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Poll: What do you think of the selection of Dominique Easley?

05.09.14 at 12:36 pm ET
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Are you happy with the Patriots first-round selection of Dominique Easley?

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4 final thoughts at end of first day of NFL draft

05.09.14 at 2:39 am ET
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FOXBORO — As Day 1 winds down, here are four league-wide thoughts on how things transpired.

1. The selection of Pitt’s Aaron Donald to the Rams defensive front gives St. Louis an impressive grouping, one that includes Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Chris Long. On the other side of the ball, the Rams made a nice investment in Greg Robinson with the No. 2 overall pick, a guy who should slip nicely into a starter’s role given his run-blocking skills. St. Louis has a challenge trying to keep up with the rest of the high-octane NFC West, but it gives them a good looking group that should be able to make things difficult for teams like the Niners, Seahawks and Cardinals.

2. The Browns picked up an elite cornerback in Justin Gilbert eighth overall, high-profile quarterback Johnny Manziel at 22nd overall and added Buffalo’s first-round pick in the 2015 along the way. Despite the fact that Cleveland likely didn’t have to trade up from 26 to 22 to land Manziel (the Browns bypassed three teams that really had no reason to even think about selecting a quarterback), it was a good haul for Cleveland, which now has wide receiver Josh Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate as its key skill position players. However, it would have been interesting to see if they could have stuck at four and 26 and come away with Sammy Watkins and Manziel to get a receiver who could have been a truly intimidating pair when twinned with Gordon. One guy who can’t seem to catch a break is former Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was playing pretty well for Cleveland last year before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Now, he’ll face a battle for playing time with Manziel.

3. The Vikings were able to wait until the end of the first round to get their quarterback when they were able to swing a deal with the Seahawks and land Teddy Bridgewater. Speaking of former Brady backups who now have a battle for playing time on their hands, Matt Cassel figures to duel with Bridgewater for the starting job in Minnesota.

4. In terms of AFC East moves, the Jets surprised some people with the addition of free safety Calvin Pryor at No. 18, spurning a possible wide receiver pickup to help provide a spark for the offense. The Bills pushed a large chunk of their chips to the middle of the table to go after the best receiver on the market in Watkins, trading up to get him with the fourth overall pick in the draft. (Does this mark the beginning of the end for life in Buffalo for wide receiver and noted birthday cake aficionado Stevie Johnson?) And the Dolphins, who were thought to be in the market for a tackle to try and help rebuild their smoking crater of an offensive line, did as expected and went after Ja’Wuan James from Tennessee, who should step in and provide some help at tackle relatively quickly.

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3 early thoughts on Dominique Easley

05.09.14 at 12:05 am ET
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Three early thoughts on Dominique Easley:

1. Easley has an interesting injury history. He suffered a ruptured right ACL and medial meniscus tear in 2013, and he also tore the ACL in his left knee in a game against Florida State in 2011. He said in April that his knee is about 80-85 percent healed, but it will have to hold up against some elite-level competition if he wants to succeed on a consistent basis in the NFL. At the same time, there’s a serious belief that if Easley had two completely healthy knees, he’d be a top of the first round talent.

2. We wrote several times over the course of the pre-draft process that the Patriots need to start thinking about life after Vince Wilfork, and while Easley doesn’t have the same sort of body type as Wilfork, the pick was made with an eye toward the post-Wilfork era. A big body who can fill multiple spots up front, Easley is the sort of player who can step in and learn from veterans like Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. History tells us that whenever the Patriots have invested a first-round pick in a defensive linemen, they’ve come away happy, and they certainly hope that there’s a similar reason for optimism around Easley.

3. He’s another Gator. With Brandon Spikes‘ decision to depart as a free agent this offseason, it appeared that New England’s streak of drafting and/or acquiring former Florida players might have come to an end. But Easley allows the Patriots to keep that string alive. “You want him in your locker room. He is a really good player but I think is his competitive edge is a huge talent that he has, probably his No. 1 talent,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said of Easley in April. “I think he’s got a great ceiling. He’s a guy that hasn’t played his best football yet. I think that’s all in front of him. He loves competing and he loves playing.”

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Patriots select Florida DL Dominique Easley at No. 29

05.08.14 at 11:37 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots selected defensive end Dominique Easley with the 29th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.

The 6-foot-2, 288-pounder out of Florida is recovering from a ruptured right ACL and medial meniscus that he suffered during the 2013 season. Before the injury, Easley started in three games and had five tackles (two for loss). Easley’€™€™s 2013 injury marked the second time that he injured one of his knees. Easley also missed time during the 2011 season after he tore the ACL in his left knee during a game against Florida State.

Voted a team captain last year, he received the team’€™€™s 2013 Greg See Tenacity Award. In addition,. he received 2013 James W. Kynes Award for mental and physical toughness

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DL Jadeveon Clowney goes first overall to Texans

05.08.14 at 8:15 pm ET
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Defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney was made the No. 1 overall pick in the draft Thursday night, going to the Texans.

The 6-foot-5, 266-pounder out of South Carolina, who has been the top prospect throughout much of the last year, was a two-time first-team All-SEC performer, and a first-team All-American in 2012 when he finished sixth in Heisman voting and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

The Patriots are set to pick 29th overall.

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Rodney Harrison on M&M: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner ‘will definitely change the course of that secondary’

05.08.14 at 2:01 pm ET
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Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the upcoming NFL draft and the current state of the Patriots secondary. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The 2014 NFL draft will finally kick off Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Patriots will start off with the 29th pick.

“I think [safety] is definitely a need for the Patriots, but also a defensive tackle,” Harrison said. “Vince [Wilfork] is coming off of major surgery and rehab and he’€™s getting a little older right now. … But if you can solidify that defense with a top-notch secondary, there’€™s no reason this team can’t return back to the Super Bowl.”

The Patriots have struggled in recent years with drafting and developing safeties, with players such as Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson failing to make a huge impact with the team.

“€œIt’s just that sometimes we overrate and underrate what a person does in college. … Khalil Mack can easily wind up like Vernon Gholston and become a complete bust. … You just never know,” Harrison said. “I think when you’re going into the draft, I think you have to get the player that’s going to come in right now and fit the mold of your team.

“€œNot necessarily the best player, but the player that has the personality, the build, that can come right away and contribute to your team.”

The Seahawks opened up their wallets on Wednesday, giving All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman a four-year $57.4 million contract extension that includes $40 million in guaranteed money. Sherman’€™s large payday will undoubtedly have a big effect on new Patriots cornerback Darelle Revis, who once again will hit the open market next offseason unless the Patriots are willing to make an enormous financial commitment.

“€œI think right now you just have to play it out. You’ve got to see how Darelle Revis looks. He went to the Pro Bowl last year, but he wasn’t 100 percent still. It always takes two years. … You feel better the following year of your surgery, but it takes two years to really feel close to 100 percent,” Harrison said. “€œI think you’€™re going to get to see the real Darelle Revis this year.

“€œHe will be looking to get another payday, and whether that means $12 million a year, $15 million a year, I think once he finds out the system that Bill Belichick has … [and] he plays well, they can agree on a nice four- or five-year contract which keeps him there and eventually he can retire with the Patriots.”

Added Harrison: “The two guys [Revis and Brandon Browner] that the Patriots have will definitely change the course of that secondary. It brings maturity, it just brigs accountability and leadership.”

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Jamie Collins: ‘I’m going to do whatever I’m told to do’

05.08.14 at 1:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When the 2013 NFL Draft came around, Jamie Collins was not really paying attention except to find out where he would wind up.

When the Patriots nabbed him with their second-round pick out of Southern Mississippi, Collins was ready to do whatever he was asked to do. That would turn out to be very helpful as the Patriots selected him because of his reputation in college as one of the more versatile linebackers in college in the ’13 draft.

In his rookie season, Collins played both down and linebacker positions, showing he could get to the quarterback, play the run and drop in coverage.

Collins, asked this week to reflect on his first year in the pros, said once you have the talent, the rest is pretty elementary when you play for Bill Belichick.

“It’s pretty easy,” he said. “It’s not easy but it is easy. I don’t know if you get that or not. I’m going to do whatever I’m told to do. I’m the type of guy that is going to do what I have to do. I’m going to get it done, no matter what it is.”

In other words, Belichick has very specific plans for the linebacker, who showed up this spring in Foxboro looking bigger and stronger, all the more reason for the Patriots coaching staff to show more confidence in Collins, who began coming into his own as the 2013 regular season came to an end.

“Guys are different,” he said. “I just look at things and I just know it’s my job and I have to do what I have to do to survive. I was learning, regardless. But once a guy goes down, it’s next man up. You have to be strong. You lose a guy, the next man has to be ready to play. I’m excited to have him [back]. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jerod Mayo
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