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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Colorado OT Nate Solder

02.22.11 at 11:00 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 2011 NFL draft.

Nate Solder

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Colorado

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 314 pounds

Achievements: Consensus First Team All-American (2010)

What he brings: Solder has been praised by scouts and analysts alike for his great footwork, agility and strength. He is a highly regarded run blocker who gets to the second level quickly and doesn’t give up until the whistle blows. He still needs work as a pass blocker, as he is prone to getting beat by speedy pass rushers, and he does not project as an immediate starter. However, his talent, size and work ethic are enough to land him in the middle of the first round in most mock drafts.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17

Notes: Solder became the first ever offensive tackle at Colorado to earn consensus All-America honors. He has no injury history and has displayed remarkable durability, as he was on the field for all but two offensive snaps over his final three years at Colorado.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Missouri DE/OLB Aldon Smith

02.21.11 at 6:36 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.

Aldon Smith

Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker

School: Missouri

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 260 pounds

Achievements: First Team All-Big 12 (2010)

What he brings: Smith surprised some by leaving school early for the draft. Many analysts think he could’ve used another year in school to bulk up, develop more moves on the pass rush and enter next year’s draft as a top-10 talent. Despite that, most of them are still projecting him to go in the middle of the first round because of his upside. Smith registered 19 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks last season and is lauded for his great burst off the line of scrimmage and ability to get to the quarterback quickly.

Where the Patriots could get him: No. 17, No. 28

Notes: Smith has been labeled a ‘tweener because he isn’t quite strong enough yet to line up as a down lineman in the NFL, but he doesn’t have any experience as a stand-up outside linebacker. Although it certainly seems like he has the tools to be an effective pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme like the Patriots’, the fact that he’s never had to drop back in coverage certainly raises some questions about whether or not he could be an every-down linebacker.

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Ellis Hobbs expected to retire

02.21.11 at 3:51 pm ET
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According to a report from Fox Sports, former Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs III is expected to retire due to neck injuries. Just 27 years of age, Hobbs suffered a neck injury as a member of the Eagles while returning a kick against the Giants on Nov. 21. He did noy play again and was placed on injured reserve.

The Patriots selected Hobbs in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft out of Iowa State. He played four seasons for the Patriots and set the NFL record for longest kickoff return on Sept. 9 2007 against the Jets. Hobbs was traded to the Eagles during the 2009 NFL draft for a pair of fifth-round picks and played two seasons in Philadelphia.

Hobbs was placed on injured reserve with separate neck injuries in each of his two seasons with the Eagles. The second such hit, a helmet-to-helmet hit from the Giants’ Dave Tollefson on the play below, proved to be the final play of his career.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Alabama DL Marcell Dareus

02.21.11 at 3:26 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 2011 NFL draft.

Marcell Dareus

Position: Defensive lineman

School: Alabama

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 306 pounds

Achievements: BCS Championship MVP (2010)

What he brings: Considered by many to be the best five-technique prospect in the draft, Dareus has the experience of playing the position in Nick Saban‘€™s 3-4. A player’€™s association with a ‘€œBelichick school’€ should never be overlooked, as the Pats took three players from Florida and added Alabama’€™s Brandon Deaderick in last year’€™s draft. Dareus had 11 sacks over his sophomore and junior seasons and his pass-rushing skills project to the next level.

Where the Patriots could get him: Top 10 (trade up)

Notes: Dareus was suspended for the first two games of his junior season for accepting benefits from an agent, as he was tied in with the mess surrounding North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin that also included fellow top prospect Robert Quinn. Some see him as a potential top five pick, but given the Broncos‘€™ switch to the 4-3, the Bills (No. 3 overall) and Cardinals (No. 5) are the only teams picking in the top five that run the 3-4. That doesn’€™t mean there aren’€™t plenty of teams that would be willing to move up to get their hands on him.

Dareus has overcome a lot in his life, as his father died when he was six and his mother, who was confined to a wheel-chair in recent years, died last May. He has six siblings, and his mother was not his legal guardian in the several years leading up to her death.

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Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has hip surgery

02.21.11 at 1:22 am ET
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Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez recently underwent surgery on his hip, according to this story in the Hartford Courant. On Sunday, Hernandez showed up at a skills camp organized by his brother D.J., a high school football coach in Southington, Conn. on crutches, and apparently told campers the crutches were because of hip surgery. (This story has a picture of Hernandez at the camp while on crutches. For what it’s worth, he’s smiling, so it doesn’t appear to be too serious.) The Florida product, who had 45 catches for 563 yards and six touchdowns his rookie season with New England, was on the injury report with a right hip problem several times throughout the season, but still finished the year as one of the leading receivers on the team.

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NFLPA reaches out to local fan sites for Monday UStream broadcast

02.20.11 at 12:48 pm ET
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In an apparent attempt to take their message directly to the fans, the National Football League Players Association is reaching out to fan forums and web sites to help with a live UStream event on Monday afternoon that will hopefully provide some updates on the labor situation.

Ian Logue, the creator and administrator of Patsfans.com, was recently contacted by the NFLPA, saying his site was identified as a “point of contact” for Patriots fans. Via the Patsfans.com forum, Logue assembled a series of questions for the broadcast which were submitted ‘€” along with questions from fan sites across the globe ‘€” that will be part of Monday’s broadcast, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and run for roughly a couple of hours and will hopefully involving NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith, provided Smith is not involved in an active meeting with the league at the time.

Fans can find out if their questions will be answered by watching the event on UStream.tv (fans can also submit their questions during the broadcast). For more on the broadcast, check out NFLLockout.com. If you want to hang out with Patriots fans and watch the broadcast, Logue says there will be a gathering at the Wings Your Way Sports Bar & Restaurant, located in North Hampton, New Hampshire ‘€” for more on that, click here.

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Report: Deal for Jarrad Page will cost Patriots a seventh rounder in 2012

02.18.11 at 5:44 pm ET
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The trade of defensive back Jarrad Page from Kansas City to the Patriots last September cost New England “future draft considerations” when it was first announced. However, a report in Friday’s Kansas City Star reports the deal will cost the Patriots a seventh-round pick in the 2012 draft. With New England this past season, Page played in 10 games, seeing time at safety as well as on special teams and finishing the season with two interceptions, 13 tackles, two passes defensed and six special teams tackles.

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