During tonight’s New England Patriots preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I will be focused on the team performance of the first team offense, and the first team’s defense. The starters are expected to play about one quarter. Beyond that, I will be paying particular attention to the individual performances of players at positions that have roster battles. Here are three battles I will be paying particular attention to:
Since the Patriots picked up both Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, I’ve said that I think only two of the three will make the Patriots final roster. Eric Moore isn’t exactly a speed rusher, but with his performance at the end of last year, the Patriots are certainly expecting something from him. The real battle will come down to Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. However, I will also be paying attention to the rookies, both the undrafted free agents and sixth round pick Markell Carter. The Patriots picked up Christian Cox, Clay Nurse, Alex Silvestro, and Aaron Lavarias; perhaps one of those guys can stand out.
Brandon Tate is unlikely to play in tonight’s game. Nonetheless, 2nd year receiver Taylor Price, who has impressed thus far in camp, is likely going to get his chance to prove himself. The Patriots could very well keep all three of these players. However, there’s also a chance they only two. Julian Edelman is likely a lock for the roster, but a good performance from Price could help him secure a roster spot. Of course, they will also be looking to prove that they can be counted upon for the regular season.
Because of the logjam the Patriots have at other positions, the Patriots will be challenged to keep all three of the above cornerbacks. Kyle Arrington started most of last season when Leigh Bodden went down, and performed fairly well. Darius Butler struggled early on, losing his starting spot, but improved down the stretch. Jonathan Wilhite was the team’s primary nickel back in 2010 before going down for the season. The battle for the fifth defensive backs figures to be an intense one, and all three of these guys will not only be playing for playing time, but for their roster lives.
Day Three of the NFL Draft! Patriots Hold:
Round 5, Pick 138
Round 5, Pick 159
Round 6, Pick 193
Round 7, Pick 219
The Eagles helped all three phases of the game last April. It all started with G/T Danny Watkins who will likely step right into the starting lineup likely on the interior of the offense. Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (2nd round), CB Curtis Marsh (3rd round) and MLB Casey Matthews (4th round) each could be starters early on in their career with the Eagles. Kicker Alex Henery was picked in the 4th round of the NFL Draft and he will bump David Akers out of a starting job. RB Dion Lewis might be small but he has the heart to get it down. G Julian Vandervelde and C Jason Kelce give the Eagles some reinforcements along the O-Line.
PROJECTED GRADE: B
So far, in day three, the Patriots have selected just one player: TCU guard/tackle Marcus Cannon.
Currently, Washington is on the clock at 155, and the Patriots are up in four picks at 159. Their remaining two picks are in the sixth round (193rd overall) and in the seventh round (219th overall). Hopefully, the team can pick up a few more solid developmental prospects.
With the third and final day of the 2011 NFL Draft set to kick off in just over an hour, I thought now would be an excellent time to look at a few prospects who the Patriots could target in day three of the NFL Draft.
Overall, I would just like to see the Patriots add a couple of players along the front seven that the team could develop. I also would like to see the team pick up a bigger wide receiver as well as an interior lineman. Safety could also be an option.
The Eagles need to beef up the offensive line, defensive line and the secondary in this weekend’s NFL Draft. With that in mind here are the players I had the Eagles picking in my mock draft:
1st round (#23 overall) – Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
2nd round (#54 overall) – Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)
3rd round (#85 overall) – Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan
4th round (#104 overall) – Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson
5th round (#149 overall) – Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech
5th round (#153 overall) – Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo
7th round (#227 overall) – D.J. Smith, OLB, Appalachian State
7th round (#237 overall) – Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson
7th round (#240 overall) – K.J. Black, QB, Prarie View A&M
The Eagles would be excited if they got these players. I see three players likely being starters in Carimi, Harris and Schilling in 2011.
Marcus Cannon, OG/OT, TCU:
Cannon presented good value. He was a highly rated player and the felt comfortable taking him in the 5th round. Belichick does not know the time frame surrounding Cannon, but he’s comfortable with what he presents. Hasn’t decided whether Cannon is a guard or tackle. Team doctors told Belichick their thoughts on Cannon and he felt he was worth the risk. Every player’s injury is different and everyone heals differently. Unique situation because the Patriots won’t be able to contact Cannon. Belichick has a discount value on players with injuries or concerns (Mallett, Cannon) and Cannon was worth the value.
Lee Smith, TE, Marshall:
Outstanding blocker. Belichick knew his father while at Cleveland.
Markell Carter, OLB, Central Arkansas:
Carter had success while in college.
Malcolm Williams, CB, TCU:
Fast, physical player who will be useful in the kicking game. There was enough tape on Williams to evaluate him.
Rookie Free Agents:
Cannot sign rookie FAs and they aren’t allowed to speak to them.
Current OLBs in the roster:
More comfortable with the current OLBs than others might think. Eric Moore has had a productive career and showed a lot of promise, joining the team at the end of the season and immediately contributing. He has things going for him. Wants to give players like Moore (also mentions Woodhead) a full off-season with the team to show their skill sets.
On OLBs and DEs in the draft:
The draft fell in a way that shifted the Patriots away from certain players. There were early runs on OLBs and DEs that forced OLBs with less value up the draft board. Belichick does not overdraft a player and thought their value was not worth the pick and didn’t trade up to beat the inflation. (my thoughts: Implied that he did not have a first round grade on Muhammad Wilkerson and Cameron Heyward). There were some players he had his eyes on, but the players were unavailable because the teams were unwilling to trade. (my thoughts: Aldon Smith). The draft fell so that players were drafted higher than they were valued. In response, the Patriots drafted players who dropped because less valued players were rising up the board.
On drafting 6/9 players on the offensive side of the ball:
Belichick didn’t enter the draft planning on addressing one side of the ball- he never does. It’s just how the board fell with early runs on defensive players. Have to accept how the board falls into place and make lemonade out of the lemons (my words).
On trading with the Eagles from 193 to 194 with no compensation:
Belichick thought it was for the best of the team. I believe it’s so they can pay less for a player.
NOTE: The Patriots have NOT traded with the Eagles every year since ’00. It’s a false statement. They’ve made four trades. FOUR.
On the type of players they draft:
Belichick doesn’t enter the draft looking to draft a certain quantity of captains, but the Patriots value leadership and the qualities that are associated with leadership. Captains are usually hard workers and the Patriots value work. They want good football players. Can’t predict which players will contribute, but they will all have a fair chance.