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Ryan Mallett talks about the Patriots, Tom Brady and how he’s dealing with the lockout 05.20.11 at 1:37 am ET
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Patriots third-round pick Ryan Mallett talked with ESPN’s “Scott Van Pelt Show” on Thursday on a bunch of different things, including his draft-day experience with the Patriots, why he was taken aback that it was New England on the other end of the phone, what he thinks of the Patriots and how he’s handling the lockout. Here are some highlights:

On draft day, who called you? What happened when the phone rang?
“Coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft called me and talked to me. I was just kind of surprised, actually, by them calling me. The Patriots, that is.”

Why were you surprised?
“Cause Tom’s there, and I wasn’t expecting them to take a quarterback. So it was a pretty big surprise.”

Given their reputation, what did it mean to you that they were the team that picked you?
“You look at their track record and you look at the wins and losses, and obviously, they’ve been a really good franchise for the last 10 or 15 years or so. I want to be a part of that, I want to be a part of a winning franchise, so I was really excited when they gave me the call.”

On handling the lockout:
“That’€™s the hardest part, especially when you’€™re playing quarterback ‘€” you want to get into the playbook, you want to absorb and just soak in as much as you can and be around people that have done it. So with the lockout and everything it’€™s hard to do that. What I’€™ve tried to do is just get in touch with teammates and get all the information I can. I’€™ve thrown with a couple guys. Just been working out and staying in shape for right now until we find something out.”

Have you had a chance to visit yet with Tom Brady?
“I haven’t yet. I’m sure I will soon. I think we’ve got some things coming up that we’re going to work on….”

As a guy who plays the same position, what do you like about Tom Brady?
‘€œWhen you study him, I like … he uses his cadence well and a lot of times he gets the defense to tip their hand and whatever give him the look he wants, or he can make his call. The way he and Peyton Manning play the game at the line of scrimmage is something you really admire, especially when that’s what you like to do as a quarterback also. That’s something that really sticks with you. It makes you go harder at it.”

Did you have a preference as to where you would end up — would you have rather come into a place where you could play today?
“I really didn’t. My whole goal since I started playing ‘€” I’ve said this a million times: I just wanted to be drafted. To say that i was picked in the NFL draft and I had my chance. Now, what am I going to do with it? Now, it’s up to me.”

What was the most difficult part of the pre-draft process?
“The hardest part about that was probably on my family, just because it hurts them when they hear stuff like that. They know me and they’re closest to me. Things like that really weren’t something they wanted to hear. That had to deal with a bunch of nonsense, but now that it’s over, we’re glad it’s over. We can focus on the future and what’s ahead of us.”

Do you feel like there were things that you did that maybe you should have done differently if I want to be a successful professional?
“I made mistakes, obviously, like everybody. It’s been in the public eye since my first year at Arkansas when I had a little run-in. But I’m not really worried about that now. I’ve grown up from that. I’ve learned from that. I made my mistakes, and I don’t really dwell on that. Now, I know that I’m looking into the future and what I have ahead of me. Behind me is behind me.”

How big a difference is there between the guy you are and some of the things you heard? Did you hear things and say, ‘I don’t even know who they’re talking about?’
“Definitely. Definitely. A huge difference. And the people that really know me ‘€” like, actually know me and talk to me in person ‘€” would say the same thing.”

When you go to play for Mr. Kraft and Bill Belichick, what did they tell you about what it means to be a professional player and what it means to play for the Patriots?
“Just go to work. It’s time to go to work now. And I proud of that. I’m proud to be a part of that. I’m looking forward to getting in there and getting going.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, Ryan Mallett
Patriots’ fifth-round pick Marcus Cannon shares his story with ESPN’s ‘First Take’ 05.19.11 at 1:43 pm ET
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Patriots fifth-round pick Marcus Cannon has a remarkable story, one that includes a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In an interview with ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday morning, the offensive lineman talked about his journey to the NFL, how he’s “feeling great” and about how New England fans have made him feel welcome. He also says he’s spoken with Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, who has an impressive story of his own. Video from the appearance is below:

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Marcus Cannon, Mark Herzlich,
Vereen is a ‘brilliant’ guy, according to Cal run game coordinator Ron Gould 05.13.11 at 1:09 pm ET
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The latest draft class profile we did was on Cal running back Shane Vereen, who was compared to Marshall Faulk by his position coach while a collegian, Ron Gould. One thing we didn’t include in the story was the statement from Gould about just how smart Vereen is.

“The thing that people don’t understand is that Shane has a great football IQ,” Gould said of Vereen. “He’s a brilliant guy ‘€” he graduated from Cal in three-and-a-half years, but he also has a great football IQ . There were things we would discuss, and most guys couldn’t tell you the things he can.”

Another thing about Vereen ‘€” he and college teammate Jahvid Best had an “unbelievable relationship,” according to Gould.

“They’re like brothers,” Gould said of Vereen and Best, the latter of whom is now with the Detroit Lions. “They both fed off each other and were fierce competitors. There were things that Shane did that Jahvid liked and vice-versa. They tried to one-up each other, but their relationship is second to none. If Shane scored, Jahvid wanted to score twice and vice-versa. They just fed off each other.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jahvid Best, marshall faulk, Ron Gould
Getting you caught up to date on the stories of the Patriots’ 2011 draft class 05.10.11 at 9:47 am ET
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There are more stories on the way, but in the meantime, we wanted to get you caught up on the series of full-length features has done on the Patriots’ draft class of 2011:

‘€¢On the night of the draft, we tracked down Nate Solder‘s high school coach Bob Marken back in Colorado, who told us the Patriots’ first-round pick was the sort of guy “that’s easy to root for.”

‘€¢It was more of the same when it came to second-round pick Ras-I Dowling ‘€” Jim Reid, his defensive coordinator at the University of Virginia, talked to us about how versatile Dowling is, calling him “an imposing corner” who can do whatever is asked of him as a defensive back.

‘€¢Shortly after the selection of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in the third round, we examined the curious relationship between the quarterback and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

‘€¢Then, there’s the story of fifth-round pick, TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon ‘€” perhaps the most unique draft pick in the history of the franchise.

‘€¢Fifth-round pick Lee Smith out of Marshall ‘€” whose position coach Phil Ratliff was a college teammate of Troy Brown ‘€” talked to us about how Smith was a “throwback” in every sense of the word, and believes he will make his mark in an already crowded tight end field in New England. (Our favorite quote that didn’t make it into the story? Ratliff praised the 6-foot-6, 266-pound Smith as a workout warrior, saying, “He’s the first guy you want off the bus, that’s for sure.”)

‘€¢And with lots of help from Central Arkansas defensive coordinator Matt Williamson, we tracked the evolution of sixth-round pick Markell Carter from part-time player at UCA to one of the better under-the-radar pass rushers in college football.

Whew. Like we said, there are more to come, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft,
Reid: New Patriots’ defensive back Ras-I Dowling has great leadership skills 05.05.11 at 3:26 pm ET
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Spent some quality time recently with Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid talking about new Patriots defensive back Ras-I Dowling ‘€” check out that story here ‘€” and one of the aspects of Dowling’s history I did not include in the story involves his leadership skills. As has been discussed previously, the Patriots have drafted an awful lot of college captains the last two years (11, by my count), and Reid said Dowling ‘€” who was a captain last year at UVA ‘€” should fit right in when it comes to his turn to be a leader in Foxboro.

“My observations and stories about Ras-I were not gained from sitting in my office, but from watching him compete on the field and watching how he handled the team from a leadership standpoint,” Reid said of Dowling, who was taken 33rd overall by the Patriots last weekend. “There was great respect for him on that team. If the team needed to do an extra sprint, he was the one who said it had to happen. Players would also talk about it in the summer programs when they were no coaches around. If he didn’t feel like the players had done something right, he was the one who would suggest they should do it again.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Jim Reid, Ras-I Dowling,
Revisiting a notable 2011 mock draft from and looking at what might have been at 1:21 pm ET
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A few alert Tweeters pointed me toward this 2011 mock NFL draft (I believe it was WAD1980 who sent the link to me first) which was done in the days immediately following the 2010 NFL draft. Lots of fun to go back and check out what might have been ‘€” of course, it was far too early to try and figure out which teams might have been drafting where (and it wasn’t known if Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck would be leaving school early either).

As for New England, writer Andrew Perloff had the Patriots at No. 5 (thanks to the Oakland trade) and No. 21, going with George wide receiver A.J. Green and Pitt defensive end Greg Romeus, respectively.

But it was a couple of other names and where they were slotted that really caught our eye. Perloff had Ryan Mallett going first overall to the Seahawks. (Mallett, of course, was taken in the third round by the Patriots.) In addition, Perloff also had Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling being taken 16th overall by the Eagles ‘€” instead, Dowling ended up going at No. 33 to New England.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, A.J. Green, Andrew Luck, Greg Romeus
Detailing Malcolm Williams’ amazing journey from DFW to the Patriots at 12:26 pm ET
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Great story here on new Patriots defensive back Malcolm Williams, who was taken by New England in the seventh round last weekend out of TCU. Williams, who confessed to the media on the conference call shortly after the selection was made that he “wasn’t expecting to get drafted,” told the TCU Daily Skiff he’s “living in a dream right now,” and still can’t quite comprehend that New England called his name.

Williams’ journey to Foxboro is perhaps the unlikeliest draft story of the year for the Patriots. Out of high school, he worked at the DFW Airport for six months before landing at Trinity Valley Community College prior to transferring to Texas Christian. While at TCU, he spent most of his career sitting behind cornerback Jason Teague (who was second-team All-Mountain West selection), and as a result, was pretty much limited to special teams play over the course of his career with the Horned Frogs.

For obvious reasons, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Williams wasn’t invited to the combine, and realized that if he was going to catch the eye of an NFL team, he was going to have to knock it out of the park at TCU’s Pro Day. That’s what he did, pressing 16 reps of 225 pounds and jumping a 42-inch vertical. The kicker? A 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. That put him on the radar with NFL scouts, and the Patriots made the move at No. 219 overall last Sunday.

Even though Williams is taken aback at what has happened, TCU coach Gary Patterson isn’t shocked.

“He’s an unbelievable athlete,” Patterson said. “He just had to play behind a great corner in Jason Teague. He, more than anybody, epitomizes what we said this place is all about.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Gary Patterson, Malcolm Williams, Patriots



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