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.

Calvin Pryor (AP)

Calvin Pryor showed his strength and had one of the top performances at the NFL scouting combine with 18 reps on the bench press. (AP)

CALVIN PRYOR

Position: Free safety

School: Louisville

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 207 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-AAC, 2012 second-team All-Big East

What he brings: Pryor is a strong player with good size who has solid ball skills and tackling ability. Analysts also say, though, that Pryor’€™s physical style of play can become a problem because he is occasionally lacks discipline.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Pryor was suspended for a game against Memphis on Nov. 23 after he violated an unspecified team rule. … He was second on the team with 75 tackles during the 2013 season. … At the NFL scouting combine, Pryor did 18 bench press reps — one of the top performances at the combine.

Related articles:

Yahoo! Sports: Louisville safety Calvin Pryor set to make impact in NFL draft

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tale of 2 safeties: Pryor, Clinton-Dix offer different skill sets

Video: Here is a highlight video from Pryor’s time at Louisville

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

The Patriots are hosting defensive end Will Smith on a free agent visit, according to ESPN.

The 32-year-old veteran, who was cut loose as part of the great New Orleans salary purge of 2014, has 67.5 career sacks, but has struggled over the last few seasons, and is coming off a torn ACL that left him sidelined for the 2013 season.

The Patriots are hosting defensive end Will Smith on a free agent visit, according to ESPN.

The 32-year-old veteran, who was cut loose as part of the great New Orleans salary purge of 2014, has 67.5 career sacks, but has struggled over the last few seasons, and is coming off a torn ACL that left him sidelined for the 2013 season.

New England is likely be in the market for a low-cost answer at defensive end/situational pass rusher behind starters Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones — youngsters Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette have been underwhelming to this point in their careers, while 34-year-old veteran Andre Carter is an unrestricted free agent.

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.

Carlos Hyde (AP)

Carlos Hyde is a big, bruising running back who averaged a whopping 7.3 yards per carry as an Ohio State senior in 2013. (AP)

CARLOS HYDE

Position: Running back

School: Ohio State

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 230 pounds

Achievements: 2013 third-team AP All-American, 2013 first-team All-Big Ten, 2012 second-team All-Big Ten

What he brings: One of the bigger backs in college, Hyde brings a bruising style of running that can be dominant at times. While not the fastest back, he has good speed and quickness to go with his hard-hitting ways. Hyde can take hits well and churn his legs to get tough yards. Scouts are concerned about his lack of consistency and willingness to hit the hole despite his bigger frame.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: In 2013, Hyde ran for 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 16 catches for 147 yards and three TDs. He averaged 7.3 yards per carry, tying him for eighth best in the nation. … At the scouting combine, Hyde only ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, reportedly pulling his left hamstring during the run. … Hyde was suspended for the first three games of the 2013 season by Ohio State because of a video that surfaced showing the 23-year-old attempt to strike a woman at a bar.

Related articles:

ESPN.com: Hyde suspended at least 3 games

Profootballtalk: Carlos Hyde hurts hamstring while running 40 at combine

Video: Here are Hyde’€™s 2013 highlights with Ohio State.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

The Patriots are set to host running back Michael Bush on a free agent visit, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The 29-year-old Bush has been in the league for six years, and the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder had moderate success with Oakland — he had three years of 500-plus yards (2009-2011) while with the Raiders, including a career-best 977 rushing yards on 256 carries with Oakland in 2011. However, he had two subpar seasons with the Bears, including just 197 rushing yards last season in Chicago.

The Patriots are set to host running back Michael Bush on a free agent visit, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The 29-year-old Bush has been in the league for six years, and the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder had moderate success with Oakland — he had three years of 500-plus yards (2009-2011) while with the Raiders, including a career-best 977 rushing yards on 256 carries with Oakland in 2011. However, he had two subpar seasons with the Bears, including just 197 rushing yards last season in Chicago.

New England is likely looking at possible replacements for veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, who recently departed as a free agent. In addition to Bush, there are a handful of veterans who remain on the market, as well as some possibilities when it comes to the draft.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
UCLA's Xavier Su'€™a-Filo is one possibility for Patriots at No. 29. (AP)

UCLA’s Xavier Su’€™a-Filo is one possibility for Patriots at No. 29. (AP)

With rush of free agency just about done and the pre-draft process in full swing, here’s a fresh roundup of analysis from experts on who the Patriots will take at No. 29. (For what it’s worth, we have New England going after Minnesota defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman if they stick at 29.)

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com (updated March 20) UCLA offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo
Rob Rang, CBS Sports (updated March 31) Louisville free safety Calvin Pryor
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports (updated March 31) Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (updated March 26) Notre Dame defensive lineman Louis Nix III
Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports (updated March 28) Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton
Will Brinson, CBS Sports (updated March 20) Minnesota defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman
Chris Burke, SI.com (updated March 28) Auburn defensive end/outside linebacker Dee Ford
Todd McShay, ESPN Insider (updated March 6 — behind pay wall) Minnesota defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman

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.

Lamarcus Joyner (AP)

Lamarcus Joyner moved from safety to cornerback in 2013 and helped Florida State to a national championship. (AP)

LAMARCUS JOYNER

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida State

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 184 pounds

Achievements: Unanimous All-American, finalist for Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski Awards, winner of the Ultimate Herbie Award, All-ACC first team (coaches, media)

What he brings: As someone who has spent time as both a safety and a cornerback, Joyner has versatility and, according to analysts, an aggressive approach to the game. At 5-foot-8, though, his size is a concern.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: After deciding to stay at Florida State for his senior season, Joyner opted to move to corner so that he could show his versatility to NFL teams. He went on to record 69 tackles with two interceptions and a team-leading 5.5 sacks.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner offers unrivaled versatility

FOXSports.com: Lamarcus Joyner’s draft stock rising after senior season

Video: Here is a video featuring highlights of Joyner’s 2013 season with Florida 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.

Ahmad Dixon (AP)

Ahmad Dixon (left) is a hard-hitting safety who showed some positional versatility during his time at Baylor. (AP)

AHMAD DIXON

Position: Strong safety

School: Baylor

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 212 pounds

Achievements: 2013 Sporting News, AFCA first-team All-American, 2013 unanimous first-team All-Big 12, 2012, 2011 All-Big 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Dixon has solid speed and good size for his position, and he’s known as an aggressive tackler. Analysts note that he needs to work toward a better vision and understanding of the game. At the scouting combine, he was timed at 4.64 in the 40-yard dash, 7.54 in the 3-cone drill and 12.01 in the 60-yard shuttle. He improved on all three numbers at Baylor’s pro day on March 19, producing a 4.52 dash, a 7.28 3-cone and an 11.16 shuttle.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: Dixon was arrested after he allegedly assaulted a man who Dixon believed broke into his house. He was cleared of the charges by a grand jury in December. … Dixon was ejected from a game and suspended from half a game during the 2013 season after he was called for targeting during Baylor’€™s contest against TCU on Nov. 30. Dixon played at nickelback during his sophomore and junior seasons before settling in at safety as a senior.

Related articles:

ESPN.com: NFL combine is key for former Big 12 stars

DallasCowboys.com: Ahmad Dixon sees Williams like family, big brother

Video: Here is a video highlighting Dixon’s career at Baylor

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri
Sammy Watkins is regarded as the top wide receiver in the draft. (AP)

Clemson’s Sammy Watkins is regarded as the top wide receiver in the draft. (AP)

With the initial wave of free agency now complete — and a couple of notable trades and releases in the books — here’€™s our first post-free agency mock.

1. Texans: Jadeveon Clowney, DL, South Carolina – There’€™s still talk about the Texans taking a quarterback — talk continues to persist that Houston will trade out of the top spot — but the chance to land a potentially transformative defensive presence like Clowney is likely too great to pass up. If they stick at No. 1 and go with Clowney, there will be a few intriguing quarterbacking possibilities for Houston at the start of the second round.

2. Rams: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn – The best offensive tackle in the draft — in a landmark year for tackles — goes off the board early.

3. Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida – The Jags take the closest thing to a hometown boy and top-shelf QB they can find. At the same time, it wouldn’€™t be a shocker to see them chase after Manziel at No. 3.

4. Browns: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville Pro days are overrated. Bridgewater will sit for a spell behind Brian Hoyer, but will get his chance to be the starter sooner rather than later.

5. Raiders: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – With the Raiders landing Matt Schaub — and Bortles and Bridgewater off the board — that presumably takes them out of the quarterback sweepstakes, at least for this year. Besides, the speed of Watkins will likely be too great for the Raiders to resist.

6. Falcons: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo – No moves here, as the best defensive player available goes to Atlanta.

7. Buccaneers: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan – Some red flags because of a recent off-field incident may cause some concerns, but the Bucs roll the dice and go with Lewan ahead of Jake Matthews.

8. Vikings: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Manziel drops a bit because of the recent AFC quarterback shuffle, but if he isn’€™t taken No. 3 by the Jags, he won’€™t get past Minnesota.

9. Bills: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M – Buffalo is going to make it back-to-back Aggies — the only question is whether it’€™s Evans or Matthews. We’€™re going with Evans at this spot.

10. Lions: Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State As we said with our second mock draft, the best corner in the draft goes to a team in need of help in the secondary.

11. Titans: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M – You get an Aggie, and you get an Aggie, and you get an Aggie! The Titans do have some options here — they could grab a quarterback, if one of them falls, or maybe chase after David Carr. But the safe play here is Matthews.

12. Giants: Aaron Donald, DL, Pitt – To this point, we’€™ve mocked a series of offensive linemen to the Giants with the No. 12 pick, but the recent loss of Justin Tuck, Donald’€™s terrific performance in the pre-draft process and some other personnel moves (including the fact that they could probably get a pretty good offensive lineman in the second round) caused us to go in another direction here.

13. Rams: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama – Provided the Rams land wide receiver Kenny Britt, the next logical move here is to beef up the secondary with an elite defensive back like Dix who could serve as a good complimentary presence to someone like T.J. McDonald.

14. Bears: Timmy Jernigan, DL, Florida State – Jernigan has a fairly raw skill set, but figures to have a colossal upside.

15. Steelers: Louis Nix III, DL, Notre Dame Pittsburgh could use some help at other spots, but Nix is too big a talent to pass up at this spot.

16. Ravens: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina – So many possibilities here for the Ravens, who could also use some help up front defensively. But Ebron is too good to pass on here.

17. Cowboys: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA – Dallas lost DeMarcus Ware, and while Barr doesn’€™t bring the same kind of heat, he could develop into a pretty good pass rusher. They could also go after Jernigan or Donald if either one are still there at No. 17.

18. Jets:  Marqise Lee, WR, USC – Some of this depends on how the DeSean Jackson situations shakes out — if they are able to land him, they’€™ll likely be more inclined to go for a tight end — maybe Ebron, if he’€™s still around. Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is also a possibility.

19. Dolphins: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame In the wake of acquiring Branden Albert, Miami continues it’€™s rebuild up front with the best young tackle on the board.

20. Cardinals: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri – We’€™ve gone back and forth at this spot, and there are a few different possibilities for the Cards here, but Ealy makes too much sense. Arizona could also go for a cornerback at this spot (maybe Michigan State‘€™s Darqueze Dennard or Jason Verrett of TCU), or another pass catcher to compliment Larry Fitzgerald.

21. Packers: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech – Green Bay needs a tight end, and Amaro is the best of the bunch at this point.

22. Eagles: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville It’€™s all about secondary help for the Eagles, who are going to go after the best defensive back available. Look for them to get Pryor or Dennard.

23. Chiefs: Odell Beckham, WR, LSU – Kansas City needs a field-stretcher, and Beckham makes the most sense at this point, especially because it looks like the Chiefs are out of the DeSean Jackson Sweepstakes.

24. Bengals: Jason Verrett, CB, TCU – The Bengals could ponder the possibility of Auburn’€™s Dee Ford as a potential replacement for Michael Johnson, but Verrett’€™s presence means a min-run on defensive backs continues.

25. Chargers: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State San Diego needs to bolster the secondary, and Dennard is the best remaining corner on the board.

26. Browns (from the Colts): Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State – If there’€™s a team who might be inclined to go for a running back, it’€™s the Browns (Ohio State’€™s Carlos Hyde is probably the only RB worthy of a first round pick this year), but instead, they’€™ll go for his college teammate at No. 26.

27. Saints: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn – Best available defensive end for a team that needs to fill that position.

28. Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State – Carolina will be looking for the best available pass catcher, and in this scenario, it’€™s Benjamin, who appears to have massive boom-bust potential.

29. Patriots: Ra’€™Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota – Even with some resolution to the Vince Wilfork contract flap, we’€™ve been consistent in our belief that Hageman is the best fit for the Patriots if they end up sticking at No. 29, and we’€™re going to stick with him here. However, keep two names in mind — UCLA offensive lineman Xavier Su’€™a-Filo and Benjamin are also possibilities. (Again, provided they stick at 29. New England is one of the leading contenders to trade down, and this year is no exception.)

30. Niners: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State – San Francisco needs another target in the passing game for Colin Kaepernick, and Cooks is the best available pass catcher on the board.

31. Broncos: Xavier Su’€™a-Filo, OL, UCLA – Denver could go a few different ways, including another receiver to try and replace Eric Decker, who left as a free agent. (Cooks is a possibility if he’€™s still available, or Jarvis Landry of LSU.) But Su’€™a-Filo, a versatile presence who has been climbing draft boards for much of the post-combine process, could step in and replace Zane Beadles.

32. Seahawks: Morgan Moses, T, Virginia – The Broncos need to address a few spots, including tackle (with the departure of Breno Giacomini) and wide receiver (for added depth). Moses has been mentioned by many as a possible Day 1 starter at right tackle for the defending Super Bowl champs. (Seattle could be a trade candidate for a team looking to get one of the available quarterbacks at the end of the first round.)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price