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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Missouri DE Kony Ealy

04.06.14 at 9:11 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 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.

KONY EALY

Position: Defensive end

School: Missouri

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 273 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-SEC, 2011 Big 12 all-freshman team

What he brings: Scouts point out Ealy’€™s athleticism and speed that allows him to have solid initial quickness off the snap. Scouts also say, though, that Ealy needs to continue developing his awareness of the game. As a junior in 2013, Ealy had 43 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Ealy was roommates with Michael Sam while at Missouri. Although Sam was the SEC’€™s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Ealy is projected to have more of an upside. … Ealy had the fastest 3-cone drill time of any defensive lineman at the NFL combine. His 40-yard-dash time was an unimpressive 4.97, but he improved on that at Missouri’s pro day last month, reportedly running in the 4.6 range.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Kony Ealy doesn’t see Michael Sam as off-field distraction

USA Today: NFL Draft diary: Missouri’s Kony Ealy looks ahead to pro day

Columbia Daily Tribune: Taking stock of Kony Ealy’s stock

Video: Here is a video highlighting Ealy’s time at Missouri.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Kony Ealy,

Sunday NFL Notes: When it comes to putting together a draft-related deal, who is Bill Belichick most likely to call?

04.06.14 at 1:52 am ET
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1. One of the easiest bets every year is the fact that the Patriots will make some sort of draft-related deal. But who is Bill Belichick‘€™s favorite trade partner? We went back and tallied up all of Belichick’€™s draft-related deals over the years, and while it’€™s important to note that not all of the draft-related deals took place on draft weekend, there were a few surprises. Oakland leads the list with nine trades, with several deals of note, including Randy Moss (acquired by New England for a fourth-round pick) and Richard Seymour (dealt to Oakland in 2009 for a first-rounder). One interesting thing here is that despite the fact that Belichick has made more draft-related deals with the Raiders than any other club, he hasn’€™t made a trade with Oakland since Al Davis died in 2011. Denver is second on the list with seven draft-related deals, most of which were relatively low-level swaps between Belichick and his friend Mike Shanahan when he held the reins with the Broncos. Green Bay and Philadelphia have six each, with most of the transactions with the Eagles coming in annual draft weekend swaps between Belichick and another friend, Andy Reid. And Baltimore and Chicago have each made five draft-related swaps, with another Friend of Bill (Ozzie Newsome) willing to work with his old colleague in helping facilitate trades on a fairly regular basis. One other note worth passing along. Since he took over in 2000, Belichick has made draft-related deals with every team in the league except two: the Jets and Colts.

2. Despite the fact that this year’€™s draft is two weeks later than it’€™s been in previous years, to this point in the pre-draft process, not much is different this time around — at least from a logistical perspective. Speaking late last month at the owners’€™ meetings, Belichick said that when it comes to scouting and evaluations, ‘€œthe process is about the same’€ as it was in year’€™s past. Belichick did indicate that the upcoming stretch — “early- to mid-April,” in his words — is a key part in the evaluation process. “Then, all that information will be pulled together and added to what we had going out back in February. We’€™ll see where all that comes in,”€ Belichick said. “At some point, it will all get pulled back together. We’€™ll talk about the players on the board. I’€™m sure we’€™ll make some changes and adjustments. And then, we’€™ll continue the process from there.” While not much is expected to change when it comes to the pre-draft process (if anything, it gives teams more of a chance to evaluate), expect changes on the back end. The seven-week stretch between the draft and the pre-training camp break will now be crammed with events in hopes of getting rookies up to speed as fast as possible. And while the elite level prospects will still rise above and distinguish themselves, the players who could be hurt the most by the smaller window are the undrafted free agents and camp invitees. In previous years, those players were able to get the attention of the coaching staff in the smaller groups that are usually the norm at rookie minicamps and distinguish themselves as a potential prospect that could eventually flourish if given the proper amount of time. Now, with less of an opportunity to make a name for themselves before the rest of the veterans return, they could get squeezed out of the picture sooner rather than later.

3. It’€™s almost hard to fathom, but two months after the Seahawks crushed the Broncos in the Super Bowl, football players can return to their facilities for the start of offseason workouts this week. Teams that hired a new coach this offseason are allowed to begin offseason workout programs on Monday — that means Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Minnesota, Tampa, Tennessee and Washington are all allowed to get started on their prep work for 2014. As for teams with returning head coaches like the Patriots, they have to wait until April 21. We covered much of what you’€™re allowed to do (and not do) during the offseason programs, but it’€™s worth reiterating here. Phase one covers two weeks, and only rehab and strength and conditioning is allowed. Phase two runs for three weeks, and that’€™s when individual player instruction and drills are permitted but no live contact or offense vs. defense drills. Phase three covers four weeks, and includes 10 days of organized team activities. Again, no live contact is permitted, but teams can run 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

4. The idea of Donald Trump buying the Bills surfaced this week, and at least from this viewpoint, it wasn’€™t completely coincidental that the news came down during the week of April Fools Day. The word is that the sale of the franchise is on the fast track, but the idea of selling to someone like Trump would be bad news for the Bills, as well as the rest of the league. While he would likely have some support around the league (it’€™s reasonable to think that he’€™d have an ally in Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who he counts as a friend), and it’€™s presumed he would be able to pull together the money, it would be a stretch to see him getting the requisite votes needed to gain ownership. One only needs to look at his track record as an owner in the USFL, where some believe he helped sink the league. While there are occasional exceptions to the rule (see Jerry Jones), it’€™s also likely that Trump’€™s occasionally flashy style wouldn’€™t be a welcome addition. There’€™s always the chance that Trump could change his ways, but the idea that someone of his ilk would be welcomed with open arms into one of the most exclusive sporting clubs on the planet seems far-fetched.

5. Keeping with the Bills theme, Buffalo’€™s pickup of wide receiver Mike Williams represents another offensive option for the Patriots consider when they meet their division opponents twice a year. The occasionally erratic Williams — who brings a lot of baggage to the table with arrests, fines for missing meetings and injury — was dealt by the Bucs for a sixth-round pick. If Buffalo can get him to buy into the program, he could bring an intriguing skill set to the Bills passing game. The Syracuse product (who had a contentious relationship with Bills coach Doug Marrone while the two were together at Syracuse) had three straight years of 60-plus catches, including two consecutive seasons of 65 catches in 2010 and 2011. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Williams joins an offense that already has Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin, as well as running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Regardless, it’€™s clear that Williams could benefit from a fresh start somewhere, and could represent a win-win for both sides if it all works out. Williams signed a huge six-year, $40.5 million contract with the Bucs last July, but played in just six games in 2013 because of a hamstring issue. Tampa Bay would have been on the hook for a big cap hit if it kept Williams, but were able to get out from under a bad contract with the move. Conversely, Buffalo only owes Williams $1.8 million in 2014, and a sizable portion of that is tied up in a workout bonus. It also changes things when it comes to the draft — expect the Bucs to be primarily interested in a wide receiver at No. 7, with some of the possibilities being Clemson’€™s Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans of Texas A&M if they’€™re still available. Meanwhile, you have to figure that this takes the Bills out of the running for a receiver.
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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack

04.05.14 at 9:30 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 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.

KHALIL MACK

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Buffalo

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 251 pounds

Achievements: 2013 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, 2013 first-team All-American, 2013, 2012, 2011 first team All-MAC, 2010 third-team All-MAC

What he brings: Mack is considered by many scouts to the best talent in a talented 2014 draft class. One of the most athletically gifted outside linebackers in college, Mack has a high-energy motor, excellent frame and impressive burst. He has an ideal build and great edge speed. While Mack can get to the quarterback, he struggles in other aspects of his game, particularly dropping into coverage and tackling in open space.

Where the Patriots could get him: Mack is projected to be a top-10 pick, so the Patriots undoubtedly would need to trade up to get him.

Notes: In 2013 Mack recorded 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. For his career, Mack had 28.5 sacks, an NCAA-record 16 forced fumbles and an NCAArecord-tying 75 tackles for loss. … In 2012 Mack got into a fight with teammate Fred Lee and was suspended for the first game of that season. … Mack did not miss any games in college due to injury.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Buffalo’€™s Khalil Mack is surest thing in 2014 NFL draft

NFL.com: Buffalo LB Khalil Mack breaks record shared by Terrell Suggs

Video: Here are Mack’€™s 2013 highlights with Buffalo.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Khalil Mack,

At this point in offseason, where are Patriots personnel priorities?

04.04.14 at 9:55 pm ET
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With the offseason now one-third of the way done — and most of free agency now complete — the Patriots still have to address a few specific areas of need as part of the team-building process. Here’s a look at four personnel questions that have to be dealt with between now and the start of training camp.

Backup linebacker: Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher departed as free agents this offseason, with Spikes heading to Buffalo and Fletcher signing with Tampa Bay. Neither were starters, but over the last two seasons, both were called upon to play significant snaps for the Patriots. As a result, New England is a little thin when it comes to their linebacker depth. Currently on the roster, the Patriots have a few possibilities when it comes to backing up the expected starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, including Steve Beauharnais, who just finished his rookie season. But their pursuit of veteran free agent Wesley Woodyard was likely a sign they believe they need more help when it comes to depth at the spot.

Strong safety: Steve Gregory was cut loose earlier this offseason, and Adrian Wilson was released on Friday. And while the Patriots did bring back Patrick Chung on Thursday, there’s some uncertainty as to what New England plans on doing at the position. Two things to remember: one, the Patriots like their defensive backs to be versatile, and so shuffling DBs from one spot to another wouldn’t be a surprise. And two, on that same vein, there are some possibilities on the roster, including Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, the latter of whom has been the subject of much speculation this offseason when it comes to a possible move to free safety. In addition, there’s Tavon Wilson, who slid down the depth chart in 2013 to more of a special teams role, one that’s also occupied by fellow safeties Kanorris Davis and Nate Ebner. (And there’s always the possibility that Gregory could return on a reworked deal — he said this week despite the fact that he was cut by New England, “it would definitely be a place I would love to go back to.”) Regardless of whether or not New England decides to address the position in the draft, right now, it’s shaping up to be one of the more intriguing camp battles this spring and summer.

Situational pass rusher: The Patriots were believed to be at least partially in the mix for Jared Allen in free agency before he signed with the Bears, and while New England does currently have youngsters Jake Bequette and Michael Buchanan on the roster as backup defensive ends, it’s a fair dropoff at this point from the starting duo of Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. In terms of free agents who could still be on the market, Will Smith remains a possibility, but his recent injury woes leave him questionable at this stage of his career. When it comes to other in-house possibilities, Andre Carter could return for at least part of the season if New England struggles to find help — he sure sounds open to the possibility of returning. In addition, Armond Armstead could also be in the mix as an interior pass rushing presence at some point if he ever does get healthy. It’s also expected that if veteran Tommy Kelly can stay on the field, he’ll offer some support as another interior pass rushing presence in 2014.

Depth at tight end and running back: While New England appears to be set when it comes to starters at the two positions, it could really use some depth at both spots, and both will likely be addressed in some form or fashion come the second and/or third day of the draft. Despite the fact the Patriots might be more inclined to move away from the two-tight end sets they ran over the last few seasons, another tight end to compliment Rob Gronkowski could be had in this draft, especially given the fact that this year appears to be a pretty good one for tight ends. In addition, the fact that the Patriots made a serious play for veteran free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew could be taken as a sign they feel like they need someone to replace LeGarrette Blount in the backfield.

Read More: Adrian Wilson, Andre Carter, Armond Armstead, Brandon Spikes

Three Friday night pre-draft thoughts on Patriots connections with Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin and Crockett Gilmore

04.04.14 at 9:32 pm ET
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Three Friday night pre-draft thoughts on the Patriots:

1. Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks told the NFL Network on Friday that the Patriots have worked him out. With the understanding that “worked out” could have many different definitions when it comes to the pre-draft process, Cooks presents himself as an interesting prospect as it relates to New England. The 5-foot-10, 189-pounder out of Oregon State is considered one of the better receivers in this year’s draft — the Biletnikoff award winner set the Oregon State and Pac-12 records for catches with 128, receiving yards with 1,730 and touchdown catches with 24 as a junior in 2013. While he had terrific numbers as a collegian, he really landed on a lot of radar screens with an excellent performance at the combine in February, where he was the top performer in the 20-yard (3.81) and 60-yard (10.81) shuttles, and had the best wide receiver time (4.33) in the 40-yard dash. It’s debatable as to whether or not he’d be available the Patriots pick at No. 29, and as a result, New England might have to swing a draft weekend deal to move up if they want a shot at Cooks.

2. While receiver isn’t considered an overwhelming need for the Patriots in the draft, Cooks is just the latest relatively high-profile pass catchers who has drawn the interest of the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. Late last month, the New England coaching staff apparently took a long look at Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin. From our viewpoint, Benjamin is the most impressive receiver — from a physical standpoint — we’ve seen throughout the pre-draft process. While there are questions about his consistency, it’s easy to look at his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame and think about the possibility of a Calvin Johnson-type presence in the passing game. In 2013, he caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for the national champions. Considered a late first-round/early second-round possibility, could be available if New England sticks at 29 and wants to throw everyone curveball by getting a receiver in the first round.

3. Tony Pauline — an eminently reliable source when it comes to pre-draft visiting, scouting and the like — noted Friday the Patriots brought in tight end Crockett Gilmore from Colorado State in for a visit earlier in the week. Gilmore is a fascinating prospect for a few reasons — considered a mid-round possibility, the 6-foot-6, 260-pounder was named first-team All-Mountain West in 2013 after finishing with 43 catches for 533 yards for CSU. He also has some interesting versatility in that he’s a converted defensive end, having made the switch from one side of the ball to the other between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Want to know more about Gilmore? Check out his own website, CrockettGilmore.com.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, Brandin Cooks, Crockett Gilmore, Kelvin Benjamin

Adrian Wilson tweets his thanks to Patriots after his release from club: ‘Can’t make the club in the tub’

04.04.14 at 3:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Adrian Wilson era is over in Foxboro before it really ever began.

The Patriots released the 34-year-old safety on Friday, just over a year after being signed as depth in the secondary.

Wilson was signed on March 15, 2013 to a three-year deal. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Wilson established himself as one of the hardest-hitting safeties in football, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl, three All-Pro honors and a trip to Super Bowl XLIII. In 11 seasons, he recorded 25 sacks and 25 interceptions.

He was released by the Cardinals on March 8, 2013, then signed by the Patriots a week later for three years and $5 million.

Wilson originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice (64th overall) by the Cardinals out of North Carolina State in 2001. He was released by Arizona on March 8, 2013. Wilson has played in 181 career games with 162 starts and compiled 716 tackles, 25½ sacks and 27 interceptions in his 12 years with the Cardinals. He holds the NFL record for most sacks in a single season by a defensive back (8), is the Cardinals’€™ all-time leader in passes defensed (99) and forced fumbles (15), and his 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2006 is tied with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for the longest in team history.

Right after he joined the team, he offered Kyle Arrington a year’s supply of diapers for Arrington’s newborn baby to have Arrington’s jersey number 24, the number Wilson had in Arizona. Wilson eventually got his No. 24 jersey Arrington. <a href="http://audio.weei.com/football/kyle-arrington.htm" Arrington was reassigned to No. 25. Now, Darrelle Revis can have No. 24, the number he’s played with on the Jets and Buccaneers.

Wilson never played a regular season snap for the Patriots as he was placed on season-ending injured reserved on Aug. 31, 2013 with an achilles injury.

Read More: Adrian Wilson, New England Patriots, nfl,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Colorado State C Weston Richburg

04.04.14 at 10:03 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 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.

WESTON RICHBURG

Position: Center

School: Colorado State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 298 pounds

Achievements: 2013 Mountain West first team, 2012, Mountain West honorable mention, 2011 Mountain West second team, 2010 Mountain West honorable mention

What he brings: Richburg, a two-time captain at Colorado State, has solid initial quickness and is a durable player. He helped the 2013 Rams to the most prolific scoring offense in school history with a school-record 470.8 yards per game. The knock on Richburg is that he lacks athleticism and ideal size. He helped his cause with a solid showing at the Senior Bowl and is considered by many to be the top center in the draft.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Richburg was a quarterback and a linebacker as a freshman in high school before growing out of those positions and into his role as an offensive lineman. While at Colorado State, Richburg started in 50 consecutive games over the course of four years — a school record. … Richburg, who redshirted his first year at Colorado State, completed his degree in animal science last summer and started a second degree during his final season with the Rams.

Related articles:

MLive.com: Colorado State’s Weston Richburg, one of the best centers in the draft, eyeing Detroit Lions

USA Today: Weston Richburg is the center of attention

Video: Here is a video highlighting Richburg’s performance in a game against Alabama

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Potential Patriots, Weston Richburg,
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