Tag Archives: Trey Flowers

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer: Defensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 17, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

Versatility and Physicality Mark The Pats DL

The Patriots head into training camp in ten days and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break 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. Next up on our primers is the Defensive Line position.

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. With a roster of 90 players and no cuts needed before the final 53-man roster cut down, there will be plenty of time for evaluation.

So, we’re going to look at the Patriots Defensive Line and how they shake out. There is much versatility here and that what makes the Patriots defense so effective. In a sack driven league, they’re rather pedestrian at them despite leading the league in points against in 2016.

DL Malcom Brown will be expected to be more consistent in 2017. (SBalestrieri photo)

It wasn’t smoke and mirrors, the team uses a variety of different looks and squeezes offenses from running the ball and then with their pass rushers, do not let opponents out of the pocket where big plays tend to happen. They demand their edge players set the edge first, they’re not and have never been a “sell-out” pass rush team.

The team lost defensive ends, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long, this spring but drafted two younger guys in Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise while picking up Kony Ealy from the Panthers in a steal of a trade, during the NFL Draft. The team also picked up the versatile and underrated Lawrence Guy from Baltimore. Trey Flowers was arguably their best DL down the stretch and into the playoffs and Alan Branch was outstanding all season.

Roster Locks: Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy, Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown
Everything starts with the big men in the middle and Branch and Brown were very good in 2016. Branch frequently plays over the center and is outstanding at stuffing the run. Brown is as well. Their job is to force everything outside where the defensive ends and linebackers are supposed to clean it up. They each got a little bit of push in the passing game but that is something that Brown could do a bit more of as well as be more consistent in 2017.

Patriots rookie DE Deatrich Wise in action at minicamp in June. (SBalestrieri photo)

Ealy will be an intriguing guy to watch this year. He’s in a contract year and has been given a clean slate by the coaches in New England.  The biggest knock against him was that he didn’t buy in when he was in Carolina. He seems to be doing that right off the bat here, which is a good sign. When he’s on, he’s a difficult man to block. Just rewind to Super Bowl L and watch him against the Broncos.

Big things are expected of Flowers this season, and after the way he finished 2016, he seems to be the go-to guy in the pass rush. Flowers, like many others in the Pats defense, is versatile and can rush from the edge or push inside as an interior pass rusher.

Ninkovich is a guy who is always at his best in clutch situations. He may be losing a step but he’s another versatile guy who can line up as a defensive end or drop as an outside linebacker.

Rob Ninkovich has been a clutch performer for the Patriots defense. (SBalestrieri photo)

Rivers and Wise by virtue of their draft stock are untouchable this season. Rivers is another guy who can play DE or OLB and was the Patriots top draft choice this season. Wise is another big DE in the Patriots mold that is an edge setter first and a pass rusher second. He was hurt in his senior season in college but had a very impressive 2015.

With the depth listed above, these rookie edge players, they won’t have a ton of pressure put on them to produce much this season. They will be able to learn the defense, get used to the speed of the pro game and get some reps here and there.

Near Roster Locks: Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine
Valentine showed some nice flashes last year in his rookie campaign. He’s another big body who can stuff the run on the inside. Guy is a versatile, movable piece and plays the 1-technique or out to the 5-technique. He seems like he’s going to be a nice fit in the Patriots defense. We’ll have to see if he can translate that to the field.

It is going to take some hard work from the guys below to unseat either of these two players. But stranger things have happened. Unless someone gets hurt or a case of the Foxboro Flu.

On the Bubble: Geneo Grissom, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta, Adam Butler
The clock is running out on Geneo Grissom. He’s a guy that was drafted ahead of Flowers and was thought to have all kinds of versatility. But it hasn’t happened for him, he’s been unable to make a dent in the defense. Hamilton made the team a year ago but with the addition of Guy from the Ravens, he’s going to have to turn it up… a lot.

Augusta is a big-body, run stuffer in the Vince Wilfork mold, he’s listed at 6’0, 335-pounds…which may be wishful thinking. Passing the conditioning test on Day 1 will be a tough task for the big man, who failed to complete a lap during minicamp…twice.

Butler is a definite under the radar guy. Signed as a UDFA from Vanderbilt, the 6’4, 305-pound DL can be a run-stuffing tackle or a penetrator from the interior on passing downs. He played OL in college before switching over. He’ll be a guy to watch to see if he can turn some heads.

Kilgo was drafted by Denver and appeared in 18 games in two seasons before being released last November. The Pats signed the big 6’3, 320 DL to the practice squad where he spent the remaining part of the season.

Our next primer will have the Patriots Linebackers… 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.

Podcast: Positional Grades Heading Into Patriots Training Camp

Russ Goldman
July 10, 2017 at 12:28 pm ET

In this episode, we graded all of the positions on offense and on defense heading into Patriots Training Camp. We also discussed the signing of David Harris.

Patriots Early 53-Man Roster Projection 1.0 – Pre-Training Camp

Steve Balestrieri
July 3, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

The New England Patriots will have many difficult decisions to make at the end of training camp this summer. They enter the 2017 season fresh off a Super Bowl win and have re-tooled their roster to an even more dangerous (on paper) group that was victorious in February.

They seem to have more than made up for the players that they’ve lost in free agency and appear poised for another deep playoff run in 2017. Bill Belichick went against the grain once again and traded most of his draft picks in what was considered a very deep draft and came away with a slew of established veterans.

The team only drafted four players in April with two each from the offensive and defensive lines, but even those are with an eye to 2018 as this team appears loaded. First up are the key players lost and then the ones added.

Key Players Lost:
TE Martellus Bennett
DE Jabaal Sheard
DE Chris Long
RB LeGarrette Blount
CB Logan Ryan
LB/ST Barkevious Mingo
WR Michael Floyd
RT Sebastian Vollmer (injured/retired)

Key Players Added:
LB Dont’a Hightower (re-signed)
DL Alan Branch (re-signed)
S Duron Harmon (re-signed)
FB James Develin (re-signed)
RB/ST Brandon Bolden (re-signed)
CB Stephon Gilmore
DL Kony Ealy
DL Lawrence Guy
WR Brandin Cooks
TE Dwayne Allen
TE James O’Shaughnessy
RB Mike Gillislee
RB Rex Burkhead
WR Andrew Hawkins
LB David Harris

This doesn’t take into account their four draft picks and the UDFAs that they’ve signed thus far. While the inevitable injuries will occur, as its part of the game, the team seems in very good shape to handle whatever gets thrown at them in 2017.

First up is the offense…

OFFENSE (24)
QUARTERBACK (3): Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett

New England is stacked at QB with Brady, Garoppolo and Brissett for 2017. (SBalestrieri photo)

Out: None
New England has an embarrassment of riches at the position. They have three QBs that have started and won games for the team. Garoppolo was the guy everyone had being traded this spring but they held on to him … at least for this season. And can we please cease and desist with the “is Jimmy G injury prone?” talk? He has proven he can take over the team in a pinch and he’ll be watched closely this summer to see where his progression is at.

Brissett stepped in cold and split two games after receiving very few snaps in the preseason. He still has a long way to go in his development but he’s in the perfect place to do so. And that old guy at QB? I think they keep him around a bit…don’t you?

RUNNING BACK (5): James White, Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James Develin

Out: D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden, Glenn Gronkowski, LeShun Daniels
With the depth of the position (wasn’t it just a year ago we were lamenting the depth?), the Patriots are going to cut a couple of guys that you hate to see leave. I love the Gillislee signing, a one-cut power runner who hits the holes quicker than LG. White is coming off of a Super Bowl performance of a lifetime. Burkhead was signed from Cincy and Lewis looks to be completely healthy this spring.

That said, I hate to see Foster go. He can play in this league and will probably get a shot elsewhere. Daniels will probably get stashed on the practice squad or get a case of the Foxboro Flu. Bolden is another tough cut… he has been a core STs performer.

TIGHT END (3): Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, James O’Shaughnessy,

Out: Jacob Hollister, Matt Lengel, Sam Cotton
Dwayne Allen replaces Martellus Bennett and will be looked to for his blocking skills mainly. When healthy, nobody is better than Rob Gronkowski and it will be curious to see how the team manages his snap counts. But he looks completely ready to go.

The fight will be for the 3rd tight end spot and right now, we have Shaughnessy taking it. But Hollister is going to be kept around on the practice squad. Those too and Lengel will be battling for reps.

WIDE RECEIVER (5): Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola

Out: Devin Lucien, Andrew Hawkins, Austin Carr, Cody Hollister
Brandin Cooks was the big addition this spring, at the cost of the Patriots 1st round draft pick. But he’s a proven commodity in the league and is only 23. He, Edelman, and Hogan all can move inside or outside and create matchup nightmares.

Julian Edelman is primed for another big season alongside Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski in the Pats offense. (SBalestrieri photo)

Mitchell earned Brady’s trust as a rookie, no mean feat and will only improve. Amendola took his yearly renegotiation of his contract and is back. His pedestrian numbers belie the impact his production has at crunch time.

Any of the other four could stick in the event of an injury. Lucien, Carr, and Hollister could wind up back on the practice squad if they’re not picked up by another team.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE (4): David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras
Out: Jason King, James Ferentz, Chase Farris

Center David Andrews and guards Mason and Thuney were all starters last year and Thuney went wire to wire as the starting LG as a rookie. Karras is tough and can fill in at either guard or center in a pinch. Ferentz may stick on the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE (4):  Nate Solder, Antonio Garcia, Marcus Cannon, Cameron Fleming

Out: LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Max Rich, Andrew Jelks
Left tackle Nate Solder enters the final year of his contract. He and Cannon both performed very well in 2016. Cameron Fleming is the swing tackle for the team. Tony Garcia will get a red-shirt type season to learn under Dante Scarnecchia and may be the LT of the future.

McDermott may get the same red-shirt experience on the practice squad. Waddle was a third, blocking tight end but is a victim of numbers this season.

Next up in the defense.

DEFENSE (23):
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (4): Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Vince Valentine, Lawrence Guy

Out: Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta, Adam Butler
Alan Branch re-signed with the team and he’s played some quality snaps inside for the team. Brown has shown the type of play that he’s capable of at times and now just needs to be consistent. Valentine flashed at times in his rookie season and Guy should be a versatile piece who can play inside or outside after coming over from the Ravens.

The big bodies give the team the flexibility to play with either a three or a four-man front. This position seems to be very strong heading into camp this year.

EDGE RUSHER (5): Kony Ealy, Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise

Out: Geneo Grissom
The emergence of Trey Flowers down the stretch and into the playoffs made the loss of Sheard and Long sting a lot less. The team picked up Ealy in a trade with Carolina and the big man has seemed to buy into the Belichick/Patriots way already. Ninkovich is slowing down but is a very reliable, consistent, smart player.

Trey Flowers is primed to be a big factor in 2017 after being the team’s best DL down the stretch in 2016. (SBalestrieri photo)

The Patriots drafted Rivers and Wise this spring and both will be eased into the system and allowed to develop slowly. Time runs out on Grissom who was a valued ST player but could never make an impact on defense.

LINEBACKER (5): Dont’a Hightower, David Harris, Kyle Van Noy, Shea McClellin, Harvey Langi

Out: Jonathan Freeny, Trevor Bates, Elandon Roberts
Re-signing Hightower this spring was a huge plus for the team, they just didn’t have anyone with his skill set that could step into his shoes, until now. David Harris was a great pickup, he can sub for Hightower or play beside him in a 3-4 situation, he’s a consummate professional who will fit in seamlessly with New England.

Van Noy and McClellin were picked up a year ago and both played valuable roles for the team. Van Noy, in particular, was very impressive in sub-packages and will be looked to do more of the same this year. McClellin can play in the sub-backer role, fill in the middle in a pinch or line up as an edge rusher. The signing of Harris is bad news for Freeny who was a valuable STs contributor and was lost to IR in 2016.

Re-signing Dont’a Hightower was a huge boost for the Patriots this spring. (SBalestrieri photo)

CORNERBACK (5): Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Jones

Out: Justin Coleman, DJ Killings, William Likely, Kenny Moore, Dwayne Thomas
Malcolm Butler was thought to be a trade loss this spring but the Patriots are bringing him back for 2017. Paired with Gilmore, who’s a bigger corner, this gives the Patriots a very solid pair of corners who can match up with anyone. This Patriots group of corners is among the best the team has had. The third corner spot is open for competition between Jonathan Jones, Eric Rowe, and Cyrus Jones. Depending on the matchups, each of those should see some valuable snaps.

The numbers game strikes Coleman and the feisty Killings who turned some heads this spring. Doubtful that either would pass thru waivers….but we shall see.

SAFETY (4): Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, David Jones

Out: Jordan Richards, Damarius Travis, Jason Thompson
The Patriots enter 2017 with all three starting safeties intact…three you say? Yes, because Harmon was nearly a starter with the snaps he played in the sub-packages. Bringing him back was a nice move for both parties.

Chung plays a physical brand of football and his eventual replacement, David Jones could be the UDFA that makes an impact this season. Richards has disappointed thus far and is too stiff to be a good cover man for backs and tight ends. Jones has the size and physicality and showed some flash in coverage this spring when we watched him. He’s a player to watch this summer.

SPECIAL TEAMS (6): Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Brandon King, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner

Out: None
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen and long-snapper Joe Cardona are as solid a group as there is in the league. None of them are going anywhere. King, Slater and Ebner are all outstanding Special Teams players and Bill Belichick values STs more than most. It would be a surprise to see any of them going anywhere at this point.

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.

Best Of Social Media: New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship Ring Night

Robert Alvarez
June 12, 2017 at 9:42 pm ET

On Friday night, New England Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft hosted the teams Super Bowl championship ring ceremony at his Brookline MA home.

The headliner for the night began with news the 2016 ring contained quite possibly one of the greatest subtle tributes to the teams historic comeback victory. The ring contained exactly 283 diamonds, meant to commemorate the 28-3 deficit the team overcame in the second half and included an engraved message that read “Greatest Comeback Ever.”

The social media posts that followed as the night progressed would make any Patriots fan light up like it was February 5th, 2017 all over again, so without further ado below are some of the best sights and sounds.

Date night ❤ #Patriots super bowl ring ceremony

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVJI9XYBVgM/?taken-by=tombrady

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVJT6mLhPdS/?taken-by=tombrady

Turn Up Champs!

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

A rare occasion for Head Coach Bill Belichick as he was spotted wearing all of his championship rings from his NFL career. Seven Super Bowl titles across the Giants and Patriots including three AFC Championship rings from 1996, 2007 and 2011.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLAXCGgVyf/

This happened last night ~ and then this happened! #MagicalNight #TheGreatestCombackEver *Scroll through!

A post shared by Linda Holliday✨ (@lindaholliday_) on

@bombsquad #family

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

#sundayze

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

That feeling when you see your Super Bowl ring.

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

"I'm so Icyyyyy" – @laflare1017

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

A crazy/fun night to remember!! #Blessed

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

Last night was dope @tombrady . Tonight will be even better. #Celebrating6

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKtwejhhDB/?taken-by=realloganryan&hl=en

LEGENDARY NIGHT #2timechamp -Dmac

A post shared by Jason+Devin McCourty (@mccourtytwins) on

Wow–just a small sample of the night we all had!! #superbowlchamps #rings

A post shared by Robert Ninkovich (@nink50) on

2X W O R L D C H A M P I O N #PATSNATION

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

It was lit !!!!!'

A post shared by Dion Lewis (@d_lew33) on

2X

A post shared by Nate Ebner (@ebs43) on

Special teamer Nate Ebner shared his unique collection of hardware, both of his Super Bowl rings along with the one given to him by the United States Rugby Olympic team when he participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio last year.

LI… Rio 16'… XLIX

A post shared by Nate Ebner (@ebs43) on

Long Snapper Joe Cardona sported his US Naval Academy graduation ring with his new bling.

https://twitter.com/zeus30hightower/status/873150240798461953

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKi_tpAWKZ/?taken-by=_boomtower

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLKu4nF-_0/?taken-by=iii_flowers

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLfRRlBeaW/?taken-by=sweetfeet_white28

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKSZRMnT-B/?taken-by=vrvj99

"…Big rings, champagne…"

A post shared by Matt Lengel (@matthewlengel) on

https://twitter.com/EricRowe32/status/873300301650030594

Following the presentation of the rings, guests were treated to performances by rappers Snoop Dogg and Gucci Mane.

https://twitter.com/gucci1017/status/873580366505938944

https://twitter.com/SBNation/status/873537175605846016?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sbnation.com%2Flookit%2F2017%2F6%2F10%2F15774972%2Fnfl-super-bowl-2017-patriots-ring-ceremony-gucci-mane-popeyes

All in all it was a very special night that officially closes the door on the 2016 Patriots season, as Quarterback Tom Brady would say the best ring is “The Next One”.

New England Patriots News 6-11, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
June 11, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 6-11, & AFC East Notes.

Because of extensive travel this weekend, this week’s news and notes piece will be a bit shorter than normal with no AFC East notes this weekend. We’ll be back with all of them next Sunday.

Patriots Get Their Super Bowl Rings in Private Ceremony:
The Patriots were all invited to the private digs of Robert Kraft on Friday night and received their rings from the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl victory.

The words “We Are All Patriots” and “Greatest Comeback Ever” are engraved inside the ring. The Pats trailed the Falcons by 25 points in the third quarter before staging the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. No team in the first 50 Super Bowls had rallied from more than 10 points down to win.

Also engraved on the ring is “Unequivocally the sweetest,” which was Kraft’s postgame comment about the Patriots’ latest championship in a dig at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the entire Deflategate saga, that the team and QB Tom Brady were punished with.

The ring includes 283 diamonds, a not-so-subtle reminder of the Falcons’ 28-3 lead that New England overcame.

“We celebrated our first Super Bowl ring ceremony 15 years ago to the day,” Kraft said. “It was our first Super Bowl championship in 42 years and, at the time, I couldn’t imagine a more exciting game or ring celebration.”

“It was a historic comeback win, and the players deserve to have a ring that represents that accomplishment. So, we created the biggest Super Bowl ring ever made. Watching the expressions of the players and coaches when they saw them for the first time and the overwhelming pride when they put them on was priceless.”

Julian Edelman Gets Contract Extension and is a Bargain:
The biggest news coming out of minicamp this week was that the Patriots extended WR Julian Edelman for an additional two years which will keep him in Foxboro thru the 2019 season. Edelman’s contract is worth a reported $15 million dollars in pay and incentives which is a total bargain for New England.

Consider this, Edelman’s potential $15 million is what the Colts are paying T.Y. Hilton, for just the 2019 season. Edelman finished 2016 with 98 catches for 1106 yards, but his grab at the end of the Super Bowl may have saved the Patriots Super Bowl comeback.

In the past four seasons, only three players have more receptions that Edelman’s 356, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and Julio Jones. Edelman is tied with Larry Fitzgerald, some pretty heady company.

Not too shabby for a 7th Round draft pick out of Kent State on an option quarterback who had never played a down at the position of wide receiver before.

Minicamp Had Few Surprises But Was a Good Teaching Experience:
The team wrapped up their mandatory three-day minicamp on Thursday and while there a few small surprises, the team treats it like the learning camp that it is. We all get excited about the performance of a player either good or bad but that’s what these sessions are designed for. However, a few things that did stand out, because, hey that is all we have to judge on.

The good? Newcomers Brandin Cooks, Rex Burkhead, and Kony Ealy flashed early in the workouts. Cooks was displaying his noted speed on the outside had a few splash plays as he and Tom Brady are working hard on their chemistry early this year. Burkhead had a nice day on Wednesday catching the ball out of the backfield. Ealy who missed the second two days with an unspecified injury stood out on Tuesday.

Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan looked impressive in passing drills both individually and in team drills. Tom Brady looked to be in near mid-season form. Stephon Gilmore impressed with his coverage ability

The not-so-good? Dwayne Allen struggled in the rain on Tuesday and dropped a number of passes, Wednesday he seemed to be just fine as we were in attendance and didn’t see any drops. Jacoby Brissett had a particularly rough outing on Wednesday, holding the ball too long and struggling with his accuracy. But the bottom line is, there is no reason to get too high or too low over minicamps with no pads on. But after 4 months of no live football, it is easy to get excited over seeing the players do football activities.

Training Camp will hold answers for DL/OL Running Game:
One thing missing from minicamp was the play of the offensive and defensive lines as well as the running game. With no pads on the battles in the trenches is very difficult to judge as well as the running game.

We’re intrigued to see how well newcomer Mike Gillislee fits in with the Patriots offense in 2017. He was there on the field and most definitely looks the part but until the pads come on, we won’t really know. On the offensive line, newcomer Tony Garcia is an intriguing prospect who could someday push Nate Solder for reps.

On the defensive side of the line, draft picks Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise are going to be watched closely this season, especially in training camp to see how much they can contribute in their rookie campaigns. Trey Flowers looks to continue a stellar second half of 2016 and playoffs and will enter 2017 as a starter on the edge at defensive end.

Ealy in a contract year looks to get a fresh start in New England and already gets high marks for showing up for the voluntary OTAs and showing the willingness to work hard. Something he was criticized for in Carolina.

Some of the UDFA free agents looking intriguing, WRs Austin Carr, Cody Hollister, DB David Jones and LB Harvey Langi are all guys who will bear watching once camp opens for real in about six weeks.

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 Photo Gallery Minicamp Session 6-7

Steve Balestrieri
June 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm ET

Our guys were at Patriots minicamp today and here are some of the photos from the day’s action. Be sure to check back later as we’ll have our observations on what went down on Day 2 of Minicamp and what to look for on Thursday.

An Early Projection for the Patriots Starting Lineup, Better, Stronger, Faster

Steve Balestrieri
May 8, 2017 at 9:08 am ET

The NFL Draft is in the books, free agency has been fruitful, and the Patriots have made a flurry of initial UDFA moves. Barring any late moves or last minute trades, the initial roster of the 2017 Patriots should now be set.

As it stands now on paper, the roster for this season’s team looks better than the one that just won the Super Bowl. But as Bill Belichick has frequently said, you never really know what each season’s team will be like until Thanksgiving. Lots of things can and will change, injuries occur, and some players’ production will either rise or fall inside the system. Tweaks to the roster always occur during the season.

But what we see now should constitute the bulk of this year’s team. Confidence is high as always in New England. And for a team that has won 10 or more games for 14 straight seasons, why should there be any other feeling?

So here is a quick projection for the starting lineup for the 2017 Patriots

Offense:
Quarterback:

Tom Brady: Well duh? No change from last year or the 15 years prior. While the talk remains that eventually, his play is going to fall off a cliff due to his age, at this point, it is a lot of wishful thinking for a lot of non-Patriots supporters. His play, especially in the 2nd half of Super Bowl LI shows he’s still at the top of the heap in regard to NFL QBs.

His backups remain Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. The rumor mill for Jimmy G. had him being traded this offseason but he’s still here, at least for 2017 and should any injury occur, he’ll be ready to step in.


James White is among a crowded Patriots backfield this season.

Running Back:

James White: After a Super Bowl where he could have easily been named the MVP, White has been given a nice raise and contract extension. And with the Patriots being a passing team first, White has proven to be a trusted, capable weapon in the offense.

But the Patriots are a matchup team that uses a rotation of running backs so their roster of backs doesn’t really have a starter per se, it will depend on how they match up against an opponent. Mike Gillislee will have a big role, taking over the big back i.e. LeGarrette Blount role. Something to consider, New England runs the ball on third down much more so than most fans would believe, so Gillislee will have a big role.

Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis, who should be completely healthy now round out the RB options. James Develin remains the fullback. Brandon Bolden, D.J. Foster, and LeShun Daniels are longshots for the roster at this point.

Wide Receiver:

Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandin Cooks: The Patriots brought in the speedster Cooks who was very productive in New Orleans this offseason. He’ll move around from outside to the slot depending on the matchups. A look at the top three with Edelman, Hogan, and Cooks shows that all of them can do the same. That makes for a very difficult group to cover. The versatility factor makes this group even more dangerous.

Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola are the primary backups and they’ve shown that they’ve earned Brady’s circle of trust. Mitchell came on in the second half of his rookie season and should be ready for more production in Year 2.

Devin Lucien, Devin Street, and Cody Hollister are longshots for the roster.


Rob Gronkowski is once again the Patriots top TE Option heading into 2017.

Tight End:

Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen: Gronkowski returns healthy for 2017 and Allen was brought over in a rare trade with the Colts, replacing Martellus Bennett who left in free agency. Gronk, when healthy remains the gold standard for NFL tight ends. Allen is an excellent blocker that can be very productive in the passing game who can attack the seams of the defense.

There is now plenty of depth behind them with James O’Shaughnessy, Matt Lengel, Rob Housler and Jacob Hollister fighting it out for a roster slot and repetitions. Training camp competition will be interesting to watch here.

Tackle:

Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon: No changes here from 2016. Solder returned from IR and played very solid in 2016. He’s in the last year of his contract and the Patriots must decide this year if they want him to return in 2018. Cannon was the biggest pleasant surprise of 2016. He parlayed a contract extension into a very solid campaign under the able tutelage of Dante Scarnecchia.

The team drafted a potential replacement for Solder in 2018 or beyond with Antonio Garcia. They added another tackle in the late rounds of the draft with Conor McDermott. He’ll be fighting backups Michael Williams, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle for reps and a roster slot.

Guard:

Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason: No changes here from 2016. Thuney came in and started from Day 1 at left guard. As can be expected, he struggled a bit as a rookie and needs to come back stronger for his second season. Mason is a tough, road grader in the running game and will be looking to improve as well in 2017.

Primary backups should be Jamil Douglas who was brought over in midseason from Miami who was a 4th round draft pick in 2015 and Chris Barker.

Center:

David Andrews: No change here from 2016. Andrews is a bit undersized for the position but is smart and tough. He won over Tom Brady during training camp last year because of his ability to make the line calls and seeing the field much like Brady did.

His backup remains Ted Karras, the tough but less mobile version of Andrews. Karras can also play guard as well, the versatility that the coaching staff loves.


Flowers had a strong showing in 2016.

Defense:
Defensive End:

Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy: Lots of changes here. Gone are last season’s Week 1 starters Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard via free agency. But Flowers, who came on strong in the 2nd half of the season was the team’s best defensive lineman down the stretch and should be primed for a very solid 2017. Ealy was brought over from the Panthers as well as a 3rd round pick for the Patriots 2nd rounder.

Lots of good depth here now, Rob Ninkovich will play both DE and OLB and fill in where he’s needed and may still lobby for starting duties. Top draft choice Derek Rivers gives the team the speed and athleticism from the edge. Deatrich Wise is a bigger, edge setting end who can kick inside as an interior pass rusher. Lawrence Guy is another big man who can play inside as an interior tackle or on the edge. Geneo Grissom is on the outside looking in this year.

Tackle:

Malcom Brown, Alan Branch: No changes to the starting lineup. Brown played solidly in Year 2 but could stand to improve his pocket push in 2017. Branch was excellent against the run in 2016, eating up a ton of space. He returns with a new deal and has played the best football of his career since coming to New England.

Backups include Vincent Valentine, Woodrow Hamilton, Guy, Darius Kilgo, and UDFA Josh Augusta who is one of the players to watch in training camp. He’s a huge space eater who could be one of the surprise players to stick on the roster.

Linebacker:

Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny: Wait, what? People forget Freeny, a Bill Belichick favorite was a starter for the defense a year ago until landing on IR. Hightower got a new deal after testing free agency and not finding the market he envisioned out there. He’s the glue that holds the defense together for the Pats. He calls the defense and is the guy they need in the middle. He can do it all, stuff the run, cover in the flat and blitz up the A-gaps. Hightower’s starting slot is secure, Freeny will have to re-earn his spot this summer. But for now, he’s in.

Backups include sub-package third down players Shea McClellin and Kyle Van Noy, run-stuffer Elandon Roberts, Ninkovich, Trevor Bates and UDFA Harvey Langi. Langi is one of my players to watch this summer.

Since the Patriots spend so much time in sub-packages, we only include two starting linebackers, therefore…


Butler’s potential return solidifies a terrific secondary.

Cornerback:

Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe: The team gave Gilmore a big money contract this spring during free agency. And after a contentious period with Butler, he signed his free-agent tender and has been in for off-season workouts. Rowe is a big matchup corner and gives the Patriots a very solid starting three. Each has the versatility to be shifted around and play outside or in the slot depending on how Belichick and Matt Patricia choose to use them.

Backups include Cyrus Jones, Jonathan Coleman, Jonathan Jones, and intriguing UDFA D.J. Killings who for now, is a long shot for the roster.

Safety:

Devin McCourty, Pat Chung: No changes here from 2016. McCourty is the QB for the secondary and always ensures that the players in are in the right position. He plays the centerfield position in the base defense and can slide up to play in the slot in the “big nickel”. Chung is the guy in the box, he plays physical against the run and he’ll cover tight ends in the short to intermediate range.

Duron Harmon was brought back with a nice deal in free agency. He plays a lot of snaps and replaces McCourty as the center fielder in big nickel coverage. Jordan Richards has been disappointing thus far. Nate Ebner and Brandon King are special teamers.

Special Teams:

Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Joe Cardona, Matthew Slater: The team’s specialists remain the same. Gostkowski will have training camp competition for the first time in a while from Josh Gable, known more for his trick shots. Punter Ryan Allen and LS Joe Cardona face no competition. Slater is a perennial Pro-Bowl gunner.

So, with the additions made in the draft and free agency, the Patriots look …on paper in a prime position to compete for another Super Bowl bid. Of course, injuries and other factors always weigh in but there are no holes on the roster as it currently stands. They’ve addressed their needs across the board and look even better than the team that won 14 games in the regular season and three more in the playoffs in 2016.

Is it time for mini-camp yet?

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.

Patriots’ Defense on the Edge Will Have a Different Look in 2017

Steve Balestrieri
May 3, 2017 at 10:50 am ET

 The Patriots didn’t have to make too many changes for a roster that had just won Super Bowl LI but one of the areas that underwent pretty dramatic change was at defensive end on the edge. With Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long leaving via free agency, it was considered the Patriots biggest area of need.

And the Patriots have addressed it, bringing in Kony Ealy in a trade with the Carolina Panthers and then drafting a pair of edge players Derek Rivers from Youngstown State and Deatrich Wise from Arkansas. Those three players will join Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich for the Patriots this season. The team signed UDFA linebacker Harvey Langi as well and he played the edge for BYU somewhat last year, but his best fit is at outside linebacker.

Flowers was arguably the best Patriots defensive lineman down the stretch last season. He’s guaranteed to be starting at RDE when the season starts. Ninkovich and Ealy will compete for the LDE spot. With Rivers and Wise providing rotational depth.

But this year’s unit has a much different feel to it because they have more versatility. Ealy is a bigger guy at 6’4, 275 pounds. He can set the edge in the running game, has the athleticism to get after the passer and is big and physical enough to kick inside as an interior pass rusher on third down. Flowers already does that frequently.

The Patriots brought in another free agent, Lawrence Guy who can be a sub-package interior pass rusher. That’s what they’ll get in Wise as well. He’s a big kid, at 6’5, 275 pounds with insanely long arms that he needs to learn to use better. When he extends his arms, with his upper body strength, he can push through tackles and get to the quarterback. He’s frequently been compared to Chandler Jones but isn’t nearly as athletic. He’s more of a big edge setter. But Wise can also kick inside and provide interior pass rush…Seeing a trend here?

Which brings us to the team’s first draft pick Derek Rivers. If there was one element the Patriots front seven lacked on the edge last season was speed. Rivers will bring that speed to the pass rush with an athleticism that should serve the team very well.

Rivers isn’t as big at 6’4, 250 pounds at the defensive end position but ran a 4:61 in the 40-Yard Dash, with a 1:61 10-Yard Split. His time in the 3-Cone Drill was third best at the position with 6:94. That shows he has the quick twitch athleticism, loose hips and the ability to change direction as well as bend off the edge to get to the QB. He showed his strength with 30 reps at the Bench Press.

He may need some time to find his feet in the NFL, similar to how Flowers progressed in his first campaign, but he has the potential to be a very good player in the league. The good part is, with the depth of the team, he won’t be pushed too hard too soon. They can let him develop and learn the nuances of the position at the NFL level.

With the added depth, the Patriots can move Ninkovich around and possibly let him take some snaps at OLB with Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy, and Langhi.

However, the edge will look quite different in 2017. How effective will it be? No one knows right now but I’d bet on Belichick having it figured out as the season winds along.

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.

Daily Notebook: Wednesday Patriots News and Notes 5/3

Ian Logue
at 5:00 am ET

It was a quiet Tuesday as we hit the halfway point, but here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

Fourth Round Penalty Costly? – With New England having been penalized a fourth-round selection thanks to DeflateGate, it was interesting to go back through Bill Belichick’s selections in that round over the years, which actually produced a fair amount of talented players.

Going down the list beginning with last season, it’s been a pretty good run for this team in that round in recent years.  While some of the selections in the earlier years didn’t pan out too well, they’ve had a pretty good run overall over the past few seasons.

Here’s the full list from that round during the Bill Belichick era:

2016: Malcolm Mitchell (113th)
2015: Shaq Mason (131st), Tre’ Jackson (111th), Trey Flowers (101st)
2014: Bryan Stork (105th), James White (130th), Cameron Fleming (140th)
2013: Josh Boyce (102nd)
2012: N/A
2011: N/A
2010: Aaron Hernandez (113th)
2009: Rich Ohrnberger
2008: Jonathan Wilhite (129th)
2007: Kareem Brown (127th)
2006: Garrett Mills (106th), Stephen Gostkowski (118th)
2005: James Sanders (133rd)
2004: Dexter Reid (113th), Cedric Cobbs (128th)
2003: Dan Klecko (117th), Asante Samuel (120th)
2002: Rohan Davey (117th), Jarvis Green (126th)
2001: Kenyatta Jones (96th), Jabari Holloway (119th)
2000: Greg Randall (127th)

It’s interesting looking back over these names, especially from 2000-2009.  New England either knocked it out of the park (Jarvis Green, Asante Samuel, Stephen Gostkowski) or they swung and missed badly (Kareem Brown, Dexter Reid, Garrett Mills).

But the past several seasons going back to 2014 has produced some pretty good players, including last year’s addition Malcolm Mitchell, along with Trey Flowers, James White and Bryan Stork (despite his career being cut short due to concussions).

As for this season, Deatrich Wise Jr. Joins his former teammate in Flowers as a player trying to become another success out of that round this season, and given how some of the experts seem to feel about Wise Jr, it seems like he could be the next player to make a name for himself on this list.

If nothing else, this list of players is certainly a reminder that the NFL Draft is obviously not an exact science. But credit the team with doing a better job here in recent years and it’s players like this that has been yet another reason why they’ve remained among the NFL’s elite.


Spending time with his mom trumped another visit to the White House.

Brady Admits Why He Skipped White House Visit – Reporters got to Brady during last night’s 2017 Met Gala in New York and the veteran quarterback admitted why he missed last month’s visit to the White House.

To no one’s surprise, Brady said time with his mom won out over going back to the White House for the second time in three years.

“Spending time with my mom and, you know, that’s pretty important to me,” he told ExtraTV.com during his interview. “It’s been a great year, but it’s even better to spend time with my parents and my kids.”

“I can’t wait to get that ring, that’s what I’m really looking forward to, that ring ceremony in a couple of months”

It’s likely been a more enjoyable offseason for Brady than it was last season, with the veteran getting a little redemption after coming up short the prior year against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  After winning a fifth title, Brady’s seemingly already hit the reset button and he sounds like he’s looking forward to getting back to working on to now putting some jewelry on his other hand.

“We’ve started the new season so we’ve moved on in a lot of ways, ” said Brady.  “We’ll be ready to kick some butt here starting in a couple months.  Right now we’re just training, which is good, but it’s nice to be back to work.”

Patriots Break Six-Figure Salary Threshold with UDFA – Undrafted free agents tend to get nice little amounts of money as a little side bonus to go with knowing they’ll get a shot to compete for a spot on an NFL team.

But in New England, the Patriots made some news on Tuesday when the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe revealed that one player in particular got a sizable amount of guaranteed money from his new club for this upcoming season.

Howe reports that linebacker Harvey Langi got $100,000 in guaranteed base salary for this season, more than triple the amount of any other undrafted free agent player in the league.  As Howe points out, no other UDFA in the NFL has seen a guaranteed salary of more than $30k, which is obviously a testament of what they must think of the Brigham Young standout.

When you look at his measurables, he ran a 4.32 20yd shuttle and a 11.83 60 yard shuttle, with both marks earning him top performer honors at this year’s combine.  Those types of drills tend to catch the eyes of the Patriots coaches and it’s obvious they like him.  We’ll have to see if the money he’s earned will translate to a spot on the team in 2017.

Patriots Bring Back Street – The Patriots brought back a familiar face on Tuesday, with Devin Street finding himself claimed by the team that had him on their roster for part of their 2016 championship season.

Street was claimed off of waivers by New England after the Colts let him go and Street is back on the Patriots 90-man roster just in time as the the Patriots get ready to begin their upcoming minicamps and OTAs.

Street might be glad to be back but he obviously faces a pretty crowded group of talent as he joins Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell.  But it’s an opportunity to compete and grow as a player, which is about all anyone in the NFL can hope for.

The third year receiver played his college football at the University of Pittsburgh, having appeared in 36 regular season games and has 10 receptions over his career for 152 yards along with one touchdown, which came against the Giants back on October 25, 2015 in a losing effort while he was with the Cowboys.

New England Patriots News 4-30, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 30, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 4-30, & AFC East Notes.

Not that anyone really cares but on Saturday, Deflategate actually ended. The Patriots had to cede their 4th round draft pick. But if the NFL’s arbitrary enforcement of an equipment violation’s intent was to punish New England, think about this. During the timeline of Deflategate, New England was 31-7 with two Super Bowl wins…. Back to the drawing board guys.

With the draft complete, the Patriots were so deep at so many positions, they drafted only OL and DL. That is a good problem to have.

We mentioned this before here, but nobody does a better job of evaluating talent than the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. Between his work on the Combine and then the Draft, he’s head and shoulders above everyone else. I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t try to bring him on board a franchise soon as a talent evaluator.

Draft Had the Future in Mind: The Patriots added some depth and potential impact players in the 2017 NFL Draft but this seemed to be a draft with the focus clearly on 2018 and beyond. While players such as top pick Derek Rivers will be looked at to contribute this season, he and OT Antonio Garcia were selected clearly with the future in mind. Deatrich Wise will be looked to be a sub-package player initially.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. With a roster as loaded as New England’s is and fresh off another Super Bowl victory, there aren’t a ton of open starting positions available. And they used some of their draft capital on free agent player, which will segue right into this…

Belichick, Patriots Go for Known Commodity, Value over Draft Picks:
We’ve repeated this time and again but it bears repeating. While many fans and some of the talking heads in the media lament the lack of draft picks for the Patriots, Bill Belichick doesn’t

“Obviously, we’ve been watching a lot of picks go by, but I feel like overall our opportunity in this draft started a couple of months ago, Belichick said.

“The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft process, Belichick added.”

“Hopefully we’ve been able to improve our team, become more competitive. That’s the ultimate goal, he said.”

One needn’t have to read the tea leaves to see that Belichick considers the players traded for draft picks in free agency as draft capital. So, he deems Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy as the team’s first and second-round picks. Dwayne Allen as a fourth rounder and Mike Gillislee as a fifth-round pick.

In trading for established pro players, Belichick has a known commodity in making the deals. Cooks, for example, has been a very productive receiver in the NFL and there’s no reason to believe that at just 23 years old, he won’t continue to grow as a player.

The draft is a crap shoot because no one really knows how a player will turn out once he turns professional. How many “can’t miss” prospects end up busting? It is an inexact science, something Belichick has said numerous times. They know Cooks, Ealy, Allen, and Gillislee can produce in the NFL because they already have. Albeit, some at different levels than the others but with Belichick, he will place these players in a position to succeed, knowing that they are professionals already.

Now take a second look at the Patriots ‘draft’ haul and it looks much different.
1st Round – Brandon Cooks, WR, Trade with New Orleans
2nd Round – Kony Ealy, DE, Trade with Carolina
3rd Round – Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State
3rd Round – Antonio Garcia, T, Troy
4th Round – Dwayne Allen, TE, Trade with Indy
4th Round – Deatrich Wise, DE, Arkansas
5th Round – Mike Gillislee, RB, RFA Buffalo
5th Round – James O’Shaughnessy, TE, Trade KC
6th Round – Connor McDermott T, UCLA

Now courtesy of another lookover of the haul and it seems like a much deeper draft class, doesn’t it?

Garoppolo and Butler Stay Put, Despite All the Trade Rumors:
After much talk dedicated to the “what if” category of New England trading QB Jimmy Garoppolo and CB Malcolm Butler this offseason, both remain here and likely will for at least the 2014 season.

There were rumors that the Patriots rebuffed a Cleveland Browns trade offer on Thursday night. Whether the Browns didn’t offer enough compensation or not remains unseen but supposedly New England told the Browns that Garoppolo was not up for grabs.

Cleveland eventually took a QB in the draft, DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame with the 52nd pick, so that should put the Jimmy G. rumors to rest now.

Butler too was subject to many trade rumors to New Orleans. Although the Saints said they were impressed with him, they didn’t swing a deal for him since they would have had to give the Patriots compensation of a first-round pick and then some and subsequently signed him to a long-term contract.

Both remain on the roster and should remain there for at least the 2017 season. With no CB taken, Butler, Stephon Gilmore, and Eric Rowe seem to be the top three CBs in the rotation. Butler may see some time in the slot depending on the matchups. Cyrus Jones is in the mix too.

Rivers on Meeting Belichick on Pre-Draft Meeting, “It was Awesome”:
Top Patriots draft pick Derek Rivers

“It was awesome, man,” Rivers said to the media via conference call. “I mean, we talked ball. I love coach Belichick. I love everything he is and what he stands for and how he coaches his demeanor. I mean, he’s an awesome dude. I could learn a lot from him.”

“Man, it’s awesome,” he said when asked about coming to New England. “I’m super excited. I mean, there’s just so much I can learn from those guys that were there, as far as just the commitment that those guys have, the type of coaching that’s in that locker room.”

“I’m just ready to learn from those guys and get better with those guys.”

UDFA Signings By the Patriots:
As soon as the draft was complete, the undrafted players immediately began getting interest from teams. The Patriots have already either signed or are bringing in several players on a tryout basis. Those already linked to New England include:
DT Josh Augusta, Missouri
LB Harvey Langi, BYU
WR Austin Carr, Northwestern
S Jason Thompson, Utah
G Jason King, Purdue
TE Jacob Hollister, Wyoming
CB Kenny Moore, Valdosta State
DE Corey Vereen, Tennessee
S David Jones, Richmond
DT Adam Butler, Vanderbilt
RB Leshun Daniels Jr., Iowa
OT Cole Croston, Iowa
OT Max Rich, Harvard
S Damarius Travis, Minnesota
CB D.J. Killings, Central Florida
DE Adam Butler, Vanderbilt

There will be plenty of comings and goings on this list, so stay tuned…

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Address Needs and Move up and Down the Board:
The Buffalo Bills had needs at CB, and WR with the loss of Stephon Gilmore and Robert Woods. Their first two picks in the draft definitely met those.

LSU CB Tre’Davious White is a perfect fit for the Bills zone defense and he’s considered a solid locker room presence as well as a player. He will compete for an immediate role as a starter.

Zay Jones, the WR from East Carolina gives Buffalo a solid #2 WR that will provide the receptions to move the chains. He was an incredibly productive receiver with 399 career receptions in college.

I loved the pick of BC LB Matt Milano, who flies all over the field and will play special teams. But moving up for RT Dion Dawkins? Seemed like a reach and there wasn’t really a need to move up. Time will tell. The pick of QB Nathan Peterman from Pittsburgh was another nice move. He’ll push Cardale Jones for a roster spot.

Miami Grabs Nice Edge Rusher in Harris:
The Miami Dolphins first pick in the draft was Missouri DE Charles Harris, who we really liked in the pre-draft process. He fits an obvious need and should fit right in with the Dolphins defense.

Another excellent pick in Round 2 was Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillian. He filled a position of need at ILB where the team will eventually decide to replace Koa Misi. He’s solid, and an excellent player against the run.

Round 3 CB Cordrea Tankersley from Clemson gives them the length they needed at the position. He should compete for reps on Day 1. Isaac Assiata was another good pick. The OL was a place the Dolphins needed to upgrade and he’s a good choice. An excellent run blocker, he’ll need to work on his pass protection. A very good draft for the Dolphins.

Jets Snag Two Safeties Early:
The New York Jets double-dipped at the safety position with two good selections who fell right into their lap at the #6 and #39 positions respectively with Jamal Adams from LSU and Marcus Maye from Florida. The Jets had an obvious need there and those two should step right in and compete.

They then double-dipped at WR with Ar’Darrius Stewart and Chad Hansen but their sleeper pick is Jordan Leggett, TE from Clemson who has the tools to be a very good one in the NFL. But the biggest question still isn’t answered. Who is going to be the QB?

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.