Monday, March 30, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

The New England Patriots finished the 2010 season with another disappointing post-season loss. After the 2009 season the Patriots were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round and then the 2010 season ended with a shocking loss to the New York Jets in the Divisional round.  In need of an influx of talent, the Patriots turned to the 2011 NFL Draft to re-stock the pantry. The Patriots had needs on the offensive line, at running back, in the secondary, and finding a pass rusher. Did the Patriots succeed in filling their needs through the draft? How do they grade out now that the 2011 draft class has reached free agency?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cover32: The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in the NFL Draft | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have a lot of work to do in the NFL Draft | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots finished a successful season with a Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks; however, the off-season has not been kind to the Patriots and with a number of key departures on defense the Patriots have some holes to fill--particularly on defense. The offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback are three key needs in the NFL Draft. What other positions should the Patriots be looking to fill in the NFL Draft in just over a month?

Thursday, March 19, 2015 New England Patriots Quiet Off-season Positions Them for Success Again

New England Patriots Quiet Off-season Positions Them for Success Again

The New England Patriots have been a model franchise since 2001 and once again found a way to win in 2014. They continued winning right through the Super Bowl. Their beleaguered AFC East opponents have been busy this off-season spending tons of money on free agents as they try to "win" the off-season. But how does usually work out for teams?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cover32: After a week of free agency, are the New England Patriots still atop the AFC East? | New England Patriots

After a week of free agency, are the New England Patriots still atop the AFC East? | New England Patriots

While the Patriots slowly and methodically attempt to keep a complete and deep roster, the rest of the AFC East has gone crazy

trying to catch-up to New England. The Patriot Way to build a team may frustrate the fanbase by watching starting cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner hit the road and long-time defensive tackle Vince Wilfork not be brought back, the team has made a number of smaller, under-the-radar moves. The Patriots have been criticized for standing pat while the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins all spend millions and millions on free agents. But are any of the three other AFC East teams a threat to the New England Patriots in 2015 after all their moves?

Sunday, March 08, 2015 New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Defensive Line

New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Defensive Line

The loss of Vince Wilfork this offseason highlights the need at defensive line in New England. Rob Ninkovich is another year older and youngsters Dominique Easley and Sealver Siliga both struggled with injuries in 2014. Taking a look at what is in place, what is available via the draft and free agency shows the Patriots have a strong need on the defensive line for 2015.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

My Mock Draft

This past week I was invited to participate in a mock draft for Draft Season in their annual All-Blogger mock draft.  Draft Season had asked a representative from all 32 NFL team's home base to participate. Draft Season simply requested every blogger draft as though they were drafting for the team they represent. I was asked to take the last pick of the draft for the New England Patriots and channel my "inner Bill Belichick".

As much as my instinct told me to trade down, I stuck at #32 and made a befuddling pick just as I figured Belichick would do with the last pick of the first round. The mock draft made for an interesting piece as each blogger currently writes about the team they were choosing for and Draft Season had us write up a small piece about the pick. It made for a real interesting experience and gives some legitimacy for the real draft taking place at the end of April.

Here is the link to the mock draft; Here is the link to part two of the mock draft where my choice for the New England Patriots is at #32.

Check out the whole draft as it is real interesting.

My pick and analysis is below, but in analyzing the Patriots drafts under Belichick I was surprised at how often the team ends up drafting for need with their first pick. So many pundits laud the Patriots for picking the best player, but more often than not they fall into the same trap as other teams--especially with their first pick:

32. New England Patriots (

Selection: A.J. Cann G, South Carolina

patriotsAnalysis: Even if the New England Patriots lose both All Pro free safety Devin McCourty and All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis in free agency this draft pick is not going to address the secondary. At safety, former third-round draft pick Duron Harmon would be given a chance to step in for McCourty after two years of seasoning. At cornerback, as the Patriots moved decisively in free agency to replace Aqib Talib with Revis expect the same move to get the next tier cornerback at a more team-friendly price in free agency.
In the draft the Patriots–when they do not trade down out of the first round of the draft–more often than not pick based on need. Bill Belichick has a history of having his top draft pick stepping in and contributing immediately to fill a hole.This pick should be no different: Right now, their interior offensive line is in desperate need of an upgrade.
Fourth-round draft pick Bryan Stork was solid as a rookie in 2014 but the two guard positions had almost every back-up guard, center or tackle start at least one game in 2014 in a quest to find a winning combination. Left guard Dan Connolly is 32 years old and a free agent. Even if he returns, the team needs a guard capable of stepping in and starting immediately. A decade ago the Patriots used the #32 overall pick on guard Logan Mankins and got a solid decade of service from him before trading him prior to the 2014 season. Look for history to repeat itself in 2015.
A.J. Cann is the top guard in the draft and unlike in 2005 when the Patriots were panned for drafting an offensive guard in the first round the position has grown in importance and that has reflected in the draft boards. Cann is tall (six-foot-three) and has decent size with room to add weight (313 pounds). He is quick off the line and gets low and under his defender. He needs work in technique for pass protection but was a hard worker in South Carolina. The Patriots should be comfortable putting Cann to work on opening day at left guard and have him play a key role in keeping future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady upright for the rest of his time in New England.
Blogger: Hal Bent
Twitter: @halbent01
The mock draft was a lot of fun and I really appreciate the opportunity. A big "thank you" goes out to Matt Falk at Draft Season for putting this together. Thanks, Matt!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Offensive Line

New England Patriots Off-season Outlook: Offensive Line

The Patriots struggled to find help in the middle of the line beyond Stork and Wendell as veteran Dan Connolly struggled with injuries. While Connolly had his challenges in pass protection, the line passed the eye test and performed more consistently. Connolly is a free agent after surprisingly staying all three years and all of his $9.75 million contract he signed after a break-out 2011 season. Replacing long-time left guard Logan Mankins was not an easy task.

How do the Patriots fix their biggest weakness for 2015? Is it the draft? Free agency? In-house development?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots secondary potentially in disarray | New England Patriots

New England Patriots secondary potentially in disarray | New England Patriots

Although almost inconceivable after the Super Bowl, in just over a week McCourty and Revis could be signing for another team and leaving New England. If the Patriots do not make Revis the highest paid cornerback in football he could leave for a team that is willing to overpay for the instant credibility of having “Revis Island”. For McCourty, a team that meets his price and allows him to move back to cornerback could entice him to depart Gillette Stadium.

If the unthinkable happens, how do the Patriots replace McCourty and Revis in 2015?

New England Patriots Game Preview: Offensive Strategy Game Two vs Miami Dolphins  - Full Press Coverage

The New England Patriots travel to Miami to face-off against the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon in week two of the NFL season. What should b...