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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Texas LB Keenan Robinson

03.28.12 at 2:16 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 2012 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.

KEENAN ROBINSON

Position: Inside linebacker

School: Texas

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 242 pounds

Achievements: Coaches All-Big XII second team (2011), AP All-Big XII second team (2010), Butkus Award semifinalist (2010, 2011), 2011 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP

What he brings: A pure 4-3 linebacking prospect, the speedy Robinson projects as more of a quick, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Jerod Mayo as opposed to a downhill, Brandon Spikes-type run stuffer. Robinson’€™s greatest asset is his speed, a talent that some teams project can be better utilized on the outside of a 4-3, allowing him to better roam in space. Robinson was underutilized as a blitzer while playing middle linebacker at Texas, leaving his capability as a pass rusher largely enigmatic should he move to the outside.

Robinson has a reputation for hitting with a vengeance and does a good job of bringing down ballcarriers. However, scouts have slammed his ability to fight through blocks and attack the line of scrimmage, claiming that he tends to go around blocks rather than through them. When he does go inside, Robinson is known to get swallowed up when taking on larger blockers. Despite the holes in his game, Robinson is universally identified as a high-character player and leader with solid game tape, which may be enough to outweigh the issues raised by draft experts.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: Robinson came into the 2011 college season as one of the top inside linebackers in the draft, but he has fallen drastically as scouts continue to pick apart his game. In one of his early drafts last year, ESPN’€™s Todd McShay had Robinson going No. 23 overall. Now, though, Robinson’€™s stock has drifted toward the middle rounds.

The speed-reliant prospect’€™s performance at the combine was hit-and-miss. Robinson’€™s 4.79-second 40-yard dash ranked 23rd out of 29 linebackers, which could raise eyebrows when talking about a player who has such high-end game speed. Meanwhile, Robinson’€™s 27 reps on the bench press was in the top five at the combine for his position.

Related articles:

The Daily Texan: Keenan Robinson displaying his versatility

Endzone Report: Q&A with Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson

Stateman.com: Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho give Longhorns twice as much punch at linebacker

Video: Here’€™s a package of Robinson’€™s highlights from his final game at Texas: the 2011 Holiday Bowl against Cal. Robinson recorded nine tackles in a 21-10 victory.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo

Rob Gronkowski ‘making big improvements’ after surgery

03.28.12 at 1:56 pm ET
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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said Wednesday afternoon that his recovery from surgery on his left ankle Feb. 10 has been going well, and he’s looking forward to getting ready for preseason camp.

“I’m feeling good,” he told ESPN Radio. “I’m feeling way better than I did the day after surgery. From last week, too, making big improvements. Obviously not there where I want to be yet, but getting better every single day, getting stronger every day, just taking it week by week and then narrowing it down day by day. I can’t wait to get 100 percent healthy so I can get rolling this offseason, get my cardio, get my strength to where I want it to be for camp.”

Asked about a recovery time frame, Gronkowski said: “It’s like a process of 8-12 weeks depending on people’s bodies, depending on how people react, and being an athlete, too. It’s the offseason, you want to take it slow, you want to make sure you’re 100 percent before you get out there.”

As he prepares for his third NFL season, Gronkowski said he isn’t concerned at all about a long-term contract. Although, asked if he would want to work out an extension with the Patriots, Gronkowski said: “Who wouldn’t? Come on, anyone would.”

Read More: Rob Gronkowski,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick

03.28.12 at 8:19 am 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 2012 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.

DRE KIRKPATRICK

Position: Cornerback

School: Alabama

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 192 pounds

Achievements: First-team All-America (FWAA 2011, CBSsports.com 2011, PFW 2011), second-team AP All-America (2011), second-team All-SEC (2011), finalist for Thorpe Award

What he brings: Kirkpatrick played as a reserve defensive back in 12 games during his freshman year, then blossomed over his next two seasons into one of the best cornerbacks available for the 2012 draft. Kirkpatrick is a physical player who does well in man coverage. He has good size and speed and has been credited with a high football IQ, which is something Bill Belichick likes to see from his players. He reads the receiver well and can change directions and recover quickly. He also recognizes what the quarterback wants to do and can bait quarterbacks into inaccurate passes.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 27 or trade up

Notes: Kirkpatrick won the team’s Bart Starr Most Improved Player Award in the spring of 2011. His draft stock dropped briefly after he was arrested in January for possession of marijuana, but the charges were later dropped. Kirkpatrick’s statistics are not that impressive. He recorded 86 tackles and three interceptions in his collegiate career, but scouts say those numbers are low because teams stayed away from his side of the field.

Recent articles:

Ex-Bama star Dre Kirkpatrick arrested on drug charge

Drug charge against Dre Kirkpatrick dropped

Dre Kirkpatrick’s metamorphosis boosts Alabama secondary

Video: Here’s a highlight package of Kirkpatrick.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Dre Kirkpatrick,

Eleven under-the-radar prospects for the Patriots to ponder

03.28.12 at 12:52 am ET
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A league source indicates the Patriots have shown some interest in Wabash wide receiver/return man Wes Chamblee out of tiny Wabash College in Indiana. A Division III All-American, Chamblee posted some amazing numbers as a collegian, including 14 touchdowns (four of them return TDs) and 1,800 all-purpose yards as a senior. (Click HERE to watch video of Chamblee as a collegian.)

While everyone knows about the big names, Chamblee is one of several relatively under-the-radar prospects New England has connected with on and off throughout the pre-draft process. Here are ten similar players, most of whom have drawn the notice of the Patriots (whether via a workout, visit, or Pro Day contact) who could be worth paying attention to between now and draft weekend:

Wide receiver Brian Quick (Appalachian State): We profiled Quick earlier in the week, but multiple sources have now indicated that the Patriots have shown an extreme interest in the wide receiver. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, a former high school basketball star, is relatively new to football, as he played just one year in high school before reaching college, so he’€™s still developing. Regardless, there’€™s plenty of pre-draft buzz around Quick, as his size and senior numbers (71 catches, 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns) mean he likely won’€™t last past the third round.

Defensive end/outside linebacker Ryan Davis (Bethune-Cookman): Multiple sources indicate that Davis worked out for the Patriots on Tuesday. (Tony Pauline of SI.com was first to report the news.) The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder is a converted tight end who led the MEAC in sacks (12) and tackles for loss (21.5) as a senior while earning defensive player of the year honors.

Tight end Emil Igwenagu (UMass): The Patriots were in attendance at UMass Pro Day and had the opportunity to see the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder. (Igwenagu also had a chance to work out at BC Pro Day, and several New England staffers were also in attendance there.) As a senior, he caught 38 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
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Read More: Brian Quick, Chris Greenwood, Emil Igwenagu, Jerron McMillian

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Appalachian State WR Brian Quick

03.27.12 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 2012 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.

BRIAN QUICK

Position: Wide receiver

School: Appalachian State

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 220 pounds

Achievements: 2011 FCS All-American (Coaches), 2010 second-team All-Southern Conference, 2010 Phil Steele second-team All-American

What he brings: A quick look at Quick’s career statistics prove the 22-year-old is a talented player. Quick is the Mountaineers’ all-time leader in touchdowns (31), receptions (202) and receiving yards (3,148). Those statistics are even more impressive considering Quick played just one year of high school football before arriving on campus. He was a basketball star in high school.

Quick is a well-rounded athlete with a strong work ethic and a promising learning curve, making him exactly the type of player that Bill Belichick likes to work with. He also shows plenty of promise. Although Quick is a small-school talent, he put up impressive numbers in his senior season, when he caught 71 passes for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Quick needs some refining in terms of technique. He could take time to develop into a strong wide receiver at the next level and is a project. However, Quick ran a 4.48 and 4.53 40-yard dash at the combine, which helped raise his draft stock since most scouting reports on Quick claim he will struggle to stretch the field at the next level. Quick is tall and thin, drawing comparisons to Plaxico Burress when he was coming out of college. He excels at going up for the ball but needs to work on his sidestep and comeback routes.

Quick is expected to be the first FCS player taken in the draft this season.

Related articles
:

Winston-Salem Journal: ASU’s Quick was late arrival to football

FoxNews.com: In the FCS Huddle: FCS prospects line up behind Quick

Charlotte Observer: For Quick, smell of football is better

Video: Here are some clips of Quick against Elon University on Nov. 19.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Brian Quick,

Bill Belichick speaks about wide receivers, roster moves at coaches breakfast

03.27.12 at 11:37 am ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick‘s notoriously terse relationship with the media has been well-documented, so it was not much of a surprise when last year he was a no-show for the coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings. This year, however, the breakfast seemed to be more his cup of tea, as Belichick made an appearance and fielded questions from the media for about 45 minutes. Still, Belichick spoke mostly in generalities during his session with reporters.

Belichick refused to get specific when talking about expectations for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who reportedly restructured his contract so that he will earn $1 million in 2012 rather than $3 million.

“I think I have the same expectations for all our players, it doesn’€™t make a difference who they are or what year they are in — come in, work hard, be prepared, go out there and compete on the field,” Belichick told the assembled media. “There is no difference for any player ‘€“ first year, second year, 10th year.”

Ochocinco recorded 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown in his first season with New England. Those totals were the lowest by any of the team’s regular receivers, and the Patriots largely targeted receivers other than Ochocinco in most games. In the offseason, New England appears to have continued to look away from Ochocinco, as it signed receivers Brandon Lloyd, Donte’ Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez in addition to re-signing Deion Branch for another year.

“You always try to have competition at every position,” Belichick said. “We’€™ve always had about that many receivers going to camp — 10, 11, somewhere in there — [and] we’€™ll see what the roster limit ends up being this year.”

Belichick had no update on the status of Wes Welker, whom the Patriots used a franchise tag on but have yet to negotiate a contract with. Belichick said he did not know if Welker will participate in offseason activities.

When asked about the potential for offensive linesman Matt Light‘s retirement, Belichick refused to speculate.

“If we have any announcements to make on any players, we’ll make them when appropriate,” Belichick said.

Belichick offered a brief glimpse into his thoughts on the league’s suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton. Patriots beat writer Ian Rapoport tweeted: Bill Belichick called the situation surrounding Sean Payton “unfortunate” and said the league “did what it did.”

Belichick also flashed his sense of humor. According to the Patriots Twitter account, when a reporter began a question about character by asking “How much do you weigh,” Belichick quickly responded by saying “too much.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Matt Light, sean payton

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber

03.27.12 at 9:57 am 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 2012 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.

KYLE WILBER

Position: Outside linebacker/defensive end

School: Wake Forest

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 249 pounds

Achievements: Phil Steele third-team All-ACC (2010), College Football News All-America Freshman Team honorable mention

What he brings: A tenacious defender who is great in pursuit, Wilber showcased his versatility while switching from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker at Wake Forest as the team changed defensive philosophies. Due to his size, Wilber will most likely be valued higher by teams that would plug him into a 3-4, where his speed and long frame can best be utilized.

As an edge rusher, Wilber has a lot going for him in terms of his length, quickness and tenacity. With a quick burst and good use of leverage, Wilber can be a solid speed rush guy, but he has to avoid getting washed behind quarterbacks by quicker tackles. Against the run, Wilber shows great range in run support, works well in space on the outside and shoots gaps well to get penetration. However, he is limited when taking on blockers at the point of attack and could be susceptible to teams running at him.

Wilber is functional enough in coverage, especially as a player who didn’€™t start playing linebacker until halfway through his college career. Wilber has received solid reviews in his zone coverage, where his speed translates quite well. However, he should not be asked to do too much in man coverage right away, especially against receivers and athletic tight ends.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-5

Notes: Wilber is a long way from being a three-down defender in the NFL, but he has the potential to contribute quickly in the right subpackages. Against more open formations, Wilber’€™s speed and pursuit will suit him well against spread teams. Against more smashmouth teams, though, Wilber is at a disadvantage.

Wilber’€™s greatest knock is his strength, which, combined with his light frame, severely limits his potential as a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Teams likely will wait to improve his strength and add weight to his frame before they try to use him on earlier downs. Wilber could easily add 10 pounds to his frame without losing much in terms of quickness. If he were to bulk up and improve his strength, Wilber has the potential down the road to move into a role similar to that of Mark Anderson this past season.

Related articles:

Winston-Salem Journal: Wilber fits in with Deacs

Winston-Salem Journal: Wilber makes his mark

Winston-Salem Journal: This one is personal

Video: Here’€™s a highlight package of Wilber playing in Wake Forest’s 2011 matchup against NC State.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Kyle Wilber,
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