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Finally, a running back

02.25.11 at 3:39 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — It was over four and a half hours before a running back came out to speak to the media Friday, but the first one was an interesting one in Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas.

The son of two pastors and a former quarterback whose low grades and SAT scores forced him to go the junior college route, Thomas is one to keep an eye on.

A well-rounded back who the Patriots could potentially nab in the third-round area, Thomas put up big numbers in his two years at Kansas State. After fielding numerous offers from top schools out of junior college, he chose Kansas State over other schools because they were the only program that viewed him as a corner back. Other schools including Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Baylor wanted him, but only as a defensive back.

Now, after back-to-back 1,200 yard seasons at Kansas State (including a 1,585-yard senior campaign), Thomas is in that mix of second-tier backs after Mark Ingram and Mikel Leshoure. He said he would compare himself to “Larry Johnson in his prime” and that when it comes to this class, he doesn’t take a back seat.

“Right at the top with the best,” he said when asked where he ranks in this class.

Not the speediest guy in the world, Thomas will not run in Indianapolis due to an injured hamstring. He measured here at the combine at 6-foot-0 and 230 pounds.

Read More: Daniel Thomas, NFL Combine, NFL scouting combine,

Should the Patriots go after Mark Ingram?

02.25.11 at 3:23 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” There’s been lots of talk about whether or not the Patriots should use their first-round pick on a running back, specifically Mark Ingram of Alabama. New England, which would almost certainly have to use the No. 17 overall pick on Ingram if they hope to get him, has only drafted one running back in the first round since Bill Belichick took over ‘€” Laurence Maroney in 2006.

Ingram, who is scheduled to work out at the NFL scouting combine on Sunday, is considered one of the best running back talents available. NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi certainly believes that Ingram gets the yards after contact that will make him “a very effective player in the league.”

“I think Mark Ingram is kind of a unique player ‘€” he’€™s more of a power back that’€™s not as big as those power backs,” Lombardi said. “And I think that every back has his own unique style and his balance is incredible and he always gets yards after contact which makes him a very effective player in the league.”

However, Lombardi ‘€” who worked as a personnel man in Cleveland with Belichick ‘€” doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who believes in using a high pick on a running back.

“Running backs, you can find them. Look at Chris Ivory from Tiffin College. He comes in the NFL and plays very well for the Saints. Running backs can be found,” Lombardi said. “I just think you have to buy what you can’€™t find in the top 10. So that’€™s why I would focus on that. Receivers, look at Green Bay. There’€™s not a first-round pick on the field. They have two twos, a seventh round pick and a third round pick. I think you can find those guys.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Laurence Maroney, Mark Ingram, Mike Lombardi

Report: Josh Barrett extended by Patriots

02.25.11 at 2:24 pm ET
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The Patriots have signed safety Josh Barrett to a two-year extension, according to multiple reports. The 26-year-old was acquired in a roundabout fashion by New England this past season ‘€” placed on waivers by the Broncos before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery, he was picked up by the Patriots, where New England kept him on its 80-man training camp roster until they placed him on injured reserve before the start of the season.

A 6-foot-3, 225 pounds safety from Arizona State, he was originally was drafted by Denver in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He has played in 20 games with three starts during his two seasons in the NFL and has totaled 25 tackles on defense and 13 tackles on special teams. Last season, he appeared in 14 games and finished with two tackles on defense and eight special teams tackles.

Read More: Josh Barrett,

Blaine Gabbert on first quarterback taken: ‘May the best man win’

02.25.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert knows that his name is smack-dab in the middle of the debate as to who will be the first quarterback selected in this year’s NFL draft.

“I think that’s what you guys are making it out to be: me vs. Cam [Newton],” Gabbert said at the NFL Scouting combine Friday. “It’s just an opportunity for us to try to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan [Mallett], and Jake [Locker] are working to be the No. 1 guy, and it’s going to be a fun next few months.

“He has all the talent in the world,” Gabbert said of Newton. “We’re just going to compete and fight it out, and may the best man win.”

Per the strategy of agent Tom Condon, Gabbert will not be throwing here at Indianapolis. He said he trusts his agent’s advice, citing Matt Ryan among others as recent top quarterbacks to have success in the draft despite not throwing at the combine. Gabbert will throw at Missouri’s Pro Day on March 17.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker

Jake Locker just as unsure of everyone else as to where he falls

02.25.11 at 1:44 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Jake Locker doesn’t regret anything, it seems.

After deciding to stay in school and play his senior year at Washington, Locker now finds himself in a potentially different scenario. It’s more likely that Locker will come off the board after the first 32 picks are made. Speaking Friday, he didn’t hint at regretting the decision (not that he would anyway).

“As a player and a person, I’m a lot more prepared for this process,” Locker, who will be participating in everything but lifting at the combine, said. “Going through this process and being comfortable going through it, I don’t think I would have been as prepared for it last year.”

Now, Locker is behind the likes of the guys of Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. Even Ryan Mallett could potentially surpass him, but in a year that Locker declared “a good year to be a quarterback,” he isn’t thinking about where he falls in one of the thinner quarterback classes in recent memory.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said when asked where he feels he fits in. “I’m going to control what I can. I’m going to go out and be as prepared for every step of this process as I can, have fun with it, enjoy it, and show all the teams who I am both on and off the field. Wherever that puts me, I’d be happy to go to any team that wants to draft me.”

“It’s something that I knew coming into this that it would be one of the big points of question. I was prepared for it and ready for it.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jake Locker, NFL scouting combine,

BC’s Rich Lapham looking to make the leap to the NFL

02.25.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” When it comes to preparing for life in the NFL, Boston College offensive lineman Rich Lapham already has an edge on the competition.

The 6-foot-8, 327-pound offensive lineman is the nephew of former Bengals offensive lineman Dave Lapham, a Melrose native who played for Cincinnati from 1974 until 1983 (and then for New Jersey in the USFL) before becoming a Bengals radio analyst. In addition, BC remains the gold standard for turning out offensive linemen.

It’s added up to quite the resume for the New Hampshire native, who is projected at this point to be a mid- to late-round pick in this year’s draft.

“[There's a] great coaching staff at Boston College,” Lapham said. “My offensive line coach, Sean Devine, has been really helpful, and through the prep for what we would do at Boston College, he’d would almost treat it the same way at the combine ‘€” go up [to the board] and draw the play, so we were familiar with it. Stuff like that. I credit him for a lot of the situations and the last couple of years that has gotten me ready.

“There have been a lot of great players coming out of Boston College who have played offensive line, especially the right tackle position ‘€” guys like Gosder Cherilus and Marc Colombo,” he added. “These guys have these reputations and these attitudes and we have to live up to that.”

Lapham’s uncle played all five offensive line spots and was a member of Cincinnati’s 1981 AFC Championship team, and the BC product credits the support of his uncle with helping him become the player that he is.

“He’s been there from the beginning,” Lapham said. “Him and my Dad talk a lot, and even throughout high school, he kind of told me, as a freshman, he knew I had the potential and he gave me the encouragement to say, ‘The sky is the limit. It’s up to you. You can do what you want to do.’ He’s given me support through all different things ‘€” not just athletics. Everything else. He’s been a great guy. He’s been there for me. I really appreciate him helping me out in this way.”

Lapham, who suffered an injury to his left kneecap this past season, said he will not be working out this weekend at the NFL scouting combine, instead holding off until April.

“I want to shake as many hands and meet as many people as I can, because I think I have a lot to offer,” Lapham said. “Being able to do that ‘€” meet the coaches, being able to sit down and talk with them about football, I think that’ll impress a lot of people and go a long way.”

Read More: Dave Lapham, Gosder Cherilus, Marc Colombo, NFL scouting combine

A.J. Green: ‘I want to be mentioned with the best’

02.25.11 at 1:17 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — What are things you look for in a No. 1 receiver. Size? Experience in a pro-style offense? Experience playing with Matthew Stafford? One guy has all three.

Though he was introduced here at Lucas Oil Stadium as Adriel (his real name) and A.C. (Mario Lopez‘ character’s name on Saved by the Bell), Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green wants his name to be one people remember at the next level.

“I’m tall, I’m big and I’m physical,” the 6-foot-4 4/8, 211-pound top-five prospect said Friday.

“I’m not going to settle for being an average receiver. …I want to be mentioned with the best.”

Green is good friends with Alabama receiver Julio Jones, as the two of them prepared for the combine at Athletes Performance Institute. He said that despite the two of them battling to be the first receiver off the board (Jones is widely considered to be the second-best receiver prospect in the draft), they have a good relationship and that “it doesn’t really matter” which one goes first.

The best answer of Green’s presser came when a reporter asked him for a prediction of his 40-yard-dash time.

“Y’all [are] going to see when I run it,” he said with a grin.

Green had 848 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his junior year at Georgia. His best season was his freshman year in 2008, when he had 963 receiving yards and eight touchdowns playing with Stafford.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, A.J. Green,
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