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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon WR Jeff Maehl

02.01.11 at 3:58 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 2011 NFL draft.

Jeff Maehl

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Oregon

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 181 pounds

Achievements: Honorable Mention All-America (2010), 1st Team All-Pac-10 (2010), Cargill Award for Team Impact Player (2010, 2009), All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention (2009)

What he brings: Maehl shows great leadership ability as he led the Ducks in receptions and receiving touchdowns the past two seasons.  He is also deceptively athletic and has a tremendous work ethic. There are some questions of his speed, which will have scouts watching closely at the combine.

Where the Patriots could get him: 5th to 7th round

Notes: Recruited as a defensive back, Maehl converted to wide receiver late in his freshman season. He ended his career at Oregon with 24 receiving touchdowns, tied for the most in school history. His small size brings up durability concerns and with a lack of outright speed there are some some doubts whether his game will translate to the NFL.  However, this could make him the ideal sleeper pick for the Pats very late in the draft.  As a 7th round choice he is low risk, with a lot of potential due to his football intelligence and great hands.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jeff Maehl, Oregon, Potential Patriots

Is Ben Roethlisberger as good as Tom Brady?

01.31.11 at 11:42 pm ET
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I wasn’t ready for this.

The flood of “With a win, is Ben Roethlisberger as good as Tom Brady?” stories, I mean. Kind of snuck up on me. Ben Roethlisberger? Sure, he’s won two Super Bowls and might pick up a third on Sunday, but in the same class as Tom Brady? By the time the two teams kickoff on Sunday Brady will have more MVP’s (two) than Roethlisberger has Pro Bowl selections (one). Is it too much to ask that a guy make as many Pro Bowl teams as Brandon Meriweather before we give him a seat at the table?

I’m only half-kidding, obviously. Let’s get this out of the way now: Roethlisberger is clearly a creep and a jerk and might be in jail today were it not for a goober-buffet down in Milledgeville. But that’s a different column. Roethlisberger the quarterback is almost as great as Roethlisberger the man is flawed. Lots and lots of praise being thrown his way right now, and at least most of it is deserved.

But as good as Tom Brady? I need a little proof before he gets that bump. So let’s take a look and find out ‘€¦

Regular Season:

A quick glance tells you Brady in a Reagan/Mondale landslide. All the numbers that fit on the back of a football card point to Brady:

20-TD seasons: Brady eight, Roethlisberger two.

4,000-yard seasons: Brady three, Roethlisberger one.

3,500-yard seasons: Brady eight, Roethlisberger one.

300-completion seasons: Brady seven, Roethlisberger one.

Done and done, right? Well, not exactly. A posit: Passing yards mean almost nothing. Remember how much you complained when talking heads would point to passing yards to tell you Peyton Manning was better than Brady in 2003 and 2004? You were right, it turns out. Matt Schaub has passed for 9,170 yards over the past two seasons. You taking him over Roethlisberger? Drew Bledsoe has as many 4,000-yard passing seasons as Brady. You get the point.

So if we dig just a little deeper, we learn this: There isn’t a whole lot of difference statistically between the two guys.

Career passer rating: Brady 95.2 (fifth all time), Roethlisberger (92.5, eighth all time).

Yards per pass attempt: Brady 7.4 (seventh among active QB’s), Roethlisberger 8.0 (first among active QB’s).

Completion percentage: Brady 63.6 (10th all time), Roethlisberger 63.1 (12th all time).

Passing TD percentage: Brady 5.5 (second among active QB’s), Roethlisberger 5.1 (sixth among active QB’s).

INT percentage: Brady 2.2 (third all time), Roethlisberger 3.1 (42nd all time).

Yards per completion: Brady 11.6 (17th among active QB’s), Roethlisberger 12.7 (first among active QB’s).

See what I mean? Some favor Brady, some Roethlisberger. The reason, of course, that Brady has been able to gain that big edge over Roethlisberger in passing yards and TDs is just volume of pass attempts (also helps that he’s great). Brady has attempted at least 500 passes in a season six times (with another 492-attempt season), Roethlisberger just once. Just look at 2005 — Roethlisberger had a terrific year (66.4 completion percentage, 17-11 TD/INT ratio and a 98.1 passer rating) but attempted just 295 passes in his 14 games. That’s a little more than half a season for Brady. Just different organizational philosophies that clearly work. Could Roethlisberger thrive in the Pats offense, throwing the ball 550 times a year? Maybe, but we haven’t seen it. We have seen Brady, however, excel in a system similar to what Roethlisberger (see 2001, 2004) and that, combined with the minor edge in passer rating, completion and TD percentage and a not-insignificant edge in INT percentage gives the opening round to a guy who will not be sitting at the “Blue Bloods” table at the 2011 Emmy Awards (come to think of it, Roethlisberger probably won’t be either. Another half-thought out joke blowing up in my face. I’m basically Rupert Pupkin with access to pro-football-reference.com.)

Edge: Brady

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Read More: Ben Roethlisberger, Patriots, Steelers, Tom Brady

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Boston College OLB Mark Herzlich

01.31.11 at 9:58 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 2011 NFL draft.

Mark Herzlich

Position: Outside Linebacker

School: Boston College

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 250 pounds

40-time: 4.75

Achievements: 2008: First Team All-American by Rivals.com and Scouts.com; AP Third Team All-American and honorable mention by Pro Football Weekly and SI.com; ACC Defensive Player of the Year; Butkus Award finalist for nation’s best LB; Lott Trophy candidate; Three-time ACC Player of the Week; Two interception returns for touchdowns, tied for most in the nation.

What he brings: A combination of speed, intelligence, character and determination and one of the best read-and-react linebackers in the senior college class. The Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare bone cancer – may have sapped some of his strength and lowered his draft value to at-best the middle rounds, but NFL teams could still be willing to take a chance on a player who showed the ability to use his lightning-quick jump on the edge to get to both the quarterback and running backs in the backfield. There’s a reason he still rates among the top five or six OLB’s in the current college class. If his health checks out, this would be a logical fit and – more importantly – fill a need for Bill Belichick‘s system.

In the right scheme and gap, he could still be an explosive and versatile up-the-field force and could still be valuable dropping into coverage and defending the pass. Before his June 2009 diagnosis, he projected as a Jason Taylor-type. Now, he has to still show he can do this in front of NFL execs. He did show incredible determination in 2010, and never was that more apparent than in the spring and summer leading up to the 2010 season when he had to regain not just stamina but strength to play every weekend at the BCS level. He was pronounced cured from the cancer but it was apparent early on that he didn’t have the same explosion and strength that made him the clear ACC Defensive Player of the Year two years prior, in 2008.

Where the Patriots could get him: Third round or later

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, bone cancer, Boston College

Jets coach at center of ‘TripGate’ resigns

01.31.11 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi resigned Monday, nearly two months after a well-publicized tripping incident along the New York sidelines. Alosi, who had been suspended without pay and fined $25,000 for the incident, was caught intentionally trying to trip Miami gunner Nolan Carroll as the Dolphins’ player tried to make his way down the field on a play in the Dec. 12 Jets-Dolphins game.

‘€œAfter speaking with Sal, he decided that it is best for him to tender his resignation at this time,’€ general manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement released by the team. ‘€œWe appreciate all of Sal’€™s contributions during his tenure with the team. He played an invaluable role in our success and established what we feel is one of the better strength and conditioning programs in the NFL.’€

‘€œI’€™m thankful to have been a part of the New York Jets,’€ Alosi said in the statement. ‘€œI am especially grateful to Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan for allowing me the opportunity to be a head strength and conditioning coach in this League. I have many fond memories, including earning my first NFL job in 2002. After the events that have transpired, I feel it’€™s best for my family and me to look for a fresh start. I wish nothing but the best for the entire organization.’€

Read More: Mike Tannenbaum, Nolan Carroll, Rex Ryan, Sal Alosi

Troy Polamalu wins NFL DPOY, narrowly beating out Clay Matthews

01.31.11 at 8:39 pm ET
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Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was named the NFL’s 2011 Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press on Monday night, narrowly edging Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews for the honor.

Polamalu received 17 votes on Monday from a nationwide panel of media members, while Matthews finished second with 15 votes. Polamalu’s teammate, linebacker James Harrison, was third with eight votes. Polamalu finished with seven interceptions in 14 games this season, helping spark the Steelers’ defense.

Also receiving votes were Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers with six and linebacker Brian Urlacher with two, while Baltimore safety Ed Reed and nose tackle Haloti Ngata got one vote each.

Read More: Brian Urlacher, Clay matthews, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata

Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith meet to talk new CBA

01.31.11 at 5:50 pm ET
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According to a joint statement issued Monday afternoon by the National Football League and the NFL Players Association, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Commissioner Roger Goodell met Monday in New York to discuss a range of issues related to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As part of a process to intensify negotiations, they agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday in the Dallas area. They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March. The current CBA expires at the end of the day March 3, and the union expects the NFL to lock out players as soon as the next day.

Read More: DeMaurice Smith, roger goodell,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: USC WR Ronald Johnson

01.31.11 at 2:24 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 2011 NFL draft.

Ronald Johnson

Position: Wide Receiver

School: USC

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 186

What he brings: Johnson’€™s excellent speed (he has clocked as low as 4.38 in the 40) benefits him not only in getting a quick start off the line but on kick returns as well. He has the characteristics of a slot receiver: good hands (though he has suffered some criticism for catching the ball too close to his body), quickness and the ability to get open — although some have criticized his route running as being, at times, imprecise. If the Bristol, Conn., native were to join the Patriots, he could benefit from proximity to one of the best in the game in the slot, Wes Welker.

Where the Patriots could get him: 4th or 5th round

Notes: Johnson battled back from an injury plagued junior season with a respectable 64 receptions, 694 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2010.  He was especially effective in the beginning of the season with three touchdowns in the season opener against Hawaii, including a thrilling 89 yard punt return. His career was characterized by significant turnover, both of his starting quarterbacks (he played with three different ones) and in the coaching staff, as he remained with the program even after the departure of former head coach Pete Carroll. While he doesn’t have the same statistics as some of the other wide receivers, his speed, willingness to pursue balls in the middle of the field and potential upside make him an interesting gamble for the late rounds.

Video: Highlights from Johnson’€™s senior season at USC

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Potential Patriots, ronald johnson, USC
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