|02.22.14 at 9:24 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots aren’t likely to be in the market for a running back this year, and if they are, it’s unlikely they’d go after someone in the first two days of the draft.
With a stable of backs like Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden — and that doesn’t begin to take into account whether or not free agent LeGarrette Blount would return — the one offensive skill position area you’d think New England would feel pretty good about in 2014.
But that doesn’t necessarily stop Boston College running back Andre Williams from speculating about what it might be like to stay in the New England area. Williams, who led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards and was a Heisman finalist, sounds like he’d welcome a chance to stick around the area for as long as he could.
If Blount walks in free agency — and Williams drops in the draft — chances are he might get his wish.
“It would be a blessing to end up on the Patriots squad,” said the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder Friday at the combine. “They’re a winning franchise. They have a great coach. He seems like a really levelheaded cool guy to deal with. It would be great to go back to the Northeast. That’s where my family is situated right now. It would be a great fit.”
Williams, who is current projected as a second-day pick who could end up dropping to the third day of the draft depending on how things shake out, made his bones in a run-first offense at Boston College, one that was tailored to fit his strengths. Even though he was one of the best backs in college football last season, when he reaches the NFL, he knows that he’ll have to tweak his game.
“I think my game is going to have to evolve,” he acknowledged. “I think I’m going to be called upon to catch the ball more, pass protect more, know what’s going on, on defense more. Make reads on fronts and coverages faster than before. That’s part of becoming a professional from the amateur level. Upping your level of preparation.
“I think my pass protection is solid. This year there was a lot of play-action built in to our game plan. But we did have some drop-back pass. And in past years, the offense was different. I was relied more on pass protection. I think it’s pretty solid.”
Williams, who has meetings scheduled with the Bills, Ravens, Jaguars and Bengals, went through some coaching upheaval while at BC, as the Eagles went from Frank Spaziani to Steve Addazio. While the changes led to some struggles, he said it also helped draw the guys on the roster closer.
“I would say my time at BC was…a journey,” said Williams. “There was a lot going on from year to year, different coaching changes and what not. But I think there was a real stability in the team itself. I really enjoyed being around my teammates. I really enjoyed Chestnut HIll and the Boston area. There’s a lot of great people a lot of great influences around me at BC. I really enjoyed my time there.”
|02.22.14 at 8:00 am ET|
Here’s what’s on tap for Saturday at the combine:
— Defensive linemen and linebackers are scheduled to speak with the media, which should make for an interesting time, both from a national and local perspective. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, expected by some to be the top pick this May, will have his session with reporters, as well as Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year who made news recently because he announced he was gay. As far as Patriots fans are concerned, it will be the first time for potential draft picks like Minnesota Ra’Shede Hageman to connect with New England reporters. It should be an eventful day.
— The following coaches and GMs are also scheduled to speak.
— Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams are slated to go through workouts. Patriots fans will likely want to spend some extra time watching Jace Amaro of Texas Tech, Eric Ebron of North Carolina and C.J. Fiedorowicz, three tight ends who have already been connected to New England in the early stages of the pre-draft process.
|02.21.14 at 3:24 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots will meet with cornerback Aqib Talib in Indianapolis regarding a new deal, according to a report from the Boston Herald.
Talib, who is scheduled to become a free agent next month, signed a one-year, $5 million deal last offseason to remain with the Patriots.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|02.21.14 at 2:26 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron made an interesting analogy on Friday.
Asked about the chance to be drafted by the Patriots, McCarron, who two national championships while with the Crimson Tide, sounded eager when asked about the possibility.
“It’s almost like New England is the Alabama of pro football,” McCarron said. “Coach [Nick] Saban learned under coach [Bill] Belichick. It would be almost deja vu in a way.”
McCarron, who is projected to be a mid-round pick at this point, could certainly be a possibility for the Patriots. Current backup Ryan Mallett — who is entering the final year of his current deal — remains New England’s most tradeable asset. In addition, McCarron does have the advantage of having worked with one of Belichick’s most trusted confidants while as a collegian.
McCarron was asked if he patterned his game after anyone in the league.
“When it comes to similarities, from body build, to how we were talked about coming out of college, I think Tom Brady,” McCarron said, who has spoken with Brady in the past. “I think we play the game the same way. He still moves in the pocket pretty well to get away from blitzes. Everyone doubted his arm strength coming out. It’s turned out pretty good so far.”
McCarron was cautious when asked who he had met with at this point, but certainly sounded enthusiastic about the prospect of playing in New England.
“I love the Patriots organization,” McCarron said. “If I had the chance to go there and sit behind Brady for however long and learn from one of the best to ever play the game, that would be an awesome experience.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|02.21.14 at 1:36 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien is back at the combine, but this time, he’s a head coach.
O’Brien, who was New England’s OC before spending the last two years as the head coach at Penn State, said Friday he learned a lot from New England head coach Bill Belichick, including how to approach the combine.
“It’s been pretty well-documented I’ve learned a lot from him,” O’Brien said Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. “Between how to get ready for a game — prepare a team for a game — to evaluating your roster and getting ready for the draft, he and I have a good relationship. I’ve seen him here. It’s been good to see him. I think all of us who coached there from Bill learned a lot from him. I think I’ve said that a bunch in the past.
“When I was in New England, I really enjoyed the draft process, especially my last two years there,” O’Brien added. “It’s exciting to be back in the process and here at the combine. For me, this is a really good part of the process because it really allows you to get to know these guys.”
O’Brien was asked about Tom Brady, and if he looks different.
“How different does he look? I haven’t watched too much — I’ve watched a couple of games on TV, but I still think he’s playing at a very high level,” O’Brien said. “A good friend and great competitor. I really enjoyed coaching him. He’s one of the best to play this game.”
O’Brien and the Texans have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, and could be in the market for a quarterback. Despite his time with Brady, he says it’s not wise to try and compare any of the available signal-callers in this draft to No. 12 when it comes to Houston’s team-building process.
“You can’t — in my opinion, you can’t compare guys to Tom Brady. Guys like Tom Brady don’t come along all that often. He’s a great player, has had tremendous success in New England,” O’Brien said. “You have to look at each player for what he is, individually, and how he fits your team. Whether he’s a quarterback or any other position. What do we do as a team, scheme-wise, on both sides of the ball, and how does this player and his skill set and his personality and all the things that go into being a good teammate, how does he fit your team? That’s what we’re in the process of doing.”
|02.21.14 at 1:05 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel said Friday he had made a connection with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Speaking with the media at the NFL combine, Manziel said that Brady reached out to him after he texted the New England signal-caller.
“For him to reach back out to me after I extended a text message to him was extremely cool,” Manziel said. “It was kind of really funny conversation at first, and worked our way into a little more serious conversation. It was really nice, and very thankful for him to be able to extend a hand out to me in the situation that I’m in.
“The big thing was just enjoy the process. He kind of gave me a little joke — if I can teach him how to run like I can, he’ll do anything in the world for me. It was pretty funny hearing it from him.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|02.21.14 at 11:27 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — We’ve written before about teams trying to copy what the Seahawks have done on defense, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll talked a little about that Friday morning at the combine.
“It really starts with an overall philosophy — how the game works, which is eliminating big plays and playing big up front. That’s kind of the basics of it, and you have to kind of build from that,” Carroll said of the team-building process. “You have to start somewhere. We have a really sound mentality and we build from that — we’ve been doing that for years. This is not just a one-year or a two-year deal. That guides the standards that we set, so we’re so good up top. If you look at our defense and how well we play down the middle, for years, it’s been that way. That’s one of the building blocks of it — that you’re really good up top.
“We don’t let people score fast. Scoring fast with the running game is really important. As you move forward, you want to be more and more aggressive — always with speed. That’s kind of the general way of saying it. But if you don’t have a really clear vision of what you’re creating, then one year it’ll be this, one year, it’ll be that. I think we have a really solid mentality with what we’re trying to do on defense.”
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Seattle’s defense is the supersized secondary, one that features plenty of taller and heavier defensive backs. But Carroll said it’s difficult to replicate that group.
“Everybody would like to longer, taller guys that run 4.4,” Carroll said. “But there just aren’t many humans like that in the world. It’s rare when you find them. Then you have to develop them.
“The perfect guys aren’t there. There’s no really tall, exceedingly fast guys other than a handful. You have to make those guys come to life through your coaching and how you adapt their style and ability to fit it. We’ve been doing it for a long time and always been looking for longer guys because we have such a commitment to bump-and-run press corners. This goes back 20 years. It’s not new for us.
“It’s rare that you can find them. When we had Brandon [Browner] and Richard [Sherman] playing you can’t get any longer than that. That’s the two tallest corners that played together, arguably in the history of the league. OK, let’s go do that. There’s no players like that. There’s only a couple guys who are over 6-foot-1 at corner. That’s just how it goes.
“I love people trying to copy that. Get a bunch of tall guys out there. That’s awesome.”
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