|04.30.16 at 3:02 am ET|
FOXBORO — It was the most Patriotic moment of the night at the NFL Draft. And Nick Caserio and the Patriots personnel loved it.
“The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select Joe Thuney, linebacker, North Carolina State!” Kevin Faulk said with authority.
The former Patriots running back, who is up for selection to the Patriots Hall of Fame this year, wanted it to be known that he and the Patriots disapprove of the league winning its appeal with the Second District Appellate Court that reinstated Brady’s four-game suspension for Deflategate.
What did Caserio think?
“That’s why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame,” said Caserio, the Patriots player personnel director who spoke about the Patriots four draft picks on Friday. “We all love Kevin Faulk. Nobody more than Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick and I was actually able to develop a real good relationship with Kevin Faulk.
“Kevin Faulk’s one of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I think he certainly showed that tonight.”
|04.30.16 at 2:19 am ET|
FOXBORO — Here are five quick things we learned after Day 2 of the 2016 NFL draft from a Patriots perspective.
1. The Patriots are always going to make trades.
The Patriots traded their No. 61 pick to the Saints in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 78 overall) and a fourth-round pick (No. 112 overall). This shouldn’t come as any surprise as Bill Belichick has made 54 draft-day trades in 16 drafts with the Patriots. The only year with no trades was 2004. With about a 100-pick gap following their original last third-round selection and their next pick in the sixth round, it was a no brainer a trade was going to happen to get either a fourth or fifth-round pick. And then with eight picks on Saturday, don’t be shocked to see a few of those traded away for the team possibly to move up.
2. The Patriots love versatility.
The one thing Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones (selected No. 61 overall) and offensive lineman Joe Thuney (selected No. 78 overall) have in common is their versatility. Jones can play both corner and safety given his size and he’s a dynamic punt returner. Thuney on the other hand has played every offensive line spot over his four years at N.C State. Having this trait is likely one of the main reasons why the team selected these players where they did. Jones could help take the pressure off Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman in the return game and the Patriots still need a swing tackle and Thuney could be that guy.
3. The Patriots always take a quarterback.
Since 1999, the Patriots have selected nine quarterbacks in the draft, which is tied for the second-most during that span. So when the Patriots selected quarterback Jacoby Brissett it wasn’t too surprising, but it was a bit of a surprise that they used a third-round pick on him. Following the draft, director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the team knew they would take a quarterback given they only have two on the roster. This suggests the team could trade Jimmy Garoppolo following this season, but that is a debate for a different day.
|04.30.16 at 1:26 am ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable break down a busy opening day for the Patriots at the 2016 NFL draft. The Patriots, who did not have a first-round pick on Day 1 on Thursday due to their role in Deflategate, opened the second-round by selecting Alabama corner Cyrus Jones with their 60th pick overall. They traded their 61st pick overall to the Saints for the 78th pick and 112th pick overall. With the 78th pick, they took offensive lineman Joe Thuney out of North Carolina State. With the 91st pick they took Thuney’s teammate and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. They concluded the third round with the selection of Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.
|04.30.16 at 1:23 am ET|
FOXBORO — The first three rounds of the NFL draft are done, and while a sizable portion of the team-building is complete, each team will get several more shots at adding some talent over the course of the final four rounds, set for Saturday. With that in mind, here are five players (in no particular order) who might appeal to the Patriots with their final eight picks on Saturday.
WR Daniel Braverman — Western Michigan — With some sneaky quickness, nice slot skills and excellent special teams value, the 5-foot-10, 163-pound Braverman practically screams “Potential Patriot.” He caught 212 passes for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in his three years as a collegian, and added 25 career punt returns and 15 kick returns for good measure. A shifty slot product, there are some questions about whether or not his size will allow him to succeed at the next level. But his skill set and college pedigree certainly suggest someone who would find a way in Foxboro.
LB Steve Longa — Rutgers — The Patriots haven’t been shy about going after Scarlet Knights over the last few seasons, and Longa would allow them to continue that tradition. The 6-foot-1, 241-pounder who grew up in Cameroon distinguished himself as a big hitter at Rutgers, finishing with three seasons of 100-plus tackles. In February, he was asked about the toughness that Rutgers players show when it comes to making it in the league, and he dropped the names of a few guys who have starred with the Patriots. “We may not be the most recruited guys going into college. We may not be the guys who got recruited to big-time schools. But there’s something about Rutgers guys who make it to the league,” he said. “You can see it in New England. There’s a reason why (the Patriots) draft Rutgers guys. There’s a reason why Logan Ryan is playing there. There’s a reason why Duron Harmon is playing there. Devin (McCourty) is there. It’s because they’re smart and they play hard. And that came from where? Rutgers.”
FB Danny Vitale — Northwestern — The “superback” flashed some nice versatility in college, lining up in the backfield as well as in the slot and split wide. The 6-foot-1, 239-pounder had a typical fullback attitude, but also had a nice set of hands, finishing with 135 catches for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns as a collegian. Another late-round possibility.
OT Cole Toner — Harvard — The Ivy Leaguer connected with Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia twice in February — once, when the two shared a flight to Indy, and then again at the combine. New England went out and got the versatile Joe Thuney with one of its third-round picks, but the 6-foot-5, 306-pound Toner could be a nice depth addition for the offensive line, and allow the Patriots to land another player with New England roots.
QB Keenan Reynolds — Navy — A guy who could be the most Bill Belichick pick of all-time, Reynolds doesn’t project to be a signal-caller at the next level. But he just might have the stones to make the NFL as a running back and wide receiver. Belichick worked him out during the pre-draft process, and while the Patriots might have to reach to get him (there’s been a lot of pre-draft buzz around the 5-foot-11, 208-pounder), he could be an intriguing sixth- or seventh-round selection for New England, if he lasts that long.
|04.30.16 at 1:20 am ET|
FOXBORO — As the Patriots learned last season, versatility along the offensive line can come in real handy.
In an effort to stockpile depth along the offensive line and to stay younger, the Patriots took one of the more versatile quality offensive linemen available with their second pick of the night on Friday. They selected Joe Thuney out of North Carolina State.
How versatile was the talent worked out by Dante Scarnecchia before the draft? He started four of the five positions on the offensive line, with center being the only position missing from his impressive resume. The Patriots covered that angle by having Thuney snap some balls for Scarnecchia during the workout.
Where does Thuney (silent ‘H’) see himself fitting in?
“I think I see myself as more of an interior guy: more as guard, center. If it gets to a pinch in the game, I can go at tackle but it’s really wherever coach wants me to play. And I have experience at all five so wherever he sees me best, I think that’s the best fit for me,” Thuney said.
“Just on the interior, I feel more comfortable. I don’t have the typical length of a typical NFL tackle but I feel like I move and pull and have the leverage on the interior”
“Throughout college I’ve always been open to whatever position the coaches needed. I’ve never had a set position in mind. As the process has gone on further and further, I’ve kind of realized where my strengths lie as a player and I think that the interior probably is where the coaches see that.”
Thuney, who said he hasn’t been told where he’ll play exactly, enters an environment where he’ll be competing against the likes of Shaq Mason and Tre’ Jackson for playing time along the interior line.
|04.30.16 at 12:13 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots took N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett in the third-round with pick No. 91.
The 6-foot-4, 231-pounder said he didn’t know the team would select him until he got a phone call prior to the pick.
“I had a great visit when I was up there with those guys a couple of weeks ago and I’m just overjoyed and excited about the opportunity to learn from the Patriots — Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady,” Brissett said on a conference call after the selection. “When I got my call it was crazy.”
Brissett said Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft spoke to him over the phone.
He has two connections to the Patriots and their staff in relationships with Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. Weis recruited Brissett in his one year as Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2011.
Brissett later transferred to N.C. State.
“I think it was tremendous,” Brissett said. “Some of the stuff that the Patriots do now, kind of gave me a little familiarity with some of the stuff when I went up there. … I think he was instrumental to my learning curve in college and I definitely carry a lot of things he instilled in me at Florida.”
He’s also become close to Parcells over the years as Parcells has a house near his high school — William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Brissett has stayed close with Parcells and said he “can’t thank him enough” for all that he’s done for him.
“It started in high school,” Brissett said. “He has a house out here and he comes around my high school a lot — knows my high school coach Jack Daniels, a real good friend. I got the pleasure to meet him and I can’t even describe what type of person he is and how he benefits my life. Just help growing me as a man and preparing me for tough times, hard times, good times. He’s been so helpful to me throughout this process and keeping me steady and with a good head on my shoulders. I can’t thank him enough.”
Director of player personnel Nick Caserio acknowledged the two connections and while they weren’t the only reason in selecting him, they certainly didn’t hurt.
|04.29.16 at 11:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Three incredibly early thoughts on the Patriots selection of Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine with the No. 96 overall pick.
1. The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Valentine struggled with ankle and knee injuries over the course of his college career, but when he was healthy, he was known as a sizable presence in the middle. He finished his three-year college career with 76 tackles, including 14.5 for loss, as well as seven sacks. His best year was 2014 when he 45 tackles and three sacks.
2. Provided he stays healthy, he could have an impact as a rookie as part of a rotation along the interior of the defensive line. He has experience as a nose tackle in college, and could share time with the likes of Alan Branch, Malcom Brown and Terrance Knighton, provided he develops as a rookie.
3. Valentine left early, but still finished his coursework requirements for a journalism degree while at Nebraska. He’s on Twitter at @TheRealVRVJ.
Here are some highlights of him from 2014:
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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