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NFL Free Agency 2014: Patriots News and Notes From Day One

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Wesley Woodyard’s visit to New England made news as unrestricted free agency opened on Tuesday. But the news involving Aqib Talib ultimately took center stage before midnight. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

NFL League Year began at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. And right out of the starting gate, reports broke of free agents signing, re-signing and restructuring with teams, while roster cuts and trades filtered in as well.

But as some organizations proved to be active on March 11, others proved to be quiet behind the scenes, waiting for the dust – or money – to settle.

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots fell under the latter category.

After re-signing long snapper Danny Aiken and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui – both restricted free agents – in the days prior, and after releasing seven from their reserve/futures contracts or injured reserve lists, New England passed through Tuesday without another official move.

In many ways, though, the moves around the league have set the table for the days to come. With that in mind, here is a look at some Patriots-centric news and notes around the NFL landscape. (more…)


2014 Patriots Seven-Round Mock Draft: Pre-Free Agency Edition

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Bill O’Brien is no longer Penn State’s head coach. But the former Patriots coordinator has left behind prospects that could fit New England’s interests, like No. 91 DaQuan Jones. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

It’s March, and that means things are starting to take shape across the football landscape.

The NFL Scouting Combine closed along with February. The deadline for teams to use the franchise tag passed Monday, March 11 at 4 p.m. ET. The door to unrestricted free agency opens March 11. And college pro days are starting up as spring draws near.

Boxes are being checked, but the 2014 NFL draft is still over two months away.

In other words, there are a lot of moving pieces in play. Much will hinge on the next couple of weeks. And like all 31 other organizations, the same is true for head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

Veteran safety Steve Gregory has been released, trade discussions have been floated around, and there is variability when it comes to New England’s salary cap.

Who will be re-signed, who will restructure, who will depart – it’s hard to say at this moment.  Yet if the war room was set and the Radio City Music Hall festivities were tomorrow, how might it all unfold for the Patriots?

Here is a pre-free agency seven-round mock draft scenario, with trades and compensatory picks included. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Defensive Lineman Stephon Tuitt

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Stephon Tuitt’s size, speed and consequent versatility made him one of the most impactful defensive linemen in college football. He is seen as a first- or second-round NFL draft choice because of it. (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 sixth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt.

Size. Strength. Speed. Versatility.

As a defensive lineman and tight end at Monroe Area High School in Monroe, Ga., Stephon Tuitt brought all four traits to the table. And after the football program went 0-20 during his sophomore and junior campaigns, his traits helped lead a turnaround.

Tuitt and the Hurricanes went 11-2 in 2010, forging it into the third round of the Georgia Class AAA state playoffs. In the process, Tuitt forged into the recruiting picture.

He found himself ranked the 38th overall prospect in the nation by Sports Illustrated and 22nd by Rivals.com. He found himself competing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, as well as the Team USA vs. The World All-Star Game in Austin.

Shortly thereafter, he found himself in South Bend, Ind., as member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (more…)


NFL Scouting Combine vs. Patriots Draft Picks: A Four-Year Study

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Illinois’ Michael Buchanan hit New England’s criteria at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. And he fit the draft board as a seventh-round flier that April. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The NFL Scouting Combine is what it is.

It is a way to meet prospects off the field and evaluate how their game film translates on the field. It is not a be-all, end-all in determining a draft hopeful’s future, but it is a way to compare and contrast physical and athletic measurements in a neutral environment.

And when teams apply their respective criteria to the subjects at hand, trends are the byproduct, as Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have evidenced over the last several years.

The Patriots personnel department has drafted 36 players since 2010. The collection consists of two quarterbacks, two running backs, three tight ends, four wide receivers, three offensive tackles, one center, three defensive ends, two defensive tackles, six linebackers, five cornerbacks, three safeties and a punter.

Six of whom had to wait until their pro days, while 30 of whom were invited to Indianapolis.

But courtesy of the NFL.com and NFLDraftScout.com archives, here’s a closer look into their vital numbers by position. Because while we do not know what the future will bring this May, history is often a trajectory of the future. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Minnesota Defensive Tackle Ra’Shede Hageman

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Ra’Shede Hageman’s story has ventured far beyond football. But on the field, the Minnesota defensive tackle has emerged as one of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class. (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 fifth installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman.

What Ra’Shede Hageman has overcome in his 23 years far exceeds any cut or trap block.

The battles he’s overcome far exceed the game of football, as author and SBNation.com contributor John Rosengren illustrated in a moving piece this November.

Born Ra’Shede Knox on Aug. 8, 1990, his biological mother was an addict; his biological father passed on before he got to know him. He and his younger brother were placed in foster care four years later, while his older brother followed a different path. And after living in handfuls of homes, it wasn’t until 1998 that Ra’Shede finally found a permanent one with attorneys Eric Hageman and Jill Coyle.

Adoption wasn’t the end of his adversity, though. It wasn’t the end of his struggle to fit in. It was, however, a new starting point. Many hurdles have tested Hageman since then, but the past has failed to define him; it has only defined his strength.

And for the 6’6”, 311-pound defensive tackle, that strength has turned into force on the football field. (more…)


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.

(more…)




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