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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: USC C Marcus Martin

05.06.14 at 9:10 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

MARCUS MARTIN

Position: Center

School: USC

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 320 pounds

Achievements: 2011 freshman first-team All-American (Sporting News, CBSSports.com, CollegeFootballNews.com, FoxSportsNext.com), 2011 Phil Steele Freshman All-American second team

What he brings: Scouts say that Martin has the frame of an NFL lineman and has good core flexibility. They also point out, though, that he has just one year of experience at center and plays low.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: After moving to center from left guard and starting in 13 games during the 2013 season, Martin dislocated his left kneecap and suffered an ankle sprain against UCLA. Consequently, the team captain missed the Las Vegas Bowl against Fresno State and did not perform at the NFL combine. … Martin started in a combined 20 games during his freshman and sophomore years at USC.

Related articles:

ESPN.com: Marqise Lee, Marcus Martin lead USC Trojans NFL draft hopefuls

NBC Sports: Marcus Martin heads to the draft

Video: Here is a video highlighting Martin’s performance against Notre Dame.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Marcus Martin,

Five Rutgers players who could get the call from Patriots this weekend

05.06.14 at 4:44 pm ET
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The Piscataway-to-Foxboro pipeline has provided plenty of support for the Patriots over the last few seasons. With that in mind, here are five Scarlet Knights who should be on the radar of every New England fan this weekend, either as a potential draft pick or an undrafted free agent:

1. Wide receiver Brandon Coleman: Receiver isn’t expected to be an overwhelming area of need for New England, but the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver finished his collegiate career at Rutgers with 20 touchdowns, tied for first in school history. In 39 career games (27 starts) at wide receiver, he had 94 receptions for 1,808 yards, and averaged 19.2 yards per reception in his career.

Coleman, who said in February he’s already had the chance to pick the brains of several of his former classmates who play for the Patriots, has an advocate in Devin McCourty, who singled Coleman out as the “most interesting” of Rutgers’ pro prospects this spring.

“€œHe’€™s probably the most interesting (one),”€ McCourty said of Coleman. ‘€œThe thing I loved about him is his work ethic. I remember one summer, I went back there and we were just doing 1-on-1s and 7-on-7s with those guys and he was going each time. If one of the NFL guys got up there, he would go just to get the work. I’€™m happy for him, getting a chance to live out his dream.”

2. Free safety Jeremy Deering: A defensive back in name only, Deering has the sort of positional versatility they crave around Foxboro. Over the course of his college career, he’€™€™s lined up as a wildcat quarterback, wide receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner. However, it appears the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has gotten the bulk of his reps at safety as a collegian — he had 39 tackles and a pick this season with the Scarlet Knights. He’ll have to show expanded special teams value to stick in the NFL, but his versatility should certainly count for something.

3. Offensive lineman Antwan Lowery: The 6-foot-3, 329-pound Lowery lost his starting guard job shortly before the start of his senior season at Rutgers and has occasionally struggled with weight issues, but he still has an impressive resume. He was First-Team All-Big East as a junior, and invited to the East-West Shrine Game as a senior. It’s worth noting that he does have some versatility, as he was initially a defensive lineman at the start of his college career before flipping around to the other side of the ball.

4. Defensive end/outside linebacker Jamil Merrell: A preseason foot injury put a damper on his 2013 season, but when he was healthy, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was a force for the Scarlet Knights. A first-year starter in 2012, he had 5.5 sacks to lead Rutgers. (The Patriots could also target his brother, Jamal, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound edge defender who had 38 tackles, two interceptions, and two blocked kicks in 2014.)

5. Quarterback Tom Savage: Strictly speaking, he’s not an official Rutgers product — he started with the Scarlet Knights as a freshman before transferring and eventually ending up at Pitt — but for our purposes, we’ll include him here. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder started 10 games as a freshman at Rutgers and earned freshman All-American honors by completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A hand injury knocked him out of the starting lineup the following year, and he ended up transferring to Arizona and then Pitt, where he finished up this last season with the Panthers. Described as a “wild card” by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Mayock says Savage is “a big, strong kid (who) can throw.”

“He’s kicked around everywhere, he’s been to a bunch of different colleges. But I finally got to see him this year stabilized in an offensive system for a year,” Mayock said. “He’s a big, strong kid. I saw him throw the football in eighth grade. Him and my son played on the same All’€‘Star Team in eighth grade and I was like, ‘Wow, this kid for an eighth grader can really rip it.’ Watching him this year, he’s still a little bit all over the place. He has some accuracy issues at times, but he can really push the football down the field and he hasn’t been in an offense long enough to really learn. So I think he’s got some upside.”

Read More: Antwan Lowery, Brandon Coleman, Jamil Merrell, Jeremy Deering

Jerod Mayo doesn’t know how his repaired pectoral muscle will handle rigors of an NFL return

05.06.14 at 3:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Jerod Mayo wants to believe he’ll be ready for the Patriots’ 2014 season but the truth is, he just isn’t sure.

Mayo tore his pectoral muscle in the miraculous 30-27 win over the Saints on Oct. 20. He had surgery shortly thereafter and had to watch in utter frustration as his team reached the AFC championship in Denver before falling to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

“I don’€™t know how it will feel when we start going out there doing different things as far as a little bit of contact drills,” Mayo told reporters inside Gillette Stadium Tuesday, where he took a break from the offseason conditioning program. “Even though there are no pads, you can still fall a certain way, so I’€™m just going to take it one day at a time and see how it goes.”

“I think every day, I feel like I’€™m getting stronger, getting better,” Mayo said. “But once again, I won’€™t know until I get out there and start really playing the game of football. If it was flag football, it’€™d be cool.”

The real test, of course, will come when the Patriots finally begin football activities, like hitting, which isn’t allowed until training camp opens on July 23.

“OTAs, mini-camp, training camp, preseason games, it’s all a step-by-step process,” Mayo added. “All different milestones you have to get to to really gain that confidence after the injury. For now, it’s just about taking it one day at a time.”

The way last season ended provides more than enough motivation for Mayo to get back on the field as he had to watch the rest of the season with fellow injured Patriots Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly.

“It’s hard to sit in a room with other injured teammates and watch as the team battles,” Mayo said.

Mayo confirmed he has been working out at Gillette Stadium for a while, extending well beyond the team’s three weeks of the offseason program, so he feels pretty good after tearing his pectoral muscle last October.

Read More: Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots, nfl, torn pectoral

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Kent State WR/RB Dri Archer

05.06.14 at 3:20 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

DRI ARCHER

Position: Wide receiver/running back

School: Kent State

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 173 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-MAC third team, 2012 All-American (Associated Press, Walter Camp, ESPN.com, Sporting News), 2012 MAC Special Teams Player of the Year, 2012 Joe Fogg Award (national player of the year in the Midwest)

What he brings: One of the fastest players in college football, Archer has big-play ability with his quick burst, vision and acceleration. Archer is very versatile, as he saw time as a kick returner, wide receiver and running back during his time at Kent State. Archer’s size has worried some analysts, who say that he lacks the strength to last through a full NFL season. There also is concern that he’s not skilled at breaking tackles and goes down easily when hit.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: At the NFL combine, Archer ran a 4.26 in the 40-yard dash. That’s the second-fastest recorded time in NFL combine history (since 2006), trailing only Chris Johnson‘s 4.24 in 2008. Archer also hit 38 inches in the vertical jump. … Archer’s 40 career touchdowns ranks second in school history. … He led the team with 982 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013 despite being slowed by an injured left ankle in the first series of the season that cost him two games and limited him in two others. … He averaged 36.9 yards on 16 kick returns in 2012, the highest total in MAC conference history, and was one of four finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation’€™s most versatile player.

Related articles:

Akron Beacon Journal: Kent State’s Dri Archer helps draft stock by flirting with record in 40-yard dash

WKYC.com: Archer shines at Kent State pro day

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Dri Archer another Mid-American Conference player closing in on NFL draft

Video: Here is a video highlighting Archer’s career at Kent State.

Here is Archer’s head-turning performance at the NFL combine.

Read More: 2014 NFL playoffs, 2014 Potential Patriots, Dri Archer, Kent State

Late-round QB prospects for Patriots fans to focus on

05.06.14 at 1:24 pm ET
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Despite the fact that the Patriots have the steadiest situation in the league with Tom Brady under center the last dozen-plus years, that hasn’t stopped New England from finding at least one quarterback every year in the draft. Since Brady took over, the Patriots have drafted six quarterbacks: Rohan Davey, Kliff Kingsbury, Matt Cassel, Kevin O’€™Connell, Zac Robinson and Ryan Mallett. In addition, they’ve signed several undrafted free agents, including Brian Hoyer and Matt Gutierrez.

This isn’t to say that they drafted/acquired these quarterbacks with the expressed idea of beating out Brady. Even if you’re not grooming the next Brady, you should always be mindful of trying to improve your roster at the backup quarterback spot. Even if it’s an undrafted camp body who can keep the rest of the quarterbacks on a pitch count, it just makes good sense from a team-building perspective to grab a quarterback every year.

With some help from our pal Rumford Johnny, here are five late-round/undrafted possibilities for the Patriots this spring. (For purposes of this story, we’re not going to include the high-level prospects like Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater. Instead, our list is going to include guys who might be available from the fifth round on — Day 3 prospects, all the way down to undrafted free agent possibilities.)

Kenny Guiton, Ohio State — The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder, who started two games over the course of his career with the Buckeyes, has a huge arm, and even though there are some consistency questions, he has the capability of making some big throws. (He was 89-for-134 for 893 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions over the course of his career.) He’s almost certainly on New England’s radar for a few reasons, not the least of which Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer have remained pals over the years. As for the lack of game experience at a high level, Guiton invoked Cassel’s name as another college backup who found success at the NFL level, while adding that he’d love to join the Patriots.

Bryn Renner, North Carolina — Recently singled out by former NFL exec Bill Polian as “the quarterback sleeper” in this year’s draft, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder saw his senior season end prematurely because of a shoulder injury. A former backup to T.J. Yates at UNC, he passed for more than 3,000 yards in 2011 and 2012, and ended his college career with 8,221 passing yards and 64 touchdowns. A graduate of the Manning Passing Academy, he figures to be Day 3 draft possibility, and the sort of quarterback who can start off as a solid backup and potentially grow from there.

Connor Shaw, South Carolina — Shaw isn’t flashy, but is a blue-collar grinder type who was the winningest quarterback in school history, posting a 27-5 career mark as a starter. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder completed 63.4 percent of his passes (180-for-284) in 2013 for 2,447 yards with 24 touchdowns and just one interception. For what it’s worth, Shaw had a recent workout with the Patriots, and could be another sixth- or seventh-round possibility for New England. (In terms of references, he’s got a certain No. 1 pick in his corner, as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has long been a supporter of Shaw, calling him a “great player.”)

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech — The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder is a mobile presence with a big arm. He threw for 9,003 yards and 53 touchdowns over the course of his college career. (Last season he was 227-for-402 for 2,907 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 picks.) Considered one of the best prep tight ends in America before the went under center as a collegian, he could find a spot at the next level as a multiple offensive threat. Another Day 3 pick who could be there for New England in either the sixth or the seventh round, he had a March workout with the Patriots.

Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M — The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has big numbers with 8,124 yards and 70 touchdowns over the course of his career, including 5,401 yards and 53 touchdown last year. For what it’s worth, he also apparently has a pretty good sense of humor about himself, having put together this highlight video of him working out in a Christmas sweater. He currently projects as an undrafted fee agent who would need time to get acclimated to the NFL level.

Read More: Bryn Renner, Connor Shaw, Dustin Vaughan, Kenny Guiton

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: North Dakota State OT Billy Turner

05.06.14 at 12:15 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

BILLY TURNER

Position: Offensive tackle

School: North Dakota State

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: 2013 FCS All-America first team (Associated Press, AFCA, Sports Network), 2013 FCS Athletic Directors Association Offensive Lineman of the Year, 2012 FCS All-America first team (Associated Press, Sports Network)

What he brings: Analysts have praised Turner for his NFL-ready size and athleticism, but concerns have been raised regarding his knack for overextending himself and for losing balance after contact. Playing in the FCS against sub-par talent has raised questions about how Turner will handle elite players in the NFL. While he has played exclusively at tackle during his collegiate career, there is speculation that he’ll end up at guard in the NFL.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Turner started 56 of 57 career games with North Dakota State, which won three straight FCS national championships. … As a senior, Turner was not responsible for any quarterback sacks. … At the NFL combine, Turner ran a 5.14 40-yard dash while benching 225 pounds 25 times. … Turner’€™s father, Maurice Turner, was a running back who played 27 games in the NFL from 1984-87 with the Vikings, Packers and Jets.

Related articles: 

NDNewsFeed.com: Buzz builds for NDSU’s Turner

The Jamestown Sun: NDSU tackle turning heads

Video: Here are Turner’€™s highlights against Kansas State in 2013.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Billy Turner,

Adam Schefter on D&C: ‘Not a great draft for tight ends’

05.06.14 at 10:57 am ET
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming NFL draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Patriots are predicted by many to take a defensive end or tight end with the 29th pick of the first round.

“I don’t think they know right now,” Schefter said of the Patriots’ plan. “I think a defensive lineman certainly makes sense. … I don’t know that there’s going to be a tight end in that spot that makes sense for them.

“There aren’t a lot of tight ends, so if you don’t have a lot of tight end choices, there’s not a lot you can do, so they’re kind of limited with that position right now. It’s not a great draft for tight ends. I think in a perfect world, they might get one — Eric Ebron never will make it to them and then there is a group of those guys — [Austin Seferian-Jenkins] I don’t think would be for them. I think that you look at the other guy, Jace Amaro. I could see that maybe. … There just doesn’t seem to be a great tight end in this draft, and maybe they come back and revisit the Dustin Keller thing if the draft does not yield a tight end.”

Schefter also added that regardless of Tom Brady‘s age, the Patriots should invest in a quarterback if they have a solid option when they pick.

“We all know they have the quarterbacks ranked, and Johnny Manziel will not make it to them,” Schefter said. “If Johnny Manziel somehow did, which there’s zero chance of that, I think they’d be happy to take Johnny Manziel. I don’t think you just pick a quarterback to pick a quarterback. … I think it’s true any year — last year, this year, next year — regardless of Tom Brady‘s age, if there’s a quarterback that you have a high grade on when you pick, and he’s the best player on the board … you go take him, period, regardless of whether Tom Brady‘s 37, 27, 17. It doesn’t matter, and I don’t think there’s any difference this year.

“I know that, yes, we’re getting closer to the end of Tom Brady’s career, and yes, you’re keeping in mind that you’re looking for his successor, but it’s not the kind of thing that you force. It happens. It comes to you. The guy that you have a high grade on all of a sudden is there in Round 1 or Round 2 or Round 3, and you say, ‘Hey, we have a first-round guy in this quarterback who’s now here in Round 3. We’ve got to take him.’ I don’t think you’re going into a draft thinking now or next year we’ve got to find a successor for Tom Brady. It just happens.”

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is not expected to go until very late, and Schefter said it’s not because he is set to become the first openly gay NFL player.

“I will say, he will get drafted. I think it will be Round 6 or 7. I don’t believe it’ll be any earlier,” Schefter said. “I’ve spoken to some teams who told me flat out they wouldn’t draft him and it had nothing to do with him coming out and saying that he’s gay. They told me that they had him basically as an undrafted free agent before he made his public declaration. So, believe what you want. I think he becomes a late guy who becomes drafted. It wouldn’t surprise me if the NFL office weighed in and asked a couple of teams, ‘Hey, can you do us a favor and take this guy later on? It would help out everybody.’ But it’s not like teams are clamoring for him. I’ll tell you that — that is certain.”

Read More: adam schefter, Michael Sam, NFL Draft, Tom Brady
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