The Curious Case Of Hercules Mata’afa

February 6th, 2018

Can this undersized DT find a home in New England and a home at a new position?

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

Hercules Mata’afa has the coolest name when it comes to the 2018 NFL draft but he has plenty of game to go along with it. And is someone every Patriots fan should know.

Hercules, a Hawaii native, comes from a very big, very athletic, family. One of 7 kids, 2 boys & 5 girls. Hercules grew up wrestling on the beach or his mother’s living room, with his sisters. One has a wrestling & MMA background and another water polo.

Hercules himself was a 2 time runner up State Champ (215 lb) before giving it up prior to his senior year in high school to focus on football. This was a great decision and lead to a fantastic career at Washington St. That wrestling background really helped Mata’afa transition to football. Wrestling is all about leverage, flipping your hips & getting out of pinch points. Not to mention you have to be a tough s.o.b. both physically and mentally.
Mata’afa, a 6’2/250 lb undersized DT broke onto the scene in 2015 when he had his way against Cal & Jarrad Goff (2 Sacks/3.5 TFL). After that he worked his way into the rotation and has improved ever since.
He lines up primarily inside and uses that wrestling pedigree to knife past & get underneath offensive linemen. He also has a killer first step, natural strength & very good hand usage. Mata’afa does most of of his damage at DT but at 6’2/250 he doesn’t project to one at the next level. Some might think that’s it for him but this is a guy that’s been fighting all his life and has a very versatile game. Hercules can also run the arc, has a tremendous motor & has spied on QB’s from the box on several occasions.
His heart, love for the game and versatility leads me to believe that our own Bill Belichick is just the guy to help Mata’afa transition to the NFL. Since, you know, Bill did the same for a certain Pats linebacker 2 decades ago? That’s right, Tedy Bruschi.
I believe Mata’afa has what it takes to develop into a 43 DE in some schemes but he could also flourish because today’s defenses are so “multiple”.
The game nowadays, is all about situational football. Every snap, every quarter, every half is broken down into situational football and Mata’afa could help in a number of ways. I believe he has what it takes to transition inside if needed and would bring some much needed speed. Not to mention blitz from inside. He has plenty of experience shooting those gaps. He could also be a 3rd down pass rush specialist & help on special teams. No coach or environment would be than here in New England.

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It’s Officially Draft Season!

February 6th, 2018

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

I needed a day. If you came to the site yesterday looking for some instant reaction to the Super Bowl, I apologize. I just couldn’t do it. I needed a day. That being said, there is a lot to be done between now and the start of the next season if the Patriots are going to make another run at ring number 6. For me personally, I am admittedly behind in my review of this draft class, but since I won’t be turning on a TV for the next few weeks to avoid anything and everything that was Sunday’s disappointing loss. This will be the one and only time I talk about the game, and then I am moving forward. I have some other exciting news to announce as well, but for now, lets review the game.

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Scouting Report: Tyrell Crosby, OT/OG

January 31st, 2018

Crosby has Tackle size, but is he better suited to move inside?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

I cannot tell you how nice it is to have some normalcy in my life again (knock on wood). I finally feel, after months of unexpected delays, that I can really get back to what I love doing and grinding tape for the upcoming draft. We are just a few days away from the Super Bowl, but as Belichick always says, “no days off”, so I bring you another scouting report of a player I am intrigued by and may see differently than the rest of the draft community.

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My Way Too Late Senior Bowl Observations

January 29th, 2018

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

The flu is no joke. We began the battle against it on New Years day with my 5 year old getting hit hard. We are hoping it is coming to an end with my dad being released from the hospital yesterday after it sent him there over a week ago. It was scary and our family almost ended up as one of those stories you see on the news. Thankfully my dad is a tough S.O.B and refused to let some bug kill him as he so eloquently put it. Just be careful. Okay, enough with the public service announcement. With all the drama, I fell behind on one of the major events leading up to the draft, the Senior Bowl. I did some binge watching last night and got myself caught up and here are my thoughts on the week.

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Scouting Report: Isaiah Oliver, DB

January 12th, 2018

If the Patriots lose Butler this off season, does Corner become a high priority come draft day?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

As promised, I am back with another report. This is the second time I am writing this report because for some reason when I saved this morning, it disappeared. Needless to say, I am not happy. Trust me, I had a fantastic opening. Something about Colorado and liking Akhello Witherspoon and, well… It just hurts to much to try and recreate that internet gold. So, without the fanfare, here is my report. Read the rest of this entry »

Scouting Report: Da’Ron Payne, DT

January 11th, 2018

Would the Patriots consider an interior defensive lineman early in this draft?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

I am back! For real this time. I am going to prove it to you by getting at least a couple of scouting reports out to you all before the end of this week. I have a lot of catching up to do on these and the notebook is full of chicken scratch that I hope I can still decipher. I won’t bore you with any other tidbits today, instead, I will just get right to the report.

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Draft Prospects To Watch This Bowl Season Prior To The Playoff

December 28th, 2017

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

Hello all! I hope that you had a good holiday season so far. This week is when the bowl games really amp up and its crazy to think that Iowa State will actually be playing in one of them. It has been awhile since I posted something, so I wanted to get something out there so loyal fans of this site had a place to add new content. I am writing to you from my unfinished basement, wearing hat and gloves while typing (it’s a long story, but hopefully it will have a happy ending soon.)

Anyway, here are some names to watch over the next week or so to hopefully tide you over until I can get more content out on a regular basis. Best prospect from each game is in italics.

Texas Bowl: Missouri vs Texas


Marcell Frazier, DE, Missouri
Ish Witter, RB, Missouri
J’Mon More, WR, Missouri
Terry Beckner, DT, Missouri (JR)
Eric Beisel, LB, Missouri


Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Poona Ford, DT, Texas
​Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas
Naashon Hughes, OLB, Texas
Holton Hill, CB, Texas (JR)
P.J. Locke III, CB, Texas (JR)
Jason Hall, CB, Texas
DeShon Elliott, S, Texas (JR)

Camping World Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Oklahoma State

Virginia Tech:

Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech
Cam Phillips, WR, Virginia Tech
Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech
Eric Gallo, C, Virginia Tech
Yosuah Nijman, OT, Virginia Tech (JR)
Andrew Motuapuaka, LB, Virginia Tech
Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech (JR)
Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech
Adonis Alexander, CB, Virginia Tech (JR)

Oklahoma State:

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Zachary Crabtree, OT, Oklahoma State
Aaron Cochran, OT, Oklahoma State (JR)
Tralund Webber, DE, Oklahoma State
Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma State
Ramon Richards, S, Oklahoma State

Alamo Bowl: Stanford vs TCU


Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

David Bright, OT, Stanford
Casey Tucker, G, Stanford
Jesse Burkett, C, Stanford
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Peter Kalambayi, OLB, Stanford
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford (JR)
​Justin Reid, S, Stanford (JR)


John Diarse, WR, TCU
Kyle Hicks, RB, TCU
Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU
Matt Pryor, G, TCU
Mat Boesen, DE, TCU
Travin Howard, OLB, TCU

Holiday Bowl: Washington State vs Michigan State

Washington State:

Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Jamal Morrow, RB, Washington State
Cody O’Connell, G, Washington State
Cole Madison, OT, Washington State
Garrett McBroom, DT, Washington State
Hercules Mata’afa, DT, Washington State (JR)

Michigan State:

Brian Allen, C, Michigan State
Demetrius Cooper, DT, Michigan State
Chris Frey, OLB, Michigan State

Belk Bowl: Wake Forest vs Texas A&M

Wake Forest:

Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest

John Wolford, QB, Wake Forest
Cam Serigne, TE, Wake Forest

Texas A&M:

Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M
​Zaycoven Henderson, DT, Texas A&M
Kingsley Keke, DT, Texas A&M (JR)
Priest Willis, CB, Texas A&M
Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M

Sun Bowl: N.C. State vs Arizona State

N.C. State:

Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

Nyheim Hines, RB, N.C. State (JR)
Jaylen Samuels, FB, N.C. State
Tony Adams, G, N.C. State
Will Richardson, OT, N.C. State (JR)
B.J. Hill, DT, N.C. State
Justin Jones, DT, N.C. State
Kentavius Street, DE, N.C. State
Johnathan Alston, CB, N.C. State

Arizona State:

Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
AJ McCollum, G, Arizona State
Tashon Smallwood, DT, Arizona State
Koron Crump, OLB, Arizona State

Cotton Bowl: USC vs Ohio State


Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Ronald Jones, RB, USC (JR)
​Deontay Burnett, WR, USC (JR)
Uchenna Nwosu, OLB, USC
Chris Hawkins, S, USC
Iman Marshall, CB, USC (JR)

Ohio State:

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Marcus Baugh, TE, Ohio State
Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State
Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State (JR)
Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State (JR)
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
Jerome Baker, OLB, Ohio State (JR)
Damon Webb, S, Ohio State

TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs Mississippi State


Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Trevon Young, DE, Louisville
James Hearns, OLB, Louisville
Trumaine Washington, CB, Louisville
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (JR)

Mississippi State:

Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Donald Gray, WR, Mississippi State
Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi State

Liberty Bowl: Memphis vs Iowa State:


Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis
​Genard Avery, OLB, Memphis
Jonathan Cook, CB, Memphis

Iowa State:

Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State

Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State
​Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State (JR)
Jake Campos, OT, Iowa State
Joel Lanning, ILB, Iowa State

Fiesta Bowl: Washington vs Penn State


Vita Vea, DT, Washington

Lavon Coleman, RB, Washington
Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
Azeem Victor, ILB, Washington
Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington

Penn State:

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Juwan Johnson, WR, Penn State (JR)
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Curtis Cothran, DT, Penn State
Jason Cabinda, ILB, Penn State
Christian Campbell, CB, Penn State
Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

Orange Bowl: Miami vs Wisconsin


Chad Thomas, DE, Miami

Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
Dee Delaney, CB, Miami


Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin

Michael Deiter, OT, Wisconsin (JR)
Conor Sheehy, DT, Wisconsin
Derrick Tindal, CB, Wisconsin

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina


Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Mason Cole, OT, Michigan
Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan (JR)
Mike McCray, OLB, Michigan

South Carolina:

Skai Moore, OLB, South Carolina
Cory Helms, G, South Carolina
Alan Knott, G, South Carolina
Taylor Stallworth, DT, South Carolina
Jamarcus King, CB, South Carolina

Peach Bowl: Auburn vs UCF


Braden Smith, G, Auburn
Austin Golson, OT, Auburn
Tre’ Williams, OLB, Auburn
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (JR)
Tray Matthews, S, Auburn


Shaquem Griffin, ILB, UCF

Jordan Akins, WR, UCF
Jamiyus Pittman, DT, UCF

Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame vs LSU

Notre Dame:

Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame (JR)
Jay Hayes, DE, Notre Dame (JR)
Drue Tranquill, OLB, Notre Dame


Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

DJ Chark, WR, LSU
Greg Gilmore, DT, LSU
Christian LaCouture, DE, LSU
Arden Key, DE, LSU (JR)
Donnie Alexander, ILB, LSU
Donte Jackson, CB, LSU (JR)
Kevin Toliver II, CB, LSU (JR)

There you go, hopefully that helps when watching the games. This should keep you busy on the couch for a few days anyway. I hope the New Year finds everyone who reads this well and that 2018 is your best year ever.











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