Nine Glimpses: Josh Boyce’s Rookie Season in Patriots Offense

July 9th, 2014

Josh Boyce’s rookie season with the Patriots was one of glimpses. And in the offensive huddle, there were nine. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Nine.

It’s the number of games Josh Boyce played in during his rookie season. It’s the number of kickoffs he returned on special teams. And it’s the number of passes he caught in the New England Patriots offense.

It’s a number the former fourth-round pick is looking to multiply in 2014.

For Boyce, 2013 was a year that came to an end just as it got started. The Texas Christian standout landed on injured reserve in Week 17, after having tallied eight of his receptions over a three-game span in the final months of the campaign.

There were moments where he flashed, where he was able to make use of his 4.38-second 40-yard dash speed in the open field, where his 2,535 receiving yards and 22 touchdown grabs during his Horned Frogs career came to light.

Those moments were only that, however. No. 82 was an inactive for seven contests. He logged just 182 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He was targeted 19 times. But, those moments, they were there. Read the rest of this entry »


Beyond the Numbers: The Rise of Patriots Safety Devin McCourty

July 7th, 2014

Once a first-round cornerback, Devin McCourty has emerged as a first-tier NFL safety. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The initial decision was made on a Thursday evening in April of 2010.

After trading back twice in the first round of the NFL draft, the New England Patriots found themselves on the clock with pick 27 overall. And Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty found himself waiting for a call.

McCourty carried what the organization was looking for – 52 games of collegiate experience, six career interceptions, 33 career pass deflections, seven blocked punts and kicks, a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and a 6.70-second three-cone drill. Yet the lean, 5’11”, 193-pounder carried other traits as well.

Traits not as easily quantified. Read the rest of this entry »


After Five Yards: Studying Patriots Cornerback Brandon Browner

July 2nd, 2014

Brandon Browner won’t be on the field for the first four Patriots games of 2014, but his physical impact will keep him on the field from Week 5 on. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Wide receivers can take Brandon Browner downfield, but they have to take at least five yards from him first.

It is there that the former Denver Bronco, Calgary Stampeder and Seattle Seahawk has overpowered his undrafted expectations. And it is because, right off the snap, his 6’4”, 221-pound frame has kept teammates close and opponents closer. Read the rest of this entry »


2015 NFL Draft: Top Big 12 WR Prospects

June 29th, 2014

Antwan Goodley of Baylor has the speed and bulk to post tremendous receiving numbers catching passes from fellow NFL prospect Bryce Petty (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

The Big 12 has taken its hits, most notably losing Nebraska to the Big 10, and Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, and it shows when breaking down their NFL prospects. One position they do offer some talent in is at the wide receiver spot. This is no surprise given the wide open, defense optional style most of the conference plays. Let’s take a look at the top WR prospects for the 2015 draft class.

Read the rest of this entry »


2014 Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Calm Before the Storm

June 25th, 2014

A third-round draft selection in 2013, Duron Harmon is now running for a starting job in New England’s secondary. (Photo: Oliver Thomas)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

With organized team activities and mandatory minicamp all wrapped up, it’s officially summer for the New England Patriots. But come July 24, the rest and relaxation will be over for the 90-man roster.

It is then that training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium will commence. It is then that the competition for roster spots will be heightened to a level far exceeding offseason workouts. It is then that head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and staff will start the clock.

Time will be of the essence.

By 4 p.m. on Aug. 27, the organization’s brass will have to whittle the roster to 75 players. And by 6 p.m. on Aug. 31, they’ll have to cut it down to 53. Read the rest of this entry »


A Different Mold: Examining Patriots Linebacker James Anderson

June 23rd, 2014

Three months of NFL moves passed by as James Anderson waited to make his. In the afternoon hours of June 4, the 30-year-old linebacker finally did, signing with the New England Patriots. But his role remains uncarved. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The height of NFL free agency passed along with March, April and May, as over 470 incumbent players found themselves franchised-tagged, claimed off waivers, or signed to new teams.

James Anderson was not one of them. Read the rest of this entry »


Will Smith Could Bring Sub-Package Power to Patriots Defense

June 16th, 2014

After missing the 2013 season with a torn ACL, veteran pass-rusher Will Smith is vying to return to form in a new uniform. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

An ACL tear during the 2013 preseason brought Will Smith’s 10-year run with the New Orleans Saints to an unceremonious end. But the former Pro Bowl pass-rusher is looking to start anew with the New England Patriots in 2014.

He just may not start.

It’s an understandable reality for the 32-year-old, released by New Orleans in early February. Despite the 120 starts and 139 regular-season contests under his belt, expectations for the five-time defensive captain are as tempered as the one-year, $855,000 contract he signed in May.

A stark contrast from the $3 million in base salary he was due in 2013, Smith is no longer the player who amassed 33.5 sacks over his first four NFL campaigns. He is no longer the player who forged through left tackles for 13 sacks along the way to a Super Bowl victory in 2009.

Yet for head coach Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Patriots defensive front, what Smith currently is could be enough to make a difference.

Situated behind defensive ends Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and their Pro Football Focus-leading 2,256 snaps in 2013, the 2004 first-round pick has an opportunity to excel under a lesser capacity than the one he’s accustomed to. He has an opportunity to earn a title unlike the one’s he’s earned before.

Sub-package rusher. Read the rest of this entry »







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