FOXBORO — Three incredibly early thoughts on the Patriots selection of Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine with the No. 96 overall pick.

FOXBORO — Three incredibly early thoughts on the Patriots selection of Nebraska defensive tackle Vincent Valentine with the No. 96 overall pick.

1. The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Valentine struggled with ankle and knee injuries over the course of his college career, but when he was healthy, he was known as a sizable presence in the middle. He finished his three-year college career with 76 tackles, including 14.5 for loss, as well as seven sacks. His best year was 2014 when he 45 tackles and three sacks.

2. Provided he stays healthy, he could have an impact as a rookie as part of a rotation along the interior of the defensive line. He has experience as a nose tackle in college, and could share time with the likes of Alan Branch, Malcom Brown and Terrance Knighton, provided he develops as a rookie.

3. Valentine left early, but still finished his coursework requirements for a journalism degree while at Nebraska. He’s on Twitter at @TheRealVRVJ.

Here are some highlights of him from 2014:

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — With pick No. 91 in the 2016 NFL draft, the Patriots selected NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Here are three incredibly early thoughts on the newest Patriot quarterback:

The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots took QB Jacoby Brissett with pick No. 91. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — With pick No. 91 in the 2016 NFL draft, the Patriots selected NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Here are three incredibly early thoughts on the newest Patriot quarterback:

1. Brissett is a big quarterback, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with a strong arm and the ability to pick up first downs with his feet. Brissett started his career at Florida, but transferred to NC State due to a relationship with head coach Dave Doeren. He started every game the past two years with the Wolfpack. He struggles with deep ball accuracy, completing just 23.1 percent on attempts of 21-plus yards.

2. The Patriots almost always take a quarterback in the draft, although this pick may have been higher than some expected. Since 1999, the Patriots have drafted nine quarterbacks. They now have Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brissett on the quarterback depth chart. With Brady likely missing the first four games, the team still likely will add a veteran quarterback as protection. Brissett will certainly be in a developmental stage with New England.

3. There are a few Patriots connections with Brissett as Charlie Weis recruited him when he was at Florida and Bill Parcells has been Brissett’s advisor since high school.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Cyrus Jones brings a lot of versatility to the table. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Cyrus Jones brings a lot of versatility to the table. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — On the surface, Cyrus Jones checks off a lot of the boxes when you’re looking for a Bill Belichick type of draft pick.

He comes from a program (Alabama) run by a former Belichick assistant in Nick Saban. He’s versatile, in that he’s played wide receiver and defensive back as a collegian. And he brings considerable special teams value to the table in that he’s worked as a punt and kick returner.

All major reasons why he was appealing to the Patriots with the 60th overall pick in the draft Friday night. New England added the defensive back at the back end of the second round, likely with an eye toward shoring up their nickel corner spot in 2016.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Jones said on a conference call with the media shortly after his name was called by the Patriots. “I worked so hard. … I can’t explain how I feel right now. I’m just overwhelmed.”

The 5-foot-10, 196-pounder played two years with Alabama, and came away with five picks and 69 tackles in his college career. He also finished first in the SEC in 2014 in passes defensed with 13.

“I played nickel a good deal in practice, but coach Saban always wanted me on the outside, so that’s where I was predominantly during the season in games,” he said, “I was always pretty much trailing the top receiver for the opposite team, and they would line up on the outside the majority of the time. I can definitely play nickel. There’s no problem if I have to slide inside.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s (anywhere) I can’t line up on the field and can’t be successful on the football field. I played outside most of my career at Alabama and I had success. I don’t think there’s any reason I can’t line up on Sunday’s and do the same thing.”

He also has special teams value, having worked as a kick returner and a punt returner — in 2012 and 2014, he returned a combined 14 kicks and averaged 23.4 yards per return. He also spent some time as a wide receiver as a freshman, finished with four catches for 51 yards.

“I returned punts in high school and I was pretty good at it,” Jones said. “I just had a knack for finding creases and being able to see where to cut. I had good vision always. That ability just increased in college. As I got more comfortable I started to have more success over time. I had my best year my senior year. That’s going to be a big thing for me to get on the field early next season.”

He started his college career as a wide receiver, but flipped to the other side of the ball relatively early at Alabama.

“We were losing a couple of DBs after my freshman year, and he asked me would I be willing to try it out for the springtime, and I bought in,” he explained. “I just wanted to help the team in any way possible. It worked out for me and the team.”

The Belichick/Saban connection is an easy one to make, and one Jones is pretty familiar with. Jones said the only time he met with Belichick was during a meeting the day before Alabama’s pro day.

“The meeting before pro day went great,” recalled Jones. “It was me and couple of other players. We sat in and watched some film from our season and pretty much just talked football. The meeting went great. But prior to that, I hadn’t had much contact (with Belichick).

“Our program is run similar to the Patriots. I feel like I’m greatly prepared for the next level thanks to coach Saban and the people I had around me for four years.”

Jones does have an arrest in his past, but on Friday, he said he’s ready to move on from the incident.

“I learned a lot from it — it’s in the past,” he said. “It was just an unfortunate situation — a misunderstanding. I’ve moved on and I’ve learned you just have to choose who you are around and make the right decisions at all times.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — When announcing the Patriots’ third-round pick at the NFL draft, Kevin Faulk had a surprise under his jacket — a Tom Brady jersey.

Wearing the jersey, when announcing the selection Faulk said: “With the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select Joe Thuney.”

When announcing the Patriots’ third-round pick at the NFL draft, Kevin Faulk had a surprise under his jacket — a Tom Brady jersey.

Wearing the jersey, when announcing the selection Faulk said: “With the 78th pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady select Joe Thuney.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — After trading pick No. 61 for a third and a fourth round pick, the Patriots used their third-round pick at No. 78 to select offensive tackle Joe Thuney out of NC State.

Here are three incredibly early thoughts on Thuney:

The Patriots took NC offensive lineman Joe Thuney with pick No. 78. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

The Patriots took NC offensive lineman Joe Thuney with pick No. 78. (Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)

After trading pick No. 61 for a third and a fourth round pick, the Patriots used their third-round pick at No. 78 to select offensive tackle Joe Thuney out of NC State.

Here are three incredibly early thoughts on Thuney:

1. Thuney has played all over the offensive line, beginning his career as a back-up center as a redshirt freshman, then starting at right tackle, right guard and left tackle in 2013, lining up at left guard in 2014 before returning to left tackle as a senior. This is obviously a good thing for the Patriots as they love versatility.

2. If the Patriots like Thuney as a tackle, this makes sense as Sebastian Vollmer is a free agent after this season and Nate Solder after the 2017 season so they could be in need of a tackle for the future.

3. Thuney can solve a rubix cube in less than a minute. “My brother got one probably 10 years ago and it came with instructions how to do it,” said Thuney via USA Today. “Of course, he was doing it and I got jealous and I wanted to beat him, so I learned how to do it. Just followed the manual. It took probably a couple days to a week to get it down pat. Ever since then, I could just pick one up or just do it from memory and try to go faster and faster.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — For those who thought there may be some disconnect between Tom Brady and the Patriots with Deflategate, it appears that isn’t the case — at least according to owner Robert Kraft.