Patriots “That Guy” 2016 April Edition

Welcome to part three of our “That Guy” Patriots draft series. In our previous two installments, we reviewed some Senior Bowl standouts and inspected NFL Combine results in our search for players who may fit in at Foxboro.

Since then, we’ve had a few weeks to look at pro day results in our “Combine Snubs” series, as well as watch New England build their squad for the 2016 season. These observations have led to a few alterations to our “That Guy” column. Here are the types of athletes the Patriots tend to draft, with suggestions on particular players for later this spring.

The First Round, Solid Bet Guy: The more we look at the NFL taking away New England’s first rounder, the more it hurts. Using defensive linemen as an example, the Patriots have a strong record for the position in Round One that includes Richard Seymour (2001), Ty Warren (2003), Vince Wilfork (2004), Chandler Jones (2012), and Malcom Brown (2015). All starters. Their selections in Round Two? Marquise Hill (2004), Ron Brace (2009), and Jermaine Cunningham (2010). That’s a disconcerting difference in production, there.

We wanted to consider an athlete they could select in the second round who could contribute for years to come, and possibly utilize some of ex-Patriot (and lone first-round bust) Dominique Easley’s minutes as an interior rusher.

Possible Pick: For where they’ll be drafting, it’s easy to consider Carl Nassib of Penn State. A defensive end at 6-7, 277 pounds, Nassib showed the ability to work inside and create havoc against interior defensive linemen. He has good speed (4.84-second 40) and solid quickness (7.27 3-cone, 4.37 20-yard shuttle) that give him positional flexibility New England adores. Nassib, a walk-on at PSU, won the Ted Hendricks Award this past season as the best college defensive end. He led the nation in sacks with 15.5, adding six forced fumbles on the year.

The “Who’s That Guy?” Guy: By making second-round picks out of unheralded names like Sebastian Vollmer (2009), Tavon Wilson (2012), and Jordan Richards (2015), the Patriots demonstrated how they often value certain players differently than most pundits. If they like a guy, they tend to go get him.

Possible Pick: I mean, based on the name alone, we had to select linebacker Cassanova McKinzy out of Auburn. Coach Bill Belichick traveled to Auburn for their pro day; he surely witnessed McKinzy (6-1, 248) during position drills. McKinzy started at middle linebacker as a freshman and had 263 career stops. As a senior, he tallied 74 tackles, including 10 for loss (five sacks) and 20 quarterback hits. A minor scouting note: he had one of his most prolific games vs. Alabama, with eight tackles and three QB hits.

I’ll take Cassanova, because me and Romeo ain’t never been friends.

The 3-Cone Guy: The Patriots seem to appreciate high-octane 3-cone drills more than speedy 40-yard dashes. (WEEI.com’s Chris Price would tend to agree.) This has led to the drafting of Julian Edelman (6.62-second 3-cone) in 2009 and Darryl Roberts (6.66) in 2015, among many others who have quick feet for their respective positions.

Possible Pick: We’re going to go to the defense here, as Kansas State cornerback Morgan Burns (5-10, 200) had a 6.60 3-cone during his pro day (of course, his 4.38-second 40 probably won’t hurt his stock, either). Burns earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention status as a defensive back with one interception and 10 pass break-ups. Most importantly, he was named All-American as a kick returner, bringing back four kickoffs to the far horizon* last year while gaining an average of 33.5 yards per return.

*I’m trying to think of another phrase for “to the house” or “all the way.” I’m open to suggestions.

The Freakishly Athletic Guy: Every once in a while, the Patriots select someone who drops jaws at the combine. In 2013, that was Jamie Collins, whose 11-foot, seven-inch broad jump at 250 pounds remains a stunner. (You can watch it here. Listen for the announcers laughing at its ridiculousness.)

Possible Pick: We went with Justin Simmons out of Boston College for our combine edition, and we stick with him now. He’s big for a free safety at 6-2, 202 pounds, and with a 40-inch vertical, 10-foot, six-inch broad jump, and a 6.58-second 3-cone, he has the quicks and power to play various spots in sub packages. His experience at cornerback could help defenses give different, QB-confusing looks. At BC, Simmons had 67 tackles, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.

The Long-Limbed Defensive End: New England often seeks out a lanky pass-rusher, as seen in the likes of Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom in 2015 and Michael Buchanan in 2013. While they seem pretty stocked at the position – Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard remain stalwarts; Chris Long just got added in free agency – the trading of Chandler Jones could open up an opportunity for rookie minutes in a sub role.

Possible Pick: Lots to like about Matt Judon, a small-school wrecking crew from the Greater Lakes Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Judon (6-3, 275) actually outweighs the 2012 rookie version of Jones (266) and ran a slightly faster 40 (4.73 to Jones’ 4.87). Not saying Judon could come in and start, but he does have some notable talents (30 bench press reps, 35-inch vertical) that could help him become a solid defender in time. The GLIAC Defensive Lineman of the Year led the nation with 18 sacks. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two.

Offensive Line Double-Dips: Last year, the Pats looked to Tré Jackson and Shaq Mason as rookies to bolster the interior line. The year before, both Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming added important minutes, with Stork coming in to start at center and stabilize a shaky offense. Their veteran offensive tackles are getting closer to the ends of their careers (as are we all, really), so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Belichick looked for two rookies to add to the O-line.

Possible Picks: We’ve got to acknowledge North Dakota State tackle Joe Haeg (6-6, 304), especially after his meeting with Patriots coaches during Senior Bowl week. Haeg was an All-American in his final two seasons, earning Top Collegiate Offensive Lineman by the FCS Athletic Directors Association. Also ran a 5.16-second 40 at the NFL Combine and had a 7.47-second 3-cone, good enough for fifth-best OL.

South Carolina’s Brandon Shell is another tackle candidate we’ve noticed, especially after a 5.22-second 40, impressive given his size (6-5, 324). He started at left tackle as a senior after spending most of the previous three years on the right side, compiling 47 consecutive starts. Shell is the great-nephew of Hall of Fame lineman Art Shell, which we’re sure Belichick knows and appreciates.

The Alabama Guy: ‘Bama coach Nick Saban coached with Belichick at Cleveland lo these 25 years ago. This has led to such players as Dont’a Hightower getting nabbed in the first round in 2012, as well as LB Xzavier Dickson getting the call late in last year’s draft.

Possible Pick: We’re going with cornerback Cyrus Jones this year. At 5-10, 197 pounds, he’s not super big. With a 4.49-second 40, he’s not super fast. But, with a 6.71-second 3-cone, he is super quick, and he uses it well on the field. Last season, Jones returned four punts for touchdowns (“to the far horizon,” maybe? No?), averaging 12.6 per take-back. He also had two interceptions and eight pass break-ups. Here he is working his magic vs. the Spartans with a punt return TD in the Cotton Bowl.

The Rutgers Guy: Due to Coach Belichick’s relationship with former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, players from that school have flowed through Foxboro with all the force of the mighty Raritan, including Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon.

Possible Pick: Oh, so, so much to like about Quentin Gause. The 6-0, 232-pound linebacker had solid production with 96 tackles and a team-leading 12 tackles for loss, sure, but my oh my: the intangibles, people. Team captain? Check. Big Ten Sportsmanship Award? Academic All-Big Ten? Check and check. The “R” Man Courage Award? Checkeroo. And you know what? Running a 4.73-second 40 and a 7.01-second 3-cone probably can’t hurt, either.

The Ohio State Guy: Belichick used to have a friendly relationship with former Florida coach and current Ohio State head Urban Meyer. That has probably cooled a bit over the past several years, draft-wise, considering some of the algal slime that has crawled out of the Gator swamp up to Foxboro. (Seriously, if Mike Reiss is calling the benefits of that relationship into question in his indispensable Sunday notes, there’s an issue.) But now, since former Rutgers head coach Schiano took on the role as OSU co-defensive coordinator, we’re taking another gander at the Buckeyes.

Possible Pick: We’d like to add Tyvis Powell to the list of solid, dependable safeties on the Patriots’ potential roster. He has noteworthy size at 6-3, 211 pounds and great speed for said size with a 4.46-second 40. (For comparison, the 6-0, 196-pound Harmon ran a 4.51, while the 5-11, 193-pound McCourty ran a 4.48.) Add a thoroughly decent 7.03-second 3-cone, and we’re in the Buckeye business. At OSU, Powell had 71 total tackles, with three interceptions, three pass break-ups, and a blocked kick. He had eight career interceptions, with one each in bowl games vs. Alabama and Notre Dame.

The Injured Guy: New England likes to take chances with players who have missed playing time due to injury. This has worked out well in some cases (Rob Gronkowski) and not so well in others (Ras-I Dowling). Last year, the Patriots selected guard Tré Jackson, who had been bothered with knee issues while at Florida State. Jackson did miss time with injuries, but he started nine games as a rookie and should vie for playing time this year.

Possible Pick: Boise State guard Rees Odhiambo is worth reviewing. The 6-4, 314-pound Odhiambo injured his ankle in October and missed the rest of the season. Despite playing in only eight games, he was named to the All-Mountain West First Team. Injuries have chased the native Kenyan throughout his college career, as he has never started more than nine games in any one season. Still, for a mid-round pick, Odhiambo could serve as an inexpensive backup for the interior O-line.

The Day Two Running Back: In 2011, the Patriots drafted Shane Vereen in the second round and Stevan Ridley in the third. In 2015, injuries to Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount showed how much the team needed depth at the position.

Possible Pick: Even after signing Blount, we assume New England will seek out another sizable back this spring, which brings us to Keith Marshall of Georgia. Marshall (5-11, 219) averaged 5.1 yards per carry for the Bulldogs, scoring three TDs. At the combine, he blew away the field with a 4.31-second 40, the fastest at Indy this year (As far as we can tell, no draftee has had a faster pro day this spring.) We spend a lot of time yakking about how the Patriots don’t fall in love with 40 times, but Marshall’s 25 bench reps and 6.98-second 3-cone should factor in here.

The Sixth-Round Small School Defender: From Markell Carter (Central Arkansas) in 2011 to Zach Moore (Concordia) in 2014, the Patriots aren’t shy about checking out the lower divisions for talent. With about 27 sixth-round picks this year (note: number may be exaggerated for effect), it seems like an ideal time to revisit this tendency.

Possible Pick: Back to the GLIAC (see: Matt Judon above) for some more D-II action. We mentioned Justin Zimmer from Ferris State in our Combine Snubs series. He would fit in well here. The 6-3, 302-pounder moved faster than a rolling temple boulder, notching a 4.85-second 40. His 7.01-second 3-cone drill would have come in fourth for NFL Combine safeties this year. Perhaps most awesome was Zimmer’s 44 bench reps of 225 pounds that would have bested all 2016 NFL Combine participants. At Ferris State, Zimmer tallied 81 tackles, with 26 coming for loss, half of those in sacks. He broke up five passes and forced four fumbles.

The Backup Tight End: No position has changed more for the Patriots over the past few weeks than tight end. The signing of Martellus Bennett created a dreamscape for wannabe offensive coordinators all the way from Madawaska, Maine down to whatever scattered parts of Greenwich, Connecticut root for New England. The signing of Clay Harbor added a smaller, “move” tight end, and – along with a healthy A. J. Derby – could fortify the position even more. So what do we do? We go jack-of-all-trades on ’em.

Possible Pick (Move TE): We’ll take our chances on a prolific college QB, one Jason Vander Laan of the aforementioned Ferris State. He’s got good size (6-4, 240), decent speed (4.75 40) and excellent quickness (6.73 3-cone – better than all combine tight ends). And, best of all, he has the football knowledge and production that could make him a threat from different positions. Vander Laan won The Harlan Hill Trophy (Division II Player of the Year Award) two years running. He is the first quarterback in the history of the NCAA with four consecutive seasons both passing and rushing for 1,000-plus yards. In 2015, he threw for 2,626 yards and 27 touchdowns and ran for 1,542 yards and 24 touchdowns.

I mean, I know it’s Division II, but he produced numbers like a 12-year-old playing against 11 cats. Old, disinterested ones.

Possible Pick (Blocking TE): Sometimes we add picks that probably won’t happen but would love to see. Enter LaQuan McGowan, a tight end/fullback out of Baylor who measures an astounding 6-6, 405 pounds. His running times are, as one might predict, only slightly faster than erosion, with a 5.48-second 40. However, he leapt a noteworthy 24 inches vertically, and put up 30 reps on the bench. He has noted his willingness to play guard, his natural position. Hey, we could see plays like this in the future. Could be fun.

The Special Teams Guy: As a former special teams coach, Belichick has always paid attention to the one-play wonders of the NFL. We think drafting specifically for ST roles probably got going in 2008 with Matthew Slater, continued in 2012 with Nate Ebner, and was maintained throughout with plenty of specialists (long snapper Joe Cardona last year, for instance).

Possible Pick: While the Patriots tend to focus on smaller linebackers and/or bigger safeties for this role, Washington outside linebacker Travis Feeney catches the eye. He has unusual measurements for most special-teamers at 6-4, 230 pounds, and he did very well on his 40 with a 4.50-second time. Speaking of 40, that’s how many inches he jumped in the vertical, topping all other combine linebackers. A Huskies team captain, Feeney was voted UW’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player with eight sacks and 17.5 total tackles for loss last season. He also forced three fumbles.

The Take-A-Shot-On-This-Receiver Guy: The Patriots have drafted a long list of receivers who failed to pan out in Foxboro. The ones that did (Deion Branch, David Givens, Julian Edelman) helped win Super Bowls, so it’s easy to figure they’ll take another chance this spring.

Possible Pick: Let’s take a closer look at the speedy Charone Peake out of Clemson. He’s got size at 6-2, 209 pounds – a veritable Gulliver compared to most of the LilliPatriots currently on the roster. He also has speed (4.38 pro day 40) and quickness (6.96 3-cone). Peake caught 50 passes last year for 716 yards, a 14.3 yards-per-catch average, with five touchdowns.

Aaaaand he’ll probably be a bust. But it’s worth a shot, people. It’s always worth a shot.

The Backup Quarterback: They got Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round (2014), Kevin O’Connell in the third (2008), Rohan Davey in the fourth (2002), Kliff Kingsbury in the sixth (2003), and Matt Cassel in the seventh (2005). Time to bring in a camp arm to nurture and – when the time comes –  see how it can best help the team moving forward.

Possible Pick: Cassel was a backup out of USC who panned out, so why not take a starter from the same school? Cody Kessler has had a great career for the Trojans. At 6-foot-1, height might play a role in his lower draft status, but height didn’t seem to matter to Belichick when he kept Doug Flutie around. Plus, the kid can play: An All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2015, Kessler completed 67 percent of his passes (298 of 446) for 3,536 total yards, 29 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

Hell, Cassel completed 10 passes in his entire Trojan career, so the Pats should be able to do something with this guy, right?

The Seventh-Round Slot Receiver Guy: This trend started off quite well with Edelman in 2009, yet found less success with Jeremy Ebert out of Northwestern in 2012 and Jeremy Gallon out of Michigan in 2014. Still, if they can add another dependable sticks-mover in the seventh, they’ll give it a chance.

Possible Pick: Slot receiver, outside receiver, running back, returner. Byron Marshall (5-9, 205), did a little of everything for Oregon in 2015 before his season-ending injury after only four games. He was well enough to participate in Oregon’s pro day on March 14, with a so-so 4.56-second 40 getting overlooked due to encouraging quickness times (4.19 20-yard shuttle, 6.99 3-cone). As a junior in 2014, Marshall led the Ducks with 74 receptions for 1,003 yards (13.6 avg) and six TDs. He also averaged 7.5 yards per rush (52 for 392).

High School Fun Fact: At Valley Christian High, Marshall was the top-ranked sophomore in California in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.67 seconds. So, hey, that 40-yard time? He’s just getting warmed up.

The Navy Guy: Last year, long snapper Joe Cardona got drafted. While he figured into our seven-round assessment, we did not think he would go as high as the fifth. Hard to think that any other NFL coach has the same fondness for Annapolis as Belichick. It is his hometown, after all.

Possible Pick: Hoo, boy. Whom to pick, whom to pick? Our choice comes between QB Keenan Reynolds, who set all kinds of rushing records for QBs, and FB Chris Swain, who would follow the New England tradition of Navy fullbacks in Foxboro (Kyle Eckel and Eric Kettani). Based on Belichick visiting Annapolis to see Reynolds, we’ll go with the QB. Belichick loves the Naval Academy, and he loves football history, and few Midshipman have made quite as much history as Reynolds. His 88 career rushing touchdowns are the most ever in Division I. He’s also the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to score at least 23 touchdowns in three different seasons. He rushed for 4,559 yards in his career, the most in FBS history by a QB. He’s not big (5-9, 190), but his ability to run the ball in open space – along with his experience under center –  is something Coach Belichick might want to work with in camp.

Any “Guys” we’ve overlooked or any names you think belong in each category, please let us know in the comments section below.

Chris Warner tweets with the fury of the winds @cwarn89  

Celtics Abysmal In First, Now Down 0-2

BRAD STEVENS CAN’T COACH IN THE PLAYOFFS, MIKE!

The Celtics got off to another slow start last night, managing only 7 points in the first quarter, trailing at one point 24-3. They never recovered, really.

The slow starts have been a bothersome trend as of late for the Celtics, and if they want to finally get that elusive first career playoff win for coach Brad Stevens, they’ll need to figure something out before Friday night.

In a sense, I’m glad sports radio doesn’t pay much attention to the Celtics. In that sense, it’s still untainted and pure from an enjoyment standpoint. There aren’t as many radio trolls pretending to be NBA experts – but I’m sure that can change.

The radio station web site writers are getting impatient:

You can hardly blame Brad Stevens for his team’s horrid shooting in Game 2, but the wunderkind coach now owns an 0-6 playoff record. At what point does that raise eyebrows?


Curt Schilling finds himself fending off another controversy, this time over material he shared on his Facebook page. He went on Dennis and Callahan/Minihane this morning to talk about it, and has responded on WordPress.com and other mediums. It’s just the latest incident for Schilling, who continues to burn through the mass amounts of goodwill he earned in helping the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series Championship. He seems to not care about his employment by ESPN, even though he needs the job.


Speaking of ESPN:

 


The Red Sox dropped another one last night, getting shut out by the Tampa Rays 3-0. Boston managed just a single hit in the game, and starter Joe Kelly left the game in the first inning with an injury, and Steve Buckley demands answers.

With Kelly going to the DL, Alex Speier notes that the rotation will now be even more of a gamble.

 

Red Sox Still With A Lot To Prove

Welcome to another Marathon Monday!

As of this morning, the Red Sox sit at 6-5 and in second place in the AL East. Not a horrible start, but the team still has a lot to prove to a media corps eager to pounce.

Manager John Farrell finds himself in the hot seat after a number questionable decisions early in the season.

I appreciated the thoughtful approach that Evan Drellich took to yesterday’s situation, still placing the blame squarely on Farrell, yet showing there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things that go into making those decisions.

There is also the continued saga of Pablo Sandoval, and what the team’s options with him are at this point.

Nick Cafardo had a very nice tribute to “The Maniacal One” Chuck Waseleski who passed away last Thursday. In typical Nick fashion though, he’s got to take some shots at modern statistical analysis in the process, simply because he can’t understand them.

The Celtics get back to action tomorrow night in their first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. They are likely without Avery Bradley for the rest of the series.

Steve Bulpett says that it is time for Marcus Smart to make a leap. Adam Himmelsbach suggests that the Celtics might go big in Bradley’s absence.

All first round games are on Comcast SportsNet:

CSN-Celtics

The release of Dominique Easley last week certainly reflected what a poor selection he ended up being. I do appreciate that once the Patriots determine a guy is not a fit, he’s gone. Yes, they made a terrible decision in drafting him in the first place, but they don’t compound the decision by keeping a terrible draft pick on their roster. Many teams would just keep a guy because he was a first round pick.

He was also the 29th pick overall, not the sixth, like this guy. He was kept around three years, despite doing nothing at all.

Chris Warner will have a few draft pieces coming up in the next 10 days leading into the NFL Draft.

56 Lies The NFL Told During Deflategate: 26-30 More Wells Reports Lies

The following is the third in a serialization of my article 56 lies the NFL told during Deflategate. (Published on Medium.) 

Additional lies and mistruths within the Wells Report:

(26) Wells’ decision to hire Exponent to do the analysis of the case was perhaps the most most dishonest part of the Wells Report. The firm has a well-known reputation for delivering conclusions that their clients are paying for. The New York Times:

a lengthy scientific report prepared by Exponent, a consulting firm with dubious bona fides, having disputed the dangers of secondhand smoke and asbestos. Exponent was a hired gun, and its conclusions backed Wells’s narrative.

(27) The “disappearance” of both the Pats’ and Colts’ gauges, which could have shown for certain which gauge Anderson used pre-game.

The investigators could not locate either team’s gauge Wells informs us in passing. Very odd, that both teams’ gauges would disappear when either would tend to confirm or rebut the Ref’s memory. How hard did the NFL’s investigators search? We don’t know. The Wells report doesn’t tell us. — Blecker, page 10.

(28) The Wells Report didn’t redact enough of Tom Brady’s phone number, allowing people to guess it and forcing him to change his number.

(29) The lack of any investigation into the league actions by Wells, when he previously said he would.

(30) Wells’ use of the single text that had the word “deflator” in it.

Wells Report Page Two

This well-placed item in the table of contents of the Wells Report immediately leads a casual reader to assume that McNally used this term immediately prior to the AFCCG. In reality, the text occurred in May, 2014.

The term appears 16 times in the Wells Report.

Deflategate Lies 11-25 – Wells Report In Context List

The following is the third in a serialization of my article 56 lies the NFL told during Deflategate. (Published on Medium.) 

The article has been read 21,000 times on Medium thus far. Thanks!

Wells Report

For Lies 11–25 we refer you to The Background and Myths of “Deflategate” — Separating Fact from Fiction which lays out 15 mistruths contained within the Wells Report. They are:

(11) The NFL’s lawyers told Exponent to assume it took up to 9 minutes of halftime to complete the initial gauging of 11 Patriots’ footballs.

(12) The Colts’ footballs were gauged immediately after the Patriots’ footballs were gauged, and before the Patriots’ footballs were re-inflated and re-gauged.

(13) The Patriots’ footballs were not sufficiently wet to affect their PSI.

(14) The two gauges used at halftime were the Logo and Non-Logo gauges brought to the Game by Referee Walt Anderson.

(15) Referee Anderson used the Non-Logo gauge pre-game.

(16) The PSI measurements pre-game and at halftime were scientifically reliable enough to base definitive conclusions on them.

(17) The Jastremski/McNally texts are evidence of an ongoing, longstanding scheme to deflate footballs below regulation after the Referee’s pre-game inspection.

(18) The Jastremski/McNally texts did not contradict the existence of any deflation scheme.

(19) McNally secretly left the Official’s Locker Room and sneaked into a nearby bathroom.

(20) Tom Brady, despite never having so-stated, and despite all the contrary evidence, wanted to use footballs that were below regulation.

(21) Tom Brady’s statement that he did not think that anyone would tamper with the PSI of the footballs without his knowledge somehow proves that there was tampering and that he knew of it.

(22) Increased communications between Mr. Brady and Mr. Jastremski after the AFC Championship Game is proof that there was tampering and that Brady knew about it.

(23) Autographing a handful of items upon request, or including Mr. Jastremski on a list of over a dozen team staff members for holiday gifts, is evidence of Tom Brady’s guilt.

(24) Tom Brady’s decision not to retain his phone reflects his guilt.

(25) There was no action by any League officials that reflected any predisposition against the Patriots or warranted any criticism.

Please see the linked document above for the full stories on each of these lies.

Red Sox Opening Day

While the snow still flies, the Red Sox will begin the 2016 regular season this afternoon with new ace David Price taking the mound in Cleveland. (4:10 PM, NESN, WEEI)

There will also be new faces and voices on the team’s television and radio networks.

Dave O’Brien moves over to NESN, replacing Don Orsillo. A few recent articles on O’Brien coming from Red Sox radio to TV:

NESN’s Dave O’Brien eager to start dream job – Britton, ProJo.

Change sounded good to NESN’s newest Red Sox broadcaster – Finn, Globe.

Boston Red Sox Schedule Standings Stats Video Odds Fantasy Tickets Dave O’Brien Previews New Role, 2016 Red Sox Season With Gordon Edes – NESN.

Tim Neverett, another NH native, was hired by WEEI to replace O’Brien:

New Red Sox radio voice Tim Neverett knows Boston well – Finn, Globe.

Nashua’s Tim Neverett New Red Sox Play-by-Play Host – Claffey, Patch.

Neverett enjoys 1st spring with Sox – King, Telegraph.

It also appears that the Red Sox and WEEI are nearing an agreement to keep the rights right where they are for a few more years:

Red Sox set to extend radio deal with WEEI – Herald

 

Deflategate Lies: 6-10 – Jeff Pash’s Letter, Kelly Naqi’s Report

The following is the second in a serialization of my article 56 lies the NFL told during Deflategate. (Published on Medium.) 

Thanks to Tom E Curran and CSSNE for the bump:

Numbers six and seven were still within the two week period after the AFCCG and the Super Bowl:

(6) When the independence of Wells was questioned by Rachel Nichols at a Super Bowl Press Conference, Goodell instead insisted on the “uncompromising integrity” of his hires and then belittled Nichols. As we saw later, the integrity of Wells’ investigation was compromised right from the start and on numerous occasions thereafter.

(7) At the same press conference, Goodell was asked if Belichick would be held to the same standards as Sean Payton, and whether Goodell is held to the same standard as players and coaches who have to meet with the media everyday. Goodell lied “I’m available to the media almost every day of my job, professionally.

These two, while perhaps not strictly lies about deflategate show the dishonesty of the Commissioner while meeting with the press about this issue. 

Post Super Bowl Time Period Leading Up To Release of Wells Report

(8) Jeff Pash’s letter to the Patriots declining to correct the erroneous PSI info from Mortensen, saying it would only serve to confuse the issue.

The league allowed the combustible lie about to stand and be considered by the public to the true. Other times in which the media has reported negative things about the league, the NFL has responded quickly, the recent New York Times concussion story being a glaring example.

(9) The anonymous leak to Kelly Naqi of the bogus Kicking-Ball story, in which the Patriots were being accused of also trying to switch out a kicking ball in the middle of the game, was blown up when Adam Schefter called into the live Outside The Lines show on ESPN to shoot the story down, and add in the nugget that it was an NFL employee who had been stealing game footballs who was actually responsible. The Patriots were actually the ones who reported the incident to the NFL.

The above story, while claiming to be a corrected version, is still highly prejudicial against the Patriots and does not actually give the full details which Schefter provided. While not directly related to deflategate, it nonetheless continued the push for the public towards the guilt of the Patriots.

(10) Related, the story of (now fired) NFL employee Scott Miller stealing footballs that were supposed to auctioned off for charity was quickly buried.This is one of the few verified instances of wrongdoing in this entire case and very few details are available. This should actually be a much bigger story than deflategate, but you didn’t hear anything about this after February of 2015.

Burying this story, allows the allegations in #9 above to stand and for the perception that there were more Patriots shenanigans going on.

More coming next week…

Series: 56 Lies The NFL Told During Deflategate

A major source of frustration for me has been the national media’s refusal criticize the NFL for their handling of deflategate and burying their head in the sand over the corruption of the owners, and the criminal thievery of the Patriots first round pick next month. Because it is the Patriots, no one cares if they get screwed over.

The New York Times bit this week on concussions, and the NFL’s instant reaction to it has just pointed out once again how evil and corrupt they are. The very same lawyers going after Tom Brady are demanding a retraction on the Times story because:

You really cannot make this stuff up.

For the last few weeks I’ve been compiling up as many of the times that the NFL either outright lied, was shady or inconsistent during the deflategate piece. I’ve published the entire piece on Medium, but because it is nearly 4000 words, I’m going to break it up into chunks to post here, and will perhaps have additional content here as well.

Introduction, Plus Lies 1-5:

tldr: This is a rundown of the NFL’s lies and dishonesty during the deflategate scandal. The general public is not aware of many of these acts due to the complicity of the national media as a whole.

recent poll on the Deflategate debacle showed that just 16.3% of people believe Tom Brady and the Patriots, while 40.3% believe the NFL and its version of events.

Let that sink in.

Tom Brady has gone under oath and given sworn testimony as to his version of events.

From the very start of this saga, the National Football League, which embarrassingly attaches the word “integrity” to everything they do, have put out unabashed lie after lie during this case. The activity of the league, its Commissioner Roger Goodell, its officers and officials has been downright criminal.

The national media has been complicit in this sham, with broadcast partners ESPN, NFL Network, CBS, NBC and FOX all refusing to go after the league for the dishonesty with which it has conducted itself. Newspapers, with few individual exceptions, afraid of recrimination such as losing access to the most popular sport in America, also shy away from coming after the league.

This is a rundown of the documented instances in which the NFL either lied, made misleading statements or conflicted its own statements during the deflategate case.

The Two Weeks Following The Game

(1) The leak to Chris Mortensen, (and Peter King and Gerry Austin) saying:

NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2lbs each, per league source.

This put the court of public opinion firmly against the Patriots. They never really recovered. To this day, Mortensen’s story remains online, only slight edited.

(2) Letter by NFL Official Dave Gardi to Patriots stating that none of the Patriots footballs were up to league required PSI levels, while ALL of the Colts footballs were. He also stated:

In fact, one of the game balls was inflated to 10.1 psi, far below the requirement of 12 1/2 to 13 1/2 psi.

This put the Patriots on the defensive. Now they had this official notice from the league, and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were forced to try and explain something that hadn’t actually happened. Any hesitation on their part was viewed as evidence of guilt.

(3) Second leak to Mortensen that ALL of the Colts footballs measured up to specifications. On January 22nd, when asked on Twitter whether the Colts’ footballs had been measured, Mortensen answered: Yes, they were within regulation and remained within regulation.

This further cemented the idea that the Patriots had tampered with the footballs, since the Colts’ footballs didn’t change at all.

(4) Roger Goodell appoints NFL VP Jeff Pash and “Independent” investigator Ted Wells to the case. Later, Pash’s role is downplayed by the league, and Wells’ Independent status played up, yet neither was accurate. Wells, who had previously represented the NFL in court and had previously let an investigation in the Miami Dolphins, was hardly independent. The NFL refused to allow NFLPA lawyers to interview Pash, saying his role was minor, while also admitting he had “edited” the final Wells Report.

Gave the public a sense of legitimacy to the investigation by pledging they would be independent and objective. Even if they had no intention of being that.

(5) Dean Blandino is the NFL’s Head of Officiating. When asked prior to the Patriots/Seahawks Super Bowl about whether the NFL tried to run a “sting” against the Patriots, Blandino said:

The issue came up during the first half, as far as I know. There was an issue that was brought up during the first half, a football came into question, and then the decision was made to test them at halftime.

The Wells Report, page 45 states that the day before the game;

Kensil also forwarded Grigson’s email to Dean Blandino and Alberto Riveron, both senior members of the NFL Officiating Department, with the message “see below.” Both Riveron and Blandino decided that they would raise the issue with Walt Anderson, who had been assigned as the referee for the game.

This allowed the league to front the appearance that this was not some planned action on their part, but rather the Patriots being caught “red-handed” in the act of cheating.

More to come…

Robert Kraft’s Support For Goodell Continues To Anger

Yesterday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke at the NFL Owners meetings and revealed that he had sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell requesting to have the Patriots draft picks restored.

That’s all well and good. A little passive for the masses, but at least it was something.

Then he had to say Putting personal situations aside, I think he’s done a very good job. He’s worked hard. The health of the league has not been better.

Ugh.

Kraft was highly criticized here in New England yesterday for that statement. Rightly so.

The Kansas City Chiefs are appealing their team punishment for tampering. Robert Kraft never appealed his team’s punishment. It’s a black mark on his otherwise outstanding ownership tenure of the New England Patriots. When his team needed him to take a stand and flex the muscles he’s supposedly earned as an influential owner, he decided to shrink back and not fight his “business partners” – who ironically, are all using this incident as an opportunity to stick it to his franchise for the success its had at their expense.

As a Patriots fan it is enraging.

I do hope the letter eventually finds its way to the Wells Report in Context site, so all can see the argument put forth to Goodell.

I’ve been working on a long-form piece on this whole case, which, along with work has really taken me away from here. I hope to have it done before the Federal Court reinstates the four game suspension on Tom Brady, but no promises.

In media news:

Evan Drellich joins Boston Herald to cover Red Sox – Coming back from Houston, where he had been covering the Astros, Drellich returns to the Red Sox beat. He had been at MassLive.com prior to going to Houston. Drellich replaces Scott Lauber, who moved to ESPN Boston to replace Gordon Edes who took a job with the Red Sox.

Tough day for microphones and recorders at Bill Belichick’s table – Aw, that’s too bad.

2016 Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part I

Every year, hundreds of NFL draft hopefuls get invited to the league’s combine for testing and interviews. Every year, hundreds more are forced to show what they can do at their college pro days.

Every year, we keep track of the best pro day performances and compare them to what the combine invitees had to offer. (Here’s a link to last year’s Combine Snubs, Part II.) You can compare the numbers at the bottom of this column.

Thanks as always to scout Gil Brandt and his indispensable pro day page on NFL.com. Now, organized by position (somewhat), here are some pro day workouts of note for 2016.

OFFENSE

Time To Say Good Vi: If New England wants to add strength in the middle of their offensive line, they could take a look at Arizona State guard Vi Teofilo. The 6-3, 320-pounder put up 43 bench reps at ASU’s pro day, which would have been the top number at the combine this year by a wide margin. Coincidentally, the combine best of 34 was submitted by Teofilo’s line mate Christian Westerman. An All Pac-12 Honorable Mention his senior year, Teofilo started 40 straight games at right guard.

Trojan Man: Solid pro day for Troy running back Brandon Burks. Despite a pedestrian 4.56 40, the 5-9, 208-pounder ran a 6.88-second 3-cone that would have been the third-best time for combine running backs. Burk’s 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle would have been the second-fastest time for the position. His 24 bench press reps would have tied for fifth, though pound-for-pound he’d have been the strongest back. Burks led Troy with 1,005 yards rushing (5.0 avg) and seven touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 304 yards (10.5 avg) and two TDs.

And Miles To Go Before He Sleeps: For such a small guy, Northwestern receiver Miles Shuler made a big impression. Measuring just under 5-foot-10 and 173 pounds (smaller than some O-linemen’s buffet dinners), Shuler ran a 4.4-second 40 that would have placed in the top five for combine receivers; plus, his 4.1-second 20-yard dash would have made top four, and his 6.78-second 3-cone would have been in the top seven for pass-catchers. Shuler only caught 13 passes last year and ran the ball twice (for 30 yards). His main contributions came in the return game, where he averaged 23.3 yards per kick return and 10 yards per punt return.

Fun Fact: Shuler transferred to Northwestern after playing at Rutgers for two seasons. Scarlet Knight Alert!

Will The Wolf Survive? Time to check out a member of Los Lobos, i.e., New Mexico running back Jhurell Pressley (5-10, 206). Pressley’s best 40 time came in 4.38 seconds, which would have made top two for combine running backs, top eight overall. Pressley also managed a 4.06-second 20-yard shuttle that would have led all backs at the combine. His 6.92 3-cone would have come in third among RBs, while his 25 bench reps would have tied for fourth. In 2015, Pressley averaged 6.2 yards per carry on his way to 907 on the season, scoring 11 touchdowns. His junior year, he gained 1,083 yards and averaged 9.5 per carry.

Dom Cougar Mellow Camp: Because he could make Tom Brady calmer this spring, maybe? Dominique “Dom” Williams (6-3, 198), Washington State receiver, ran a 4.39-second 40 at his pro day, which would have tied for second-best among combine receivers. His 40.5-inch vertical would have tied for third among pass-catchers. The lanky Cougar earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2015, totaling 75 catches for 1,040 yards (13.9 avg.) and 11 TDs.

Berger Shakes And Flies: Looks like receiver Justin Berger out of Wyoming used his pro day to his advantage, ranking in the top ten for combine wide receivers in almost all of his events. Berger had a 4.45-second 40 (top five overall) and a 6.87-second 3-cone drill (top 10). The 6-1, 204-pounder put up 20 reps in the bench press, which would have tied him with the strongest wide receivers in Indianapolis. This Cowboy looks like he needs to rustle up some experience: he had only two receptions last year and totaled just seven catches in his Wyoming career.

Feeling Fuller: Wide receiver Devin Fuller (6-0, 194) wowed scouts at UCLA with a 4.39-second 40 that would have tied for top eight overall at the combine, top two for receivers. His 10-foot-4 broad jump would have been twelfth among combine receivers, while his 36-inch vertical would have come in ninth. His 7.1-second 3-cone didn’t showcase amazing quickness, yet Fuller made his biggest impact on Bruins special teams, averaging 11.8 yards per punt return and 24.2 per kickoff return. He also caught 24 passes for 259 yards (10.8 avg.) and three touchdowns.

The Family Jules? Could Ferris State’s Jason Vander Laan become another former QB to work his magic for the Patriots, a lá Julian Edelman? Nick Caserio reportedly worked him out at Northwestern’s pro day. According to Peter J. Wallner of Michigan Live (mlive.com), Vander Laan measured 6-4, 240 pounds and ran a 4.75-second 40, top seven for combine tight ends. Even better from a Pats perspective, his 6.73-second 3-cone would have bested all tight ends at the combine.

We’ve got to start a new paragraph here to talk about what Vander Laan did at Ferris State. He received the Harlan Hill Trophy (Division II Player of the Year) for both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He holds the NCAA record for most career rushing yards by a QB in every division, and he’s the first quarterback in NCAA history with 1,000+ passing yards and 1,000+ rushing yards in four consecutive seasons. Last year, Vander Laan threw for 2,626 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 1,542 yards and 24 TDs.

A Scheu In? In what has been called a down year for tight ends, Vanderbilt’s Steven Scheu (6-5, 253) probably did himself some good at the Commodore’s pro day. His best 40 was in 4.70 seconds, which would have placed second for combine tight ends. His 23 bench presses would have also come in second (tie), while all of his other event numbers would have made top ten for his position. At Vandy, Scheu was the second-leading receiver with 26 catches for 231 yards and one touchdown, which probably tells you all you need to know about their passing attack. He was named the team’s top scholar athlete of the year.

A Tight End, B’Gosh: Wisconsin-Oshkosh tight end Joe Sommers worked out at Wisconsin’s pro day and did well for himself. The smaller, “move” end (6-3, 241) had a 4.64-second 40 that would have tied Jerrell Adams for best tight end at the combine. A 36-inch vertical (second for tight ends) and 6.91-second 3-cone (third) didn’t hurt him, either. Sommers had 25 catches last year for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Not exactly awe-inspiring, but a quick look at his highlight reel shows a hard-blocking prospect with notable field awareness.

DEFENSE

Pierce Pressure: Time to take a closer look at Michael Pierce out of Samford. The defensive tackle ran a 4.98-second 40, remarkable for a human wall safe (6-1, 329 pounds). He also notched a 9-foot-7 broad jump, a 27-inch vertical, and a solid 28 bench reps. Believe it or not, Pierce’s numbers actually compare to Vince Wilfork’s pro day from 2004 (he had chosen to skip the combine). Big Vince ran a 5.08 40, jumped 8-foot-5 in the broad jump, and leapt 26.5 inches. The big difference? Wilfork’s 36 bench reps. (And, of course, a celebrated 11 seasons in Foxboro.)

Pierce totaled 48 tackles last year, including nine for loss with 2.5 sacks. He also had four QB hits. Pierce transferred to Samford after two years at Tulane, where he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. The Green Wave changed coaches Pierce’s sophomore year, which could partly explain his switch.

Good Times Never Felt So Good: Looks like we have another one of the Commodores, so let’s Sail On. Vanderbilt strong safety Andrew Williamson (6-1, 208) had himself a heck of a pro day, running a 4.48 40 that would have been the third fastest among combine safeties. Williamson’s 6.81 seconds would have been the second-best 3-cone time for the position. His 10-foot-4 broad jump would’ve tied for top five for safeties. Last season, Williamson had 41 total tackles (28 solo), with one sack, four pass breakups, and a forced fumble.

Have A Good Davie: Cornerback Daniel Davie out of Nebraska ran a 4.37-second 40 at his pro day, top three for combine corners, top six overall. A good-sized DB at 6-1, 190, Davie also completed the 3-cone drill in a quick 6.85 seconds, which would have tied for top five for corners at the combine. He also tied the fourth-best cornerbacks in both the vertical jump (39 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-7). Because of injuries his senior year, Davie played in only six games, totaling 18 tackles (17 solo) and five pass break-ups. As a junior, Davie started all 13 games. That led to 41 tackles (six for loss), two interceptions, and five pass break-ups. He played special teams his first two seasons.

Stand Up And Be Countess: Seeing as Bill Belichick himself made it to Auburn’s pro day, we have to assume he noticed cornerback Blake Countess (5-10, 184). After doing just fine in the 40 (4.48), the vertical jump (36.5 inches), and the broad jump (10-foot-1) with scores that would have made the top 15 for combine CBs, Countess submitted a woulda-been-top-five-for-corners 6.85-second 3-cone, along with 21 bench reps that would have been a combine-best among cornerbacks. The versatile DB actually wrapped up his career at Auburn as a safety this past season, with 71 tackles, two interceptions, 11 passes defensed, and a blocked kick. He started for three years (30 games) for Michigan at corner. In 2014, he racked up 24 tackles and three pass break-ups.

Third Degree Burns: We have to assume defensive back/returner Morgan Burns got a lot of questions at Kansas State’s pro day, especially after submitting a 4.38-second 40-yard dash that would have placed him fifth for combine CBs. The 5-10, 200-pounder also ran a 6.6-second 3-cone, which would have been top five at the combine overall. An All-Big 12 Honorable Mention at defensive back, Burns tallied 38 tackles, one interception, and 10 pass break-ups, along with a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Oh, hey, I guess we buried the lede: the All-American kick returner brought back four kickoffs for touchdowns in 2015, averaging 33.5 yards per return. He also recovered a blocked punt for a TD vs. Kansas.

So, special teams, you thinking? Because I’m thinking special teams.

Watch Burgess Merit It: Is he gonna eat lightning and crap thunder? James Burgess, Louisville linebacker, has the size of a strong safety at 5-11, 227 pounds, but his play at linebacker demonstrates his toughness. He measured up well against combine safeties, with a 4.61 40 that would have tied for seventh at the position, and a 7.06 3-cone that would have tied for sixth. His 21 bench press is second-best for safeties. The Atlantic Coast Conference Third Team linebacker had 92 tackles (9.5 for loss) and an interception last year, along with four pass break-ups and two fumble recoveries.

Duck, Duck, Loose: Oregon linebacker Joe Walker (6-2, 236) broke out at his pro day, coming up with numbers that would have stood up against combine linebackers. His 4.56-second 40 would have been third best for LBs, while his 6.81-second 3-cone would have come in second for the position. A 37.5-inch vertical (tied, third) and 10-4 broad jump (tied, fourth) both would have made top five for combine linebackers. Patrolling the middle, Walker led the Ducks in 2015 with 87 total tackles, including six for loss (two sacks). He also had an interception and two fumble recoveries.

Running Into A Brick Wallace: Kudos to linebacker Aaron Wallace out of UCLA for a notable pro day. His 10-foot-10 broad jump would have tied for eighth overall at the combine, second for linebackers. His 4.57-second 40 would have placed third among combine LBs, while his 36-inch vertical would have come in fourth and his 4.27-second 20-yard shuttle would have come in sixth for the position. What else, what else? Oh, yeah: 25 bench reps, good enough for third-place as an LB. For the Bruins, the 6-3, 240-pounder made All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention with 65 total tackles, including 12.5 for loss (seven sacks).

Give Me The Knight: Linebacker Quentin Gause out of Rutgers may not have gotten a combine invite, but the Patriots still have him on their radar as both a Rutgers Guy and a Special Teams Guy. Gause showed off his hard work prepping for his pro day. The 6-foot, 232 pound linebacker had 23 bench reps (third for combine linebackers), a 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle (third), a 7.00-second 3-cone (fourth) and a 36-inch vertical (fifth). An All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last year, Gause had 96 tackles (12 for loss, one sack), and two pass break-ups.

COMBINE BESTS (With Pro-Day Comparables)

40-YARD DASH

4.31 seconds – Keith Marshall, Georgia RB

4.37 seconds – Daniel Davie, Nebraska CB

BENCH PRESS (225 pounds)

43 reps – Vi Teofilo, Arizona State OL

34 reps – Christian Westerman, Arizona State OL

VERTICAL JUMP

41.5 inches – Daniel Lasco, California RB 

40.5 inches – Dominique Williams, Washington State WR

BROAD JUMP

11 feet, 3 inches – Daniel Lasco, California RB

3-CONE DRILL

6.49 seconds – Devon Cajuste, Stanford WR

6.6 seconds – Morgan Burns, Kansas State CB 

20-YARD SHUTTLE

3.85 seconds – Justin Simmons, Boston College FS

4.06 seconds – Jhurrell Presley, New Mexico RB

More snubs to come as pro day numbers come in.

Please let us know if we’ve missed any noteworthy pro day performances. Use the comment section below, or tweet Chris Warner @cwarn89