Patriots Seven Round Draft Board 2014

After realizing how much time I had been wasting trying to profile individual players for years, and how impractical it would be for me to do something like that again I decided to go for it in one mess. Here I’ve come up with 3 targets or scenarios per round for the Patriots and 3 players that should also be on the radar. If you’d like to comment and call me an idiot for not having your guy on here that’s fine. Just keep in mind that once the picks start rolling in we usually all look like idiots because plenty of NFL teams are run by idiots. Take it all with a grain of salt. These are just my opinions based off what I’ve seen and heard. I reserve my right to change my mind at any time.

Ra’Shede Hageman – DT Minnesota
Build: 6’6″ 310 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.02 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 13 TFL, 2 Sacks, 8 PBU, 1 INT
If you follow the Patskrieg Facebook you know that I’m crazy about the Minnesota DT. He’s an unpolished player but if you follow his tape over the last 2 years you start to see a guy realizing his potential as a force of nature. He was a tight end in high school (just like Warren Sapp) and you can still see the movement skills even at 310 pounds. When you’re buying into Hageman you’re buying his physical skillset and potential. He didn’t play as many snaps as some of the other higher ranked DTs and didn’t have a huge sack total. What he did do was record 15.5 stuffs (well above the average amongst the top of the class) and have 9 batted passes which no other DT even came close to. He’s going to take a year or so working with NFL coaches but he could be absolutely dominant and set up the defense for years to come when he does.

Calvin Pryor – S Louisville
Build: 5’11 207 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 3 (Started as a true freshman)
Relevant Stats: 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, 2 FF, Tackles – 54 UA 21 A

If we’re ready to move on from the Steve Gregory era let’s really move on by drafting his polar opposite. Pryor is a big bruiser safety in the mold of Adrian Wilson (who is still on the Patriots roster). I’m hesitant to put a safety on a very short list of worthwhile first round picks since there are several very good safeties in the first 3 or 4 rounds. However, this would be a chance to put a high end safety on the roster. In three years at Louisville he started 2 and 1/2, caused 8 forced fumbles, and 7 INTs. This is the player everyone wanted DJ Swearinger to be a year ago. I have zero connection as of right now between the Patriots and Pryor. In fact, in classic Belichick fashion they’ve reportedly looked at Hakeem Smith (3 INTs 5 PBUs) who played opposite Pryor at Louisville. There’s your spoiler on this year’s Hipster Belichick pick. Either way, I think HaHa Clinton-Dix is the first safety off the board, leaving Pryor potentially available at 29.

Build: Last year turned 29th overall into a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 7th
Years Used: So so many
Relevant Stats: Batting 1.000 in Pissing Everyone Off

This will go over like a Martin Sheen Boston accent but I can absolutely see it happening, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Given how stacked this draft is I would very much prefer to have multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds rather than take a 1st round pick for the sake of taking one. Bleacher Report already named this the “Worst Case Scenario” for round 1. I’m going to respectfully disagree. Taking a first rounder for the sake of taking one seems materialistic and pointless to me. Be very careful though. I’m giving a thumbs up to a trade that gives the Pats at least an extra 2nd round pick. The price for last year’s 29th pick was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and a 7th from Minnesota. I would expect nothing less. Once we get into the 2nd and 3rd rounds I think you’ll see what I mean.

Also On the Radar:

  • I’m on the fence about Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt. He’s played out of position at DE when he’s built like a DT, but has some of the more evolved pass rushing skills in this class.
  • You wouldn’t see me cry if Belichick took LSU WR Odell Beckham who I’d take well over Mike Evans
  • Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is a large and very talented corner from Virginia Tech who remains a dark horse for the 1st round Stanford’s
  • David Yankey who is graded lower than UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo but would be a better fit in New England because of his zone blocking experience. I’d pass on Louis Nix, and contrary to a lot of mock drafts I think Jace Amaro in the first is a reach. More on both of them in a minute.

I really honestly believe that the 2nd round is the key to this draft. Materializing an additional pick in the 2nd round might make some people unhappy, since it typically means trading out of the first. I think you’ve got 3 players here that if you can grab the lot of them you instantly get better at 3 major positional needs with players who can contribute right away.

DaQuan Jones – DT Penn State
Build: 6-4 322 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.35 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 11 TFL, 3 Sacks, Tackles – 33 UA, 23 A

I may end up looking stupid 3 years from now for saying this, but Hageman is a wish and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones is a must. Speaking from both the tape and the numbers, DaQuan Jones should be ranked much higher than he is. Much higher. John Pollard of Stats LLC put together some very telling numbers about the value of this DT class.

He played more snaps than Nix, Hageman, Quarles, Jernigan, guys who are ranked higher than him. Stamina and conditioning are enormous considerations for grading big DTs. The game is evolving to a point where you can’t just have 1 or 2 down DT’s anymore. It says a lot about an athlete to play at 300+ pounds and be able to play 100+ more snaps than his peers. He also produced consistently across those snaps.

The Penn State product didn’t put up big sack numbers but he made things happen at, and behind the line of scrimmage. Having a stuff differential comparable to Aaron Donald (one of the top rated DT’s in the class) is important. Also, Hageman gets a nod for having by far the most batted balls.

He has a better motor and lateral quickness than Nix and does a better job of keeping square to the line of scrimmage. Jones weighed in at the Combine at 322 lbs and moves much much quicker than that. Unlike a lot of players in the 320+ range he isn’t a top heavy NT prototype with a big gut. His lower body makes for a really massive powerful frame. Jones is a stud and if he’s available in the 2nd the Pats need to go get him. He also gets graded on a curve for having Bill O’Brien as a coach and not turning out terrible.

Troy Niklas – TE Notre Dame
Build: 6’7″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: N/A
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 498 Yards 5 TDs

This likely isn’t the name you want to hear. Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins, and Amaro are the consensus top 3 TE’s. They’re all pretty good but hear me out. Two of them have arrests on their resume, and one played at UNC which has me uneasy to begin with. Flying just a little bit under the radar is Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas, who is a beast in the making. With only 1 year starting experience Niklas was a surprise to end up in the 2014 draft. That’s a concern, but if you remember correctly Gronk only had 2 years of college experience as well. Granted he started both years and put up incredible numbers but he still only played 2 years. Niklas played behind former 1st round pick Tyler Eifert, and was used as more of a traditional TE when he finally got the call to start. So he doesn’t have the outrageous statistical production of the top 3 TE’s but he has more experience as an in-line blocker but with the same impressive hands and ability to catch away from his body as the others do. Everyone is looking for the Pats to draft the next Aaron Hernandez, but I’ve got to ask what’s wrong with drafting another Rob Gronkowski? If it were up to me I’d say let the rest of the league fight over the top 3 TE’s (they don’t even know what to do with them anyways), prioritize your early picks, and grab Niklas in the 2nd, as the rumor is that he won’t last longer than that. If you’re obsessed with drafting Amaro ask yourself if you’re not just being a draft racist and your brain insists you need to replace one hispanic guy with another. The first step to overcoming draft racism is admitting to it.

Weston Richburg – C/G Colorado State
Build: 6’3″ 298 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.10 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

I’ve heard his name mocked to the Patriots a handful of times and I’ve decided to bite. Originally he was a 3rd round consensus, but I had him highlighted as a 2nd round priority. Now, of course, just before I post this rumors emerge that he’s graded by some scouts as the top center in the draft and could be a late 1st. The Patriots re-signed Ryan Wendell but I’ve got to believe that he’s insurance on whoever the future new center will be. Richburg will get downgraded some for the level of competition he faced, but he’s just too good to ignore. Four year starting offensive linemen always impress me because it means they have an advanced intellectual concept of the game. He’s an excellent athlete with an ideal body type for an interior lineman, anchors well and has experience in a zone blocking scheme, started 50 games at Colorado State, and looks like a natural knee bender. He’s fast too and just seems to have a knack for getting to the 2nd level to block. He kind of came out of nowhere and was a scarcely recruited 2 star prospect and a shotputter in high school. He had some kind of eligibility issue in 2009 but put in extra time training and working at his parent’s gas station and eventually made the first team the following season. We know the Pats are fans of that kind of attitude. I think once he got going as a Patriot he could make a case to be a week 1 starter and would be an enormous asset to the run game. Without having met the guy first hand it’s impossible for me to say that he’s a sure thing, but everything he’s put on tape would hint towards it. Rumor has it the Pats have had a private workout with Richburg.

Also on the Radar:

  • I’ve had TCU’s Jason Verrett on just about every draft wishlist I could think of. If he were 2 inches taller he’d be a top 20 lock. But I think he’ll be off the board early in the 2nd if he isn’t gone in the 1st and I see no indication of the Patriots scouting him.
  • Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward is also a big consideration here, and the Patriots quietly attended his Pro Day.
  • Arizona State’s Will Sutton should some love here too because he’s getting less than he deserves in the press. Check him out in the charts above. He produced nicely and maintained good movement even after gaining weight.

Will Clarke – DE West Virginia
Build: 6’6″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.77 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 17.5 TFL, 6 Sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FF, Tackles – 36 UA 14 A

I’ve looked at a lot of 4-3 DEs and as deep as this draft is I’m having a lot of trouble finding one I like. There are speed guys that lack technique, productive players that are just undersized, and the usual crop of one tricky ponies. From the tape I have no idea why Will Clarke is so under exposed in this draft class. He’s 6’6″ 270 lbs and has a lightning fast first step. He reminds me in every way of Chandler Jones right down to the fact that Jones was projected as a 3rd rounder early last April. This is the round Belichick has proven to want to take a chance on pass rushers, even when it doesn’t work out. There’s room for a young DE on this roster and Clarke fits the mold. There needs to be a viable #3 option at DE on this team, and with all respect to Andre Carter (seriously) it can’t be Andre Carter in 2014. Clarke was 240 lbs coming out of high school and ran a 4.80 40. In his time at WVU he put on 30 lbs of mass and at the Combine ran a faster 40 than he did earlier. I absolutely love his potential as a 4-3 DE as a guy who can take some snaps from Jones or Ninkovich.

*Look for #98 playing DE

Davante Adams – WR Fresno State
Build: 6’1″ 212 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.47 – 4.50 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1718 Yards, 24 TDs

If Davante Adams was an inch taller he’d dead set on being a 2nd round pick. He also posted 2 40’s in the 4.5 range that didn’t help him either. Still, Adams dominated for 2 seasons at Fresno State with Derrick Carr throwing to him. He’s leaving for the NFL at only 21 years old opting not to risk starting over with a new QB. Adams still blew me away every time I watched him. My latest deal breaker criteria for grading WR’s is that I don’t even want to look at a WR who can’t high point a football and competing for a ball at it’s apex is something Adams did consistently for the Bulldogs. He’s a natural pass catcher with extremely quick transitional skills. To be a true Patriots WR you’ve got to be tenacious and that’s why I think he’d be a good fit. The 2nd round is potentially going to see a lot of fighting for QB’s, TE’s and offensive linemen. That’s why I think Adams might slip through the cracks and end up in the 3rd. It’d be criminal not to even consider him.

Billy Turner – OT North Dakota State
Build: 6-5 315 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.16 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

If you play for North Dakota State and want to crack the NFL you’d better dominate. That’s just what the 6’5″ 315 lb tackle did. Turner started 56 of his 57 games player at NDS and lead his team to 3 FCS national championship games. He had a lot of positive buzz after a strong Senior Bowl prompting talk that he could find his way into the 2nd day of the draft. I wouldn’t expect him to pressure Solder for a starting LT job, but if Vollmer either didn’t come back or had further injuries in 2014 I think Turner could be a force at RT. He has experience in zone blocking but does his best work as a straight ahead bulldozer. Turner would need some work before being in the conversation to back up Nate Solder, but could be ready for week 1 to plug in on the right side.

Also on the Radar:

  • Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard gets a mention because of his versatility. He didn’t exactly take over games but he played a role similar to Jamie Collins in that he could line up as a DE or a LB at any given time.
  • I’m honestly hoping they shy away from smaller WR’s given the stockpile at home but South Carolina’s explosive 5’9″ receiver Bruce Ellington also gets consideration for having multiple meetings with the Patriots already.
  • Another SC player Kelcy Quarles could be floating around somewhere. I liked Quarles a lot in his gameplay, but really disliked watching him move in the Combine. I thought he ran way too narrow for a DT. Still he’s a physically impressive prospect that the Patriots have looked at up close.

Stephen Houston – RB Indiana
Build: 5’11” 230 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.46 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: Rushing: 753 Yds (6.7/carry) 8 TDs, Rec: 164 Yds

Bigtime sleeper here to the point where I’m getting antsy over the idea of drafting him weeks away. I like the idea of drafting RB’s that come from 2-back systems. It worked with Stevan Ridley in LSU and I see it working going forward. It saves a bunch of wear & tear on the player, and adapts them to the committee back system that we have in New England. Indiana’s Stephen Houston was thought of as a late round pick prior to his pro day. The 230 lb bruiser somehow managed a 40″ vertical and an 11 ft broad jump, which would have bested every RB at the Combine. He averaged only about 140 carries per season, but averaged a career 5.56 yard per carry including a 6.72 his senior year. Houston is a big thick back that genuinely dislikes being tackled. I think he’s a very comparable player to Carlos Hyde but with a little more burst to his first step. The Patriots have a very deep RB core right now even with Blount leaving, but I still think they take a RB somewhere considering both Ridley and Vereen are in contract years. This is a great spot and a great player to take a shot on. Let’s not go crazy but I see a little Christian Okoye in his game. I’ll also throw it out there that he was the first Hoosier to have back to back 700+ rushing yard seasons since BenJarvis Green-Ellis. The Pats have worked out Houston.

Dezmen Southward – S Wisconsin
Build: 6’0″ 2.11
40 Yard Dash: 4.44 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 3 TFL

I’ve written about Southward on the Patskrieg Facebook before and I’m still a fan of his. Southward was only a 2 star recruit out of high school after starting his football career as a senior. He was a starter that year and lead St. Thomas Aquinas HS (alma mater of Michael Irvin and a long list of NFL players) to a national championship. He plays compact and fast, staying nice and low in his backpedal, getting a strong push on his breaks, and waiting for his opportunities. He’s 6’1″ 212 lbs and you barely notice it because of how well he bends. Originally I had FSU’s Terrence Brooks as a 2nd round target, but I like Southward’s tackling and movement skills better so I re-prioritized. Contrary to Calvin Pryor I wouldn’t expect Southward to compete for a starting job week 1. I think that’s Duron Harmon’s job to win or lose (I have no idea what Tavon Wilson did to get in Belichick’s doghouse last year but he was practically forgotten). But you can’t go wrong with a player like this in the 4th or later as he has the potential to be a big contributor. The Patriots were one of a number of teams present for Southward’s Pro Day at Wisconsin, and I believe they’ve also brought him in for an official visit.

Kevin Norwood – WR Alabama
Build: 6’2″ 198 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.42 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 568 Yds 7 TDs

I don’t 100% know where Norwood fits in the 2014 Patriots roster. I don’t know if he beats out Thompkins or LaFell for a WR spot. Quite frankly I don’t know what the ceiling is for him. What I do know is that he’s a bigtime underexposed sleeper that could be well worth the risk of taking a late round flyer on. The Mississippi native was a 4 star recruit out of high school, finishing his senior year with 12 TDs and 11 INTs as a corner. We’re all agreed Odell Beckham is a top tier receiver right? Norwood is 3 inches taller, ran an almost identical 40 (4.48) and has 10 inch hands (tied for 2nd largest at the Combine amongst WR’s). He can catch away from his body, at the apex, in traffic, on the sideline, while getting hit, all of it. He just didn’t get much of a chance in a very crowded Alabama offense that featured future 1st round pick Amari Cooper and a perennial stable of top tier RB talent. Who knows what he could have done if he had been counted on to be the focal point of his offense. Still, he played all over the field at Alabama lining up both in the slot and on the outside. He needs to work on sharpening his route running but he knows how to be in the right place at the right time, and come up with a catch in a tough situation. The Patriots have very quietly met with him.

Also on the Radar:

  • I guess I’ll put Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz here even though I think Niklas has a much higher potential. I’d rank him below Niklas and above Colorado State’s Crockett Gillmore who looks very ordinary.
  • Minnesota safety Brock Vereen brother of some guy named Shane that plays for some team is a Patriots type player (instinctive with leadership qualities) who the team has scouted.
  • Rutgers Brandon Coleman has also been floating around in 4th round consideration, and I’d look pretty stupid if I didn’t at least mention the top rated Rutgers prospect despite a disappointing season.

The Patriots currently do not have a 5th round pick. There are mock drafts out there that have the Patriots picking in the 5th with no mention of this fact. Hit Alt-F4 if you find one please. I’d say they wasted it trading for Isaac Sopoaga, but the truth is Sopoaga wasted the pick for us by being terrible. If you know the Patriots though, you know that they seem to end up with mid round picks no matter what things look like at the start of the draft, so I’ll take a look at some 5th round targets just in case.

Michael Sam – DE Missouri
Build: 6’2″ 261
40 Yard Dash: 4.73 (Pro Day) 4.91 (Combine)
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 19 TFL, 11.5 Sacks, 2 FF, Tackles – 31 UA 17 A. SEC Defensive POY 2013
OOOOOooooooooOOOoo controversial pick. Yes, I’ve gone on record saying that Sam isn’t the type of player the Patriots normally draft. He’s shorter than your average Belichick pass rusher, and I usually skewer similar players for being one trick ponies. However, the more Michael Sam I watched the more I came to realize the fact that he’s underrated if anything. I kept looking for a reason to count him out. I kept expecting top tier DE Kony Ealy to be the reason for Sam’s success. From what I’ve seen, Michael Sam was the star of that defense. I don’t have the numbers but t looked like Sam played significantly more snaps than Ealy and shined in run support as well as just running at the QB. All I’m saying is that there are much worse players to waste a 5th round pick on. PFT reported that the Patriots are one of a short list of teams with a real interest in Sam.

Xavius Boyd – Western Kentucky
Build: 6’1″ 236
40 Yard Dash: “4.6/low 4.7 range”
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 15.5 TFL, 7.5 Sacks, 1 FF, Tackles – 68 UA 35 A
If increasing linebacker speed is on your agenda for 2014 I think Boyd makes for an intriguing pick. He finished his senior year with 15.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks. He’s a sideline to sideline type of backer that likely fits best as a mike linebacker and could upgrade the overall speed of the defense. He was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive POY with 105 tackles. The fourth round might be a reach for a small school prospect but the Bears, Cowboys, 49ers, Raiders, Chargers and Patriots have all interviewed or worked out the former Hilltopper.

Lonnie Ballentine – S Memphis
Build: 6’3″ 219
40 Yard Dash: 4.39
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 5 PBU, Tackles – 37 UA 21 A

You’ve got to wonder where this guy has been hiding. Ballentine is a 6’3 219 lb DB from Memphis that at one time had offers on the table from almost every major SEC school and a pair of ACC schools. He chose to commit to Memphis though, a seemingly strange decision that may have had something to do with having a wife and kid in the area. His triangle numbers are ideal posting a 4.38 and a 4.40 at the Memphis Pro Day. For his height and size those are WR numbers. His play is just what you’re looking for too: fast and physical.

Also on the Radar:

  • Georgia QB Aaron Murray is an obvious consideration. He was a 4 year starter that could be available at a huge bargain after suffering a gruesome ACL injury. He’s smaller than your typical Patriots QB but clearly has the skills.
  • I’d like to see the Pats take a look at USC TE Xavier Grimble. He ran a 4.90 but I think he’s much faster than that on the field. The former 4 star recruit may have still been feeling the effects of a calf injury that kept him from running at the Combine. I’d suggest 5 star recruit AC Leonard who ended up transferring from Florida to Tenn State after a domestic assault arrest, but I’m not down with that.
  • This could also be a good time to pick up a quality special teamer like Rice DB Phillip Gaines (4.38 40), or Liberty DB Walt Aikens (4.37 – 4.44 40’s).

Kenny Guiton – QB Ohio State
Build: 6’3″ 208
40 Yard Dash: 4.78
Years Started: 0.5
Relevant Stats: Pass: 749 Yards, 14 TDs (2 INTs), 68.8% Completion Rush: 330 yds, 5 TDs

A couple thoughts on drafting a QB in this class:

  • Stop mocking Tom Savage to the Patriots. He’s not very good. He played for 3 teams in 5 years, turns 24 this month, and didn’t crack a 60% completion rate until the final of his 5 years in school. Let’s pretend that it takes a little more than playing for a mid-western school and being named Tom to be a starting QB for the Patriots.
  • Which is it? Do you want to WIN NOW! DRAFT HIGH! or DRAFT A QB! WE NEED A NEW TOM BRADY!! Because you can’t have both. If you want a QB in the first round then the other positional needs don’t get met.
  • Words can’t express how little I want Foxboro to be the “The House That Johnny Built” so let’s forget about that too.

This might be a case of doing your UDFA shopping a couple days early but OSU’s Kenny Guiton fascinates me. He saw limited action, seeing action in only 7 games last year, while sitting behind Braxton Miller. Watching him play he reminds me almost of a black Matt Cassel (that’s a compliment I promise): big tall frame, strong arm, and deceptively fast. He wasn’t a slouch with the football either: 68.8% completion rate, 14 TDs, 2 INTs. Those aren’t typical backup stats. Buckeye fans loved this kid, and you can tell why. He’s got a gun and has strangely good downfield accuracy. His mechanics look a little wonky but I think the physical tools and instincts are there. Whether he can grasp the New England offense is something I’ll never be able to tell you, but I like what I see in Guiton a lot more than some bigger names in the middle of the QB class.

Lorenzo Taliafero – RB Coastal Carolina
Build: 6’0″ 229
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 1 (2 year JUCO starter)
Relevant Stats: 1729 Yds, 27 TDs

I’ll be honest in saying that I know very little about this Coastal Carolina prospect and didn’t pay any attention to him until the Combine. I saw Walter Cherepinksy mention to a reader on Facebook that the Patriots liked him, so I put him here. As with most small schools if you want to be taken seriously you’d better dominate, and the 229 lb RB did. 1,729 yards and 27 TDs across 15 games in his 2013 season is certainly what you’d call dominant. He had 31 yards on 8 carries in the Senior Bowl, so he can hang with top tier competition. His lateral movement definitely jumped out at me in the Combine when I saw just how much he weighed. It seemed like he was more of a straight ahead runner at Coastal Carolina, and didn’t really use his hip flexibility to his advantage. I could write more on him but Steelers Depot already did an incredible job breaking him down, and anything else I said would just be ripping them off. They do point out that he’s an exceptional pass blocker, which is usually something young RB’s struggle with.

Jordan Tripp – LB Montana
Build: 6’3″ 234 lbs
40: 4.67 (Combine)
Years Started: 4
Relevant Stats: Tackles – 49 (UA) 51 (A), 3 INT, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 Blocked Kick
Mike Dussault loves Michigan State’s Max Bullough at this spot, at basically the same position, but I can connect Montana LB Jordan Tripp to the Patriots via a private workout, so I’ll go with Tripp here as the Pats could very well elect to replace one speedy Montana LB (Dane Fletcher) with another. There’s a good chance he’ll be off the board well in advance of the 6th round, but I’m just not sure where to put him. He’s a very similar player to Fletcher, quick, rangy, and seems to have a knack for knowing when to make his break on a gap to pressure the quarterback.

Also On the Radar:

  • Texas A&M’s Ben Malena was the Aggie’s feature back but was 2nd to Manziel in yardage. He also ran an unimpressive 4.60 Pro Day 40. He’s much quicker than he is fast and has the tools to be an effective 3rd down back in the NFL.
  • Andre Williams the 230 lb RB from BC got a look from the Patriots and fits the mold of what they’re looking for. He only put up 2100 yards his final season and left as a Heisman finalist if that means anything to you.
  • FSU RB Devonta Freeman is another big RB that the Patriots have looked at. What can I say? I like the idea of drafting a RB here.

Andrew Norwell – OG Ohio State
Build: 6’6″ 315 lbs
40: 5.28 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3 (Backup RT as true freshman)

Who? For reference sake I am normally not an Ohio State mark but let me introduce you to Andrew Norwell from Cincinnati, Ohio. Andrew was a 4 star recruit out of high school and a 3 year starter at Ohio State. He’s not a physical freak (beyond being 6’6″ and 315 lbs) would need some breaking in at the next level but I see a player with the right mentality to play for the Patriots. He’s a find somebody to hit kind of lineman who, even as far back as high school had scouts noticing his fondness for getting an extra shove in. He can play in a zone or power blocking scheme and has experience at RT and both guard positions. After being a first team All Big Ten selection two years in a row I’m a little lost as to how he was a Combine snub, and is basically invisible. That kind of spiteful inertia has worked out well for the Patriots in the past. What grabbed me about Norwell was watching him neutralize Cal’s DeAndre Coleman who is supposed to be one of the top DT’s in the draft. Like I said, he’ll need to work on his quickness, but I like his chances as a depth player in an offensive line that needs to get meaner to get better.

*Look for #78 at the LG position

Dustin Vaughan – QB West Texas A&M
Build: 6’5″ 235 lbs
40: 4.95 (Combine)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 5,401 Yards, 53 TDs, 66.% Comp

6-5 Dustin Vaughan was the only player at any level of college football in 2013 to throw for over 5,000 yards and 53 TDs. He’s a former National Honor Society member, a pre-med biology major… I get it Dustin, you’re better than me. Gawd. Over achieve much? Yes, he’s a D-II quarterback who carved up crappy D-II defenses but he shined enough to be the only D-II quarterback invited to the Combine. There’s a lot to like about his technique. He’s got quick feet in the pocket, a decent arm and has a noticeably quick delivery. One of the things I generally disliked about a lot of bigger name QB’s in this year’s draft is their slow delivery. Some of these guys look like a ride at the Brockton Fair and are way too eager to get in the habit of lofting passing to the sideline or into the flat. Vaughan snaps his passes decisively and goes through his progressions like he’s got somewhere to be. I don’t know what his priorities look like between being 2 players behind Tom Brady on a depth chart, or being a doctor. He could up and leave any time he wanted to and 6 years from now be a proctologist making bank laughing at the idea of carrying Ryan Mallett’s pads to practice. I don’t know. I just think he’s worth a check in the 7th.

Blake Annen – TE Cincinnati
Build: 6’4″ 247
40: 4.41 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 1
Relevant Stats: Rush: 183 YDs 2 TDs
Originally I had Malena here, but I swapped him out with Cincy’s Blake Annen after a Reddit reader accused me of not having “a single tight end” on the list. I actually list 4 TE’s but who’s counting? Statistically speaking, Blake Annen barely existed for the Bearcats. Still, there’s only so long that the NFL will ignore a 250 lb TE that runs a 4.41 (not a typo) 40. Unlike a lot of TE’s with that kind of speed that are basically just out to play basketball on grass, Annen is actually pretty good at finishing his blocks. I’m still trying to figure out just what happened to him in Cincinnati. I kept thinking I was going to find out he was a football walk on after coming to Cincy on a basketball scholarship or something. Wasn’t the case. He was one of the top TE’s in Ohio coming out of high school where caught for 800 yards, so his hands work. The Bearcats had 5 receivers with over 400 yards, so it may have just been a case of not enough balls to go around. Still, the Patriots took a chance on a Bearcat receiver with some sparse production a year ago in Kenbrell Thompkins and that went well. They also took a shot on another super fast/inexperienced TE with Zach Sudfeld the same year which was a disaster. In fact, I still can’t get over how astonished Sudfeld seemed to be every time a football came near him. This is the 7th round though, and the late 7th/UDFA period is where you take gambles on projects like Annen. The Patriots, and Eagles have both worked him out.

Also On the Radar:

  • We know that the Patriots have looked at 6’1″ CB Al Louis-Jean who was a 4 star recruit from my alma mater Brockton High. He started his college career in Miami, had some disciplinary issues, and a season ending injury. He left Miami for BC and it looks like he didn’t get along with them too well either despite putting together some limited but impressive tape. He opted to skip his junior and senior years to declare for the draft (a very Brockton decision of him) but the potential is there.
  • Also coming out of BC is LT Matt Patchan who was a 5 star recruit originally committed to Florida. He had a string of unfortunate injuries that cost him his spot as a Gator. He was able to put in a full senior year at BC and looked great.
  • Going out with a bang I’ll mention that the Patriots and Broncos have both worked out Boise State C Matt Paradis who started 25 games and was a business finance major.
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Three Reasons Why Signing Eric Decker Is A Terrible Idea

…But all you really need is one.

I’m getting really used to this idea of putting things in numbered lists. It keeps things so concise. One thing that isn’t growing on me, however, is the perennial suggestion that the Patriots should go after the highest paid WR on the market. No matter who it is. No matter what else is going on. Every single year. It’s an idea that local journalists propagate every year knowing that it’s the wrong move and will never happen and thankfully has never materialized in New England. This year that receiver happens to be soon-to-be-former Bronco Eric Decker. Decker’s name has been at the forefront of such bulldozing-ly awful article’s as Jackie MacMullan’s (who presumably blacked out during any given unwatchable NBA game and woke up the next day with Mike Reiss’ stolen laptop and a finished article on ESPN Boston) letter to Belichick told through the unspoken thoughts of Tom Brady (it’s as great as it sounds).

Decker, who has spent the last few seasons as a #2 WR behind star wideout Demaryius Thomas, is going to command #1 WR money. We know this because history tells us so. Plenty of real football fans are content to see players like Dwayne Bowe re-sign with the Chiefs and have one of the worst seasons in his entire career, or guys like Mike Wallace get his payday with a clueless Dolphins franchise. But the problem is people read these articles and get in the “why not us” mentality all too easily…. Why not willingly over spend on a #2 wide receiver that miraculously broke out of his shell when teams were forced to double cover Demaryius Thomas? Why not go all out for a big bodied wideout who, as Patskrieg FB reader and Boston Phoenix writer Janssen McCormick put it turns into Harvey Whippleman when DB’s get physical? Why not put all your eggs in one basket? Isn’t it easier to carry that way? Here are some facts and opinions that I would hope would dissuade Patriots fans from praying for a Decker deal when free agency begins this upcoming Tuesday.

1. Proven Fact: Buying the Most Expensive Wide Receiver On the Market DOES NOT Fix An Offense

Here are some cold hard facts I’ve compiled from the last 5 seasons. Listed below were the biggest name / highest paid free agent wide receivers and what happened to the teams that broke the bank for them. Note: This does not include WR’s that re-signed with their teams, or players that were traded for. This is only in terms of the highest paid WR’s to sign with a new team on their own. This chart details how much they signed for, the team’s overall offensive rank the season before the signing, and the rank in the season following, and their record that year.

What To Take Away From This List:

  • None of these teams made the playoffs.
  • None of these teams finished above .500.
  • None of these teams had a significant improvement in their offense. In fact half of them either stayed the same or got significantly worse.
  • Vincent Jackson has been a unanimous success in Tampa, yet their offense as a whole somehow tanked after they signed him.
  • Antonio Bryant didn’t even make it through Bengal’s training camp before he was cut, and Cincy threw away another season.
  • Seattle, the team that gets hit twice here, eventually succeeded after cutting TJ and phasing Rice out of their offense.
  • Remember what a foregone conclusion it was that Houshmandzadeh was going to blow the doors off whatever team he ended up with? I stayed up until 2 AM the night he went free agent expecting him to sign with Minnesota and team up with Adrian Peterson. How did no one stop for a minute to think that maybe a nutcase like Housh wasn’t ready to carry an offense?
  • That’s just great. Thank you spellcheck. Now everyone knows I lazily made the table in Word.

In all fairness, most of these teams had to suffer through terrible quarterback play or stupid coaches or both. But that just goes to show you what type of franchises are willing to go full Dibiase on a guy that’s typically another team’s #2 WR just because he’s the biggest name on the market. Honestly, this should be the whole piece right here. The sheer history should tell you what a bad move it is. But I said 3 things for some reason so let’s keep going.

2. The Randy Moss Offense Was A Freak Occurrence

There was a time when the Patriots ended up with the top WR in the game and the results were incredible. That receiver’s name was Randall Gene Moss and it was a unicorn-class celestial miracle likely never to happen again. Seriously, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with life left in him just sitting there festering on a horrible team, available for practically nothing with no risk, looking for a team like the Patriots, and willing to re-negotiate his contract for almost half the money… When will that EVER happen again?

The most expensive wide receiver on the Patriots roster in 2007 wasn’t even Randy Moss. After a nightmarish 2006 WR corps the Patriots went out and got:

  • Donte Stallworth – 6 years $30 million. The deal seemed big on the surface but was predominantly incentive based and gave the Pats the ability to release him for cheap whenever they wanted
  • Wes Welker – A relative unknown rescued from wasting away in Miami, seized for a 2nd and a 7th round pick and re-signed for a 5 year $18.1 million contract.
  • Kelly Washington – UFA who the Patriots signed for a $300,000 signing bonus, and another incentive heavy contract worth up to $22 million over 5 years.

    Moss got his money, Welker saw his money, everyone else was dropped no strings attached and the Patriots turned in an 18-1 season with an offense that should have broken their bank account but never did. So even when they did land the best WR in the game, the solution wasn’t throwing money around stupidly.

    3. I Thought Aaron Dobson Was the Answer?

    A lot of people who convinced you that last year’s 2nd round pick Aaron Dobson was a star in the making are the same people pleading for Decker to save the day. Off the top of my head I’ll pick on NESN’s Doug Kyed who opined towards the end of last season that Dobson was actually a better pick than Cordarrelle Patterson because his rushing and kick return stats shouldn’t factor into a comparison between the two….? Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    But less than a month later Kyed wrote another article calling Decker his ideal free agent signing on the grounds that we need to sink more money into the wide receiver position to compliment Amendola on the inside.

    I like Doug Kyed and think he’s a smart football guy, but he has a tendency to be overly literal. I’ll also add the fact that no one, short of maybe an ex-girlfriend of his back in West Virginia, has dumped on Dobson more than I have. After almost a year of shredding him to pieces day in and day out I still think he deserves a chance to prove himself as a starting WR as opposed to over-spending at the position. In my humble opinion he played like a guy who was overwhelmed with the game. He looked nervous, uncomfortable, and at times shocked that he was making the plays he was. When you approach a sport like that there’s no way to concentrate on your technique. Between Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce (who will never again be called “Joyce Boyce” or “Josh Joyce” by the legendary Dan Dierdorf) there is enough talent for at least one of them to become a solid football player. I would be much happier letting them develop this off-season installing a lower cost talent across the field from them like Kenny Britt and playing the percentages that somewhere in between three talented 2nd-years and one potential star veteran something will develop. It almost has to.

    Honorable Mentions For Free Agents To Also Stop Talking About

    • Champ Bailey – It’s over. Did you see him play late last year? He looked like later years Kirk Gibson using the last bits of his pain threshold to hobble to his locker for a fistfull of chaw minus the World Series home run.
    • Tony Gonzalez – It’s over. He couldn’t coast to a Super Bowl in Atlanta. Gonzalez is searching Monster for “Trophy Raiser” and “Tears of Joy Confetti Snapshot Model” He’s not interested in learning a new offense and grinding out another season of football.
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Six Things Football Outsiders Should Know About Michael Sam

Hi. If you’re reading this you’re likely not a football fan. That’s okay. Really. You’ve also likely heard of former Missouri DE Michael Sam who will be entering the NFL draft this year as potentially the league’s first openly gay NFL player. IMHO that’s pretty cool. However, if the early signs are any indication you’re also going to be under the impression that there is a war going on to enforce some kind of hetero-normative agenda that keeps Michael Sam out of the NFL because of his sexuality. You’ll likely get mad, head to Facebook or Twitter and lay into the NFL for keeping the dark ages alive. That’s okay too. Really. But hear me out first. I wrote this piece to give football outsiders such as yourself a few things to consider before you blow your stack. We don’t know much about eachother. But I know our side (football fans) usually get our jocks in a bunch when we think your side (the general non-football public) butts into our business. I know your side thinks our side are a bunch of neanderthals with too much free time. And I know your side likes your internets in the form of neatly numbered lists (we have one thing in common already). So I thought I’d bridge the gap via a friendly numbered list.

The draft is a very tricky and confusing thing. Those of us that follow it every day still don’t fully understand it. Hell, the Browns don’t even understand it. So in this article I’d like to introduce you to the draft and the realities of the NFL as they relate to this new situation. As usual, comments emails agree/disagree statements are always welcome. But here are 6 things I think you should know.

1. “Draft Stock” is Not NASDAQ & Is Not A Tangible Thing

The internet would like you to think that it can predict the draft. It can not. I know this because I publish a draft blog and I’m wrong a lot. Teams have their own notes and opinions on prospects and the molecules of information that make it to the public rarely tell the whole story. The number one rule you have to know is that the draft happens when the teams turn in their picks. Not a moment before. Real actual football fans make this same mistake every year and confuse mock drafts and arbitrary rankings with real life. “Draft Stock” is a pretty obtuse term. Some websites base it off actual first hand information from scouts and sources. Most of the internet, however, uses “Draft Stock” an imaginary intangible term meant to quantify players on a scale derived from their own opinion that bears zero impact on the decision making process of NFL teams. Perceived “draft stock” can go up and down all day long on the internet. It’s not real. “Draft Stock” is not a NASDAQ type commodity. You can track it, but it isn’t backed by anything. It’s an educated guess that you have to hope is actually educated.

Case in point take Rob Rang of’s piece titled Examining Why Michael Sam’s NFL Draft Stock Is Falling. It’s the kind of headline that’s supposed to spark some outrage as you’re whizzing through your Facebook feed. The article sites a 70 place drop in Sam’s stock on Holy shit, 70 places. That’s his stock! He like… needs that maaan.

Calm down and consider a couple of things here.

  • #1 Who owns CBS does. Essentially, CBS is reporting on it’s own downgrading of a player on their own grading scale.
  • #2 The article was posted at 8:00 AM the morning after this information went public. It hadn’t even been news for 24 hours. The NFL hadn’t even had time to react yet, so it’s safe to assume that this dip in “stock” is someone at DraftScout’s opinion more than anything that came from an NFL front office.
  • #3 Sam’s actual Draftscout profile still lists him as a 3-4 round projection. So unless the NFL added an extra 70 picks in the 3rd round there’s even less reason to take a drop in “draft stock” seriously.

The article doesn’t explicitly say that “draft stock” is a real thing. Rob Rang is a dedicated draft writer (despite mocking the Patriots to take Jake Locker with a first round pick which is still awful) who I don’t think would do anything overtly misleading. In fact he says some very honest things in the article. The headline, however, is enough to put a dose of angry social justice into people and garner a few thousand extra clicks.

For the record I love DraftScout and reference it daily. They’re very good at what they do and maybe there is some truth to the dip in perceived draft stock. But THE DRAFT DOESN’T HAPPEN UNTIL IT HAPPENS. People are already getting fired about about the possibility of Michael Sam going undrafted. Please…folks… settle down. The draft hasn’t even happened yet.

I’ve spoken to the editor of, a well respected site that starts preparing mock drafts a year in advance, who broke out his entire mock draft projections on Sam. They ranged from 2nd – 5th & beyond with no distinguishable pattern per se.

One final note on “draft stock” is that there is no limit to how quickly or how drastically “stock” fluctuates. This time 2 years ago Chandler Jones was a 5th round pick. He went 21st overall. Jimmy Clausen was considered a top 5 pick who fell to the middle of the 2nd round (and we eventually found out why). And last year at this time no one had even heard of University of Houston DB DJ Hayden (who almost died in a college practice) who got some attention in the press just days before the draft and went 12th overall to the Raiders.

2. Please Understand There Are Actual Football Reasons to Downgrade Michael Sam

I can’t help but shake the feeling that the internet is not only capable of but is dying to lose its collective shit when Michael Sam doesn’t go in the first two rounds. Yes, his stats are outstanding. He was the SEC defensive player of the year. And in my opinion he has one of the fastest first steps in the entire draft class. But please, opinionated masses of the internet, trust me when I say that there is more than that when considering draft picks and real reasons why there are more appealing picks than Michael Sams. Here’s a crash course on how legit NFL prospects like Sam get scrutinized by NFL scouts:

  • Inflated Stats 9 of his 11 sacks came from just 3 games. Three sacks in a game is tremendous but NFL teams like to see consistent production. All 3 of those games were blowout wins for Missouri against inferior competition. Teams pass more in blowouts and are more vulnerable to sacks.
  • Inexperience He’s a year and a half starter with only 1 year of solid production. NFL teams have a tendency to be weary of players with fewer than 2 years of strong statistical production as a starter.
  • One-Dimensional Skill Set Sam is an explosively quick DE but lacks a range of pass rush moves. Every year flashy college pass rushers fizzle out in the NFL for the simple reason that they were just more athletic in everyone in college and now they’re not. It’s not enough to just be fast or strong in the NFL. You need technique. It’s coachable, but not every player can make that leap.
  • Limited Scheme Diversity We already know he can’t play linebacker. There are two places for a player like Sam: 4-3 Defensive End and 3-4 Outside Linebacker. They’re very similar positions. The fundamental difference is that a 3-4 OLB has to be able to drop back and cover receivers. Sam already proved in the Senior Bowl that he can’t do that. That alone may take him off the board for teams that use a 3-4 defense.
  • Awards Aren’t Everything Being the SEC DPOY isn’t a guarantee. Of the 10 previous players to earn the award 8 of them were first round picks, 3 of which (Rolondo McClain, Glenn Dorsey, and David Pollack were largely considered “busts” (a term for a highly ranked player who disappoints in the NFL) in various degrees. Also Chad Lavalais lasted only 2 seasons in the NFL after being taken in the 5th round of the 2003 draft.
  • He’s Maybe Too Short For the Patriots I’m inclined to agree with Bob Kraft that the Patriots would be a great fit for a player in Sam’s situation. However, history isn’t on his side as far as his physical build. 6’2″ 255 lbs might sound really big but Bill Belichick traditionally drafts pass rushers in the 6’3″ – 6’5″ range. It might sound negligible to you, but that’s the way Coach Belichick has trended. Worth noting though is the fact that Sam has a very similar build to current Patriots starter Rob Ninkovich who, despite flourishing in New England, was not drafted by the Patriots.

    Important Disclaimer: There are exceptions to every single one of these items. These same red flags get raised on players every single year. Half of these things can be said about Jason Pierre-Paul who went in the first round and is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL right now.

    Judge for yourself:

    3. Misinformation Is Part of the Game

    Ask yourself: if a team wants to draft Michael Sam, what sense does it make for them to let the world know it? What sense does it make for them to say “We think this guy is great and can’t wait to draft him?” Every team drafting ahead of them now knows who they like and gets a chance to prioritize their picks knowing that Sam won’t make it past that team.

    NFL teams don’t admit to this but they routinely do clandestine misinformation campaigns like having an anonymous scout leak a report to the press that they’re concerned about X player because of…. “character issues,” troubling fake medical reports, concerns about his technique, etc. Just a few weeks before the 2013 draft “anonymous sources” were all of a sudden concerned that the draft’s top corner couldn’t back up in a straight line.

    It’s underhanded and unethical and sometimes ever drags a semi-innocent young man’s name through the mud. But it’s part of the process. The draft is about execs from 32 teams playing high stakes poker with eachother to make eachother guess what they’re thinking. It is 100% possible that at least one team is interested enough in Michael Sam that they’re willing to perpetuate drama on him to drive his “stock” down. Again… You won’t know until after the pick comes in and maybe not even after that.

    4. You Might Not Be Doing Him the Favor You Think You Are

    I’ve never been in an NFL locker room. I can’t tell you the difference between what they say about homosexual players in public and what they really mean. I just don’t have that knowledge. One thing I can tell you for certain that the evidence will support is that NFL teams hate media circuses. And there’s typically a 3-step process to how that plays out. Circus-Avoidance-Judgement:

    Remember Tim Tebow? He was the first Evangelical football player ever except that he wasn’t. At all. There’s an Evangelical minister in the NFL Hall of Fame. Remember Lauren Silberman? She was the first female football player ever except that she wasn’t. She had no background in football whatsoever, and didn’t even know how to do the one thing she showed up to do.

    Religious fanatics who flocked to Tebow no matter how bad he played made a joke out of the game. They created a media frenzy that was considered so toxic and undesirable that no one wanted to touch the former first round pick except the drama queen Jets, and the Patriots who shut the media blitz down immediately. TV feminists who applauded Lauren Silberman were dead wrong. If she accomplished anything it was making it impossible for any future serious female NFL prospects to ever live down the name Lauren Silberman. Kicking and screaming that the world should love a football player for exclusively non-football reasons makes us… well… hate your guts and theirs.

    5. The League Might Actually WANT A Gay Player

    Strange as it may sound, a gay NFL player might actually work out well for the league. As popular as the NFL is the company has taken a beating in the public eye in the past few years: head trauma controversy, PED use, and of course… homophobia. This has manifested itself most recently in story of Viking’s special teams coach Mike Priefer harassing former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe for his public support of gay marriage (if you’re unfamiliar with the story please see Kluwe’s first hand account via Deadspin). The scandal ostensibly forced Kluwe, a very productive and capable punter, right out of the NFL.

    There is a very real possibility that the NFL’s prayers have been answered by having an openly gay draft prospect. Teams with lingering PR issues, like the Vikings, could potentially do themselves a huge favor by landing some positive press welcoming a homosexual player onto their team. If he turns out to be good then that’s a bonus. If not, they tried.

    Walterfootball even reported that after speaking with a handful of NFL Scouts, with mixed responses, at least one team thinks [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] is going to be confidentially pressuring general managers to not let Sam fall so low to avoid a public-relations problem and allegations of discrimination. Is this ideal? Of course not. Really we’d like to see a player appreciated on his merits. But I’d just like to make the case that a homophobic agenda isn’t an inevitability just because it’s football.

    Again, these are things the public won’t know until well after the draft if ever.

    6. Maybe Accept the Idea That All Football Fans Aren’t Bigots

    I get the feeling that there is still a generalized view of football fans as mindless BBQ fingered red faced Fox News watching macho maniacs. 13 million people watch Monday Night Football every week. We come from different parts of the country with different backgrounds, experiences, and world views. We’re your neighbors co-workers and friends. This football fan in particular has two lesbian aunts that I love very dearly. Think of how many people you share an office and a Facebook with that play fantasy football. Do you think that they turn into bloodthirsty homophobes when your back is turned?

    There will probably be people that shout homophobic things at Sam from the stands. They’re in the minority. There will probably chunks of overzealous Christians that will threaten to boycott the league over it. They’re in the minority (and BUH BYYYE WE’LL MISSS YOUUUU). The rest of us aren’t here for a political soap opera, hate speech, or to make our last stand at the heterosexual Alamo. We just want to watch a game, and if Michael Sam can play some football worth watching he’s always welcome here. So maybe chill with the assumptions and homophobic stereotyping.

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Mike Klis Is A Hypocrite & The Denver Media Is Just Hard To Watch

It’s been a real pleasure to deal with the Denver Press in 2 of the last 3 post seasons. From the team that was nailed for salary cap violations and signal stealing dusting off Spygate (again), to the latest fairy tale of kindly “Uncle Foxy’s” heart breaking for his team, it’s just been a blast interacting with maybe the least knowledgeable sports journalism town without an office in New Jersey. As funny as it is, it’s really just hard to watch.

Hey… Remember 2 years ago, when the Patriots hired offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to help with the 2011 playoff run and the Denver media turned into one big long Morrisey song crying their eyes out? I do. Denver had a serious ethical dilemma with a team hiring a guy who had some first hand knowledge of a playoff opponent. I say some because McDaniels had been removed from Denver for an entire season and a half. McDaniels was fired Dec 7th, 2010. The game in question was January 14th, 2012. I’ll stop there because I wrote about it in depth, back when it actually happened. Hiring a coach that late is a little strange, but well within the NFL rules. In fact, it was reviewed that off season by the competition committee who actually declined to change the rule.

Here is what Denver Post writer Mike Klis had to say about it before the game:

It’s two years later and New England and Denver find themselves head to head again in the playoffs. Two days after officializing an AFCCG matchup against New England the Broncos made a very interesting free agent signing in former Patriots DB/ST Marquice Cole. I have no beef with this move. Cole is a very good special teamer and has playoff experience as a DB. He’s young with a limited skill set and should absolutely, as Aqib Talib put it “Get that check, baby.”

But wait a minute. Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Mike Klis fell to his knees and begged the league to outlaw? Isn’t this a blow to fairness and competition? Isn’t this more of an underhanded “so Belichick” kind of move rather than an Uncle Foxy night of bouncing Shannon Sharpe on his knee at the deaf orphan soup kitchen? A guy with inside knowledge of one team catching on with another team just before they go to battle? Won’t someone please think of the children?!

In a shock to absolutely no one, Klis was singing a different tune this time around.

You love that there’s not much he can do to help out?? What happened Denver? What happened Patriots haters? What happened “spirit of fair competition? Did you somewhere in the last 2 years accept the concept that not everything is the Kennedy assassination? That you can actually figure out things about a football team by watching them play? Where’s the outrage that burned so prominently and attention-grabbing-ly two years ago?

The only thing that’s different about the two situations is that Cole has actually been to a Patriots practice THIS YEAR and could tell you about the team the Patriots fielded THIS YEAR. McDaniels knew next to nothing about a completely remodeled offense and defense from his time in Denver. Figuring out the present Broncos was nothing that, as Cole points out and Klis just loooooves, couldn’t be figured out just by scouting and film. This should put into perspective just how petty and ridiculous the McDaniels crying was, what a troop of hypocrites and click-baiters Mike Klis and the Denver Post are, and just how sad it is to see a grown man whimper about a double standard because it doesn’t work out for his football team.

For the record Denver fans have been a little testy about the Patriots grabbing Greg Orton a WR released from the Denver practice squad. Orton was signed on Dec 31st, before there was ever even a guarantee that the two teams would meet. Kudos to Mike Klis for having the self control not to write another scathing op-ed, although in all fairness judging by his demonstrated football I.Q. Klis probably has no idea who is on the Denver practice squad.

P.S. A sincere thank you to everyone who has been sharing and reading my last piece on the truth about Peyton Manning. It more than doubled my all time record for views in a day and is somehow still going strong. It’s an honor for this hack amateur know-nothing blogger to think that anyone gets a few minutes of enjoyment out of what I write. Please feel free to follow the Patskrieg Facebook for more frequent updates.

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PEYTON MANNING: Here He Is America… The Guy You Sided With Over Tom Brady

Freud wrote volumes on it: how we view ourselves in others. Pro wrestling blessed us with a much simpler dichotomy: Babyfaces (the hero, the charismatic crowd favorite) and Heels (the bad guy that finds that raw nerve inside you and sinks his teeth in). I once had a long and shockingly deep talk about wrestling with my friend Joe who wrestling fans might know as Joey Numbas, co-host of the Wrestling Soup show. We talked about what makes a Babyface, and soon enough Brady came up. On the surface the supernaturally handsome Brady looks like an easy fit for a babyface: looks, a quiet charm, an underdog past. But somewhere along the lines people (outside New England that is) just stopped seeing him that way. “The nature of people is to cheer what they like to be, and boo what they hate most about themselves,” Joe said to me. “The only time it doesn’t work is when the bright eyed babyface is too strong,” he continued “the whole country hates Tom Brady because he’s too good, and you need your babyface to suck enough that people care.” Did Brady do himself in? The three Super Bowl rings. The super model wife. A combined fortune big enough for neither of them to ever have to work again. A .768 career winning percentage. Did a life that was just too perfect turn him heel? If the internet is any indication of real life (and according to the internet it very much is) Brady had super kicked the NFL world through a barbershop window.

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Two QB’s intertwined for eternity as the elite QB’s of the 21st century. Yet we’re led to believe that one is a cheating pretty boy that a crooked league wants to put over like a scheming Vince McMahon. And the other is Peyton Manning: class act, pedigreed super star, and the only man capable of reading a defense without stealing their signals. Being a Brady hater certainly doesn’t make you a Manning fan by default. However, it is my opinion that Manning has been afforded a free pass by an America that either ignores or just plain chooses not to know certain things about the man thought of as Brady’s stalwart foil. So I thought we should reacquaint ourselves before this Sunday’s AFC Championship. So here he is America… The guy you sided with over Tom Brady.

Peyton Manning: The Guy With A History of Sexual Assault

Oh you didn’t know about this? Well then I’ll lead off with it because a lot of people don’t seem to either. This includes the same NFL analysts that never miss a chance to recall Spygate choose not to remember Manning’s sticky past. In fact, this developmental milestone is completely absent from Manning’s Wikipedia article. But it happened. In 1996 Peyton Manning, while in college at the University of Tennessee, was accused of sexual assault by a female trainer. Manning’s side of the story was that he was in the training room and dropped his pants to moon a cross country athlete as a prank, unbeknownst to the fact that the female trainer was in the same room. Whoops. The testimony of trainer Jamie Ann Naughright, however, was much different:

Naughright and her lawyer provided a different version of events. In a court filing, her lawyer wrote that she was examining Manning to see why Manning was having pain in one of his feet and was crouched behind him when “entirely unprovoked, Peyton Manning decided to pull down his shorts and sit on Dr. Naughright’s head and face.”

As Naughright described it in a deposition entered into the court record: “It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up. … To get leverage, I took my head out to push him up and off.”

You read that correctly. The trainer bent over to check him for a stress fracture in his foot and he planted his bare ass (testicles and all) on her face as a laugh. The incident was dubbed a “mooning” by a Tennessee football coach in an effort to downplay the severity of what happened. The University of Tennessee agreed and dubbed the incident “horseplay” (as quoted by the Assoc. Press) and no charges were filed. A year later Naughright sued UT citing 33 incidents of sexual harassment including Manning. Her case was convincing enough to land her a $300,000 settlement.

Scandals have become synonymous with Ben Roethelisberger, Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, etc and yes they all deserve it. Manning’s sexual assault, although thoroughly documented, is neither common knowledge nor readily associated with him. Have you ever heard a journalist so much as mention it, much less pour it on as in Lewis’ mere association to a crime? What exactly earned Manning the free pass from a career of rape jokes and scrutiny?

Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Got Sued For Defamation of Character By the Woman He Sexually Assaulted

You didn’t know that either? In 2002 the Mannings had an auto-biography ghost written for them called Manning: A Father, His Sons & a Football Legacy (currently available for $0.01 used on Amazon, cool legacy). The book addressed the teabagging/mooning and very slyly without naming her outright slammed Naughright as an individual with a love of dirty language and lewd behavior. If you’re new to rape culture that’s the long way of saying “She was asking for it.” Naughright’s superior at Southern Florida, her new place of work at the time, had reportedly received a mysterious sealed envelope that contained the passages in Manning’s book about her. Despite favorable reviews throughout the several years she worked there she was suspiciously demoted shortly after and then eventually fired. She took the Mannings to court on a defamation case that included a devastating letter from Malcolm Saxon (the guy Peyton claimed he was “mooning”) to Peyton urging to him “do the right thing” and “maintain some dignity and admit what happened.” The defamation case was settled on confidential undisclosed terms. Considering the $300K Tennessee shelled out I can only imagine what the Manning royal family handed over to make her go away.

Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Can’t Not Endorse EVERYTHING

Gatorade, Oreos, DirecTV, Sony, Wheaties, Buick, Reebok, Sprint, Master Card, Papa Fucking John’s… I LOVE products! That’s the list off the top of my head of products he cashes checks from. He’s on TV 24 hours a day orange barrel re-routing into one side of your brain and out the other. Peyton has reached that late 90’s Hugh Grant level of unwanted over saturation where you can literally change the channel from one commercial of Peyton and find another at random on the next channel and not want to see either, and he’s been there for a long time. You can helplessly repeat in sync “Haay Peyton, just fiiired up the grill” followed by a fist pump your brain doesn’t even know you’re doing. But tell me who are cynical football fans sick of? Tom Brady. The guy who does Uggs print ads because he’s too much of a goof to be trusted on camera. People who associate Brady as some kind of too-cool Hollywood glitterati must not have been alive for the most wooden and painful to watch episode of Saturday Night Live this side of 1990. An acting performance once dubbed by former teammate Rosevelt Colvin in the Boston Metro (I am not going looking for the Metro article to cite) as “Terrible… Not even good enough to be in Coming to America II.”

Peyton Manning: The Guy Whose Team Cheated and Never Got Caught

There’s only so many times by so many teams that you can be accused of generating fake crowd noise into your dome before someone needs to take note of it. The RCA Dome, the former home of the Manning era Colts was a funhouse of surprises for visiting teams. This included, as ESPN noted after a very public audio blunder by CBS (clip no longer available on Youtube), several teams informally but only the Patriots and Steelers formerly lodging such a complaint. This was a year after there was suspicion that the Colts, in an effort to put the squeeze on several Patriots defenders battling the flu during the AFC Championship (game which featured a miraculous 18 point comeback in the 2nd half) the Colts had the temperature in the dome raised significantly. Rosevelt Colvin had to leave the game with cramps because of the heat… in a dome… an architectural concept invented solely for controlling weather and climate.

Belichick complained for years about oddities and suspicious malfunctions of the coach to QB helmet communications, calling it “unusual” and “basically useless” after an early season game in 2007 (won by the Patriots). Apparently the same Indian burial ground that the RCA Dome was founded on migrated to Lucas Oil Stadium where the communication problems continued. For more information Google “4th and 2.”

Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Never Yells At His Teammates

I don’t get what the fascination is with Brady yelling at his receivers but Patriot haters can’t stop themselves from bringing it up. It’s a really blood boiling point of focus for casual football fans longing for anything but football to watch, but don’t have the guts to just get it over with and let their friends see them buying an US Magazine. For them, professionals like Peyton would never yell at his teammates…


Not even in a 2002 Sports Illustrated article when a team of lip readers caught Manning dropping the F bomb no fewer than 9 times in a game.

Peyton Manning: The Guy Who ACUTALLY Influenced the No-Contact Rules

Everyone knows if Tom Brady hadn’t been such a Mary about getting his ACL eradicated life would be better. We wouldn’t have all these pansy “roughing the quarterback” calls. Eggheads wouldn’t be butting in with all this “concussion” B.S. Football players would have guaranteed permanent debilitating brain damage to look forward to. And everything would be a big bacon sunset. Right?

People gripe about the so-called “Brady Rules” implemented in the last few years designed to protect quarterbacks from flagrant and dangerous hits. That’s all well and good except that it’s bullshit. Low hits on quarterbacks were outlawed for the 2006 season, 2 years before Brady’s injury. Long enough for Bernard Pollard to read it. And it wasn’t until 2010 (2 years AFTER Brady’s ACL injury) that the league started handing out 5 and 6 figure fines for hits to the head. This was damage control after public pressure to combat the effects of irreversible brain damage caused from the game. Brady never lobbied for any of these rules. He did, however, pay for them with a pointless devastating knee injury that cost him a full season in his prime. The downside of these rules is that it gives the officials a non-reviewable opportunity to judge a hit on the quarterback in real time, leading to a lot of bad calls and yes Brady has benefitted from a few so has Manning, so have a lot of teams. The other downside is that it forces 2nd rate teams to have to develop a quarterback instead of just injuring other teams’ quarterbacks. It’s a real bum out for some fans who apparently would rather see a league full of Damon Huard’s and Derek Anderson’s behind center while all the starting quarterbacks are in body casts.

Chest puffing fans and the media tend to leave out a very important stepping stone in contact rules, and the fact that Colts owner Jim Irsay lobbied for it. Namely I refer to the 2004 re-evaluation of the illegal contact rules for defending recievers. There were rules for illegal contact prior to this, but referees were generally more permissive and held a “let them play” attitude (that fans are still screaming for today). However, after a Colts loss in the 2003 AFC Championship game owner Jim Irsay cried publicly to the NFL Competition Committee for a re-emphasis on illegal contact. The committee, which featured Colts head coach Tony Dungy and then Rams coach Mike Martz (who 3 years prior had lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl) of course granted this request. And there it was… a handful of people with a vested biased interest refocused the game to fit their needs and significantly decrease the physical nature of the game.

The results of this ruling were longer games, more penalties, more non-reviewable violations that could effect a game at any time, a dramatic shift in the game in favor of the offense, exponentially increasing passing statistics, and of course a critical “face guarding” penalty on Ellis Hobbs in the 2006 AFCCG which sparked a Colts comeback on their way to Manning’s 1st and only Super Bowl win… a penalty that there was “no such thing as” according to Greg Aiello NFL Vice President of Communications who admitted that Hobbs never made contact with the receiver. It’s also worth noting that after several days of searching there is no video or photographic evidence of the phantom PI on Hobbs. I wonder why.

Peyton Manning: The Man Who Almost Got Away With Stealing the 2005 Steelers Super Bowl Run

January 15th, 2006. Steelers at Indianapolis. A date that almost lived in NFL infamy. With the Colts driving down the field in the 4th quarter, future Hall of Fame-er Peyton Manning throws an interception to a diving Troy Polamalu. He caught the ball cleanly, stood up, ran down the field, fumbled, and had the ball recovered by his teammates. The Steelers would have had the ball at their own 48 with 5:14 remaining in the game and an 11 point lead. Referee Pete Morelli reviewed the play, and ruled that Polamalu never had control of the ball.

Morelli was wrong. The NFL immediately admitted the call was wrong. This was 2006, and the NFL rarely made such public admissions, and opposing players even more rarely accused the referees of defrauding the game after a win. No video or photographic evidence exists of this play anywhere on the internet that I could find. Yet it didn’t stop the Colts from completing their fraudulent drive with a touchdown, and coming within 1 missed field goal of stealing a playoff win and letting slimey Jim Irsay re-write history with Manning as the hero. SBNation named it the #2 Greatest Win In Steelers History for upsetting both Manning and the officials in an upsidedown affair that was a victory for real football fans everywhere.

Peyton Manning: The Guy Whose Legacy of Sketchy League Treatment Followed Him To Denver

Any Patriot hater worth his throbbing forehead vein and capslock key knows that the weekly injury report from Foxboro means a Tom Brady shoulder injury. The injustice… How about a failed drug test that took 2 years to disclose. I refer you to Von Miller’s four game suspension earlier this year in regards to a series of failed drug tests that were never made public. PFT’s Mike Florio opined on the matter:

[I]t’s still unclear why it has taken so long to get the appeal resolved. In late 2011, there was some suspicion that the league tapped the brakes on a couple of potential suspensions in order to avoid derailing Tebowmania. In 2012, the Broncos were among the league’s darlings, given the arrival of Peyton Manning.

New team. New colors. Same story. The league openly bends time and space for Manning. The story goes away and your regularly scheduled Patriots conspiracy theories resume.

And last but not least please don’t ever forget the team you’ve sided with…

The Denver Broncos: The Team That Stole Signals, Won Two Super Bowls, And Bragged About it

“Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game,” says Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. “With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter.”

Sound familiar to anyone? Another fact you rarely hear. You’d think the Broncos fans and press might be a little quieter with the Spygate talk considering their team won a pair of Super Bowls using nearly the exact same tactics that the Patriots were condemned for. I’ll hand it over to Jerry Thorton at Barstool Sports to remind you of the $29 million in cap money Denver hid to win those 2 Super Bowls too.

Disclaimer & Tl;DR: I actually have an immense respect for Peyton Manning the football player. I’ve always been impressed by the story Manning going out of his way to introduce himself to Brady when he was a nobody. He probably (maybe) regrets the whole teabagging incident. And if he offered I’d probably take a ride in his Buick while we get OnStar directions to go egg Mike Vanderjagt’s house. But if you think you’re taking the high road by siding with Manning over Brady you’re barking up the wrong forehead.

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Football is Great. But Pay Attention to What’s Important This Thanksgiving

My Nana (in the middle) in her back yard. Cambridge, MA. A long long time ago.

It was Thanksgiving 2010 and the Patriots had drawn a softball matchup with the Detroit Lions. It was a 12:30 game and I was told we weren’t eating until 3:00. I could cram in most of the game, fly out of the house around 2:00 with the Pats presumably sitting on a triple digit lead and make it to my cousin’s house with time to spare. But somehow the sure thing blowout started to go wrong.

At 1:30 I started getting phone calls from my family wondering where the hell I was. They were “waiting for me” to eat. On top of that Detroit got an early jump on a sleepy New England team and went to the half with a 17-10 lead. I punched a few walls, begrudgingly put on a wrinkled sweater and took off up 95-N with a vengeance.

Screaming down the highway my brother called me, again, asking where I was. I told him I was almost there and right on cue missed the exit as I was hanging up the phone. I yelled and punched the steering wheel calming down just in time to hear Brady connect with Deion Branch for a game tying 79 yard touchdown over the radio. I gave the horn a celebration honk as I blew through a red light to make a U-turn at the bottom of an off-ramp somewhere.

The Pats had the ball on the Detroit 20 yard line as I screeched to a stop outside my cousins house. I punched the radio off and stormed into the house, putting on the blinders and heading straight for the crowd gathered around the TV. Brady his Branch right by the sticks for his second touchdown and the lead was ours.

I walked right past my Nana who was sitting sleepily in a rocking chair.

I took my ribbing from my family about being “late” and fired back that they should have just been honest about what time I was supposed to be there. I could have stopped and said hi to my Nana then and I didn’t. All of a sudden food was being served and it was time to sit down. I wasn’t proud of walking past her. She was always the first person I sought out to sit with and have the same conversation we always seemed to have in her later years. “Oh Michael!” she’d say laughing in a first generation Italian accent that doesn’t exist anymore “I mean Danny!” my brother’s name, “you startled me!” Somehow I was always startling her. “How are you?” I’m great Nana. “Where’s Danny… I mean Michael… is he coming?” Danny’s right over there. I’m Michael and I’m right here. She’d laugh and ask me if I was “going with any girls these days?” And then the whole thing would repeat itself, and she’d laugh every time. One missing hello wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I was there for a few hours as I watched her drift in and out of sleep. Even from across the room I could see that she was more lethargic than usual sitting in the rocking chair that would have been occupied by my grandfather who had passed away a year prior. Every time she woke up I was already in the middle of something else, and assumed that there was still plenty of time to go talk to her. She slept most of the day as the family swirled around her, talking loudly and clanging dishes pots and pans cleaning up the short lived Thanksgiving meal. Eventually it would finally be time to leave, so I woke my Nana up from her nap to say goodbye. “Oh Michael,” she said with an exhausted laugh “I don’t know why I’m so tired today.” I told her she should get her rest and that I just wanted to see how she was doing and say goodbye. She told me she was sorry she was so tired and she would talk to me next time.

The next morning I woke up to a phone call from my brother. My Nana had died. Sometime in the middle of the night she had gotten up walked down the hall and her body just gave out. We had no warning. She died in the house she had lived in her whole life steps away from the kitchen she had been born in.

45-24 Patriots was the final score. I don’t think about that game much. I think about taking my first bus trips holding my Nana’s hand through Harvard Square and I know that for as long as I’m alive I’ll never get over not giving her a hug and a kiss the minute I walked in the door. Today I’ve got a fancy technology desk job at a place where my grandfather, her husband, once worked as a janitor. I hope somewhere she knows that it’s my way of telling her what I never got to articulate while she was here; that I appreciated all the love and sacrifice that she passed down so my brother and I could one day have a better life. The clock ran out, and I never got the chance.

It’s Thanksgiving and football is great. But make sure you give the most of your attention to the people and things that matter most. There won’t always be time.

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One Absolute Truth About Push-Gate: It Kills the Tuck Rule Debate

If You Accept the Push Rule – You Accept the Tuck Rule.

Patriot Haters have a vivid and celebrated imagination. And just like nothing tops charm of the original Star Wars, nothing will beat the origins of the Patriot Hater fantasy series: The Tuck Rule Game. In the closing minutes of a divisional playoff game the Raiders appeared to cause a young Tom Brady to cough up a game ending fumble, only to have it all reversed. Introducing the Tuck Rule: a bizarre never before heard of (except that it wasn’t) technicality that allowed the referee to interpret via instant replay the intent of the QB to attempt to pull the ball back into his body. Even saying it out loud in hindsight it makes no sense. Why would anyone put this in the rules? And yet, it was still a rule.

2013’s Push Gate had Patriots Nation crying foul. The controversy exposed a spontaneous emergence of NFL rules aficionados, that I could have sworn a week ago were conspiracy happy zealots convinced the rules didn’t apply to the Patriots. Ever. Their new rally cry: “rules are rules” and “let’s move on”. Okay, you win. 913 (b2) is in the rulebook. Let’s accept that. Let’s “move on.” Despite reports that the rule may have been changed after the fact, everything appears to be on the level with the actual rule.

But Here’s The Thing…

You know what else was in the rulebook? The Tuck Rule. Contrary to popular opinion the Tuck Rule was not a figment of referee Walt Coleman’s imagination invented to save the day for Tom Brady. The rule officially became a part of the NFL rules and procedures in 1999: NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2. It was in place for almost 3 years before the January 19, 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Patriots and Raiders when the rule became famous. It was even enforced earlier in the 2002 season to negate a strip sack on Jets QB Vinny Testaverde that actually cost New England the game.

It was a very curious time to enforce an obscure rule with a vague premise. As Jon Gruden put it during week 1’s MNF broadcast while discussing the rule’s abolishment in 2013 “No one alive had ever heard of the Tuck Rule.” He’s not wrong. How would anyone have known about a rule that had barely been enforced in the 2 years it existed? But it was in the rule book, and it was in the rule book well before the “Tuck Rule Game.”

Of course the Tuck Rule debut looked bad. Why wouldn’t it? The season was on the line and one bizarre speech by a ref who didn’t even look convinced of his own rationale changed everything. It very well should have raised an eyebrow. It was a terrible rule. The NFL even had the motive to want to screw the Raiders. That’s the thing so many folks either don’t realize or choose to forget. Al Davis and the NFL publicly butted heads for years through multiple lawsuits and cat fights. The legal battles alone likely cost the NFL millions. If the Tuck Rule was a conspiracy then really the most probable rationale was to stick it to Al Davis, rather than to elevate unknown 6th round pick Tom Brady to stardom. The Raiders still aren’t over it. No one blames them. But guess what… It was in the rule book.

Now let me get to my point.

Fast forward to October 2013. The Jets attempt a 56 yard field goal in OT, well outside kicker Nick Folk’s career limit, and a seemingly normal missed field goal turns into a point of controversy. Something practically unnoticeable hands the game over to the Jets. Mike Pereira (who would defend Aaron Hernandez if he owned a black & white striped Foot Locker uni) insists that the call was correct, and points out that it was the first time the rule was ever called:

The timing of this spontaneous enforcement of the rule should set off red flags with any football fan. It essentially cancelled out 4+ quarters of football and rolled out a red carpet for a Jets win. Any fan who pretends this doesn’t look suspicious, or that they knew about the rule in depth, or that they could spot this rule infraction in real time is lying through their teeth.

But why get upset at the officials? All they did was enforce a published and documented rule. Right? Therein lies the logic trap, Pats Haters. If you accept that the referees did their job last Sunday, then you accept that they did their job with the Tuck Rule. Grit your teeth and do the math.

Nothing changes here. The levity of the game shouldn’t make any difference. Unveiling a rule that had up until then never once been called should look suspicious. Saying that the Jets won the game by the book is fine, and technically correct in every way. But if that’s the logic you subscribe to then you don’t get to pick and choose when the rules matter and when they don’t. If the Jets beat the Patriots fair and square then Brady’s 2001-2002 Patriots beat the Raiders. Fair and square. By the rules.

If you want to waive the rules in our face, fine. The rules are great. We’re nothing without them. Hooray for rules. But there’s no way around it IF YOU ACCEPT THAT THE PUSH RULE WAS VALID. THEN YOU ACCEPT THAT THE TUCK RULE WAS VALID. You don’t have to like it, but no one ever likes the rules. Do they? So “move on” from that already.

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Five Questions No One Is Asking About the Buffalo Game

1. So Ryan Wendell Forget How to Snap A Football?

A year ago we reluctantly gave Wendell the benefit of the doubt when the former UDFA and multiple time practice squad member took over one of the most difficult/important jobs in the league as Brady’s center. It paid off great. He was outstanding last year and sent longtime anchor Dan Koppen packing. The O-line was stronger than ever. But what the hell happened yesterday? Wendell’s snaps were consistently low or off target. Brady is good enough to adjust on the fly but not even the best can deal with it all game. It seemed like any time he had to lineup in shotgun the snap was guaranteed low or off target. That’s dangerous in a timing route system and even more so against a pass rush that came as fast as Buffalo did Sunday. They were bringing multiple pass rushers consistently and getting good penetration all over. To me that was where this game started to go wrong. The seconds lost salvaging a bad snap were throwing off the synch of the offense early and often. Which leads me to…

2. What the Hell Was the Rush To Get That Goal Line Snap Off?

It was fourth and goal in a critical situation. A full play clock to work with. Wendell was struggling with his snaps all day. And the Patriots rush to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball with 13 seconds left on the play clock? WHY? Settle down and run the play correctly. And even then, I’m still curious as to what exactly the play was. If you look at the replay you’ll see Develin take off on the strong side with Blount behind him. If they had run this play they had a touchdown. Develin found his gap correctly and had a linebacker blocked. All Blount would have had to do was truck a DB and it was 6 points. But I’m not certain that’s what the call was. Blount appears to be running full speed behind Develin and doesn’t turn his head towards Brady until he sees the fumble. Look how far away he is from the ball.

The only other play I can think of would have been a Brady misdirection type sneak out of the weak side. They’ve run it before with success. But here it would have been doomed. Look at the far side of the defense: #25 Da’Norris Searcy was right there waiting for it.

He’s lined up wide of the tackle, but the fact that he didn’t jump immediately makes me think he was was almost in a spy assignment waiting for something sneaky to come through that back door. The play was completely doomed unless they actually calmed down and checked into another play with the 13 seconds they had left. That’s all very very easy for me to sit here and say in hindsight but the fact is they had the time to settle down and run the play right and they rushed it.

3. Has Doug Marrone Ever Watched A Patriots Game?

I ask this for a couple reasons. First and foremost, anyone with a 5th grade understanding of the game knows you do whatever you have to do to keep Brady off the field. Especially in the 4th quarter. ESPECIALLY WITH A LEAD. Buffalo had a 4 point lead with 11:03 left in the 3rd quarter. They had 4 possessions to chew up as much time as they could and did the following:

  • 6 plays. 27 yards. 2:46 elapsed.
  • 3 plays. -2 yards. 1:00 elapsed.
  • 6 plays. 18 yards. 1:58 elapsed.
  • 3 plays. 4 yards. 1:11 elapsed.

DRIVE TOTALS: 18 plays. 47 yards. 6:55 TOP
AVERAGE: 23 seconds per play. 2.61 yards per play

Part of this was the defense doing its job and coming up with stops when it had to. But what kind of rocks do you need to have in your brain to know that this wasn’t the time to make a statement about your awesome no-huddle offense? Run the ball. Go with some high percentage plays. Chew up the clock. If you don’t Brady is happy to do it for you.

And did Marrone even take a peak at the AFCCG or maybe Scott Chandler’s track record against the Patriots? New England struggles against tight ends on the regular. They were the 29th ranked team against TE’s a year ago with the exact same safety personnel. Chandler had 4 touchdowns in 5 career games against the Patriots and they barely even looked at him. Who set up their first touchdown drive with a 19 yard reception? Surprise. Scott Chandler. What works works even if throwing to a big bulky white guy doesn’t fit your Fast & Furious dream offense. Marrone should have gotten the game ball from Belichick. No question. MVP performance.

4. How Did CBS Actually Get Worse At Broadcasting Football?

If I had the patience or the stomach I’d go back and re-watch the game to count how many different names Dan Dierdorf called KenBRELL Thompkins other than his own. I understand the kid isn’t Jerry Rice if you did your homework at all you knew Thompkins was going to get a lot of looks that day. Do your homework and learn his name.

And holy shit do any of the producers actually watch football? The sideline camera ops were totally out of position to get a useable replay angle the entire game. The first Ridley “fumble” went to break without even checking the replay. They come back from a 60 second break with a replay of Ridley’s ass hitting the ground and half the Buffalo defense eclipsing the play. That was the replay they chose to lead with with an entire break to think about it. This went on for the entire game. I’ve worked on major market sports broadcasts before. The camera director meets with all the camera ops before the game and gives them their individual assignments. Somehow with all those cameras they consistently found ways to get bad angles on every replay and really not seem to care that they were producing a garbage product.

Also, I get that white uniforms in a day game don’t translate very well to video but CBS day games always look like butts. The camera is either washed out or too dark. I’m also in the minority of people that refuse to pay for an HD set top box from Comcast after paying $90 a month to watch SD broadcasts on an HDTV. So I get to deal with macroblocking and image artifacts all game because if you’re not watching HDTV in 2013 no one cares about you. Still the FOX broadcast looked 100 fold better and that was played in broad daylight as well. FOX also had the foresight to include some actual stats with its score ticker to accommodate the ultra underground little known cult phenomenon known as fantasy football.

5. How Did Brandon Spikes Get Dehydrated In the First Quarter?

Fifty Five plays with about 300% intensity on average, so I’ll almost always give him the benefit of the doubt. But this should never happen. If he was dealing with the flu or something then sit him. The last thing this team needs right now is a flu outbreak. Patriots S&C coach has been very vocal about the importance of proper hydration in his players, so I find it very hard to believe that this was a matter of improper game prep on Spikes’ part. This was a really bizarre turn of events and tells me that someone isn’t doing their job somewhere. Whoever it is, they’re on a lengthy list right now.

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Night Session Training Camp Notes

Another year, another awesome night time training camp session at Gilette. These 95 man rosters are murder on the eyes especially with so many new pieces, but here’s my best attempt at taking it all in. All the photos here are mine. Feel free to use them. It’d be nice to get a photo credit, but in full disclosure I probably can’t stop you.

The Offense:

Aaron Dobson looks to be everything I saw on tape: fast, quick in and out of his transitions, a total headache for corners to handle 1 on 1… and a bad tendency to drop a catchable ball. He and Talib were giving eachother some pretty outstanding back and forth battles. But his hands just weren’t consistent and dropped too many passes after shaking the DB.

- If I had to make one crazy prediction right now it would be that rookie Josh Boyce will lead the Patriots WRs in yardage by the end of the 2013 season. The former TCU star is quickly developing a rapport with Brady. He’s clicking on screens, finding the ball deep, and working everything in between. If I took away the roster from you and told you to point out the guy who is there for his 4th practice ever as an NFL player you wouldn’t have picked out Boyce.

Dobson leaves a DB in the dust.

- I don’t want to get ahead of myself but Amendola looked great. Most people refuse to believe it but he’s taller than Welker, 2 inches taller in fact. He looks a lot bigger on the field though to the point where I was actually confused who this mysterious #80 was that was catching everything that came his way. Nu-Welker looked like a professional out there, in fact much more so than some of the other veterans.

- #85, 25 year old UDFA Kenbrell Thompkins, has got to be the most frustrating player on this roster right now. He looks absolutely phenomenal… maybe 60% of the time. The rest of the time he’s lining up wrong, not knowing his routes, or dropping a ball on a 5 yard crossing pattern that hits him in the chest. At one point he lined up with the 1’s, and seconds before the snap put him arms up to let Brady know he didn’t know his assignment. Too late. Thompkins took off on the snap, ran an in-cut and almost crashed into TE Zach Sudfeld. I kind of doubt it was written up like that. But you can’t even cross him off your list because 5 minutes later he’ll make a great play. I heard reports of 3rd year WR Kamar Aiken getting a big chunk of the 1st team reps. Tonight it was Thompkins who still has a shot if he gets it together. What the hell is it about that number 85? Someone is going to have to break out from the pack of unknowns.

Thompkins getting reps in with Brady while trying to figure things out.

- Camp looked like another day at the office for vet Leon Washington. He spent a lot of time taking handoffs and running between the tackles. If he has to play positional RB this year he’ll be ready.

- Marcus Cannon looked more athletic than I remember him. I think this year we’ll get to see the player he was meant to be. People greatly underestimate what it takes to fully recover from lymphoma.

- Earlier in camp I heard reports that Michael Jenkins was working as the #1 WR. That was not at all the case last night. He looked like junk early on in practice and steadily disappeared to make room for Dobson, Boyce, Amendola and Thompkins. At times you could have told me he was an UDFA rookie and I would have believed it. Other veteran FA signing Lavelle Hawkins looked considerably better but didn’t blow anyone away.

- It may have just been a coincidence but the beginning of practice seemed to feature a lot of Michael Hoomanawanui, and after a few missed connections with Brady it didn’t so much. The second half was almost all Daniel Fells and Zach Sudfeld and for what it’s worth the ball seemed to hit the ground less often.

- Again, not to say it didn’t happen but I didn’t personally see LeGarrett Blount take a single run to the outside the whole night. If he was touching the ball it was almost always going up the gut. They may be trying to force him to be more of a grinder. The massive back also caught a couple of passes. They weren’t the prettiest catches but they happened. He looked big and quick, and I’m definitely rooting for him to make this team.

- The only high five I saw Belichick dish out was to UDFA receiver Quentin Sims of UT-Martin, who I thought made the most of his reps.


– I’m beyond impressed so I’ll mention him first: Steve Beauharnis is going to make this roster. The Rutgers rookie was playing Mike backer with the 2’s and calling the plays. His coverage skills looked good, and he was moving around in space very fluidly. Everywhere that I expected veteran Dane Fletcher to shine Beauharnis quietly stole the show.

- Chandler Jones, as reported, looked beastly. He and Solder has some great battles going all night. He looks bigger and thicker through his arms and lower body. I’m hoping that cuts down on his injury potential. The lanky skinny (relative term) young man who showed up for camp last season wasn’t there last night. The 95 I saw looked downright scary at times.

- Talib and Dennard were driving receivers nuts all night. They were physical, they were tough to shake, and they were in the right place at the right time. In short these two were game ready last night.

Boyce finds a hole on a screen but can’t allude Dennard.

- Logan Ryan looked pretty good last night. He wasn’t entirely consistent but he had a few pass breakups and looks to be getting the hang of things. Arrington got most of the reps as the inside corner, but Ryan made his count. It’ll be very interesting to see where he’s at by the end of camp.

- #30 Duron Harmon had a relatively quiet night, at least from where I was, but he did pick off a Ryan Mallet pass that was going to absolutely no one. Harmon was in position for a pick 6 had it been a live game. Had it been a live game Mallet wouldn’t have been on the field, so touche’.

- Justin Francis was playing the role of veteran last night. I saw him several times showing the ropes to the new guys including Brockton’s Jason Vega who I was disappointed to see minimal work from last night.

- At one point in 7 on 7’s Talib intercepted a Brady pass intended for Kenbrell Thompkins (who, to everyone’s surprise, was in the wrong spot). The defense celebrated on the field but none louder or more obnoxiously than #93 Tommy Kelly who was seen flapping his arms in the air like he had just won Olympic gold. I think I’m going to like this guy.

- As promised from earlier camp reports there was a 3 downed lineman defensive set featuring Wilfork in the middle set up on the 1 gap, flanked by Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones.

From left to right Kelly – Wilfork – Jones. Kiss your lunch money goodbye.

- As soon as I found 7th round pick Michael Buchanan he was hard to stop watching. The rookie DE is large and fast… and loud. He barked something at the line of scrimmage and it echoed through the whole stadium. If his technique develops he’ll bounce about half the DE ranks right off the depth chart.

- ESPN Boston and I are going to have to agree to disagree on his observations of Ras-I Dowling from last night. Truthfully I didn’t see anything special about Dowling last night, or anything to indicate to me that this was his 3rd camp and he was ready to make the leap. He wasn’t playing very composed, wasn’t getting his head back to the ball, and was having issues keeping receivers contained. I’ve been one of the biggest Dowling supporters since he was drafted but I felt let down last night.

- The second tier DTs aren’t just getting the camp-body treatment. They’re getting a ton of work as the coaches are trying to figure out who’ll possibly contribute to this position of need. From what I saw last night everyone came to work including 320 lb space eater UDFA Anthony Rashad-White who got a lot of one-on-one time with coaches.

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The Trial of Aaron Hernandez’ Draft Pick: Was The 113th Pick Worth the Price

I figured someone had to tackle this issue with a certain rigor that might finally prove a point. The Pats have been getting slammed recently by hindsight-ing critics, fans, and most notably GM’s of several less successful football franchises that have come out of the woodwork to say that the Patriots never should have taken the Gator TE. It sounds pretty smart in retrospect. Clearly given that Hernandez will probably never play football again his value takes a nosedive. My goal here, however, is simply to provide the hard facts of Hernandez’ short career and juxtapose it with what else came and went out of that 2010 fourth round.

It’s important to note that this isn’t putting his lucrative contract extension under the microscope (and most certainly not Hernandez the human being either…yeesh). The issue at hand is his draft pick, which GM’s like the Bengal’s owner Mike Brown, recently former Colts GM Bill Polian and Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland had claimed they had figured out all along. Here is my breakdown of the 2010 fourth round and who came out of it with what. Please take a look at the data and reach your own conclusions, but from what is in front of me I think it’s obvious that the Pats got markedly more out of Hernandez even in a short period of time than the vast majority of teams managed with their 4th round pick.

Note: If I’ve discounted the real life value of a player on your team please leave a comment making a case and I’ll possibly re-adjust. Or just call me an idiot.


Fourth Round Indisputable Winners:
Bengals – Geno Atkins
Buccaneers – Mike Williams
Ravens – Dennis Pitta
Vikings – Everson Griffen *1 year solid production
Bears – Corey Wootton *1 year solid production

Tight Ends Drafted
113. Aaron Hernandez 1,956 Yards 18 TDs
114. Dennis Pitta 1,075 Yards 10 TDs
118. Garrett Graham 287 Yards 3 TDs
125. Clay Harbor 421 Yards 4 TDs

Players No Longer With Team That Drafted Them: 14 of 32 (6 no longer in the NFL)

Average Draft Grade for 31 picks not including Hernandez: D+
*Using my own grading > numerical values divided by 31. I think I was plenty fair though.


99. Mardy Gilyard – St Louis Rams
Synopsis: Waived by the Rams after playing 11 games and not doing anything despite a decent draft buzz. Caught 2 passes for 15 yards for the Jets in 2012. Nobody caught much of anything for the Jets last year, but failed to contend on a weak WR roster.
Grade: F

100. Everson Griffen – Minnesota Vikings
Synopsis: Struggled as a rookie. Arrested twice in a week in 2011 including being tazered for grabbing a cop’s crotch. Three seasons later finally started to actually perform with 8 sacks. It’s worth noting that the Patriots were on the phone with Griffen 11 picks prior when Carolina offered them a 2011 2nd rounder (Ras-I Dowling at 33).
Grade: B-

101. Mike Williams – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Synopsis: Solid wide receiver that has performed consistently and emerged as a top target for Josh Freeman and it certainly isn’t because Freeman is blowing people’s doors off. Beyond Hernandez and Geno Atkins, Williams was undoubtably the top player taken in the round.
Grade: A

102. Darryl Sharpton – Houston Texans
Synopsis: Backup linebacker with fewer tackles to show for his entire career than Jerod Mayo managed when he missed 3 games in 2009.
Grade: D

103. Perry Riley – Washington Redskins
Synopsis: Placeholder starting inside linebacker opposite London Fletcher, but at least he’s still a starter… for now.
Grade: C

104. Alterraun Verner – Tennessee Titans
Synopsis: Serviceable #2 corner with modest production that would maybe be a nickel corner on a better team
Grade: B-

105. Trevard Lindley – Philadelphia Eagles
Synopsis: Played 11 games in 2010 with 1 INT. Cut by the Eagles the following year, and twice again after that.
Grade: F

106. Bruce Campbell – Oakland Raiders
Synopsis: Originally slotted as a top 10 pick the Raiders selected him to play LT. Eventually moved him to RT and then traded him for Mike Goodson. He’s currently listed as the backup LT for the Carolina Panthers
Grade: C-

107. Marcus Easley – Buffalo Bills
Synopsis: Put on IR with a heart condition (how’d they miss they miss that?). Didn’t play in a game until 2012 and handled 2 kickoff returns.
Grade: D-

108. Jacoby Ford – Oakland Raiders
Synopsis: The Raiders drafted a guy with modest statistical production in college who ran a 4.28. Huuuge surprise. Ford was a solid kick returner who looked like a promising slot receiver but terrible QB play held him back. He missed all of 2012 with a lisfranc injury and only played 8 games in 2011. he could still emerge as a decent football player.
Grade: C+

109. Corey Wootton – Chicago Bears
Synopsis: Wootton was scouted by the Patriots before the draft. The Bears had trouble keeping him on the field for 2 years getting only 13 games out of him in his first 2 seasons with 1 sack in a reserve role. He started to break out last year with 7 sacks and will start opposite Julius Peppers this season.
Grade: B

110. Darrell Stuckey – San Diego Chargers
Synopsis: Stuckey is a depth player with zero career interceptions and just a blank space under the “Professional Career” section of his Wikipedia article. He’s the backup to Eric Weddle and isn’t very good.
Grade: D+

111. Walter Thurmond – Seattle Seahawks
Synopsis: The former injury prone Oregon Duck played 22 games over 3 years with the Seahawks. He missed most of 2011 with a broken fibula, and almost all of 2012 with a hamstring injury. The Hawks spent a 5th round pick on LSU’s Tharold Simon who will most likely knock Thurmond off the depth chart.
Grade: F

112. Joe McKnight – New York Jets
Synopsis: Where do you even start with McKnight? Do you start with the fact that his draft status bought him a roster spot that forced the team to dump Danny Woodhead? The fact that he was a giant headache for the coaching staff and his teammates early in his career? The fact that whenever the Jets are on the verge of just dumping him he’ll pull a great game out of his ass before fading back into uselessness? Or the fact that when Shonne Greene was injured McKnight still couldn’t get anything going on the ground?
Grade: D

113. Aaron Hernandez – New England Patriots
Synopsis: In 3 seasons as a Patriot played in 38 games with 1956 yards and 18 TDs. He was a part of the starting offense immediately, and after some public ass chewing from Brady became one of the most dominant tight ends in the league… before being arrested for murder in 2013.
Grade: B- *Consensus grade reached by Patskrieg Facebook followers.

114. Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens
Synopsis: Ozzie Newsome gets a lot of credit for being a draft genius despite owning just as many busts as everyone else. But to give credit where it’s due he got it right with Pitta: 1,075 yards in 3 seasons with 10 TDs and was instrumental in winning the 2012 AFCCG by kicking Steve Gregory’s ass up and down the field.
Grade: A

115. Phillip Dillard – New York Giants
Synopsis: Probably one of Jerry Reese’s more regrettable picks. Made 4 tackles in 7 games with the Giants in 2010, and was waived the following season. Has bounced around between the Panthers practice squad, the Chargers practice squad and the UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks.
Grade: F

116. Thaddeus Gibson – Pittsburgh Steelers
Synopsis: The Steelers surprised a lot of folks by cutting Gibson halfway through his rookie season. They were stacked at linebacker at the time and just didn’t need him. He played 2 games with the 49ers before being cut again. The Steelers took another look at him a year later and still didn’t like what they saw. He was last spotted on the Titans practice squad.
Grade: F

117. Joe Hawley – Atlanta Falcons
Synopsis: I was dreading getting a utility offensive lineman here. I can honestly say I have no idea if Hawley ever started for the Falcons. He’s listed as the backup center behind 2nd year player Peter Konz so I’m assuming anything he’s accomplished hasn’t been long term.
Grade: C-

118. Garrett Graham – Houston Texans
Synopsis: Diet Owen Daniels. Graham is a career backup who I can’t possibly think too highly of considering he has no real statistical production even with all the time start TE Owen Daniels has missed over the last few years. At his current pace it would take him 20.4 seasons to match the production of Aaron Hernandez. He’s still on the roster though.
Grade: D+

119. A.J. Edds – Miami Dolphins
Synopsis: Edds actually had pretty good tape from Iowa so it wasn’t a shocker that he got drafted here. Edds missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. The Dolphins actually kept him through final cuts the next year and had him on the 53 man roster for exactly 1 day. He spent some time with the Patriots and Colts in 2011 and disappeared for 2012. The Patriots opted to kick the tires on him this year so the dream isn’t dead yet. Still…
Grade: F

120. Geno Atkins – Cincinnati Bengals
Synopsis: For as good as the Bengals are at finding mid round gems you’d think they would be a better football team. He was quiet statistically at Georgia, but when I saw him move at the Combine I was begging the Pats to draft him. He would be named to the Pro Bowl in his second season when Vince Wilfork withdrew from the roster. In 2012 he’d finish the season with 12.5 sacks and is a franchise player in the making.
Grade: A+

121. Keenan Clayton – Philadelphia Eagles
Synopsis: The Eagles had back to back picks in the 4th round. Neither one of them are still on the roster. The first of the pair was Keenan Clayton who had 43 tackles in 2 years as an Eagle before being dumped, and picked up by the Raiders to resume his non-factor status totaling 5 tackles in 15 games.
Grade: F

122. Mike Kafka – Philadelphia Eagles
Synopsis: Kafka really didn’t suck. He just never got a chance and sat behind bums like Kevin Kolb and Vince Young. He was released by the Eagles at the end of last season and was briefly involved with the Patriots. He’s now the Jaguar’s #3 QB and could easily be a #2 on a worse… wait are there worse teams than the Jaguars? Still the Eagles never got anything out of him.
Grade: D

123. Al Woods – New Orleans Saints
Synopsis: Woods was the 2nd player drafted in the 2010 fourth round to never make the roster of the team he was drafted by. The Saints cut him in September, the Steelers signed him but never played him (interestingly enough giving him a roster spot over their own 4th rounder), and the Bucs signed him after the Steelers cut him. He played 2 games in Seattle the following year, and came back to Pittsburgh in 2012 to play in 12 games and record 3 tackles. A non factor for 3 teams in 3 years.
Grade: F

124. Eric Norwood – Carolina Panthers
Synopsis: Norwood was hidden on a thin and dismal Panthers roster for 2 years. He was released and wound up in the UFL until the league fell apart. With no NFL teams calling he moved on to the Arena Football League with the San Jose Sabrecats who traded him to the Pittsburgh Power in 2013.
Grade: F

125. Clay Harbor – Philadelphia Eagles
Synopsis: The 4th TE taken in the round, and the 3rd most productive. With 421 yards and 4 TDs career he hasn’t done much to oust a mediocre Brent Celek from his roster spot. At his current pace it would take him 13.9 years in the NFL to match the production of Aaron Hernandez. The Eagles really loaded up in this round, which tells you why they’ve been the way they’ve been ever since. At best Harbor is a guy you take a look at once a year when you’re stuck in your girlfriend’s 18 team fantasy league looking for a bye week TE.
Grade: C

126. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah – Dallas Cowboys
Synopsis: This gentleman, I don’t feel like spelling his name twice, had some buzz about him coming out of college and actually earned the starting kick returner job in his rookie season. He had some success but went on IR later in the year. The Cowboys unsuccessfully tried to convert him into a WR the next year and ended up cutting him. Jacksonville picked him up and promoted him off their practice squad, but somehow figured they were all set on kick returns. He was last seen on the Raiders practice squad.
Grade: D

127. E.J. Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
Synopsis: At one point the Seahawks started building a great defense. They sure as hell didn’t do it in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Wilson had 1 tackle in 2 games as a Seahawk and was let go during his rookie season. The Bucs picked him up a year later but he ruptured his achilles in a preseason game and hasn’t played football since.
Grade: F

128. Jason Fox – Detroit Lions
Synopsis: Jason Fox almost broke the U of Miami school record for most starts in a career. He has started zero games for the Lions.
Grade: D

129. Jacques McClendon – Indianapolis Colts
Synopsis:Polian claims he had no qualms about missing out on Hernandez despite the fact that most of his picks from this draft were total busts. McClendon was a physical freak that a lot of folks thought would make a push to be a starter. He played 4 games as a reserve in Indy and was cut. He spent time on the Lions, Steelers the Falcons practice squad. Polian left town soon after as well.
Grade: F

130. O’Brien Schofield – Arizona Cardinals
Synopsis: This Downtown Abbey character has had modest production, but has out-produced the majority of the LB’s in taken in this round. He had 4 sacks in 2012 before being placed on IR after 9 games. I’m grading low because he’s still a work in progress.
Grade: C+

131. Roddrick Muckelroy – Cincinnati Bengals
Synopsis: In the spirit of not winning them all, after finding a future Pro Bowler in the same round, the Bengals whiffed on this compensatory 2nd 4th rounder. The former Texas Longhorns leader in tackles managed 11 in 2 years as a Bengal. He ruptured his achilles in training camp his 2nd year, and the next season was cut to make room for UDFA Vontaze Burfict.
Grade: F

Does comparing Hernandez to the rest of the 4th round mean a lot? Yes, and no. There is the rest of the draft class to consider. The intangibles of a potential ethical stain left on the franchise. The chain reaction possibilities of other TE’s the Patriots would have considered had they not had success with Hernandez. It could go on forever. But the next time you hear a GM chime in that they knew all along that Hernandez was a sociopath maybe take a look at what they put on paper, and what they put on tape and ask yourself who really has it figured out.

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