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.

Trent Murphy (AP)

Trent Murphy led the FBS with 15 sacks in 2013. (AP)

TRENT MURPHY

Position: Defensive end

School: Stanford

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 250 pounds

Achievements: 2013 consensus All-American, first-team All-American (Walter Camp, AFCA, FWAA, Sporting News, SI.com, ESPN.com), first-team All-Pac 12, 2012 Butkus Award semifinalist

What he brings: Murphy is known as an above-average athlete with strong instincts. While he has a solid frame, though, analysts note that he does not have as much muscle as an average professional football player.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Murphy played in just two games during the 2010 season after he suffered a leg injury. … During the 2013 season, Murphy led the FBS with 15 sacks and had at least one sack in 10 of 14 games. … Murphy was one of the top performers at the 3-cone drill during the combine.

Related articles:

FOXSports.com: Draft Diary: Stanford LB Trent Murphy tracks path to the NFL (Part 1)

FOXSports.com: Draft Diary: Stanford LB Trent Murphy tracks path to NFL (Part 2)

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL draft: Winners, losers, surprises in combine 3-cone

Video: Here is a video highlighting Murphy’s career at Stanford.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri
Tackle Nate Solder had a pre-draft visit to Foxboro scrubbed at the last minute, but the Patriots still made him a first-round pick. (AP)

Tackle Nate Solder had a pre-draft visit to Foxboro scrubbed at the last minute, but the Patriots still made him a first-round pick. (AP)

With the pre-draft process longer now than it’s been in year’s past, there’s more time for speculation, and official visits, workouts and attendance at Pro Days are all ways fans and the media try and gauge a team’s interest in a prospect. Some of the pre-draft work can be a smokescreen, some of it can be done for intel down the road and some of can be for practical scouting purposes. With that in mind, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections the Patriots have made with some of their top draft picks over the last few years.

Linebacker Jamie Collins (taken with New England’s first pick in 2013, a second-round selection at No. 52 overall): Bill Belichick flew South to work out Collins before the draft, but the linebacker later indicated that he did not have much pre-draft contact with New England when compared to other teams.

Defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round pick 2012, 21st overall): Jones recalled a conversation with the Patriots at the combine in Indy the year he was drafted. “I talked to the Patriots — I talked with them at the combine,” he said. “That was the most formal thing we did. That’s basically it — we talked at the combine.”

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick 2012, 25th overall): He didn’t work out for Patriots, but he said he “had a small (idea)” the Patriots were interested. “I met with those guys at the combine and I met them at one of the Pro Days,” Hightower recalled, “so I knew that they were kind of interested in some of the defensive players that we had at Alabama.”

Tackle Nate Solder (first-round pick 2011, 17th overall): Solder had what he called “fairly limited contact” with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. He met with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia the Monday before the draft in Colorado, but also had a scheduled visit to Foxboro cancelled at the last minute. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Solder later explained. “I was scheduled to visit (but) the minute before I left it was cancelled. That’s all I know.”

Defensive back Devin McCourty (first-round pick 2010, 27th overall): McCourty met with Belichick prior to the draft, where the two had a film session on campus at Rutgers. “Bill Belichick had come to my school for a coaches’ clinic, and he was going to fly right out after the clinic to see his son play in a lacrosse game,” McCourty recalled. “But we had an hour, we watched some film and we spoke for a little while. We had a real generic conversation, but he showed me some things on film, just watching and helping me out as far as being a player.”

Linebacker Jerod Mayo (first-round pick, 2008, 10th overall): Mayo had 11 visits with teams during the pre-draft process, and remembers his visit to Foxboro fondly. “I had a great visit when I came down there,” he said. “The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots announced Wednesday that former defensive backs Raymond Clayborn and Ty Law and ex-coach Bill Parcells were named finalists for the team’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote on which individual deserves to be the 2014 inductee starting Wednesday and continuing through May 15. The winner will be announced in early June.

Ty Law believes in the 2012 Patriots. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Ty Law is one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Patriots announced Wednesday that former defensive backs Raymond Clayborn and Ty Law and ex-coach Bill Parcells were named finalists for the team’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote on which individual deserves to be the 2014 inductee starting Wednesday and continuing through May 15. The winner will be announced in early June.

Clayborn played for New England from 1977-89 before finishing up with two seasons with the Browns and was named to the Pro Bowl three times (’83, ’85, ’86). A first-round draft pick (16th overall) out of Texas, Clayborn finished his career with 36 interceptions (tied with Law for the team record) and 555 interception return yards (second to Law’s 583). He also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie in 1977, he set single-season team records with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and a 31.0-yard return average.

Law played 10 seasons for the Patriots (1995-2004) as part of a 15-year NFL career after being drafted 23rd overall out of Michigan. A four-time Pro Bowler (;98, ’01, ’02, ’03), Law won three Super Bowls in New England. He returned a Kurt Warner pass 47 yards for a touchdown in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win over the Rams in 2002. He holds franchise records for interceptions (36, tied with Clayborn), interception return yards (583) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (6). He became the first Patriot to lead the league in interceptions when he had nine in 1998.

Parcells coached New England for four seasons and led the team to the playoffs twice, including a run to the Super Bowl in 1997. He was named Coach of the Year for his performance in 1994, when the Patriots won their final second regular-season games to clinch their first playoff berth in eight years. In 1996 the Patriots won a then-franchise-record 11 games and their first division title in a decade. They eat the Steelers and Jaguars to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in team history before losing to the Packers. Parcells, who is the only coach to lead four franchises (Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys) to the playoffs and three different teams (Giants, Patriots, Jets) to a conference championship game, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

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.

Devonta Freeman (AP)

Florida State’s Devonta Freeman surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in 2013, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. (AP)

DEVONTA FREEMAN

Position: Running back

School: Florida State

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 206 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-ACC

What he brings: Freeman is a solid back who doesn’t possess blazing speed or size, but has good balance, solid hands and quick feet that make him dangerous and allow him to change directions quickly. He’s more of an outside runner as he lacks elite strength to run up the middle. Analysts see pass protection and a tendency to run laterally while looking for the big run as his two biggest weaknesses.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: In 2013 Freeman ran for 1,016 yards, becoming the first Florida State running back to go over the 1,000 yard mark since 1996, on 173 carries for a 5.9 average, with 14 rushing touchdowns. He added 22 catches for 278 yards and one touchdown. The 22-year-old led the team in rushing attempts all three of his years at Florida State.

Related articles:

Tallahassee Democrat: Freeman’s draft stock on the rise

Tampa Bay Times: FSU’s Freeman displays toughness of top back

Video: Here are Freeman’€™s 2013 highlights with Florida State.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal
Deone Bucannon (AP)

Deone Bucannon (AP)

The Patriots have pre-draft meetings set up with Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and University of Washington safety Deone Bucannon on Wednesday, according to reports.

Fiedorowicz is a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder who is considered to be a second-round pick. He has a couple of New England connections already: one, Iowa’€™€™s offensive line coach the past two seasons was Brian Ferentz, who spent the previous season as the Patriots tight end coach, working with both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. And two, D.J. Hernandez ‘€“€” the brother of ex-Patriots tight end Aaron — was a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes last year.

Fiedorowicz had 75 catches the last two seasons at Iowa, including 30 catches for 299 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. He said he spent plenty of time watching Gronkowski while in college.

‘€œ€œI was watching him on film. I always used to watch him in games, but when you see it break down as film it’€™€™s even more impressive,’€€ Fiedorowicz said at the combine. ‘€œHe plays hard every down, every play. He finishes guys. He uses his body in the passing game. He’€™€™s just an impressive guy. It’€™€™s the way he plays the game.’€

News of his visit was first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

As for Bucannon, he’s a relatively oversized safety in the mold of the Seahawks‘ secondary. Considered a Day 2 pick, the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder is a three-time captain who led the Pac-12 with 109 tackles during the 2013 season, to go along with six interceptions.

For more on Bucannon, our pre-draft capsule on him can be read here. Aaron Wilson of National Football Post first reported the Bucannon news.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Patriots are one of six teams that have shown the most interest in linebacker Michael Sam throughout the pre-draft process, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Sam, the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, announced he was gay in February. As a senior at Mizzou in 2013, Sam had 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss while being named a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection. He is expected to be a mid- to late-round selection in next month’s draft.

Michael Sam has reportedly drawn the interest of the Patriots. AP)

Michael Sam has reportedly drawn the interest of the Patriots. AP)

The Patriots are one of six teams that have shown the most interest in linebacker Michael Sam throughout the pre-draft process, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Sam, the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, announced he was gay in February. As a senior at Mizzou in 2013, Sam had 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss while being named a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC selection. He is expected to be a mid- to late-round selection in next month’s draft.

Sam has apparently also drawn the interest of the Ravens, Falcons, Colts, Browns and Jets, according to Wilson, quoting a league source.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick issued a statement when Sam made his announcement in February, saying that Sam will be evaluated like any other potential draft prospect.

“We evaluate all the players, including Michael Sam, based on the totality of who they are and who can best contribute to our team and organization, regardless of the matters being discussed today. They all have strengths, they all have weaknesses and no two human beings are identical. Our scouting staff has performed extensive work on Michael, both this season and going back throughout his career. That work will continue through the draft process this spring.”

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 in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Bryan Stork protected Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston at Florida State and helped the Seminoles win a national title. (AP)

Bryan Stork won the Rimington Trophy as top center in the nation for protecting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and helping Florida State win a national title. (AP)

BRYAN STORK

Position: Center

School: Florida State

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: 2013 Rimington Trophy (top center in the nation), 2013 consensus All-American, 2013 first-team All-ACC (media, coaches)

What he brings: Stork has ideal size, and, according to analysts, he is a technically sound athlete with good quickness and positioning. Analysts also say, though, that he has difficulty with his body control and can be bulled when he plays tall.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-6

Notes: Stork missed a game against Wake Forest during the 2013 season after he suffered an ankle injury and missed a game against Savannah State in 2012 because of an undisclosed injury. … He played in every offensive snap in Florida State’s comeback win over Auburn during the BCS national championship. … Stork was a tight end in high school and had 43 pancake blocks before he redshirted during his first year at Florida State. … The Vero Beach, Fla., native said in January that if he wasn’t playing football he would want to become a pilot like his father.

Related articles:

AL.com: Florida State’s Bryan Stork ready to take flight into NFL

Miami Herald: Bryan Stork wins the Rimington Trophy

Video: Here is a video highlighting Stork’s career at Florida State.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, who helped injured bystanders at the finish line after last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the attacks. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.