Archive for the ‘NFL Draft’ Category

2014 NFL Combine Preview: Potential Patriots at Each Position

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

LSU RB Jeremy Hill will be one of the players the Patriots watch closely in Indy.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

It’s always difficult to identify which prospects the Patriots will target in the draft. Most of the time it’s hard enough trying to figure out which needs they might try to fill. For that reason the combine brings excitement, anticipation, and over-analysis as fans and media try to determine which players their team will be focused on.

This week in Indianapolis there will be players on the field that will play for and make an impact on the Patriots next season, it’s inevitable. It is our job to try and figure out which ones that will be. Here is a position by position breakdown of prospects the Patriots could be watching closely at the combine.

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2014 Patriots Seven-Round Mock Draft – February Edition

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

A long, physical and fluid cornerback prospect, Utah’s Keith McGill should garner New England’s interest leading up to draft day. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The NFL draft is a fluid process.

Between now and May, the NFL Scouting Combine, college pro days, interviews, private workouts and unrestricted free agency will alter the landscape. Within that landscape, a prospect’s perceived value will swing, as will the perceived needs and interests of their suitors.

Now there are no absolutes in the midst of February, March or April. There are no guarantees that a player will be a top-15 selection. There are no guarantees that an organization will address the draft board by roster priority, either.

All we can do is form an educated projection as to how the picture will be painted.

Projecting, however, is especially difficult when it comes to the New England Patriots war room.

Head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio, and the rest of the Patriots front office have their own interpretation of value. At its very essence, though, it is about waging the worth of a player in contrast with where that player could be selected. It’s about reading the previous picks and gauging what type of player will be available when.

And that is what we’ll attempt to accomplish in this Patriots seven-round mock draft exercise. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Offensive Tackle Zack Martin

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Zack Martin was a mainstay on the Notre Dame offensive line. And while his future position is uncertain, there’s reason to believe the 52-game starter will fulfill similar purpose in the NFL. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this fourth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin.

A mainstay.

That’s what Zack Martin became for the Notre Dame football program, shortly after enrolling as a 6’4”, 280-pound Under Armour All-American in 2009. The Indianapolis native did not play a down as a freshman that fall, but he played nearly every down over the next four.

Martin was one of 11 Notre Dame players to start all 13 contests in 2010, notching 11 at left tackle and two at right tackle to tally 831 snaps. In culmination of his efforts, Martin was named Guardian of the Year, bestowed upon the Fighting Irish’s top offensive lineman.

He picked up where he left off in 2011. Martin started all 13 games while Notre Dame’s front conceded just 17 sacks and amassed 4.8 yards per carry. He garnered top-lineman recognition for the second-straight season in result.

Martin made it three-straight as a redshirt junior in 2012. The developed, 6’4”, 305-pound blocker earned second-team All-American acknowledgement from the Walter Camp Football Association, as Notre Dame finished the regular season 12-0 that December. And he earned his 13th start of the season a month later.

No. 70 was there when Alabama conquered Notre Dame, 42-14, in the BCS title game that January.

No. 70 was there after.

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2014 NFL Draft Prospect Debate: Who’s the Better Value?

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

 

Kelvin Benjamin is just as or more physically dominant than Mike Evans, but is his value really 20 picks lower because he struggles with drops? (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

We are about to head into a turbulent time in the NFL Draft landscape where we judge prospects on rumors, film and measureables (if that’s even a word). It can be tough to gauge whether a prospect is actually worth the selection they are projected to be picked at. Sometimes the perceived value of two similarly talented prospects diverges to the point where they are slotted to go a full three rounds apart.

Whether its a blazing 40 time or a bad week in interviews we can overreact easily. That’s not to say its all for not and it certainly makes for interesting debates. Kind of like now. The following is a list of pairs where two prospects with similar skill sets, but differences in reputation and therefore value, are compared. I actually prefer all the prospects with a lower grade in this exercise, but the subject is fully open to debate.

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Mike Loyko’s Pre-Combine 2014 NFL Mock Draft

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

It’s been a full week since the football season ended and the focus of the football universe is entirely on the NFL Draft. Even though it’s early, there is nothing fans love more than a mock draft. Fans love to dream of possibilities and envision which player their favorite team could end up with or find out where their favorite player might end up.

Free Agency hasn’t started yet and the combine is just over a week away,  which means this mock will be irrelevant in a matter of weeks. But, without further ado, here is my pre-combine mock draft.

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2014 NFL Draft: Addressing Value, Depth, and the Patriots’ Needs

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

After trading back twice in Round 1 of the 2010 NFL draft – at the cost of Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant – Bill Belichick found value in Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Enigmatic. Stubborn. Unpredictable.

Those three words are often linked to the draft approach of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. But those three words aren’t Belichick’s intentions.

Finding value is.

Value is a loaded term. It’s not necessarily based on positional interest or the best-player-available adage; it’s what a team is willing to wage to acquire a player, relative to where a player could be selected.

Time has shown that it’s entirely interpretive. Yet time has also shown that it’s something Belichick invests tremendous stock in, as former Cleveland Browns general manager and NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi explained two years ago.

“Bill is very analytical. Bill is all about not falling in love with a player. Bill is looking at value,” said Lombardi, who served as Browns director of player personnel under Belichick from 1992 to 1995. “He wants the correct definition of the player and the correct value of the player. When he determines that, then he understands where he can move around in the draft.”

Belichick’s determinations have led the Patriots to Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty, Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder, Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones and Southern Mississippi linebacker Jamie Collins. His determinations have also led to surprises like Virginia corner Ras-I Dowling, Illinois safety Tavon Wilson, Ohio State special-teamer Nate Ebner and Rutgers safety Duron Harmon.

To Belichick, all of whom were in the right place at the right time. It remains to be seen who will be in the right place at the right time this May.

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2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: UCLA Offensive Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Xavier Su’a-Filo’s journey has ventured beyond football. But on the field, the UCLA Bruin has become one of the top offensive linemen in the country. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In the coming weeks and months leading up to the 2014 NFL draft, NEPatriotsDraft.com will profile college prospects that potentially fit the needs and draft seating of the New England Patriots. In this third installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su’a-Filo.

Xavier Su’a-Filo is carved from a different mold.

That mold turned the 6’3”, 285-pound offensive lineman into a three-year starter at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, where the Thunderbirds won a state-record 36 consecutive games behind Su’a-Filo’s road-paving blocks.

Recognition followed.

He was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the state by Rivals.com. He was branded a top-35 prospect by ESPNU. He was named a first-team All-American by EA Sports. He was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America game.

Su’a-Filo was a four-star recruit, but he was also an Eagle Scout and a member of the LDS Church. And after enrolling at UCLA and starting a school-record 13 games as a freshman left tackle in 2009, after being named a Phil Steele second-team Freshman All-American and a Pac-12 All-Freshman selection, he decided that football could wait.

So he left to serve a two-year Mormon mission. It was a mission that would lead him across the country to Florida and Alabama. It wasn’t until winter of 2012 that the 6’3”, 305-pounder returned to school in Los Angeles.

No. 56 picked up where he left off. (more…)




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