Archive for the ‘Patriots’ Category

Potential Patriots: Washington DL Danny Shelton

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

I will start off by saying Danny Shelton is not a flashy player. He will not wow you with body crushing hits, he won’t blow past offensive linemen with his speed, and he won’t be making jumping interceptions. What he will do is be a big body in the interior of the defensive line that will command two blockers and provide a sturdy run stopping presence with the ability to get after the quarterback as well. At 6’2″, 340 lbs, he is a very similar player to someone we have grown to love in New England: Vince Wilfork. He currently ranks 27th on Matt Miller’s Bleacher Report top 50 big board for the 2015 draft.

Currently, the Patriots are very thin on the defensive line. With this year’s first round pick, Dominique Easley, having the flexibility to play tackle as well as end, the Patriots still need a clear cut defensive tackle to compliment Sealver Siliga, Vince Wilfork, and potentially Casey Walker. Wilfork is no guarantee for the next several years, and someone will need to take his place. Shelton has the potential to be a possible replacement for Wilfork, should the big guy call it a career.

So far this year, Shelton has been a disruptive force in the middle. He has already recorded 7.5 sacks and more than 10 tackles for a loss. Working with an impressive Washington defense has allowed Shelton to put his talents on display for the nation to see, and he is not disappointing. His bio on Washington’s website highlights some of his career achievements in the Pacific northwest.

I watched his game against Colorado in 2013, and this year’s game against Hawaii, and identified some of his strengths and weaknesses.

Like Wilfork, Shelton is a large human being who will constantly demand the attention of two blockers due to his size and strength. Even double-teamed, Shelton was able to disrupt plays, even if he wasn’t able to get the tackle himself. Here, by attacking the guard and tackle, it allows the end to draw just the tight end, which frees the outside linebacker to come off the edge and tackle the back from behind.

While he won’t be outrunning many players, he does have enough burst to make plays from a variety of positions along the defensive line. Here, he lines out in a 4I technique (just inside of the tackle), and, despite jumping a bit, is able to adjust himself to peel off his block and tackle the quarterback upfield.

Here, Shelton is able to manhandle his blocker back into the pocket, forcing the quarterback to step up, allowing Shelton to disengage and get the easy sack.

When single blocked, instead of shedding the block and taking himself out of the play potentially, Shelton holds his ground until the back decides which hole he is going to run in. Then he sheds the blocker and makes a play on the back.

One of the most consistent parts of Shelton’s game is his constant effort. On this play, despite being blocked initially, instead of giving up on the play, Shelton keeps attacking and forces the pressure on the quarterback, which ends in an errant throw.

His on field awareness is showcased here, where he is initially blocked, but reads the lineman’s movements and the quarterback’s eyes, and identifies the screen and makes a play.

Shelton’s strength is his biggest upside. This play highlights his ability to take an offensive lineman’s mistake and push him right back into the quarterback. The lineman doesn’t even have a chance to try and reestablish himself.

Even without a good pass rushing move, he keeps driving his feet and using his hands to stay disengaged with the offensive linemen, collapsing the pocket as he goes.

The problem is, when his feet stop moving, he doesn’t have great technique when trying to disengage from blockers on run plays. Here, his feet stop and the lineman gets his hands in place, and Shelton never has a chance to get the ball carrier.

Overall, I think Shelton has the size and strength to play as a starting defensive lineman in the NFL. He needs to improve on his techniques when engaged with blockers, and possibly adopt better pass rushing moves in order for him to be a three down lineman at the next level. He could be available near the end of the first round, but as always there is no way to predict any draft position at this point in time. He could become a top 15 pick, he may fall into the third round, nothing is for certain this early. That being said Shelton could be a good player the Patriots could use to add depth to a thin DL position.

Follow me on Twitter – @PatriotsInform


Patriots Gameday Notes to Monitor Sunday Afternoon vs. Bears

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports Images)

The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Eight years have passed since the Chicago Bears last visited Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots. The date was Nov. 26, 2006, and the final score was a Patriots’ 17-13 victory, but the game itself has been remembered for what transpired with 11:34 to play.

It was then, with the score tied at 10 apiece, that Tom Brady took a 3rd-and-9 snap from shotgun and felt the pocket collapse. He ran. And four seconds later, he juked, heading right as eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher headed left.

The one-on-one gauntlet ended in a first down, and ultimately a touchdown.

Much has changed since then. Urlacher is now awaiting immortality in Canton, Brady is now 37, and Chicago’s roster is no longer headlined by the likes of halfback Thomas Jones, wideout Bernard Berrian, D-lineman Tommie Harris, deep man Nathan Vasher or return man Devin Hester.

As for New England’s roster, suffice to say tight end Ben Watson will not be leading the team in receiving this time around.

Things will be different on both sides of the ball when the 3-4 Bears and 5-2 Patriots encounter each other in Foxborough at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Here is a closer look at what to monitor when the two do. (more…)


Akeem Ayers Brings Uncertainty, But Could Bring More to Patriots

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images)

After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Akeem Ayers played 10 snaps over two games for the Tennessee Titans this season, and he was inactive for five more. But the New England Patriots saw something in the 2011 39th overall draft pick; something that could potentially help a depleted front seven at minimal expense.

Time will tell if that something pays off.

There is reason to temper expectations for a 6’3” 255-pound linebacker that took only sixth-round pick to acquire – along with a seventh-rounder – from Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. Yet there is also reason to expect Ayers will have a purpose in New England’s defense if he can acclimate to it. (more…)


Well-Traveled Jonas Gray Awaiting Role in Patriots Backfield

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Jonas Gray waited. The Pontiac, Mich., native found himself in a crowded Notre Dame backfield consisting of Armando Allen, Robert Hughes, James Aldridge and Theo Riddick, garnering a total of 75 carries over his first three years in South Bend.

But he found his way into an expanded role as a Fighting Irish senior in 2011, filtering in behind Cierre Wood to take 114 carries 791 yards on his way to the first 12 touchdowns of his collegiate career. With those 12 scores, though, Gray’s collegiate career was over.

He had started five games and appeared in 34. Yet as the 2012 NFL draft got underway that April, Gray would have to wait once more. His name was not among the 253 players and 19 running backs selected over three days and seven rounds.

It was among the Miami Dolphins’ undrafted signings, instead. Only the 5’10”, 230-pound undrafted rookie would never play in a regular-season game for Miami; he was placed on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury during the 2012 training camp. He was later released following the 2013 training camp.

Gray cleared waivers and joined the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, where he remained for the duration of the campaign. But when the Ravens’ campaign ended in Week 17, so did Gray’s tenure with the team.

He embarked on a new tenure with the New England Patriots on Jan. 2, 2014. The reserve/futures signee proceeded to hold onto a spot on the 90-man roster, then 75-man roster seven months later. He played in all four preseason games, and led the team with 142 rushing yards on 37 carries.

Gray continued to hold on, even after he was waived during August’s final cuts. And when Stevan Ridley was lost for the season only six weeks in, the 24-year-old was promoted from the practice squad and handled an opportunity he never had in Miami or Baltimore. (more…)


Inside Out: How Chris Ivory, Jets Broke Rightward vs. Patriots

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots (Mark L. Baer - USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough, and it wasn’t all through the middle.  (Mark L. Baer – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The New York Jets ran the ball 43 times against the New England Patriots last Thursday night. In the process, 218 rushing yards were gained, and that output marked the most a Jets team had registered versus a Patriots team since 1990.

It could have been the four days of preparation. It could have been the fact Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork had combined for 288 defensive snaps since Week 6. It could have been alignment and tackling technique. Or, it could have simply been the urgency of a 1-5 Jets squad on the road versus a division rival.

Whatever was at play, 14 of New York’s carries went through the right B- and C-gaps of the offensive line to the tune of 87 yards while New England fought for containment. (more…)


Patriots Defensive Tackle Casey Walker Quietly Making His Name

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
No. 98, defensive tackle Casey Walker, has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

No. 98 – defensive tackle Casey Walker – has left a mark in his short stay with the Patriots. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Not much was known about Casey Walker when the New England Patriots claimed him off the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad.

He was the corresponding move to defensive tackle Sealver Siliga landing on short-term injured reserve. He was big, listed at 6’1” and 334 pounds. And he was a 2013 undrafted free agent by way of Oklahoma, where he played 33 in games, started 22, and finished with 49 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two fumbles recoveries and two pass deflections.

For the rest, you’d have to dig a little deeper.

Walker did not have a Wikipedia page, nor did he have an NFL tackle on his resume. The 24-year-old had spent part of the 2013 season on Carolina’s practice squad, and returned for the 2014 preseason. He logged 95 snaps over the course of it, and received the fifth lowest Pro Football Focus grade among the Panthers’ 39 participating defenders.

Walker was waived during 53-man roster cuts on Aug. 30, subsequently rejoining the team’s 10-man roster after clearing waivers the following day. But there were no expectations when the Patriots filled the active roster with him on Sept. 27.

Even so, he has done his part to exceed the status of an enigma since then. (more…)


Jerod Mayo’s Communication Helped Patriots as Much as His Play

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
Jerod Mayo's season ended on Sunday. But New England's defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

Jerod Mayo’s season ended on Sunday. But New England’s defense will have to play, think, and communicate as if he is still on the field with them. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Anthony Dixon gained three yards before he met Jerod Mayo at the 7:37 mark in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Orchard Park. Yet for the New England Patriots linebacker, a two-time Pro Bowler and five-time captain, his 53rd tackle of the season would not be like the rest.

It would be his last.

Mayo’s right foot planted and his leg buckled as he halted the Buffalo Bills running back in the left A-gap. His teammate, edge-rusher Chandler Jones, arrived to finish the stop to force 2nd-and-7, only the damage had been done by then. Mayo knew it. The Patriots knew it.

On Monday, the fears were confirmed. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the lower right leg injury Mayo suffered was indeed season-ending. Yet even on Sunday, it was evident on the field that New England’s defense had lost its communicator, its green dot, its “Mike” linebacker, only six weeks in for the second consecutive season. (more…)







  • Categories

  • Search NEPD Archives

  • Archives