Musket Blasts: Patriots and NFL Draft Links, 8/1

Logan Mankins Guard Patriots

When will left guard Logan Mankins be able to practice? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

Come back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as I choose my five favorite New England Patriots and NFL Draft links to share. Feel free to submit your own links in the comments.

11 things we learned from Patriots practice yesterday. (

Ras-I Dowling continued to stand out in man to man coverage. In 1 on 1 drills, he was matched up with the Patriots top outside WR Brandon Lloyd and twice denied him from making a reception. Like I have been saying, Dowling’s size and length are huge assets in man coverage. Once Dowling went down last year the Patriots really struggled to make up for his lost. Big things are expected out of Dowling this year.

A great look from back in March on how Brandon Lloyd could help the Patriots. (PFF)

There are a number of big name receivers on the free agent market this year, and one name that has come up often with New England is Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd’s career took off while playing for former Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels whose presence as incumbent offensive coordinator for the Patriots makes it a logical fit. Beyond their relationship, Lloyd’s ability to work the deep and intermediate parts of the field seem ideal for the Patriots’ offense.

An attendance report from the first four days of Patriots camp. (WEEI)

The Patriots got the day off on Monday, a chance to heal up any bumps and bruises they’ve sustained over the first four days of camp. Overall, throughout the first few days, attendance has been pretty good. Here’s a quick rundown of what attendance has looked like for the first four days, a stretch where the team has had four practices with two days in pads and two days in shorts and shells:

If you’re an X’s and O’s guy, you’ll love this read on Manny Diaz and the Texas Defense. (Inside Texas)

The real trick for the defense is developing a method of doing that without revealing the defense pre-snap and giving the offense a chance to target them. In a world where both teams have to react to each other post-snap, the defense will have the advantage in athleticism (particularly with Texas athletes). And although we all love Manny’s penchant for one liners, it’s Diaz’s ability to disguise his defense and give his players simple adjustments to motion and formation that allow him to feature his athletes in so many different blitzes. Make no mistake, the exclamation point of Diaz’s defense is the focused pressure that attacks protections and blocking rules, but Diaz gets there by layering his coverage concepts in a way that makes it difficult for the offense to know where to attack. There are several ideas that form the basis for Diaz’s disguises and probably the most important is the 2 Read defense.

The Sun Belt almost always produces some quality NFL Draft prospects. (

Few fans know all the teams but their fans are devout and their teams have produced NFL talent year after year and 2012 will be no different. While everybody knows the QB’s like Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State), Blaine Gauthier (UL-Monroe), and Corey Robinson (Troy) allow us to show you two other QB’s you probably don’t know but who could be better than three listed above. We had a number of SEC transfers who have made their way into the Sun Belt on our list as well. Now is the time to get excited for some Sun Belt football!

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