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.

BRANDON SCHERFF

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Iowa

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 319 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-American (consensus), 2014 Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten, 2014 All-Big Ten first team, 2014 Outland Trophy winner for best college football interior lineman, 2014 Team MVP, offense, 2014 Coaches Appreciation Award, 2013 All-Big Ten first team (coaches), 2013 All-Big Ten second team (media), 2013 Team Hustle Award, offense, 2013 All-America second team (FWAA), 2011 Big Ten All-Freshman team

What he brings: NFL.com said that Scherff is a “weight-room star who can lift a house.” His upper-body strength, hand placement and good knee bend make him “a force in the running game,” according to CBS Sports. His movement is composed and efficient and he is perceived as more powerful than explosive. Sometimes he “will default to sumo-style power push rather than leg churning,” per NFL.com. He isn’t necessarily a consistent finisher of blocks, but certainly has the ability to be one. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote that Scherff may be better suited at guard than tackle, which is a common debate among scouts.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Scherff was a team captain in 2014. As a sophomore, he suffered a broken fibula and dislocated ankle, which makes those favoring him inside concerned he might not have the footwork needed to stop NFL pass rushers, according to CBS Sports. He took a while to pick his position as in high school, Scherff posted 1,200 passing yards as a sophomore, 200 receiving yards and five touchdowns as a junior, and then led his team in tackling and blocking the next year.

Related articles:

MMQB: The Legend of Brandon Scherff

Kansas City Star: Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff’s toughness, weight-room exploits have NFL teams’ attention

Video: Here’s a compilation of Scherff highlights.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Daniel Jeremiah calls NFL Sunday to preview the NFL Draft and discuss what the New England Patriots will be looking to do starting Thursday night.
In hour 2 of NFL Sunday, we get more draft talk from Price and Dickerson. They discuss if the Pats will trade up or down at all or what they can get by staying put. Also, what does the RB position look like for New England? We hear from Daniel Jeremiah from the NFL Network and NFL.com and get his thoughts on the NFL draft and what the Patriots will do. Finally, the boys talk about the Greg Hardy situation in Dallas.

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.

BRETT HUNDLEY

Position: Quarterback

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 226 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Pac-12 second team, 2013 All-Pac 12 honorable mention, 2012 All-Pac 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Many consider Hundley’s greatest draw to NFL teams to be his ability to be a threat as both a passer and a mobile quarterback. Scouts like his willingness to take some hits in order to make plays and give his team a chance to win. He is considered to be most effective when allowed to use his feet to move defenders around and escape sacks in the pocket. There are some major concerns about his ability in the passing game, especially when working out of the pocket. He takes a lot of sacks, and scouts are worried that he may rely too heavily on play action and short passing plays. NFL.com’s Jim Mora said, “I think [Hundley]’s ready for the NFL. I don’t know that he’s ready to go in and start in the NFL.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: Hundley finished the 2014 season with 3,155 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also led UCLA with 10 rushing TDs. He finished as the school’s all-time career leader with 11,677 yards and 75 touchdowns. A team captain in 2014, Hundley did not miss any games due to injury at UCLA. At the combine Hundley finished first among QBs in the 20-yard shuttle (3.98 seconds), third in the vertical jump (36 inches), third in the three-cone drill (6.93 seconds), fourth in the 40-yard dash (4.63 seconds), and fifth in the broad jump (10 feet).

Related articles:

NFL.com: Hundley’s path to draft day

BruinsNation.com: Brett Hundley has a banner day at the NFL combine

Los Angeles Times: For quarterback Brett Hundley, it’s one final family affair at UCLA

Video: Here’s Hundley leading the Bruins to a victory over Washington in November 2014 with 29 completions, 302 passing yards and four touchdowns (two rushing).

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
It's finally the week of the NFL Draft and the guys are psyched. They kick off the show discussing the release of the NFL schedule and how they expect the Pats to do against a relatively easy road for the Super Bowl champs. Greg and Chris talk about any difficult match-ups and if any teams in the AFC East can contend with the Patriots. Then the boys move on to the Draft and where the Pats may go. WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia joins the program to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming draft, the Pats needs and his ideas on why the Patriots may in fact trade up this season.

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.

GRADY JARRETT

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Clemson

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 304 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-ACC first team, 2013 All-ACC honorable mention, 2012 All-ACC honorable mention

What he brings: Named a team co-captain in 2014 and built like a refrigerator according to NFL.com, Jarrett has a “compact, powerful frame and gets consistent push.” He doesn’t stop playing until the whistle blows and is very good at timing snaps and getting to linemen. Though he’s built well, Jarrett still is regarded as undersized and might not be able to add more valuable weight to his body. CBS Sports lauds him for his “natural leverage advantage to penetrate the line of scrimmage,”calling it both instinctive and tenacious. However, he “can get overpowered in the running game, and is more of a pest than productive against the pass.” “Grady will take you on a ride when he gets into you,” an NFC North scout told NFL.com. “I think grades on him will really vary since the only real fit for him is in a 1-gap 4-3 defense on the nose. Teams will beat him up over his size, but someone is going to get a good football player with him.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: A three-time All-ACC selection, Jarrett had 49 tackles in his first year as a starter in 2012, with 8.5 for loss and two sacks. The following year, he registered 83 tackles, 11 for loss and two more sacks. This past season, Jarrett had 45 tackles, 10 for loss and 1.5 sacks. At the combine Jarrett ran a 5.06-second 40-yard dash, had 30 reps on the bench press, recorded a 31-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.56-second 20-yard shuttle. Jarrett has stated that he has an uncle-nephew type relationship with former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and that the 17-year NFLer has been around since Jarrett was 5 years old. Jarrett has never missed a game due to injury, dating back to even his high school days when he was also a shot put champion.

Related articles:

TigerNet: Gentle Giant: Grady Jarrett’s success starts with family

Anderson Independent Mail: Size scrutinized, Grady Jarrett shines at Senior Bowl

ESPN.com: Grady Jarrett overlooked no more

Video: Here is a closer look at Jarrett.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Devin McCourty is one of several former college captains the Patriots have drafted over the last few years. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty is one of several former college captains the Patriots have drafted over the last few years. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1. The last four years, New England has made 37 draft picks, and 19 of them were college captains. (That includes 14 of the last 25 picks made in the last three years.) Since 2010, several notable picks who would go on to become key pieces of their success were college captains, including Devin McCourty, Bryan Stork, Stevan Ridley and Dont’a Hightower. Rookies aren’t always asked to be leaders early in their careers, and so being a college captain can be a bit of a superfluous title in the NFL, especially when you’re a first-year player coming into a veteran-dominated team like New England. But the simple experience of having served as a college captain can help instill some important values in a player at the next level — namely, the ability to rally fellow rookies, as well as understanding your place in the pecking order. While Bill Belichick has said that they don’t necessarily go looking for guys who have served as college captains, New England is always well aware of a players’ resume when they select him, and the fact that someone was elected a college captain speaks to their character. Bottom line? You don’t necessarily have to be a college captain to be chosen by the Patriots, but the experience certainly doesn’t hurt when making the transition in New England.

2. Taking a deeper dive into the 2015 NFL schedule reveals a few more interesting things regarding the task ahead for the Patriots, with some of those nuggets here in a really great story by Chase Stuart: New England will play four games against teams with extra rest (defined as playing a game against an opponent that just had a bye or a Thursday game). That’s tied for the second-most in the league, and trailing only the Seahawks and Redskins, two teams who will have five games against teams with extra rest. (On the other end of the spectrum, the Bucs and Panthers do not play a singe opponent coming off extra rest in 2015.) That’s a sizable contrast to the schedule the Patriots had in 2012 and 2013, when they didn’t face a single team coming off of a bye week, and had just one game in those two years against a team coming off of 10 days’ rest. Stuart has a number of other really good scheduling numbers, including the fact that New England and Pittsburgh are the only two teams in the league who will benefit from an extra “mini” bye week. Every team plays a Thursday night game — and will get a few extra days on the other end to prepare for their next opponent — but the Patriots and Steelers get a second one because they meet each other in the regular-season opener.

3. Scott Chandler is one of the newest members of the Patriots, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to turn his back on Buffalo. The former Bills tight end was recently feted at the “Call to Courage” breakfast in his old city. At the event, organized by former Buffalo quarterback Frank Reich, was honored as the yearly award winner, a distinction given to “to an athlete who displays exemplary character through adversity and triumph.” (Former award winners include ex-Patriots Ben Watson, who won the award in 2012, Heath Evans, who was named the winner in 2010 and Don Davis, who was honored in 2006.) At the ceremony last week, Chandler reportedly got a little emotional talking about his decision to leave Buffalo for New England, saying “it was tough, just knowing our time in Buffalo was done,” and adding that “It’s tough to say goodbye to the fans of Buffalo, all the friends we’ve made here, but it’s time to move on.” Whenever a player leaves a franchise for an extended period to come to New England, it’s always interesting trying to glean what sort of individual that player is by the way he left his old franchise. Did he burn bridges? Do his old employers speak well of him? In Chandler’s case, while he’s not an All-Pro talent, by the reaction of the folks in Buffalo, it appears the Patriots are getting an individual of singularly high character.

4. The Colts are taking dead-aim at New England in 2015. As Indy gathered for the first round of its offseason workout program this past week, the singular focus was clear: the Patriots are the team that stands in the way of the Colts eventual goal. New Indy linebacker Trent Cole joked with reporters this past week, “you could just tell when I first got here you just don’t use that word (Patriots) around here,” before adding, “from what I’ve seen that’s happened, I see why there’s a lot of hatred there.” The Deflategate flap aside, the Colts acknowledge there’s a big-brother/little-brother dynamic between the two franchises, and are looking toward their Oct. 18 matchup with New England at Lucas Oil Stadium as a way to start evening the score. “You realize if you want to do anything in the AFC, you’re going to have to figure out a way to beat those guys,” said quarterback Andrew Luck of the Patriots, who have defeated Indy by a combined score of 189-73 in the last four games between the two teams. “It’s a great team, a lot of respect for how they play. We’ll work to try and put ourselves in a position to hopefully have a chance to beat them when we play them.”

5. There’s a developing situation in Denver between the team and Demaryius Thomas, as GM John Elway took a shot at the receiver this week. Thomas, who was hit with the franchise tag earlier this year, is staying away from the team’s offseason program while looking for a long-term deal. That isn’t sitting well with Elway.

“To be dead honest with you, I see absolutely zero value of him being away from here,” Elway told reporters who asked about Thomas, who also bypassed Peyton Manning‘s annual passing camp at Duke earlier this month. “Zero value, for him. There’s no value for him not to be here with his teammates, so as far as negotiations and him and a new deal and what’s going on, we’d like to get something done, but by him being away from here, there is zero value not only to us, but to him.”

The news is interesting on two levels: one, it’s clear that the relationship between the 27-year-old receiver and the team is strained. Thomas has yet to sign his tender, and the longer he’s out, there figures to be more of a delay in the installation of the new offense run by Gary Kubiak. (Thomas would figure to play a sizable role in that offense, as he’s surpassed 90 catches a year the last three seasons.) And two, as a player, Elway basically set the standard for player holdouts when he pushed the Colts to deal him to Denver after he didn’t like the fact that he was drafted by Baltimore. If anyone knows about a player doing anything he can to use leverage, it’s Elway.

6. Linebacker Shaq Thompson remains one of the more interesting prospects in this draft, and has been mentioned on more than one occasion as the sort of versatile chess piece that might intrigue Belichick and the Patriots. Thompson is a multidimensional player who can be moved around the field in a number of different ways, having played linebacker, safety and even a little running back as a collegian at Washington. He won the 2014 Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in college football, but has told teams he plans on making his bones as a linebacker in the NFL.

In some ways, he compares to current New England linebacker Jamie Collins in that both possess undeniable physical gifts and both have shown a flair for versatility. Collins started his college career at safety, and then eventually transitioned to linebacker. Thompson went in the same direction, going from nickel back (and part-time running back) as a freshman to linebacker as a sophomore, and then, becoming a full-time linebacker last year as a junior.

The biggest difference? Size. Collins is a 6-foot-3, 250-pounder who has the speed and ability to change direction usually found in smaller players. Meanwhile, Thompson is 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds. That two inches and 20 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re talking about playing linebacker in the NFL and having to take on guards at the second level, it can make a world of difference.

There’s no question that Thompson, a former Red Sox farmhand, has the physical abilities and the football IQ to succeed — a look at his film while playing at a high level confirms that. It’s whether or not he gets into the system that plays to his strengths. While he might not be a first round pick of the Patriots, his versatility and physical attributes certainly make him a prospect worth considering for New England in the early to middle rounds as a potential strong safety.

7. According to our friend Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Navy long snapper Joe Cardona worked out for the Patriots as part of the pre-draft process earlier this month, which might be the most Belichick pre-draft thing of all time. The former Maryland native, whose father served in the Navy and was an assistant coach and scout for the Midshipmen, has always had an affinity for Navy players (like Kyle Eckel), and so the idea of working out Cardona does seem to make sense, at least from a practical perspective. (Especially when you consider that the incumbent long snapper Danny Aiken is a free agent who has yet to sign with anyone.) Cardona was a four-year starter, and the only long snapper invited to the combine in February.

However, Cardona does face an uncertain future, as he has a pending military service commitment — he’s required to serve five years in the Navy as an officer, and will be commissioned in May. There are exceptions (this story from Rick Gosselin explains some of the options that might be available to Cardona) but given his skllls, the uncertain nature of New England’s long snapping situation at the moment and Belichick’s obvious love of all things Eastern Maryland, you figure Cardona has a shot at landing with the Patriots in some form or fashion.

8. Our five favorite stats from the Patriots pre-draft press release:

a) In Belichick’s 15 seasons with New England, the Patriots have drafted in the top 10 twice — Richard Seymour sixth overall in 2001 and Jerod Mayo 10th in 2008. (From one of our own stories, that’s tied for the second-fewest top 10 picks in that span. By way of comparison, since 2000, the Lions and Jaguars have had the most top 10 picks with 10 each, while the Colts, Steelers, Broncos and Giants have had the fewest with one each.) In addition, New England has drafted just four times in the top 20. (In addition to Seymour and Mayo, Ty Warren was taken 13th overall in 2003 and Nate Solder was selected 17th overall on 2011). That’s second best in the league in that span, trailing only the Colts, who have chosen twice in the top 20 since 2000 (Luck first overall in 2012 and Dwight Freeney 11th overall in 2002).

b) Belichick has engaged in 53 draft-day trades in his 15 drafts with the Patriots. (In the 15 drafts prior to 2000, New England engaged in 24 draft-day trades.) Since 2000, the Patriots have traded up 17 times, traded down 17 times and dealt for players or future considerations 19 times.

c) We know that the Patriots go after a quarterback almost every year. But in 54 drafts total, the Patriots have selected 43 quarterbacks. That includes eight in the Belichick era — only the Jets, Niners, Ravens and Redskins have selected more quarterbacks than New England has since 2000.

d) Since 1970, the Patriots have drafted 88 offensive linemen, the most from one single position, one more than the 87 defensive backs during that time. The smallest groups drafted since 1970? One long snapper and eight punters.

e) The Patriots have taken 23 Boston College players in their draft history, more than any other school. However, just two Eagles were selected during the Belichick era — Dan Koppen (2003) and Ron Brace (2009).

9. Defensive lineman A.J. Francis was only with the Patriots for a short time (a few months in 2013), but the Maryland product distinguished himself as a guy who was a little different than most of his teammates. He has an active Twitter feed where he comments on just about anything in the world, he’s a big WWE fan, and the self-described “Fathlete” was always good for an interesting quote. That’s why it was no surprise this week to see Francis say he was going to sign up to be an Uber driver. Francis, who said he was doing it for the money, took issue with some people who questioned his decision about how he might spend his time, including Time Magazine and ESPN’s Jemele Hill. In my limited experience with Francis, he’s a guy who likes to have a good time with the media, but he’s also a diligent, intelligent individual who is completely likely to follow through on something like this. While the league has all sorts of very serious issues, from this viewpoint, I’m not sure why some people might have a problem with someone like Francis having some off-field fun and picking up a few bucks in the process.

10. Look for plenty of NFL types to show up next weekend in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. The guest list for the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Derby Eve Gala was released this week, and it’s going to have a heavy Patriots’ presence, including Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Matt Cassel and Wes Welker, as well as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb. The party is set for Friday night, and the race will take place on Saturday. If past years are any indication, look for plenty of current and former Patriots to make a wide array of … interestingfashion choices. (Check out the full guest list here.)

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.

DAMARIOUS RANDALL

Position: Free safety

School: Arizona State

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 190 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2012 Junior College All-America first team at Mesa Community College

What he brings: Scouts consider Randall one of the best — if not the best — cover safeties in the draft. The fifth-year senior is praised for fighting for 50-50 balls and not allowing receivers any easy catches. He is very athletic and rarely allows significant separation. The main area concern is Randall’s size, especially when it comes to run support and dealing with bigger receivers. In order to combat his size disadvantage, Randall likes to play aggressively and physically, which can cause him to get fooled in play action. However, his ability in coverage leaves scouts expecting him to be a consistent, efficient safety in the NFL.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: At the combine Randall ranked third among safeties in the 40-yard dash (4.46 seconds), third in the vertical jump (38 inches), third in the three-cone drill (6.83 seconds) and third in the 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds). He did not miss a game due to injury in two seasons with the Sun Devils. His brother, Patrick Norris, was drafted by the Kansas City Royals as an outfielder in 2005.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Randall is one of draft’s most physical defensive backs

Miami Herald: ASU’s Randall racing up boards late

Video: Here are highlights from Randall’s 2013 season at ASU.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
UConn's Byron Jones has experience at corner and safety. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

UConn’s Byron Jones has experience at corner and safety. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay said on Friday’€™s Dale & Holley program that UConn defensive back Byron Jones would be a smart pick for the Patriots in next week’€™s draft.

McShay said he views guard, cornerback, linebacker and defensive tackle as New England’€™s biggest areas of need going into the draft.

The Pats lost both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner this offseason. McShay noted that there won’€™t be a player of Revis’€™ caliber in the draft.

“This year, I don’€™t think there’€™s necessarily that elite cornerback, but I do think there are a handful of good ones,” McShay said.

“They fit different schemes. Trae Waynes from Michigan State will be long gone. He’€™s a press corner. Marcus Peters is probably the best man-to-man cover corner in the draft. [He] had some behavioral issues, was kicked off the Washington team. He could drop a little bit, but I don’€™t think he’€™ll even drop as far as 32. Kevin Johnson from Wake Forest is probably the most complete cornerback in the class. Not a burner, not the strongest guy, but really good recognition. Can play off, can play at the line of scrimmage.

“The one guy I think that is intriguing that could be on the board at 32 would be Byron Jones from UConn. He’€™s a versatile defensive back with experience at safety and corner. Everyone kind of looked at this past year’€™s tape and said ‘€˜Well, he regressed,’€™ but he injured his shoulder in the preseason and reinjured it during the year and just wasn’€™t the same player, but you go back and study that 2013 tape. You see a more aggressive corner. You see some of the explosiveness that everybody saw at the combine.”

Other positions McShay said the Pats could look at were safety and wide receiver. The Patriots recently brought in Georgia running back Todd Gurley for a visit, but McShay said he “can’€™t imagine” that Gurley would be available when the Patriots select 32nd overall in the first round.

“When healthy, he’€™s one of the five, six best players in this draft class,” McShay said, adding that he doesn’€™t think Wisconsin back Melvin Gordon will be there either.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

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.

AMARI COOPER

Position: Wide receiver

School: Alabama

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 210 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, 2014 Biletnikoff Award for nation’s best receiver, 2014 SEC Offensive Player of the Year, All-SEC first team, 2012 Freshman All-America team (consensus), 2012 SEC All-Freshman team

What he brings: Cooper has been praised for his route-running ability and hands. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein does not expect Cooper to be as effective against NFL safeties as he has been in college, but the consensus among scouts and experts is that Cooper will improve any team’s passing game. He is shorter than many top receivers, but his route-running and catching ability make him a top pick in most mock drafts.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: As a junior in 2014 Cooper set Alabama and SEC records for receptions (124) and recorded the second-most receiving yards (1,727) in SEC history. The Heisman Trophy finalist also scored 16 touchdowns. In 2012, Cooper broke Julio Jones‘ school records for receptions (59) and receiving yards (1,000). At the scouting combine Cooper ranked first among wide receivers in the 20-yard shuttle (3.98 seconds), fifth in the 40-yard dash (6.71 seconds) and fifth in the three-cone drill (6.71 seconds).

Related articles:

NFL.com: Cooper will be even better in NFL

Bleacher Report: Cooper the next Odell Beckham Jr.

Video: Here’s Cooper catching 10 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns against Florida in September 2014.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler