Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Patriots 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
The Patriots will get bigger along the defensive line and at running back if things unfold the way ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper projects in his fourth mock draft. But are they the right picks?

To start, the choices hit two areas in which the Patriots could use more of a long-term boost, first at defensive tackle and then in the offensive backfield.

The defensive tackle spot is well stocked in the short term from a personnel standpoint with Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Armond Armstead, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga and Joe Vellano, so the need doesn't seem as pressing right now. Thus, any pick at the position would be made as much with 2015 upside in mind more so than the present snapshot, sort of like the Patriots did in 2004 with Wilfork as a first-rounder.

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Mankins, Connolly team up to train

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly have teamed up when it comes to offseason training, which has brought them back to their roots in a sense.

“It’s been a good partnership right now,” Mankins said Thursday at Gillette Stadium. “In years past, I had surgeries, he had surgeries, we had the whole lockout thing. We used to [train] a long time ago until certain things changed that, so this year was nice to get back together.”

[+] EnlargeLogan Mankins
Mike Reiss/ESPNLogan Mankins talks to reporters at Gillette Stadium.
Mankins, of course, is the starting left guard and team captain who has been with the club since 2005. Connolly, who first joined the Patriots in 2007, has been the team’s starting right guard the past two seasons.

“We meet every morning at a certain time and get after it for a few hours then go home. It’s always nice to have someone to work out with, especially at your own position, that you are working on the same things,” Mankins said. “We’ve been pushing each other and it’s been working out well.”

The training is “grunt work and big boys in there throwing around weights”, according to Mankins, who expects more running next week when more teammates join as part of the voluntary offseason program.

With center Ryan Wendell signing a two-year deal in late March, he’s since joined the workouts at Gillette, while veteran offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and youngsters Jordan Devey (tackle) and Chris Barker (center/guard) have been regulars at the facility as well.

Vollmer is coming off a broken leg/ankle sustained Oct. 27 in a game against the Miami Dolphins.

“He looks good right now, too. I don’t know his whole update right now, but he looks good and I know he’s working hard,” he said. “There’s good promise there.”

Mankins is ready for the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program starting Monday.

“I look forward to seeing everyone get back and everyone getting to work together finally,” he said. “It’s always exciting, kind of like your first day back at school, I guess. You get to see everyone after the break, get to catch up with some friends you haven’t seen too much of lately, and get to work together, push each other, and see if other guys have been working as hard as you have.”

Preseason dates & times finalized

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
The NFL previously announced the preseason opponents for all teams, and what weeks those games will take place. On Thursday morning, the league finalized the specific dates and times of those games.

This is what it looks like for the New England Patriots:

Thursday Aug. 7 -- at Redskins (7:30 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 15 -- vs. Eagles (7:30 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 22 -- vs. Panthers (7:30 p.m.)
Thursday, Aug. 28 -- at Giants (7:30 p.m.)

The expectation is that the Patriots and Eagles will hold joint practices at Gillette Stadium in the days leading up to the Aug. 15 game.

All games will be broadcast on the Patriots Preseason Television Network.

Beyond the 1st round: LB and OLB

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
Each day over the next 10 days, this space will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Patriots. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks. Today, it's linebacker and outside linebacker, with the outside linebacker spot having some crossover with defensive end in the Patriots' multiple system.

Second round: Jerry Attaochu (Georgia Tech)
More of defensive end/outside linebacker type, he has experience in a pro-style system having played under Al Groh in a 3-4 defense (OLB) and then in a 4-3 his final year (DE). He is a high-effort pass-rusher who has good production in that area (31 1/2 career sacks). The 6-foot-3 1/4, 252-pound Attaochu was a team captain.

[+] EnlargeJeremiah Attaochu
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsJerry Attaochu showed that he can get into the backfield with 31 1/2 career sacks at Georgia Tech.
Third round: Adrian Hubbard (Alabama)
He has the ideal physical makeup for a defensive end/outside linebacker in the Patriots' system at 6-6 and 257 pounds with good arm length (33 1/2) and a 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash. Offers a mix of coverage abilities, playing the run, and rushing the passer.

Fourth round: Prince Shembo (Notre Dame)
At 6-1, 253 pounds, Shembo has 10.5-inch hands, good strength, and has played in a two- and three-point stance as well as on special teams. He has some versatility that could appeal to the Patriots, as his 38.5-inch vertical leap highlights his explosion.

Fifth round: Jordie Tripp (Montana)
The 6-2 3/4, 234-pound Tripp has a special-teams mentality with upside to potentially factor into the defensive mix as an off-the-line linebacker. His 6.89-second three-cone drill time was among the best at the position, he is a two-time team captain, and he is one of the more versatile prospects at the position.

Sixth round: Chris Kirksey (Iowa)
A two-time captain, he is 6-1 3/4 and 233 pounds, which is a bit undersized for what the Patriots have traditionally preferred. He's more of an off-the-line/sub linebacker projection with an initial fit on special teams. He is said to have outstanding intangibles.

Seventh round: LB Tyler Starr (South Dakota)
Outstanding time in the three-cone drill catches the eye (6.64) as he projects to a core role on special teams and could ultimately help as a coverage-based option or a sub-rusher as a potential end-of-the-line option. At 6-4 and 250 pounds, he has long arms (32 3/8) and is viewed as a high-effort player.

(Round projections aided by Scouts Inc., and independent analysis.)

Previous entries:
1. Defensive tackles
2. Tight ends
3. Defensive end

Weekly Patriots chat at noon

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
Every Thursday on, there is a Patriots chat in the late morning/early afternoon. Today's chat will kick off at noon ET, an hour later than the norm to account for media access with offensive lineman Logan Mankins at Gillette Stadium. Questions can be asked in advance.

Catch up then.

Ty Law on what he'd do different as Patriot

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Cornerback Ty Law won three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots from 1995-2004, and now that he's a finalist for the team's Hall of Fame he has considered what it would mean to be inducted.

"It will put the icing on the cake as far as my playing career with the Patriots, and some validation to me that I was appreciated by the fans and they still care for me," he said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. "It just puts the stamp of approval for Patriots Nation. I'm really humbled by that."

Law said he was speechless when he learned that he was a finalist along with cornerback Raymond Clayborn and Bill Parcells. He was complimentary of both Clayborn and Parcells.

Law was asked if he might do anything differently when looking back on his Patriots career, in which he tied for the all-time franchise record with 36 interceptions.

"I'll be the first one to admit, now that I'm older, wiser and more mature, that if I could have done something all over again, I would have tried my [best] to stay in New England and finish my career [here]. Not that I have any regrets about the teams that took me in, as far as the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, I'm thankful for the opportunity.

"But you know, and I think I've said this early in my career, I would have loved to start and finish my career with the Patriots. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But if I had to do it all over again, I would have made more effort to stay a Patriot."

Garoppolo latest QB prospect to visit Pats

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
The New England Patriots continue to devote attention and significant resources to the quarterback position in the NFL draft, as two weeks after creating a buzz by hosting Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater on visits at Gillette Stadium, they welcomed another top prospect earlier this week – Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois.

Some analysts, such as ESPN’s Bill Polian, have Garoppolo rated as high as a first-round draft choice.

The 6-foot-2 1/4, 226-pound Garoppolo earned the Walter Payton Award in 2013, which is given to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision. In 14 games, he completed 375 of 568 passes for 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

NFL teams are allowed 30 in-house visits with out-of-town prospects, and the Patriots have devoted at least three of them to top quarterbacks (Manziel, Bridgewater, Garoppolo).

Starting quarterback Tom Brady turns 37 in August and is signed through 2017, while the only other signal-caller on the roster, Ryan Mallett, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season.

Clayborn: 'Why did it take so long?'

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Raymond Clayborn didn’t hold back.

When asked his initial reaction to learning that he was one of three finalists to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2014, he said simply, “Why did it take so long?”

Now that he’s crossed that threshold, Clayborn (1977-89) shared more thoughts about joining cornerback Ty Law and coach Bill Parcells as the final three.

“I’m really honored,” he said Wednesday on a conference call. “Bill is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I believe Ty will definitely get there one day himself.”

In his playing days, Clayborn was known for strong man coverage, and is still tied atop the franchise all-time charts (with Law) for interceptions (36).

“To hold the record with him is an honor,” said Clayborn, adding that Law probably would have broken it if he didn’t get hurt in his final season with the club. Asked if he saw similarities between his style of play with Law, Clayborn touched on the ability to lock down one side of the field.

Clayborn and his wife have been living in Katy, Texas for the last 13 years, and he is currently recovering from November prostate surgery.

“Right now, being retired, I’m basically recovering from surgery,” he said, adding that he has three daughters and is also a proud grandfather. “It’s a process. It will be six months on May 4, a milestone, and I hope things start to get better. I’m hanging in there.”

Belichick: Oldie but goodie among peers

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Last month at the NFL's annual meeting, Bill Belichick was asked why he still coaches.

"I just enjoy it. I don’t know why. I just do," he said, electing to pass on a more detailed response that probably would have included his thirst for competition and passion for the game of football.

A day like today, with Belichick turning 62, sparks the question that is sometimes asked in New England: How much longer will Belichick feel that way? In the documentary "Bill Belichick: A Football Life," Belichick said he didn't plan to coach into his 70s like former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy. That is still eight years away.

Belichick is the third-oldest coach in the NFL, behind Tom Coughlin and Pete Carroll, and when considering any top coaches ranking, the three would almost certainly be near the top.

Breaking down the head coaches by age:

Born in the 40s
Giants' Tom Coughlin -- 67 (8/31/46)

Born in the 50s
Seahawks' Pete Carroll -- 62 (9/15/51)
Patriots' Bill Belichick -- 62 (4/16/52)
Cardinals' Bruce Arians -- 61 (10/3/52)
Lions' Jim Caldwell -- 59 (1/16/55)
Broncos' John Fox -- 59 (2/8/55)
Bears' Marc Trestman -- 58 (1/15/56)
Vikings' Mike Zimmer -- 57 (6/6/56)
Rams' Jeff Fisher -- 56 (2/25/58)
Chiefs' Andy Reid -- 56 (3/19/58)
Buccaneers' Lovie Smith -- 55 (5/8/58)
Bengals' Marvin Lewis -- 55 (9/28/58)
Falcons' Mike Smith -- 54 (6/13/59)

Born in the 60s
Colts' Chuck Pagano -- 53 (10/2/60)
Dolphins' Joe Philbin -- 52 (7/2/61)
Panthers' Ron Rivera -- 52 (1/7/62)
Titans' Ken Whisenhunt -- 52 (2/28/62)
Ravens' John Harbaugh -- 51 (9/23/62)
Jets' Rex Ryan -- 51 (12/13/62)
Packers' Mike McCarthy -- 50 (10/10/63)
Eagles' Chip Kelly -- 50 (11/25/63)
49ers' Jim Harbaugh -- 50 (12/23/63)
Saints' Sean Payton -- 50 (12/29/63)
Bills' Doug Marrone -- 49 (7/25/64)
Cowboys' Jason Garrett -- 48 (3/28/66)
Jaguars' Gus Bradley -- 47 (7/5/66)
Browns' Mike Pettine -- 47 (9/25/66)
Redskins' Jay Gruden -- 47 (3/4/67)
Texans' Bill O'Brien -- 44 (10/23/69)

Born in the 70s
Steelers' Mike Tomlin -- 42 (3/15/72)
Chargers' Mike McCoy -- 42 (4/1/72)
Raiders' Dennis Allen -- 41 (9/22/72)

NFL Nation Buzz: New England Patriots

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss discusses Ty Law's chances of being inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
Two cornerbacks who are tied atop the New England Patriots' all-time list for career interceptions and the coach who helped revive the franchise and invigorate a region's passion for football are this year's finalists for the team's Hall of Fame.

The Patriots announced Wednesday that Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law and Bill Parcells have made the cut, as voted on by a panel of 20 members of the team's Hall of Fame committee.

One of the three will be inducted into the Hall later this year based on a month-long fan vote on the team's official website.

Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowl (1983, 1985, 1986) player for the Patriots from 1977 through 1989. His 36 career interceptions tie with Law as the best mark in team history. This is the first time Clayborn has been named a finalist.

Law spent 10 seasons with the Patriots (1995-2004), was a three-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Pro Bowl player (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003) and a two-time All-Pro (1998, 2003) during his tenure with the club. This is his first year of eligibility for the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Parcells served as head coach from 1993-96, inheriting a team that had finished 14-50 in the previous four years, including an NFL worst 2-14 season in 1992. He led the team to the playoffs twice, including a trip to the Super Bowl. He was previously a finalist in 2011 and 2012, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

With just three finalists in a stocked field making the cut, some franchise greats such as safety Rodney Harrison and defensive end Willie McGinest will have to wait another year for consideration. Both Harrison and McGinest were in their second year of eligibility.

C.J. Fiedorowicz to visit Patriots

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
We've made the case that the Patriots' biggest need entering the 2014 NFL draft is tight end, and they'll spent part of Wednesday getting a close look at a highly regarded prospect, as Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is taking a visit to Gillette Stadium, a source confirmed.

NFL Network first reported the news.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder was a first-team All-Big Ten selection during his final college season, hauling in 30 passes, including six for touchdowns. He was a standout during the week of the Senior Bowl and ran a respectable 4.76 40-yard dash at the combine while also putting up 25 reps on the bench press.

Washington State safety Deone Bucannon will also be in Foxborough, Mass., for a visit on Wednesday, as we noted on Tuesday evening.

Fiedorowicz is the fifth-ranked tight end and 76th-rated prospect overall by ESPN's Scouts Inc.

Beyond the 1st round: Defensive end

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Each day over the next 10 days, this space will focus on one position in the NFL draft by highlighting a prospect in Rounds 2-7 who might fit for the Patriots. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, "Beyond the first round" focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks.

Second round: Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)
A "traits" prospect at 6-foot-5 1/4 and 304 pounds who runs well, has big hands (10") and long arms (34 3/4). He enters the draft after his junior season and had a better year in 2012 than 2013. The team selecting him will be banking on harnessing his traits into a more productive and consistent player. Seems to have some scheme flexibility.

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIDefensive end Stephon Tuitt had 21.5 sacks in three years at Notre Dame.
Third round: Ed Stinson (Alabama)
The 6-foot-3 1/4, 287-pound Stinson figures to appeal to New England because he's shown a knack for executing some of the two-gap, edge-setting techniques employed by the Patriots. He's more likely to win with power than a speed rush.

Fourth round: Taylor Hart (Oregon)
He has NFL size at 6-foot-6 1/8 and 281 pounds, runs well for his size, and is a power rusher. Some project him more as a 3-4 defensive end, but he also might have some scheme flexibility.

Fifth round: Jeoffrey Pagan (Alabama)
At 6-foot-3 1/2 and 310 pounds, he enters the draft after his junior season, appears to have some scheme versatility with experience playing multiple techniques, and comes out of a pro-style program well respected by Bill Belichick.

Sixth round: Jamil Merrell (Rutgers)
The Rutgers-to-Patriots pipeline has been well-tapped and the 6-foot-4, 252-pound Merrell is one candidate to watch to add to it. His high-motor approach and solid tackling skills figure to be to the Patriots' liking.

Seventh round: Josh Mauro (Stanford)
By the final round of the draft, many teams are focusing on one standout trait and Mauro's build (6-6, 271) and upside could be appealing. He could potentially offer some scheme versatility as well.

(Round projections aided by Scouts Inc., and independent analysis.)

Previous entries:
1. Defensive tackles
2. Tight ends

Source: Bucannon to visit with Patriots

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
The Patriots are hosting former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon on a pre-draft visit, a league source confirmed.

Aaron Wilson of National Football Post first reported the news.

Bucannon was named an Associated Press first-team All-American during his final college season, leading the Pac-12 with 109 tackles, while also tallying six interceptions.

What also stands out about Bucannon is his size, as he is 6-1 and 211 pounds, as noted here by colleague Mike Reiss.

The Patriots may well consider adding safety depth during the draft, as they are thin in terms of experience beyond Devin McCourty.

Second-year player Duron Harmon temporarily can be penciled in as a projected starter, with Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Kanorris Davis and the recently re-signed Patrick Chung also on the depth chart.

Bucannon had an impressive showing at the combine, running a 4.49 40 and jumping 36.5 inches in the vertical leap. He is the third-ranked safety and 45th-best prospect overall according to ESPN's Scouts, Inc.

Former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi joins Bob Ley to explain why he will be running this year's marathon with his team, Tedy's Team, and the importance of the marathon to the city of Boston.