The Streak Continues

No, not Jackie Bradley Jr, who unfortunately had his hitting streak snapped at 29 games last night.

I don’t really mean Xander Bogaerts, who increased his streak to 19 games last night.

Clay Buchholz’s streak of lousy performances however, is alive and well.

Also alive and well is the ability of sports radio hosts to make ridiculous statements which have no basis in reality or fact.

I present to you Tweedledum and Tweedledee:

FELGER: BLAME FARRELL FOR KILLING BRADLEY’S HITTING STREAK

 

Of course, last night was the SIXTH different spot Bradley had hit in the lineup during his streak.

Tim Britton:

In fact, to blame the end of Bradley’s 29-game hitting streak on misplaced managerial meddling or the interruption of well-worn, superstitious habits is to ignore both a series of facts and the gravity of the accomplishment in the first place. Bradley’s hits were not the result of his spot in the order, and his lack of them on Thursday wasn’t either.

Sean McAdam:

First of all, Thursday night marked the sixth (SIXTH!) different spot that Bradley has hit during the hitting streak. He had hit second, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. So the notion that any change was disruptive was absurd.

As for the notion that Bradley would treat his at-bats differently because he was leading off? Also wrong. Bradley’s major adjustment since spring training has been being aggressive early in the count. So, do you know how many pitches Bradley saw in four at-bats as the leadoff hitter? Eight.

Does that sound like someone who was being forced to be more patient for the night, or someone changing their approach by working the count more?

Common sense and facts though, aren’t going to sway the tidal wave of #hotsportztakes.


I’ll expose my ignorance here and say I had no idea who Jim Breuer was prior to this week.

The comedian made big news this week by revealing he had an encounter with John Jastremski of Deflategate fame down in Mexico.

There are enough holes in his story to make it dubious, and his appearance on Toucher and Rich yesterday – the day before his album was released today, make the whole thing just a bit too convenient for me.


The by-the-book Ravens were punished by the NFL yesterday for breaking offseason training rules.

The punishment was a fine and loss of a week of OTA activity. Some wondered why the punishment wasn’t more severe.

Yet, this was the second violation for the Ravens since 2010:

It was then explained that this was their first violation during THIS CBA period.

Huh. The Patriots are still being punished for things that happened in 2007, isn’t that before this CBA?


Media should pipe down about Matt Harvey’s silence – Chad Finn looks at the media outrage over the Mets pitcher choosing not to talk to them.

Chris Berman to leave longtime ESPN gigs at end of 2016 NFL season – The longtime ESPN broadcaster refutes reports that he is retiring, however.

My Question

So here’s my question:

If Roger Goodell is “really not focused” on the Tom Brady appeal and he “didn’t see the report” from Congress on the NFL interfering with the concussion study, what exactly has he been doing?

Furthermore, if he “didn’t see the report,” (he said it TWICE) how was he able to spend considerable time in his press conference yesterday disputing the allegations made in the report?

Then there is this:

A Congressman issued that report without even talking to any of our advisors. I don’t think that’s appropriate. I don’t think that’s the right way to do things.

So all Congressional reports should be cleared with the NFL before being released. Got it.

I’ve said this ad nauseum, but with very few exceptions here and there, the media does not directly challenge Goodell on his deception and outright lies.

It’s baffling.

 

Tuesday Quick Hits

Catching up following a recent sojourn to Jamaica…

I like the new formatting for the Boston Globe sports articles. It’s a nice, clean, easy to read look. In a time when  web pages are cramming as much as possible onto a page, it’s nice to be able to see something like this.

HOW BOSTON CAUGHT ARIAN FOSTER FEVER – I enjoyed this piece from Tom E Curran for how he exposed that certain writers allow themselves to be used to carry water for agents. In this case Jason Cole.

Similarly, Mike Reiss gets props for calling out the hypocrisy of the media over the Baltimore Ravens being investigated for a full pads minicamp:

Contrast that with Peter King, who, on the very same subject wrote:

Now this is downright strange. The NFL is investigating the by-the-book Ravens for violating one of the simplest and clearest rules in the collective bargaining agreement: practicing in pads during their rookie minicamp.

The “by-the-book” Ravens, who were previously penalized for something very similar. Got it. Pete doesn’t think this is a big deal, no draft picks will be taken, just a stern talking to should do it.

Kevin Paul Dupont is a Twitter coward and an unabashed troll, but his Saturday piece on CSNNE’s Trenni Kusnierek and her battles with anxiety and depression is definitely worth a read.

Some solid thoughts from Chad Finn on the revamped NESN Red Sox broadcasts. It’s hard to tell if they’re more enjoyable because of the talent or because the team looks like it might not finish in last place this year.

How’d you like to work in NFL PR these days? The league is in a protracted battle with the greatest quarterback it has ever had – over nothing – and got blasted by Former US solicitor general Theodore Olson who is part of Tom Brady’s legal team in a brief filed yesterday, which opens:

“This case arises from an arbitration ruling by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that undermines the rights and expectations of parties to collective bargaining agreements, and runs roughshod over the rule of law.”

Also yesterday, a Congressional study found that the NFL tried to influence a government concussion research overseen by the National Institutes of Health.

But you can be sure of one thing, all NFL owners, especially Robert Kraft, are going to say that Roger Goodell is doing a great job.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

I realize that Upton Bell has not been relevant for at least 25 years, perhaps he was never relevant, but some Tweets he put out last night really sum up the hotsportztakes movement in a microcosm.

The Red Sox had won 4 in a row heading into last night’s game, were atop the division and have been crushing the ball as of late. So why exactly was Red Sox Nation lonely? Oh, because Price has been really bad this season.

Let’s get this straight: David Price has underachieved thus far so Bell thinks the pressure should be on him to perform. David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley Jr are performing well, so they must be “on something.

It’s the perfect scenario. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You know, for an old guy, Bell has this hottakez thing down pat.

Now I’ll just go back to ignoring Upton Bell completely.


I received this email late last night regarding Tom Caron’s appearance in the NESN play-by-play seat with Dave O’Brien taking a night off:

…today (May12) is the day to analyze sports (Red Sox)announcer Tom Caron. I have read the comments many viewers gave several years ago (2008-2009). They reflect well the agony I suffer listening to him shout at me as long as he can. Why, in heaven’s name, has he not been told how unattractive and infuriating it is to have to listen to him. Tell: me this: if you invited a guest to a party at your home and he talked like Tom Caron does during all the time he was there, would you invite him again?. I find myself hitting the “Mute” button on the TV for most of the Red Sox Game

I like Caron as the studio host, but would agree that the play-by-play spot isn’t really his strength.


Misc:

I’ll be curious to see if NESN implements the “forced vacations” on O’Brien that they did on Don Orsillo the last few years.

Sean McDonough has perfect bloodlines for marquee NFL job – Chad Finn looks at the new MNF play-by-play man.

Glenn Ordway is bringing back the whiner line to WEEI. It will be on his midday show starting next Friday. Next up, Fred Smerlas and Steve DeOssie everyday during football season?

Wednesday Quickie

Catching up on a couple things from the last week or so…

ESPN made four correct personnel moves in one day?

Moving Sean McDonough to the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football.

(Reportedly) Not bringing back Cris “Fall Guy” Carter and Ray “White Suit” Lewis.

Adding Randy Moss to NFL Countdown.

What is happening? 

Mike Ditka will also not be back on NFL Countdown, but he will still be around the network. Trent Dilfer could be gone as well, and the uncertain status of Chris Mortensen, due to his illness means that NFL coverage on ESPN could look very different on game days this fall.


I’m not going to try and make the case that David Ortiz is better than Ted Williams was, but nice job by Dan Shaughnessy taking that strawman and using it to write a column dripping with more undertones and suggestions that Ortiz must be using something in order to keep his performance level so high at the age of 40.

There’s no doubt that if Dan Shaughnessy was around in the 1950’s, he’d be trashing Ted Williams in the mold of Dave Egan.

Sure Teddy ballgame can hit the ball, but he’s not nearly the all-around player and man that Tris Speaker was.

The irony of all ironies is Shaughnessy decrying the era of “hot takes.”


Speaking of – you know things are slow in the Patriots hot take business when the topics have been Tom Brady’s cookbook and his mattress commercials.

Seriously.

Who’s The FA? UDFA! (2016 Edition)

Almost every year, New England finds an undrafted free agent to fill out their roster. Some, like guard Stephen Neal, work their way up to starter. Others, like cornerback Malcolm Butler, seem to burst onto the scene all at once.

Right now, Butler, punter Ryan Allen, guard Josh Kline, center David Andrews, running back Brandon Bolden and special teamer Brandon King compose some but not all of the UDFAs in Foxboro this spring. It’s an important avenue of team-building, especially for a franchise that seems to emphasize the so-called “middle class” of the roster.

Below are the undrafted New England rookies listed on NEPatriotsDraft.com, an invaluable website for this time of year. We’ve included highlight reels for all the players we could find. (Beware of questionable lyrics on many of them. And, yes, I sound like my father.)

Plus, high school fun facts!

Too Scheu Scheu, Hush Hush: We first mentioned tight end Steven Scheu (pronounced Shoy – 6-5, 253) in our Combine Snubs series after his successful pro day at Vanderbilt.

Why undrafted: Scheu’s 26 receptions ranked second among all Commodore receivers. Not exactly Texas Tech during its pass-happy heyday, there.

Why invited: He has good size. Ran a 4.70 40 and benched 225 pounds 23 times, which would have both been good enough for second place among combine tight ends. He was also named the team’s top scholar-athlete of 2015. Junior year highlights here.

High School Fun Fact: At Reitz Memorial High in Indiana, Scheu started at tight end for three years and played some fullback as a senior. His best year came as a junior, with 43 catches, 724 yards, and 10 touchdowns.

Hell Yeah, Hey D. J. Bring That Back: Arizona State slot receiver D. J. Foster (5-10, 193) made an appearance in our post-combine “That Guy” column in the potential seventh-round slot receiver category. He made the switch to receiver after playing running back at ASU.

Why undrafted: Not a huge guy, and his position switch may have scared some teams off. Also may have been knocked down draft boards after a mediocre 40 at the combine (4.57). His senior year output (59 receptions for 584 yards and three touchdowns) is solid yet not spectacular.

Why invited: He had a strong 40-yard dash at his pro day (4.46), and stood out due to his 6.75-second 3-cone. In 2015, Foster  continued to run the ball, compiling 280 yards on 55 carries (5.1 ypc). In his career, he gained more than 2,000 yards each rushing and receiving. For an organization that values versatility more than the makers of New Shimmer, a productive receiver/running back should get a look. See his highlights here, but it’s NSFW unless you want your fellow employees to be regaled with racial epithets.

High School Fun Fact: As a senior for Saguaro High in Arizona, Foster carried the ball 20 times vs. Sunrise Mountain, gaining 508 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns – both state records.

Driving A Bentley: At least, Patriots coaches hope to. V’Angelo Bentley (5-8, 193), Illinois cornerback, arrives in Foxboro to round out their special teams squad and possibly add a defensive back.

Why undrafted: Look again at that 5-foot-8, and remember Bentley ran an uninspiring 4.57 40-yard dash at his pro day. His 7.22-second 3-cone drill didn’t exactly write his ticket to the NFL, either.

Why invited: Notched 54 tackles, one sack, and six pass break-ups last season. Also – and more importantly – Bentley received All-Big Ten Honorable Mention as a returner, ranking second in the conference in punt return average (8.6). He was also the only player in school history to return a kickoff, punt, interception, and fumble for touchdowns in his career. Short and vague highlight reel here.

High School Fun Fact: Bentley ran track at Glenville High in Ohio, where his coach was Ted Ginn, Sr.

Drawing LeBlanc: Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc (5-10, 185) from Florida Atlantic adds his name to a growing group of rookie corners for New England.

Why undrafted: His 4.67 40 at his pro day couldn’t have helped, and measuring a bit under 5-10 probably didn’t have scouts shouting his name, either.

Why invited: Completed a respectable 6.95-second 3-cone drill and put up 21 reps on the bench. Made All-Conference USA Second Team, leading the league with four interceptions. That, along with 11 pass break-ups, earned him Team Defensive MVP honors. Returned kicks and punts; also served as team captain. Aggressive coverage highlights here.

High School Fun Fact: While at Glades Central High, LeBlanc doled out the “Hardest Hit of the Year” in Palm Beach County. (I have no way to verify this, but it sounds cool.)

A Hit And A Miss: Mississippi linebacker C. J. Johnson (6-1, 234) could work his way onto the roster as another smaller linebacker/special-teamer type.

Why undrafted: Rather uninspiring numbers for both the combine and at his pro day, including a 4.81-second 40 and a 7.69-second 3-cone drill. (For comparison, Pats rookie offensive guard Joe Thuney ran a 7.47.) Also missed two weeks due to an October knee injury.

Why invited: Showed some toughness by coming back in two weeks and not the expected four. Plays Mike linebacker, where New England could use some depth. Had 43 tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions in 10 games. Johnson displayed versatility by moving from defensive end to middle linebacker before his senior year. High effort, low production sophomore highlights here.

High School Fun Fact: When he played at Philadelphia (Miss.) High, Rivals.com ranked Johnson the number one high school player in Mississippi.

Look At The Bones! Not to be confused with Jon “Bones” Jones, Auburn’s Jonathan Jones, cornerback, will be fighting for a roster spot amongst a crowded field of defensive backs.

Why undrafted: Jones measures on the smaller side at 5-9, 186 pounds. Also not the quickest, with a 7.25-second 3-cone drill.

Why invited: His 4.33 40 time was the third-fastest overall at the NFL Combine. Strong for a corner, as his 19 bench press reps tied for second at the position. Started for four years at corner; ended his final year with 69 tackles, one interception, and 13 pass break-ups. Fast-paced interception highlights that also need a mute button here.

High School Fun Fact: While at Carrollton High in Georgia, Johnson was the 110-meter high hurdles national champion with a time of 13.72 seconds.

They Stretchya, They Workya, De’Runnya: Ole Miss’ De’Runnya Wilson (6-5, 224) arrives as a tight end/receiver hybrid and could bring even more versatility to New England’s receiving crew.

Why undrafted: We call it versatility, others may call it a man without a position. Also ran a flat-out miserable 4.82 40, which would be fine for a blocking TE but not a 224-pounder.

Why invited: New England has searched for a prolific “move” tight end ever since He Who Shall Not Be Named committed That Thing We Won’t Talk About. Wilson made All-SEC Second Team last year, catching 60 passes for 918 yards (15.3 avg.) and 10 touchdowns. Impressive highlight reel (that’s what highlight reels are for, after all) here.

High School Fun Fact: Wilson’s basketball team won the state championship his junior year, as he averaged 13.7 points and 10.9 rebounds for Wenonah High in Birmingham, Alabama (go Dragons!).

All Right, Hamilton! Defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton (6-3, 312) from Ole Miss could further bulk up the defensive front in Foxboro.

Why undrafted: Hamilton tweaked his hamstring in March, which may be partly to blame for mediocre times in the 20-yard shuttle (4.88 seconds) and the 3-cone (7.90).

Why invited: Put up 29 reps on the bench press, which would have tied him for eighth at the combine. Was also said to have had a “very good pro-day workout” by Gil Brandt on NFL.com. Has started since his sophomore year at nose tackle, a position the Pats seem quite interested in this off-season.

High School Fun Fact: As a senior at Raleigh High in Mississippi, Hamilton had six sacks and two blocked punts, making the All-State team. If you want to see two high school plays highlighted, click here.

Smithers, I’m Home: Free safety Mr. Devonta Burns (5-10, 203) of Texas A&M could contribute as a special-teamer and eventually make his way into defensive sub packages.

Why undrafted: Not an explosive athlete, with non-special times in the 40 (4.52) and 3-cone (7.07) for someone his size. Had a mere 17 tackles in 2015. Had zero interceptions in his college career.

Why invited: As a nickel corner, had 57 tackles in 2014, as well as one pass break-up and two forced fumbles. Plus, special teams experience. Some almost-impossible-to-see kickoff coverage highlights here.

High School Fun Fact: Burns was named to the 4-5A First-Team All-District squad as a senior at Arlington Martin High in Texas and was ranked the third-best safety in the state by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

Pay The Bryce: Well, we shall see. Bryce Williams (6-6, 257), East Carolina tight end, will give New England’s bigger TEs some reps off this summer.

Why undrafted: His 4.94-second 40 was about the same as our aforementioned rookie guard Thuney, who ran a 4.95. As far as strength, his 19 bench reps seem low for the position of blocking tight end.

Why invited: Not Gronk-level talented, but definitely Gronk-sized. Could provide another big body at the position, which would mean competition for the likes of Michael Williams. Williams (Bryce, that is) caught 58 passes for 588 yards and four touchdowns last season. Some highlights of what a big pass-catcher can do are found on this link.

High School Fun Fact: At North Davidson High in North Carolina, Williams excelled in football (school offensive MVP), track (All-conference in the 110 meters), and basketball (all-county).

Shaq’ing Up: The Patriots did not draft a running back, but they decided to add to their running back stable by inviting Shaquille Powell (5-9, 210) out of Duke.

Why undrafted: Powell’s a smaller back but lacks the speed (4.63 40) and quickness (7.07 3-cone) that runners of his size seem to require. Averaged just 4.3 yards per carry. Also, fair to say that Duke is not known as a football school.

Why invited: Powell caught 35 passes for 212 yards (6.06 avg.) and two touchdowns and did not fumble his senior year – in fact, he lost only one fumble in his entire career (418 touches). Was an Academic All-ACC selection for three years running (so to speak). Powell’s prowess on runs, screens, and wheel routes can be witnessed here.

High School Fun Fact: As a senior at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Powell rushed for 2,458 yards and 40 touchdowns on his way to a state title.

His Middle Name Is Kringle-Jack: Linebacker Kris Frost (6-2, 240) out of Auburn also got a camp invite and could fit as a backup middle linebacker.

Why undrafted: Frost lacks speed, running a 4.97 40 at the combine. He also had shoulder issues in February that prevented him from performing the combine bench press.

Why invited: Second on the team with 96 tackles. Also had two interceptions and one forced fumble. Pretty good quickness with a 7.15 3-cone. Along with Jones (and Garrett, below) – and with the fact that Belichick visited Auburn this spring for pro day – highlights the coach’s interest in the Tigers. You can see Frost’s game film vs. Mississippi State in 2014 here.

High School Fun Fact: As an outside linebacker for Butler High in Matthews, North Carolina, Frost’s team went 16-0. In his final two years, he tallied 178 tackles, (22 for loss), six forced fumbles, and seven interceptions.

Justin Case: Apparently, when it comes to training camp, you can’t invite too many linebackers. Justin Garrett (6-1, 226) became the latest Auburn defender to make his way to Gillette.

Why undrafted: Garrett’s smaller than most ‘backers and failed to make up for that lack of size with great speed, getting timed at a mediocre 4.75 seconds in the 40.

Why invited: His 28 bench press reps would have been the second-best effort for linebackers at the combine. Had 50 tackles, one sack, and two interceptions for the Tigers in 2015. Showed some versatility by practicing as a safety before his sophomore year. Watch Garrett return a fumble for a TD in this clip.

High School Fun Fact: Playing for Tucker High in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Garrett was ranked as the number 12 outside linebacker in the country by Scout.com.

It’s A Shame About Ray: Or not. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with camp invitee wide receiver Melvin Ray (6-2, 208) out of – wait for it – Auburn, who will provide some competition for the lower end of the receiver roster.

Why undrafted: Ray ran a less-than-spectacular 4.60 40-yard dash at his pro day. Playing behind superior pass-catchers, Ray only managed 33 receptions for his career. Just turned 27 years old last month, as he played minor league baseball prior to attending Auburn.

Why invited: His 6.98-second 3-cone drill is pretty swift for his size. Speaking of size, right now Ray ties with rookie Devin Lucien for the second-tallest receiver on the team behind Aaron Dobson. Averaged 17.2 yards per catch and gained a TD or first down on 81 percent of his receptions. Has special teams experience. He eluded non-existent coverage for one of his four career TDs here.

High School Fun Facts: As a senior at North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Florida, Ray caught 53 passes for 1,058 yards and 16 TDs. He later got picked by the L. A. Dodgers in the 2008 MLB Draft.

If any new undrafted players join the team after this article posts, please let us know in the comment section below. Also, if a Boston sports radio host says something outlandish, feel free to voice your outrage.

Chris Warner wanted to play tight end for the Patriots growing up and was a huge fan of Lin Dawson. He tweets from @cwarn89.  

Patriots “That Guy” 2016 Draft Review

Predicting New England’s draft picks provides more setbacks than predicting spring weather (Hello there, 70 degrees! Nice to see you, sleet!). However, forecasting what types of players they usually pick has gotten easier.

In our previous, pre-draft “That Guy” piece, we touched on several different kinds of athletes the Patriots tend to bring into the fold. They remained true to form, as we’ll see below.

Just to review, here are New England’s picks by round (and overall number).

Round Two (60): CB/PR Cyrus Jones (5-10, 197), Alabama

Round Three (78): OL Joe Thuney (6-5, 305), N.C. State

Round Three ( 91): QB Jacoby Brissett (6-4, 231), N.C. State

Round Three (96): DL Vincent Valentine (6-4, 329), Nebraska

Round Four (112): WR Malcolm Mitchell (6-0, 198), Georgia

Round Six (208): OLB Kamu Grugier-Hill (6-2, 208), Eastern Illinois

Round Six (214): ILB Elandon Roberts (6-0, 235), Houston

Round Six (221): OL Ted Karras (6-3, 307), Illinois

Round Seven (225): WR Devin Lucien (6-2, 195), Arizona State

Trades: Ah, yes. On draft day, Coach Bill Belichick tends to go the full Monty Hall, wheeling and dealing in his search for the best value. New England entered the draft with 11 picks and wound up using nine, at one point trading up to the fourth round by swapping picks 196, 204, and 250 for Miami’s 147. They later used that to get an extra pick in 2017 (a Seattle fourth-rounder).

So, what kinds of players did they end up with?

The Alabama Guy: Our lone correct hit of the day came in the second round with Jones, who will join fellow Tide alum Dont’a Hightower on New England’s defense (and if Hightower could start as a rookie, expect Jones to contribute this year, too). Jones lacks height but has bulk and quickness (a head-turning 6.71-second 3-cone at the combine). He nabbed two interceptions last fall to go along with eight pass break-ups and 37 tackles. Where he’ll make his mark, though, is on special teams, as he averaged 12.6 yards per punt return in 2015, bringing four punts home for dinner.*

*Still working on a catchphrase for a return TD. It’s not going well. 

The Offensive Line Double-Dip: Last year, rookies Shaq Mason and Tré Jackson started several games on the interior; the year before, Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming shored up the line. This season, Coach Belichick and returning OL coach/wizard Dante Scarnecchia hope to continue the trend with their two-fer of Thuney and Karras.

Thuney projects as a guard, but his speed (4.95 40) and upper-body strength (28 bench reps of 225 pounds) allow him some flexibility. Most importantly, he made All-ACC First Team last year as a left tackle after playing left guard in 2014 and right tackle, right guard, and left tackle in 2013. The man has more versatility than a Swiss Army knife with a Humanities doctorate.

Karras, who may or may not be able to knock out a horse, should compete for a guard spot. Though he lacks quickness (his 5.34 40 and 8.15 3-cone were timed indoors – on a couch! Right?), his 32 bench reps would have come in fourth overall at the NFL Combine, third for offensive linemen. Karras made All-Big Ten Third Team in 2015, filling in briefly at center as a senior. He started at right guard for 43 games in his career .

The Backup Quarterback: Well, this came as a surprise. With 2014 second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo in the fold, we figured New England would wait until the later rounds to nab a third-string QB, and that they’d try to address an area of need (namely, anything but a rookie play-caller). Brissett became the number two third-round quarterback picked during Belichick’s tenure (Kevin O’Connell got the call in 2008). He’s an interesting prospect, with prototypical size (6-4, 231) and notable quickness (7.17 3-cone). Last year, he passed for 2,662 yards and 20 touchdowns vs. six interceptions. Had a 60 percent completion rate.

This is a “friend of Bill” pick, as both former Pats offensive coordinator Charlies Weis and former Pats coach Bill Parcells have mentored Brissett over the years. Interesting to see how this all works out.

The “Who’s That Guy?” Guy: New England usually pulls this off in the second round, with Sebastian Vollmer in 2009, Tavon Wilson in 2012, and Jordan Richards in 2015 as examples of Day Three prospects getting Day Two treatment. The highest rating for Valentine that we could find (NFLDraftScout.com) measured him as a late seventh-rounder. Speaking of measurements, apparently 329-pound D-linemen do not grow on trees (because surely they would break the branches). And men of such size who submit 5.19-second 40-yard dashes and 29-inch vertical leaps grow more rarely still.

Valentine could have crossed into another category as “The Injured Guy” after playing only 10 games last season as a junior due to an ankle injury. He notched a mere seven tackles in 2015. As a sophomore in 2014, he tallied 45 tackles (6.5 for loss) including three sacks, and forced a fumble.

The Take-A-Shot-On-This-Receiver Guy: The Patriots took a shot on Mitchell in the fourth round, and it feels like their best chance for pass-catcher production out of a draftee since a certain seventh-rounder in 2009. (Back then, I dismissed Julian Edelman in part due to his name. Even worse, that year my favorite pick was Tyrone McKenzie. I had more misfires than a wet musket. You can read all of them here.)

Mitchell has decent size and good speed (4.45 40). His 3-cone is fine at 6.94 seconds – he certainly seems to get open on film. As a senior, he led the run-heavy Bulldogs with 58 receptions, gaining 865 yards and scoring five touchdowns. He’s also got intangibles, earning numerous honors in community service, such as the 2015 AllState AFCA Good Works Award and the 2016 Community Spirit Award.

Plus: 10.5-inch hands! Those are, like, Goliath birdeater tarantula hands.

The Sixth-Round Small School Defender: No, Eastern Illinois isn’t as small as Concordia (Zach Moore, 2014) or Central Arkansas (Markell Carter, 2011), but as a 1-AA school in the Ohio Valley Conference, it’s not exactly Ohio State. The Pats got themselves a nifty athlete in Grugier-Hill, whose pro day performance should have been included in our Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em column. The strong safety ran a 4.45-second 40, a 4.20-second 20-yard shuttle, and a 6.89-second 3-cone drill. All three times would have made top five for safeties at the NFL Combine.

For the Panthers, Grugier-Hill made All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team with 62 tackles (a noteworthy 14.5 for loss) 5.5 sacks, and one interception.

The Special Teams Guy: Looks like Roberts can join Matthew Slater (2008) and Nate Ebner (2012) as athletes drafted in later rounds for their potential special teams prowess. At 235 pounds, Roberts weighs less than most Patriots linebackers, but the kid has skills: his 4.60 40 would have tied for the fifth-best time among combine linebackers, while his 25 bench reps would have been top three at the position. Best of all, he had more stops than a five-page telegram, leading the Cougars with 142 total tackles in 2015 (the next guy had 50 fewer). His whopping 88 unassisted tackles led the nation. He had 19 for loss, with six sacks. Throw in five pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, and an interception, and you’ve got yourself a defensive “Mark Twain Live!” (In other words, a real one-man show.)

The Seventh-Round Slot Receiver Guy(?): Besides Edelman, the Pats have drafted a couple of Jeremys – Ebert (2012) and Gallon (2014) – to fill this role. We’re shoehorning Lucien into this category like Cinderella’s stepsisters’ feet: his college (and now pro) teammate D. J. Foster gets the glass slipper here. In fact, we said as much in this year’s first “That Guy” column after Foster’s combine performance. Lucien has solid numbers from his pro day (4.49 40, 6.93 3-cone), but his production at ASU says much more. He led the Sun Devils in receptions (66) and yardage (1,075), while tying for the team lead in receiving TDs (eight). He averaged 16.3 yards per catch.

Lucien graduated from UCLA and transferred to ASU. Before Super Bowl 49 in Arizona, Belichick praised ASU coach Todd Graham, which may have helped Lucien get drafted (and Foster get a call as a rookie free agent).

That sums it up for this year’s selections. Later this week, please keep an eye out for our annual undrafted free agent piece “Who’s The FA? UDFA!”

Chris Warner visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps this past weekend and thought it was amazing. He also tweets: @cwarn89

Sox In First After Sweep of Yankees

It’s May 2nd, and your Boston Red Sox are a half-game in first place in the A.L. East following an 8-7 win at Fenway Park last night.

David Price continued his early season struggles, but again received the run support needed to move to 4-0 on the year.

While the WEEI morning show continues to rail against Curt Schilling’s replacement on Sunday Night Baseball, Jessica Mendoza, ESPN and Schilling continued their dance last night when inexplicably, the network cut out Schilling’s part in the 30 for 30 rebroadcast of Four Days in October last night. Game six, the bloody sock – never happened.

When asked about it, the network responded (somewhat snarkily) that the show was simply edited for time.

I honestly don’t think this was premeditated or some sort of statement from the network on Schilling, but I do think when they were figuring out which segments they could trim for the time requirements, when given a choice between Schilling and non-Schilling, they decided to cut Schilling. Subtly sticking it to him in the process.

When you think of the 2004 ALCS, you think of the Red Sox coming back from 0-3 down of course, you think of the heroics of David Ortiz in games four and five, you think of the blowout game seven, but Schilling and the bloody sock is as memorable as any of those.


For the first time ever, I did not watch a single moment of the NFL draft live. Not a single pick. I saw plenty of what was happening on Twitter, including Kevin Faulk’s all-time classic moment of introducing a Patriots pick while sporting a Tom Brady jersey.

While having Troy Vincent on the stage with Faulk was great, it would’ve been even better with Roger Goodell there instead.

Speaking of Goodell, how do NFL Owners feel having their representative booed endlessly and vociferously, and his response is “bring it on?”

Oh, I forgot. The owners all say Roger is doing a great job. Roger Goodell is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

Meanwhile I saw numerous reports that it sure seemed like ESPN (and sometimes NFLN) was trying awfully hard to not show any of the Patriots picks. Almost makes me wonder if after Faulk’s appearance there was some edict passed down to ensure the Patriots didn’t embarrass the league in that fashion in live TV again. Almost.


Was a little surprised at some blowback I received on Twitter about the job Danny Ainge has done with the Celtics, and whether this season was a failure following the first round 4-2 series loss to the Atlanta Hawks. There seemed to be a common theme among the critics, references to “green teamers” and other Mike Felger references.

The Celtics have steadily improved in the three seasons under Brad Stevens, and have a top pick in the draft in June, and the cap space to attract more than one top free agent this summer. I don’t know what could’ve been done significantly better, especially when you look around the NBA at other rebuilding projects.

The Patriots 2016 Draft Preview Review

Today we present our concise draft coverage review while marveling at how many NFL owners and general managers refused to pay attention during high school physics class.

Patriots “That Guy” 2016 Senior Bowl Edition – It all began on February 1 with our first “That Guy” column of the year, reviewing players we noticed during the Senior Bowl and other college all-star games from late January.

Player Of Note: Quentin Gause of Rutgers could fill one of many draft categories, including Rutgers Guy and Special Teams Guy. The 6-0, 243 pound linebacker led all tacklers at the NFLPA Bowl and had 96 stops in 2015. He was also a team captain and Academic All-Big Ten, among other Pats-Guy-type honors.

Our annual Round-By-Round Review came out on February 10, chronicling all the draft picks by Bill Belichick while in New England, organized by round. Pay special attention to New England’s overall success with Round One selections.

Player Of Note: Whomever the Pats won’t be able to pick this year in Round One. Damnit.

Patriots “That Guy” 2016 NFL Combine Edition – On March 2, our second “That Guy” column of the year came out, focusing on results from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and where some of those players might fit on New England’s roster.

Player Of Note: You can’t miss the performance of Justin Simmons out of Boston College. The free safety had a 40-inch vertical and a super quick 6.58-second 3-cone drill, all the more impressive given his 6-2, 202-pound frame. Last year for BC, Simmons had 67 tackles, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part I – Back in the middle of March, we posted Part I of our Combine Snubs series, taking a closer look at players who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine, but who succeeded at their respective pro days in the weeks afterward.

Player Of Note: Keeping Patriots receiver (and former college quarterback) Julian Edelman in mind, QB Jason Vander Laan out of tiny Ferris State absolutely ripped up his Division II slate, winning the Harlan Hill Trophy (D2 Player of the Year) two years running. As a senior, the 6-4, 240-pound QB passed for 2,626 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for 1,542 yards and 24 TDs. Also had a noteworthy 6.73-second 3-cone drill.

Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part II – On April 19 came our second Combine Snubs review, checking out more players who would have fit in at Indianapolis but didn’t get the invitation.

Player Of Note: Running back Darius Jackson of Eastern Michigan had himself a great pro day. He ran a 4.35-second 40, catapulted 41 inches off the ground, and completed the 3-cone drill in 6.82 seconds, all of which would have made top two or better for combine backs. Jackson rushed for 1,067 yards in 2015, averaging 5.2 yards per carry while scoring 14 TDs on the ground. The best part is that he’s 6-1, 220 pounds, which could fill out New England’s need for a younger, bigger back.

Patriots “That Guy” 2016 April Edition – Finally, on April 21, we ran our last “That Guy” piece of the season, putting together our knowledge from both the combine and pro days.

Player Of Note: Keenan Reynolds. Belichick has to draft the best rusher in Navy history, doesn’t he? Seriously, how could Reynolds not end up in Foxboro, at least for spring practice? He earned solid reports from Senior Bowl practices after his switch to running back. He rushed for 4,559 yards in his career, scoring a Division I record 88 touchdowns. I mean, Belichick will draft this kid just to talk to him on the sideline. And, hey, with uncertainty surrounding the first four games of the season, we could always see the triple option.

Please keep an eye out for our post-draft coverage, where we match up the Patriots’ picks with our “That Guy” predictions.

Much like the NFL from 1920 until 2015, Chris Warner couldn’t care less about air pressure inside a football. He tweets @cwarn89

Brady Suspension Reinstated.

The decision yesterday by the 2nd Circuit to reinstate Tom Brady’s four game suspension and to uphold Roger Goodell’s power to do anything he damn well pleases was just the latest turn in an unending case.

Interestingly, the Chief Justice of the court was the dissenting voice in the decision, coming down against Goodell and his methods. (Apparently he must be a “fan boy” too, eh, Dan Shaughnessy?)  Giants owner John Mara’s college law school classmate Judge Chin naturally voted in favor of the league.

Teams around the league are apparently coming to the realization that something like this could happen to them as well.

The Chiefs have already found this out.

I’ve seen a lot of finger-wagging towards the NFLPA on this, saying sorry, they gave Goodell this power in the last CBA…

Well if that was so clear, why did it take 16 months and two rounds of Federal court to make that point?

There may be no better example than Roger Goodell to the old adage that absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Sean McDonough to Monday Night Football?  It could happen. Mike Tirico left ESPN for NBC, and the former Red Sox voice is the leading candidate to replace him.

ESPN Mainstay Mike Tirico Leaving To Join NBC


The Celtics and Red Sox are both in Atlanta, taking on the Hawks and Braves respectively.

The Celtics are tied 2-2 in their opening round playoff series, and the Red Sox pulled out a 1-0 win last night, with a Jackie Bradley Jr home run being the difference.