|03.23.10 at 12:46 am ET|
WEEI.com isn’t batting an eye when it comes to the 2010 NFL Draft. From interviews with experts to original mock drafts to weekly looks at potential Patriots, this is the place to be leading up to draft weekend, April 22-24.
Another week this time of year means another batch of mock drafts, fresh from the fingertips of draft enthusiasts across the Web. The Patriots have been projected the same handful of players to this point, but this week we find some new names mixed in with the usual suspects.
With the 22nd pick, NEPatriotsDraft likes Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick for the Patriots. The website explains that Odrick “still gets after the QB while staying stout against the run.”
Chad Reuter of CBS Sports has the Patriots adding to their skeletal tight end arsenal by going after Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham. Reuter uses the first-round selections of Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson as rationale.
|03.22.10 at 9:02 pm ET|
The Patriots picked up four compensatory picks Monday afternoon at the NFL Meetings — one sixth-round selection (No. 205) and three seventh-round selections (Nos. 247, 248 and 250). These are not glamorous selections by any means, but at the same time, it’s important to remember that these picks represent great value on a number of levels.
First, the Patriots have found good value in this neighborhood. Last year, Julian Edelman was taken at No. 232. In 2005, Matt Cassel was selected No. 230. Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain was taken 239th overall in 2003. Wide receiver David Givens was selected No. 253 in 2002. And a certain quarterback out of Michigan was taken — with a compensatory pick — at No. 199 in 2000.
Second, the Patriots now have 12 draft picks in next month’s draft, including two in the sixth round and an astounding five selections in the seventh round. While the compensatory picks cannot be included as part of a trade, they can give a team more flexibility when it comes to making some moves on draft day.
Here’s a look at the Patriots’ current picks, keeping in mind they traded the 3rd and 5th round picks to Oakland for Derrick Burgess:
1st round (22nd overall)
2nd round (acquired from the Jaguars, 44th overall)
2nd round (acquired from the Titans, 47th overall)
2nd round (53rd overall)
6th round (compensatory)
7th round (acquired from the Eagles)
7th round (compensatory)
7th round (compensatory)
7th round (compensatory)
In all, 32 compensatory picks were given out Monday, with 19 teams getting at least one. Carolina, Pittsburgh and Tennessee each get three, while Atlanta, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Philadelphia received two.
|03.22.10 at 8:00 pm ET|
When it comes to questions about the labor situation and the National Football League, we always caution people to take whatever comes out of NFLLabor.com with a grain of salt because it’s a league-run site that will often only give you the party line. That being said, they had a sizable portion of the Q&A that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had today at the meetings in Orlando. The portion of the transcript posted to the site deals with the labor-related questions Goodell faced today, and it serves as a status report as to where negotiations are right now between the league and the players.
Goodell said “there haven’t been any discussions for several weeks” between the two sides, but says that’s due in large part to logistics. When asked about the possibility of playing football in 2011, Goodell answered, “The best thing I can say is we are still at a very early stage. Let’s allow the collective bargaining process to continue.
“We are in the first quarter here. We are in an uncapped system now and we’ll continue to negotiate. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to figure out the right way to structure something so it works for everybody and we can reach a fair agreement for the players and the game.”
As for Patriots-specific things, Goodell said Patriots owner Robert Kraft “has been at some of those negotiating sessions.”
|03.22.10 at 5:15 pm ET|
The Patriots were granted a league-high four compensatory draft picks Monday afternoon at the NFL Meetings.
Based on their free agent losses from last offseason, New England received three extra seventh-round picks and one extra sixth-round selection. The Patriots now have 12 draft picks in next month’s draft, including two in the sixth round and an astounding five selections in the seventh round. While the compensatory picks cannot be included as part of a trade, they can give a team more flexibility when it comes to pulling off a draft day trade.
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.
The Patriots suffered five departures in free agency last offseason — wide receiver Jabar Gaffney (who likely drew the sixth-round pick), long snapper Lonie Paxton, fullback Heath Evans, running back LaMont Jordan and linebacker/special teamer Larry Izzo.
Trailing New England were Carolina, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, which were each awarded three additional picks.
|03.22.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
In the wake of the news that Tim Tebow finished with a score of 22 on the Wonderlic, more scores are starting to leak out. According to Pro Football Talk, some of the lowest scores included Indiana defensive end Greg Middleton, who finished with a six on the test, according to a league source. Offensive lineman John Jerry of Mississippi reportedly got a nine.
Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and Oregon tight end Ed Dickson both scored a 10, while Penn State linebacker Navarro Bowman and Illinois receiver Arrelious Benn both finished with an 11. In addition, West Virginia’s Jarrett Brown had a 15.
The National Football Post also has some of the scores from other running backs, several of whom have been linked to the Patriots in some mock drafts. That group includes Stanford’s Toby Gerhart (30), BYU’s Manase Tonga (29), Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty (25), Cal’s Jahvid Best (24), Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss (18), Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount (16) and Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews (16).
The connection between the Wonderlic and on-field success is a bit dubious — I’m always reminded of the fact that Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw each scored a 15 — but it’s important to remember that many teams include the test as part of their overall evaluation when it comes to draft day. (Want to see some sample questions? Check it out here.)
|03.22.10 at 11:56 am ET|
According to a Boston.com report, Patriots’ Pro Bowl offense lineman Logan Mankins is steering clear of the start of the offseason program. Mankins, who was tendered at the first- and third-round level in February, is apparently avoiding workouts in Foxboro until there until there is some significant movement on his contract situation. In accordance with the restricted free agent system, Mankins was offered the one-year, $3.268 million deal — however, since Mankins hasn’t signed the tender and isn’t under contract, he’s not obligated to show up for any of the team’s offseason activities.
|03.22.10 at 11:31 am ET|
The news that Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he wants Bill Belichick and Tom Brady around as long as possible is hardly stop-the-presses kind of stuff, but it does signal that the team will continue to keep its current management model in place for the foreseeable future.
When he was asked how long he could see Belichick serving as head coach of the Patriots, Kraft told reporters at the NFL Meetings on Monday morning “there’s not another head coach” he would want more than Belichick.
“We have an understanding,” Kraft told reporters Monday morning at the owners meetings in Orlando. “He’s here, he’s coaching. He loves what he does. There’s not another head coach I would prefer to have over him. It’s working. It’s like a marriage, you know? And there’s an ebb and flow, and it’s not always straight-lined, but I think we’ve got something pretty good here and we want to keep it going.”
As for Brady, Kraft expressed some mild distaste for the fact that the quarterback wasn’t in Foxboro for the start of the offseason program last week. But it sounds like the team will do whatever it takes to retain the quarterback, who is entering the final year of his contract.
“Let’s put it like this: Tom Brady is going to be part of this franchise. He wants to be, we want him,” Kraft said. “You know, great things in life happen if you’re flexible and not rigid. We have to find a way to satisfy him and the team and have a team that can win — big time. That’s what it’s about. We’re bound to a lot of different factors in an unknown environment. So, we’re not sleeping. It’s just complicated. And it’s complicated for everyone. So we hope we do a satisfactory job. We’ll figure it out, one way or another.”
The working relationship among the three is maybe one of the most unique in all of professional sports. It’s not just on-field success that continues to distinguish them from their peers. Kraft, Belichick and Brady — along with general manager Scott Pioli, until he departed for Kansas City last offseason — have managed to strike a delicate balance that continues to elude most other professional franchises. All three clearly know what they have to do to make New England a success, and even without Pioli in the picture, the three most important members of the Patriots franchise continues to enjoy a convivial working relationship.
But maybe more importantly, they know enough to play to their respective strengths and not overstep their bounds. The phrase “Do your job” is the central, fundamental tenet to the overall success of the Patriots, and that holds true for everyone, especially in the relationship between the players, front office and ownership: All three are wise enough to realize they can handle their own business.
It sounds simple, but it’s a balance that can elude even the most talented NFL teams. The slightest misstep — an owner making personnel decisions, a coach complaining about ownership or a star making excessive contract demands — can doom even the most talented team.
In the end, the Monday morning quotes from Kraft remind me of a conversation I had with veteran NFL personnel man Charley Armey about the secret to the Patriots’ success. Armey said that in the end, Kraft’s ability to trust “his football guys” — namely, Belichick and Brady — has been one of the biggest reasons for New England’s success.
“He’s relied and depended on their judgment about players and player moves and roster adjustments and so on and so forth, and it’s paid off for them,” Armey said. “Because Robert Kraft has had the confidence in the fact that they know what they’re doing, and he allows them to do it.
“They’ve done a very good job of knowing their needs and knowing who fits and who doesn’t fit,” he added. “And Robert Kraft has been remarkable in that he’s allowed them to do that. He understands how to get a franchise going and how to get it off the ground. And they’ve done it successfully.”
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