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Experts give Patriots average grades for 2016 NFL draft

05.03.16 at 10:38 am ET
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The national draft experts gave Nick Caserio and the Patriots average grades for their selections. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The national draft experts gave Nick Caserio and the Patriots average grades for their selections. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The 2016 NFL draft is in the books and despite not having a first-round pick, the Patriots were able to add solid players to their roster for next season.

As expected, the team didn’t make all of its picks as they made three trades in the draft.

On Day 2, they sent pick No. 61 to the Saints for picks Nos. 78 and 112. Then on Day 3, they acquired pick No. 147 from Miami for two sixth-round picks a seventh-round pick, but didn’t actually make that pick as they traded it to Seattle along with pick No. 243 for pick No. 225 and a 2017 fourth-round pick.

The national draft experts labeled the draft fairly average with most grades in the C+/B- range.

NFL.com: B

They really liked the Joe Thuney selection in the third-round, calling the offensive lineman “intelligent and tough.” They also liked another offensive lineman, Ted Karras in the late rounds, calling him the “perfect fit” for the team.

Sports Illustrated: C+

They referred to it as a “very Belichickian draft.” With taking receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the fourth round, they called him a potential “surprise star if his size and route running translate to the pros.”

CBS Sports: B-

After noting the Patriots didn’t have a first-round pick they said they did a “nice job with what they had.” They also raved about the Cyrus Jones pick saying he could be one of the most underrated cover-men in the draft.

Pro Football Focus: B-

They really liked Thuney, calling him one of the steals of the draft. They noted he ranked as a top-20 guard in 2014 and a top-5 tackle in 2015, and he’s only given up 14 total pressures in two years. Lastly, they called seventh round receiver Devin Lucien one of the late sleepers overall.

What would you grade the Patriots’ draft? Vote in our poll by clicking here.

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Father of former Patriots DL Ron Brace: ‘I believe the concussions had something to do with his death’

05.03.16 at 9:44 am ET
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Ron Brace

Ron Brace

The father of former Boston College and Patriots defensive lineman Ron Brace III said at Brace’s memorial service Monday that his son dealt with symptoms from concussion issues prior to his unexpected death on April 23 at the age of 29.

Ronald Brace Jr., wearing his late son’s No. 97 Patriots jersey as he spoke at St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, said despite reports that his son died of a heart attack, the actual cause of death has not yet been determined.

Brace Jr. said he believes his son had brain damage caused from his football career. The father said Brace suffered fainting spells, which apparently led to him getting into a car accident and also collapsing at a drug store.

“This concussion stuff is serious,” Brace Jr. said (via MassLive.com). “Ron had an extraordinary amount of concussions. I believe the concussions had something to do with his death.”

Brace Jr. said he discovered his son was dead after finding him in front of the television at the family home in Springfield and first thinking that he was sleeping.

“He looked so peaceful in his face, but when I touched him to try to wake him up he was cold,” Brace Jr. said.

A Springfield native who prepped at Worcester’s Burncoat High School, Brace was a second-round pick in 2009 after a stellar career at BC. He played four NFL seasons, all with the Patriots, appearing in 39 games and starting seven.

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Patriots reportedly not picking up option on G Jonathan Cooper

05.02.16 at 7:04 pm ET
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The Patriots reportedly won't pick up Jonathan Cooper's fifth-year option. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots reportedly won’t pick up Jonathan Cooper’s fifth-year option. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

New Patriots guard Jonathan Cooper will play this season in New England, but after that nothing is guaranteed.

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots will not pick up the fifth-year option on Cooper, which will make him a free agent after this season.

It was an $11 million option and with his inability to stay on the field to start his career, he isn’t the type of player the Patriots invest in.

Cooper was acquired by the Patriots in the Chandler Jones trade along with a second-round pick earlier in the offseason.

The former top-10 pick will be battling for playing time with a number of interior linemen including Bryan Stork, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Tre’ Jackson and rookie Joe Thuney.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Jonathan Cooper,

Josh McDaniels on Jimmy Garoppolo: ‘I feel comfortable that Jimmy knows what we’re doing’

05.02.16 at 6:49 pm ET
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Josh McDaniels speaks Monday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Josh McDaniels speaks Monday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Josh McDaniels on Monday sounded like a coach who isn’t the least bit worried about the possibility of Jimmy Garoppolo starting the season as the Patriots quarterback in Arizona.

McDaniels met with quarterbacks Tom Brady and Garoppolo on Monday and went over some material as they begin the long process of working up toward a game plan for the coming season.

Of course, part of that game plan might include Garoppolo calling signals for the first four games if Brady isn’t successful again in restoring his eligibility, which was taken away by the Second Circuit Appellate Court.

“Today, it was a short period of time. I feel comfortable that Jimmy knows what we’re doing,” McDaniels said Monday. “He’s confident and I think the guys are confident in Jimmy. He’s in third year now. He has those qualities. That’s a big part of the reason why you draft a quarterback, is that they demonstrate those things in college. We expect to see those from him and Jacoby and Tommy and anybody else that would be in that room.

“Like most quarterbacks that I’ve ever had a chance to work with, the first year you never feel like you catch up. It’s in some ways overwhelming. He works his butt off. He works hard every day. He cares about football. He loves the game. He wants to be good. This is his passion. And in Year 2, it was better. We’d expect him to take another step forward this year, too. But a lot of that is up to the player. We’re going to push hard and he’s reciprocated with the same level of hard work that we saw from him when he was a rookie. I’m eager to see how he continues to improve this year.”

Garoppolo has appeared in 11 games in his career, but, except for the Bills game at the end of the 2014 season, never with the outcome in question. He attempted only four passes last season, all in the season finale at Miami, completing his only pass of the 2015 season in the game.

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, nfl

Patriots release DB Rashaan Melvin, LB James Vaughters

05.02.16 at 6:24 pm ET
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The maneuvering on the Patriots roster continued Monday with the release of two players from the active roster.

The team announced the release of defensive back Rashaan Melvin and linebacker James Vaughters. This follows the drafting of nine college players over the weekend, including two linebackers and corner Cyrus Jones in the second round out of Alabama.

Melvin, 26, was signed by the Patriots to a future contract on Jan. 26, 2016. The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with Tampa Bay out of Northern Illinois on May 2, 2013. He made the Tampa Bay 53-man roster as a rookie, but did not play in any games that season. Melvin was with Tampa Bay for the first three games of the 2014 season before being released and signing with the Miami practice squad.

He was signed by Baltimore from the Miami practice squad on Nov. 8, 2014, and played in three games with two starts in the regular season and two starts in the postseason. He played in one of Baltimore’s first four games in 2015 before being released on Oct. 13, 2015, and was claimed off waivers from Baltimore and awarded to New England on Oct. 14, 2015. Melvin played in eight games with the Patriots last season and accumulated three tackles and two special teams tackles before released by the Patriots on Dec. 8, 2015. He joined the Patriots practice squad on Dec. 10, 2015, where he remained for the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old Vaughters was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as a rookie free agent out of Stanford on May 8, 2015. The 6-foot-2, 254-pounder, spent the first month of last season on the Green Bay practice squad before being released. Vaughters signed a future contract with the Patriots on Jan. 21, 2016. He played in 54 games with 18 starts and tallied 119 total tackles and 12½ sacks during his college career.

The two releases leaves the Patriots roster at 83, allowing for as many as seven undrafted rookie free agents to be added to the team, along with veteran free agents.

Read More: James Vaughters, New England Patriots, Rashaan Melvin,

NFL not happy with NFLPA’s delay request in Deflategate case

05.02.16 at 3:56 pm ET
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At the end of last week, the NFLPA requested a 14-day extension to request a rehearing in the Deflategate case and on Monday, the NFL responded by saying they are not happy with the NFLPA’s request.

Lawyers wrote “there is no need” for a 14-day extension in a filing made to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The first preseason game is just over three months away,” Paul D. Clement, the NFL laywer wrote via USA Today. “Time remains of the essence.”

As it stands now, after last weeks decision by the appeals court, Tom Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Dante Scarnecchia, Steve Belichick, Patriots 2016 draft

05.02.16 at 3:10 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and what it means to the future of the offensive line, new safeties coach Steve Belichick and his football relationship to his dad and recap the Patriots 2016 draft and what to expect from some of the higher profile selections in their upcoming rookie season.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Price, Cyrus Jones, Dante Scarnecchia

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