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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Syracuse DE Chandler Jones

02.21.12 at 10:10 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.

CHANDLER JONES

Position: Defensive end

School: Syracuse

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 265 pounds

Achievements: All-Big East first team (2011)

What he brings: Jones, who is coming out a year early, is viewed by many to be a hybrid defensive end who could play some outside linebacker. In the past year he put on 15-20 pounds, making his body more pro-ready. His skill set is conducive to the 3-4 defensive scheme that the Patriots have used during much of Bill Belichick‘s tenure.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Jones earned a first-team Big East selection in 2011 even though he missed the first five games of the season with a knee injury. He was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week after registering six tackles and two sacks in his first game back from the injury against West Virginia. In seven games Jones managed to accumulate 39 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.

His knee injury initially caused his draft status to plummet, with predictions as low as the fifth round. However, ESPN analyst Todd McShay had Jones going to the Patriots in the first round at No. 27 in his most recent mock draft.

“Jones is an under-the-radar pass-rusher with the frame (6-5, 247) Bill Belichick likes in his DE/OLB hybrids, and he’s a gifted athlete who bends the edge naturally,” McShay wrote.

Jones earned academic honors in the spring of 2010. He has two brothers who are also athletes. Arthur plays defensive tackle for the Ravens and Jon is the light heavyweight champion of the UFC.

Video: Here are some highlights of Jones vs. West Virginia.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, chandler jones, Syracuse

Free Agent Snapshot: Mike Wallace

02.20.12 at 11:22 pm 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 Mike Wallace. 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:

Mike Wallace
Position: Wide receiver
Age: 25
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 199 pounds

Wallace is a restricted free agent, which would mean that depending on what sort of tender the Steelers place on the receiver, the Patriots could be forced to give up as much as a first-round draft pick. But New England had four selections in the first two rounds (including No. 27 and No. 31 overall), and would likely embrace the idea of giving up one of its two first-round choices to Pittsburgh, which is struggling with cap woes. (For what it’€™s worth, I would be drummed out of the media corps if I wrote a story about Wallace and didn’€™t include the fact that New England had the option to take him in the 2009 draft and went with Brandon Tate instead.)

You need a field stretcher? Wallace is the best option out there, even as an RFA. This past season with the Steelers, he had 72 catches for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, and averaged 16.6 yards per catch. He had 18 catches of 20-plus yards and was tied for third in the league with seven catches for 40 or more yards. (For perspective, Wes Welker led the Patriots in 2011 with four catches of 40-plus yards.) In two career games against New England, Wallace had 15 catches (13 of them for a first down) for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

There is historical precedent for this sort of thing happening with a receiver who has torched them in the past: We are simplifying things a bit, but Wes Welker was a restricted free agent, but the Patriots were able to pry him away from Miami for a second-round pick before the 2007 season, eventually signing him to a five-year deal.

And finally, Wallace also passes what we call the Rosevelt Colvin Test: Bill Belichick has gushed about him on several occasions, with little or no provocation. Prior to the Patriots-Steelers game in October this past year, here was Belichick on Wallace: ‘€œHe’€™s a big-play receiver. He’€™s really fast. … Nobody is going to catch him, so you have to be careful about how much space he gets when he catches the ball. I think he’€™s improved a lot from when we played them last year, just as a football player, his patience and route technique.

‘€œHe stretches the field, but he can also take a short pass and turn it into a long run, so you have to defend him from the line of scrimmage to the back of the end zone and from sideline to sideline,’€ Belichick added. ‘€œHe’€™s a tough guy to match up on. He’€™s done a good job. Obviously he’€™s worked hard and he’€™s being well-coached and he’€™s got a good quarterback and other good receivers to complement him. He’€™s part of their very productive offense.’€

Why it might not work: The Steelers could tag Wallace, which would send him back to Pittsburgh at a cost of $9.4 million, at least for another year. And if the Patriots are pondering the idea of Wallace, you can be sure that there are several other teams out there who are thinking about the same thing, including division rivals like Baltimore and Cincinnati.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate, free agent snapshot, Mike Wallace

Taking a look at the NFL calendar for the next six months

02.20.12 at 5:20 pm ET
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Here’s a quick look at the NFL calendar over the next six-plus months:

Today: Teams can begin applying franchise and transition tags to players.
Feb. 22-28: NFL combine (in Indianapolis).
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. 6: 2012 NFL regular season begins.

Resetting our ‘Free Agent Snapshot’ series

02.20.12 at 5:10 pm ET
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We started our free-agent snapshot series last week, and here are the players we’ve profiled to this point:

Defense
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan
Cornerback Brent Grimes

Offense
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne
Offensive guard Carl Nicks
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd

We have another 10 possible free-agent possibilities in tap, but what do you think of this group so far? Which one of these guys do the Patriots have the best chance at landing in free agency?

Read More: Brandon Lloyd, Brent Grimes, Carl Nicks, Cortland Finnegan

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Nebraska DT Jared Crick

02.20.12 at 2:00 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.

JARED CRICK

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Nebraska

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 285 pounds

Achievements: 2010 first-team All Big 12, 2010 second-team All-American

What he brings: A hard-working end, Crick can quickly get to the quarterback because of his effort. A great run-stopper for a defensive end with the ability to shed a block on either side, he can get to the running back both in the backfield and while chasing him down. Crick is not the most explosive player, but he has a reputation as a workhorse.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Crick was on the watch list for all the major defensive awards, but he missed most of the 2011 season with a torn pectoral muscle after recording 22 tackles and a sack in five games. His would be good fit for the Patriots system, where his size and speed would allow him to slide into the line almost immediately. He ranks eighth on the Nebraska career sack list with 20. Crick played alongside Ndamukong Suh in 2009 after being an understudy to Suh in 2008.

Recent articles:

Injury doesn’t impact draft status, size does

NFL combine next step

Video: Here’s Crick in a game vs. Texas A&M in 2010.

Read More: 2012 Potential Patriots, jared crick,

WR Brandon Lloyd: ‘Definitely be interested’ in Patriots

02.20.12 at 1:15 pm ET
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Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who previously said that he would like to follow Josh McDaniels after playing for him in both Denver and St. Louis, continued to express an interest in the new Patriots offensive coordinator.

“I’ve been very successful in Josh’s offense,” Loyd told ProFootballTalk.com. “I admire Tom Brady. I admire what that organization has done. I admire that organization and how they run things over there. I’d definitely be interested in hearing how I could possibly fit into that equation.”

Lloyd led the NFL in 2010 with 1,448 receiving yards. In nine NFL seasons among five teams, he has 311 catches for 4,784 yards and 31 touchdowns.

He was traded from the Broncos to the Rams in October last year.

The Rams could franchise Lloyd, but there is speculation that the veteran receiver will hit the open market.

Read More: Brandon Lloyd,

Former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham breaks down the New England defense in latest edition of ‘It Is What It Is’ podcast

02.20.12 at 11:41 am ET
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In the new edition of the “It Is What It Is” podcast, WEEI.com’s Christopher Price chats with former  Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, who breaks down the New England defense, with a specific look at linebackers Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo. Chatham also gives his thoughts on the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to the Giants and where the team goes from here. Click HERE to listen.

Read More: Brandon Spikes, Christopher Price, Jerod Mayo, Matt Chatham
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