never was a big sack guy getting just nine and a half combined sacks in his last two seasons.

In college, he set the edge well using his athletic ability and holding the containment in the running game. But he’s not solidly built in his lower body and can get pushed around if he allows blockers to get inside of him. Because of that, at the NFL level, he’ll probably be more of an outside linebacker than defensive end.

Pros:

– Excellent Height and Length

– Good hand placement and work

– Has a knack for causing fumbles

– Good motor and speed

Cons

– Not great in coverage

– Can be pushed around in power running game

– Needs to add bulk especially in his lower body

What his Role Will Be:

Carter could immediately play in the sub-packages as an outside linebacker. He’ll have too much trouble setting the edge in the pros as a 4-3 Defensive end. If he’s used there, he’d be strictly a subpackage pass rusher initially. He can cover a bit but also rush off the edge as a blitzer.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, in Year 2 if he can build up his leg strength, he could see more work as a stand-up defensive end.

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

Carter could replace an STs guy like Nicholas Grigsby and take his role on STs.

What is his ST Value?

Limited, but the team will probably use him on some of the coverage units taking advantage of his speed and athleticism

Conclusion:
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein in his profile wrote that:

Carter was a five-star prospect and one of the most heralded players in the nation when he was recruited by Georgia but he never made the impact expected of him as a Bulldog. However, Carter played with increased toughness and confidence this year and his NFL potential began to reassert itself once again. Carter is an outside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3 with sideline-to-sideline range and the tools to become a productive edge rusher in sub-packages. He needs to add more bulk, but he is a future NFL starter.”

Carter is a better fit at Outside Linebacker and has the skills to rush the passer off the edge where his speed and agility can be brought to bear. He’s good but not great in coverage and tended to give too much of a cushion but that happens with players that aren’t asked to do it very much.

Carter is a versatile player, something the Patriots value highly in their players and he was that guy for the Bulldogs. He could be found, rushing off the edge as a Wide-9 Defensive End, dropping into coverage as a WILL Linebacker and moving all around the formation. He doesn’t have great instincts and is more of a read and react kind of player but he has the athleticism and speed to be a very productive player at the next level.

I know he showed some good power and strength in setting the edge in college but the pros are different. His legs look a bit spindly and that could be an issue until he packs on some needed muscle. But his frame may max out quickly and it could hurt his athleticism if he bulks up.

Carter is going to be one of those boom or bust kind of prospects. It is easy to become enamored with his obvious physical skills, running a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash but he chose not to run the bigger barometer for a change of direction and agility which is the 3-Cone Drill. But for all his physical tools, it didn’t translate into production. He produced just 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons combined in Georgia.

Carter will be an intriguing prospect as we stated above because some defensive coaches will want to be able to channel that athleticism. We all saw that in the Orange Bowl with the blocked field goal attempt.

He’s mainly thought of as kind of an end of the second or early third-round prospect in most places. It may be a good place to pick him up. We know Bill Belichick saw him and the rest of the Georgia linebackers up close and worked them out during their Pro Day.

 

Carter’s highlight reel tape from Keith Benjamin can be seen here: 

 

And his 2018 Rose Bowl Game against Oklahoma highlights from Cut Up Corner can be seen here: 

 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.