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Reports: Patriots express interest in Sean Smith, Josh Cribbs

03.09.13 at 6:16 pm ET
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The latest free agent scuttlebutt involving the Patriots includes New England showing an interest in cornerback Sean Smith, as well as return man and receiver Josh Cribbs.

‘€¢ Multiple outlets are reporting the Patriots are one of several teams who are interested in Smith, a 25-year-old defensive back who played the last four seasons with the Dolphins. The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder has five career interceptions, including two each in the last two seasons. Jason Cole of Yahoo! reports that New England is one of three teams in the mix for Smith, a group that includes the Bucs and Cardinals.

‘€¢ A report from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer indicates that New England was one of several teams already expressing interest in Cribbs. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Cribbs has value as a multidimensional offensive threat and on special teams — he had 41 catches, 518 yards in 2011, both career highs, as well as 753 rushing yards and an average of 5.9 yards per carry. In addition, last season, he returned 38 punts for 457 yards and 43 kickoffs for 1,178 yards (27.4 yards per return). That certainly would deliver a boost to the New England return game, which averaged 21.2 yards on kickoff returns in 2012, placing it in the bottom half of the NFL. According to the Plain-Dealer, along with the Patriots, the Giants, 49ers, Cardinals and Cowboys also have shown interest in Cribbs.

‘€¢ One other point that’s worth reiterating: James Harrison — who was released by the Steelers on Saturday and has taken plenty of shots at the Patriots over the years, was asked by ESPN if he was open to the idea of playing in New England. He answered: “Of course it would be nice to play with Tom Brady. I mean, who wouldn’t want to?” When it comes to the idea of Harrison in New England, it likely would be as a situational pass-rusher and (probably) not an every-down player. However, the Patriots are always looking for depth along their defensive front, and while he doesn’t have the body type that New England usually covets at that spot (think of the longer and leaner types like Willie McGinest and Chandler Jones, who measure in the 6-foot-5 vicinity as opposed to the 6-foot, 242-pound Harrison), he certainly would be an intriguing addition to the Patriots defense if he has anything left in the tank.

Read More: James Harrison, Josh Cribbs, Sean Smith,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Washington CB Desmond Trufant

03.09.13 at 4:22 pm ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Cornerback

School: Washington

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 186 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Pac-12 first team; 2011, 2009 All-Pac-12 honorable mention (coaches)

What he brings: Trufant, who has two older brothers playing professional football (Marcus for the Seahawks and Isaiah for the Jets), distinguishes himself with his foot quickness and agility. He was a four-year starter at Washington, where he played both inside and outside in the slot and played both man and zone coverage. As a junior, he had two interceptions and 16 passes defended, and while his senior statistics (one interception and nine passes defended) dropped slightly, opponents tended to avoid his side of the field this season.

On the negative side, scouts have noted that he’s prone to opening his hips up too quickly and giving up inside leverage. He’s impressed observers with his competitive nature, but the consensus is that his overall physical strength isn’t particularly remarkable. CBS Sports’ Rob Rang also notes that his tackling technique is inconsistent and he hits too high at times.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: The Patriots could be in need of a cornerback if they don’t re-sign Aqib Talib. Trufant was originally expected to be chosen sometime in the second round, but he impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and his stock has been on the rise since then, making him a possibility for a late first-round pick.

Related articles: Tacoma News Tribune: Desmond Trufant turning heads of NFL scouts

Seattle Times: Desmond Trufant adds own chapter to family legacy

CBS Sports: Trufant stands out at North practice ‘€¦ again

Video: Here’s a package of Trufant highlights.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Desmond Trufant,

Report: Mike Wallace linked to Patriots

03.09.13 at 3:34 pm ET
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Free agency doesn’t officially open until Tuesday afternoon, but there are plenty of rumors that have been attached to the Patriots through the early stages of the weekend. Here are a few of the latest updates:

‘€¢Wide receiver Mike Wallace has drawn the interest of the Patriots, according to a report from Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Wallace, 26, has emerged as one of the best deep threats in the league with 235 catches in the last four years, and has averaged 17.2 yards per catch in that period. With the New England wide receiving corps in a state of flux — the Patriots have only three receivers under contract for 2013 — and with New England with some additional money under the cap after Tom Brady’s renegotiated deal, he could be a candidate to be signed by the Patriots.

‘€¢In that same vein, New England could be interested in wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who will apparently be cut loose by the Ravens. The 32-year-old Boldin, who caught 65 passes this past year for Baltimore, is a big, physical receiver who could bring a new dynamic to the Patriots’ passing game. Boldin had a terrific postseason — he had 22 catches in the playoffs, including five receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns in the AFC title game and six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He was a possibility for the Patriots as a free agent in 2010, but ended up signing with the Ravens. (We write extensively about Boldin and what he might bring to the Patriots here.)

‘€¢Among the notable players released were Steelers defensive end James Harrison. The former Defensive Player of the Year was cut loose when the two sides couldn’t agree on a cap-friendly contract. The 34-year-old, who is a five-time Pro Bowler, is expected to have several suitors, including the Ravens, Browns and Texans. (One interesting note regarding Harrison: He told Josina Anderson he’d welcome the chance to play for the Patriots.) In addition, multiple repots indicate that running back Reggie Bush will not be back in Miami, with sources telling the Miami Herald that the former Heisman Trophy winner will “categorically” not be back in South Florida. And the Bills have apparently reached an agreement on a four-year. $20 million deal with cornerback/return man Leodis McKelvin.

Read More: Anquan Boldin, James Harrison, Leodis McKelvin, Mike Wallace

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Texas DE Alex Okafor

03.08.13 at 11:03 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Defensive end

School: Texas

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 264 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Big 12 first team (coaches, AP), 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (CBS Sports), 2012 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP, 2011 All-Big 12 first team (coaches), 2009 All-Big 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Okafor is a big, strong presence who’s drawn praise for his quick hands and his powerful tackles. CBS Sports’ Rob Rang calls him “arguably the most well-rounded senior defensive end in the country” because of his proven ability to make plays against both the run and the pass. ESPN expresses some concerns about his effort and consistency, while others have mentioned that his upper body and hips are slightly stiff and sometimes make it hard for him to change directions fluidly.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Okafor had 12.5 sacks last season along with four forced fumbles, a product of his hard-hitting play. He’s one of the most highly-regarded pass-rushers available in the draft, and says he projects as “a true left defensive end in the NFL.” … He was named Defensive MVP of the 2012 Alamo Bowl after recording a record 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble in a 31-27 victory over Oregon State. … He started 32 consecutive games before playing a few snaps as a backup in the 2012 regular-season finale due to an injury. … Okafor missed the Senior Bowl and was limited at the NFL combine due to a bruised hip flexor.

Related articles: Austin Statesman: Longhorns Q&A: Alex Okafor Alex Okafor NFL Draft Interview

The Oregonian: Texas’ Alex Okafor sends the chess pieces flying

Video: Here’s a look at Okafor in action vs. Oregon State in 2012.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Alex Okafor,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey

03.07.13 at 11:37 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to provide daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.


Position: Wide receiver

School: West Virginia

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 193 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America second team (AP), 2011 All-Big East second team (coaches)

What he brings: Bailey has established a reputation as a player who shows great physicality during his routes, using his hands and body to create separation. He displays great body control and has proven to be a very reliable target. He is an intelligent receiver who finds holes and picks up first downs. Also, his quick feet and agility in the open field makes defenders miss. Bailey has a running back-type build and is difficult to tackle, frequently picking up yards after contact.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2 or 3

Notes: Bailey had 113 receptions in 2012 and set single-season school records for receiving yards (1,627) and touchdowns (25). He also set a WVU record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games with five. In 2011, he had 72 receptions for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman in 2010, Bailey played in all 13 games, making 24 catches for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Bailey leaves West Virginia as the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 39.

Related articles: Don’t forget about Stedman Bailey Stedman Bailey talks about past, future at NFL Combine Stedman Bailey declares for NFL Draft

Video: Here is a package of Bailey highlights vs. Marshall, Baylor and Texas in 2012.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Stedman Bailey,

Patriots owner Robert Kraft 12th most powerful in sports, according to Sports Illustrated

03.06.13 at 12:30 pm ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft was named the 12th most powerful person in sports by Sports Illustrated in the March 11 issue of the magazine.

According to SI:

Kraft, 71, made himself invaluable to the NFL with his work on its broadcast, finance and compensation committees. And as an owner trusted by players, his consensus-building and shuttle diplomacy were keys to resolving the 2011 lockout.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is ranked No. 1, ahead of NBA commissioner David Stern and AEG owner Philip Anschutz (investor in multiple teams and arenas). ESPN president John Skipper and MLB commissioner Bud Selig round out the top five.

No other Boston personalities are ranked in the magazine’s top 50 list. SI also did top-10 lists for each of the major sports leagues. In the NFL list, Kraft is second to Goodell, while Patriots coach Bill Belichick ranks eighth. In the NBA list, Celtics coach Doc Rivers is eighth. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs in included in the NHL top 10, which is not ranked.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, roger goodell, Sports Illustrated

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: San Diego State CB Leon McFadden

03.06.13 at 11:08 am ET
By   |   Comments will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots make a selection.


Position: Cornerback

School: San Diego State

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 193 pounds

Achievements: 2012, 2011, 2010 All-Mountain West Conference first team, 2010, 2009 MWC All-Academic team

What he brings: McFadden has very good cover skills and is known for his quick feet and exceptional speed. He also possesses solid awareness and great hands. He had originally planned to be a wide receiver at San Diego State before switching to defense.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 3

Notes: In 2011, as a junior, McFadden deflected 17 passes, which tied him for 11th in the FBS. As a senior, he earned first-team All-Mountain West honors for the third straight year after posting 61 tackles, three interceptions and 12 passes defended. He returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns. … His father, Leon McFadden Sr., played professional baseball for nine years, including 62 games as a shortstop and outfielder for the Houston Astros between 1968 and 1970.

Related articles: San Diego Union-Tribune: Former Aztec believes NFL had two roads SDSU’s McFadden climbing up draft boards Senior Bowl notes and observations: CB Leon McFadden shines on first day

Video: Here’s a package of McFadden highlights.

Read More: 2013 NFL draft, 2013 Potential Patriots, Leon McFadden,
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