Dino, Gerry and Kirk talk about Kirk's massage and crap all over Sausage.
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Guard should be a top priority for the Patriots in the NFL draft. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Introduction: This is a feature I did for years when I was still over at Barstool Sports. I’m an unashamed, open and proud NFL draft nerd and it was always rewarding to me to sneak these previews in between the posts about celebrity butts and which hot, crazy teacher was seducing her teenage students.
And I’m not shy about saying that I have successfully predicted more Patriots draft picks than anyone. I made waves at WEEI when I correctly said they’d grab Dominique Easley last year, but that was not my first barbecue. In previous drafts I’d called Nate Solder (if Matt Light was coming back for one last season, which is exactly how it played out), Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes, Darius Butler and this one tight end out of Florida who had some off-field concerns whose name escapes me.
To be clear, I don’t claim to know more about the draft on the whole than the national pundits. I haven’t the first clue in whom, say, the Bears or Panthers are interested. But I’ll take a back seat to no one when it comes to understanding how the Patriots draft. The NFL draft guru-ing profession is lousy with so-called “experts.” And there is great draft analysis being done by my brother dotcommers, without question. But there’s only one Belichick Whisperer.
That said, I plan on doing several of these previews between now and draft day, based largely on the order of positional need. Starting with the guards.
Current roster: Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon, Josh Kline, Jordan Devey, Chris Barker and someone who answers to the name Caylin Hauptmann. Dan Connolly‘s situation is still up in the air and he is not listed on the team’s official depth chart.
Positional overview: I won’t rule out Connolly coming back at a reduced salary. And as an aside, I can positively see Logan Mankins being in a Patriots uniform in 2015 as well. But regardless, this is an area of need. Even if either of those two are back, he’ll be 33 at the start of the season and in the two-minute warning of his career and the clock running. And as we’ve seen in recent drafts, the Pats‘ modus operandi now is to draft a replacement a year before the need becomes critical. As they did with Solder and Light, Easley and Vince Wilfork, Hightower and Spikes, and so on. Which is why I think this year guard is Priority 1. For next season, sure. But mostly for 2016 and beyond.
In his 15 New England drafts, The Hooded One has taken 10 interior offensive linemen, and only five of them were listed as pure guards. If there’s any common traits they share — things that would indicate what Belichick values above others — it’s that they be agile and quick to pull and lead block, to be leader types, to have high enough football IQs to know the pass-protection schemes, and versatile enough to be able to not only handle both power and zone-blocking concepts, but also to move around to different positions as needed. And going by past history, being man enough to grow a really solid beard appears to be a big plus as well.
These are the top guards in the 2015 crop — the OGs who have the best chance of becoming true OGs.
MOST LIKELY TO BE THE FIRST GUARD TAKEN
A.J. Cann, South Carolina, 6-foot-3, 313 pounds, 5.33 in the 40-yard dash
I’m not suggesting Cann is the consensus best guard in this crop. There’s no Kentucky Wildcats in this particular tournament. But by and large he seems to get the most consistent praise for having the most upside of any of them. He’s played all three interior positions and is one of those guys they say is good “in the phone booth.” (You readers under the age of 30 will know it as “a glass case of emotion.”) Cann gets a good pop with his initial punch, then has a strong enough grip to control the defender. So he’s probably best suited for a power run team. Where he needs work is in his pass protection, getting off the ball and operating in space. So he might be the perfect guy to sit for a year and learn. He’s got the leaderishness enough to have been named permanent captain in his junior year, talent enough to be first team All-American and brains enough to make the SEC Academic Honor Roll three times. (I know in SEC football that’s like being The Shires’ tallest hobbit, but let’s not let it reflect badly on Cann.)
MOST INTERESTING PROSPECTS
Laken Tomlinson, Duke, 6-foot-3, 323 pounds, 5.18 40 time
Tomlinson was born in that land steeped in rich football tradition we call … Jamaica. He came to the U.S. when he was 10 and never played the game until his freshman year in high school. But he started all four years for the Blue Devils at right guard. And he’s already got an NFL-ready body. He’s got a promising combination of size, strength and agility, though like A.J. Cann he’s a more polished run blocker than pass protector. Still, with his quickness he’s show good recoverability when he gets beaten initially. Tomlinson had a slow start to his senior year but improved as the season wore on, had a good game against Florida State in the ACC championship game, then had a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl. He’s been projected by most as maybe a third-rounder, but a team that sees he fits its scheme could take a second-round flier on him. As far as his intangibles, he was a captain and carried a double major of evolutionary anthropology and psychology from friggin’ Duke.
Ali Marpet, Hobart, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, 4.98 40 time
Without looking it up, I’d guess that the only thing in the NFL rarer than guys from Jamaica are former Hobart Statesmen who were Jewish Sports Review All-Americans. Playing Division 3 ball in the UCAA isn’t exactly the fast track to pro ball, but Marpet drew interest with his size and athleticism. He played tackle at the college level but has a shortish wingspan and does his best work in small areas, keeping his elbows in and controlling opponents. There’s concern that he was able to get away with poor technique against inferior competition and he does need work on bending at the waist and not lunging at people. The best thing in his favor as far as the Patriots being interested is that they are infatuated with the three-cone drill. They’ve proven over the years they put much more stock in players’ agility than their straight line speed, and Marpet ran by far the fastest time at the combine with a 7.33. He was also twice named team captain, which doesn’t hurt his case, to say the least.
TWO FORMER SEMINOLES NO ONE CAN AGREE ON
Tre Jackson, Florida State, 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, 5.52 40 time
Jackson is a road-grader type. Powerfully built with thickness in his frame, hips, legs and ass, he’s got a great leg drive for overwhelming people at the point of attack. Where he lacks is in pass protection, and he gave up far too many pressures of Jameis Winston. If he doesn’t shuffle properly to stay square on rushers or let’s them get into his chest, he’s done for. So you wonder if he’ll be of much use on a pass-first pro team.
Josue Matias, Florida State, 6-foot-5, 309 pounds, 5.52 40 time
The general consensus was that Jackson was more highly regarded than Matias. But there are plenty of personnel people saying that’s flipped. Matias is more of technician and less of a bull than Jackson. He played both guard and tackle at FSU and showed the ability to pull, hit people on the move and take good angles. He’s got freakishly long arms he uses to keep defenders away from his body. But on the inside he’s shown he can get beaten by counter moves when he (coachspeak alert) “opens the gate” too quickly.
POSSIBLE FRUIT OFF THE BELICHICK COACHING TREE
Arie Kouandjio, Alabama, 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, 5.52 40 time
His brother Cyrus was drafted in the second round by the Bills. And like him, Arie is wide-shouldered and stout. He is definitely more of a punishing run-blocker than anything. Bama had greater success running the ball behind him than asking him to pass block. In the Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma in his junior year he gave up far too many pressures, although that improved somewhat last season. He plays a little stiff, but he’s strong enough to latch onto defenders and steer them around. He was recruited by dozens of schools before signing on with Nick Saban, which could help his cause in New England. Another factor in his favor might be the multiple surgeries he had on both knees in 2011, which as we’ve seen scares off a lot of GMs but not Belichick. So he could be a high-upside bargain pick in the middle rounds.
A FEW RED FLAGS
Jamil Douglas, Arizona State, 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, 5.25 40 time
Douglas is a weight-room warrior who doesn’t play up to his measurables. He has the core strength to fight off bull rushes, but then has technique breakdowns where he’ll play high and get beat by swim moves. He once got arrested on suspicion of burglary but was never charged. That’s less of an issue than him just seeming to play soft.
MORE RED FLAGS THAN THE COUNTRY CLUB OF BEIJING
Jarvis Harrison presumably didn’t look this good when he was benched for being out of shape. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M, 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, 5.19 40 time
Harrison is a former prep basketball standout who has at times excelled at both pass and run blocking. Unfortunately he’s also excelled at competitive eating. His weight has ballooned up to at least 345 and he was finally benched for being out of shape. He also didn’t do himself any favors for the stopwatch and tape-measure crowd at the Indianapolis Kennel Show. Another knock on him is that he doesn’t play with enough of an edge and needs to get plumb mad-dog mean if he’s ever going to succeed. And reach for a salad once in a while.
TWO MIDDLE-ROUND, LONG-TERM PROJECTS
Robert Myers, Tennessee State, 6-foot-5, 326 pounds, 5.44 40 time
Myers impressed scouts at the Lucas Oil Olympics with his combination of size, power and athleticism. It shows up on his film, too, with his ability to get to the second level and move bodies. He’s got the feet to move and mirror defenders, and the reach to stay with them when they do get by him. He could really fit well into a zone-block scheme for a team patient enough to develop him.
Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah, 6-foot-5, 335 pounds, 5.32 40 time
Poutasi was the Utes’ right tackle as a freshman, then moved to left tackle, then surprised pretty much everyone by declaring himself eligible a year early as he’s only 20 years old. Still, he was a mauler opening holes for Devontae Booker. He’s got good straight-line speed, but his lateral movement, not so much. He showed he was vulnerable to quick-twitch edge rushers like the ones USC threw at him, thus the move to the inside as a pro. He’s been compared to UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo, who went to the Texans in the second round. But with the age an inexperience factors he’ll likely fall much lower than that.
ALSO APPEARING IN THIS BREAKDOWN …
John Miller, Louisville, 6-foot-2, 303 pounds, 5.33 40 time
Miller is another road-grader type, kind of a lower-rent A.J. Cann for a team with other priorities. He’s got a powerful lower body and can dish out the ultra-violence with his hands, but he also has heavy feet, so he struggles in pass blocking. To use Peyton Manning‘s words, Teddy Bridgewater “had some protection problems” playing behind him. He got eaten alive by FSU’s Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr., though he did help his stock quite a bit with a good showing at the East-West Shrine Game. He played both guard spots in college but with his deficiencies in the passing game likely will be a right guard in the pros.
PERFECT PATRIOT: Laken Tomlinson
Selecting Tomlinson makes too much sense. He’s got the size/speed combination. He’s got the intelligence and leadership qualities they put so much importance on. One can’t even make the “Well, he only played at Duke” argument now that the Blue Devils won 19 games in the last two years. Plus I always feel like Belichick takes to guys who’ve overcome long odds in life the way a little boy takes to a stray dog. Mankins was considered a second- or thirdish-round prospect back in 2006, but Belichick didn’t hesitate to take him with the 32nd pick. I think he could wait and still get Tomlinson but may very well just grab him at the end of Round 1 like he did Mankins.
The latest feud between Shank and Papi was discussed.
[0:04:54] ... most watched dual clutch diet critic yeah I cried Dan Shaughnessy dear DavidOrtiz since you brought it up is that headlight against honesty dateline Fort Myers, Florida and into sentences redundant as beginning. I think it's a great column by David Fincher brought a sense says hired right open letter to DavidOrtiz and writes dear David. Don't need bowl picture personally. You could just wears his edit it just like dear date yourself than ... [0:09:33] ... that is someone who has failed another test. Speaking of incorrect facts DavidWright you that you asked me for my address when I asked about possible PED used in the soft couples may 2013. You ... [0:15:40] ... oil says failed a test Lance Armstrong Barry Bonds Roger Clemens and AlexRodriguez. These guys did not fail tests. Most of the guys who have busted. It didn't they'll pass to get busted in other ... [0:20:54] ... let me finish this up here so shelty finish as the peace. AlexRodriguez and Manny Ramirez were the other names leaked from the 2003 testing they turned out to be dirty we can go back to bonds McGuire Marion Jones Lance Armstrong. Everyone is all about denials until it turns out to be true. Are we supposed to believe that you are the one and only positive tester who was truly wrong that's offered now David you are one of the greatperformers in the history of Boston. And you have done tons for our community. Boston sports fans love you on a par with ...
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
[0:01:23] ... I've package where's Michael and cook. A clerk rather sadness of the BillCosby type because I believe the thirty women. We've come for so for accused of rape and I can't speak to a woman ... [0:04:00] ... dished try to do what win. No I don't see so Luke misses. Child asleep on of Satan democracy and he threw the world vision blurred as well. And they should have been in and it ... [0:05:46] ... Easter morning you know I've been a phone together the parties was ArnoldSchwarzenegger. It but they're pretty good friends parties. No he was inspired their shirt around the world. Arnold wasn't there go now is ... [0:13:01] ... just a little bit at some point also. Dan Shaughnessy buyers at DavidOrtiz and a friend Susan who brought some good question. If you're Obama and you come in confident that you have to. His ...
The guys discussed the disgusting protests at the scene of Officer Moynihan's shooting.
[0:03:36] ... be an. Attorney right hand the met him blasting it out so JohnBrown. I just decimal it is. He came up albeit cool so my faith in me put it at all officers attacked as ... [0:04:30] ... so I. Don't know if that's what diplomacy when he's ally north PaulMcCartney talks. Won't right now I don't want to know nobody. I know what it. Bad about that and just let the bank ... [0:06:33] ... of what. Only Gerri what does Eric Holder sent today what is AlSharpton saying today we gonna launch an what does that eighty that Hulk from Harvard law saying today it more and it didn't ... [0:15:31] ... know about BK. And their client off the end wire where is JesseJackson the bad jammed. Any cops had to. Just tell walking on eggshells just to do that job guys. People look at cryptic ...
The guys opened the show by discussing the Final Four and Kirk's latest road race.
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According to opponents, Indiana Senate Bill 101, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday and goes into effect July 1, allows businesses in the state to refuse service to gay people based on religious objections.
The NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis, said in a statement from president Mark Emmert that it intends to “closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.”
Other individuals were more pointed in their criticism.
“As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities,” Charles Barkley said in a statement.
Tweeted Pacers legend Reggie Miller: I’ve never been big into politics but I’m very disappointed in my home state of Indiana and the passing of Senate Bill 101.. I’ve always been about inclusion for all, no matter your skin color, gender or sexual preference.. We are all the same people, beautiful creatures..
Pence has stood firm against the criticism, insisting the opposition has been using “shameless rhetoric” to imply that the bill is meant to OK discrimination.
Said Pence in a Sunday interview on ABC’s “This Week”: “We’re not going to change the law, but if the general assembly in Indiana sends me a bill that adds a section that reiterates and amplifies and clarifies what the law really is and what it has been for the last 20 years, then I’m open to that.”
Leitao, a Massachusetts native who played at Northeastern and later coached there, led DePaul from 2002-05, after a six-year stint as Jim Calhoun‘s assistant at UConn. He guided the Blue Demons to a 58-34 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004. DePaul has not been back since.
“This is a special day for my family and me,” Leitao said Sunday in a statement. “I underestimated what a special place DePaul University and the city of Chicago are when I left here in 2005. The dedication and support here to the growth of student success is second to none, not only for a basketball program but also for the entire student body.
“I’m proud and our team will be proud to represent this great institution in one of the world’s great cities. We will exude the work ethic that drives Chicago and the region every day and look forward to everyone joining us next season.”
Leitao, who was an assistant to Frank Haith at Missouri and then Tulsa the past three seasons, replaced Oliver Purnell, who went 54-105 in five seasons at DePaul.
Sager’s son, Craig Jr., explained that his father recently caught the flu and had to be hospitalized, and that complicated the situation. However, the son said the family is better prepared after having already gone through this once.
“Unlike the first time when everything was new, there is a blueprint in place and all focus is on one checkpoint at a time,” Sager Jr. tweeted. “[Sager Sr.]’s leukemia returned last week and he is undergoing a treatment that will be much like this time last year when he got rounds of chemo and prepared his body for a bone marrow transplant.”
ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 30, 1978, the Red Sox sent pitchers Rick Wise and Mike Paxton, catcher Bo Diaz and third baseman Ted Cox to the Indians for which two players?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We didn’t provide any defensive resistance at all, nobody at all has against them lately if you look at their scores.” – Celtics coach Brad Stevens, after Sunday’s 119-106 loss to the Clippers, who won all three games on their East Coast swing by an average of 21.7 points
Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr fakes a slap shot then skates around the net and puts in a wraparound goal.
During warmups prior to a Swedish hockey playoff game, former NHL enforcer Andre Deveaux, apparently incensed about a questionable hit earlier in the series, races onto the ice and attacks an opponent, delivering a slash to the skate and then jumping on the player.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Pitcher Dennis Eckersley and catcher Fred Kendall
SOOTHING SOUNDS: MC Hammer was born on this day in 1962.
Chris Villani talks Red Sox concerns with 8 days left until Opening Day and the David Ortiz Player's Tribune steroid defense
[0:02:35] ... the stories to kind of breezed through quickly that this situation which ShaneVictorino could not have been worked contacted story if they tried and made it. Victory no express something that he's expressed many times in the past asked by Philadelphia Daily News reporter would like to have ColeHamels he's played them before he knows him. Nosy top of the rotation I said yeah. It be great. And to spin that somehow owing to. Dias towards smoky bats or wanting him to gist. Did get rid of that one and a Red Sox to move on from that clear roster spot was disingenuous. At best and don't think that was even close to what ShaneVictorino was trying to save by. Anytime you open your mouth that's the game and that's why I was even more surprised. As he would DavidOrtiz wrote on Derek Jeter's website. It always spend and Ortiz back from a big DavidOrtiz and I wrote on WEEI dot com this weekend I think he belongs in Cooperstown I don't know whether he's going to ... [0:03:54] ... that there's already essentially one DH in the hall of fame and FrankThomas he played most of his career at that position. And Edgar Martinez they'll not getting as much traction but. Ortiz considered the ... [0:05:03] ... it. And giving you a lot of cliches and platitudes. BK is ShaneVictorino wasn't in anyway try to express desire to get removed keydets. And it's disingenuous to suggest that he once. And DavidOrtiz. Opened up open himself up to attack that I really didn't think was was coming his way now I understand that with Ortiz it would people they just don't like him. Weathered yankees fans is not Red Sox fans whatever it's going to be constant. Barrage of you was on a list. Ease a cheater he used VDs that's what you have that's the low hanging fruit if you don't like DavidOrtiz. And in that sense yeah the attack quote unquote is always ongoing. But it's not something that's really bent top of mind. ... [0:08:17] ... some reason was on the eighteenth green. So I think most likely DavidOrtiz just exaggerate about bringing it up. You restarts. This conversation that wasn't really happening at the time he restarts this dialogue. And this attacked it's ever present and it's the as I called it a few minutes of the low hanging fruit. For people are just predispose not to like DavidOrtiz to reach out and grab. And that's all well and good but why give them something new to yell about why put yourself out there and that sent DavidOrtiz actually reminded here of a little bit of Starbucks and that raced together campaign that they put together. Which is. Quite well ...
Greg and John get into NFL free agency and if the Pats are done until the draft. They get into the draft a little and where Ridley may end up signing. The guys then move on to the Celts and just how far they've come this season under the awesome leadership of Brad Stevens.
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