In the fourth round, the Patriots selected Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

In the fourth round, the Patriots selected Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell. (Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — With pick No. 112 (acquired from New Orleans in Round 2), the Patriots selected Georgia wide out Malcolm Mitchell.

Here are three thoughts on him.

1. Standing 6-foot-1, Mitchell started all 13 games in 2015, leading the Bulldogs in receiving with 58 catches for 865 yards and four touchdowns. He’s an explosive receiver and once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s tough to tackle. He is 24 years old, so he will be one of the older rookies in the league.

2. Mitchell has battled injuries while at Georgia, which included tearing his ACL in the 2013 season opener. He hasn’t always been a wide receiver, as he played cornerback and was a kick returner during his first two seasons as a Bulldog.

3. He wrote a children’s book called “The Magician’s Hat.” He spends time teaching kids how to read and he joined a book club.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Patriots are scheduled to have eight picks in Day 3 of the 2016 NFL draft. While a few may be traded, the Patriots certainly will be adding to their roster. Follow all the action in the live blog below throughout the day.

Live Blog NFL draft, Day 3
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — The re-imposed four-game suspension of Tom Brady did not impact the Patriots decision to draft a quarterback in the third round Friday night.

The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — The re-imposed four-game suspension of Tom Brady did not impact the Patriots decision to draft a quarterback in the third round Friday night.

The Patriots director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, insisted that the team was going to draft a quarterback regardless of what decision was reached by the Second Circuit Appellate Court. It just so happened the Patriots went with Jacoby Brissett, a teammate of the offensive lineman Joe Thuney they took earlier in the third round.

“We have two quarterbacks on our roster so we knew we were going to add a third quarterback, regardless of whatever the situation was,” Caserio said. “So, very rarely have we gone through a spring with two quarterbacks. Sometimes we’ve had three, sometimes we’ve had four. So, we knew we were going to have a third quarterback on the team regardless. That’s always an important position on your team. We felt that it was important for us to have a player that we felt comfortable with. So that’s why we picked Brissett.”

It just so happens the Patriots went with a developmental quarterback over the likes of Connor Cook, Dak Prescott or Cardale Jones, all of whom were available and still undrafted as the fourth round began Saturday. The reason the Patriots drafted Brissett might lie in his work with Charlie Weis and Bill Parcells. It was Weis who helped recruit him to Florida and played for Weis at Florida when Weis was the offensive coordinator.

“Sure, it had been a while since he played with Charlie,” Caserio said. “Charlie was involved with the recruiting process with him there at Florida. There were a lot of moving parts at the time. Then they made the coaching change, the situation just made the most sense for him to leave. I think having experience with Charlie – we all know how good of a coach Charlie is, how demanding he is and some of those types of things. Whether or not the system was the same – I think it is but it isn’t. There’s an evolution on both sides of it, so but having experience with Charlie, he could probably take hard coaching. So, that won’t be an issue.”

Which leads to the bottom line for now: How comfortable are the Patriots with their quarterback depth chart for the first four games?

“Well, we’ll go through the spring. We’ll kind of go through the process and see what happens,” Caserio said. “The only thing we can control really is [Saturday] and the draft and then we’ll go through OTAs. The rest of it is really out of our hands. We’ll control the things that we can control and go through and try to prepare our team the best we can.

“The whole quarterback position, we only had two on the team, so we were definitely going to add a third quarterback, no question about it at some point, whether it was in the draft or however we did it. Jacoby was a guy we spent a lot of time with. We brought him in, kind of went through exercises with him. He started his career at Florida then transferred to North Carolina State. Two-year starter in the ACC, big guy, good size, athletic, strong, did a better job of taking care of the football this year, decent touchdown to interception ratio. He played in a couple quality programs.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Nick Caserio speaks Friday in Foxboro on the Patriots draft. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Nick Caserio speaks Friday in Foxboro on the Patriots draft. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Ohio State and Alabama, the most popular pipelines of talent supply in the NFL draft, have obvious ties back to the Patriots.

With Ohio State, it’s Bill Belichick’s long-standing friendship and allegiance to Urban Meyer, dating to Meyer’s days at the University of Florida.

With Alabama, it’s an even-longer established relationship with Nick Saban, the man Belichick helped to mold into the football coach he is today when Saban worked for him in Cleveland in the early 90s.

On Friday, the latter yielded more draft fruits that Belichick hopes can produce right away. The Patriots chose Cyrus Jones, a starting corner on Alabama’s national championship team that beat Clemson in January, over any running back that was on the board at 60. Jones will, of course, join another Alabama product on the defense in Dont’a Hightower.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios that we talk through at the time as we were working across, there were some different players who were graded equally,” said Nick Caserio, the Patriots director of player development. “I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit was his overall versatility – punt return – that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability. So, to be a punt returner and to play, we’ll see where he can actually play, in terms of corner. He played primarily on the perimeter at Alabama. We’ll look at everything and then decide what we feel makes the most sense at this time. So, that’s what we did what we did.”

Jones also returned four punts for touchdowns at Alabama. Could he give a break to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, who have performed that role at a very high level in the past?

“The guys that have done it have been really good. I mean Danny was one of the league leaders last year. Julian who had never done it before, his average is like one of the top punt returners in history,” Caserio said. “That’s a hard I would say skill and position to develop so if you have multiple players that can actually handle the ball then you can figure out OK well maybe we can take his workload and redistribute it somewhere else.

“In the end we’re going to do what we think is best for the football team. If a guy snot ready to do it then we’re not going to have him do it even if he has the experience and he’s done it. We’re not going to really know. Look, it’s the same thing. These guys are all starting from a blank slate. Like everything they’ve done to this point like honestly doesn’t matter so now they’re going to show up here next week and basically start from scratch.”

“There’s probably going to be some things that Joe (Joe Judge) and Bubba (Ray Ventrone) will coach them to do in terms of fielding the ball, handling the ball, may be a little bit different. OK, how do they handle that? How do they read the ball? Can they adjust to our blocking pattern? So there’s a whole number of things that go into it and then he’s trying to learn a new position so it’s just a matter of how quickly they can perform the task at a good level relative to another player at that same position and then ultimately we’ll figure out whoever’s the best option for us and however we think is the best at that time then we’ll go ahead with him in that capacity.”

Jones was one of six Crimson Tide players to go in the first three rounds, including four in the second round, where the Patriots nabbed Jones. Caserio was asked the challenge of differentiating between who is really good and who perhaps is being boosted by those around him?

“That’s a good question. You really have to go back, like the question earlier, you’re kind of looking at everybody and then you really almost have to go one by one by one and look at the actual players skill set relative to what they’re actually asked to do and then kind of project that a little bit in terms of what we would ask them to do,” Caserio said. “Having a lot of good players is good. Look, Coach Saban’s got a great program and their track record speaks for themselves so yeah, you can never have enough good players but how good is good? Some good is better than others so you really have to spend time on – I know that’s probably a great quote – but you really have to spend time on it and look at the individual player and what he actually does and how effectively he does it and then go from there.”

Ohio State led the way in the first two days with a remarkable 10 players drafted in the opening three rounds, including six in the first round alone.

Jones did have a record of domestic violence at Alabama, getting picked up when he damaged a woman’s cell phone in April 2015. But the Patriots feel they’ve done their homework on Jones and were comfortable drafting him.

“It’s everything. I mean it really is. We try to look each position on the board, each position they have their own particular factors and position skill set that we evaluate and we go through and we assign a grade and OK there’s certain things that a corner’s going to have to be able to do. There are certain things that a tight ends going to have to be able to do. Everyone has their own particular skills that they’re going to have to do.

“So, OK, will he check every box? Well maybe not but does he check enough? And really the most important thing is to take the strengths of a player and try to put him into position to where he can utilize those strengths. Not ‘well he doesn’t do this’. Then we won’t put him in that position hopefully. So [we] try to identify what the skill is, how well they do it, and then put them in a position where they can actually see it so there’s the physical component and then overall, call it football makeup component, is a central part of it as well.”

“Look, we’re not perfect. Some players work the way we think. It comes with the territory but you’re trying to create a profile of the player within our building and then how he’s going to handle everything that comes along with being a New England Patriot. Being in the program, the demands that we place on those players, so you factor everything in and some players they may check every single place both from a physical standpoint and form a football makeup standpoint and you have others that maybe they check enough of them and then you feel comfortable about that level. So those are decisions that we ultimately have to make so the most important thing is finding players that we feel fit the New England Patriots and however they end up getting here, then they get here, but the bottom-line is that’s the most important players is give me players that we feel fit our program and what we’re looking for on a multitude of levels.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Nebraska's Vincent Valentine was taken in the third round by the Patriots Friday night. (Eric Francis/Getty Images)

Nebraska’s Vincent Valentine was taken in the third round by the Patriots Friday night. (Eric Francis/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — The more you can do, the more you can do for us is a familiar motto around Gillette Stadium, and one the Patriots had on mind when it came to third-round pick Vincent Valentine.

Valentine played all up and down the line in college while at Nebraska, and so it came as no real surprise that New England scooped up the 6-foot-4, 329-pounder with the 96th overall pick Friday night.

“I’m proud of it,” he said when asked about his level of versatility on a conference call shortly after he was drafted. “I’m just willing to play whatever position the Patriots put me in, and I’ll support the coaches 100 percent. They support me, because they picked me as a draft pick. I’m just excited to join the program and just give it my all and give 100 percent every day.”

Valentine struggled at times with injury issues over the course of his college career, but when he was healthy, he was known as a sizable presence in the middle. He finished his three-year college career with 76 tackles, including 14.5 for loss, as well as seven sacks. His best year was 2014 when he 45 tackles and three sacks.

Valentine said he spoke with the Patriots at the combine, and then followed that up with a private workout and a visit to Foxboro.

“I had a workout with Michael Lombardi, and then I had a workout with [defensive line] coach [Brendan] Daly and then they flew me up for a pre-draft visit,” he said of the process. “It was definitely busy with the Pats, and I mean, I was excited. I thought I had a chance of them taking me, but it worked out exactly how I wanted it to work out.”

Asked to describe his game, Valentine said he was a “big, stout guy” who was “definitely a good bull-rusher.” With the Patriots, he will likely be a part of a defensive rotation up front that will include the likes of Alan Branch, Terrance Knighton and Malcom Brown as he works to get up to speed at the NFL level.

Valentine grew up as a Redskins fan, but said it would be fun to get a chance to work with a group of defensive linemen he’s admired from afar for many years.

“They’ve been dominant,” he said when asked about his thoughts on the New England defensive line over the last few seasons. “They have Hall of Fame guys, guys that are Pro Bowl, all those things.

“It’s always exciting to go to a team where you’ll be able to compete for a Super Bowl right in the beginning of your career. I’m just excited to get in there and learn, soak up all the information that I can and just get better every day.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price


FOXBORO — It was the most Patriotic moment of the night at the NFL Draft. And Nick Caserio and the Patriots personnel loved it.

“The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select Joe Thuney, linebacker, North Carolina State!” Kevin Faulk said with authority.

The former Patriots running back, who is up for selection to the Patriots Hall of Fame this year, wanted it to be known that he and the Patriots disapprove of the league winning its appeal with the Second District Appellate Court that reinstated Brady’s four-game suspension for Deflategate.

What did Caserio think?

“That’s why Kevin Faulk is a potential member of the Patriots Hall of Fame,” said Caserio, the Patriots player personnel director who spoke about the Patriots four draft picks on Friday. “We all love Kevin Faulk. Nobody more than Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick and I was actually able to develop a real good relationship with Kevin Faulk.

“Kevin Faulk’s one of the best Patriots on a multitude of levels and I think he certainly showed that tonight.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Cyrus Jones is a versatile player. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Cyrus Jones is a versatile player, something the Patriots love. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Here are five quick things we learned after Day 2 of the 2016 NFL draft from a Patriots perspective.

1. The Patriots are always going to make trades.

The Patriots traded their No. 61 pick to the Saints in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 78 overall) and a fourth-round pick (No. 112 overall). This shouldn’t come as any surprise as Bill Belichick has made 54 draft-day trades in 16 drafts with the Patriots. The only year with no trades was 2004. With about a 100-pick gap following their original last third-round selection and their next pick in the sixth round, it was a no brainer a trade was going to happen to get either a fourth or fifth-round pick. And then with eight picks on Saturday, don’t be shocked to see a few of those traded away for the team possibly to move up.

2. The Patriots love versatility.

The one thing Alabama cornerback Cyrus Jones (selected No. 61 overall) and offensive lineman Joe Thuney (selected No. 78 overall) have in common is their versatility. Jones can play both corner and safety given his size and he’s a dynamic punt returner. Thuney on the other hand has played every offensive line spot over his four years at N.C State. Having this trait is likely one of the main reasons why the team selected these players where they did. Jones could help take the pressure off Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman in the return game and the Patriots still need a swing tackle and Thuney could be that guy.

3. The Patriots always take a quarterback.

Since 1999, the Patriots have selected nine quarterbacks in the draft, which is tied for the second-most during that span. So when the Patriots selected quarterback Jacoby Brissett it wasn’t too surprising, but it was a bit of a surprise that they used a third-round pick on him. Following the draft, director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the team knew they would take a quarterback given they only have two on the roster. This suggests the team could trade Jimmy Garoppolo following this season, but that is a debate for a different day.

4. The Patriots still need a running back.

With the four selections Friday, the team took two offensive players (quarterback and offensive line) and then two defensive players (cornerback and defensive line). It would seem the biggest need heading into Day 3 is running back, especially someone who can run in between the tackles and pick up tough yards. With eight picks, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team select multiple running backs and there are still a few solid ones on the board. Through the first three rounds just four running backs have been taken, so there are plenty of good ones available.

5. Tom Brady is still the story.

Brady came up in two instances Friday night. The first, Robert Kraft spoke at a draft party at Gillette Stadium and backed his quarterback for the first time publicly since Monday’s ruling came out reinstating his four-game suspension. Kraft said the two are on the “same page” and he will “always have Tom’s back.” Secondly, Kevin Faulk was in Chicago to announce the team’s third-round pick and he came out with a Brady jersey under his jacket and when announcing the pick said, “The New England Patriots and Tom Brady select…” It just shows no matter how long Deflategate goes, it still remains relevant.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable break down a busy opening day for the Patriots at the 2016 NFL draft. The Patriots, who did not have a first-round pick on Day 1 on Thursday due to their role in Deflategate, opened the second-round by selecting Alabama corner Cyrus Jones with their 60th pick overall. They traded their 61st pick overall to the Saints for the 78th pick and 112th pick overall. With the 78th pick, they took offensive lineman Joe Thuney out of North Carolina State. With the 91st pick they took Thuney’s teammate and quarterback Jacoby Brissett. They concluded the third round with the selection of Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Western Michigan wide receiver Daniel Braverman could be a late-round possibility for the Patriots. (Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports)

Western Michigan wide receiver Daniel Braverman could be a late-round possibility for the Patriots. (Mike DiNovo/USA Today Sports)

The first three rounds of the NFL draft are done, and while a sizable portion of the team-building is complete, each team will get several more shots at adding some talent over the course of the final four rounds, set for Saturday. With that in mind, here are five players (in no particular order) who might appeal to the Patriots with their final eight picks on Saturday.

WR Daniel Braverman — Western Michigan — With some sneaky quickness, nice slot skills and excellent special teams value, the 5-foot-10, 163-pound Braverman practically screams “Potential Patriot.” He caught 212 passes for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in his three years as a collegian, and added 25 career punt returns and 15 kick returns for good measure. A shifty slot product, there are some questions about whether or not his size will allow him to succeed at the next level. But his skill set and college pedigree certainly suggest someone who would find a way in Foxboro.

LB Steve Longa — Rutgers — The Patriots haven’t been shy about going after Scarlet Knights over the last few seasons, and Longa would allow them to continue that tradition. The 6-foot-1, 241-pounder who grew up in Cameroon distinguished himself as a big hitter at Rutgers, finishing with three seasons of 100-plus tackles. In February, he was asked about the toughness that Rutgers players show when it comes to making it in the league, and he dropped the names of a few guys who have starred with the Patriots. “We may not be the most recruited guys going into college. We may not be the guys who got recruited to big-time schools. But there’s something about Rutgers guys who make it to the league,” he said. “You can see it in New England. There’s a reason why (the Patriots) draft Rutgers guys. There’s a reason why Logan Ryan is playing there. There’s a reason why Duron Harmon is playing there. Devin (McCourty) is there. It’s because they’re smart and they play hard. And that came from where? Rutgers.”

FB Danny Vitale — Northwestern — The “superback” flashed some nice versatility in college, lining up in the backfield as well as in the slot and split wide. The 6-foot-1, 239-pounder had a typical fullback attitude, but also had a nice set of hands, finishing with 135 catches for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns as a collegian. Another late-round possibility.

OT Cole Toner — Harvard — The Ivy Leaguer connected with Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia twice in February — once, when the two shared a flight to Indy, and then again at the combine. New England went out and got the versatile Joe Thuney with one of its third-round picks, but the 6-foot-5, 306-pound Toner could be a nice depth addition for the offensive line, and allow the Patriots to land another player with New England roots.

QB Keenan Reynolds — Navy — A guy who could be the most Bill Belichick pick of all-time, Reynolds doesn’t project to be a signal-caller at the next level. But he just might have the stones to make the NFL as a running back and wide receiver. Belichick worked him out during the pre-draft process, and while the Patriots might have to reach to get him (there’s been a lot of pre-draft buzz around the 5-foot-11, 208-pounder), he could be an intriguing sixth- or seventh-round selection for New England, if he lasts that long.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price