Tom Brady figures to have a spot on the 2014 roster, but it could be a tough season for this year's rookie class. (AP)

Tom Brady figures to have a spot on the 2014 roster, but it could be a tough season for this year’s rookie class. (AP)

1. While the team-building process for the 2014 season has yet to be completed, it certainly appears that the New England roster will be a difficult one for any rookie to crack. Yes, there are some positions where a first-year player could ultimately made an impact, like strong safety or backup linebacker, defensive lineman or tight end. But a quick glance at the nucleus of the roster that’€™s already been assembled shows that it will be an uphill battle for any rookie to make a serious dent in the New England starting lineup.

Here’€™s a look at the expected starters, as well as some key backups who have already put in extended time in the system and could be considered entrenched members of the roster.

OFFENSE (23)
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett
Running backs: Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James Develin
Tight ends: Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomananwanui
Offensive line: Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Chris Barker
Wide receivers: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce, Brandon LaFell, Matthew Slater

DEFENSE (23)
Defensive linemen: Tommy Kelly, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Michael Buchanan, Jake Bequette, Armond Armstead
Linebackers: Jamie Collins, Dont’€™a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Steve Beauharnais
Safeties: Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan (there’€™s already been a lot of talk about Ryan at safety in 2014).

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Danny Aiken

That’€™s 49 players who already figure to be fairly well-established in the New England system, and doesn’€™t include players like Kanorris Davis, who made an impact on special teams last season or veteran pickups like Pat Chung who could make a dent if he proves himself worthy of hanging around. With the understanding that there are always injuries — as well as the fact that some established veterans don’€™t always meet expectations — at first glance, there’€™s not a lot of room for a rookie when it comes to cracking the roster.

2. Teams have until May 3 to exercise the fifth-year option on the first-round picks of the 2011 draft class, and while some teams have already picked up the option, the Patriots have yet to announce what might happen with their first-round pick from that year, tackle Nate Solder. Per various reports — including our friend Miguel Benzan of Patscap.com — that option would be worth the average value of the third through the 25th highest cap numbers for offensive linemen in 2014. According to Benzan, that would put Solder’€™s option at about $7.3 million. It’€™s important to remember that the free-agent market fluctuates from year to year — just ask Aqib Talib, who went from a one-year, $5 million deal last offseason to a six-year, $57 million deal this offseason with $26 million guaranteed. But it was a robust market for offensive linemen this year: Branden Albert got $25 million guaranteed from Miami, Rodger Saffold got $21 million guaranteed from Oakland, Eugene Monroe got $19 million guaranteed from Baltimore, Austin Howard got $15 million guaranteed from Oakland and Jared Veldheer got $10.5 million guaranteed from Arizona. Given Solder’€™s ability the last three years and considering he could be in line for a far greater payday if he did hit the market, the idea of giving him a one-year deal between $7 million and $8 million for 2015 seems like money well spent, at least in the current marketplace.

3. When it comes to unique insight on professional football, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media has been a great resource in the past. The former scout has never been shy about offering an opinion on the state of the game, and more often than not, he’€™s been spot on in his analysis. On a conference call with the media Thursday afternoon, two things stood out about Jeremiah’€™s pre-draft comments at it relates to the Patriots. One, New England’€™s draft board is usually noticeably smaller than most teams. According to Jeremiah, who was asked initially about Philly’€™s approach under Chip Kelly, this is a function of the Patriots’€™ philosophy and how it relates to certain positions. More often than not, Belichick and New England know exactly the type of player they need. “Most draft boards — when you talk to guys around the league and the teams I worked for — you have about 150 players on your board,”€ Jeremiah said. “And New England, they’€™re kind of famous for being much less than that, well below 100. There’€™s only a certain amount of guys they feel like fits what they want to do, and I think that’€™s kind of what Philadelphia is going to with Chip Kelly when he’€™s around.”€ And two, he surprised some by hinting he wouldn’€™t be surprised if the Patriots went after a running back in the first round. Jeremiah said that with all the talk of the running back position being devalued, he wouldn’€™t be shocked if a team like New England goes after a “pretty good group”€ of backs who are available, and mentioned Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill as possibilities. ‘€œThe Patriots are always kind of one step ahead of the curve and trying to be creative,”€ he said. “I wouldn’€™t be shocked if they just sit there and said, ‘€˜OK, everybody else wants to pass on all these running backs; Carlos Hyde is a really good player. LeGarrette Blount is not here anymore, we’€™re going to pluck him, and we’€™ve got ourselves a back of the future,’€™ because I believe both Vereen and Ridley are up after this year. That’€™s one potential team I’€™d say in the first round keep an eye on.”

4. Left guard Logan Mankins addressed a number of topics when he met the media this week — for more on that, check out our story here. One of the things he discussed was the fact that he considers himself to be very “lucky”€ to have had the lengthy career he’€™s already enjoyed since he first arrived in the NFL in 2005. “€œI think I’€™ve been truly lucky,”€ Mankins said Thursday. “€œNo catastrophic injuries. I’€™ve been lucky enough to stay with one team this entire time, and play for a great head coach, great organization, a lot of great teammates.”€ Setting aside the fact that he played through a partially torn ACL in 2011, Mankins durability has been impressive. He made 80 straight starts to begin his professional career, and the 32-year-old can already boast of the fact that he’€™s played in 130 regular-season games over the course of his first nine years in the NFL. That already puts him 31st overall on the franchise list of all-time games played. Assuming that Mankins plays another three years — the rest of his current deal — and if he stays healthy, that would put him at 178 regular-season games in 12 years in the league. That would be ninth best in franchise history, and third-most among all offensive linemen in franchise history, behind only Bruce Armstrong (212 games) and John Hannah (183). Here’€™s the team’€™s all-time Top 10 list in terms of regular-season games played:

1. Bruce Armstrong: 212 games, 1987-2000
2. Julius Adams: 206 games, 1971-87
3. Mosi Tatupu: 194 games, 1978-90
4. Tom Brady: 193 games, 2000-present
5. Troy Brown: 192 games, 1993-2007
6. Ray Clayborn: 191 games, 1977-89
7. Tedy Bruschi: 189 games, 1996-2008
8. John Hannah: 183 games, 1973-85
9. Stanley Morgan: 180 games, 1977-89
10. Steve Nelson: 174 games, 1974-87

(As a postscript, Mankins explained why he was able to play on the ACL injury, one that would have hobbled lesser individuals. “€œI think I was lucky that year, too, just to have the type of body that could handle it,”€ Mankins shrugged. “€œI’€™m lucky in a lot of aspects to have a lot of things that have happened to me happen.”)

5. Ty Law, Ray Clayborn and Bill Parcells were announced as finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame this year, and one of the things that Clayborn indicated was the fact that Law not only deserves a spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame, but a spot in Canton as well. “€œBill’€™s already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,”€ Clayborn said, “€œand I believe Ty will definitely get there one day himself.”€ So is Law a Pro Football Hall of Famer? It’€™s certainly an interesting debate. Law had a knack for making big plays on the big stage (his picks of Peyton Manning in the playoffs and Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl were certainly proof of that), and ended up as a two-time All-Pro while evolving into one of the best corners of the era. In addition, his physical play sparked rules changes when it came to pass defense. His 53 career picks are tied for 24th all-time with Deion Sanders, but that might not be enough to get him in. Nine other retired players on this list have at least 50 career picks, and haven’€™t been fitted for the gold jacket. (While voters have traditionally been a little squirrelly when it comes to voting modern era corners into the hall, it appears that 60 interceptions are the football equivalent of 300 wins for a pitcher, as only three retired defensive backs who finished with at least 60 picks aren’€™t in the Pro Football Hall of FameKen Riley, Darren Sharper and Dave Brown.) Ultimately, Law’€™s candidacy may come down to whether or not fellow modern-era defensive backs like Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey who are still playing merit serious consideration. But it’€™s certainly worthy of a debate.

6. Here’€™s the latest roundup of mock draft information as it relates to the Patriots and the 29th overall pick:

Rob Rang, CBS Sports (updated 4/14): Missouri DE Kony Ealy
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports (updated 4/14): Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (updated 4/17): Minnesota DL Ra’€™Shede Hageman
Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports (updated 4/18): Minnesota DL Ra’€™Shede Hageman
Will Brinson, CBS Sports (updated 4/10): Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com (updated 4/9): Minnesota DL Ra’€™Shede Hageman
Bucky Brooks, NFL.com (updated 4/15): Minnesota DL Ra’€™Shede Hageman
Charles Davis, NFL.com (updated 3/18): Notre Dame DL Louis Nix
Mike Huguenin, NFL.com (updated 4/10): Auburn DE Dee Ford
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Minnesota DL Ra’€™Shede Hageman
Todd McShay, ESPN (updated 4/10): Notre Dame DL Louis Nix

(For what it’€™s worth, our latest mock draft — published on March 30 — has the Patriots taking Hageman if they stick at No. 29.)

7. The idea of Donald Trump buying the Bills has already been addressed in this space, but it was interesting to hear Trump talk about himself as a potential buyer with our pal Tim Graham this week in the Buffalo News. Trump said he’€™d do whatever it takes to make it happen, include selling his shares in his casinos. (The NFL prohibits all personnel from having involvement with gambling.) He also pledged to keep the Bills in Buffalo and not move them to Los Angeles or Toronto. “€œI’€™m going to give it a heavy shot,”€ Trump told told Graham. “€œI would love to do it, and if I can do it I’€™m keeping it in Buffalo.”€ But from this viewpoint, Trump and the Bills feels like it would be a mistake. Trump’€™s failure with the USFL — combined with a business record that seems to run counter to the NFL’€™s long-held belief that a rising tide lifts all shifts — are two colossal black marks against him. While he could have a key advocate on his behalf in Patriots owner Robert Kraft — the two have been pals for a long time — it still feels like something of a long shot, at least right now. Two other reported possibilities for the Bills? One group includes the Jacobs family, but it is worth mentioning that Jeremy Jacobs has said he won’€™t sell the Bruins to buy the Bills (as would be required under the NFL’€™s cross-ownership rules). However, that doesn’€™t mean another member of his family couldn’€™t get involved. And two, Jon Bon Jovi has reportedly emerged as the front man for Toronto’€™s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, but no one from that group has made a public statement about the Bills one way or another. Regardless, the process will apparently move very quickly, as Graham is reporting that a sale could be finalized by early October.

8. Since he was cut loose by the Patriots prior to the 2013 because of a major kidney issue, wide receiver Donald Jones has had an interesting journey. The former Bills pass catcher set up a workout with the Colts shortly after cutting ties with New England, but saw his blood test skyrocket during a stress test that ultimately convinced him to retire. It turns out he was suffering from Berger’€™s Disease — he required a transplant or kidney dialysis, and his father ended up giving him a kidney. Now, four months after the transplant, Jones is trying his hand again at professional sports — this time, baseball. He’€™s currently working out with the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots, and hopes to make the team. The 26-year-old, who spent three seasons in the league (all with the Bills) had 82 career receptions. In his relatively short time with the Patriots, Jones distinguished himself as a hard worker and high character guy, and as a result, it was no surprise to hear him say what he did about his father and what he did for him. “€œThere no way to put it into words,”€ Jones said. “€œHe always says, ‘€˜I brought you into this world, and I’€™ll take you out,’€™ joking around like most parents do with their kids. But he brought me into this world, he raised me and he’€™s given me a second chance at life.”€ For more on Jones and his amazing journey, check out this story.

9. The Jets decision to sign running back Chris Johnson this week to a two-year deal was an interesting move, and one that certainly bears watching for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it means he’€™ll have to face the Patriots twice a year. For all his drawbacks, Johnson is one of only a handful of runners to top 1,000 yards each of the last six years, including a 2,006-yard effort in 2009. However, he’€™s not the type of guy who should be depended on to be a feature back anymore. In addition to his impressive yardage numbers, Johnson, who will turn 29 in September, is one of only a few backs who has at least 250 carries a year for the last six seasons, and history tells us that age plus 250 carries a year can be a recipe for disaster for any back, let alone someone like CJ2K. However, if Johnson is part of a rotation in New York — that is to say, the Jets can find a way to split carries with Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell — then, the Jets could really have something. Ivory had a career-high 833 yards in 2013, while Powell also had a career-high 697 yards on 176 carries. While no one will ever confuse them with Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton and Earl Campbell, if Johnson and Ivory can compliment each other between the tackles, and if Powell continue to work as a third-down option out of the backfield (he had 36 catches last season), then New York could really be on to something when it comes to its running game. Right now, there are a lot of ifs, and a lot of it will ultimately hinge on whether or not the Jets can pick up a steady receiver in the draft (in addition to free-agent addition Eric Decker), which would certainly loosen up defenses. But New York has certainly made some intriguing offensive additions this offseason.

10. Good luck to all the members of the Patriots Marathon Team who will be taking part in the Boston Marathon on Monday. It’€™s a crew that includes former linebacker Eric Alexander, PR staffers Cecily Faenza and Christy Berkery and assistant editor of Patriots Football Weekly Andy Hart, a great group dedicated to raising money for a variety of causes. This year’€™s team has raised $375,475 and counting, with the money going to support the Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards program, which awards grants to nonprofit organizations through nominations of deserving volunteers in the New England region as part of the Patriots ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative. (And it’€™s also worth wishing good luck to fellow WEEI crew members Kirk Minihane, Rob Bradford and Patricia Yuse. Go get em.)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Aaron Colvin (AP)

Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin tore his ACL in a practice before the Senior Bowl. (AP)

AARON COLVIN

Position: Cornerback

School: Oklahoma

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 192 pounds

Achievements: 2013, 2012 first-team All-Big 12

What he brings: A good-sized corner, Colvin is a smart, rangy player who can use his length to his advantage. Analysts say he’€™s a willing tackler with good instincts, especially in the run game. Colvin’€™s weaknesses are his average speed and struggles in pass coverage. He could look to add some muscle to his frame. His stock was hurt when he tore his ACL in a practice before the Senior Bowl.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-6

Notes: In 2013 Colvin recorded two interceptions and 55 tackles in 11 games. … Before Colvin tore his ACL, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had him rated as his fourth-best cornerback. … During the 2011 season Colvin was moved to strong safety, where he led the team in tackles with 84. He was moved back to cornerback in 2012.

Related articles:

NBCSports: Aaron Colvin visiting teams despite torn ACL

ESPN: When is right time to draft Aaron Colvin?

Video: Here are Colvin’€™s highlights with Oklahoma.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Lache Seastrunk (AP)

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk averaged 7.4 yards per carry in 2013 after averaging 7.7 a year earlier. (AP)

LACHE SEASTRUNK

Position: Running back

School: Baylor

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 201 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-Big 12, 2012 Honorable Mention All-Big 12, 2012 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year

What he brings: Seastrunk isn’€™t too small or big, providing an excellent balance between power and speed. His ability to cut and accelerate is his biggest strength, though he sometimes runs laterally too much. Seastrunk possesses good vision and balance. His pass-blocking is average and he has very little experience catching the ball, recording nine career catches in his collegiate career.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: Seastrunk ran for 1,177 yards (7.4 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns as a junior in 2013. In 2012 he ran for 1,012 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. … Seastrunk originally went to the University of Oregon in 2010 before transferring to Baylor in 2011. … He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Related articles:

Oregon Live: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk top in vertical and broad jumps, falls short of 40 goal at NFL combine

CBSSports: 2014 Pro Days: Baylor’s Seastrunk improves combine times

Video: Here are Seastrunk’€™s 2013 highlights against West Virginia.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Trevor Reilly (AP)

Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly, who had 100 tackles as a senior in 2013, is one of the draft’s oldest players at 26. (AP)

TREVOR REILLY

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Utah

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 245 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-Pac-12, 2012 honorable mention All-Pac-12

What he brings: Reilly’€™s big frame is enticing and his above-average athleticism, specifically his lateral agility, helps him get to the passer, making him an effective end-of-the-line player. However, Reilly isn’t the quickest or biggest for an outside linebacker, and it shows on tape. While big, he can’€™t overpower bigger offensive linemen, and he can’t beat others with his speed. His coverage abilities are solid.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: The 26-year-old recorded 100 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks during his senior year. He had 235 tackles, 37 tackles for losses and an interception in his Utah career. … Reilly tore his ACL before his junior season but played through it, holding off on surgery until after the season. … Reilly went on a two-year Mormon mission to Sweden after high school. He initially planned to go to Texas Tech but decided attend Utah, where he was a walk-on. … Reilly is married and has two daughters. His 1-year-old, Shayn, was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Related articles:

USA Today: NFL draft diary: Trevor Reilly not as old as his age

Fox Sports: Former Utah DE Reilly fueled by daughter’s battle with cancer

KUTV.com: Former Ute Trevor Reilly Talks NFL And Utah Football

Video: Here are Reilly’€™s highlights against USC in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Darqueze Dennard (AP)

Michigan State standout Darqueze Dennard (left) is a distant cousin of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. (AP)

DARQUEZE DENNARD

Position: Cornerback

School: Michigan State

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 199 pounds

Achievements: Jim Thorpe Award, Jack Tatum Award, unanimous first-team All-American, Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, 2013 first-team All-Big Ten (coaches, media), Big Ten Defensive MVP (ESPN.com, CollegeFootballNews.com), Nagurski Trophy finalist

What he brings: Analysts say that Dennard has perfect size for his position and has strong reaction skills — allowing him to see plays well and have overall good awareness on the field. However, he did not play against many top offenses, and his recent injury history is a concern.

Where the Patriots could get him: Dennard is projected to be a top-15 pick, so the Patriots likely would need to trade up to get him.

Notes: Dennard played much of his junior season with a sports hernia that he likely suffered in September 2012. He had surgery for that injury after the season. … Dennard is a distant cousin of Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

Related articles:

Los Angeles Times: There’s just no cutting corners for Michigan State‘s Darqueze Dennard

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL Combine: Canvassing the corner market

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL Combine: Darqueze Dennard surprisingly sizzles in 40

Video: Here is a video highlighting Dennard’s time with Michigan State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

DaQuan Jones (AP)

DaQuan Jones led Penn State with 11.5 tackles for loss in 2013. (AP)

DAQUAN JONES

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Penn State

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 322 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-Big Ten

What he brings: Jones lost 25 pounds during the 2013 offseason and, according to scouts, now displays more quickness off the snap. Jones has the strength to control blocks, but analysts say that he can take plays off at times and struggle with his range.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Jones was ranked the No. 2 high school offensive lineman by Rivals.com coming out of Johnson City (N.Y.) High. He also was the captain of his football and basketball teams and was a member of the track and field team in high school. … Penn State coaches initially kept Jones out of the first four games of his freshman season in an attempt to preserve the chance to have him redshirt. His play during practice, however, got him time on the field. By his senior year, he started in all 12 games and led the teams with 11.5 tackles for loss.

Related articles:

Houston Texans: Penn State DT DaQuan Jones on future

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: DaQuan Jones Q&A at the NFL scouting combine

Video: Here is a video with highlights from Jones’ senior season at Penn State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

The Patriots are one of four teams who have shown pre-draft interest in Boston College running back Andre Williams, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

Andre Williams ran for 2,177 yards this past year for BC. (AP)

Andre Williams ran for 2,177 yards this past year for BC. (AP)

The Patriots are one of four teams who have shown pre-draft interest in Boston College running back Andre Williams, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.

The Browns, Steelers and Jets have also shown interest in Williams, who led the nation in rushing with 2,177 yards (to go along with 18 touchdowns) and was a Heisman finalist this past season with the Eagles. However, the opportunity to stick in Eastern Massachusetts is certainly alluring for Williams, who was a consensus All-American and Doak Walker Award winner in 2013.

“œIt would be a blessing to end up on the Patriots squad,”€€ said the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder at the combine in February. “They’€™€™re a winning franchise. They have a great coach. He seems like a really levelheaded cool guy to deal with. It would be great to go back to the Northeast. That’€™€™s where my family is situated right now. It would be a great fit.”

Considered a second-day pickup, Williams is among the upper tier of backs expected to be taken this year, a group that includes Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Washington’s Bishop Sankey and LSU’s Jeremy Hill.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Dee Ford (AP)

Auburn’s Dee Ford had two sacks of Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in the BCS national championship game. (AP)

DEE FORD

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Auburn

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 252 pounds

Achievements: 2014 Senior Bowl MVP, 2013 first-team All-SEC

What he brings: Ford is a great athlete who plays hard, possessing great speed and burst for the outside linebacker position. Scouts consider him a speed rusher, as he relies on his speed to get to the quarterback. While he has shown some power, scouts fear he lacks the strength to go against NFL tackles, especially when it comes to setting the edge for the running game. While the 23-year-old had experience dropping into coverage at Auburn, scouts fear his speed is too average for the NFL.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: In 2013 Ford had 8.5 sacks and 26 tackles in the regular season, adding two sacks and three tackles in the BCS national championship game against Florida State. … He missed the first two games of 2013 with a left knee sprain. He missed all but three games in 2011 due to a back injury. The back injury was an issue at the NFL combine and left Ford unable to participate in any of the drills.

Related articles:

ESPN: DE Ford backs up talk at Auburn’s pro day

ESPN: Dee Ford: ‘I’m better’ than Clowney

Video: Here are Ford’€™s highlights from his time at Auburn.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia is joined by Chris Price to discuss the leadership that offensive captain Logan Mankins brings to the Patriots. Mankins defended the team against the harsh criticism of former linebacker Brandon Spikes and laughed off a prediction from Spikes that his new team, the Buffalo Bills, would beat the Patriots twice in 2014 when the two square off this season. Petraglia and Price also discuss how Mankins will stabilize a veteran offensive line that has lost its longtime coach Dante Scarnecchia to retirement.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia