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.

JAMISON CROWDER

Position: Wide receiver

School: Duke

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 175 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-ACC first team wide receiver and return specialist, 2014 Biletnikoff Award candidate for best receiver, 2014 Maxwell Award watch list for top player, 2013 All-America second team punt returner (FWAA, SI), 2013 All-ACC wide receiver and return specialist, 2012 All-ACC honorable mention

What he brings: As well as being a very successful slot receiver, Crowder carries a lot of value as a return man. Scouts like his ability to make defenders miss and use his quickness to create space. However, he is small for an NFL receiver and will have to overcome some physical hurdles to maintain his effectiveness in the pros. The hope among scouts and experts is that his speed and skills will help make up for what he lacks in size.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-5

Notes: As a senior captain in 2014, Crowder caught 85 passes for 1,044 yards and six touchdowns. He finished his career with an ACC record-tying 283 receptions for 3,641 yards and 23 touchdowns. He returned four punts for touchdowns, a school record. He is looking to become the first Duke receiver to be drafted since 1990.

Related articles:

USA Today: Crowder’s Draft Diary

DetroitLions.com: WR Jamison Crowder making a big impression at Senior Bowl

Video: Here are highlight’s from Crowder’s Duke career.

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.

VIC BEASLEY

Position: Outside linebacker

School: Clemson

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 235 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, 2014 All-ACC first team, 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, 2014 finalist for Bednarik, Lombardi and Hendricks Awards for best defensive player, 2013 All-America first team, 2013 All-ACC first team

What he brings: Scouts love Beasley’s athleticism; he used to play running back and is able to use quickness and agility to get around blockers and into the backfield. He has impressed with his ability on the pass rush, but there are questions about his run defense. Some experts are concerned that he doesn’t have the size to match up with NFL linemen and may rely too heavy on his athleticism instead of strength.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Beasley finished 2014 with 28 tackles and 11 sacks. In four years with the Tigers he had 52.5 tackles for loss, a school-record 33 sacks, 29 quarterback pressures, 11 pass breakups, seven forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles. At the scouting combine he finished first among linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds) and bench press (35 reps), third in the vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 10 inches), and fourth in the three-cone drill (6.91 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.15 seconds).

Related articles:

Greenville Online: Beasley’s character matches his skill

NFL.com: Beasley compares himself to Broncos’ Von Miller

Video: Beasley makes three tackles and two sacks against FSU in September 2014.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
Ian talks with Chris about the NFL offseason and specifically what the Pats have done and will do. He talks about NFL free agency, if Brandon Spike will come back to New England, all things NFL Draft and more in an extensive interview.

[0:05:51] ... hard at the or. Now you know maybe it's maybe it's Michael Logan Mankins a couple years ago maybe there's guard like 32. You know nothing is more important protecting the quarterback. They are. You know ...
[0:06:36] ... guess if there's a corner that makes sense. You know like Dave's. Marcus Spears is in the coming up a lot he's such an issue in college superior. Just a really really really good actually. Would ...
[0:10:06] ... got New York branch coming back to have the two defense events Jim Jones and experts. It's a good group but it feels like did just need maybe one more body here. Yeah I concede yet. ...
[0:20:20] ... no interest in you know it's like when. Remember when they sign Andre Carter. You know big name for a lot of people out there and figures are an earlier match them I'm going to try ...






in hour 2 of NFL Sunday, Greg and Chris discuss some news from around the league including the Philip Rivers situation in San Diego, if the Titans may sign Rivers, where Marcus Mariota may end up, and what the Jets will do. Price talks with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport about all things NFL offseason and the draft. Finally, the guys touch on if the NFL is over-saturating fans with too much coverage all year round now.
Greg and Chris talk a ton of NFL Draft in hour 1 of the show. They discuss what the Pats might do with their early picks and get Mike Petraglia's thoughts on the issue as well.

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.

DANNY SHELTON

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Washington

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 339 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team (AP), 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 Academic All-Pac-12 first team, 2013 Academic All-Pac-12 first team, 2012 Academic All-Pac-12 first team

What he brings: Shelton is burly and hard to fight off. Rob Rang of CBS Sports regards him as “surprisingly light on his feet” and notes that Shelton has “generates impressive momentum to collide with ballcarriers.” Shelton has a good feel for where ball-carriers are and is always game to try and knock down some passes. According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Shelton is “an above-average interior pass rusher for a man his size, thanks to his surprising athleticism” and must show improved consistency of effort if he wants to reach his potential.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Shelton has drawn comparisons to former Pats nose tackle Vince Wilfork. In 2014 he led the nation in fumble recoveries with five and had 16 tackles for loss. He also had 9.5 sacks this past season. He did not miss a single game in college due to an injury. At the combine Shelton had 34 reps on the bench press, which earned him top-performer status, and ran a 5.64-second 40-yard dash. He also recorded a 4.65-second 20-yard shuttle and a 30.5-inch vertical jump. In 2011, when Shelton was 17, two of his brothers were shot in front of him. Shennon Shelton was shot in the head and died in the hospital later, while Gaston, who had been shot in the chest, survived. Danny didn’t have the easiest childhood, as he, his sister, three brothers and mother moved around to avoid Shelton’s abusive father.

Related articles:

Redskins.com: Danny Shelton brings energy from defensive line

Akron Beacon Journal: 2015 NFL Draft: Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton overcomes tragedy to become projected first-round pick who’s drawn interest from Browns

The Seattle Times: Huskies’ Danny Shelton saw a nightmare but is living his dream

Video: Here is a video of some of Shelton’s highlights.

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.

Rob Havenstein (Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

Rob Havenstein was recognized as the anchor of the Wisconsin line that opened holes for record-setting running back Melvin Gordon. (Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

ROB HAVENSTEIN

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 321 pounds

Achievements: 2014 AFCA All-America first team, 2014 FWAA All-America second team, 2014 All-Big Ten first team, 2014 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, 2013 All-Big Ten second team (coaches)

What he brings: Considered the leader of the Wisconsin offense, Havenstein was a three-year starter and is very large. In his first year with the Badgers the right tackle weighed about 390 pounds, and he trimmed down to 321 by the time of the scouting combine. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote that Havenstein has “the strength to absorb contact and hold his ground,” while also being a “physical mauler with the ideal OL mentality.” For someone his size, he has “adequate initial quickness.” Havenstein has some hip, joint and knee stiffness that impedes some of his bending abilities, which could really start affecting him once in the NFL. Brugler wrote that Havenstein also has “inconsistent body control” and can overextend himself at times.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: At the combine Havenstein ran a 5.46 40-yard dash (which was better than just eight other linemen there) before posting a 7-foot broad jump and a 4.87-second 20-yard shuttle. He helped pave the way for record-setting running back Melvin Gordon. Havenstein began his sports career as a basketball player but switched to football in ninth grade and realized it was his calling.

Related articles:

Fox Sports: Havenstein has something to prove as NFL draft draws near

Fansided: NFL Draft Prospect: Q&A with Wisconsin offensive tackle Robert Havenstein

Madison.com: Badgers football: Rob Havenstein not just an offensive tackle, he’s the leader of the offense

Video: Here’s a brief focus on some of Havenstein’s blocks during Wisconsin’s game against Rutgers in November.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen
Jimmy Garoppolo is back for another season with the Patriots, but it sounds like he's bulked up a bit. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo is set for another season with the Patriots. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t get a lot of opportunities to show what he could do as a rookie with the Patriots, but that certainly hasn’t dissuaded him as the 2015 season nears. According to Garoppolo’s personal quarterbacking guru Jeff Christensen, Garoppolo is ready to attack his second season in the NFL.

“I talked to Bill (Belichick) at the combine, and I asked him how Jimmy was doing,” recalled Christensen in a recent phone call. “He said ‘(Jimmy) looks like a linebacker. He works out like a linebacker. He acts like a linebacker. I really like him a lot, coach. You did a great job with him. Thank you.’ ”

Christensen, who said he’ll work closer with Garoppolo to help fine tune his mechanics shortly before the start of training camp in July, was happy with the performance of his pupil in his first year in the NFL. “He got very few opportunities, but I think he made the most of them,” Christensen said of Garoppolo, who finished 19-for-27 for 182 yards and a touchdown in six games in 2014. “I think he did very well. Over the first two weeks of camp he didn’t look good, but I think over the third and fourth week of the preseason, he made real improvement, and that’s what Bill wants to see. Jimmy is a smart kid who just wants to learn, and he’s well aware of how good a situation he’s in right now.”

2. One more note from Christensen, who has become an acknowledged leader in the field when it comes to developing quarterbacks — he was fascinated to watch the evolution of Tom Brady over the course of the 2014 season, particularly the week between the ghastly loss to Kansas City and the thunderous win over the Bengals that really jump started New England’s Super Bowl season.

“I told Jimmy that after that bad game in Kansas City when you get back, Tom isn’t going to want to talk to you,” recalled Christensen. “You’re going to think he’s going to be in World War 6. He won’t be friendly with you. He won’t talk to you. Stay away from him and let him have his space.’ That’s what happened, he got on a roll, and he stayed that way for the next 13 or so weeks. Tom has that nasty place where he says, ‘This is my job, and don’t any of you writers or coaches or players try and take this thing away from me.'”

3. Our good friend Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders put together a really interesting look at offensive line play last season, and in his research, he discovered an astounding stat: no team in the league had the same starting five offensive linemen for all 16 regular-season games in 2014. It goes without saying that part of that was because of injury, but there was also the issue of players getting benched and shuffled in and out of the lineup over the course of the year because of scheme fit. As all of this relates to New England, there was an interesting debate on “Dennis & Callahan” on Friday morning, where Gary Tanguay argued that center Bryan Stork should get more acknowledgement than he does because of his stabilizing presence on the offensive line. And while it’s true that Stork was able to bring some stability up front, as is the case with most offensive line play, it comes down to how well the five players work together. Skill and technique and approach are obviously all key, but continuity matters when it comes to making a good offensive line, and so it’s no surprise that in 2014, the Patriots’ passing game posted far better numbers in the regular season when it was able to send the five starters out there: Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Stork, Ryan Wendell, Sebastian Vollmer, as opposed to anyone else. The stats are courtesy of Ryan Hannable.

— Solder, Connolly, Stork, Wendell, Vollmer (7-1 record) — Weeks 5, 8-14: Brady: 214-320 (66.9 percent), 2,433 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 103.6 QB rating, 4 sacks.

— Any combination besides above (5-3 record) — Weeks 1-4, 6, 7, 15, 16: Brady: 160-263 (60.8 percent), 1,675 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.8 QB rating, 17 sacks.

Aaron’s story is here, and is a terrific and informative read about continuity along the offensive line. Well worth checking out.

4. While teams with new coaches have been back to football since April 6, the Patriots (and the rest of the teams with returning staffs) will open their offseason program this week — the first day they are allowed back in the facility to meet with coaches is Monday. We’ve published this before, but with New England heading back to work this week, it’s worth revisiting the regulations that each team has to abide by when they conduct their offseason programs:

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each club’s official, voluntary nine-week offseason program is conducted in three phases:

Phase 1 consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.

Phase 2 consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.

Phase 3 consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs.” No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. This minicamp must occur during Phase Three of the offseason program.

5. Strange days in San Diego, where there’s talk about the Chargers trading Philip Rivers to Tennessee for the second overall pick. When combined with the ongoing battle regarding a new football stadium for Southern California, it feels like the Chargers are approaching some sort of franchise crossroads. San Diego was one of the most up-and-down teams in the league last year, as they rolled to a 5-1 start while Rivers made his bones as a bonafide MVP candidate. Then came the fall, as the quarterback and team stumbled to a 9-7 finish, a slide that included an astoundingly ugly 37-0 road loss to the Dolphins. There is some familiarity in Tennessee for Rivers, who had Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt as his offensive coordinator in 2013, and he could be catching a Tennessee team that’s on a bit of an upswing. From a Chargers perspective, San Diego is a team that has many of its fundamental elements on the plus-side of 30, including tight end Antonio Gates (35 before the start of the 2015 season) and wide receiver Malcom Floyd (who will turn 34 before the first regular-season snap this year), as well as depth questions at a number of spots including offensive and defensive line, linebacker and running back. If the Chargers do decide to deal Rivers for multiple picks (including the No. 2 selection, which would likely be Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota), it would feel a little like the team deciding to hit the reset button, a big change from where San Diego was midway through the 2014 campaign.

6. A year ago, there were several people around these parts salivating at the thought of a Rob Gronkowski-Jace Amaro tight end combo. But Amaro ended up being taken by the Jets, and maybe in retrospect, it was a wise move on the part of the Patriots to forego the Texas Tech product. In addition to an occasionally sluggish rookie season, he made headlines this week when he took some shots at ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan, saying that the 2014 Jets lacked “accountability.” Ryan fired back this week, saying that Amaro was “€œfull of (expletive)” and promising to remember that comment when the Bills face the Jets in 2015.

“Look, we weren’t perfect, and I never said we were going to be perfect,” Ryan told MMQB when asked about Amaro’s statements. “But that’s a (expletive) b.s. comment. But, hey, he’s happy that he’s got a different coach in place. We’ll see how happy he is when I play against him.”

Regardless of what you think of Rex, from this viewpoint, Amaro’s comments were out of line. For a guy who had spent 15 minutes in the league to make claims like that against a coach who is already out the door isn’t a professional move. (It was also telling that no one left in New York felt the need to publicly echo Amaro’s comments, which might tell you just how he’s viewed in the Jets locker room.) While he’ll probably have better numbers in the New York offense than he did as a rookie, he’s put a big target on his back for at least two games in 2015.

7. Change keeps coming in Pittsburgh, as veteran cornerback Ike Taylor announced this week that he will retire after a 12-year career with the Steelers. This offseason, the Pittsburgh defense has lost longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, as well as safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Jason Worilds (retired) and cornerback Brice McCain (free agent). Taylor and Polamalu maintained a tight bond — they came into the league together in 2003, and they will leave together. It was no coincidence, according to Taylor.

“That is how we rock,” he said after making it official. “We came in, we are leaving together. That is my loyalty to that man. I said once Troy does his, I will decide. That is what I owe to Troy.”

Going forward, one of the sure things in the draft is the fact that the Pittsburgh defense, which was so poor defending the pass last year (27th overall), will seek out a corner early on. But overall, it will be interesting to see where the Steelers’ defense goes from here. It had been such a rock-steady cornerstone of the franchise for so long under LeBeau (with veteran pieces like Polamalu). Now, it’s the dawn of a new era in Pittsburgh.

8. Colt Lyerla was one of the more intriguing prospects coming out of Oregon in the spring of 2014 — the 6-foot-5, 246-pound tight end had speed, size and soft hands. But he was also toting plenty of baggage with him along the way, including multiple drug-related suspensions, which ultimately got him kicked out of school and caused a tumble from elite-level status to undrafted free agent. He eventually signed with the Packers, but a lower-body injury ended his 2014 season last summer. He was released with an injury settlement, but two weeks later, he was arrested for a DUI in Oregon, effectively ending his chances of making a roster in 2014. He popped up on the NFL radar again recently when he was seen in a video showing off a 62-inch leap, and on his Twitter feed, he promised “big things to come… #TheResurrection.” Lyerla, who was a teammate of several of the members of the Oregon team that made it to the national championship game this past season, could certainly get another shot at the NFL this time around, and is a name to watch for as personnel moves get made after the draft.

9. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson continues to hint that he’d be open to taking up baseball if his looming contractual situation isn’t remedied to his liking. While it was a good try, and a semi-logical answer to Seattle GM John’s Schenider’s ambiguous statements about the possible future of Wilson with the Seahawks, Wilson’s statement rang hollow — a negotiating ploy that has no earthly possibility of happening. Several folks weighed in on the topic over the course of the week, including Bo Jackson, who said Wilson is fooling himself if he thinks ANYONE can play both baseball and football at a high level at the same time in 2015.

“Twenty-five or 30 years ago when I did it, I’m not trying to say anything negative about other athletes, but the talent pool wasn’t that deep,” Jackson told CSNChicago when asked about Wilson’s gambit. “In this day and age, with all the high-tech training, computer-engineered workouts and the proper food and diet, if you try to concentrate on two sports, I guarantee you’re going to ride the bench in both because the talent is that deep.  Stick to whatever sport you’re comfortable with and let everything else go.”

Bottom line? Wilson should stick to football.

10. Speaking of Wilson, teams react to Super Bowl losses in different ways. When the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, several of them said the following spring they had yet to go back and watch the game, with some players indicating that they had zero interest in going back and revisiting the loss in any form or fashion, even as a potential teaching tool. On the other hand, there’s Wilson. The Seattle quarterback told HBO’s “Real Sports” that he’s watched his ill-fated pass for Ricardo Lockette — the one that was picked off by Malcolm Butler at the end of the game — a “hundred” times since that evening in the desert. Check out a portion of his interview with Bryant Gumbel, which is set to air Tuesday on HBO.

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.

RONALD DARBY

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida State

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 195 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-ACC third team, 2012 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

What he brings: Darby is a very athletic cornerback who is expected to use his speed and athleticism to his advantage in coverage. Scouts think he will be able to keep up with most NFL receivers, even in more complex routes, but are concerned about his ability to match up against larger receivers. When lined up with receivers who are not too much taller than him, Darby is able to knock down 50-50 balls but sometimes struggles to hold on to passes that should be intercepted. Scouts would like to see him get stronger to help him in run defense and in press coverage.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-3

Notes: Darby recorded 37 tackles in 2014. He played every game for Florida State the last two seasons. Darby was the second-fastest cornerback at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. He was second in the vertical jump (41.5 inches) and seventh in the broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches).

Related articles:

NFL.com: Darby among standout corners at the combine

CBSSports.com: Darby will use athleticism to excel

Video: Here’s Darby recording three tackles against against Miami in November.

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.

DONOVAN SMITH

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Penn State

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 338 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention

What he brings: Smith “has the size, foot quickness and the high competitive nature that translates well to the next level,” according to Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports. He has good leg strength and a powerful base that helps “drive the defender off the spot,” Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote. His large frame certainly helps get in the way of defenders as well. However, he has does not have the athleticism to play tackle and has trouble changing direction against pass rushers. Zierlein also noted that Smith “can recognize stunts but is very slow to react to them” and that his “ability to recover when beaten is lacking.” Rang and Brugler cite his arm and hand technique as areas that need improvement before Smith can go pro.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: His overall frame and skill set could have teams moving him over to guard. At the combine Smith posted a 5.27-second 40-yard dash, 26 reps on the bench press, a 9-foot, 1-inch broad jump and a 4.79-second 20-yard shuttle. Smith graduated with a degree in criminology and “wanted to be a forensic scientist” but because science “is not [his] forte,” he pointed out that being an FBI agent or detective would be something he’d love doing.

Related articles:

KCChiefs.com: Meet the Penn State Offensive Tackle Who Wants to Make a Name for Himself

PennLive.com: Penn State and the NFL scouting combine: Is tackle Donovan Smith a second-round draft pick?

Video: Here is a video of Smith at 2014 media day before the start of Penn State’s most recent season.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen