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Where the draft picks stand as Patriots roster takes shape 08.27.13 at 12:54 pm ET
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With the Patriots roster slowly but surely taking shape as cuts come into the picture, it’s worth taking another look at the team’s 2013 draft class and where each of the rookies stand as the the regular season approaches. Here’s a quick look at the group, which did not feature a first-round pick.

Jamie Collins was the top pick of the Patriots this spring. (AP)

Jamie Collins was the top pick of the Patriots this spring. (AP)

Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss (second round, 52nd overall)

Collins has done some of the expected and some of the unexpected in his first camp. He was brought in to add a pass-rusher to the team’s rotation at linebacker, but he’s also seen some time playing inside (he even started in Jarod Mayo’s place against the Lions). His best performance of the first three games came against the Buccaneers, as he led the team with six tackles (three solo and one of which was for a loss).

It would seem given that he’s played both outside and inside that the Patriots are kind of letting him feel his way around and find a spot, something Bill Belichick hinted at when they drafted him. Assuming he ends up playing mostly outside, the Pats can use two of a group of Dont’a Hightower, Rob Ninkovich and Collins.

Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall (second round, 59th overall)

The Patriots have thrown to Dobson a ton in the preseason — 21 times, to be exact — and he hadn’t done much with it in the first two weeks. Targeted a total of 13 times in the Philadelphia and Tampa Bay games, Thompkins had just four catches for 65 yards. He nearly matched that production in the next game against the Lions, reeling in four catches for 50 yards.

All in all, Dobson hasn’t been bad, but undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins has been better. With that being said, expect both rookies to be lined up outside for the Pats when the season starts, but Thompkins should be considered to contribute ahead of the higher profile Dobson.

Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers (third round, 83rd overall)

Ryan had a good week when the Patriots practiced with and played against the Buccaneers, as he had a pick-six against Bucs starter Josh Freeman and practice and returned another interception for a touchdown in the game, the latter of which was against Mike Glennon.

The Patriots have their starters at corner with Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and nickel Kyle Arrington, but Arrington appears to have played himself into the backup slot corner role behind Arrington. Ras-I Dowling would probably be more likely to play outside than Ryan, but that could change, as the 2011 33rd overall pick remains unproven.

Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers (third round, 91st overall)

Harmon was the biggest head-scratcher of the draft at the time, as he was ranked as the 26th-best safety (good enough to make someone an option as an undrafted free agent), but he ended up being the ninth safety taken.

The Patriots know that Devin McCourty will be one of their starting safeties, and even if Adrian Wilson is on the bubble, they have lots of bodies at the position with Steve Gregory and 2012 second-round Tavon Wilson. Belichick was as complimentary of Harmon as he could be about a rookie recently when he said that he has had “a good camp.” So there’s that.

Josh Boyce, WR, TCU (fourth round, 102nd overall)

A foot injury kept him off the field in rookie minicamp, but the injury suffered at the combine is in Boyce’s rearview mirror now. He’s production in games has increased has been greater in the second and third preseason games, as he had no catches (one target) against the Eagles, three grabs on four targets against the Bucs and two catches on five targets against Detroit.

Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois (seventh round, 226th overall)

Buchanan finds himself in a battle with the likes of Jake Bequette, Jermaine Cunningham, Justin Francis and Marcus Benard for a job as a defensive end. Given that he probably isn’t a serious candidate to make a big impact as a rookie, he might be better off redshirting in some way, shape or form.

Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers (seventh round, 235th overall)

Beauharnais looks to be a smart special teams guy for now, with the potential that he could at some point contribute as a linebacker. It’s hard to see him making it to the practice squad if they waive him, as some team would surely grab him.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan,
Report: Randy Moss close to TV deal with Fox 08.09.13 at 3:14 pm ET
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According to Pro Football Talk, former NFL receiver Randy Moss is close to a television deal with Fox. Moss, 36, last played for the 49ers after sitting out the 2011 season.

The 21st overall pick of the 1998 draft by the Vikings, Moss’ most memorable season came in 2007, when he had 1493 receiving yards and set the NFL record for touchdown receptions with 23 as a member of the Patriots. Moss spent parts of four seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Vikings in a season that saw him play for three teams, as the Titans claimed the troubled receiver after he was waived by the Vikings.

In his career, Moss has played for five teams: the Vikings (twice), the Raiders, the Patriots, the Titans and the 49ers. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All Pro.

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Friday afternoon practice notes: Julian Edelman leaves early 08.02.13 at 5:57 pm ET
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Ryan Mallett's flea-flicker was a highlight of Friday's practice. (AP)

Ryan Mallett’s flea-flicker was a highlight of Friday’s practice. (AP)

FOXBORO — While Gillette Stadium was filled with American Idol hopefuls, the Patriots returned to practice for their seventh day of training camp.

- As far as attendance went, Ras-I Dowling, Marcus Cannon, Kevin Haslam, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead were all absent. Devin McCourty once again participated but did so in a red (non-contact) jersey.

Asked prior to the practice about his players who have been off the field, Bill Belichick was predictably tight-lipped.

“We have a lot of guys in the day-to-day category,” he said. “We’ll go out there and see what they can do.”

- One guy the Pats probably don’t want to see missing any more time is Julian Edelman, who left practice early after suffering some sort of ailment on a pass from Ryan Mallett late in practice. He didn’t participate in any more drills and could later be seen talking to a trainer with no shoes on. Friday was Edelman’s second day of practice this preseason, and prior to it Belichick said the veteran receiver had “a long way to go” before he was up to speed.

Prior to ending his day early, Edelman muffed a punt pretty badly but was able to recover it.

- McCourty, who has moved around within the Patriots’ secondary over the last two seasons, was used as a cornerback in Friday’s practice.

- Edelman aside, the major focus of this preseason is the team’s group of receivers, and there was some good and bad to come from the crop on Friday. Fourth-round pick Josh Boyce had some trouble holding onto the ball in drills that focused on quick five-yard passes but later made a nice catch in the corner of the endzone with Alfonzo Dennard in coverage.

Second-rounder Aaron Dobson had a bad bobble and subsequent drop on a pass from Tim Tebow, though he later made up for it with a nice catch on a pass from Ryan Mallett following a flea-flicker. Dobson’s best moment on the day came when he beat Aqib Talib clean en route to hauling in a pass in the end zone.

Free agent signing Danny Amendola also had his bright and not-so-bright spots. He had back-to-back ugly plays when he dropped a screen and then fumbled following catch over the middle.

- Not surprisingly, free agent signing Michael Jenkins has not been working with the receivers, but hanging out elsewhere on the field during receiver drills. Despite all of the turnover at the position in the offseason, it was hard to imagine Jenkins being a serious candidate to make the team.

- Talib picked off Tom Brady during drills with paddles being held up at the line of scrimmage.

- There were some big names in local sports as Boston college hockey coach Jerry York, Athletic Director Brad Bates and director of hockey operations John Hegarty were on the field Friday taking in practice.

Read More: 2013 training camp, Julian Edelman,
Rookie Refresher: Josh Boyce 07.23.13 at 3:56 pm ET
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Josh Boyce was taken in the fourth round by the Patriots. (AP)

Josh Boyce was taken in the fourth round by the Patriots. (AP)

In the days leading up to training camp, will reopen the book on the team’s 2013 draft class. The Pats, who traded their first-round pick to the Vikings, brought in seven players via the draft.

Josh Boyce

Wide receiver, TCU

Drafted: Fourth round (102nd overall)

Height/weight: 5-foot-11 1/8, 1206 pounds

Why they drafted him: Boyce crushed it at the combine, and he did so with a broken bone in his right foot. He was the only receiver to rank in the top four in both the 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds) and bench press reps (22). He also finished third in the broad jump (10-foot-11).

As the Patriots have learned over the years with speedsters like Bethel Johnson and Chad Jackson, combine performance can often mean very, very little when it comes to determining whether somebody is an NFL quality player. Boyce led TCU in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in each of last two college seasons, and he did so with shaky quarterback play after the departure of Andy Dalton. His best season came as a sophomore in 2011, when he hauled in 61 passes for 998 yards and nine touchdowns.

What to expect from him as a rookie: Boyce’s right foot injury limited him this offseason. He was not one of the players the Pats placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, so he should be able to hit the ground running as camp opens.

That’s good for Boyce because given the Pats’ situation at receiver, there is potential playing time to be earned. Boyce will compete with fellow rookie Aaron Dobson for the outside position left vacant by the release of Brandon Lloyd. Dobson should have the upper hand given that he’s bigger and is a much better pass-catcher than Boyce, but the Pats are clearly intent on developing receivers who can make long-term contributions. That means Boyce shouldn’t be counted out to make an impact going forward.

Boyce was not a return man at TCU, so don’t expect him to be in the NFL.

Read More: Josh Boyce,
Rookie Refresher: Duron Harmon 07.23.13 at 3:00 pm ET
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In the days leading up to training camp, will reopen the book on the team’s 2013 draft class. The Pats, who traded their first-round pick to the Vikings, brought in seven players via the draft.

Duron Harmon

Duron Harmon

Duron Harmon

Safety, Rutgers

Drafted: Third round (91st overall)

Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 198 pounds

Why they drafted him: Because it was hilarious? Nobody expected Duron Harmon to be drafted. If they had to be honest, Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay will probably say they had never heard of him. He was the 26th-ranked safety by ESPN Scouts, Inc. (23 safeties were drafted, and he was the ninth selected), and when Harmon was announced as the 91st overall pick, neither the NFL Network nor ESPN had highlights of him to show.

But he’s a Rutgers guy, and nobody watches Rutgers like Bill Belichick, who at this point appears to be obsessed with defenders who played under Greg Schiano. Harmon had a good sense of humor about it when he was drafted, as he certainly didn’t sound like someone who thought he was going in the third round.

What to expect from him as a rookie: Harmon is a strong safety, a position at which the Patriots are currently set with Adrian Wilson. Despite Wilson’s years of success in this league, you have to consider that he’s 33 and won’t be in the league forever. Perhaps the Pats view Harmon as something as a project who can eventually take over and play alongside Devin McCourty once Wilson’s playing days are done, but he’ll have to compete with Tavon Wilson for that role.

In the meantime, Harmon can contribute on special teams, where people probably expected him to play when they were projecting him to be a fringe NFL prospect. The jury is still out on Tavon Wilson, another safety the Patriots took earlier than expected (second round in 2012), so either the Patriots see something that other teams don’t or they just really like reaching when it comes to safeties.

Read More: Duron Harmon,
Rookie refresher: Logan Ryan 07.19.13 at 8:19 pm ET
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Logan Ryan (AP)

Logan Ryan (AP)

In the days leading up to training camp, will reopen the book on the team’s 2013 draft class. The Pats, who traded their first-round pick to the Vikings, brought in seven players via the draft.

Logan Ryan

Cornerback, Rutgers

Drafted: Third round (83rd overall)
Height/weight: 5-foot-11 1/8, 191 pounds

Why they drafted him: Because he’s a cornerback and because he went to Rutgers, probably. Ryan’s selection marked the first of three Rutgers defenders the Pats drafted in April (with Duron Harmon and Steve Beauharnais the other two), and considering Beauharnais was a seventh-round pick and Harmon was considered by many to be perhaps the biggest reach of the entire draft, Ryan is clearly the biggest name of the three.

Bill Belichick obviously likes Rutgers and players who spent time with Greg Schiano, and Ryan says he learned a lot from 2010 Patriots first-round pick Devin McCourty. Ryan is a very physical player, but his athleticism doesn’t jump off the charts.

What to expect from him as a rookie: It would appear that with Aqib Talib back, Alfonzo Dennard reportedly unlikely to be released for his DUI and Kyle Arrington holding it down at nickel, major playing time as a corner right out the gate is unlikely for Ryan. However, when you look at the fact that Talib is on a one-year deal and both he and Dennard will forever be question marks given their off-field issues, it becomes clear that the Pats are looking for both a high-impact and higher character longterm solution at corner. When you look at how little oft-injured 2011 second-round pick Ras-I Dowling has seen the field in his time in the NFL, Ryan figures to be the closest thing they have to a starting corner of the future.

Until his time as a starter comes, Ryan can at the very least contribute on special teams, where he was an impact player at Rutgers. Don’t expect to see him serve as a return man, but guys like Larry Izzo and Matthew Slater have shown around these parts that you don’t need to be a return kicks and punts to make a difference on special teams.

Read More: Logan Ryan,
Rookie refresher: Aaron Dobson 07.18.13 at 5:31 pm ET
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Aaron Dobson was drafted this spring by the Patriots. (AP)

Aaron Dobson was drafted this spring by the Patriots. (AP)

In the days leading up to training camp, will reopen the book on the team’s 2013 draft class. The Pats, who traded their first-round pick to the Vikings, brought in seven players via the draft.

Aaron Dobson

Wide receiver, Marshall

Drafted: Second round (59th overall)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2 6/8, 210 pounds

Why they drafted him: First of all, they did it out of need. The Pats had lost Wes Welker to free agency, replaced him with a productive but oft-injured Danny Amendola, released Brandon Lloyd and signed Donald Jones (sorry, but we won’t count Michael Jenkins in this mix). All of that shuffling at wide receiver meant that the draft was the perfect time to take another stab at drafting a potential impact receiver they could develop. When you factor in that they would later lose Aaron Hernandez, the need for help in the passing game becomes greater.

As for what Dobson did to make him the man for the Pats (they passed on bigger names like Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, Keenan Allen and Robert Woods when they traded out of the first round, after all), he stood out in multiple in ways at Marshall. He wrapped up a productive four-year career at Marshall by dropping a grand total of zero passes on 92 targets last year. His speed and athleticism are good enough for his size, but he’s best known for this catch.

What to expect from him as a rookie:

That’s where things get tricky. With all of the turnover at receiver, you’d like to think that Dobson can come in and make an impact, but the Patriots’ track record of developing receivers has been dreadful, with Deion Branch (2002) the closest thing they’ve had to a home-grown star at the position.

As a rookie, it’s expected that Dobson will compete with Jones and fellow rookie Josh Boyce for playing time as the Pats try to replace Lloyd on the outside. Jones might have the initial leg up as a guy as an NFL veteran, but ultimately Dobson has the higher ceiling. A former coach of his sees him being a taller Anquan Boldin in the NFL, which would certainly be something the Pats would welcome. In fact, after missing on early-round receivers like Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson in the past, the Pats would happily take any sort of prolonged impact from Dobson.

Read More: Aaron Dobson,
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