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A look into mock drafts around the web: Part one

04.25.11 at 1:36 pm ET
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With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, we’€™re now less than four days away from the pinnacle of the football offseason. And what we’€™ve learned and know for sure about the selections so far is this: it is an absolute toss-up among the first 10 players and where they will land come Thursday night.

So what we’€™ve done is take a list of some mock draft sites on the web and compare and dissect them, and try to best understand what might happen at 8 p.m. when Rodger Goodell takes the Radio City Music Hall stage.

The first player that needs to be mentioned is Cam Newton. Mock draft elitists have Newton in a range of different places, from first overall to mid-to-late first round. The most recent draft issued by WalterFootball.com has Newton going to the Panthers at the top spot, perhaps as a way to best market the franchise and make an impact at one of the skill positions. Carolina took two rookie quarterbacks in the 2010 draft ‘€“ one of them with the team’€™s first picks in Jimmy Clausen. The former Notre Dame standout had a rough start to his career, to say the least. Tony Pike, the Cincinnati senior, didn’€™t see much game action.

It’€™s fair to say that, by drafting Newton, the Panthers would be issuing a statement noting that last year’€™s draft was a flop, and that mistakes were made, unless they were to move Newton to a position other than quarterback. But that’€™s a completely different conversation.

At pick 17, Walter Football has the Patriots taking Cal defensive end Cam Jordan ‘€“ a not very surprising choice. But what stands out beyond that point is this: the site has the Chargers selecting Wisconsin’€™s J.J. Watt at pick No. 18, directly following New England’€™s pick. If Watt was still available at that time in the draft, it would make sense for the Patriots to go with the versatile defensive end/outside linebacker over Jordan. Watt has potentially the best explosiveness off of the line, which is something the Patriots need. Whether Watt would play outside linebacker or on the defensive line would be dictated by his camp; but if a player of Watt’€™s caliber and value is still available at No. 17, then the Patriots should be eager to snatch him away from San Diego.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton, j.j. watt, New England Patriots

Wes Welker: Lockout is ‘awesome because I’m on my own schedule’

04.23.11 at 7:17 pm ET
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Speaking to the Associated Press in Oklahoma City at his free football camp for kids, Patriots Wes Welker talked about how much he is enjoying the freedom the current NFL lockout has afforded him this offseason.

“It’s awesome because I’m on my own schedule,” Welker said. “I don’t have to talk to anybody; I don’t have to see anybody. You see some of the same faces all the time. It’s kind of nice not to have to look at them anymore and see them. I’m kind of enjoying it.

“I like being able to train on my own and be able to do some of my things. It’s good to be with the team, but it’s kind of nice.”

Welker, who said he hasn’t been part of any organized workouts with Patriots teammates, added, “I think once people start losing paychecks, it’ll probably be a little bit different. But I’m not too concerned right now. Hopefully at some point we get a deal done.

“I just know as players ‘€” I can speak for myself ‘€” I just want to play ball. Hopefully come fall, that’s what we’re doing.”

Douglass (OK) High, the host of Welker’s camp of 180 kids, has recently received a pair of grants from Welker’s foundation, which also recently raised more than $300,000 to help at-risk children.

Read More: lockout, Wes Welker,

Report: Patriots work out a pair of Bearcats in Kelce, Hazelton

04.22.11 at 5:30 pm ET
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The Patriots worked out wide receiver Vidal Hazelton and offensive lineman Jason Kelce out of Cincinnati on Friday, according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Hazelton is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who was at Souther Cal before transferring to Cincinnati. In his collegiate career, he had 63 catches for 649 yards and four touchdowns. Kelce is an interior offensive linemen who was at both guard and center over the course of his college career, and was named All-BIG EAST second team as a senior. Both are considered late-round draft possibilities.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jason Kelce, Vidal Hazelton,

The Rule of 26-27-60, and trying to apply it to this year’s quarterback class

04.21.11 at 10:32 pm ET
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In the wake of this story we did earlier this week about the Patriots kicking the tires on some collegiate quarterbacks, we were reminded about the Rule of 26-27-60, which remains one of the most dependable formulas for judging how successful a college quarterback will do in the NFL.

As far as we know, it was first presented by Football Outsiders in the Pro Football Prospectus 2006, and John Lopez of SI.com expanded upon the idea in a 2010 story, explaining that, ‘€œIf an NFL prospect scores at least a 26 on the Wonderlic test, starts at least 27 games in his college career and completes at least 60 percent of his passes, there’€™s a good chance he will succeed at the NFL level.’€

To bolster his point, Lopez has the following quarterbacks since 1998 passing the 26-27-60 test: Drew Brees, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub and Matthew Stafford. In the same span, here’€™s his list of those who have fallen short in at least one of the three categories: David Carr, Tim Couch, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Akili Smith and Vince Young.

Over the last 15 or so years, there are five notable exceptions to the rule, including Tom Brady, who passed the Wonderlic and completion percentage, but his 25 college starts leave him just shy of a passing grade. Then, there’€™s two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who had two of the three, falling short when he posted a 25 on the Wonderlic. In addition, both Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre fell short in the Wonderlic, but have gone on to successful careers in the NFL. And Matt Leinart played over 30 games, scored a 35 on his Wonderlic, completed over 63 percent of his passes … and has been nothing short of a miserable failure in the NFL.

When it comes to this year’€™s group, while much of it depends on where a quarterback will be drafted, the Rule of 26-27-60 tells us that this could be a very good draft class for signal callers, with five of the top nine quarterback prospects making the grade: Alabama’€™s Greg McElroy (43-27-66 percent), Florida State’€™s Christian Ponder (35-35-62 percent), Missouri’€™s Blaine Gabbert (42-29-61 percent), Iowa’€™s Ricky Stanzi (30-32-60 percent, although we’€™re rounding up from 59.8 on his completion percentage) and TCU’€™s Andy Dalton (29-50-61 percent) all pass the test.

There are several candidates who just miss the cut in one of the categories: Ryan Mallett (26-29-58 percent) has the requisite Wonderlic score and college starts, but falls short when it comes to completion percentage. Nevada’€™s Colin Kapernick (40-51-58 percent) just misses when it comes to accuracy as well. Meanwhile, both Cam Newton (21-14-66 percent) and Jake Locker (20-39-54) only reach one of the three areas.

In the end, there are several other aspects of a quarterback’s game that must be evaluated before the draft, and the Rule of 26-27-60 isn’t the ultimate statistic in determining his success or failure in the NFL. But in a world where the success rate of picking quarterbacks is surprisingly slim, it’s a stat worth keeping in mind when signal callers start coming off the board next week.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,

Andre Tippett will announce Patriots’ second-round pick at draft

04.21.11 at 3:38 pm ET
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The NFL announced Thursday afternoon that a collection of legends will be present to announce their respective teams’ second-round picks during the NFL draft next week. Handling the duties for the Patriots will be Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. (New England two second-round selections, Nos. 33 and 60 overall.) Others who are slated to participate include Buffalo’s Andre Reed, Chicago’s Richard Dent, Detroit’s Barry Sanders, Pittsburgh’s Franco Harris and Washington’s Doug Williams.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Andre Tippett,

Source: Patriots continue to check out draft possibilities, including Doug Hogue, Rich Lapham and John Gianninoto

04.21.11 at 12:42 am ET
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With the draft now a week away and the window for pre-draft visits completely closed, the Patriots continue to kick the tires on a variety of prospects through private workouts and interviews. Here are three updates on mid- to late-round players who are being checked out by New England:

The Patriots worked out linebacker Doug Hogue on the Syracuse campus on Wednesday, according to a source close to Hogue. Projected as a mid- to late-round selection, Hogue is a 6-foot-3, 234 pound linebacker who spent his first two years with the Orange as a running back before switching over to the defensive side of the ball. This past season, he was an All-BIG EAST First Team selection, and ranked seventh in the conference with 7.4 tackles per game. For his college career, he ranks ninth on Syracuse’€™s career tackles for loss list with 26.5, which he accomplished in 25 games on defense.

In addition, the Patriots have expressed an interest in Boston College offensive lineman Rich Lapham, according to a league source. The 6-foot-8, 327-pound Lapham was the primary starter at right tackle the last three years for the Eagles before a knee injury brought his senior year to a premature end. The injury, which was to his left knee, prompted the New Hampshire native to go through the Medical Recheck in Indianapolis, but it now appears that the nephew of former Cincinnati offensive lineman Dave Lapham is just about fully cleared.

And a league source indicates the Patriots have expressed interest in John Gianninoto, an interior offensive lineman from UNLV. A 6-foot-4, 297-pounder, he’s had private workouts for Buffalo, Indianapolis, Miami and Atlanta. A non-combine invitee, he’s only one of a handful of offensive line prospects who has recorded a sub five-second time in the 40 (he was reportedly clocked at 4.98 at UNLV’s Pro Day). He also bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times, had a 32-inch vertical leap and a broad jump of 8-foot-11.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Doug Hogue, John Gianninoto, Rich Lapham

Kraft: No football this fall would be ‘criminal’

04.20.11 at 7:24 pm ET
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded an optimistic note about the state of pro football on Wednesday. Speaking with CSNNE.com, Kraft said it would be ‘€œcriminal’€ if football isn’€™t played on Sunday’€™s at Gillette Stadium this fall, but added that everyone was trying to make a new deal work.

‘€œI promise I will do everything I can do,’€ Kraft said. ‘€œIt would really be criminal if we don’€™t have football here on Sundays. … I know [commissioner Roger Goodell] and [NFL general counsel] Jeff Pash and our whole team are doing everything they can do to continue negotiations. We’€™ve got to negotiate, not litigate. We should have a deal. There’€™s a deal ready to be done where we can play football in the fall. You saw our schedule come out [Tuesday]. We’€™re excited about that and now we have to find a way to get the players back in.’€

Read More: Jeff Pash, lockout, Robert Kraft, roger goodell
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