Tag Archives: Tarell Brown

Patriots Possible Draft Target, CB Jonathan Jones

Steve Balestrieri
March 25, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

CB Jonathan Jones could be a Patriots target in the draft to play nickel or slot corner

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots have a need at cornerback as we highlighted in our piece about Artie Burns on the 24th. While the Patriots can opt for one of the corners out there that have the proto-typical size to play on the outside, there are other players who could be of interest who play the slot or aren’t the biggest guys, but just happen to play that way.

In the upcoming days we’ll highlight some names that could be on the Patriots radar. While we all know the top guys like Vernon Hargreaves or Eli Apple will be long gone by the time the Pats pick at #60, we’ll focus on some of the guys who still at least have a chance of being around by then.

Jonathan Jones from Auburn is another track star/football player that could be a Patriots target in the draft.  Jones is a standout, solid cornerback for the War Eagles who once won the national title in the 110-meter hurdles. Jones isn’t the biggest guy at 5’9, 186 pounds but he’s fast, physical and aggressive running a blistering 4.33 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

He played as a freshman at Auburn and then missed a large chunk of his sophomore season due to a broken ankle suffered early in the year but did come back in the latter stages of 2013. He had an outstanding year in 2014 with six interceptions, 11 passes defensed and 36 tackles as a junior, earning 2nd team SEC honors.

Despite having foot surgery in the spring of 2015 he didn’t miss any game action and notched one interception, 13 passes defensed and 69 tackles in his final season.

Jones had a solid week at the Senior Bowl and was a standout in coverage against some of the best WRs in the country. He’s best in man coverage and didn’t play as confidently in zone where he tended to give too big a cushion. Has tremendous closing speed and with a 36” vertical is able to get up and compete for throws to WRs that have a height advantage.

He is consistently able to get his head around when the ball is in the air and make plays. With his lack of size, he will have a hard time on the edge in the running game. Has had some injury issues.

Pros:

– Excellent in man coverage, physical at the line of scrimmage

– Very good ball skills

– Able to play press man or zone coverage, can read the QB and drive on the play

– Excellent speed, can run and stay with any WR

Cons

– Size is an issue, will be at a disadvantage with most NFL WRs

– Aggressive style of play will draw plenty of flags

– Injury issues could be a sign of things to come

What his Role Will Be:
His role will be at least initially of being the nickel corner in the slot. His aggressiveness and the ability to play man coverage close to the wide receiver will be a plus. He has the speed and quickness to cover any of the smaller, quicker slot receivers in the NFL.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Possibly, he could transition to an outside starting corner but his lack of size and weakness in run support will be things to work on.

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
His roster slot would be in competition with Coleman for the slot position.

What is his ST Value?
Minimal, ran back kickoffs in high school

Conclusion:
Jones’ drop in production in his senior season can be directly tied to his foot surgery in the off-season, something Pats fans should remember not so fondly as it happened to Brandon LaFell a year ago. But he’s a competitive, feisty corner and turned heads at the Senior Bowl with tough, physical, sticky coverage.

His biggest negative is his height, but he makes up for it with his ability to cover and blistering speed. He has good footwork and will keep glued to receivers. Should the Patriots select him he’d cover the slot receiver allowing Butler and Ryan to handle the duties outside.

He’s strong (19 reps on the bench press), so he’ll be able to jam receivers at the line. He’s very feisty, something defensive coaches love. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will find a way to use his talents to their maximum. Belichick’s son and Patriots assistant Brian was recently at Auburn’s Pro Day. The team signed for Auburn safety Brandon King a year ago.  Jones is slotted to go around the 4th round of the draft. If he’s still available then, the Patriots may show some interest.

He projects in the Patriots system to be a Potential Starter on Day 1. He should fit in very well into the NE defense as the nickel or slot corner as the Patriots love to play a lot of snaps in their sub-package defense.

 

Burns highlight film can be found here, courtesy of SD Highlights:

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.

Possible Patriots Draft Target, CB Artie Burns

Steve Balestrieri
March 24, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Artie Burns could be a Patriots draft target and is a talented corner who would fight for starting reps immediately

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots suffered a slew of injuries in 2015 but one area where they were rather fortunate was at the cornerback position. Although Tarell Brown ended up on IR and Justin Coleman was banged up during the season, the fact that Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan stayed healthy all year long was a blessing.

Now the Patriots are faced with the 2016 season and needing more depth. Butler and Ryan return as does Coleman and last season’s injured rookie Darryl Roberts. Roberts turned some heads in training camp and started the first preseason game but was injured in that contest and ended up on IR.

He and Coleman are unproven at this point and with Brown now a free agent, the team needs to add some new blood. Brown or another free agent can still be brought in anytime between now and the beginning of training camp but the draft will bring some intriguing options.

In the upcoming days we’ll highlight some names that could be on the Patriots radar. While we all know the top guys like Vernon Hargreaves or Eli Apple will be long gone by the time the Pats pick at #60, we’ll focus on some of the guys who still at least have a chance of being around by then.

Artie Burns from Miami is a kind of under-the-radar player despite playing for the “U”. He’s a supremely talented athlete who ran track as well as playing football. Possessing ideal size at 6’0 and 193 pounds, he has the frame to add some weight without losing any of his athleticism. Burns plays much faster than his 4.46 time in the 40-yard dash recorded at the NFL Combine.

Burns is a playmaker who led the ACC with six interceptions in 2015. He’s still raw with his technique at times but with his long arms, he very effective at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. He has experience at corner as well as free safety but is best suited at the next level as a cornerback.

Pros:

– Proto-typical size for an NFL cornerback

– Excellent ball skills

–  Able to play press-man or zone coverage

– Excellent body control; can adjust to the ball in the air and make plays

Cons

– Tackling is sloppy, and needs work

– Aggressive style of play will draw plenty of flags

– Needs to add some bulk at the NFL level

What his Role Will Be:
His role will be competing for one of the starting cornerback roles. With his size, speed and physical, aggressive nature he would be ideally suited for the outside corner role in the Patriots man coverage schemes.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, with a little polish he could be a starting left corner if the need arises

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
His roster slot would be in competition with Coleman or Roberts. If he shows he’s ready to play a bigger role, the team could move Ryan into the slot and play him outside with Butler.

What is his ST Value?
Good, he had experience as a kick returner at Miami

Conclusion:
Burns is not just a track star who wants to play football. He has legitimate cornerback skills and he got a reputation for making QBs pay who tried to test him in the ACC. He’s a physical defender that is best served to play in man coverage.  He can use his length to get his hands on opponent’s wide receivers and jam them up at the line, but has the speed to turn and run with them into the secondary.

Shows good awareness, can read the play and slip by would-be blockers in the running game and showed some decent timing by blitzing on occasion. His tackling is his weak spot and he could suffer in run support initially.

He’s a mature young man who had to forego his senior year at Miami to care for his two younger brothers and his son after his mother died of a heart attack in October. His father is incarcerated. He’s the kind of young man that Bill Belichick will love; a mature young man who is passionate to learn his craft and a smart, aggressive football player.

While he could add a few pounds, he’s a very talented player and with some hard work, that he undoubtedly put in, he can be a very good NFL corner. He’s slotted to go somewhere between Rounds 2-3. If he’s still around at pick #60, the Patriots should pounce.

He projects in the Patriots system to be a Potential Starter on Day 1. He should fit in very well into the NE defense.

 

Burns highlight film can be found here, courtesy of Harris Highlights:

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.

Patriots Free Agency Outlook, Cornerbacks

Steve Balestrieri
February 22, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The Patriots are set to enter the free agency phase of the 2016 off-season and we’ll explore some of the biggest needs of the team moving forward. And some of the names of their own free agents as well as some of their potential targets.

Next up on the free agency positional list: Cornerbacks

Team Need: Medium

Returning players: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Darryl Roberts (IR), Rashaan Melvin

Free Agents: Tarell Brown (IR), Justin Coleman (ERFA)

The Patriots entered 2015 with questions about their secondary especially the corner position having lost all three starters (Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington) from the Super Bowl winning team in the off-season. Gloom and doom was the order of the day. Most thought the Patriots would be forced to win 38-35 shootouts and the secondary would revert to the earlier 2010’s when the secondary was the Achilles Heel. The position went from one of strength to one considered a weakness.

It didn’t turn out that way, Malcolm Butler parlayed his Super Bowl heroics into a very solid first season of starting, going from a player on a tryout basis, to their starting left corner. No one on the Patriots defense played more snaps than Butler in 2015. He’ll be the starting left corner again in 2016 and will be in-line for a big payday soon.

Logan Ryan rebounded well after a poor second season in 2014. He moved into the starting RCB slot and started 14 games. He was the #11 rated CB according to Pro Football Focus (PFF) in 2015. He too is in-line for a raise and like Butler will become a free agent in 2017.

Coleman is a restricted rights free agent and should return and played well as the slot corner. Roberts was a 7th Round Draft pick last year, and turned heads in training camp and started the first preseason game against Green Bay before injuring his wrist in that game and ending up on IR. A very physically gifted CB, Roberts will be a player to watch on Day 1 of training camp this year.

Brown flashed his potential in the first three games (2 starts), but never recovered from his foot injury in 2014 and ended up on IR.

What the Patriots would really like is an upgrade at the RCB position and move Ryan into the slot. Bill Belichick loves his veterans on the defense and would like to bring in a veteran presence and allow the others to compete and sort out the rest.

Roberts and Coleman will no doubt be bolstered by some names both during and after the NFL draft as they look to build depth. But there are some intriguing free agent options out there. Here are a few that could be nice fits for the Patriots defense.

Patriots Free Agent Profile – Tarell Brown

Steve Balestrieri
February 5, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The Patriots have a couple of decisions to make in regard to free agents this offseason, but they are mainly to do with their role players and not with the starters like last year or the upcoming 2017 season.

One of their free agent signings was CB Tarell Brown who came on-board on July 23, just prior to training camp which started on July 30. Brown signed a 1-year deal worth $2 million dollars. Brown had spent seven seasons with the 49ers and Raiders after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Brown was known as a smart, solid, fundamentally sound player. A good starter as a number 2 cornerback. Of course when the Patriots signed him, I immediately (and wrongly) pegged him as a depth player only with little chance of becoming a starter. He did arrive with a foot injury issue, which is why the Patriots had him in for visits twice before signing him in July.

But what drew Brown to New England wasn’t just that the team had a huge turnover at the corner position. But that the players are expected to be prepared every day and held to a higher standard than other teams do.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came here is just because these guys are held to a higher standard,” Brown said during training camp. “Day in and day out, you compete and that’s what we’re here to do and there’s nothing less than winning is accepted.”

What drew the Patriots and Bill Belichick to Brown was his studious, analytical side of playing the position. One of the things that the Patriots do and do a lot of on defense is what is commonly referred to as “mixing things up.” That just doesn’t mean switching from man-to-man to zone, which every team does. But depending upon the call by the defense, the situation and the opposition, a player’s responsibility will change. Sometimes players will rotate sides and a hallmark of the Belichick way is knowing what all the other parts are responsible doing.

Brown had a week to try to learn the defense and he reportedly spent a lot of time with Devin McCourty learning the calls, the responsibilities and the different coverages.

“It’s a craft,” Brown said of  playing corner. “You gotta be able to study and be a student of the game. It’s not just about athletic ability anymore. You can get away with that in college, but once you get to the NFL, being able to study, being able to enjoy and understand your craft and when to use things, that’s what’s important.”

When camp opened, Brown’s foot was still an issue, but he caught on very quickly and was turning heads early in the sessions. On August 2, he was arguably the best player on the field, breaking up passes to Edelman in the end zone, a deep pass to Tyms where he was beaten initially but reacted well to the ball being in the air and knocked it away at the last moment, and another deep pass to Brandon Gibson.

Once the season started he was the #2 corner opposite Malcolm Butler and played well. When the team went to the nickel look with three corners, he’d move inside and Logan Ryan would come in and take his place outside. But his foot issues were never fully behind him and he was only able to play in three games with two starts before being placed on IR on October 17.

The 5’11, 190-pound Brown just turned 31 in January and would be very interested in coming back for a second stint with the team.

Why Brown Will Return: Brown, provided he’s healthy gives the Patriots a savvy, smart veteran who will be able to compete for the #2 corner position and be versatile enough to slide inside to play the slot.

His analytical approach and work ethic definitely resonates with Belichick and the Patriots. He’d be a very good sounding board for the younger players. Plus, he’s a proven veteran who can step in and play whenever and wherever he’s needed.

Another thing in his favor was, after he was placed on IR, he stayed in Foxboro and did his rehab there. He helped out in any way he could the corners on the roster in the film room and with their technique. Those are the kind of things that endear a player to the coaching staff. His salary won’t break the bank and he’d be very affordable.

Why Brown Won’t Return: The Patriots may decide that his foot injury will be one of those chronic type injuries that will haunt him for the rest of his career and therefore become a guy that they feel they can’t rely upon.

Or they could decide just to go younger and bring in another young guy. Butler and Ryan are still young and will be starting their third and fourth years respectively. Coleman is only going to be 23 when the OTAs begin, and Darryl Roberts who got the start in the first preseason game, is just 25 and entering his second season.

But the main issue with Brown will be his health, specifically his foot.

Bottom Line:  Brown was a pleasant surprise for the Patriots last summer. He signed a week before camp and had a solid summer that translated into an opening night start against the Steelers. He played well when he was on the field.  While his injury issue is the driving force here, he’d compete once again for starting reps.

Considering he won’t command a ton of money against the salary cap, I think there’s a 70 percent chance of the Patriots bringing him back for another year. They could basically set it up much like last year’s contract where there’d be a very small signing or roster bonus,  or possibly just a straight salary deal. That way if they decide they don’t want to keep him at the end of training camp, there would be no issue with dead money against the cap.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.

Patriots – Steelers, Who Has the Razor’s Edge? Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
September 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET

The New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL 2015 season opener on NBC. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will be on the call with Michelle Tafoya handling sideline duties. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m.

The Patriots (12-4) won the AFC East and defeated Baltimore in the divisional round of the playoffs, Indianapolis in the AFC Championship and Seattle in the Super Bowl for their fourth title in the Belichick reign.

The Steelers (11-5) won the tough AFC North title but lost in the Wild Card round to Baltimore. With one of the more potent offenses in the league, the Steelers will be looking to make a deep playoff run.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our  “Razor’s Edge”  column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:
The Patriots and Steelers have met 27 times with the Steelers holding an all-time 15-12 edge including a 3-0 record in Overtime. The teams are 4-4 in games at New England and have split the last four meetings. The last time they met in November 2013, the Patriots blew open a close game in the 4th quarter for a 55-31 victory. The teams combined for over 1130 yards of offense in that game.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

Who gets the nod on offense, defense and special teams in the Patriots – Steelers game on Thursday night? Read on and check it out.

First up is the Patriots offense: