Early, Top 100 NCAAF Players Going Into The 2018-19 Season

June 17th, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

So all draftniks like to stay ahead of the curve and I’m no different. Anyone can tell you who’s, who in April. A few things I take pride in is identifying the best prospects early. Studying them on and off the field to try an eliminate as much risk as possible. Finally, hopefully, hitting on as many of my draft grades as possible. That said it’s June and I’m not too worried about “Player X should be ahead of Player Y” at this point. I just want to get them in the right neighborhood and worry about what specific’s later. This is really about early projections, a first look. I’ll also place the PTP initials as a marking for kinds of players New England goes after, Patriot-Type Players.

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Why we should be excited about Derek Rivers & 4 Teams That Could Surpass Expectations In 2018

June 11th, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

I first heard Derek Rivers name about a month after the 2016 draft. Actually his name was mentioned along with his teammate Avery Moss. Draft season doesn’t end for draftniks and it being it my favorite position to evaluate besides QB, I jumped on the opportunity. I was very impressed with both tbh. Both had active hands but each brought something different and they really complemented each other. Moss is a violent/heavy handed, power DE. He loved throwing clubs and moving offensive linemen back with his bull rush. He is also a very good run defender. Moss is now playing with the Giants and someone to keep an eye for the future too. It was his teammate that stole my heart though. Sometimes you see a person and you just know. They way they move. How good and natural they are with their hands. The butterflies in my stomach were enough, but his burst off the line made it official … I was in love. Crazy, “friend in your head”, Bae & J-type love, with a pass rusher. He really had it all though in my defense. Speed and size. Nuance to his pass rush. The ability to keep his outside shoulder clean and re-set in the run game, an under-rated part of his game. Rivers displayed so many physical qualities and traits on film but also presented a very high football I.Q. His burst, bend and hand work are special but Rivers also understands what’s in what of him.

How can defeat something you don’t understand?

It’s incredibly undervalued but shows up on film and is an attribute you want in all your players. Rivers understands what types blocks and sets his opponents might use from hours of film study he does on top of the work he does with the team. He’s just a very aware player on the field. Here are some plays and highlights to remind us what type of player we’re getting.

Rivers had a great combine. This play demonstrates how those drills translate to the field. His 10 yard split/40 time = his great burst of the line. Hand work is key to disengage from his opponent and his 3-cone (same as Justin Houston) = his ability to turn the corner. All are on display here.


Here is his burst and bend again. He’s the only Patriot that could do this to be honest. This play is key and the type of rush we want to see more from Rivers. He came into the league around 250 and probably will always weight south of 260. To really take advantage of his skills it’s ideal that he rushes “1/2 man”. In other words he decides to take on “half” of his opponent rather than a straight away bull rush and make it a fight with someone who out weighs you by 65-85lbs. You’ll see him attack that way after setting up his man with moves that test the edge and try to catch him off balanced.


Rivers showed he could play with high hands and not let it affect his pad level.



He also very effective in the run/rpo game and isn’t fooled easily


We saw him flow across the line against Jacksonville last year. And showed decent recognition as well, when Yeldon tried sneaking by him.




Here Rivers goes with power at first with a rip move in mind but has the awareness to recognize his man is out of position (OL should have their butts facing the QB, not the sideline) and goes back inside to counter.


Strikes high, long arm to bullrush, keeps legs churning and helps cause an incompletion.


Same type of plan of attack here. I put it in slow-mo to highlight the leverage he gets and strength he has. Explodes off the line, 3 steps and he’s already underneath his man’s pads and lifts Cam Robinson off the ground and back about 3 feet. Might have been a flag at the end but Robinson reset himself well and was pretty good for the Jags all year.



Look, I know these are college and NFL preseason cut ups. We have to see it on the field against real competition. This is just a reminder that we’re not in dire straits up front and have players that can/will make an impact. A healthy Derek Rivers gives the Patriots a weapon on defense unlike any other on the roster at the moment. Someone that can rent a little space in a DC’s head while their game planning for New England and deliver on the field. A healthy 95 is instant pass rush on 3rd downs/obvious passing downs, brings an array of moves to assault defensive linemen en route to the QB and gives us some added versatility along the line. Again players with his traits and gifts don’t come along to often. Look, I clearly feel a certain type of way towards Derek Rivers and I’ve come to terms with the feelings. That doesn’t mean I’m over hyping here. BAErk Rivers checks all the boxes you want. He dominated his competition and holds the sack record at Youngstown State with 41, top 5 in FCS history. Is top five at YSU in tackles for loss, but had most since the 80’s. He also had one of the best combines in the last 20 years and is top tier, near elite in almost every category. It’s always nice when you have Tape + Stats + Measurables, that usually = success. Rivers work ethic and football I.Q. only further make the case for someone to get excited about. He lives in the film room and spent a ton of time studying, learning at Gillette Stadium while rehabbing.



Some I took a look at a few rosters, win totals and projected a bit schedule-wise. These teams jumped out for having the capability to exceed current win total expectations.

1)Chicago Bears – The Bears offense was embarrassing at times last year. A step up to the 20th century would actually be an improvement. Fortunately for the windy city, Matt Nagy is far & away ahead of John Fox when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. So the offense should land in 2018. Even with a legit run, run, pass approach and a lack of weapons Mitch Trubisky looked very promising last year. The Bears not only upgraded his weapons in landing Allen Robinson through free agency and Anthony Miller via the draft but Nagy should also get the most out of their players from previous regimes too. Like Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. I think Miller will be Trubisky’s bestie real quick though. He was my #3 WR this year and has a pro ready game. He can run really neat, crisp routes and isn’t afraid to go over the middle with good hands. He’s also a very tough blocker, that should help keep him on the field. The Bears also added to their already promising defense and have a low-key, pretty sweet interior OL with the addition of James Daniels. This team doesn’t have the toughest of schedules either. If you’re a Bears fan you have like how things are shaping up. This year and in the future.


2)San Francisco 49ers – They might not be a sleeper team but I’m bullish on SF. Tbh I have been even before they traded for the sexiest man alive. Right now I think their a top 4-6 team in the league. The Rams are right there but I think San Fran belongs right there with them. I actually love the moves they made on defense the past few years and see something brewing on that side of the ball. Buckner, Thomas, Foster, Witherspoon and Tartt are all guys I loved coming out.  Thats a great corp to build around. If Foster has his head on straight they could be special. I think Sherman is a great addition as well. He really fits what they want from the position and will be a great mentor for their secondary. Especially Witherspoon, who is a resembles the vet in s many ways on and off the field. Their offense is ready to run as well. The league probably saw about 10-15% of Shanahan’s offense. So I’m not worried about the league “catching up” or “figuring out” that side of the ball. That’s actually silly talk considering they added Jerick McKinnon. He’s perfect for Shanahan’s outside-zone system with his stop on a dime, one cut ability and versatility. Jimmy Sweetheart also has a bundle of versatile targets to throw to in Pierre Garcon, George Kittle, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Richie James and Trent Taylor. This team is talented, explosive and balanced. I believe in the Rams but don’t think there’s a gap between the two teams. The 49ers could be pretty special in peak form. I think they are a SB contender.


3)Cleveland Browns – The Browns are another team I’m a lot higher on than most. Fwiw I’m not a believer in Hue Jackson or Greg Williams (Williams had Peppers playing 30 yards off the ball last year lol). Neither have impressed as of late and I have a feeling both will be gone soon. After that glowing endorsement, the Browns have a ton of talent all over the place. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if their competing for that division in the next 2 years along with the Ravens. Both the Steelers and Bengals look to be trending down or treading water. And for the first time … ever? The Land has a good QB problem. They drafted Baker Mayfield #1 overall and have Tyrod Taylor as a bridge if they want to go that way. I’ve been a enormous Baker fan for years and think he’s legit, so I expect him to be taken snaps by week 1 tbh. He brings a no backdown attitude, kick in the door-type mentality to the field on every play. They offense could absolutely work with Taylor as well I believe but just think it’s peak is with Mayfield at QB. And when that happens he’ll be taking over a squad, the rest of the team is pretty much all set. The Brownies have an + interior offensive line and look good there even though their HOF LT, Joe Thomas retired. Their skill positions have the potential to be some of the best weapons in the league. Cleveland has a backfield of Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson. Pretty good if you ask me. Hyde and Chubb are bruising slashers that will gash and wear down defenses. While Johnson is a chess piece that can do major damage in the passing game. He’s a very under-rated played and a weapon in the passing game.  Josh Gordon is the best WR in the game when hes on the field and Landry is a bulldog in the slot. They might be the best two receivers at working crossers and the MOF (middle of the field) Those two alone will create serious matchup problems but also factor in David Nkoju and Corey Coleman. Their defense has this irish guy excited as well. Myles Garrett will be competing for the DPOY for the next decade and their LB corp looks to be quite good after the Kendricks signing and Genard Avery draft pick. I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw Jamie Collins attacking the QB a lot more as well. I think the Browns are finally on the right path and wouldn’t be shocked to see them make some noise this year.


4)Tampa Bay – The Bucs have assembled one of the most talented rosters in football over the last 3-4 years. Through free agency and the draft. Their two deep almost everywhere and you have to start with the big boys on the front 7. Vea and McCoy might not be Suh and Donald but they will be a great duo. McCoy has always been great at knifing and sliding through gaps, Vea only helps that by demanding a double but has some pass rush to his big ole’ self as well. Their games really complement each other and are fun players to watch. I know Vea was a favorite at PatFans (every Pats fan should check that site out btw) Tampa upgraded on the edge as well bringing in JPP and Vinnie Curry. All these guys are extra grande and quick to unbutton the pants after a quick meal. So both the run and pass game should improve. And whatever sneaks by them doesn’t have much luck coming at them because Tampa is three deep at linebacker. Beckwith, Alexander and David are among the best in the league. Its the secondary I’m looking at. And the team was too. They drafted  M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis this year to bolster the unit. Stewart is an aggressive, tough, smart corner that will come up big in run support. Davis is big, physical defensive back that should make his bones in man while on a learning curve in zone. The offensive side of the ball looks like a fantasy football lineup. Desean Jackson, Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and  O.J. Howard are about as good as it gets. And they didn’t hesitate to fill Doug Martin’s spot with Ronald Jones from USC. This is the NFL though, it’s all about the QB. Unfortunately for Tampa that position has been too shaky at times. To be fair Winston definitely isn’t alone in deserving blame. Many players and coaches could be named but the bottom line is Winston has to step up his play pronto. If that happens its hard not to see them at least fighting for a playoff spot.



The Patriots 5 Biggest Threats To Another Superbowl Appearence.

May 30th, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler


The Patriots are the clear favorite atop of the AFC mountain but if Belichick preaches anything, it’s what happened last week/year, doesn’t matter. Here is an early look at the 5 biggest roadblocks in the way of New England’s quest to another Superbowl.

5 Biggest Threats

  • Pittsburgh Steelers – The Patriots have owned the Steelers during the Brady & Belichick era. And there’s been one constant throughout that stretch. Tom Brady eating up the Steelers defense like alkaline fruits for a snack. Before last year the Steelers haven’t INT’d Brady since 2005 & just haven’t found a way to stifle Brady no matter who’s calling the shots defensively. Pittsburgh is once again trying to fix their defense or at least part of it. This time with Tom Bradley. He’s hoping to alleviate some of the pain fans get in their eyes from watching the secondary forget to cover Gronk, give Edelman 15 yards of cushion off the line & leave acres of yards uncovered in their zone scheme. The Corners are set in Haden, Burns & Mike Hilton in the slot. It’s the safetys that are being looked at & possibly tinkered with. Morgan Burnett was brought in, seemingly to replace Mike Mitchell at FS but Bradley isn’t writing anything in stone just yet in terms of set positions, which might be a good thing. You need interchangeable players back there regardless of scheme & it looks like the Steelers are committed to that approach with the pick of Terrell Edmonds. You can expect him in Nickel/Big Nickel packages this fall. From the outside looking in, it looks like the Steelers might be due for slight regression. Is this the year Big Ben’s road nightmares catch up to the team? It’s night & day, especially in the red zone where they throw far less & shockingly have trouble scoring TD’s. Things weren’t always roses with Haley & Ben but at peak, that offense was legit. How will the departure of Haley effect the offense? The defense hasn’t inspired fear or carried it’s fair in some time & the ball might roll the other way in terms of winning so many close games like they did last year. Still, you have a respect a team with their talent on offense, across the defensive line & last years game was a dog fight. Regardless if we see them in Jan, that reg season matchup will have a big impact on the playoff picture.         (Key Player: T.J. Watt looked like a young Bosa brother out there with his well placed strikes, strength & motor. The Wisconsin product also did a great job of covering space & dropping in coverage. His numbers would have looked a lot better if he just rushed the QB. Pittsburgh has been desperately trying to find that outside rusher to complement that great DL & it looks like they found it. If Watt continues his rise it could be just what the defense needed while figuring out their secondary.



  • Tennessee Titans – I can’t say how impressed I am with the Titans. Jon Robinson & co are building something special down there. If I was to point to a team (besides New England) on what approach to take or how you build a team it would Tennessee. Tampa Bay, being the Bucs, helped them out by selecting Winston over Mariota but the Titans have been hitting home runs all over the place across that roster. From drafting Conklin & Lewan & building inside/out. To the acquisitions of Ryan, Butler & Lewis. Tennessee got their QB, protected him by building a line. Gave him an array of weapons to work with & focused on the defense this past draft by selecting Eagles alum Harold Landry to rush the passer & Bama product Rashaan Evans to man the middle of that defense. The biggest move was at Head Coach though. With all due respect to Mike Mularkey & the “Exotic Smashmouth” this was the right move to make. Tennessee was predictable & at times one dimensional on offense. Not quite Gary Kubiak level where you’re literally calling out plays before the ball is napped but it was bad. Vrabel is a no nonsense coach that can also relate to players on a personal level. You saw it from his first moments on the sidelines & in the locker room. Players respect him but can also relate considering Mike isn’t that far removed from his playing days. Who knows if this is the year it all comes together but I expect this team to be in the SB/AFCCG in the next 2-3 years. Theres a perfect storm of talent, hunger & youth in Tennessee. There just aren’t many teams out there that are as talented & balanced on both sides of the ball.                                                                                                                                                                      (Key Player: Corey Davis took a while to make a real impact in an actual game last year but he arrived vs New England & showed exactly what he’s capable of. Davis is a great route runner with super quicks & excellent footwork. Tennessee needs him to be a true #1 WR to help take some pressure off Mariota)


  • Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jag’s have been at the bottom of the league for years but are firmly entrenched among the top teams in the AFC going forward. Last year the team was playing with house money but this season they have a big bullseye on their back from day 1.  The defense might be the best in the league again. Their just dripping with talent. From the rotation up front to the all star secondary & speed demon backers patrolling the middle of the field. Jacksonville is one of the few teams in the league with the personnel to matchup against anyone. Whether their in base or sub packages they have the ability to stop the run/pass from both which is rare in todays game. The story hasn’t changed that much in Duval though. Blake Bortles is still the biggest obstacle to the team’s immediate success. Bortles isn’t as bad as some make him out to be but he is who he is. Which is a QB that struggles to complete 60% & throws double digit INT’s every year. It’ll be interesting to see how defenses play him considering he lives off play action & the big play. The Jaguars formula (great D, t.o.p. offense w/ big plays mixed in) is one that has worked at times but in reality it’s incredibly difficult to win it all that way. Still in one game elimination matchup they deserve everyone’s full attention & respect.                                                   (Key Player: D.J. Chark is exactly what the Jaguars offense thrives off. A big, deep threat with legit 4.3 speed to take advantage of on play action. There are common denominators in Jaguar wins & this is a big one. Limit the big play & force Bortles to look around for other options)


  • Houston Texans – When you talk about talented teams you can’t leave out the Texans. Bill O’Brien deserves a ton of credit for how he’s managed Deshaun Watson (My QB3 from that class), the offense & team in general. Especially when you consider he was almost handcuffed because of the last GM there. O’Brien did a great job at making things easy for Watson from day 1. He didn’t change & throw his system out the window because of a new QB. Or try to fit a square peg in a round hole. He took what Watson did best at Clemson, adapted it to his system & played to his QB’s strengths. Sounds obvious but the league is littered with examples of coaches doing the exact opposite, probably because they don’t know any different & were taught that way. If you’ve watched the Patriots over the last decade or so you’ll notice they run a ton of the same plays but “dress them up” different pre snap to confuse the defense. This is exactly what O’B did in Houston & you can expect more of the same going forward. It places a lot of trust & communication between the QB/WR. They truly have to be on the same page because of the options available in the passing game. The scary part of the team is the potential on the other side of the ball if everyone stays healthy. Jadeveon Clowney played like DPOY in 2018 & was all over the field. If Watt & Mercilus can stay healthy, Houstons DL could be the best in the league to really balance out the team.                                                 (Key Player: D’Onta Foreman is a beast of a back at 6’/230 & runs a 4.45. Foreman didn’t need many touches to show he belongs in the league (87/411 yards) but suffered a torn Achilles in week 11 last year. I suspect Houston will wait until he’s completely healthy before bringing him back, which is the smart play. That offense has plenty of firepower to sustain the injury)


  • L.A. Chargers – Like the Texans, San Diego has dealt with its fair share of issues & injuries the past few years. As a football fan I can’t wait to see what they look like *if* healthy. As a Pats fan I wouldn’t want to see them, *healthy* in Jan. They have quietly put together a very potent defense. Again, if they can stay on the field that unit should be deadly. Up front you have Bosa, the powerful, technician with violent hands & motor. Paired with Ingram, who has a great jump off the line & ability to get under anyone’s pads. Those two alone can ruin your day but the group as a whole is much more than those two. The biggest piece for them is a healthy, functional Jason Verrett. He’s one of the best in the league but just can’t get on the field. If he does come back the Chargers would have a lockdown duo in Hayward & Verrett. Add in Derwin James, Uchenna Nwosu roaming the m.o.f./shallow zone & you have you enforcers in the 2nd level. The Chargers might not inspire a ton of fear because of our past run-in’s with them but that doesn’t matter going forward. 2018 is a new year, the division is winnable & the team is very potent all over. Forrest Lamp is another guy that should also give them a huge boost up front on the OL if he’s on schedule for this fall.                                                                                                                                                   (Key Player: Forrest Lamp & Jason Verrett could easily take this team to the next level if healthy. Verrett is a versatile water-bug that competes for everything & Lamp was one of the smartest, versatile OL’m to enter the draft in 5-10 years)


  • K.C. Chiefs – Again this might be a lil’ surprise for some but I’m all in on Mahomes (My QB1 from that class) He will surely have growing pains but this player has some special traits about him. The biggest being his arm talent, Mahomes has a Rodgers-like arm & as much confidence to go with it. K.C. had to go with Smith last year because continuity & the team being so close but they made the right move in picking Mahomes & trading Smith a few months ago. I’m actually a big Alex Smith fan but he had serious trouble beating man & pushing the ball down the field at times over his career. Mahomes will have no such problems after he gets a few games under his belt. His whip is special. From the strength & placement to changing up the tempo on his passes, Mahomes really was blessed in that area. He can flick it 60+ on the move & reportedly impressed coaches with his ability to pick up the playbook after getting drafted. That offense is all rev’d up & ready to go. Think about defending Sammy Watkins as a 3rd or 4th option on offense? That’s actually what many DC’s will be facing this fall. You have Hunt, a balanced bowling ball, who can make an impact in the air or ground but also have to stop Kelce, Hill & Conley out wide. For the first time in a while, the spotlight is on the defense to see if they can keep up their play over the last few years without pieces like Hali, Peters & other departures.                                                                                                                           (Key Player: Dee Ford will be looking to take over Hali’s spot on defense but that won’t be an easy task. Hali was a great run defender with an arsenal of moves to get to the QB. The players couldn’t be more different. Ford is all about that burst off the line & dipping around/under his opponents, a finesse guy. Hali was a powerful run stopper with violent hands & a motor that didn’t quit. Big shoes to fill for Ford)


Next up, 5 “Sleeper” teams that could surprise some people this year & a look at some new faces in the AFCE.

Patriot Roster Prediction Part I

May 23rd, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler


It’s May, the Patriots roster isn’t close to being set but a lot of the pieces are here. Assuming we don’t have any major injuries (Knock on wood, this is New England)  we have a good idea of what it’ll look like. This is my first attempt at constructing a 53 man roster so I expect it’ll be identical to the real one.

Offense – 25

QB Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer (2)

No surprise here. There was some benefit to the Etling pick, I guess, but him being on the team isn’t one of them. He’s a good camp body/arm to have I suppose, but I have a very hard time seeing him on the 53. We’re stuck with Brady, who clearly doesn’t love the game anymore.

RBSony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Brandon Bolden, James Develin (FB) (5)

I wrote about RB’s a few weeks ago & mentioned how they were taking over & as usual Belichick is ahead of the curve. Defense are adjusting to a league going full vertical via Air Raid/Spread by countering with Nickel/Dime defense’s. Bill understands you can pass just as much, be just as diverse & productive out of 2 back sets. Per Sharp’s data The Patriots used 21 personnel (2RB, 2WR, 1TE)  2nd most in the league & on offense last year. And had a 60% success rate, the best out of all our groupings. Also Lewis, Burkhead & White were all top 7 targets last year & I expect that number to rise this year. Expect to see some pairing of Michel, Burkhead & White on the field almost at all times.

WRJulian Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Chris Hogan, Matt Slater, Braxton Berrios , Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson (7)

Mitchell should start the pup list but is in real danger of losing a spot if Dorsett or Britt has a summer to remember imo. Their the wildcards here that will really make this battle fierce. Edelman, Hogan & Slater (special teams) are locks. Patterson isn’t a lock but I don’t see him not making the team. Bill traded for him very recently & wants to upgrade the return game. Patterson has fallen short of expectations as a wr when drafted, hey it’s not his fault NFL GM’s don’t know what their doing part of the time. He’s an elite return man & since entering the league he’s almost 1,800 yards ahead of the #2 man & leading other categories as well. Berrios will handle punts & is also the perfect player to fill in for Edelman if need be or if we want to lighten his workload a bit.

Tight EndRob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen (2)

Not much to say here. Gronk is the goat & hopefully will retire a Patriot. I really looking forward to him doing local Boston T.V. commercials for decades. In all seriousness he’s what the league & Patriots should be celebrating.

TackleMarcus Cannon, Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle (4)

Very happy to hear Scar & co are looking at Wynn for the Tackle spot. Isaiah was the top 6 overall player on my board so I’m still on cloud-9 seeing him in a Patriots uniform. He has everything it takes to a great player in this league at T or G. No surprises except Waddle for some. With the Garcia cut I think the hope is we’ll have Cannon & Brown on the right. And Wynn, Waddle on the left.

GuardShaq Mason, Joe Thuney,  Ted Karras, Cole Croston (4)

Shaq is a top 6-7 G in the league & Thuney has been + player since we drafted him. For the other 2 spots I think the versatility of  Karras  (C/G) & Croston (G/T) win out.

CenterDavid Andrews(1)

Andrews is related to Dan Reeves. Did you know that? Andrews just shows up & gets it done every game. Undersized every snap but bloody tough & more importantly smart. Andrews is always barking out info at the line such as who’s about to blitz & a million other things that help make our system QB look good.


It’s easy every year to get excited about the Patriots offense. We’ve seen innovation & versatility stretched to each of their limits & this year is no different. The Patriots will be once again ahead of the league in exploiting defenses, this time with 2 back sets in 21 personnel. Think about defending that & how you would deploy your defenders? The Pats are going to force you to take your best coverage S’s/LB’s out of the box when we spilt Gronk out wide & 1 of Sony/Rex in the slot. We’ll still be able to run the ball & have 1 0n 1’s outside for Brady to exploit (If he’s still even playing football??). The real excitement is this offensive line. We’re bringing back 4 experienced, good-very good starters & adding a stud 1st round pick to the mix. If this team, side of the ball, stays healthy they could be setting records once again.



Defense – 25

Defensive EndTrey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Adrian Clayborn, Derek Rivers (4)

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a huge Derek Rivers fan (long before he was drafted by us) & think his addition & health can’t be understated. Rivers is that a nuanced pass rusher screaming around the edge some fans have wanted for a long time. He has a great burst & bend. Plays with high/active hands & can finish. Rivers can really run the arc & should help out our pass rush. Last year I had dreams of him & Flowers terrorizing QB’s together. Hopefully that comes into fruition this year. He could also see some time at LB, as he checks the boxes we like there. I’m very happy & excited about this group as a whole, health permitting. If that happens this is a dead issue.

LinebackerDont’a Hightower, Marquis Flowers, Christian Sam, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Kyle Van Noy (5)

This position has caused lot’s of discussions as of late but the Patriots did address the situation. Maybe not to some fans likings but it was it noted in the F.O. We really need 54 healthy, that’s what the “position”comes down to for us. Teams are adding Safety’s & Corners in the game, while taking off LB’s who in some cases are 1 down players nowadays. Truth is if Hightower is right we’re in great shape. I think Bentley & Sam both make the roster & with specific intentions in their roles. Sam, off the ball, replacing Roberts, covering TE’s in the shallow zone, playing clean-up in the run game. Bentley is interesting & obviously more in the Hightower mold. He’s going to be playing closer to the l.o.s. & would give us the ability to rush Hightower & possibly Rivers from the edges if we wanted to (Sorry I can’t help myself). Like Malcolm Mitchell, I’m not putting Langi on the 53 until we see something on the field that warrants it. Really like the player & I know the Pats do, they’ve scouted Langi for years in college. Hopefully he’s healthy enough at some point to see some action.


Cornerback – Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen (6)

I’m liking this group a lot. We have Gilmore & Rowe to match-up how we see fit but also added a lot of toughness in McCourty, Dawson & Crossen. Crossen was on my & a few other patriot fans radars before the draft. Tough, both physically & mentally. Noted Tom Brady when asked about being overlooked before the draft. This is a guy you can’t help but root for. Think a more fluid Jon Jones, who I’ve always liked as well. Undersized like JJ, but Crossen, can hold his own against certain receivers outside because of his speed, agility & explosion. He’s a tough corner that plays with no fear in run support. I really like the pick & player.


Safety – Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Brandon King (ST),  Jordan Richards(ST), Nate Ebner(S) (6)

A bit thin at first glance but consider Dawson has played significant snaps at Safety & this was noted by Caserio when asked about the selection. The Safety group is as good as it gets in the league in terms of experience, production & big game experience. When you consider the secondary as a whole it looks very good on paper & should just need to gel.


Defensive Tackle – Malcolm Brown, Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler (4)

Shelton’s play should give us what we missed in Branch last year. That big, impossible to move force in the middle. Cleveland (shockingly) over-drafted Shelton & at times asked him to do something he wasn’t comfortable or able to do, to be blunt. By asking the 340+lb player to play a more attacking, penetrating role. He won’t doing that here & will have a very clear, defined role as the teams only true NT. This looks like a nice rotation though. All versatile, multiple players you can move around a bit.



I know defense was on the minds of many fans this off-season. The Patriots didn’t make any flashy moves but addressed the DL, LB & CB positions through the draft & F.A. Whether you agree with the moves or not, I actually think we’re looking very good, changes were made. Like almost any Patriots team during this era health is the most important factor. If this defense stays healthy it will be very good. We added/getting back some pass rush, got tougher in the secondary & are getting a top 45 player back in Hightower. When it comes to the defense I’m here for the Hightower, Rivers, Flowers, Wise NASCAR looks.


Special Teams – Stephen Gostkowski (K), Ryan Allen (P), Joe Cardona (LS)



Fantasy Football: 2018 Wide Receiver Rankings

May 21st, 2018

NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

I looked at Running Backs a few weeks ago and will now take an early look at WR’s & TE’s. Neither class set the draft on fire but there’s a bunch of WR’s that could be impact players this year and going forward. And a select few tight ends who could make an impact this year and in the future as well. That said there are few really good rookie’s ended up in ideal situations, with young QB’s they can grow with. Most of the players on the list are versatile guys that can win in a variety of ways and should be on the field a ton.

1)Calvin Ridley – There are plenty of reasons not to have Ridley in this spot & things will most likely change. Wow what a ringing endorsement? In all seriousness though I try not to ignore the obvious & over think things (which I fail hard at) but Ridley is such a great fit in Atlanta. Yes, there are plenty of weapons in the dirty, dirty. Yes, Matt Ryan has trouble connecting with J.J. in red zone. Yes, their offense was peaks & valleys last year. Yes, I will offer you out if you think it sounds like Laurel. Still, the fact remains Ridley is a dynamic weapon that will start right away in the slot. He has + route running that should pay immediate dividends in that position, with J.J. taking coverage away from him. He really refined there. Whether its his footwork, taking a DB’s leverage away by stemming his routes inside/outside, subtle body fakes. He is advanced coming out and will only get better with more proper coaching. Ridley is a gamer with very good play speed and ability to get in/out of his breaks quickly. He can do work in all 3 areas but I really think he’ll feast underneath while J.J. & Sanu stretch the defense. Think curls/comebacks, slants & hitches. Ridley should help in the red zone too. Ridley’s run blocking is lacking & he isn’t the strongest player but he’s pro ready in so many areas. Not the youngest player but you draft rookies for the 1st 4-5 years 90% of the time. Ridley is ready to roll right now.



2)Michael Gallup – I loved watching Gallup play the position in college. He is a physical, do it all WR who can work all three levels with success. Gallup has the wiggle & shake to make the 1st guy miss & turn a screen into a big gain,  like a RB w/ the ball in his hands. He has the toughness & hands to work crossers over the middle & catch through contact while taking a hit. And at times Gallup also tracked the deep ball like a center fielder. He can get off press & is very good at using his body in route to make adjustments and separate. I saw Gallup use subtle elbow and forearm shivers. And even slight hip checks to separate when up close with a DB. He just gets it done. Gallup was a terrible blocker in college so that must improve but besides that, there aren’t many flaws besides not having ideal size. And despite not having “great” size Gallup was a great 50/50 ball guy in college this past year, making plays much bigger than size would indicate. His all around game is a great fit for Dak. As far as I’m concerned the WR1 is up in the air in Dallas & very well could be taken by Gallup.


3)Anthony Miller – Speaking of physical WR’s, let me introduce to Anthony Miller. If you aren’t familiar, get familiar. The Memphis product is a Jim-Dandy of a receiver and should be a favorite target for Trubisky. He’s a cross between Jarvis Landry & Manny Sanders. Miller has the toughness, grit & fight of Landry. And also has Manny’s patience at the line, ability to adjust on certain routes, seemingly making them his own & ability to work inside/outside.  For Miller everything starts with his fantastic footwork. It really is neat. From the stutter step variations, foot fires, to jab steps & his switching up the speed. Miller has + footwork that allows him to win at the line. He’s undersized but tough as hell and absolutely will catch through contact and take a big hit laying out for a ball. He has very good, natural hands. His play is so much bigger than most guys taller and heavier than him. Miller should kill it in the slot but he’s a versatile receiver. His footwork, toughness and route running ability allow him to work outside. That and Miller also gets on top of his man quickly and isn’t shy about his hands as weapons or a distraction. Add in his agility, knack for making people miss and Miller could be a steal for owners and irl. Like the Cowboys, the Bears don’t exactly have an established, productive group but they do have a nice young QB to build around who doesn’t have a favorite weapon yet.

Beautiful timing play. Basically 3 steps, stutter (check out the hands flashing) & fade/back shoulder concept

Peep the footwork, lulling the defender to sleep. So crisp & square with a hard fake. My goodness



4) Dante Pettis – Dante Pettis is another clever receiver to watch and learn from. Another guy that can win all over the field. On the line, off the L.O.S. Slot, out wide. Pettis is a nuanced, crafty receiver that almost turns into a shape shifter on the field when it comes to throwing defenders head, shoulder & hip fakes. Pettis is also a natural hands catcher that is always looking to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body. He takes long powerful strides that allow him to vertical quick, very difficult to handle because of how slippery he is. It’s easy to say “jam him” but if you miss or he fights through and you don’t have help or toast with jelly all over you. Like I said earlier Pettis can win almost anywhere and shows + body control while working the sidelines or going up for a ball. He has the ability to make you miss, sink his hips and explode for 6 from almost anywhere. He has 24 TD’s the past 2 years. Pettis isn’t as bad as Gallup when it comes to blocking but he needs some work there. An NFL training program wouldn’t hurt either. That said, he and Jimmy should be bestie’s by years end. Their game and personalities should mesh very well. Both are very easy going, nice, smart guys off the field with a killer instinct on it.


Jimmy & Pettis are going to kill the slant/flat concept variations in Shanahan’s offense. Add in Slat/Flat – Vo (vertical) option with Richie James and Taylor and you have a very scary offense.


5) Christian Kirk – If Kirk’s head is on straight, (arrested in Feb for Disorderly Conduct but if read between the lines, there’s more there) he’s a dynamic player. Kirk is a smooth moving, thickly built athlete that is a cross between Golden Tate and Stefon Diggs. Kirk is one of those players that moves a lot faster live than on TV. Again he’s a glider that is hard to contain in close quarters. Very slippery in the flat and on screens to give you yac. Good lateral ability to dodge and cut by defenders. Very good hands. Also by now you’ve noticed a trend with most of these receivers and Kirk, like others can win in different areas. His best matchups are probably in the slot but he can go out wide and do work too. Kirk really does a very good understanding of route concepts but is also a threat on returns. Kirk not only has the respect of his teammates and coaches but also from some other giants in the industry like Nick Saban. Who called him the most explosive player in the SEC. The depth chart is wide open for Kirk to take advantage of and like Pettis, has a young QB to grow with.


6)D.J. Moore – Now I absolutely Moore, he was WR2 for me this year but I’m not in love with the fit just yet. Moore could easily be in the top 3 on this list in another few months. Right now it’s more of a wait and see situation. It is May? Moore isn’t just a Slot Wr but he should do a lot of damage there. Problem is unless Carolina is running Caff between the tackles a lot more, which is very possible considering Caff’s recent pic’s looked yoked up. Targets don’t look plentiful at first, even if Caff carried the rock more.

There looks to be somewhat of a log jam at the position (Caff and Samuel) until things get clearer this summer. Let’s not forget about Olsen and Funchess either. From a dynasty standpoint I understand an early pick. I understand there will be injuries, the playbook is thick & you can move all these guys around. That said Moore is a fantastic receiver. Moore and Miller are very similar except D.J. is only 21. And going forward, after this year, he should be the alpha dog on offense. He looks like a man killer in the slot. I wouldn’t want to cover him 1 on 1 on critical downs. He has great footwork, excellent hands & is a very tough all around player. Again like Miller he’ll throw his man out the club when blocking. I’ve seen him take a few players out-of-bounds last year. He’s 6′ but will go up and get a 50/50 ball as well. Moore brings a complete game to the NFL and is pro ready. Another thing that can’t be ignored is Moore did it with a “merry-go-round” of QB’s that will never be throwing passes in the NFL. Just get him the ball and he’ll do work.


7)James Washington – Washington is a great fit in Pittsburgh. If very Big Ben is nice enough to grace us with his presence for a few more years, he and Washington could become a sweet connection. Washington has been a great deep threat at Oklahoma and there’s no reason he can’t continue that success with Roethlisberger in the steel city. There are times Washington is an ideal deep threat, from his release to the catch point and all the good stuff in between. Washington has some under rated footwork and is a powerful runner. At times he’ll shoot out of his stance like a sprinter and gobble up grass like Pac-Man. Washington has some experience and success with press but corners are very aware of what happens if they miss or he fights through their jam. It’s a wrap for 6. Washington not only has good speed but he can weave and move while maintaining that speed to adjust for the ball or separate from his man. He’s not just a deep threat but Washington can certainly parlay that part of his game into the NFL.

Here he is against Chidobe Awuzie & Colorado


8)Courtland Sutton – Sutton has prototype height, weight and game speed. At 6’4/220 Sutton has the footwork and physicality to win at the line. The speed and size to win at the catch point on a deep ball. And in that big body, he has some wiggle to make a defender miss to gain some yac. I’ll post some highlights below to highlight that Sutton can make an impact all over the field. Not often you see someone with that size take a bubble screen for a big gain or make shake defenders off with jukes but Sutton can. It also refreshing to see someone this size use it and not run from his strengths. Sutton has no problem lowering his shoulder into a DB’s chest to make sure he has the 1st down. And will go up to snag a fly ball knowing he’ll get hit and maybe his lower half taken out from underneath him. He was very productive in college amassing over 140 rec’s, 2,200 yards and 22 TD’s the past two years and also is a very good blocker at times. Touches might be hard to come by at first because of the bodies in front of him. He could be a very nice dynasty pick-up for after this year though. I doubt Thomas and Sanders are in Denver much longer after this year. Courtland Sutton and Carlos Henderson (remember the name WR 2017 class) could be the new duo there going forward.


9)Equanimeous St. Brown – When you have the 2nd best QB in football throwing the ball to you it tends to make things a lot easier. EQ Rodgers will be able to use St. Brown on some of his most successful routes. Crossers, drags that target underneath and over the middle. St. Brown has a great feel when in man on these routes. At 6’5 he also has the footwork to get off the line, ability sink his hips and coming out fast so DB’s have to respect that. This leads to countless opportunities on comebacks, curls and double moves after seeing those. All that is key but you still want your big receivers to use that size and he does. EQ has a huge catch radius and can box out defenders for possession balls. He really is something in the open field, especially with those long legs. EQ and Rodgers could be fun to watch for years to come.



10)Antonio Callaway – Antonio Callaway has the traits and tools to be the best receiver in this class. Let’s just get that out of the way now. At times Callaway looks like a cross between Odell Beckham and Reggie Wayne. Callaway can run routes at full speed and get in/out of his without losing any mph. That last part is huge for WR’s at the next level. If you can separate at the line, in route and actually catch the ball, you could have a long career in the league. He has + vision and moves through traffic like a running back. Callaway has the ability to work all over the field and make a play from anywhere. Route running is his specialty though. From simple slants to curls. To the way he stems his deep work. Callaway really puts a stamp on his r/r with precise, sharp movements. Almost robotic and fluid at the same time. Now I started by saying this player has what it takes to be the best in his class. I said that because Antonio has found himself around some creeps too often to be as clear as possible. There’s certain people you just can’t associate with at a certain point, especially not in public and Callaway hasn’t learned that lesson yet. He also failed a drug test for pot recently from the combine. Now that in and of itself, I really don’t care about. Honestly pot is the least of this world’s problem. It’s also extremely hypocritical for a league held together by narcotics to suspend players over weed but that’s another topic. Everyone isn’t the same and context is needed. That failed drug test, on top of everything else is a huge red flag. If Callaway can stay on the right track he could make that Cleveland offense something special. That team isn’t far away from the playoffs imho.

Dynasty Rankings

  1. D.J. Moore
  2. Calvin Ridley
  3. Michael Gallup
  4. Anthony Miller
  5. Christian Kirk
  6. Dante Pettis
  7. Courtland Sutton
  8. James Washington
  9. Antonio Callaway
  10. Equanimeous St. Brown


1)D.J. Chark – 6’3/200, Legit 4.3 speed and easily could have been on here, anywhere from 5-10. Chark is a fantastic deep threat that should help Bortles thrive off play action.

2)Key’vantanie (Keke) Coutee – Waterbug type receiver. Great quicks, speed and good hands.

3)Daesean Hamilton – Good size, just gets open. Might be the best route runner in the draft.

4)Jordan Laasley – Troubled WR in college, suspended multiple times, attitude isn’t the best tbh. He’s quick, accelerates rapidly. Has some shake and enough speed to break it open for 6.

5)Richie James – Undersized at 5’9 but tough as nails and will do it all for his team. He’s an electric receiver that should be a favorite for 49er fans. I loved watching James in college, one of my favorites over the past few years.

6)Auden Tate – Speaking of guys I love, I still can’t believe how far Tate fell. He doesn’t have great speed but he’s fast enough for his size (6’5/225) Tate has great body control in jump ball situations. Strong, natural hands that secure the ball away from his body and a huge wingspan.



Tight Ends

1) Dallas Goedert – Versatile, big bodied tight end you can line up inline at Y or flex him out in the slot or out wide. Doesn’t go down easy. Should be a nightmare down the seem. Knows how to use his size to shield defenders in the middle and is a red zone monster.

2)Hayden Hurst – The Ravens spent a 1st round pick on a 25 year old tight end (will be 25 Aug 24) so expect they use him heavy. Hurst is a fine prospect, I kid about his age. He’s a bull with the ball in his hands and brings that aggression when he blocks too. The Ravens just invested early picks in two tight ends. Lamar Jackson is the QB of the future there and is very good at iso routes so Hurst or Andrews (#4) could be security blankets for the dynamic quarterback.


3)Mike Gesicki – Gesicki is a Jimmy Graham clone that looks exactly like a basketball player playing football. Tall, long strider who can sky to get jump balls with his 40′ inch vertical. Gesicki is also a deep threat and has legit 4,54 speed at 250lbs.


4)Mark Andrews – Andrews is a smooth moving, nuanced route runner that offers some yac as well. Not a blocker but a matchup problem for box defenders.



Again things will change and clear up as camp rolls around. We’ll have some inevitable injuries and cuts to shape the picture as well. I’ll have Quarterbacks later in the week. Please share and comment, thank you.

2019 NFL Draft: 50 Players You Should Know

May 16th, 2018


NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

The 2018 draft is over & I’m in full 2019-mode right about now. I made a list of 50 players that I’ve been watching over the past year or two. Some just recently.  This isn’t a top 50 list, I don’t have them ranked in order of where I think they are, in terms of “who’s the best”. The season will will play itself out soon enough & that will make things a lot clearer. This is just to get familiar w/ who’s, who. Get some nuggets of info & stay updated as to who might be on the Patriots radar next year.

1)  Zach Allen  DE/BC – Allen, a local product from CT, is a big, thick defensive end that lined up at multiple techniques for B.C. last year. He’s a legit 6’5/280 w/ long arms & at times really knows how to use them. He’ll stab/punch, bull rush & spin off opponents en route to attacking the QB. At times does a good job of keeping his outside shoulder clean in the pas & run game to make plays. Doesn’t get fooled by rpo’s, runs etc. Doesn’t panic & has a readiness about him playing ball carriers behind the line. Allen is the type of player that fits what we like from a size, length standpoint & his overall game seems to fit as well.

2)  Nathan Stanley QB/Iowa – I’m have a feeling Stanley’s name will mentioned more & more as we get closer to the college football season starting. Stanley has very good mechanics, he looks like a classic pocket passer. His arm is also legit. Not a Russell or Allen cannon but he has strength to hit 60 yards easy & at times has shown sweet deep placement & accuracy. He’s taken snaps & made plays from under center, on the run & in S/G. Looks very comfortable on the move & in play action. At times Stanley goes through his reads but you want to see  more of that & an overall better pocket awareness this fall. There’s a lot to get excited about over this player. 6’5/215 first year starter w/ a 26/6 TD-INT ratio.

Here he is here w/ NFL player Sam Hubbard wrapped around his legs. Stays calm, goes through reads & delivers a dart.

3) Devin White LB/LSU – White is a throwback linebacker that has sideline to sideline speed. 6’1/240 but moves like he’s 10lbs lighter. Looks like a bullet when blitzing up through the A/B gaps. Can drop back & clog up the swallow zone w/ his big body. White hits everything w/ bad intentions. The former standout running back is a force in the middle & someone teams will covet come draft time as he’s a beast athletically as well.


4) Devin Bush LB/Michigan – While White is a throwback type, Bush is a chess piece made & molded to be moved around. Different players but both versatile players. Bush is a + chase/pursuit player in the backfield & does a good job navigating through the muck to find his target. He’ll also sniff out screens & passing plays developing in the flat. Bush lit up the stat sheet last year as a young player (90 TKL, 10 TFL, 5.5 SKS, 1 INT) & has to do it again but he already looks like a future pro.


5) Christian Wilkins DL/Clemson – Wilkins surprised some by coming back this year, 2019 is absolutely loaded along the defensive line. That said Wilkins is a versatile big boy who plays inside/outside & moves like someone who weighs 30 lbs lighter. Wilkins is very agile & nimble for a 310+ guy. Able to get skinny to flash through gaps or muscle through defenders. Wilkins has strong hands & shows + instincts on the field. He can play in a 34/43 & looks built for a multiple team up front.


6) Dexter Lawrence DT/Clemson – Going right back to Clemson & looking at another standout interior defender. Lawrence is a freaky mini-mountain in the middle that is going to be a nightmare for G’s & C’s for years to come. Some have Wilkins & Lawrence as a lottery picks, which they very well could be. I just think their value is in the mid 1st & on. And with the depth of the class anything is possible. Lawrence moves like a 300lb pounder & is scheme proof. He’s plug & play day1.


7) Daniel Jones QB/Duke – The North Carolina native is a team captain & former 2016 team MVP. Prototype size, tough player that has experience running rpo. Jones has great mechanics from his base to his upper half. Everything always looks the same. His set-up, everything starts with his foot-firing feet that are always moving & putting him in the best spot possible. Good arm that can adjust heat on throws, has enough zip on his passes but could get stronger. At times his head moved just like a clock. I definitely want to see more of that, hopefully leading to a more consistent showing, he’s been up & down for stretches so far in his career. Still there are plenty of tools to work with & his overall game has improved each year from a leadership aspect.


8) Julian Love CB/Notre Dame – Love is a thickly built corner who looks like dependable open field tackler & someone who competes for everything. He displayed + route recognition in several games, on several plays I watched. He also looks comfortable in press, zone & off man & also played CB/S in high school.


9)  Taylor Rapp – Rapp is an instinctual Safety with very good short area quickness & doesn’t shy away from coming out in run support to make a play. Very efficient in doing so as well. He’s very smooth, seemingly always round the ball or where the action is. Right now he reminds me a little bit of Harrison Smith from the Vikings.


10)  Easton Stick – Stick took over for Wentz & lead the Bison  to a title last year. Stick has been up & down & streaky at times but shows + accuracy & placement at times. He also can push the ball down the field like Wentz at times as well. Again its about consistency w/ Stick. At times he’s very much in command of his offense though. Looks the part there.


11) Greg Little OT/Ole Miss –Depending on the year he has Little could be the 1st OT tackle in a strong class. He has very good lateral movement & has the toughness & nasty you want protecting your QB. Little has the size, athleticism & skill to be a long time successful NFL player.


12)  Nate Herbig G/Stanford – At 6’4+/340 Herbig is a throwback guard that mauls people down & ruins their day when asked to pull across the line. At times reminds you of Will Hernandez who was a top 40 pick this year.


13)  Tyrone Wheatley Jr TE/Michigan – Wheatley jr’s father Tyrone Sr played several years in the NFL & the bloodlines have evindently been passed on. Wheatley is a versatile TE that plays inline & is a smooth moving big target across the middle or down the seem. Wheatley Jr shows the ability to stalk block & will straight out muscle some opponents.


14) Chauncey Gardner Johnson S/Florida – Gardner-Johnson is a former CB & plays the ball like one. He has very good speed & has natural ball skills. Knows what to do when he gets his paws on the ball. Gardner-Johnson will also deliver big, legal hits if the opportunity presents itself. Florida has been pumping the DB’s out


15) Lukas Denis S/Boston College – The local product might be somewhat of unknown right now on the national scene but Denis has top 20 pick written all over him. He just has natural instincts in terms of reading the QB’s eyes & comes up big when he’s near the ball. If you’re trying Denis 20+ yards downfield you better have some arm talent & more importantly “eye” talent. You’re doomed if you stare down a wr. A QB must be able to hold defenders w/ their eyes. Denis also moves like a CB down near the goal line in close quarters. Very calm, heady player that will be playing on Sundays very soon.


16)  Ahmmon Richards WR/Miami – Richards is a good route runner w/ + quicks to work inside on slants & has shown the ability to track the ball along the sidelines as you can see below. Richards isn’t the biggest wr but doesn’t lack toughness for someone that’s less than 195lbs.



17) Tommy Sweeney TE/Boston College – 6’4+/250 from N.J. , Sweeney should have his best year yet at B.C. Last year he was streaky but came up in big spots, against big time teams. Sweeney should be on the field a ton & looks to be a more consistent target in 2018-19.


18) Jarrett Stidham QB/Auburn – Stidham would have been at worst a 2nd round pick this year in a very strong class & his stock only looks to improve as we approach next years draft. Stidham is a transfer from Baylor who showed immediate promise at Auburn. He’s very smart w/ + football IQ. He’s accurate but could work on throwing his wr’s open a little better. Mobile & tough. Stidham has to improve his pocket awareness as well but he has plenty of tools to work w/.


19) Marvell Tell III S/USC – Big rangy Safety that is just now really getting comfortable at the position. Tell has flashed on several occasions but is still learning the position in many ways. Tell is a former WR/S in high school. Played some strong safety as a FR & moved to FS as SO. 2018 could be a huge year for the multi talented Tell, who is all over the field at times for the Trojans. Teams will specifically looking how he does/improved he is in coverage.


20)  DeAndre Baker CB/Georgia – Maybe another UG player? From Miami, Baker is smart player that rarely ever looks confused or out of position. He does a great job of being physical in route & at the catch point. He’s very subtle about uses his hands & arms during a route & forcing a wr away from the ball or towards the sideline.


21)  David Edwards OT/Wisconsin – The 2019 OT draft class looks very good & it’s loaded w/ Badger Linemen. Edwards a former TE will be on everyone’s short list of top tier Tackles. He’s mean, long, lean & already very good in both pass pro & run blocking. Edwards decided to come back to Wisoconsin after talking w/ future HOF Joe Thomas. Joe’s advice, “In 20 years, you’ll remember your final year at Madison more than your rookie season in the pros”.


22)  JoJo Mcintosh S/Washington – Mcintosh is the other half of the Safety tandem at UW & the enforcer in the secondary. He takes pride in setting the tone & letting the other team know what kind of day its going be. Mcintosh has also shown good instincts & processing speed at times in coverage as well.


23)  Paddy Fisher LB/North – The Texas native had a breakout year last season after a 19 tackle effort against Duke in his 2nd game of the year. At 6’3/245 he has the size to plug the holes in the middle & displays the toughness needed in that role. Fisher isn’t a speed demon but rather relies on his instincts & toughness to make a play. Fisher’s eyes are always keying in on where the Center is heading & usually arrives on time to make a play.


24)  Miles Sanders RB/PSU – Sanders will be taking over for Barkley at PSU this year. He’s a big time recruit that many thought would have ended up at a “Big Name” School like OSU or LSU but he choose Penn St & will get his shot very soon. He’s a do it all back w/ rec skills, agility, speed & vision. I know PSU coaches & players are excited about him & can’t wait to see what he brings day 1.


25)  Isaac Nauta TE/Georgia –  There’s not many players I’m more pumped to watch then Nauta this fall. Nauta is 5 star TE recruit which is pretty rare & has a successful track record but looks like a player just waiting to explode this year.


He has natural hands that always look to pluck the ball out of the air & the aggression you want to see while run blocking. He’s a very intriguing & tough to bring down at 6’4+/250.


26) D.K. Metcalf WR/Ole Miss – Speaking of favorite players to watch, Metcalf is a big body WR that knows how to use his size & strength at 6’3/220. After the catch Metcalf looks like a big RB. Metcalf’s game is starts & ends w/ his physicality. From the line to the caught point Metcalf is a big, strong WR that will look to out muscle & use his body control to secure a catch. After that his powerful strides do the rest. If Metcalf can stays healthy this year he might play himself into the 1st round.


27)  Benny Snell Jr. RB/Kentucky – Speaking of physical players Benny Snell Jr always runs very hard & w/ a purpose. Doing that in the SEC for 2400+/30+ is quite impressive considering he’s being game planned around each week as Kentucky’s best offensive player. Snell probably won’t get a ton of love until draft but he’s a reliable, tough runner w/ very good production.


28)  Austin Bryant DE/Clemson – Bryant was draftable this year but w/ the rest of his teammates decided to come back. Bryant has the size New England likes at 6’5/270 & is a physical, worker-type that doesn’t just rush up field taking himself out of the play. Bryant will always look to disrupt a play if he can’t make a sack, TFL by getting his hands up to swat down a pass or control the edge so theres nowhere to go outside.


29)  Ryan Finley N.C. State – Finley is another player that would have been drafted this year but came back for a shot at the 1st round in 2019. At times Finley looks like a future pro. He has the size, arm, accuracy & football IQ teams desire. He sells play action very well & can work all 3 levels of the field. Finley has a minor scratch on his record w/ an arrest (underage drinking, resisting arrest, dumb stuff a lot of young people do) while at Boise State but has shown nothing but majority since then. Finley plays in a pro style offense that will surely appeal to teams, much like Phillip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Russell Wilson & Mike Glennon.



30)  Josh Allen DE/Kentucky – Allen is a player in the mold of former Georgia, current Bears player Leonard Floyd. He has the same length, athleticism & gumby-like body control & consortium  en route to the QB.


31) Beau Benenzschawel G/Wisconsin – I mentioned the Badgers OL when talking about Edwards but the whole group is pretty stacked tbh. Benenzschawel is a really good, versatile player that can seemingly do it all. He’s a natural in pass pro. Balanced, great footwork & overall technique. He could probably plug & play in most teams system right away as a rookie. He’s a very good prospect.


32)  Jerry Tillery DT/Notre Dame – Tillery is a beast of a player at 6’6/300 & is coming off his best season to date. Tillery had some maturity issues he moved past from & is switching from NT to 3tech this fall. 3Tech should play to his strengths as Tillery is the most athletic OL’m on the team & will probably play that position at the next level. The DT will look to add to his TFL total from last year & show he’s not a one hit wonder.


33)  Anthony Nelson DE/Iowa – Nelson is a workmen-like linemen that makes each snap a fistfight in itself. The Iowa native is mix power, length & burst at 6’6/270. Nelson also does a good job of controlling his man & setting the edge to prevent anything from bouncing outside.


34)  Anthony Johnson WR/Buffalo – Johnson is quicker than fast but has deceptive speed to get behind corners & for the most part runs clean, crisp routes on all 3 levels. Johnson should be in for a big year if both him & Jackson can stay healthy for a full season.


35)  Shea Patterson QB/Michigan – Patterson was a Ole Miss transfer that should really benefit from a year w/ Coach Harbaugh. Patterson is so fun to watch. His game & path in football both resemble Russell Wilson. Patterson has to do a better job staying sturdy w/ his base when moving around & scrambling. If his feet aren’t set it doesn’t end up well, which is the case for most QB’s & athletes. Patterson as the ability to work all 3 levels while on the move but needs a little refining. The traits & tools are there though. Arm talent, accuracy/placement, scrambling ability & make “it” happen when the odds are against you.


36) Sam Beal CB/West Michigan – At 6’1 Beal has ideal height & length for the position & knows how to use it w/ 20+ PD/INT over the last 2 years. Beal will need to show he can add & maintain weight to help his play strength to really get the best out of his abilities.


37)  Bryce Love RB/Standford – Love looks like Dion Lewis 2.0. Both undersized but run even smaller, closer to the ground to maximize their balance & ability to explode through a hole. Love runs w/ a sweet blend of patience & quickness its impressive to watch. His shiftiness is easy to spot but it’s the subtle, small moments of patience that make him a + runner. He has to improve his pass pro & isn’t utilized in the rec game so hopefully he showcase some improvement in both this fall to really maximize his stock come draft day.


38)  Alec Eberle C/FSU – Eberle is fleet of foot center that gets to the 2nd level in a hurry & is eager to hit someone when he gets there. The problem I see coming his weight & ability to execute & maintain blocks, 1 on 1, at the next level. At times Eberle can also get too ahead of himself & work himself out of a play or doesn’t take the proper angle to the defender. With some added weight, the ability to maintain it & Eberle could be a good pro player.


39)  Dalton Risner OT/Kansas St – Risner looks like a plug & play run blocker w/ quick choppy feet & the nastiness to get after defenders to the whistle. He has to get stronger to take on top-tier power players at the next level but has shown a ton of promise so far. Effort & “want to” aren’t a problem, Risner is football player I suspect could play another position along the line if needed.


40)  Levonta Taylor CB/FSU – Taylor is one of the best cover corners coming back this fall. Taylor has very good route recognition & isn’t afraid to break off his man to make a play on the ball. Taylor didn’t allow a TD last year & was sticky in coverage all year w/ a rating of less than 15% when targeted.


41)  Ross Blacklock DT/TCU – Blacklock, a Big 12 co-Freshman Defensive Player of the Year will be looking to build off a very nice start to his college career. Blacklock is a busy bee DT w/ a motor that will bring him out to the flat to lay out an opponent. High energy, smart player & someone to remember this fall.


42)  Sewo Olonilua RB/TCU – One of the more interesting players at RB this year, Olonilua is a big (6’3/230) RB that has been under utilized at TCU so far. He makes the most of his opportunities (6 TD/37 carries) & has experience as a gaol line & wild cat runner. One can’t help what Sewo would look like w/ a full work load for a season. He has shown some nice explosion & wiggle for a big boy. He’s definitely one to watch this fall.


43)  Tyler Johnson WR/Minnesota – Johnson is a former multi sport star in high school, including playing QB & helping his basketball team to a championship his SR year. A high character person & smart football player, Johnson is capable of working all 3 areas of the field. He was on pace to SO WR records last year before getting hurt for the last 2 games. He might not be a 1st round player or big name prospect but looks like he can help a team on the field & in the locker room.


44)  Tyree Jackson QB/Buffalo – Last year  (long before the national & local media talked about it)  I talked about the possibility of Lamar Jackson coming to New England. I brought up that the next franchise QB ,might be coached by Josh, not Bill.  And Jackson was young enough & talented enough to sit & learn for next head coach in New England. The Patriots showed what looked like genuine interest but ending up passing on Lamar. Enter Tyree Jackson, I brought him up few weeks ago in a piece about possible future Pats QB’s & it’s apparent all eyes will be own the Buffalo QB this fall. Jackson might be the most intriguing QB prospect in the class. He’s 6’6/240 w/ an absolute rocket of an arm that can touch 60+ yards w/out much effort. Jackson  showed the ability to really push the ball down field but also has a natural “stick & shoot” accuracy about him on intermediate passes. Like all college players he needs work in some areas. He has to tighten up his release, just some tinkering not a huge issue. Jackson also has to improve his pocket awareness & mental processing on reads but has a ton of potential.


45)  Deebo Samuel WR/South Carolina – Reminds me a little bit like Anthony Miller in the sense that he’s undersized but as tough as they come at that position. Doesn’t mind getting dirty & understands blocking is a big part of playing the position. Samuel is another guy that turns into a RB when he gets his hands on the ball. Goods hands, runs sharp routes. Contributes on special teams as a return man. Samuel might not get the hype he deserves but he can absolutely play on Sundays.


46)  Porter Gustin  DE/USC – Gustin is a smart player w/ a non stop motor. He has the speed to rush the passer & toughness to play in trenches on occasion. Gustin has + athleticism & the ability to stop/start quickly to mirror & chase opponents.  He’ll be an effective chase & pursuit player along the backside of the line. He looks like he could play some DE or OLB for a multiple team like the Pats.


47)  Shaq Quarterman LB/Miami – Shaq has looked like a player from day 1 at Miami. Smart, + instincts, always looking for trouble & brings it fast. He looks like a 1st round pick, plug & play type player. Quarterman is a difference maker in the middle & sidelines but also has PD, TFL & a few sacks as well on his resume.


48)  Terry Beckner Jr DT/Missouri – Beckner Jr is an extremely talented defensive linemen who sustained a torn ACL/MCL & other damage on his first play in action against BYU last year  & also tore is other knee (left one) in 2016. Beckner was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school who might be a nice value pick some where in the draft if he keeps his nose clean (arrested for marijuana in 2016) from now on. It’s tough not to imagine the type of player he could have been but a lot of the gifts are still there. He looks like a bit of a project that could pay dividends a year or so after you draft him.


49)  Chase Winovich DE/Michigan – Winovich is a former Tight End turned do it all player for Don Brown at Michigan. Winovich lines up almost everywhere along the line & brings the heat from inside & outside. Winovich quietly had very nice year in 2017 & was one of the Wolverines best defenders that no one talks about. A repeat or better year from Winovich will have him top 75 contention.


50)  Noah Fant  TE/Iowa – Big, easy moving target that looks like a nightmare to cover screaming down the seem. Not only a big target but Fant has + athleticism & should be a top 50-60 next year, if not the 1st TE off the board. Fant is a glider that will get on top of a defense quick if he’s not physically impeded.




Again this isn’t my top 50 list. Just guys I’m familiar w/ & fit the Patriot-Type mold in some way. It’s early & things will change but some of these players will absolutely be on New England’s radar in 2019. Please share & let me know what you think!

Post Draft Scouting Report: Ryan Izzo, TE and UDFA’s

May 10th, 2018

Does this late round prospect have a chance to make the Patriots 53 man roster?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

It is time to put a bow on the 2018 NFL Draft. Typically with any teams last pick, the player might be a guy no one really knows a lot about. This year, the Patriots did that with their second to last pick when they chose Keion Crossen. The Patriots final pick however was a guy many draftniks not only knew, but had a much higher grade on. I personally had given Izzo a 5th round pick and was shocked he lasted as long as he did. On the other spectrum, I didn’t put Izzo on my Big Board because I thought the Tight End room in New England was really crowded and I didn’t think the value of a mid round Tight End pick was there. To get a mid round talent with one of the final picks of the draft changes things however, and I am fully on board with the pick. So, does Ryan Izzo have a chance to make the team despite his late round draft slot? Let’s look at his game and find out.

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