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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: USC DT DaJohn Harris

03.19.12 at 3:44 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

DaJOHN HARRIS

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Southern California

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 304 pounds

Achievements: Standout at 2012 East-West Shrine Game, second on USC with 7.0 tackles for loss in 2011

What he brings: When he’€™s playing at his best, DaJohn ‘€œJuicy’€ Harris is a disruptive force along the defensive front who creates penetration and is a demon in the run game. Harris, who played at nose tackle and 3-technique at USC and could also translate to a 3-4 defensive end, has great size for a defensive tackle and is solid in pursuit — again, when he’€™s at his best.

Talent was never the question for Harris, who has had his fair share of medical issues. The questions for many NFL scouts when it comes to Harris will be whether he can remain consistent and whether his conditioning or those medical issues are the source of his apparent late-game fatigue at USC.

Harris, a former redshirt senior, saw limited playing time in his first two seasons on the field because of a logjam of talent and his inconsistency on the field. Once he entered the starting lineup, Harris became a key part of the USC defense with his quickness off the snap and ability to penetrate. Outside of beating a blocker off of the snap, though, Harris is a limited pass rusher. He also suffers from a bad habit of firing high out of his stance, losing leverage and getting stood up by blockers.

While inconsistent, Harris shows flashes of dominance and could immediately be an asset to teams that could work him into a rotation a defensive tackle.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-5

Notes: Harris comes into the draft with an array of red flags, the foremost of which being an all too familiar one with Patriots fans.

During Harris’€™ physical at February’€™s scouting combine, doctors discovered a small hole in his heart, according to ProFootballTalk.com. The condition, known as patent foramen ovale (PFO), is the same condition that former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was diagnosed with after his stroke that shortly followed the Patriots’€™ most recent Super Bowl win in early 2005.

Since then, Harris has consulted a cardiologist and was cleared to continue working out as normal. His doctors have attempted to abate the fears of Harris’€™ potential NFL suitors by sending an e-mail to all 32 teams, giving him a clean bill of health. After NFL doctors asked him not to work out at the combine, Harris was a full participant in drills during USC’€™s pro day on March 7, taking part in positional drills and posting a time of 5.10 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

According to the Orange Country Register, Harris has also been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sickle-cell trait and exercise-induced asthma, which could be contributing factors to his fatigue issues and inconsistency.

Related articles:

Orange County Register: Utes beware: Even triple-teams can’t stop USC’s Harris

ESPN Los Angeles: Ex-USC DT OK after heart issue

ESPN: Just call him ‘€˜Juicy’€™

Video:

Here’€™s a highlight package of Harris uploaded by FoxSports.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Dajohn Harris,

A closer look at the Patriots’ decision to bring back WR Donte Stallworth

03.19.12 at 3:32 pm ET
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The return of Donte Stallworth provides the Patriots with more options when it comes to finding an intermediate to deep threat in the New England passing game.

The 31-year-old Stallworth is not the deep threat he once was (he averaged more than 19 yards a catch two different years), but he can still stretch the field from time to time. He doesn’t do anything to make the position any younger, but his knowledge of the Patriots’ system and his route-running skills made him attractive to New England, and while he isn’t the burner he used to be, it was clear there was still something left in the tank, especially when the Patriots met the Redskins late in the 2011 season. In that one, Stallworth had four catches for a team-high 96 yards.

No contractual details are immediately available, but like Anthony Gonzalez (who signed a one-year deal for $701,000, payable only if he makes the team), on the surface, it appears to be a low-risk, potentially high-reward addition for an offense that could use depth at the position going forward.

Less than a week into free agency, the Patriots have picked up three veteran receivers in Stallworth, Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd. And it appears that they are doing with the wide receiver spot what they did with the defensive line spot last season: bring as many tested veterans in, sift through and find the ones who can play, and toss the rest.

In that vein, the addition of Stallworth will certainly certainly create an interesting positional battle for the outside receiver spot. Right now on the roster, the Patriots have Stallworth, Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco and Tiquan Underwood, while veteran Deion Branch remains a possibility to return in 2012.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco

A closer look at the Patriots’ addition of free agent tight end Daniel Fells

03.19.12 at 12:26 pm ET
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On the surface, the idea of the Patriots adding another tight end after the phenomenal seasons of both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez seems odd. But the Patriots have traditionally carried either at least two tight ends and a fullback on their roster or a third tight end who is primarily a blocker, and that will be the role that Daniel Fells will play in New England.

Fells, who reportedly reached an agreement with the Patriots (per the Boston Globe) is a 28-year-old undrafted free agent out of Cal-Davis. The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder played five seasons in the league — three with St. Louis, one with Atlanta and one with Denver. Last season with the Broncos, he had 19 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns, a year after a 41-catch effort with the Rams.

Don’t expect him to be catching many passes in New England, as he will be used as a blocker, which will likely create two shifts in personnel away from the 2011 team: one, this will serious cut into the playing time of fullback Lousaka Polite, and two, on several instances last season the Patriots utilized Nate Solder (or another tackle) as an extra tight end in heavy sets. Expect Fells to step into those roles going forward.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Aaron Hernandez, Daniel Fells, Lousaka Polite

Poll: Should Patriots trade for Tim Tebow now that Peyton Manning is headed to the Broncos?

03.19.12 at 12:13 pm ET
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Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning reportedly is close to finalizing a deal to become the next quarterback of the Broncos. Denver then is expected to trade Tim Tebow.

Because Josh McDaniels — who coached the Broncos when Tebow was drafted in 2010 after a standout college career at the University of Florida — has returned to New England to become offensive coordinator, there is speculation that the Patriots might consider acquiring Tebow and using him in some sort of hybrid role.

What do you think? Should the Patriots make an attempt to acquire Tebow? Should they stay away from Tebow and the distractions that he brings?

Do you agree with Robert Kraft accepting the Patriots' penalties for Deflategate?

  • No (87%, 5,202 Votes)
  • Yes (13%, 783 Votes)

Total Voters: 5,985

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Read More: Josh McDaniels, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow,

NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd

03.19.12 at 10:31 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

MICHAEL FLOYD

Position: Wide receiver

School: Notre Dame

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 220 pounds

Achievements: Notre Dame single-season record holder in receptions (100); Notre Dame career leader in receptions (271), receiving yards (3,686), touchdowns (36) and 100-yard receiving games (17); Belitnikoff Award semifinalist (2011); AP All-America second team (2011)

What he brings: Michael Floyd has everything a receiver needs to be a prolific vertical threat: great height, exceptional hands, precise route-running, fantastic leaping ability, strength and, after showing off a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, surprisingly good straight-line speed.

While at Notre Dame, Floyd terrorized defensive backs with his ability to go up and snatch the ball out of the air using his elite size, leaping ability and exceptional hands, a skill set Patriots fans have been clamoring for since the departure of Randy Moss. Unlike Moss, though, Floyd is a powerful runner who can break through tackles and has a reputation as a solid run blocker. Also unlike Moss, Floyd doesn’€™t create great separation from defenders and projects to have a similar package of skills as Kansas City’€™s Dwayne Bowe.

Floyd’€™s repertoire, however, extends beyond simply being a vertical threat, especially during his senior season, when the receiver dropped a notable amount of weight and improved his quickness in what turned out to be a record-breaking season. In addition to being the team’€™s top downfield threat, Floyd was regularly used on screen passes, short routes, throws over the middle and even as a punt returner, an unusual instance for a receiver his size.

Floyd’s stock has strengthened since the end of the college football season, making it unlikely for him to fall all the way to the Patriots’ first selection at No. 27. If the Patriots intend to call out his name on draft day, it will either be through trading up or Floyd taking an unexpected drop.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: After consensus No. 1 receiving prospect Justin Blackmon, Floyd seems to have solidified his status as the No. 2 prospect in this year’€™s class, especially after crushing Baylor’€™s burner, Kendall Wright, in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.

Straight-line speed was Floyd’€™s biggest concern heading into the draft, but not so much after his impressive performance at the scouting combine. Floyd’€™s time puts him just behind Blackmon’€™s time of 4.46. Meanwhile, Wright ran a disappointing 4.61. Of course, the 40-yard dash is a far cry from definite proof of downfield speed. However, it does answer the question ‘€œIs Michael Floyd fast enough to be an solid NFL receiver?’€ with a resounding ‘€œprobably.’€

Heading into his senior season, Floyd appeared to have major character issues, particularly after receiving a year’€™s probation from the NCAA after pleading guilty to misdemeanor drunk driving, in addition to two other alcohol-related incidents during his career. After pleading guilty, Floyd was stripped of his captaincy and banned from team activities for multiple months.

However, much like his on-field performance, Floyd’€™s off-field conduct improved significantly during his final year at Notre Dame. He was even reinstated as a team captain for the final game of his career, after performing many hours of community service and taking required alcohol classes. However, the most prolific receiver in Notre Dame history has a lot of work to do to convince teams that he has truly matured.

Related articles:

WEEI: Floyd out to prove he’s a changed man

ESPN: Michael Floyd sentenced to probation

Akron Beacon Journal: Notre Dame’€™s Michael Floyd confronts alcohol issues

USA Today: Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd poised to produce if he plays

Video:

Here’€™s a smorgasbord of Floyd’€™s highlights throughout his Notre Dame career.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd

What the addition of Brandon Lloyd means for the Patriots’ passing game

03.17.12 at 8:58 pm ET
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The addition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd helps the Patriots’€™ passing game on a number of levels: it provides quarterback Tom Brady with another option outside the numbers, the receiving corps gets slightly younger, and it gives the New England offense something it has been missing since Jabar Gaffney left following the 2008 season ‘€” another pass catcher who is not a tight end who can be counted on for 50 or so receptions a season.

The 30-year-old Lloyd, who has averaged 74 catches a season the last two years, has been connected to the Patriots throughout the free agent process for several reasons, not the least of which included his well-known fondness for Josh McDaniels, the New England offensive coordinator who had worked with Lloyd in Denver and St. Louis.

McDaniels helped turn Lloyd the 6-foot, 188-pound receiver from a statistical JAG who never topped 30 receptions over the first seven seasons of his career into a stud who has averaged 74 catches a season the last two years. In all, with McDaniels as the St. Louis offensive coordinator, Lloyd had 51 catches for 683 yards and five touchdowns last year in 11 games with the Rams. That’€™s on the heels of 77 catches for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 with Denver, a portion of which happened in McDaniels’€™ final season as head coach of the Broncos. (McDaniels coached 12 games that year in Denver.)

It’€™s not just as a deep threat — Lloyd represents a serious upgrade across the board for the New England passing game. Per the chart that was whipped up by Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus (left), Lloyd’€™s numbers in both the intermediate and deep routes the last two seasons are impressive, and will provide a serious boost to the Patriots’€™ offense.

Last season, the Patriots ran lots of sets with two tight ends and two receivers, and so with Lloyd in the fold, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots approach negotiations with veteran free agent wide receiver Deion Branch, another outside option. In addition, veteran Chad Ochocinco is another wideout who faces an uncertain future now that Lloyd is on the roster.

Regardless of what other personnel moves the club makes going forward, Lloyd projects as one of two outside receivers for the Patriots in 2012, and his ability as a deep threat will only serve to help fellow receivers Branch (if he does return) and Wes Welker (and if he is healthy, newcomer Anthony Gonzalez). Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez also figure to benefit on short and intermediate routes when it comes to the inclusion of Lloyd.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Aaron Hernandez, Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd

A closer look at the Patriots’ signing of DE/OLB Trevor Scott

03.17.12 at 8:21 pm ET
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The acquisition of defensive end/outside linebacker Trevor Scott adds depth to the Patriots’ pass rush, and gives them some insurance should they lose either Mark Anderson or Andre Carter in free agency. A 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end/outside linebacker who was taken in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Buffalo, his best season came in 2009 when he had 43 tackles (38 solo) and seven sacks for the Raiders. In all, the converted tight end has 13.5 sacks in four seasons with Oakland.

However, he’s been slowed since suffering a torn left ACL in November 2010. It ended his season, and since then, whether it’s because of injury or scheme, he hasn’t been able to put up the same sort of numbers: in 2011, he was utilized almost exclusively as a left defensive end. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 251 defensive snaps in 2011 with Oakland (never more than 50 percent of snaps in a game), and had five quarterback pressures but no quarterback sacks or hits.

The future for Carter and Anderson remain in doubt. While both have expressed an interest in returning, the arrival of Scott gives New England some insurance of one of them does not decide to return. (At this point, Anderson appears to be the likelier choice to leave the Patriots — he recently took a visit with the Dolphins. Meanwhile, it’s been all quiet with Carter, save this conversation we had with his agent at the combine.) In a perfect world for the Patriots, New England would be able to retain at least one of them, and utilize Scott as a backup to Rob Ninkovich. (NFL Network analyst Mike Lombardi also noted that Scott could line up across from Ninkovich if needed.)

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Andre Carter, Mark Anderson, Mike Lombardi
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