WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 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.

LEONARD WILLIAMS

Position: Defensive tackle

School: USC

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 302 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team (AFCA, ESPN), 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 USC Most Valuable Player, 2014 Hendricks Award finalist for best defensive end in the country, 2013 All-America first team (ESPN), 2013 USC Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year

What he brings: Williams is an impressive talent who is projected to go top three in the draft. According to Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports, the 6-foot-5 Williams boasts “a rare combination of size, easy athleticism and raw power to go along with a passion for the game.” He has long arms and good flexibility and balance. Williams is big, powerful and “has the look and feel of the biggest, strongest kid on the playground but hasn’t figured out how to unlock his natural gifts and consistently dominate the rest of the kids on the playground just yet,” wrote Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Williams, a USC captain, played through the 2014 season with an ankle injury and still managed to earn all of the above accolades. He also underwent shoulder surgery during last year’s offseason. In his career at USC, Williams had 138 tackles, 27 for losses, with 14 sacks, four deflections, three fumble recoveries and one interception. At the combine, Williams ran a 4.97 second 40-yard dash, posted an 8-foot-, 10-inch inch broad jump and recorded a 4.53 second 20-yard shuttle.

Related articles:

Washington Post: A closer look at NFL draft prospect Leonard Williams

Yahoo Sports: Greg Cosell’s Draft Preview: Leonard Williams has talent, and questions

ESPN: Versatile Leonard Williams could be NFL’s next great defensive lineman 

Video: Here is a video of Williams’ highlights.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

Let’s face it — Tom Brady could post a half-million videos of him jumping off cliffs or Photoshopping his body into a full cast as an April Fools prank, but he’d never be able to come up with something like this. Julian Edelman just changed the social media game in the Patriots locker room with this little number.

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 2015 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.

XAVIER COOPER

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Washington State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 293 pounds

Achievements: 2014 WSU Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2013 WSU Tim Petek Award for strongest man, 2012 All-Pac 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Cooper has “outstanding foot quickness and an ability to pursue in space,” wrote Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. He barely ever gives offensive linemen a still target, and “it’s hard to land a solid, sustained punch on him.” He is good at timing the snap and can sync the quickness of his hands with that of his feet for “early wins along the line of scrimmage.” Cooper has shorter limbs for his size and he doesn’t have “pure power at the point of attack.” If he doesn’t win with his hands, Zierlein wrote, he gets pushed off the spot.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Cooper sat out his first season so that he could make sure his academics were in order, while in 2012 he had 34 tackles, with 8.5 for loss, and three sacks. He got even better in 2013, making 50 tackles, 13.5 for loss with five sacks, and in 2014, he made 37 tackles, 9.5 for loss and had five sacks. At the scouting combine Cooper ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash, had 29 reps on the bench press, posted a 9-foot, 2-inch broad jump and ran a 4.37-second 20-yard shuttle.

Related articles:

Dallas Morning News: Bob Sturm’s 2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

Seahawks.com: Tacoma native, Washington State standout Xavier Cooper: ‘Hard work has got me here’

Fox Sports: NFL Draft Diary: Washington State DT Xavier Cooper tracks path to NFL

Video: Here is a closer look at Cooper, courtesy Washington State.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 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.

Eric Kendricks (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who led all FBS teams with 149 tackles in 2014, owns UCLA’s records for single-season and career tackles. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

ERIC KENDRICKS

Position: Inside linebacker

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 230 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America second team, 2014 Butkus Award for best linebacker, 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy for defensive player of the year, 2014 All-Pac-12 second team, 2013 All-Pac-12 honorable mention, 2012 All-Pac-12 honorable mention

What he brings: Kendricks has been one of the top tacklers in the nation for several years, and scouts are impressed with his ability to finish tackles. He is considered to be a good man-to-man defender, as well as very aggressive, which helps him attack the run but can also catch him out of position. There are concerns that he may be small for an inside linebacker and have trouble outmuscling blockers, but he has been able to use his agility to get around defenders. Scouts also note that he needs work as a blitzer.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Kendricks finished the 2014 season with an FBS-leading 149 tackles to go along with two sacks and three interceptions. He holds the UCLA record for tackles in a single season (150 in 2012) and career (481). He was named Defensive MVP of the 2015 Alamo Bowl after recording 10 tackles (three for loss) and helping the Bruins beat Kansas State, 40-35. His father, Marvin, was a running back at UCLA in the early 1970s and played in the Canadian Football League. His brother, Mychal, is a linebacker for the Eagles who was drafted in the second round out of California in 2012. At the scouting combine he ran the 40 in 4.61 seconds, put up 19 reps in the bench press, reached 38 inches in the vertical jump and leaped 10 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump.

Related articles:

Philadelphia Magazine: Kendricks brothers compared

SB Nation: Kendricks looks forward to joining brother in NFL

Video: Here are highlights from Kendricks’ 2014 season.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 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.

IFO EKPRE-OLOMU

Position: Cornerback

School: Oregon

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 185 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 Thorpe Award finalist for best defensive back, 2013 All-Pac-12 first team, 2012 All-Pac-12 first team

What he brings: Ekpre-Olomu is expected to be a great cover corner in the NFL. He is considered to be above average in both man and zone coverage. There are concerns about his short frame, but he is able to be efficient when defending contested balls. Scouts consider him a physical defender who is aggressive in run defense, and runners are rarely able to break tackles once Ekpre-Olomu wraps them up. One of the main concerns with his game is that he might be too physical when the ball is in the air, leading to unwanted pass interference and illegal contact penalties.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: He recorded 63 tackles and two interceptions in 2014. He tore his ACL while preparing for the Rose Bowl and had surgery in December, which has made him unavailable to work out for teams prior to the draft. He likely would be ranked higher on many draft boards if he were healthy.

Related articles:

The Oregonian: Ekpre-Olomu discusses injury, targeted September return

CBSSports.com: Ekpre-Olomu on working out while injured during Oregon pro day

Video: Here’s Ekpre-Olomu recording five tackles, an interception and a pass defended against Washington State in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 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.

Chris Hackett (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Chris Hackett led the Big 12 and ranked seventh in the nation with seven interceptions in 2014. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

CHRIS HACKETT

Position: Free safety

School: TCU

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 195 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Big 12 first team (AP, coaches), 2013 All-Big 12 second team (AP)

What he brings: Hackett has been praised for not shying away from hits and doing whatever he can to make tackles. However, many scouts are concerned about his below-average speed and size. Experts say that he is able to read offenses well but has trouble recovering from fakes because of his speed. He will have trouble being a force in run defense, but there are more than a few people in the NFL that like his ability to defend the pass.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 5-7

Notes: In 2014 as a redshirt junior Hackett led the Big 12 and was seventh in the nation with seven interceptions, and he had 75 tackles. In 2013 he had three interceptions and 88 tackles. He did not miss a game due to injury in his three seasons with the Horned Frogs. He ran a 4.81 40 at the combine, among the slowest times for defensive backs.

Related articles:

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Hackett looking forward to NFL

Video: Here’s Hackett recording 13 tackles and an interception against Oklahoma in 2014.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
save

Alfonzo Dennard, Will Sullivan, Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon pose for a picture at Sullivan’s workout facility in Arizona on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Will Sullivan)

Over the last couple of years, a handful of Patriots’ defensive backs have made the trek out to Arizona to work with Will Sullivan, who has collaborated on training schedules for several NFL players over the course of the offseason, including Darrelle Revis.

Sullivan’s work with several members of the New England secondary has been well-documented in stories here and here, and he texted over a photo on Thursday night of many of the Patriots who have been with him in at his facility in Arizona. It’s a group that includes cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safeties Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon. (Cornerback Logan Ryan had worked with Sullivan earlier in the offseason.) With the Patriots set to begin their offseason workouts at Gillette next week, the group said farewell to Sullivan (for now) on Thursday night with the group shot.

 

 

 

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State are the primary focus of the 2015 draft. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State are the primary focus of the 2015 draft. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Here’s our second stab at a mock draft. We made a few tweaks since our first one, including the Patriots approach at No. 32. As is the case every year, it’s important to note that more than anything, mock drafts are a crapshoot. (Occasional emphasis on “crap.”) This one is no exception. That being said, we’ve done our due diligence when it comes to trying to match needs with suitable (and realistic) prospects. There will be a handful of trades, and we’ve made a few notes as to where we believe those deals will take place.

1. Tampa Bay — Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: I know there’s a growing consensus to put Marcus Mariota ahead of Winston, from this viewpoint, Winston is the choice here for a few reasons, including the fact that he has a higher potential ceiling than Mariota. There are plenty of red flags, but he’s still the choice. For what it’s worth, I believe Mariota is going to end up being a pretty good quarterback. But if Winston gets into a good situation with a solid locker room infrastructure around him and the Bucs exercise a reasonable level of expectations around him as a rookie, he has a chance to be special.

2. Tennessee — Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: All right, already, Titans. Your preference for a quarterback is clearly more than a smokescreen (or maybe you believe their statement that Zach Mettenberger is a poor man’s Tom Brady). If they don’t get Mariota here, they’ll try and swing a deal with San Diego for Philip Rivers.

3. Jacksonvillle — Dante Fowler, OLB, Florida:
A really solid selection for Gus Bradley and the Jags defense here at No. 3.

4. Oakland — Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama:
It’s either him or Kevin White from West Virginia at this spot — while the names and faces change in Oakland, the overall organizational philosophy that adheres to measurables above almost everything else (particularly at the skill position spots) fits here.

5. Washington — Leonard Williams, DT, USC: The Redskins are the beneficiaries of the shuffle up top, as they get a guy some believe could be the second coming of Richard Seymour.

6. New York Jets — Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: The Jets are a bit of a wild-card here — if the Titans don’t trade for Rivers and he’s still here at No. 6, there’s the very real possibility they go for Mariota at No. 6. (There could still be a post-selection trade in the works here as well.) In the meantime, we’ll go defense, and give them Ray or Clemson’s Vic Beasley.

7. Chicago — Kevin White, WR, West Virginia:
It’s tempting for to give them one of the top defenders in a Danny Shelton or Vic Beasley, but after losing Brandon Marshall and with quarterback Jay Cutler entering a big year, we’ll say best available receiver.

8. Atlanta — Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, Kentucky: One of the highest risers throughout the pre-draft process, new coach Dan Quinn gets an raw pass rusher who has all the intangibles needed to be a special player.

9. New York Giants — Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami:
We initially had the Giants going for a pass rusher here (Ray), but Flowers has really made a sizable jump in the eyes of many throughout the pre-draft process.

10. St. Louis — Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: Another quick riser, in the mold of Dupree. Scherff has the tools, size and occasionally surly disposition to be a very good tackle for a very long time. There’s also the possibility they could pluck a receiver to give new quarterback Nick Foles another option in the passing game. (That might be the move here if Kevin White is still on the board.)

11. Minnesota — DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville: This feels like it’s a little early, but the chance to reunite quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with one of his favorite targets in college proves too irresistible for the Vikings.

12. Cleveland — Danny Shelton, DT, Washington: Had Shelton going No. 12 to the Browns in our first mock, and it makes too much sense not to have him here again. Shelton is pure nose tackle for Mike Pettine helps shore up a sluggish run defense.

13. New Orleans — Vic Beasley, LB, Clemson: Beasley has really rode the pre-draft wave, and because of some of the shuffling at the top of the draft, he’s slipped a bit. He might need a little more bulk to succeed long-term at the next level, but he certainly has the get-off to make a different immediately as a pass rusher. The Saints could also go for Randy Gregory here as well.

14. Miami — Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri: With the addition of Ndamukong Suh and departure of Mike Wallace, the focus is going to be on the passing game. Even though he’s a Florida guy, UCF’s Breshad Perriman feels like a reach here, so we’ll stick with Green-Beckham, a big target out of Mizzou designed to give Ryan Tannehill a boost.

15. San Francisco — Arik Armstead, DL, Oregon: We had Armstead going to the Niners with our first mock, and the way this one fell together, seems to make sense this time around as well. It also wouldn’t be a shock to see them try to build depth at linebacker with Gregory if he ends up falling.

16. Houston — Randy Gregory, OLB, Nebraska: One of the draft’s wild cards, he could go anywhere between the top 5 and the late stages of the first round. We have him tumbling down the first round here for a few reasons, including fit with a few teams and the report of a failed drug test at the combine. That being said, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him end up somewhere maybe a notch or two higher. The Texans have some other needs — including wide receiver — but they roll the dice with Gregory.

17. San Diego — Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin: Provided San Diego sticks at No. 17 (any Rivers-to-Tennessee deal would likely involve a trade of this pick), they’re going to go with the best running back available. We like Gordon over Todd Gurley because of health issues.

18. Kansas City — Andrus Peat, OL, Stanford: With Scherff and Flowers off the board, the Chiefs turn to the best available tackle prospect.

19. Cleveland (via Buffalo) — Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida: This speedster became part of the national conversation when he turned in a blazing fast 40. The Browns have tried to upgrade their passing game with a series of second-level receivers like Brian Hartline, but Perriman would make a nice additional piece. With the Browns taking care of defense with their first-round pick, they go for a pass catcher at No. 19. (Cleveland could also go for an offensive tackle here — maybe LSU’s La’el Collins.)

20. Philadelphia — Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut: This is definitely a reach, but it feels right to give one of the most hyperathletic guys in the draft to Chip Kelly and see what he could do with him. (For what it’s worth, if the Patriots do see a mid-round talent who could start to tumble into their vicinity, a deal between Kelly and Bill Belichick is completely feasible for the No. 20 overall pick.)

21. Cincinnati — Landon Collins, S, Alabama: The Bengals would almost certainly take Gregory if he somehow fell to 21 (or any of the other pass rushers), but Collins is the pick here for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it’s been fairly well-established that the Bengals have been interested in him throughout the pre-draft process. (The Bengals could also go for Flowers, Scherff or any of the top first-round tackle possibilities if one does drop to them.)

22. Pittsburgh — Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State: Just as we probably rated guys like Scherff and Dupree a little low in our first draft, there are guys who get bumped down in this one as well. From this viewpoint, the Steelers need help on defense, and given the fact that their pass defense was pretty bad last year and Waynes is the best corner available, he goes here. (If Waynes is off the board, expect Pittsburgh to go after Marcus Peters from Washington or Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest. Regardless, it seems to be a safe bet that the Steelers want a corner.)

23. Detroit — Malcom Brown, DT, Texas: The losses of Suh and Nick Fairley force the Lions to try and rebuild their defensive front, and a combo of Brown and Haloti Ngata would make a nice combo package. There’s also a need at offensive tackle for Detroit, which could mean they’d prefer Miami’s D.J. Humphries if he’s available. (There are some who believe the Patriots would be inclined to make a deal to go after Brown if he fell to the twenties. Something to keep an eye on.)

24. Arizona — Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: The Cards get a boost for their running game with one of the best two backs in the draft. While it’s debatable how much he’ll be able to provide right out of the gate because of knee issues, Arizona will gladly wait if Gurley is still there at No. 24.

25. Carolina — D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida: The Panthers give some protection to Cam Newton with the best available tackle.

26. Baltimore — Eddie Goldman, DL, Florida State: A guy who has been mocked to New England by several pre-draft prognosticators, the Ravens swoop in and claim the big FSU lineman. The loss of Torrey Smith also makes you wonder about the chances of a wide receiver at this spot, with Ohio State’s Devin Smith or Miami’s Phillip Dorsett a possibility if the Ravens go in that direction.

27. Dallas — Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma: A few things to think about here: one, we had Phillips as a possibility to the Patriots the first time around, but the Cowboys could use some bulk up front, and Phillips is arguably the best defensive lineman left at this point. And two, there’s a lot of talk about how the Cowboys want to go and get a running back, but wasn’t the idea of building such a great offensive line that you could stick any back behind that group and they could rush for 1,000 yards? If I’m the Cowboys, I go for a boost up front on defense, and then circle back and use my second or third-round selection on the likes of Miami running back Duke Johnson.

28. Denver — T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh: Not sure who it will be at this point, only that it sets up to be the best available tackle.

29. Indianapolis — La’El Collins, OT, LSU: Keeping Andrew Luck upright remains paramount, and Collins is the choice ahead of a few other defenders who could help stop an occasionally leaky run defense.

30. Green Bay — Marcus Peters, CB, Washington: Green Bay lost Tramon Williams and Davon House in free agency and a replacement is needed. The Packers also struggled to stop the run, and so they could eye an inside linebacker. (Miami’s Denzel Perryman?)

31. New Orleans (from Seattle) — Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest: The Saints get two really nice defensive pieces on the first day of the draft. (LSU’s Jalen Collins is also a possibility here, as is Clemson linebacker Stephone Anthony.)

32. New England — Cameron Irving, OL, Florida State: Barring a trade down into the second round or up into the mid-20s for a defensive lineman, they go for Irving here, and plunk him down at guard next to his old college teammate Bryan Stork at left guard. The appearance of Dante Scarnecchia at so many pro days over the course of the spring isn’t coincidental, and he was able to get a good look at Irving. He has the positional versatility (he’s played tackle as well as center, while many believe his body type and skill set would allow him to make the move to guard at the NFL level), body of work and football pedigree that suggests the Patriots would be happy to land him at No. 32. For the record, Logan Mankins didn’t play guard in college, the Patriots took him 32nd overall in 2005, he made the move to guard and became one of the best offensive linemen in franchise history.

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 2015 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.

Malcom Brown (Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Malcom Brown recorded 72 tackles during his All-America season as a junior in 2014. (Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

MALCOM BROWN

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Texas

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 320 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, 2014 All-Big 12 first team, 2014 Outland Trophy finalist for best interior lineman, 2014 Bronco Nagurski Trophy finalist for most outstanding defensive player

What he brings: Brown has the experience, maturity and size that NFL teams are looking for, according to CBS Sports. He can make plays away from the line of scrimmage thanks to his ability to redirect himself and “create havoc” behind the line. He readily locates the ball and can get his hands up in passing lanes, “showing good body control and timing on his leaps to bat passes down.” League scouts consider Brown a “riser”on the draft boards, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. Toward the end of the season Brown started imposing his will more, and he keeps his eyes “glued on the ball carrier no matter what battle is in front of him,” Zierlein wrote. Brown is light on is feet and can fix his positioning if he’s having a particular amount of trouble with someone off the snap. However, Zierlein also notes that Brown is “not consistently physical at the point of attack.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: In 2014, his junior season, Brown made 72 tackles, 39 of which were solo, and 15 tackles for losses totaling 54 yards. He started every game in both his sophomore and junior campaigns and appeared in all 13 of his rookie season as well. At the scouting combine Brown ran a 5.05-second 40-yard dash, had 26 reps on the bench press and posted a 4.59-second 20-yard shuttle. Brown is married with two children.

Related articles:

ESPN.com: All eyes on Malcom Brown at Texas’ pro day

CSN New England: Road to the draft: Texas DT Malcom Brown

Dallas Morning News: Bob Sturm’s 2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Video: Here’s a video of Brown’s highlights put together by Texas in November 2014 for his All-America candidacy.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

The Patriots announced Thursday that their trip to the White House –€” the traditional visit that’€™s made annually by the Super Bowl champions — will take place next Thursday.