November 1, 2014

Will Devin McCourty be Great?

by Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Writer

There has been a lot of talk about the Patriots’ need to draft impact players with their early round draft picks. It’s seemingly been decided that the Belichick philosophy of signing free agents and drafting versatile, coachable, and football-smart players with an emphasis on ‘value’ is no longer a winning strategy. The decade-long track record of success has been discarded, and understandably so, as the last taste in the fans mouth was the flat-lined effort against the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. A game in which the offense was predictable and their defense couldn’t stop the run, get to the quarterback, or cover down the field. The Patriots were missing impact players on par with New Orleans’ Will Smith or the Jets Bart Scott that can wreak havoc on opposing teams.

Armed with a litany of concerns, the fans geared up for the 2010 draft with an eye to select immediate game changers. However, much to their dismay, the Patriots traded down in the first round once again and drafted Devin McCourty, an under-the-radar CB from Rutgers. An enraged fanbase started jamming the talk radio phone lines, “I’m sick of the ‘in Bill we trust’ motto. Dez Bryant and Sergio Kindle were on the board!” caller after caller exclaimed.

This got me thinking: who says that McCourty won’t be great? And how well do the Patriots evaluate draft prospects in the first round? It’s easy to claim that the Patriots have had miserable draft years because Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson were busts and most of the players they drafted since 2007 are no longer on our roster. However, a case can be made that the Patriots know how to draft in the 1st round.

While there is room for debate as to whether or not the Patriots could have made better picks, their track record of selecting standout players in the 1st round is undeniable. Going back to 2001, the selected Richard Seymour, Daniel Graham, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Ben Watson, Laurence Maroney, Brandon Merryweather, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo. Some of these players certainly didn’t live up to the hype but they were all impact players who got considerable playing time.

A skeptic might claim that this track record is not impressive because most first round picks become starters and that the Patriots could have done better. Well see for yourself. Below is a list of their draft picks by year and the players that were selected soon after them.

2004 2005 2006
32(32) Ben Watson 32(32) Logan Mankins 21(21) Laurence Maroney
1(33) Karlos Dansby 1(33) David Baas 22(22) Manny Lawson
2(34) Chris Snee 2(34) Brodney Pool 23(23) Davin Joseph
3(35) Igor Olshansky 3(35) Reggie Brown 24(24) Johnathan Joseph
4(36) Junior Siavii 4(36) Barrett Ruud 25(25) Santonio Holmes
5(37) Teddy Lehman 5(37) Shaun Cody 26(26) John McCargo
6(38) Ricardo Colclough 6(38) Stanford Routt 27(27) DeAngelo Williams
7(39) Daryl Smith 7(39) Mark Bradley 28(28) Marcedes Lewis
8(40) Ben Troupe 29(29) Nick Mangold
9(41) Tatum Bell 30(30) Joseph Addai
10(42) Travis LaBoy 31(31) Kelly Jennings
11(43) Julius Jones 32(32) Mathias Kiwanuka
12(44) Bob Sanders
2007 2008 2009
24(24) Brandon Meriweather 7(7) Sedrick Ellis 23(23) Michael Oher (Traded NE Pick)
25(25) Jon Beason 8(8) Derrick Harvey 24(24) Peria Jerry
26(26) Anthony Spencer 9(9) Keith Rivers 25(25) Vontae Davis
27(27) Robert Meachem 10(10) Jerod Mayo 26(26) Clay Matthews (Traded NE Pick)
28(28) Joe Staley 11(11) Leodis McKelvin
29(29) Ben Grubbs 12(12) Ryan Clady
30(30) Craig Davis 13(13) Jonathan Stewart
31(31) Greg Olsen 14(14) Chris Williams
32(32) Anthony Gonzalez

The Logan Mankins pick in 2005 was undeniably the best pick at that position, while the Maroney pick has so far not panned out as was expected. The rest are up for debate. However, the Patriots clearly are good at evaluating first round talent and with that in mind fans should be excited about Devin McCourty to bolster an already revamped secondary.

Party In The UDFA

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

As rough as this past weekend must have felt for these players, becoming an undrafted free agent (UDFA) has its benefits. They can access situations and make the choice of where they want to go. Below, we review those who accepted the invitation to New England’s rookie festival.

We did something similar on PD last year. For a refresher (Antonio Appleby, anyone?), click here.  To see an updated list of 2010’s hopefuls, check out NEPatriotsdraft.com, which has been the main stopping place the past couple of years to keep track of the undrafted.

So, without further ado, a brief rundown of the rookies who both got chosen and made the choice to come to Foxboro…

ROOKIE FREE AGENTS

North Dakota State's Pat Paschall

Pat The Patriot: Lots to appreciate about North Dakota State running back Pat Paschall (6-0, 211), especially when we confront the fact that Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk are a combined 100 years old (boy, that makes 33-to-34-year-olds seem ancient).

Why undrafted: He posted a pedestrian 40 time (4.57) and enjoyed a career at an FCS school located in a state with the population density of tundra.

Chances to stick: As of now, he’s the only rookie runner headed for Foxboro. If his highlight reel is any indication, he’s got the moves and receiving ability to garner a second look.

The Life Of Bryan: While his more-heralded Central Michigan teammate Antonio Brown got the attention of scouts, Bryan Anderson (6-5, 214) set a record with 54 consecutive games receiving a pass. Not flashy, but such consistency can get a guy noticed.

Why undrafted: Ran a 4.58 40. Also, hard to discern whether his prowess came from individual talent or a great QB (Dan LeFevour) and fellow receiver (Brown).

Chances to stick: Hmm… with the signing of Torry Holt and drafting of Taylor Price, Anderson’s chances look a little slimmer than he is.

Put It On The Underhill Tab: At 6-2, 250, Dane Fletcher seems to fit the outside linebacker mold. The former Montana State 
defensive end had one heck of a pro day, too, including a 4.61 40 and 29 bench press reps.

Why undrafted: I hate to admit it, but despite his 17.5 tackles for loss and FCS All-American status, I heard absolutely nothing about this guy. I have to think that’s a symptom of playing in an area with “Elk Crossing” signs.

Chances to stick: Before we get too excited after watching his highlight video (where he seems to magically appear in opponents’ backfields), we have to look at the OLB projects already ahead of him, including Jermaine Cunningham, Bruce Davis and Marques Murrell. Looking forward to seeing Fletcher excel in the fourth quarters of preseason – and I’m being sincere when I say that.

Big Love: One look at Kyle Love’s highlight reel, and you understand why the Patriots would want the tenacious defensive tackle in Foxboro.

Why undrafted: The whole “undersized” thing has a certain NFL context (for example, Mercury is an undersized planet, but it’s still the size of a freaking planet); still, at 6-1, 310 pounds, it’s hard to say whether Love will survive.

Chances to stick: With a couple of late-round D-linemen in Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston, it’s tough to see the Mississippi State product sticking around. But maybe Love will find a way. (Oh, God, the pun-loving part of me hopes he makes the practice squad!).

Vulcan Logic: Cornerback Terrence Johnson of California (PA) led the Vulcans – yes, it’s true – with three interceptions and nine pass break-ups last year.

Why undrafted: A small school guy who’s small himself (5-9, 190) and lacking exceptional speed (4.5 40) won’t get a lot of calls on draft day.

Chances to stick: The Patriots sure seem to love those dimunitive DBs, but Johnson’s got a tough task ahead of him. His kick-return skills (23.7-yard avg.) might help.

Looking For Another Ray: Villanova safety Ross Ventrone should know a thing or two about Gillette, especially if he’s ever talked to his brother (former Patriot) Ray. His highlight video shows a quick-reacting safety who’s not afraid to hit (we think: it’s a little hard to see at times).

Why undrafted: Like his brother, Ventrone’s size (5-8, 198) and speed (4.5) give him the perfect platform to call attention to his “unmeasurables.”

Chances to stick: His brother had a nice little career in Foxboro, but it’s impossible to tell if such qualities as “heart,” “grit,” and “determination” will be enough when covering gentlemen with such qualities as “speed” and “size.” At the least we can pencil him in as an early fan favorite.

Notre Dame's Sergio Brown

Brains, Brawn, Brown: Watching his highlight reel and checking out his pro day numbers (4.5 40, 6.67 3-cone, 35-inch vertical), Sergio Brown (6-2, 205) looks like a secret steal. Then we remember that the phrase “Notre Dame defense” has been something of an oxymoron recently.

Why undrafted: The aforementioned Lack of the Irish – plus a lack of interceptions (zero) – hurt, especially when considering that teams must have been wary of teammate Kyle McCarthy at the other safety.

Chances to stick: With the defensive backs situation around here, who the heck knows? He could provide some roster pressure to a couple of the backup safeties.

Wise Up: Also known as this year’s Stephen Neal Tryout, John Wise of Illinois is the latest wrestler to get a shot at the offensive line. Unlike Kent State’s Jermail Porter last year, though, Wise at least has a soupcon of football experience, playing defensive lineman for Western Illinois for two years before transferring.

Why undrafted: I’m guessing because of the whole wrestling-instead-of-football thing. If you’d like to see him grapple with All-American Dan Erekson of Iowa, click here, but be warned, it’s not pretty. Wrestling (the kind without makeup, pyrotechnics and/or divas) rarely is.

Chances to stick: Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia has more development to deal with than a middle school guidance counselor. With rookies Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch, plus second-year guys Rich Ohrnberger and George Bussey, Wise would have to have a ton of potential to make the practice squad.

GUY I’D LIKE TO SEE IN FOXBORO

During last year’s UDFA prediction/debacle, I really put the “Who?” in “Who’s Who?” when making my free agent candidate list. This season, I’m only requesting that one undrafted rookie get a second look from the Pats.

Holy Toledo: Running back DaJuane Collins (5-10, 220) led the Rockets with 1,026 yards in 2009 (5.6 per carry). He also had 17 catches for 116 yards. The current age of the Pats running backs has been alluded to (100 years, people!); more competition at the position wouldn’t hurt.

So, what undrafted rookie should the Pats bring into camp? Give us your pick below, and thanks for making Patriots Daily a part of your 2010 NFL draft experience.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Patriots Daily Draft Review

by Patriots Daily Staff

Chris Warner: Impact players? Maybe a couple. Solid guys? Plenty of them. Value picks? Looks like it.

Successful draft? Time will tell.

Dan Snapp: The days after draft always feel barren. There’s so little to do. You can scour the Internet for proof – and you can always find this proof somewhere – that your guys were steals and rivals’ guys were reaches. But in reality you have a spectrum of five months to never (Alas, Shawn Crable, you peaked in your leaping-over-linemen Michigan photo) for any evidence of what they’ll truly yield.

There’s extra emptiness this draft when it dawns that the biggest need – pass rush – still went woefully neglected.

Chris: The Pats’ spring haul resembles most things in life: we have little idea of how it’s all going to pan out. Below, your humble PD staff (hah!) shares what they like, don’t like, and still don’t quite understand.

Before we get into detail, the picks, by round and overall selection:

1 (27) – Devin McCourty, DB, Rutgers (5-11, 193)

2 (42) – Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona (6-6, 264)

2 (53) – Jermaine Cunningham, OLB, Florida (6-3, 266)

2 (62) – Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida (6-3, 250)

3 (90) – Taylor Price, WR, Ohio (6-0, 200)

4 (113) – Aaron Hernandez, TE, Florida (6-2, 245)

5 (150) – Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan (6-4, 240 – whoa!)

6 (205) – Ted Larsen, C, N.C. State (6-2, 304)

7 (208) – Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt (6-6, 307)

7 (247) – Brandon Deaderick, DE, Alabama (6-4, 314)

7 (248) – Kade Weston, DT, Georgia (6-5, 317)

7 (250) – Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State (6-2, 214)

Second, the trades, by round:

1 – 22 to Denver for 24 and a fourth (119); later, 24 and 119 to Dallas for 27 and a third (90).

2 – 44 and a sixth (190) to Oakland for 42; 47 to Arizona for 58 and a third (89); 58 to Houston for 62 and a fifth (150).

3 – 89 to Carolina for a 2011 second.

7 – 229 and 231 to Washington for 208.

Now, our rankings, more or less, based on what was overheard in our respective living rooms during the exhaustive, 72-hour bonanza that was Draft Weekend 2010:

WOOHOO!

Chris: Though no single selection caused me to exult, I’m thinking about giving 2010 a top grade overall. Needs met, playmakers found, potential gathered. Yes, I would have liked a few different picks here and there (a running back late, a defensive end earlier), but this draft provided more potential playmakers than last year’s, which was solid.

Greg Doyle: I’ll say Spikes. I have been all around the gamut on him. I thought he was one of the best linebackers in college football when I merely watched him play. But then, I admit, the whispers got to me. I started hearing about a history of ankle problems. Then the slow 40 times. I admit, they got me to severely downgrade him and not even seriously think of him until possibly the final day. But my immediate reaction upon them taking him? YES! That is a football player! Maybe it’s my Patriots bias, but I don’t think so. I was similarly down on Gronkowski and while I may have lightened up abit on him, I still have reservations I’ll explain below. Spikes? There is just no way a guy that productive, that passionate, that much of a playmaker and that smart won’t do well for a Bill Belichick coached team. He’ll likely become a 2-down plugger. That means he is the guy taking on the lead blockers most of the time and it’ll free up Mayo to take less of a beating and be more of a playmaker. The inside now with Mayo, Spikes, McKenzie and Guyton as a nickel backer (the perfect role for him) now looks stocked with young guys with potential.

Dan: Mesko – The perfect storm of need, talent, and right round converge. And then they all sold some game jerseys. Some think the Pats grab these special teamers too high – Ghost with a 4th in ’06, Ingram in the 6th last year, and now a fifth for the Zoltan – but one round too early is a negligible price to pay if that player eliminates a need at the position for the next four years.

Scott Benson: Brandon Spikes, definitely. They didn’t make that pick by some textbook measureable or abstract projection (see tight end Meathead Stivic, two picks earlier) but by pure football-playin’ track record. They didn’t make that pick based on the best player available theory but on raw, bald-faced need. If this guy doesn’t play more defensive snaps this fall than everyone but Jerod Mayo, I’ll eat my fucking hat. I also loved Aaron Hernandez because of the same things. I love that they didn’t pass on a tight end that can find space AND catch/run just because he didn’t meet some in-line blocking metric. Aren’t they already paying the offensive line a shitload of money to do that? Anyway, if I had my druthers, every single pick every single year would be just like these two.

COOL.

Chris: I liked the Gronkowski pick (They filled a need! Finally!), and I enjoyed the aggressive way they traded up to get him. I also gave the ol’ nod to Hernandez filling out the TE spot, as well as Mesko in the fifth and QB Robinson rounding out the seventh (called by PD’s own Greg Doyle in his mock draft, by the way). Strong investments, all.

Greg: That was my reaction to the Hernandez pick. Being a big SEC fan and with the success of Florida as a program, I saw him play a lot and he is very good. I thought he was one of the top 3 tight ends in the draft and to get him in the 4th round is excellent. He has great hands, can move after the catch and is pretty quick for his size. I think he’ll fit into this offense as a “move” tight end from day one.

Dan: Spikes – Just felt etched in stone this guy would be a Patriot. Production, toughness, leadership and a fortuitously bad 40 time to drop him within their grasp.
Gronkowski – I admit it, the measurables wowed me. I was thinking Kyle Brady before Belichick said “Kyle Brady” when asked afterward for a comparable. Yeah, yeah, the back. I know. I’ll blithely choose to ignore that for the time being, and just keep repeating “Kyle Brady, Kyle Brady”.
Hernandez – Belichick hedging his bets on Gronkowski by grabbing a guy rated almost as high (and in some instances higher). Hope it also signals a new commitment to the tight end in the passing game.

Scott: I flipped when they made this pick (it’s all there on Twitter – I’m not proud of it), but after a couple of days I’ll put Devin McCourty in this group. Nothing I read anywhere over these last several weeks contradicted that this was a solid, versatile player with promise who deserved to be picked in the precise range in which he was chosen. And nobody ever said the Patriots don’t need to get better in the secondary. If he comes along like Darius Butler, for example, then what the hell would be wrong with that? Besides the whole Jerry Hughes thing, I mean. I also liked that the Patriots picked a punter bigger than the late Reggie Roby.  As a tribute, Zoltan Mesko should wear a wrist watch while kicking. And by the way – isn’t it funny that after all the bitching about Chris Hanson, they picked a punter that is a left footed, directional, rugby-style kicker who lives on hang-time? I think it’ll be funny when this eventually dawns on the people who are still crying for that Todd Sauerbrun blast-it bullshit.

OKAY.

Chris: The Cunningham pick satisfied another need, which I appreciated; it just felt like it took a long time to get there (see my above Gronkowski parenthetical). The trade to the Panthers for a second-rounder made a ton of sense, but I wonder if we’ll end up wishing we had another pass-rusher this season instead of a high pick in 2011? Regarding Larsen and Welch, I only kept track of the latter because, once again, Greg “Bull’s Eye” Doyle picked him in his mock (nice job, Greg!). Though I wished they’d gotten D-line help sooner, I thought Deaderick and Weston provided a couple of pleasant late-round surprises.

And just as an aside, “Gronkowski Parenthetical” would be an awesome alternative band name.

Greg: The Deaderick pick seemed very logical. Played in the same system and really was graded higher than a 7th rounder. He was a productive guy who isn’t much of a pass rusher but a stout 3-4 end run defender. He’ll fit in and to find that in the 7th round is great.

Dan: McCourty – This poor guy gets his parade rained on because he’s not an outside linebacker. And when you think about it, a pretty damn good response to Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall entering the division. I saw this stat this morning: “Leading tackler among NCAA cornerbacks.” So yeah, I’m on board. But would it really have killed them to draft Jerry Hughes?
Cunningham – The pros: hard worker, great program, BB’s ties to Meyer for the inside scoop, and mostly, that he has the right capital letters following his name. But this is it? Even if he proves a capable rusher, it’s still a position of need. Which is more of a concern: Gronkowski’s back or Sergio Kindle’s knee?

How about this, Bill? Make the “Scheme vs. Production” Zen riddle your own little Darwinian experiment and draft both Hughes and Kindle. While you’re jotting down arm length and optimum frame notes alongside nuthatch sketches in your journal, maybe at least the pass rush will finally evolve.

Scott: I’m putting Jermaine Cunningham right here, as in “okay, getting someone who can raise hell on the edge is your biggest need, and is critical to your defensive prospects in the short and long-term, and if you don’t hit this right you’ll go a long way to another year(s) of maddeningly passive third-down defense, and you’re telling me that Jermaine is the tonic for this, so…..okaaaaaaay. We’ll see if you do any better than you did with Crable.” I’ll add to this group everybody picked after Mesko. I know, I know…. “Tom Brady was a sixth round pick.” Yeah, for every one of those there’s six hundred million Oscar Luas. I guess what I’m saying is who cares. If a once-in-a-lifetime player shows up after being picked in that range, I’m okay with finding out about it when it happens. I’m not spending any time on it beforehand.

WAIT: WHAT?

Chris: Their first pick, McCourty, fit this category on Thursday night. A solid overall player, sure, but some of the pass-rushers available at the time looked mighty enticing.  Now, when it comes to Spikes, I have to admit I got confused. One could argue that his 5.04-second 40 unduly soured me, but it does bring up the question of his ability at the NFL level. I’m looking forward to him proving me wrong.

Greg: Gronkowski has everything you want in terms of size and athletic ability. But the injury stuff scares me. He’s got a bad back for crying out loud and a big part of his job is going to be to help block 320 lb. guys in the running game. I know it’s easy for us to say, well, they had to check out his health thoroughly. And yeah, they obviously did. But you know what, I remember sort of taking that approach with Terrence Wheatley a few years back, a guy with a friggin’ metal rod holding his wrist together. That SOUNDED like a concern to me, but I got swept up in the “well, if they used a 2nd rounder on him, he must be healthy….” Know what? He has had injury problems since he’s been here and undoubtedly that has slowed his improvement and now, even when healthy, he can’t get on the field. I just don’t want to see a repeat of that with Gronkowski.

Dan: Price – No idea about this guy, and given the Pats were his only workout, that may be true for the rest of the league. This is one of those “In Bill We Trust” picks, hoping Belichick had Chad O’Shea put the guy in witness protection, wheat farming in Idaho ’til the draft safely ran its course.

Scott: No real comer at right defensive end (that’s an ’11 thing, evidently), and Taylor Price is the only wideout picked. I do like that Price is going to play outside the numbers instead of inside them – not everyone can be a slot receiver – but he certainly wasn’t in the upper echelon of prospects there. This causes me to reflect back on a realization I had a week or two ago – even with all the picks they had, they were probably not going to scratch every itch. There were (are) quite a few, after all.

OH, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!

Chris: Despite a nice highlight reel vs. Tennessee, I watched Price play a couple of times this year and failed to come away impressed. Of course, I’m bitter that the Pats missed out on a PD favorite, Andre Roberts, whom we all chose in our mock. Also kept waiting for a big running back late (Joique Bell, Wayne State, or even LaGarrette Blount, Oregon/Boxing School).

Greg: I didn’t really have a problem with any pick in that regard. The Price pick is a pure talent thing. He has it. And he did play in a Neanderthal offense. It’ll likely take him some time to get up to speed on something like the Pats offense. If any pick gave me that reaction, I guess it’s the Larsen pick which proves to me that Dante is held in such high regard by Belichick, he’ll be allowed at least one pet rock in the draft each year (last year he got three: Ohrnberger, Vollmer and Bussey… guys he worked out personally and that he liked). I don’t have a problem with the pick, it just makes me laugh when it comes to O-linemen Dante is doing the personnel now and picking somewhat obscure guys he thinks he can work with.

Scott: Four words: Meat-head-Stiv-ICK. At least when Rob finally proves that his Charles Atlas physique won’t hold up any better to the NFL than it did to Division 1, he’ll be marginally entertaining as That Guy who sits in the stands with a replica helmet and no shirt on. WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF.

Stay tuned to PD this week for a rundown of Patriots rookie free agents.

Meet Devin McCourty – Patriots’ 2010 First Round Pick

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

They did it again. Just when you had figured out what direction the Patriots were going with their top pick, they go and take a guy seemingly out of nowhere.

This year it was Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty ( @DMcCourty21 ) that came as a surprise pick at #27. (After a pair of trades that eventually netted them the #90 pick) No, not a pass rushing linebacker or defensive lineman, a cornerback. Get ready for plenty of second-guesses on this one tomorrow.

This CBSSports.com scouting report is pretty glowing in its praise of the 5-10, 196 lb McCourty, describing him as a shutdown corner, who is also solid against the run. They laud his special teams abilities, with seven blocked kicks in his career, and refer to him as one of the “more electrifying kickoff returners in the nation.” He is referred to by one of his former coaches as a “coach on the field.” All great qualities, and things that Bill Belichick and the Patriots like in their players.

A kick returner is definitely a need for the Patriots, but in the first round?

The Patriots did pick up the third round pick that they wanted in a pair of trades with Denver and Dallas. They will now also pick at #90 Friday night, giving them four picks on the night. Will they be able to get their pass-rushing help there? We only have to wait 24 hours to find out.

Here is a highlight reel of McCourty in the meantime.

Hey, he does sack the QB in one of these clips…

Patriots Daily 2010 Draft Central

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Does your head hurt from looking over endless mock drafts and lists of prospects for the last two months? Are you ready to just get this thing started already?

It’s finally here. The NFL draft starts tonight with the first round, and as we’ve been told about 219221497 times thus far, it’s a pretty important draft for your New England Patriots.

Here at Patriots Daily, we’ve tried to gather as much information as we can so we can try and anticipate somewhat the possibilities of what we might expect over the next few days. We’ve watched the games, the combine, we talked to prospects, tracked their contact with the Patriots, and we got together and talked about the direction we thought the team might go in our own two-part Patriots-only mock draft.

We’re putting all this information together into this post, as sort of a Draft Central here at PD.

We’ll start out with a reminder of where the Patriots will be picking, in the Patriots 2010 Draft Slots post.

Scott Benson put together a complete list of Pats Pre-Draft Visits and Workouts – these visits and workouts are all ones that have been reported on in various media reports.

Here at PD, Chris Warner was working the phones hard in conducting over 30 interviews this spring. This Complete List of Patriots Daily Prospect Interviews also includes several conducted by Greg Doyle. To my knowledge, PD is the only Patriots blog that has interviewed this many prospects.

Way back when, Doyle also put together a 2010 Patriots Daily Senior Bowl Review which is helpful because at that point we could still judge the prospects on their play, not on all their combine numbers and stats. Similarly, Warner provided a review of the East-West Shrine Game which last year, as he reminds us, was a showcase for future Patriot draftees Myron Pryor and Sebastian Vollmer and undrafted free agent signee Brian Hoyer.

Finally, Chris, Greg, and Scott got together and gave us their thoughts on who might end up as Patriots by the time this weekend is over. It was broken up into two parts:

Patriots Daily Mock Draft, Part 1

Patriots Daily Mock Draft, Part 2

Other Resources

In viewing many of the above links, at the end of the article you might see “Tagged With” followed a rather lengthy list of names. We’ve gone through and tagged all the college players we’ve talked about this year – that includes all Doyle’s editions of College Scout during the season. You can click on any of those names, and get a list of all the PD posts in which that player’s name appears. So if the team drafts someone, look for their name, and then you can see all that we’ve previously written about him.

A new edition to the PD site is the Twitter window in the right sidebar. That window displays the tweets of the PD staff, which include @scottabenson , @PatriotsDaily (mostly Dan Snapp) and @BruceatPD . Keep an eye on that window during the draft for thoughts from the guys, or add them to your follow list.

The Patriots official Twitter account – @realpatriots – will no doubt also be very busy during the draft. Last year they announced picks and trades through there, even before they were announced to the media. (To the chagrin of the fourth estate.)

Throughout the draft feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section.

We look forward to seeing what the Patriots do over the next few days, and weighing in on it here!

Pats Pre-Draft Visits and Workouts

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
April 21, 2010

With the 2010 NFL Draft just hours away, let’s take a final look at the list of college prospects that have had significant contact with the Patriots over the last several weeks.

For these purposes, we define ‘significant contact’ as either a prospect site visit to Foxborough, or a private workout with Pats coaches and scouts. Interviews at post-season all-star games, the Combine, or at college pro days are not tracked. We’ve only included contacts that could be confirmed by media report (links).

There are those that will tell you that any interest on the part of the Pats that is made public is simply a ruse, or a ‘smokescreen’, to mask their interest in another, unnamed player.

As we’ve asserted many times before, that’s just untrue. Last year, Patriots Daily tracked visits by Patrick Chung, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie and Rich Ohrnberger before they were selected by the Patriots. In 2008, pre-draft contacts with Jerod Mayo, Terrence Wheatley and Shawn Crable were also noted.

Okay, so maybe there are some mixed reviews there, but that’s not the point. When the Pats make their picks later this week, it’s likely that two or three of the selections – if not more – will come from this contact list.

Note – if you see any that we’ve missed, please speak up in the comments section, and include a link to the reported contact.

Team Visits – Offense

QB Tim Tebow, Florida
RB Montario Hardesty, Tennessee
RB Charles Scott, LSU
WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois
WR Eric Decker, Minnesota
C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida

Private Workouts – Offense

QB Tony Pike, Cincinnati
QB Mike Kafka, Northwestern
QB Zack Robinson, Oklahoma State
QB Rusty Smith, Florida Atlantic
RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
RB Manase Tonga, BYU
RB Dexter McCluster, Mississippi
RB James Starks, Buffalo
WR Andre Roberts, Citadel
WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
WR Scott Long, Louisville
WR Taylor Price, Ohio
TE Dennis Pitta, BYU
TE Aaron Hernandez, Florida
TE Nate Bynam, Pittsburgh
TE Scott Sicko, UNH
OT Nic Richmond, TCU
OG Phil Costa, Maryland
C Jim Cordle, Ohio State
OT Daniel Baldridge, Marshall

Team Visits – Defense

DE Brandon Graham, Michigan
DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern
DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Washington
DE Hall Davis, Louisiana-Lafayette
DE Chris McCoy, Middle Tennessee State
DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
DT Tyson Alualu, California
DT Brian Price, UCLA
DT Cam Thomas, North Carolina
OLB Sergio Kindle, Texas
OLB Jerry Hughes, TCU
ILB Jamar Chaney, Mississippi State
LB Donald Butler, Washington
CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State

Private Workouts – Defense

DE Antonio Coleman, Auburn
DE Alex Daniels, Cincinnati
DT Al Woods, LSU
DT Torell Troup, UCF
DT Arthur Jones, Syracuse
DT Corey Peters, Kentucky
DT Aleric Mullins, North Carolina
DT Jeff Owens, Georgia
DT Ricardo Mathews, Cincinnati
LB Brandon Spikes, Florida
LB Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech
LB Ricky Sapp, Clemson
LB Kavell Conner, Clemson
LB Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State
LB Dekoda Watson, Florida State
LB Matt Mayberry, Indiana
S Earl Thomas, Texas
S Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech
S Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt
CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama
CB Chris Cook, Virginia
CB Dominique Franks, Oklahoma
CB Nolan Carroll, Maryland
CB Robert McClain, Connecticut
CB Brandon Ghee, Wake Forest
CB Sherrick McManis, Northwestern
P Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech
P Zoltan Mesko, Michigan

Even if the Pats don’t select any of the players from this list, the direction of their efforts may tell us something. For example, by our count, the Pats have made ‘significant contact’ with 66 draft prospects. 39 of them, or nearly 60%, are defensive players.

Of the defensive contacts, more than half were defensive linemen (18 contacts). Linebackers represented 28% of all defensive contacts.  20% of contacts were with cornerbacks. Safety was apparently the only defensive position not focused on (just 2 of 39 contacts).

Nearly half of the 27 offensive contacts were either running backs (22%) or receivers (26%). Oddly, only 4 of 27 offensive contacts were with tight ends, a position that is considered a top need for New England. Offensive line contacts were concentrated on late round or priority free agent prospects. The Pats also looked at 5 quarterback hopefuls, including Tim Tebow.

This would seem to indicate the Pats will focus on their front seven and their offensive skill positions in this draft.

Patriots 2010-2011 Schedule

Here is the Patriots’ complete 16 game schedule for the 2010-2011 regular season, with links to the NFL.com game center and the opponent’s team  website (home games in bold).

Regular Season

  1. 1:00 PM, Sunday, September 12, 2010 vs. Bengals (CBS)
  2. 4:15 PM, Sunday, September 19, 2010 at Jets (CBS)
  3. 1:00 PM, Sunday, September 26, 2010 vs. Bills (CBS)
  4. 8:30 PM, Monday, October 4, 2010 at Dolphins (ESPN)
  5. BYE – Sunday, October 10, 2010
  6. 1:00 PM, Sunday, October 17, 2010 vs. Ravens (CBS)
  7. 4:15 PM, Sunday, October 24, 2010 at Chargers (CBS)
  8. 4:15PM, Sunday, October 31, 2010 vs. Vikings (FOX)
  9. 1:00PM, Sunday, November 7, 2010 at Browns (CBS)
  10. 8:20 PM, Sunday, November 14, 2010 at Steelers (NBC)
  11. 4:15 PM, Sunday, November 21, 2010 vs. Colts (CBS)
  12. 12:30 PM, Thursday, November 25, 2010 at Lions (CBS)
  13. 8:30 PM, Monday, December 6, 2010 vs. Jets (ESPN)
  14. 1:00 PM, Sunday, December 12, 2010 at Bears (CBS)
  15. 8:20 PM, Sunday, December 19, 2010 vs. Packers (NBC)
  16. 1:00 PM, Sunday, December 26, 2010 at Bills (CBS)
  17. 1:00 PM, Sunday, January 2, 2011 vs. Dolphins (CBS)

Playoffs

  1. Wild Card Playoff –   Saturday January 8 or Sunday, January 9, 2011
  2. Divisional Playoff – Saturday, January 15, 2011 or Sunday, January 16, 2011
  3. Conference Championship –  Sunday, January 23, 2011
  4. Super Bowl XLV – Sunday, February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas

Complete List of Patriots Daily Prospect Interviews

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Once again, Patriots Daily, in our attempt to bring you as much football as possible, reached out to college prospects around the country to talk to them about their college careers, their workouts, and in many cases, their contact thus far with NFL teams. In all, Chris Warner and Greg Doyle talked to 34 prospects which ranged from possible first round selections (Jerry Hughes, Everson Griffen) to mid-round guys, to guys who may not be drafted at all, but will likely be undrafted free agent signees, and to one guy who doesn’t plan on playing football at all in the future, but has instead made the commitment to serve his country.

Chris alone talked to nearly 30 prospects in the last several weeks, the last one coming just a few days ago. Well done, Chris!

At least seven of the below players have had “significant contact” with the Patriots. We’ll define that further in a post coming tomorrow which lists all the reported “significant contact” between prospects and the Patriots. Those seven players are starred (*) below.

Offensive Players

Auburn RB Ben Tate

Memphis RB Curtis Steele

Southern Illinois RB Deji Karim

Wayne State RB Joique Bell

UMass FB Chris Zardas

Louisville WR Scott Long*

Colorado State WR RaShaun Greer

Clemson WR Jacoby Ford

Citadel WR Andre Roberts*

Central Michigan WR Antonio Brown

Rutgers OL Kevin Haslam

Hillsdale OL Jared Veldheer

Notre Dame OL Sam Young

UConn OL Mike Hicks

Ashland QB Bill Cundiff

Penn State TE Mickey Shuler

Kent State TE Jameson Konz

New Hampshire TE Scott Sicko*

Virginia Tech P Brent Bowden*

Defensive Players

TCU DE Jerry Hughes*

USC DE Everson Griffen

Virginia Tech DE Jason Worilds*

Murray State DE Austen Lane

Northern Iowa DE James Ruffin

Utah DE Koa Misi

East Carolina DL Linval Joseph

Boston College LB Mike McLaughlin

UCLA LB Reggie Carter

Indiana LB Matt Mayberry*

James Madison LB Arthur Moats

Navy LB Ross Pospisil (not pursuing an NFL career)

Vanderbilt CB Myron Lewis

Wisconsin S Chris Maragos

UMass S Jeromy Miles

We’re hoping that a few of these guys hear their names called – by the Patriots – later this week.

Q&A With USC DE Everson Griffen

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

USC DE Everson Griffen

In most ratings of the top 32 players entering the draft, more than half are underclassmen who have declared early. While every one of those has high potential, much of that gets offset by questions of maturity.

Everson Griffen epitomizes this class. Following a run-in with police on Nantucket Island last summer, the USC defensive end had some doubters. The 6-foot-3, 268-pounder answered them with a productive season (45 tackles, eight sacks) and impressive test numbers (4.60-seconds in the 40, 32 reps in the bench press).

In his exclusive PD interview, Griffen kept the answers coming about his comfort level on the field and his personal growth off of it.

Well, let’s start out by talking about your decision to declare early for the draft. What do you think was the biggest motivating factor in that?

The biggest motivating factor to me was you know yourself, you know what you’re capable of doing, and I just talked it over with my D-line coach, Coach Jethro (Franklin) and my head coach, Pete Carroll. You know, I just felt that I was ready to take that next step, to the next level. And the past season I had, I just felt like, everybody’s got to prove themselves, but I just felt like I was ready to come out.

Did you ever have any second thoughts about it, being a younger guy? Because you didn’t have a redshirt year with USC, did you?

No, I didn’t. No, once I talked it over with the coach and everything, I pretty much had a good idea that I was ready to come out.

And with all the meetings and everything, and the combine, how are you feeling about that decision now?

You know, I did everything perfectly to this point right now. The only thing I did – the only thing I gave them – was, I put it on my shoulders. Me and (USC safety) Taylor Mays, he just did it with me, you know, we just went out there and did our best. Once you do your best, the only thing you can do is sit back and wait, and see what team falls in love with you.

Speaking of the testing, I know it went really well overall. Do you have any second thoughts about it? Were you surprised in a positive way?

Yeah. I was very happy. I was very happy with what I’d done. I went out there and just gave them everything I had, and I’m pretty excited with my standing and with all the accomplishments that I make.

You’ve said before that Coach Jethro coming back (to USC) made a difference this year. What was that difference?

Having Coach Jethro, you know, he played defensive line. He coached defensive line for 20 years. He just really knows how to coach the position, and he just taught me all the ingredients to take it to the next level. Just having him – he just put me underneath his wing, and he just taught me the game of football. You know, he taught me it’s more than being disciplined on the field, you’ve got to be disciplined on and off the field to have it right all the time.

Now, this kind of leads to a difficult question… Can you comment at all on what happened last summer on Nantucket?

Yeah. I got in trouble for the breach of the peace. We had a little party on Nantucket. We got a little too loud, they (the police) came. I tried to be the facilitator, which I shouldn’t have done. And, you know, they took me to jail for the breach of the peace. You know, it was on (the news) a lot.

So you were making noise, or was it just a bunch of people and you got singled out?

A bunch of people… I think there were like five to ten.

One reason I ask the question… I’ve got to tell you from experience, you’re not the first guy to have a party broken up by the Nantucket Police Department.

Yeah.

You talked about a sense of discipline. How has that helped you in the last several months?

You know, it just helped my maturity level and my consistency, and I felt that this past season, I had both. I had my maturity level – that’s not a question. I came out and performed well at the combine and at my pro day. And during the season, to have Coach Jethro right there mentoring me, to take me along during the season, just teaching me the game, like I said… it just helped me a lot.

And is there anything specific that he said or pointed out that helped you focus more?

Yeah, he did say you’ve got to be disciplined. That was the biggest thing. Once I figured that out, to be disciplined, it helped me a lot.

How would you describe the defense at USC?

Last year?

Yeah… how did your defense work?

We were fast. We hit the gaps, and we just played together as a team. You know, we just loved playing together as a team.

And you’re a defensive end out of a – did you play a 4-3?

Yeah, we played 4-3, but then I also dropped into coverage on third downs.

So, of course you’ve had teams talking to you about making the switch to a 3-4.

Exactly.

What do you think is the most important part of that transition?

Just, you know, I’m very accustomed to playing – dropping from a two-point stance, blitzing from a two-point stance. So I’m really comfortable doing both. It’s not really a big issue. I’ve just got to learn. I’ve just got to be more physical at the point of attack. You know, everybody’s got improvements to make, and I know my improvements that I need to make, and I’ve been working on them every day. And I’m feeling good.

Now, people around New England know Pete Carroll as a coach. How would you describe him as a coach at USC?

Man, Pete Carroll was a great coach. He was a great motivator, you know. Luckily for me, I got to have him in my (defensive) meeting rooms, so he just taught us everything he knows about the game. And just having him – he’s a great recruiter, that’s why you have so much success at USC – and I just wish the best for him in Seattle.

Speaking of recruiting, you were a really accomplished football player coming out of high school (in Arizona). What other schools were you looking at except for USC?

Florida, Notre Dame and Michigan.

And what put USC in front?

You know, it was close to home. My mom could come see my games. And I just wanted to experience something new… You know, I was born and raised in Arizona… People always say, “Why not (Arizona State) or (University of Arizona)?” Because I’d been there for 22 years, and I just wanted to get out of Arizona to experience something new.

You were a really prolific running back in high school. At what point did you figure you were going to be playing defense in college?

Once I committed to USC, they said, “You’ll be playing defensive end.”

And there was never any question about that?

Nah, I wanted to play defensive end.

Why do you prefer defensive end over running back?

Because with defense, you get to go out there and just play football. You get to go out there and make plays, hit people hard, and be physical, instead of being hit by people.

Have you met with a lot of NFL teams?

I met with four.

Can you say which four?

(Buffalo), Oakland, San Francisco and St. Louis.

It seems like those are a lot of different defenses. Have any teams talked to you about playing a 4-3 rush defensive end?

Yeah… You know, I can either play a 4-3 or a 3-4. It really doesn’t matter to me where I play at the next level, because I feel like I can play both. I feel like I’m a very versatile player. I’m fast enough to play a 3-4. So whatever they want to put me in, I’m willing to play.

When you go to those meetings, are they all the same, or does each team focus on something different?

Oh, I just go in there and meet with the D-line coach, you know, and just talk football. And they put on some film and they just see what I know, can I learn football, and do I remember. They’re pretty good meetings, meeting with the head coach, D-line coach, sometimes outside backer coach. It just depends.

Have you gotten any kind of strange or unexpected questions?

No, no. Not at all.

Okay. So what’s the plan for this week?

I’m going back to Arizona the 21st, and I’ll be up there with my family and friends.

And have you gotten any word on whether this is going to be a Thursday night thing or a Friday night thing, or is that still up in the air?

I got ESPN coming, so I really don’t know. Who knows where they’re going to get drafted, you know? People can tell you you’re in the first round, mock drafts can say you’re in the first round, but you don’t know until they call your name. I’m hoping a Thursday night thing.

I hope so, too. I wish you a lot of luck.

Thank you.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Patriots 2010 Draft Slots

With the draft approaching fast, we’re laying out here where the Patriots draft slots fall. You know about the three second-round picks, and that the team has no third round selections. They don’t have a fifth round pick either. But did you realize that the three second picks are all within nine picks of each other? You might have heard about the five seventh round picks, three of which are compensatory and fall within four picks near the end of the round. Those slots might be used on players who otherwise might be targeted as undrafted free agents.

Here’s how the entire Patriots draft lays out:

First Round

#22 overall

Second Round

#44 overall (From Jacksonville)

#47 overall (From Tennessee)

#53 overall

Fourth Round

#119 overall

Sixth round

#190 overall

#205 (compensatory)*

Seventh round

#229 overall

#231 overall (From Philadelphia)

#247 overall (compensatory)*

#248 overall (compensatory)*

#250 overall (compensatory)*

*As a reminder, compensatory picks cannot be traded.


Q&A With UConn OL Mike Hicks

by Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff

UConn OL Mike Hicks

Mike Hicks is a very experienced offensive lineman from the UConn program which is producing more and more NFL players every year. He showed some versatility playing both tackle and guard and on the left side and right at UConn. This should help him in the eyes of many NFL teams. He has a lot of experience against good college opposition and had a very good career. He now hopes to get a chance to play in the NFL and we had a chance to talk to him recently.

Hi Mike, can you tell us where you are from? How did you get into football and when did you start playing?

I am from Seymour, Connecticut and always wanted to play football. I was always too big for Pop Warner and would have had to play up with kids four years older so my Mom held me out. I finally got to start (playing) in high school.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

Growing up I was big into baseball. First base and pitcher and played from t-ball to end of high school. Also basketball and lifting.

How did you end up at UConn?

I loved the campus and the up and coming football program and how close it is to home, being only an hour away.

You started 48 of your last 49 games on the offensive line, is durability something you take pride in?

I wouldn’t so much say durability. Being an o-line man you are always banged up. You just have to tough it out and be a little lucky to have played for so long without any serious injuries.

What did you do to prepare for your pro day? I read you took off some weight for it?

I really wanted to lose some pounds and slim down. I was at a playing weight of 328 and I went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania at a place called Power Train. The owner Steve Saunders really had me focus on my diet, lifting and combine drills to really get me ready for my pro day

You started primarily at right tackle at UConn but also played some left guard, was switching sides difficult for you?

Switching sides wasn’t that difficult. It took me only about a week or two to get really settled in and comfortable with the change. It was a fast transition for me.

Do you feel you’d fit better inside at guard or out at tackle in the NFL? Does it matter to you?

I have primarily played tackle which I am most comfortable at but the position does not matter to me. Wherever I am needed I can go in and get the job done.

What do you feel you have to work on to play in the NFL?

I have to continue to get bigger stronger and faster and really focus on the coaching and technique of the game to get myself in the right positions to succeed.

What did you learn from your head coach Randy Edsall, who has coached in the NFL?

I have learned so much from Coach Edsall. Not only has he taught me to be a good football player on the field but he has taught me so much more in becoming a man. He has taught me so many good aspects about life and becoming a better more responsible person. And I really appreciate all he has done for me.

Have you gotten any feedback that you have a chance to be signed as a free agent if you go undrafted?

I have been hearing all different things. I just want to stay positive and know I did my best and whatever happens I need to go in there and prove myself.

What are your impressions of the New England Patriots? Did you follow their success at all throughout the 2000s? Have you talked with any of their coaches or scouts?

The Pats are a great organization with a lot of great coaches and players. I have followed their success and from there hard work they have accomplished many great things.

Where will you be watching the draft? You must be nervous as it gets close.

I will be watching the draft with my parents at home. I just look at is as I worked really hard and gave it my all and if I’m blessed with the opportunity I’m going to be ready for it.

Thanks Mike and good luck with your career.

Patriots All Access Draft Preview airs tonight (with video preview)

A special Patriots All Access Draft Preview will air tonight, Friday, April 16, 2010 at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV and then immediately afterward on Patriots.com

Here is a preview of some of the features that will be on the program tonight:

  • Dan Roche takes an inside look at next week’s NFL Draft and explores the notion that this a critical draft for New England.
  • Roche also sits down with ESPN draft guru Todd McShay to get his thoughts on who the Patriots might select.
  • Scott Zolak goes one-on-one with Head Coach Bill Belichick to preview the draft and discuss the changes he has seen with the draft throughout his football career.
  • Steve Burton puts ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss and Patriots Football Weekly’s Paul Perillo on the clock, as they predict who the Patriots will select with their first and second round picks.

Note: The entire 12-minute Scott Zolak interview with Bill Belichick will be available on Patriots.com on Monday.

Watch a video preview here below: