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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Miami ILB Denzel Perryman

03.22.15 at 1:35 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 2015 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.

Denzel Perryman (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Denzel Perryman is a big hitter, but at 5-foot-11 there is concern about his size. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

DENZEL PERRYMAN

Position: Inside linebacker

School: Miami

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 236 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America third team, 2014 All-ACC first team, 2014, 2013 Butkus Award finalist for best linebacker, 2013 All-ACC first team, 2012 All-ACC third team, 2011 Freshman All-America

What he brings: Scouts like that Perryman uses his stout build to make hard hits and shed blockers. He is considered to be great at diagnosing plays. One concern is his height, which may make it difficult for him to cover taller receivers and tight ends. Experts would like to see him improve in man coverage but see him as a big asset in run defense. An AFC regional scout tells NFL.com, “He’s physical and plays angry at the point of attack. He’s the type of guy you like having on your team because he brings toughness to practice.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: ESPN.com ranks Perryman as the top linebacker and 31st overall in the draft. He recorded 102 tackles, two sacks and an interception in 2014.

Related articles:

Miami Herald: Perryman on staying at Miami for all four years

Bleacher Report: Perryman may be top LB in draft

Video: Perryman records eight tackles and one pass defense in the 2014 Independence Bowl against South Carolina.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, 2015 Potential Patriots, Denzel Perryman,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham

03.22.15 at 9:49 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 2015 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.

Dorial Green-Beckham (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Dorial Green-Beckham has the size and speed of an NFL receiver, but his off-field issues raise concerns. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DORIAL GREEN-BECKHAM

Position: Wide receiver

School: Missouri/Oklahoma

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 225 pounds

Achievements: 2012 Freshman All-America honorable mention

What he brings: Green-Beckham’s greatest asset is his size. His 6-foot-6 frame makes him one of the tallest receivers available in the draft. He also is praised for his great speed and sure hands. Many experts and scouts would like to see more strength on the line of scrimmage. The main concern is his off-the-field issues. He was suspended twice by Missouri following marijuana-related arrests, and was released by the team after allegedly pushing a female student down a flight of stairs. Before Green-Beckham entered college, scout Tom Lemming called him “the best high school wide receiver since Randy Moss.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Green-Beckham did not play in 2014 after his dismissal from Missouri. He enrolled at Oklahoma but never played a game for the Sooners. In 2013 as a sophomore, he had 59 receptions for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. ESPN lists him as the seventh wide receiver and 31st overall in the draft.

Related articles:

Bleacher Report: Green-Beckham could be elite WR in NFL

Columbia Tribune: Green-Beckham’s draft stock unclear

Video: Green-Beckham makes six receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn in December 2013.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, 2015 Potential Patriots, Dorial Green-Beckham,

Sunday NFL Notes: Dealing with possible rules changes after playoff wins nothing new for Bill Belichick, Patriots

03.22.15 at 5:30 am ET
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The Patriots and Ravens might end up going to the mattresses this week over the concept of unbalanced lines. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Patriots and Ravens might end up going to the mattresses this week over the concept of unbalanced lines. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1. From this viewpoint, the talk from the competition committee this week about potentially outlawing the unbalanced line that flummoxed the Ravens in the divisional playoff contest tastes distinctly like sour grapes. But then again, it’s really nothing new. Almost a dozen years after Bill Polian and the Colts griped to the league about New England’s defensive tactics in the 2003 AFC postseason, the rest of the NFL is again trying to squeeze New England. This time, it’s a proposed rules change that would state, in part, if a player declares ineligible and lines up outside the tackle, he will be penalized 5 yards for illegal formation. Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the competition committee, said this week when asked about the tactic, “Unless we had some guidelines in place, this thing may get out of hand.” But it’s no coincidence the Ravens web site took great relish in pointing out that the competition committee would be looking at the “ineligible receiver trick” performed by the Patriots this week at the league meetings. Baltimore clearly has its fingerprints all over this proposal, and as a result, it will be interesting to see if there’s any fallout between the two teams from what happened in the playoffs. Despite some occasional asides between players, the two franchises have always maintained a healthy respect for each other, with Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh professing their admiration for each other on several occasions. That wasn’t always the case between the Colts and Patriots, particularly when Polian was in charge in Indy. (It’s no coincidence that since he’s been in charge of the Patriots, the Colts are one of the few teams Belichick has never made a trade with.) Regardless of who might get their feelings hurt. if you’re a Patriots fan, it’s important to note that the year after the new rules were in place, New England ended up finishing off the second-half of back-to-back championships. We’ve said several times over the last six months that the 2014 Patriots were very reminiscent of the 2003 team, right down to the Super Bowl title. Now, the current edition has its own opportunity to overcome a rules-based roadblock instituted by a deposed conference rival. Only time will tell how New England responds.

2. Speaking of rules changes, the Patriots pushed for a few last year, and appear to be interested in doing the same thing again this week. There’s the idea of having cameras on the goal line — something Bill Belichick has been an advocate for (at least publicly) for nearly 10 years. (Asked last year how the league would pay for the additional technology, Belichick shrugged. “Maybe we could have a bake sale. Raise some money for the cameras. Do a car wash.”) And then, there’s the idea that every play should be reviewable. Belichick talked about his reasoning for the idea at last year’s meetings Orlando. “I’m not proposing more challenges. All I’m saying is, as a coach, if you want to challenge a play, I think you should be able to challenge it,” he said flatly. “And why does it have to be limited to, I don’t know, there’s four or five pages in the rules book of plays that can be challenged, and now this year there are more proposals to amend that probably because of one or two plays that happened in the league last year. I think eventually, each year, there’s going to be some other circumstance, situation that comes up and we’re going to want to add that. I mean it’s four to five pages of plays that challenge procedure. Every year it gets amended and it’s hard to keep it straight.”

3. In addition to the proposed rules changes, some other interesting league matters are also on the docket at the league meetings this week, including the annual announcement of compensatory picks. The league uses an abstract formula to determine compensatory picks, one that includes total free agents gained and lost the previous offseason, as well as how those players performed with their new teams. A team can receive a maximum of four picks, and they could fall anywhere between the end of the third round and the end of the seventh round. Last year, the Patriots received one compensatory pick, a fourth-rounder. Going forward, New England might be in line for at least one more pick. Last offseason, New England lost a host of players in free agency, including running back LeGarrette Blount, linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher and cornerback Aqib Talib. (For those of you who might think compensatory picks are relatively small potatoes, it’s worth reminding folks that quarterback Tom Brady was selected with a compensatory pick in the 2000 draft.)

4. While there’s been a ton of movement when it comes to the names at the top of the Patriots’ own free-agent board, it’s been relatively quiet for three of their remaining free agents. While New England has retained Devin McCourty, but lost Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork and Shane Vereen (among others), offensive lineman Dan Connolly, running back Stevan Ridley and long snapper Danny Aiken are all in holding patterns, at least at this point. According to our pal Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Connolly has had some suitors, but nothing has developed. In addition, other than an occasional Twitter or Instagram post here and there, things are quiet around Ridley, who continues to work his way back from an October knee injury. (His name has been mentioned in connection with a running back opening in Dallas — it would certainly make sense for a Cowboys team that wouldn’t likely pay him more than a one-year “show-me” deal because of the knee problem. He’d also likely get plenty of chances to win the job of No. 1 back with DeMarco Murray now out of the picture.) And while league sources say Aiken would like to return to Foxboro, he could see how the market develops for specialists as the spring continues.

5. Despite the fact that they have every member of their receiving corps slated to return in 2015 — and are expected to get Aaron Dobson back after a season-ending injury — the Patriots attempted courtship of free agent wide receiver Stevie Johnson is an indication they’re still interested in continuing to build depth at the receiver spot and create some competition at the position going into next season. As a result, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go after one of the veteran receivers still on the market as a way to augment what the Patriots already have. From this viewpoint, there are a handful of names out there who New England might be inclined to kick the tires on, including Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne and Greg Jennings. (We broke down Nicks as a possible addition for the Patriots here, while we’ve also been a supporter of Wayne in the past.) None of this is to suggest that any one of them would be able to be a dominant pass catcher with New England — only that it might be worth considering them as possibilities as depth additions for a team interested in bolstering its depth between now and the start of training camp.
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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida OLB Dante Fowler Jr.

03.21.15 at 1:21 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 2015 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.

Dante Fowler Jr. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A second-team All-American in 2014, Dante Fowler Jr. is one of the top linebackers in the draft. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

DANTE FOWLER JR.

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Florida

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 277 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America second team, 2014 All-SEC first team, 2014 team MVP, 2013 All-SEC second team, College Football News All-Sophomore team, 2012 SEC All-Freshman first team

What he brings: Fowler has experience playing multiple positions and filling various roles, and he was successful doing all of them. Scouts note his ability to use his size and bulk to shed blockers, as well as his athleticism, which helps him in run defense. Some experts and scouts are concerned that he will take some time adjusting to whatever role he is given in the NFL, but versatility is considered one of his strengths and he is expected to settle in and become very effective. An AFC East scout told NFL.com that Fowler will be “way better in his pros than what he is now.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Fowler finished his 2014 junior season with 57 tackles and 5.5 sacks. CBSSports.com lists him as the top outside linebacker and fourth overall in the draft. He did not miss a game in college.

Related articles:

Orlando Sentinel: Fowler’s draft stock on the rise

Video: Fowler records six tackles and a sack against Kentucky in September 2014.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, 2015 Potential Patriots, Dante Fowler Jr.,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida State C Cameron Erving

03.21.15 at 9:18 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 2015 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.

Cameron Erving (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Cameron Erving has a reputation as a standout run blocker who is not as strong protecting in the passing game. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

CAMERON ERVING

Position: Center

School: Florida State

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 308 pounds

Achievements: 2014 Jacobs Blocking Trophy for best blocker in ACC, All-ACC, 2013 Jacobs Blocking Trophy, 2013 All-America first team, 2013 All-ACC first team

What he brings: Erving is seen as one of the best run blockers in the draft, but scouts are not as impressed with his ability to protect the pass. He started his career as a tackle and switched to center in the middle of the 2014 season. He is considered very athletic for his size and has the ability to make blocks in the second level. However, there are concerns that his legs are not as strong as his upper body, which could hinder his ability to handle quick, strong defensive linemen.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: ESPN.com ranks Erving as the best center and 20th overall in the draft. He missed the 2010 season with a back injury but started every game his last two seasons with the Seminoles.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Erving among top performers at combine

Video: Here are Erving’s highlights from FSU’s November 2014 game against Miami.

Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, 2015 Potential Patriots, Cameron Erving,

Scott Chandler is excited to get to Foxboro and ‘deal with’ Bill Belichick, work with Rob Gronkowski

03.20.15 at 4:53 pm ET
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Scott Chandler is ready to begin a new career in New England. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler is ready to begin a new career in New England. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Scott Chandler knows the situation he’s in coming to Foxboro. He leaves Buffalo where he was clearly the best pass-catching tight end in the Bills’ offense and comes to New England where he will be the second-most recognizable tight end behind Rob Gronkowski.

During a conference call Friday, Chandler called Bill Belichick a straight shooter.

Did Belichick lay out to him what it will mean to be the second tight end in a potent offense behind Rob Gronkowski?

“We didn’€™t get into that too terribly much,” Chandler said. “I think what I want to do is be part of a team that’€™s a winning team. Whatever that role that the coaches define for me there, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.

“I’€™ve talked to Rob on the field after games and that’€™s about it. I’€™m sure we’€™ll get to know each other and get along well. He seems like a fun guy to be around. Obviously he’€™s a great player. I’€™m looking forward to being able to learn from him and watch him do his thing. He’€™s pretty fun to watch.”

Chandler, like Gronk, is a tall tight end, at 6-foot-7, and – like Gronk – could provide more blocking along the offensive line as he has developed that part of his game.

“I think it’€™s one of those things that it can be tough, but I’€™ve been dealing with it for a while now,” Chandler added. “You learn to sink or swim pretty quick in this league. You want to do whatever you can to get low and stay low. It’€™s hard, but you learn how to deal with it because if you can’€™t get the job done, they’€™re going to find someone else.”

Chandler, who signed a two-year, $5.3 million contract on March 13, will be more than happy to make some personal sacrifices to attain more team glory. In five non-playoff seasons in Buffalo, Chandler caught 17 touchdowns, including 28 catches on 42 targets and four touchdowns in nine games against the Patriots.

“I think you go into a game just wanting to do what it takes for your team to win and sometimes that means catching the ball and sometimes that means blocking well,” Chandler said. “I’€™ve probably had games that I didn’€™t have very good stats, but they were some of my better games throughout my career. It just so happened that in those games I needed to catch the ball a little bit and I was able to do that.”

Belichick can trust that Chandler has been taught well. Before playing for the Bills, he played his college ball under Belichick’s good friend and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 NFL free agency, Bill Belichick, Buffalo Bills, Kirk Ferentz

Jabaal Sheard: Familiarity with Patriots, Mike Lombardi made it easy to settle on New England as free agent

03.20.15 at 3:45 pm ET
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Pass rusher Jabaal Sheard joins the Patriots via Cleveland. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Pass rusher Jabaal Sheard joins the Patriots via Cleveland. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

He signed as a free agent with the Patriots last week, but Jabaal Sheard has been on New England’s radar for a long time.

The Patriots’ interest in the edge rusher dates back to 2011 when he was coming out of college. That’s when he took a visit with New England, and in that time, he was struck by how the Patriots handled their business.

“It was real business-like, real focused; you could tell that it was going to be all business once you get there,” he said Friday on a conference call with reporters. “I mean, it was a bit nerve-wrecking, I can’t lie. I was a bit nervous.”

That previous visit — combined with Sheard’s background with former Browns GM Mike Lombardi, who is now with the Patriots — set the stage nicely for him signing with New England earlier this month as a free agent.

Sheard, who also drew interest from Seattle and Tampa Bay, said his stint with Lombardi “definitely” play a role in his new deal with the Patriots.

“I think that was huge. I think that’s what got New England interested in me right away,” Sheard said. “Obviously, he believed in me coming out as a rookie into the league and seeing what I could do. I think that’s going to translate to this year.”

One thing the Patriots hope translates is an ability to consistently get after the quarterback. Sheard’s pass rush numbers have dipped every year he’s been in the league, going from 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2011 to two last year. Sheard pulled no punches when asked to assess his game the last few years: It wasn’t a switch in Cleveland’s scheme or injury, but his own level of execution.

“It was just me not executing, me not sticking to the game plan,” he said. “But I’m more focused; I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been. Like I said, I look forward to getting with these coaches and learning new things. Pass rushing is about learning new things, getting comfortable and coaches helping you out along the way. I just can’t wait to get started.”

The 25-year-old Sheard has played both outside linebacker and defensive end, and said Friday he feels like he “can play anywhere up front.”

He added: “I think my main strength is knocking guys back and creating penetration in the line of scrimmage, ultimately stopping the run and being a big factor there and getting after the quarterback or dropping, whatever else may come with it. Ultimately my strength, personally I think, is knocking guys back and creating penetration.”

Sheard is also looking forward to enjoying a level of consistency in New England that wasn’t necessarily there in Cleveland.

“I envision that they have some great plan for me, just knowing the system that they run,” he said of the Patriots coaching staff. “I’ve been around three different systems in my last three years so I’m ready for whatever. I’m always ready to embrace something new and something different and I’m up for the challenge, whatever it is.”

“I definitely look forward to working with Chandler [Jones] and Rob [Ninkovich]. Those guys are definitely excited, just talking to them a little bit. I think we’ll make a nice three-[man] tandem. We’ll get after guys and create a lot of [havoc] in the backfield and on quarterbacks.”

Read More: chandler jones, Jabaal Sheard, Mike Lombardi, Rob Ninkovich
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