According to a Boston.com report, Patriots' Pro Bowl offense lineman Logan Mankins is steering clear of the start of the offseason program. Mankins, who was tendered at the first- and third-round level in February, is apparently avoiding workouts in Foxboro until there until there is some significant movement on his contract situation.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he wants to keep Tom Brady around for a long time, although he admitted that he would have preferred that Brady was in Foxboro instead of Southern California as the team begins voluntary workouts. According to CSNNE's Tom Curran, during a breakfast with Boston media members at the owners meetings in Orlando, Kraft said: "Would I prefer he be here in the offseason? Yes. To me, he is the most complete, special leader in the NFL. Would we be better as a team if he was here the entire time between now and the start of training camp?
Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with members of the media Monday morning at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando and said he will support the new overtime rule for playoff games that gives the loser of the coin toss a bonus offensive series should the other team kick a field goal on the opening possession of OT. The proposal requires 24 yes votes (three-quarters of the teams) to pass.
Each Friday leading up to next month’s NFL Draft, WEEI.com will focus on one player the Patriots could be targeting with the 22nd pick. Last week we took a look at Clemson DE/OLB Ricky Sapp. Up next is Michigan DE/OLB Brandon Graham, who is currently projected to the Patriots at pick No. 22 by both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. Like Sapp, Graham is a college defensive end who would play outside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4.
Combine height: 6-foot-1 3/8
Combine weight: 268 pounds
40-yard dash time: 4.72
Bench reps: 31
Best season: 2009 (64 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks).
Brandon Graham doesn't have the size the Patriots want, but does he have everything else? (AP)
Many see Graham as the next Elvis Dumerville. After being named Senior Bowl MVP (five tackles, TFL, two sacks, FF) in a game in which he embarrassed Ciron Black and Selvish Capers, he won’t be around in the fourth round like the NFL sack leader to whom he is often compared. Statistically he seems like everything the Patriots’ pass rush is missing, but the biggest question regarding his path to the Patriots is how he measures up.
The Belichick Line (6-foot-5 outside linebackers or bust) came into question when we looked at Sapp, and the fact that Graham is four inches short of what they want could be a serious deal-breaker. Despite his being undersized, Graham is viewed by many as one of the highest-energy defensive players in this draft and has spoken highly of the Patriots in the past.
On former Wolverine and current Patriots linebacker Pierre Woods:
“He told me a lot about the Patriots and what they expect of you. He just said it was a great experience. He said it was just like Michigan — you love to hate them. They have a swagger about them and they take pride in what they do, and everybody in the building works hard. So get ready if you become a Patriot.”
On being undersized:
“I watch [Elvis] Dumervil now because he was the leading sacker last year. I just look at myself as the next one. He’s 6-1, he’s small. A lot of people don’t think he could do it, but I believe whoever gets me is going to love me. No matter what size I am, I’m going to get to the ball. I’m going to cause havoc.”
“[New England] needs to continue to address the position and bolster its pass rush. Graham has been impressive during the pre-draft process and has the burst, tenacity and consistency to make an immediate impact.”
NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock:
“From the Patriots’ perspective, they typically like the longer outside linebackers. Brandon Graham, at the Senior Bowl, was 6-foot-1, 263 [pounds]. That’s really short for an outside linebacker in the Patriots’ scheme, and he had 30 1/2 inch arms, which is extremely short.
“Just from an initial cosmetic overview, he fits what they do from a rush linebacker perspective, but he doesn’t fit the prototype. It doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take him, but he’s not as long as they like.”