In case you haven’t seen, I’m now doing my full-time blogging as the managing editor over at Pats Pulpit.
I had a great four years here at PatriotsBlog.net, and I wanted to thank my loyal readers who stuck with me through all of the years. We started in 2006 at wordpress as “PatsBlog” before eventually switching over to our own server last summer. Eventually, though, I had to move on. At SB Nation, there are a lot of great features, and an opportunity to gain increased traffic. While it is tough to give up the web site that I worked on (even created from scratch) for so many years, I feel like SB Nation is a great opportunity for both me and the readers of this blog.
Don’t consider this the end. I’m still blogging, doing my usual thing. Just under a new name. However, I will keep the website alive here, so you can feel free to search the archives, and whatever else you want to do. I will also be archiving my posts from SB Nation here after 90 days.
So, PatriotsBlog.net won’t be disappearing just yet. Thanks again to those who have stood by me here for all these years. And hey, it’s just a couple of months until football season. LETS GO PATS!
With the 2010 NFL Draft just two days away, I thought I would take the time to write a really in depth Patriots draft preview that will cover a lot of players, and every single position. The goal here is to quickly summarize each player that the Patriots have looked at, or may be interested in, to stack the board, provide some quick analysis, including one featured player for each position. This post will cover the offense, the next post will cover the defense.
Undersized, smart, accurate, athletic spread QB
Has intangibles, needs work on mechanics. Athletic, power runner.
Tall, pocket QB with good accuracy and awareness. Must improve strength.
Great size/strength, but can make mistakes. High upside.
Spread QB. Small, but athletic. Good short accuracy.
WR? Fast, athletic. Good accuracy, leader.
Good arm, spread QB. Good size, great leader. Durability key.
Great size and arm strength. Needs work on mechanics.
Need Level: Low
The Patriots have a superstar in place with Tom Brady under center for the foreseeable future. Behind Brady is second year man Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was an undrafted free agent last season, and really impressed the coaching staff, earning a roster spot as the only quarterback behind Tom Brady, beating out the likes of Kevin O’Connell, Andrew Walter, and Matt Gutierrez. The Patriots may look to bring in a fresh body to compete for the #2 with Hoyer.
Featured Prospect: Tim Tebow, Florida
Throughout the draft process, the Patriots have constantly been connected to quarterback Tim Tebow. They held a private workout with him and brought him in for a pre-draft visit among other things. Analysts have said that the Patriots are the perfect fit for Tebow, as he needs time to develop under a team with a quarterback in place. While the Patriots may actually be an ideal scenario for Tebow, you have to ask, where would the value be for such a situation? Is it in the second round? I sincerely doubt it. I see Tebow as more of a third round value, and while I like his intangibles, I don’t see the Patriots taking him in the 2nd round.
The Patriots 2010 slate of games is now official. Here is the schedule:
Sunday, Sept. 12 Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 p.m ET
Sunday, Sept. 19 @ New York Jets 4:15 p.m ET
Sunday, Sept. 26 Buffalo Bills 1:00 p.m. ET
Monday, Oct. 4 @ Miami Dolphins 8:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 10 BYE
Sunday, Oct. 17 Baltimore Ravens 1:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 24 @ San Diego Chargers 4:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, Oct. 31 Minnesota Vikings 4:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 7 @ Cleveland Browns 1:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 14 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 8:20 p.m. ET
Sunday, Nov. 21 Indianapolis Colts 4:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, Nov. 25 @ Detroit Lions 12:30 p.m. ET
Monday, Dec. 6 New York Jets 8:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 12 @ Chicago Bears 1:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 19 Green Bay Packers 8:20 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 26 @ Buffalo Bills 1:00 p.m. ET
Sunday, Jan. 2 Miami Dolphins 1:00 p.m. ET
A few of my thoughts:
Patriots open up at home against the Bengals, a clash of two playoff teams. Can’t really remember the last time the Patriots didn’t open at home.
The Patriots will face the Jets week 2 for the third straight year, as they travel to the Meadowlands as the Jets open their new stadium.
The week 2 game against the Jets will kick off a round robin of AFC East games. After week 4, the Patriots won’t play another division game until week 13.
The Patriots have a very early bye week 5. While it is generally better to get as late of a bye as possible, as Tedy Bruschi pointed out on ESPN last night, the early bye will give Wes Welker an extra week to recover, and may allow him to return one game earlier.
Following the bye, the Patriots will have their toughest stretch of the season. They will face the Ravens, Chargers, and Vikings in back to back to back games. They will follow that up with a trip to Cleveland, before facing a 2 game home stand against the Steelers and the rival Colts.
The Patriots will come off a short week after a tough game against the Colts and face the Detroit Lions in a Thanksgiving day match-up. The last time the Patriots played on Thanksgiving in 2002, a game in which they won. Not sure how I feel about this, but it’s always cool to see your favorite team on a holiday.
After the Thanksgiving game, the Patriots will not have another warm game. They wrap up their season with division games with a contest at Buffalo, and a home game against the Dolphins.
The Patriots have added another piece to their wide receiver corps. Today, the team inked a deal with free agent wide receiver Torry Holt. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports:
The Patriots have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with veteran wide receiver Torry Holt, according to a league source. ESPN’s John Clayton reports the deal could be worth up to $1.7 million.
The 33-year-old Holt played for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, totaling 51 receptions for 722 yards. Holt, who spent the first 11 years of his career with the St. Louis Rams, enters his 13th NFL season.
While Holt, who will turn 34 this Junes, won’t be an absolute game breaker for the Patriots, he still could have an impact. He isn’t the dominating presence he once was in St. Louis, but he could step up and be a solid #3 for the Patriots. The #3 that Jabar Gaffney was, and that Joey Galloway wasn’t.
Holt will compete with Brandon Tate and possibly a rookie for playing time. The worst case scenario I see with Holt is him being a great 4th receiver.
This is a low risk, potential high reward deal. If Holt can return to anything close to his 2007 form, the Patriots will have added another great weapon for quarterback Tom Brady.
The word commonly associated with the New England Patriots when it comes to the draft is “value.” Under the current system, a draft pick’s salary is based on how high they were taken in the draft. The player’s agent will look at the contract signed by whoever was drafted in the same position the year before, and use that as the starting point in negotiations. This means that each year there will be players that are among the highest paid at their position who have never before played a snap in the NFL. These contracts represent an enormous risk because they include huge guarantees, meaning that no matter how poor the rookie ends up playing, they will still earn that amount. The Patriots’ draft strategy under Bill Belichick has been to not only the get right player, but to get the right player at the right price.
Last year wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey went to Oakland 7th overall. Heyward-Bey received a five-year, $38.25 million contract with $23.5 million guaranteed. He played in 11 games last season, totaling 9 catches for 124 yards and one TD, an incredibly poor return on their investment for the Raiders.
The Eagles selected Jeremy Maclin 12 spots later in 2009 at 19th overall, and he received a five-year contract worth $15.5 million, with 9.5 million guaranteed. Maclin produced 56 receptions for 773 yards with 4 TDs for Philadelphia in 2009.
While there are a number of factors at play such as the Eagles having a better quarterback than the Raiders, the fact remains that Heyward-Bey earned more than twice as much, and produced far less for the team. Clearly the Eagles received good value for their pick because they spent less for more production.
Strengths: At 6′5″ and over 300 pounds, Jared Odrick is a mauler who played the 3-technique in Penn State’s 4-3 defense. He is solid as a pass rusher, with good agility and a good bull rush. He is also good and holding up at the point of attack, and can even make plays off double teams. He is a solid tackler, and a high character, high work ethic guy.
Weaknesses: Odrick, while he can make plays off double teams, he doesn’t have the lower body strength to make himself a true anchor on the defensive line. He can also play too upright at times, and there are questions if he would be a good fit at end in the 3-4 due to his label as a penetrator at Penn State.
How he Fits the Patriots: Many Patriots fans are intrigued by Odrick because of how he is built in the form of a Richard Seymour. He is the prototype 3-4 end in terms of size. However, there are questions if he would fit with the Patriots because he may be more of a penetrator than an anchor. However, I think he could excel in the long run as a defensive end in the 3-4, and he could come in as a rotational lineman his rookie year, and could take over Mike Wright by year 2. When all is said and done, Odrick could be a Seymour-type presence for the Patriots, as he is strong against the run, but also adds that pass rush element to his game.
Bradford may not be the best player in the 2010 class but he makes the most sense for the Rams, both financially and on the field.
2. Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT
The Lions also need offensive line help, but I think Suh is the best player in this draft, and will be a terror in the NFL. In fact I am secretly hoping the Patriots will make a sensational (and highly unlikely) move to trade up for him.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT
McCoy fits nicely with the Bucs, and this pick makes a lot of sense.
4. Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT
Signing Donovan McNabb was a great move for Washington, especially since he only cost a 2nd rounder. That move frees them up to focus on other positions of need.
5. Kansas City Chiefs: Trent Williams, OT
Chiefs could go many directions here, but this pick has the best value.
6. Seattle Seahawks: Eric Berry, S
Another talented player falls to the Seahawks, just like Aaron Curry last year.
7. Cleveland Browns: Jimmy Clausen, QB
A new regime, a new QB in Cleveland.
8. Oakland Raiders: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
Explosive. That’s the word the Raiders look for on draft day, and that’s the word used to describe this raw talent.
9. Buffalo Bills: Bryan Bulaga, OT
The Bills offensive line needs serious work, and Bulaga will bring a great attitude.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars: Earl Thomas, S
A lot of directions they could go with this pick. They might want to trade down from here, but Thomas would be a great player for them.
The best way to avoid drafting players you don’t really want is to take them on your draft board.
That’s the theory, anyhow, used by Bill Belichick in New England and some of his proteges around the NFL. Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post has an interesting piece Sunday how Josh McDaniels uses a “short board” when drafting, like his old boss.
Most teams list all potential draft picks on their board. The Broncos had under 100 players last year, the only ones that fit what Denver wants to do.
“We want the players on our board that we want on our team — that’s the goal,” McDaniels said. “It’s the process we go through to make the best decisions, both short- and long-term for our team.”
Belichick has reportedly had as few as 25 players on his board in a given year, which is remarkable.
Bill Belichick has recently said that the team has interviewed or worked out upwards of 200 prospects in this year’s draft. It’s hard to think that the Patriots could work off such a short board (and I imagine it will be longer than 25 with 12 picks in stow), but considering Belichick’s “expectations” in his players, it doesn’t surprise me that Belichick would refine his draft board so much. The Patriots not only fit their scheme skill-wise, but players that have high football IQ’s, are good character guys, etc.
Therefore, when a player like Dez Bryant comes in for a pre-draft visit, it’s not a clear indicator he is on the Patriots draft board. At a visit like that, the Patriots would not only assess his character, but assess his football IQ through quizzes and things of that nature.
Whether Bryant remains on the Patriots’ draft board is anyone’s guess.
The situation with Bryant is a very interesting one. He is an immense talent, but there are some serious character questions surrounding him. He is big, physical, has great hands, can make the tough catch. But again, there are some character questions surrounding him that make you question if he is a top 10 pick. Add his poor 40 yard dash time at his pro day on top of that, and you have a situation where a top 10 talent could wind up falling to the later portions of the first round.
The Patriots, in this case, are preparing for that exact scenario: what if Dez Bryant is there at 22? By bringing him in to the facilities, Bryant will get a chance to meet with the coaching staff, possibly some teammates; allowing the Patriots to further access his character. If the Patriots feel that Bryant is actually a good locker room guy, and has a high football IQ, then I believe they will greatly consider him if he falls to 22. Randy Moss is in the last year of his contract, and the Patriots will need an outside threat to replace him if he does in fact leave after 2010.
Other players who have visited or are expected to visit with the Patriots include quarterback Tim Tebow of Florida, versatile defensive lineman Arthur Jones of Syracuse, running backs Montario Hardesty of Tennessee and Ryan Mathews of Fresno State, outside linebacker Jerry Hughes of TCU, defensive backs Kurt Coleman of Ohio State and Dominique Franks of Oklahoma, nose tackle Dan Williams of Tennessee, defensive end Tyson Alualu of California. There have also been “reported” visits with conflicting reports regarding defensive linemen Cam Thomas of North Carolina, and Brian Price of UCLA.
There’s a lot that stands out from those names. First, it is clear that the Patriots definitely intend to address the defensive line during the first two rounds of the draft, as the team has also looked at defensive lineman such as Jared Odrick, Torrell Troup, Al Woods, etc. Second, the only pass rusher the Patriots have brought in for a pre-draft visit that we know about is Jerry Hughes. Hughes is shorter than your prototype 3-4 outside linebacker, but he is explosive, and arguably one of the best pass rushers in this year’s draft. Last, the Patriots could be looking to bring fresh legs to the running back position, as they are looking at two of the top runners in Ryan Mathews and Montario Hardesty. We have already discussed Mathews on this blog, but Hardesty is an interesting guy as he shows good agility and power, although he lacks breakaway speed (and injuries could be a problem). The Patriots could snag him in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Overall, this should be a big week for pre-draft visits, and we’ll be sure to report all of them as they happen. It’s officially less than two weeks to the NFL Draft, and I couldn’t be more excited.
The Patriots have signed veteran defensive tackle Damione Lewis
The Patriots have added a new face to their defensive line. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots have agreed to a contract with former Panthers and Rams defensive tackle Damione Lewis.
The deal will reportedly contain a low amount of guaranteed money, but shouldn’t be worth more than the $755,000 Lewis earned last season.
At 6′2″ and just over 300 pounds, Damione Lewis has played exclusively defensive tackle in the 4-3 for his career. He has put up some decent sack numbers, but was primarily a run stuffer last year in Carolina when he started all sixteen games. For the Patriots, Lewis should be able to play multiple positions. While his size would project him the defensive end in the Patriots’ 3-4, he could probably slide inside over nose. Assuming he makes the roster, the majority of his contributions will probably come as a rush defensive tackle in four man fronts, likely on third downs.
While this isn’t a blockbuster signing, it is certainly a solid pickup, as Lewis should be able to find himself a niche in the Patriots defensive line rotation.