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

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.

TY SAMBRAILO

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Colorado State

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 311 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Mountain West first team, 2013 All-Mountain West second team

What he brings: Sambrailo is good at sliding his feet and mirroring pass rushers, according to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. He keeps his hands inside and hides them from defenders when he’s not engaging with them. CBS Sports praises his quickness off the snap and ability to “make plays on the perimeter to take out defenders.” He has finishing toughness and a high football IQ. In addition, his charisma and work ethic don’t go unnoticed by his teammates. Evaluators feel that “while the feet and movement are pluses, his functional strength could be a hindrance to NFL success,” Zierlein wrote. Sambrailo can get knocked off balance easily and could use work on his run blocking.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: At the combine Sambrailo ran a 5.36-second 40-yard dash, had 23 reps on the bench press, and posted a 7.54-second three-cone drill time. Sambrailo suffered a knee injury in the 2014 season opener and then missed the following two games as well, though he played the remainder of the season and performed well. He also had off-season shoulder surgery January of last year after tearing his labrum in week three of the 2013 season, but he says he was a “nagging thing, not a sharp pain that restricted [his] movement.” Sambrailo was a youth freestyle skiing champion, to which he credits his ability to process information quickly. He began his football career as a quarterback in eighth grade and then shifted to tight end before making the move to defensive and then offensive tackle.

Related articles:

CBS Sports: Meet the Prospect: Colorado State OT Ty Sambrailo 

Loveland Reporter-Herald: Colorado State’s offensive MVP may be tackle Ty Sambrailo 

Video: Here is a video of all of Sambrailo’s snaps against Utah State in October 2014.

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.

MARCUS HARDISON

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Arizona State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 307 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Pac-12 honorable mention

What he brings: Hardison is considered a late bloomer, as his only real impressive season at the FBS level came in 2014, and he recorded just five tackles in his first year with the Sun Devils. He consistently times the snap, according to NFL.com, and “has the quick twitch to turn this trait into a quick penetration and win from inside.” Hardison also has a good understanding of how to keep blockers away and is “rarely square as a pass rusher.'” His most drastic improvement was evident from the midpoint of the season onward until the Senior Bowl. “Really, really quick for a big man,” an NFC area scout told NFL.com. “If you would have told me in October that he would end up with all that production and showing out at Senior Bowl practices, I would have thought you were crazy. It just started click for him.” Hardison started as a defensive end and so is still adjusting to his new position. He’s missing some strength in his lower body and “gets pushed around by plus run blockers when asked to hold the point,” allowing himself to be redirected too easily at times.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Hardison led his team with 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss and also posted 53 tackles and two interceptions on the year. Against Duke in the Sun Bowl, Hardison made a career-high 13 tackles. Hardison only participated in the bench press at the combine, posting 27 reps, but at ASU’s pro day he ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash and recorded a 25.5-inch vertical jump and an 8-foot, 11-inch broad jump. In high school he started out as a quarterback before shifting to the defensive line. Starting his college career in junior college, Hardison turned down offers from Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Auburn and others to play at Arizona State.

Related articles:

Chiefs Digest: Arizona State DT Marcus Hardison blooming at right time

The State Press: Marcus Hardison quickly maturing into defensive stand-out for ASU football

Arizona Sports: Arizona State’s Marcus Hardison ‘playing at an All-American level’

Video: Here is a video of Hardison’s highlights from his time at ASU.

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.

ANTHONY CHICKILLO

Position: Defensive end

School: Miami

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 282 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-ACC honorable mention, 2011 third place in ACC Defense Rookie of the Year voting

What he brings: Chickillo has experience playing all over the defensive line but never settled in at any one position. Scouts note that he has occasionally been able to make plays on both pass and run defense, but they are concerned about his consistency. He is considered to have good upper-body strength but lacks power in his lower body. Chickillo is expected to be able to bulk up if he puts in the work, which would help in rushing the passer and moving blockers on the run. Many scouts expect him to start as a backup and not immediately be a difference-maker in the NFL, but they suggest that with the proper instruction and work ethic Chickillo could become a consistent defensive lineman.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: At the combine Chickillo recorded the fourth-best time among defensive ends in the three-cone drill (7.17 seconds) and the fourth-best time in the 20-yard shuttle (4.25 seconds). He has suffered a few lower-body injuries throughout his career, but nothing that has sidelined him for an extended period of time. Chickillo finished 2014 with 38 tackles and two sacks. His father, Tony, played two seasons with the Chargers (1984-85) and one with the Jets (1987).

Related articles:

NFL.com: Chickillo among most underrated players in draft

PalmBeachPost.com: Chickillo seems happy to leave Miami Hurricanes’ defensive system

Video: Here’s Chickillo recording four tackles in Miami’s September 2014 game against Nebraska.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

In a media session with Associated Press Sports Editors Friday in Kansas City, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was nothing new to report regarding Deflategate, and that special investigator Ted Wells had not been given a deadline as to when his probe would be completed.

In a media session with Associated Press Sports Editors Friday in Kansas City, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was nothing new to report regarding Deflategate, and that special investigator Ted Wells had not been given a deadline as to when his probe would be completed.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

In a media session with Associated Press Sports Editors Friday in Kansas City, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was nothing new to report regarding Deflategate, and that special investigator Ted Wells had not been given a deadline as to when his probe would be completed.

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 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.

DORAN GRANT

Position: Cornerback

School: Ohio State

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 193 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Big Ten first team, 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention

What he brings: Grant is considered a strong, physical corner who can disrupt receivers from the line of scrimmage. He is effective when fighting for contested balls and doesn’t shy away from handing out big hits, especially when tackling in run defense. There are concerns that his physical mindset may lead to some extra penalties, and that he occasionally could be overpowered by stronger receivers. He is expected to be effective in zone coverage but could use improvement in man.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: At the combine Grant put up the third-best time among corners in the 40-yard dash (4.44 seconds) and the second-most reps in the bench press (21). He finished the 2014 season with 52 tackles and five interceptions. He played in every game throughout his four year career, starting 30 of them. His cousin Devin Grant, an Ohio State teammate, has entered the 2015 draft as a receiver.

Related articles:

Columbus Dispatch: Grant mixes fun with football

Akron Beacon Journal: Grant on taking next step to NFL

Video: Here’s Grant tallying three tackles and a pass defended against Cincinnati in September 2014.

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.

JUSTIN HARDY

Position: Wide receiver

School: East Carolina

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 188 pounds

Achievements: NCAA all-time receptions leader (387), 2014 Burlsworth Trophy for best former walk-on, 2014 All-American Athletic Conference first team, 2013 All-Conference USA first team, 2012 All-Conference USA first team

What he brings: Hardy is praised for his ball skills, as he made very few drops in his time with East Carolina. He is also considered a good blocker who plays aggressive and tries to overpower defenders. He is expected to be able to make tacklers miss and at an above-average rate after the catch. There are concerns that Hardy does not have enough experience running complex routes and may struggle in making the adjustment to the NFL. Scouts do not expect Hardy to create separation with his speed, but hope that he will be able to win 50-50 battles with his ball skills.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: At the combine Hardy posted the best time among wide receivers in the three-cone drill at 6.63 seconds. Hardy started all 26 games in his final two seasons with East Carolina. He missed two games in 2011 with a knee injury. The former walk-on broke Ryan Broyles’ record for most receptions in a career with 387. After breaking the record in November, he told reporters, “Never let anybody tell you that you can’t be anything. Not really having any D-1 offers and coming here as a walk-on, I earned my scholarship, earned my playing time.” Hardy finished the 2014 season with 121 receptions, 1,494 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Related articles:

The Sporting News: NCAA’s all-time leading receiver an overlooked man at NFL combine

NFL.com: Hardy among most undervalued players in draft

Video: Here’s some highlights from Hardy’s time at East Carolina.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday's ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday’s ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The chance to be feted at the White House and meet President Barack Obama was just one part of the Patriots trip to Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Another part of the trip is the annual journey to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, something the team did before the trip to Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a tradition the team began doing that after winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Look, those are the real heroes; those guys are out there fighting and dying for our country and protecting our freedom, so we all have a lot to be thankful for,” said coach Bill Belichick. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. They make what we do possible. There’s no way to express the gratitude that I feel for what they do.”

“That was a great experience,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “To see the soldiers that were in Afghanistan and Iraq, having a visit with them and a couple of the players, Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick, so that was a great experience too and put some perspective on how great we have it as athletes. It’s an honor meeting the President and all of the troops that we met at the Walter Reed Hospital too.”

“It was a great time, a tremendous time,” defensive end Chandler Jones said of the Reed visit. “Like coach said, those guys are the real heroes. I was shocked at how many Patriots fans were in there, those guys, Gronkowski and Edelman and Jones jerseys in there, not even knowing that we were coming. It gives you a different outlook on life, and I just want to thank those guys if they’re watching; they really are the true heroes.”

“It’s unbelievable to see these young men and women serving their country and going out there and seeing the things that you see there,” said wide receiver Julian Edelman. “It definitely puts life in perspective, and like coach said, those are the true heroes.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price