|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.
|04.29.16 at 11:12 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With pick No. 91 in the 2016 NFL draft, the Patriots selected NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Here are three incredibly early thoughts on the newest Patriot quarterback:
1. Brissett is a big quarterback, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with a strong arm and the ability to pick up first downs with his feet. Brissett started his career at Florida, but transferred to NC State due to a relationship with head coach Dave Doeren. He started every game the past two years with the Wolfpack. He struggles with deep ball accuracy, completing just 23.1 percent on attempts of 21-plus yards.
2. The Patriots almost always take a quarterback in the draft, although this pick may have been higher than some expected. Since 1999, the Patriots have drafted nine quarterbacks. They now have Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brissett on the quarterback depth chart. With Brady likely missing the first four games, the team still likely will add a veteran quarterback as protection. Brissett will certainly be in a developmental stage with New England.
3. There are a few Patriots connections with Brissett as Charlie Weis recruited him when he was at Florida and Bill Parcells has been Brissett’s advisor since high school.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|04.29.16 at 10:45 pm ET|
FOXBORO — On the surface, Cyrus Jones checks off a lot of the boxes when you’re looking for a Bill Belichick type of draft pick.
He comes from a program (Alabama) run by a former Belichick assistant in Nick Saban. He’s versatile, in that he’s played wide receiver and defensive back as a collegian. And he brings considerable special teams value to the table in that he’s worked as a punt and kick returner.
All major reasons why he was appealing to the Patriots with the 60th overall pick in the draft Friday night. New England added the defensive back at the back end of the second round, likely with an eye toward shoring up their nickel corner spot in 2016.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Jones said on a conference call with the media shortly after his name was called by the Patriots. “I worked so hard. … I can’t explain how I feel right now. I’m just overwhelmed.”
The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder played two years with Alabama, and came away with five picks and 69 tackles in his college career. He also finished first in the SEC in 2014 in passes defensed with 13.
“I played nickel a good deal in practice, but coach Saban always wanted me on the outside, so that’s where I was predominantly during the season in games,” he said, “I was always pretty much trailing the top receiver for the opposite team, and they would line up on the outside the majority of the time. I can definitely play nickel. There’s no problem if I have to slide inside.”
He added: “I don’t think there’s (anywhere) I can’t line up on the field and can’t be successful on the football field. I played outside most of my career at Alabama and I had success. I don’t think there’s any reason I can’t line up on Sunday’s and do the same thing.”
|04.29.16 at 10:34 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When announcing the Patriots’ third-round pick at the NFL draft, Kevin Faulk had a surprise under his jacket — a Tom Brady jersey.
Wearing the jersey, when announcing the selection Faulk said: “With the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select Joe Thuney.”
I forgot Brady started his career with Faulk. Brady is old. https://t.co/wqSsgUa4zR
— Andy Carlson (@AndyCarlsonShow) April 30, 2016
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