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Post-combine, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock IDs five potential targets for Patriots 03.02.16 at 5:30 am ET
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Ohio State product Michael Thomas hauls in a pass at the combine last week. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Ohio State product Michael Thomas hauls in a pass last week at the combine. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

With the combine done, NFL Network Mike Mayock has identified two sets of players who could appeal to the Patriots when they’re on the clock at the end of the second round.

First, he indicated three offensive linemen as possible targets: Indiana’s Jason Spriggs is a 6-foot-6, 301-pounder who has played both tackle spots for the Hoosiers — he started the bulk of his collegiate career at the left tackle spot — and was second team All-Big Ten last season. Cody Whitehair is a Kansas State product who checks in at 6-foot-4, 301-pounder who played guard as a collegian, and was All-Big 12 honors all four seasons at Kansas State. And guard Vadal Alexander is a 6-foot-5, 326-pounder from LSU who is projected as a second-round pick. A four-year starter for the Tigers, he was a first-team All-SEC as a senior.

“I think Spriggs kid is interesting, because he can play either tackle — left or right tackle. Even kick inside to guard,” Mayock said. “I mentioned (Cody) Whitehair — his tape is really good, but the fact that he didn’t have the strength on the bench bothers me a little bit. But he’s a smart, tough kid who can play guard in New England. There are a couple of kids right off the top that make me think they’d be interesting. Vadal Alexander is a big, strong kid. He’s bigger than any of the interior linemen the Patriots have right now. And he might be intriguing to them.”

Then, Mayock tabbed Ohio State’s Michael Thomas and Josh Doctson of Texas Christian as two wide receiver possibilities. The 6-foot-3, 212-pound Thomas had 113 catches for 1,602 yards and 18 touchdowns in three years with the Buckeyes. As for the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Doctson, he transferred from Wyoming to TCU after his freshman season, and he ended his collegiate career with 214 catches for 3,177 yards and 34 touchdowns. (That included a 78-catch season last year with TCU and an All-American nod.)

“At the wide receiver position, in the second and third round, what are we looking at? Michael Thomas. Josh Doctson,” Mayock said. “(The Patriots) don’t need a slot at all. I think they would be the logical ones. I think Thomas and Doctson, assuming that Corey Coleman and (Will) Fuller are off the board.”

Read More: Cody Whitehair, Jason Spriggs, Josh Doctson, Michael Thomas
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock: Patriots will zero in on offensive line, wide receiver and defensive back in draft 02.23.16 at 9:02 pm ET
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Will Fuller was mentioned as a possibility for the Patriots by analyst Mike Mayock. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Will Fuller was mentioned as a possibility for the Patriots by analyst Mike Mayock. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said that when it comes to this year’s draft, the Patriots are likely targeting three different spots: offensive line, wide receiver and defensive back.

While Mayock didn’t name any names, when he was asked about the primary area of needs for New England with their first pick in the draft — 60th overall — he responded by saying the Patriots are “probably” looking at some offensive linemen.

“Obviously, they got beat up this year — badly — up front,” said Mayock as part of his pre-combine conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon. “They started or played, they had three rookies play significant time in that interior offensive line, one of whom didn’t even get invited to the combine last year (in) Shaq Mason. They could be looking at a tackle in that spot.”

Mayock then pointed to the receiver position, but made it clear that the Patriots would be in the market for someone on the outside as opposed to the inside.

“I think the wide receiver position has to be upgraded. Their best receiver is an inside receiver, and I think you’d really like to get a significant threat on the outside,” he said. “With all that being said, at wideout in the back of the second round, would Will Fuller of Notre Dame be sitting there? Or (would Texas Christian’s) Josh Doctson be there?”

Fuller is 6-foot and 184 pounds, and finished 2015 with 62 receptions for 1,258 yards and 14 touchdowns. For his career as a collegian, he had 144 receptions for 2,512 yards and 30 touchdowns in three seasons with Notre Dame. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Doctson transferred from Wyoming to TCU after his freshman season, and he ended his collegiate career with 214 catches for 3,177 yards and 34 touchdowns. (That included a 78-catch season last year with TCU and an All-American nod.)

“(The Patriots) already have a great slot in (Julian) Edelman, so they’re looking for an outside guy that can be a difference maker in the second or third round — Rashard Higgins maybe, from Colorado State, in the third round.”

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Read More: 2016 NFL Draft, Jalen Mills, Josh Doctson, Mike Mayock
Mike Mayock: Jimmy Garoppolo would be 3rd-best QB in 2015 NFL draft 02.16.15 at 8:35 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

When the Patriots selected quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second-round of last year’s draft as the fifth quarterback selected overall, the thought was New England made that pick with an eye for the future — both internally with Tom Brady turning 37 years old during the 2014 season, and also the upcoming quarterbacks in the college game.

It seems both have some merit, as along with Brady’s age, the 2015 NFL draft quarterback class isn’t very strong. NFL Network’s draft insider Mike Mayock shared his thoughts on the quarterbacks in this year’s draft compared to Garoppolo in his annual pre-combine conference call with the media on Monday, which lasted close to two hours.

“He would probably fall, I would say three,” Mayock said. “I think he’s a little more advanced and you have a little more confidence in the fact that he can do what you’re asking him to do over [Bryce] Petty or [Brett] Hundley.”

With Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota the only quarterbacks who would be ranked higher than Garoppolo, it would seem the Patriots made the right call drafting him last year, as the two quarterbacks this season are not suited for the Patriots’ system.

The NFL Network’s draft insider also was asked about Super Bowl star Malcolm Butler and how the undrafted rookie wasn’t even being talked about at this time last year, and then went on to make a play to win the Super Bowl.

Mayock, who has covered the combine for 11 years for NFL Network, said Butler actually caught his eye during the Patriots-Redskins joint practices, but there are always going to be players that slip through the cracks who aren’t being discussed before the draft, especially coming from Division 2 West Alabama.

“My first thought is whenever a player comes out of nowhere, a non-combine guy and becomes a good player, my first thought is what a great job that organization did,” said Mayock. “In this case, it would be New England. My first introduction to him came this summer when I went down to Washington to watch the Patriots and the Redskins practice together for a couple days. I remember walking off the field going who the heck is that kid? And he wasn’t even on my board.

“I came away going, wow, great seat. So I don’t get mad at myself on those kinds of kids, because if I didn’t evaluate them, you know, I get basically a list of draftable kids and I just try to watch tape of as many of the draftable kids as I possibly can. He wasn’t even on any lists.

“So bottom line is great job by New England, impressive kid. His change of direction, his feet were explosive. I saw that in training camp. So it’s just amazing how many different places football players come from these days.”

Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Jimmy Garoppolo, Malcolm Butler, Mike Mayock
Mike Mayock: ‘Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league’ 08.05.14 at 7:00 am ET
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In the wake of Monday’s joint practices between the Patriots and Redskins, NFL analyst Mike Mayock was impressed by several things he saw from New England. But first and foremost, it was backup quarterback Ryan Mallett who really opened his eyes.

Mayock said Mallett “popped” against the Redskins, and added that he “saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady.”

“This was a guy drafted in the third round out of Arkansas with first-round arm talent,” Mayock said of Mallett, who was taken with the 74th overall pick in the 2011 draft. “His issues were off the field. In the last three years, we haven’€™t heard a peep out of him.

“I was blown away today. I saw a legitimate NFL starting quarterback today backing up Tom Brady. As the season progresses and we get closer to draft time and what the Patriots can and can’€™t do with him, I think they drafted [Jimmy] Garoppolo for a reason as an insurance policy. But trust me, Ryan Mallett is a starting quarterback in this league, and he popped today.’€

Mayock also liked when he saw from the New England defense.

“€œLast year they were efficient; they were No. 26 in yards allowed, but No. 10 in points allowed — a much more important statistic. But they’€™re getting better and better,” he said. “Their linebacker group might be as good as anybody in football, but I think the most stark contrast are the corners. When you line up Brandon Browner on one side and Darrelle Revis on the other side, and then slide Kyle Arrington into the slot, they have more quality and depth than at any time in recent memory on the back end. That’€™s kind of been the problem they’€™ve had.

“So if you assume they’€™re going to score a lot of points on offense, I think we’€™re going to see the best Patriots defense that we’€™ve seen in recent memory.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Arrington, Mike Mayock
Mike Mayock: Jace Amaro would be ‘intriguing’ fit with Patriots 05.01.14 at 8:29 pm ET
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NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock opened the pre-draft process linking the Patriots to Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, saying New England would be a “logical” landing spot for Amaro if the Patriots end up sticking at No. 29.

And now, with a week to go before the draft, Mayock still believes Amaro would make sense for the Patriots. On a lengthy conference call Thursday, Mayock acknowledged there are some other areas of need for New England, but Amaro would give the Patriots an “intriguing” new option at tight end.

“Obviously (the Patriots have) had some age and injury issues on their interior defensive line with (Vince) Wilfork and Tommy Kelly,” Mayock said. “(But) I also think a tight end would be intriguing there. A guy like Jace Amaro from Texas Tech, who I have a second-round grade on, kind of gives them another option at tight end with (Rob) Gronkowski. I find that intriguing, kind of playing that (Aaron) Hernandez role.

“I think the safety situation at some point needs to be addressed,” he added. “As you know with Bill (Belichick), you never know what’s going to happen except for the fact he’s probably going to move down and around.”

As a junior in 2013, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Amaro broke the NCAA all-time record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end with 1,352. He had the chance to meet with the Patriots while at the combine in Indianapolis, and said New England “would be an ideal place” for him to end up.

‘€œ€œIt was good ‘€” they broke my tape down. They look like they like me a lot. They said I fit their system very well so I guess we’€™€™ll see how it goes,’€€ Amaro said when asked about his meeting with the Patriots. ‘€œI think that starting [with] maybe one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game would be a great start for me, especially in a system like that. Yeah, I’€™€™ve taken notice of teams like that. I think that would be an ideal place for me.’€

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Mike Mayock says RaShede Hageman, Jace Amaro potential first-round fits for Patriots 02.18.14 at 4:56 pm ET
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In a marathon conference call with reporters on Tuesday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock was asked about what sort of direction the Patriots might go in when it comes to this year’s draft, and the possibility New England addresses defensive line and tight end.

Mayock mentioned a few different names as possible first-round fits for the Patriots, who have their first overall selection at No. 29.

“Depending how you look at this thing and what type of defensive tackle you’re looking for, [Louis] Nix and [Timmy] Jernigan are probably gone,” Mayock said when talking about defensive tackles who could be available to New England. “Then (Dominique) Easley, the kid I really like from Florida, tore an ACL, a second ACL, so he’s not going to go (early). He’s one of those picks that the Patriots tend to get in like the third or fourth round for value — a first-round guy later on.

“I think (RaShede) Hageman from Minnesota is kind of the big question mark there,” he added. “If he’s still on the board — because he’s an explosive kid — he could play a couple different spots, and coach Belichick likes those versatile guys. He’s had some off-the-field questions attached to him, but he’s got a ton of ability and talent. So if Hageman was sitting there, I think he’d be really interesting.”

At tight end, he pointed to Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro as possible fits in Foxboro.

“(Eric Ebron) is going to be long gone [but] there’s a lot of different varying opinions on what you’re looking for,” he said. “Seferian-Jenkins, for lack of a better term, is built like (Rob) Gronkowski, whereas Amaro from Texas Tech is built more like (Aaron) Hernandez. So there are a lot of people that like Amaro and point to Hernandez as that, quote, kind of guy.

“Depending on what you’re looking for — and that’s probably the kind of guy they are looking for — if Amaro is sitting there and they like him, he’d be logical at 29, and I think the other guy would be Hageman. Outside of that, I think the other top guys would be gone.”

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Dominique Easley, Jace Amaro
Mike Mayock on Patriots offense: ‘With youth comes growing pains’ 09.11.13 at 12:59 pm ET
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Mike Mayock agrees with Tom Brady.

This isn’t necessarily because Mayock is a smart guy — there are few football analysts who spend more time watching tape than Mayock, a former Boston College defensive back who played for Bill Belichick with the Giants and now works for the NFL Network. (He’ll be part of the broadcast team for Thursday’s Patriots-Jets game.)

But after watching the Patriots in the regular-season opener against the Bills last week, he echoes the opinion of the New England quarterback: when it comes to the Patriots offense — and the passing game in particular — it’s a work in progress.

“With youth comes growing pains,” Mayock said when asked to dissect the New England offense and how it operated against the Bills. “That’s just the way of the world in anything. I think what they are betting on is that over time, these guys are younger, quicker, faster, and will develop into better playmakers down the road. You might lose a little bit early — and by the way, I thought there were several disconnects between Brady and his young receivers in the game [Sunday]. And I think that’s something you’re going to have to live with for a little time.”

One player who caught his eye over the course of the preseason was rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was targeted 14 times and had four catches against the Bills. Mayock said that Thompkins “has an ability to separate and get open,” but reiterated that it will take some time for Thompkins and the rest of the rookies to adjust to the pro game.

“Now, when [Rob] Gronkowski gets back, I think a lot of that gets better more quickly because he’ll draw so much coverage. But I think Thompkins has an ability to separate and get open. Dobson, who didn’t play, I think has big time ability in size,” Mayock said. “I think what you’re looking at, and the reason they did this is my guess, is that over time, they are going to get better. And Tom Brady is the kind of guy that can get them a win like yesterday when they had all they could handle and more, but they still got the win, and try to allow these guys time to develop.”

As for the rest of the receiving corps, Mayock praised Danny Amendola, but stopped sort of offering a full endorsement of the decision the Patriots made to go with him ahead of Wes Welker.

“I think that Amendola is a very similar a guy to Welker five years ago — he’s younger, fresh legs, etc., and both are very similar type of players. They both win very quickly,” Mayock said. “That’s what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning love about those kind of players, because when they bring heavy pressure, you trust that this guy is going to win quickly.

“Now the whole thing with Amendola is staying healthy; and [Sunday], watching the game, it looked like he had a groin problem but came back in and obviously made the key catches down the stretch,” he added. “I think when healthy, he’s very comparable to Welker and he’s younger than Welker, which is why I think they made the move. The only caveat I would give you on the kid is that he’s got to stay healthy with his history of injuries.”

Read More: Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Mike Mayock, Tom Brady
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