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Free Agent Snapshot: Vincent Jackson

03.01.12 at 1:06 am ET
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We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. With the understanding that the NFL’€™s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:

Vincent Jackson
Position: Wide receiver
Age: 29
Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 230 pounds

If he somehow shakes free of the Chargers — that is to say, if San Diego doesn’€™t franchise him (which is still a serious question between now and the March 5 deadline) — Jackson appears to be the biggest name available among the free agent wide receivers. Big, strong and fast, Jackson has topped 1,000 yards three of the last four seasons, including 60 catches for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns for San Diego last year. (According to Pro Football Focus, his 18.4 yards per catch was fifth in the league for wide receivers who played at least 50 percent of their teams snaps.)

Recent reports indicate that Jackson could be on the Patriots’€™ short list. In addition, there was plenty of talk about a Jackson-to-New England trade when he was going through his latest contract flap in San Diego in 2010. Jackson is also used to playing with an elite tight end (Antonio Gates), and has been a key part of a high-powered passing game for the last several years.

Jackson has always done well against the Patriots. In last year’€™s Week 2 matchup, he finished with 10 catches for 172 yards (both season highs) and a pair of touchdowns. In his three career games against New England, he has 19 catches for 359 yards (tops for any opponent he’€™s faced outside the AFC West) and three touchdowns).

Why it might not work: If the Chargers franchise him, he’€™ll stick with San Diego for another year. But if he does hit the open market, he’€™ll likely draw top dollar for free agent wide receivers, which could ultimately leave the Patriots looking elsewhere. It’€™s going to be a fluid market for wide receivers, and depending on who gets tagged, it could create some market uncertainty for elite receivers like Jackson, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colton, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, who are all still possibilities to hit the open market.

Read More: Antonio Gates, Brandon Lloyd, DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe

Post-combine Pats chat with Christopher Price and DJ Bean

02.29.12 at 9:39 am ET
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Stop by at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and talk Patriots and the draft with Christopher Price and D.J. Bean: Pats Chat

Winners and losers from the NFL combine

02.28.12 at 11:41 pm ET
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With the NFL scouting combine coming to an end on Tuesday, here’s a look at six guys who helped themselves with a big performance in Indy and five guys who hurt themselves:

Six guys who helped their stock at the combine:

‘€¢Wide receiver Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech): In the words of NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Hill “killed it” this weekend. Hill, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, posted relatively pedestrian numbers in an option offense (he posted career highs of 28 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns as a junior), but ran an absolutely crazy 4.36 40. He looked smooth and natural in pass-catching drills, and his time in an option offense has turned him into a proficient blocker. He’s not in the same group as Justin Blackmon, but  turned enough heads to nudge his way into the late stages of the first round or the early stages in the second round.

‘€¢Quarterback Robert Griffin III (Baylor): There was little question about his skill set entering the weekend, but an electric 40 time and impressive turn in front of the media solidified his position as the No. 2 pick in the draft behind fellow quarterback Andrew Luck. (The Rams, who have the second pick but already have a franchise quarterback, can exact a sizable price for that No. 2 pick from a quarterback-needy team between now and draft day.)

‘€¢Linebacker Luke Kuechly (Boston College): Like Griffin, there were little question as to the fact that Kuechly entered the weekend as one of the top players at his position, but the BC product solidified his status with a series of impressive workouts. (He posted a 4.5 40 and a 38-inch vertical leap.) As Mayock said Monday, he’s now a lock for the Top 20 after his performance.

‘€¢Defensive lineman Dontari Poe (Memphis): Simply put, big men aren’t supposed to move like Poe did: The 6-foot-4, 346-pounder ran a 4.98 40 (including a 1.7 ten-yard split), opening the eyes of the rest of the league. He also benched 225 pounds an amazing 44 times. The performance is enough to vault him into the middle stages of the first round.

‘€¢Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (Cal):
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, he was the top inside linebacker on Monday in the 40-yard dash (4.47), vertical jump (39.5) and broad jump (10-7). The 5-foot-11, 239-pounder entered the weekend as a possible mid- to late-round pickup, but several people now believe he’s worked his way as high as the second or third round after his work in Indy.

‘€¢Cornerback Josh Robinson (Central Florida): No defensive back won more categories than the 5-foot-10, 199-pound Robinson. His 4.33 40 time led all players at the combine, and among DB’s, he finished first in the three-cone drill (6.55 seconds) and the broad jump (133 inches) and second in the vertical jump (38.5 inches).
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Patriots’ defensive lineman Kyle Love switches representation

02.28.12 at 4:59 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Kyle Love, a exclusive rights free agent, has switched representation.

The Mississippi State product, who was repped by Gary Glick, is now with KLASS Sports’ Richard Kopelman and Sean Stellato. It’s a group that has negotiated with the Patriots in the past on behalf of cornerback Kyle Arrington and linebacker Gary Guyton, both of whom reached two-year deals with New England.

Love was an undrafted free agent signed before the start of the 2010 season. In his second year with the Patriots, the 6-foot-1, 310-pounder played 16 games and finished with 33 tackles (20 solo) and three sacks.

The news was first reported by the Boston Herald.

Read More: Gary Glick, Gary Guyton, Kyle Arrington, Kyle Love

Resetting the NFL calendar for the next six-plus months

02.28.12 at 4:37 pm ET
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In the wake of Tuesday’€™s announcement that the 2012 kickoff will be held on Sept. 5 instead of Sept. 6 (so as not to conflict with President Barack Obama‘s scheduled address to the Democratic National Convention), here’s a look at the NFL schedule for the next six-plus months:

March 5: Deadline for teams to apply franchise and transition tags.
March 13: Free agency begins at 4 p.m.
March 25-28: NFL owners meetings (in Palm Beach).
Mid-April: Offseason programs begin (teams can hold a maximum of 10 OTAs during the offseason).
Late April: 2012 NFL schedule is announced.
April 26: First round of 2012 NFL draft.
April 27: Second and third rounds of 2012 NFL draft.
April 28: Rounds 4-7 of 2012 NFL draft.
Late July: Training camps across the league begin.
Early August: 2012 preseason begins.
Sept. 5: 2012 NFL regular season begins.

Read More: Barack Obama,

Final 3-cone drill times for defensive backs and wide receivers at this year’s combine

02.28.12 at 4:29 pm ET
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Following up on my previous blog entry about the combine, the Patriots and the 3-cone drill, are the Top 15 times in the 3-cone drill for defensive backs and wide receivers in this year’s combine:

Defensive backs
1. Central Florida’s Josh Robinson (6.55)
2. Texas A&M’s Terrence Frederick (6.59)
3. Clemson’s Coty Sensabaugh (6.6)
4. South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore (6.61)
5. Notre Dame’s Harrison Barnes (6.63)
6. Maine’s Jeron McMillian (6.69)
7. Notre Dame’s Robert Blanton (6.71)
8. Oklahoma’s Jamell Fleming (6.71)
9. Samford’s Corey White (6.72)
10. Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward (6.76)
11. San Jose State’s Duke Ihenacho (6.78)
12. Presbyterian’s Justin Bethel (6.79)
13. Oregon’s Cliff Harris (6.79)
14. Wisconsin’s Antonio Fenelus (6.80)
15. Florida State’s Mike Harris (6.81)

Wide receivers
1. Michigan’s Junior Hemingway (6.59)
2. Virginia Tech’s Danny Coale (6.69)
3. NC State’s T.J. Graham (6.77)
4. Cal’s Marvin Jones (6.81)
5. Missouri’s Jerrell Jackson (6.82)
6. UConn’s Kashif Moore (6.82)
7. Western Michigan’s Jordan White (6.84)
8. Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin (6.85)
9. Stanford’s Chris Owusu (6.85)
10. Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill (6.88)
11. Nevada’s Rishard Matthews (6.88)
12. Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu (6.88)
13. Baylor’s Kendall Wright (6.93)
14. Arkansas’ Jarius Wright (6.93)
15. Toledo’s Eric Page (6.95)

Read More: 2012 combine,

The Patriots and the 3-cone drill

02.28.12 at 12:15 pm ET
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Tuesday marks the final day of workouts at the NFL scouting combine, and one drill that Patriots’ fans should be on the lookout for is the 3-cone drill for wide receivers and defensive backs. Over the years, it’s clear that New England puts an added emphasis on this drill when it comes to measuring quickness of wide receivers and cornerbacks.

Unlike the 40-yard dash, which measures straight-ahead speed, the 3-cone drill measures shiftiness and an ability to turn on a dime. The drill goes like this: Three cones are placed in an L shape. Players go 5 yards to the first cone and back, then to the second cone and back. Then, they run a loop around the third cone, switch direction and come back around the second cone. If you can finish the process in less than seven seconds, you’€™re looking at someone with good foot speed.

Through the years, several Patriots’€™ picks excelled at the 3-cone drill, whether it was at the combine or at their respective Pro Day. Julian Edelman had a 6.62 time in the 3-cone drill as a collegian, while Wes Welker was 7.06, also as a collegian. In addition, Devin McCourty‘€™s 6.7 at the 2010 combine put him second among all corners and Deion Branch clocked a 6.71 at the 2002 combine, one of the better numbers among WRs. Of course, sometimes it isn’t always a good indicator as to how a prospect will do in New England — at the 2006 combine, Chad Jackson had one of the best finishes with a 6.74, but never caught on in his brief career with the Patriots.

Read More: Chad Jackson, Deion Branch, Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman
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