Archive for the ‘Patriots’ Category

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…)


2014 Patriots Off-Season: Salary Cap and Cap Space Breakdown

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
Vince Wilfork Titans Patriots

What to do with Vince Wilfork… (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

Now that the 2013 season is officially in the books, it means the entire football world turns their attention to the off-season. Player movement, trades, free agency, and the draft will all be front and center for the next four months.

For the Patriots it’s as important of an off-season that I can remember, at least as important as 2007 and 2009 when the Patriots completely retooled their offense.

Any plans and changes for the organization are contingent on cap space and the money available to be flexible. Here is a look inside the Patriots cap situation, where they stand, and how they can create money.

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Examining Patriots’ Reserve/Future Contract Signings

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

New England signed former Notre Dame, Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens halfback Jonas Gray on Jan. 6. Others have joined him under the reserve/futures category since. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

With a dozen players set to hit unrestricted free agency March 11, the New England Patriots personnel department has its share of influential decisions to make this offseason. But with nine others signing reserve/future deals this January, the to-do list has gotten a little lighter for head coach Bill Belichick and Co.

Reserve/future signings occur before the start of the League Year. Any player not on an NFL team’s active roster at the end of the previous season is eligible. And in New England’s recent memory, it’s been a worthwhile course of action.

New England’s notable reserve/futures from the past include fullback James Develin, defensive tackle Armond Armstead, as well as current Arizona Cardinals pass-rusher Marcus Benard, Oakland Raiders wideout Andre Holmes, Houston Texans linebacker Jeff Tarpinian and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ross Ventrone.

Some have gone on to have success in Foxborough; some have gone on to have success elsewhere. So while it remains to be seen where this year’s group will end up, all of whom have a locker and an opportunity. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Texas Tech Tight End Jace Amaro

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, a 2003 Patriots draft pick, optimized the versatility of Jace Amaro this fall. And since then, No. 22 has emerged as one of the premier tight ends in the 2014 NFL draft. (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 second installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro.

Jace Amaro isn’t fused to one position on the football field. But if there was a title suited for Texas Tech’s 21-year-old junior, it would be called “new-age” tight end.

An evolving position across the NFL landscape, coaching staffs are finding ways to mismatch defensive personnel with tight ends that can catch first and block second. In turn, general managers and scouting departments are searching for prospects with the size, the fluidity and the skill to be used interchangeably within an offense.

The 6’5”, 260-pound Amaro fits the prototype. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft Close-Up: Notre Dame Nose Tackle Louis Nix III

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III plays with force rarely seen in a nose tackle prospect, and NFL scouting departments have taken note. (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 first installment, we will take a closer look at the film behind Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III.

Louis Nix III won’t win a track meet. He won’t run a 40-yard dash in under 5.2 seconds, either. But his 6’2”, 342-pound mass, multiplied by his downhill quickness off the snap, has equaled force for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense.

And largely due to his fulfillment of Isaac Newton’s second law, the 22-year-old redshirt junior finds himself ranked as the top nose tackle prospect in the 2014 NFL draft. (more…)


2014 NFL Draft: Post-Senior Bowl Patriots Mock Draft

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Upgrading the run defense should be the Patriots priority early in the draft. 

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

With the Patriots season coming to a screeching halt last weekend, it seems NFL Draft fever has hit New England fans in full force. My inbox fills up daily with questions asking who the Patriots will pick or which prospects are “Patriot” type players. This year the Patriots hold their full allotment of selection (slight alteration) and I anticipate them to add at least two compensatory selections. With the team so close and the window on the Tom Brady era inching closed, there’s no denying the importance of adding impact players through this draft. Between now and May (ugh), plenty of speculation, rumors, and inuendo will occur, but as of January 25, this is how I project the Patriots draft to unfold.

(more…)




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