2017-03-26T14:30:20-04:00The Patriots are meeting with college players for the draft. Here’s a list of names! The NFL Combine is right around the corner, which means that it’s time to start tracking the college players that have met with the New England Patriots. These meetings don’t mean much in the sense that they don’t imply any extra interest on the part of New England. It could be a simple background interview if a player was injured or suspended. But it’s good information to add into your scouting profile. We’ll try to keep track of all the contact reports, but feel free to post tips in the comments section. East-West Shrine Game USC S Leon McQuay III (source): 6’1, 200 pound strong safety with three years in-and-out of the starting line-up. Grandfather played running back for the Patriots in 1975. Colorado DT Josh Tupou (source): 6’3, 325 pound, 4-year starter, suspended for a full season (received red shirt) for violating team rules. Colorado EDGE Jimmie Gilbert (source): 6’5, 230 pound, 3-year starter, named Third Team All America. Senior Bowl Michigan DT Chris Wormley (source): 6’6, 300 pound, 3-year starter, including time as a defensive end, was named co-captain as a senior. Illinois EDGE Carroll Phillips (source): 6’3, 240 pound, 1-year starter, racked up a ridiculous 20.0 tackles for loss and 9 sacks as a senior, with big plays almost every week. Tulane DT Tanzel Smart (source): 6’1, 305 pound, 3-year starter, including two years as First Team All Conference, picked up 19.0 tackles for loss. Arkansas WR Drew Morgan (source): 6’0, 190 pound receiver that collected 1,610 yards and 13 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Youngstown State EDGE Derek Rivers (source): 6’4, 248 pound pass rusher out of a small school, possesses the athleticism to drop into coverage. Kansas State EDGE Jordan Willis (source): 6’4, 255 pound do-it-all edge player that finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ top rated edge defender. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu (source): 6’4, 224 pound strong safety that could also play cornerback and linebacker. Nebraska SS Nate Gerry: 6’2, 218 pound strong safety that runs a 4.58s 40 yard dash and has explosive 10’2 broad jump. Gerry is best in the box and has experience as linebacker. His 13 interceptions rank second in school history. NFL Combine Toledo RB Kareem Hunt (source): 5’10, 216 pound do-it-all running back that hasn’t fumbled in three years as a starter. 3rd most yards from scrimmage in MAC history. Ashland TE Adam Shaheen (source): 6’7, 277 pound athletic freak that looks like a wide receiver in the open field, but needs some work as a blocker. Clemson TE Jordan Leggett (source): 6’5, 258 pound tight end that is more of a receiver than an in line tight end, but possesses the willingness to develop. Virginia Tech TE Bucky Hodges (source): 6’6, 257 pound tight end that is also more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Not very experienced as a blocker. Clemson WR Artavis Scott (source): 5’10, 193 pound slot receiver that has collected 245 receptions, 2,529 yards, and 20 touchdowns in three seasons. Connecticut WR Noel Thomas (source): 6’0, 205 pound receiver coming off a 100 reception, 1,239 yard, 3 touchdown season. Miami TE David Njoku (source): 6’4, 245 pound tight end and considered the tight end with the best upside in the draft. Texas RB D’Onta Foreman (source): 6’1, 249 pound running back that gets the short yardage, but struggles in pass protection, as a receiver, and at protecting the football. Florida State OT Roderick Johnson (source): 6’6, 309 pound offensive tackle that comes from the Florida State pipeline. Experienced, but raw tackle prospect. Temple RB Jahad Thomas (source): 5’10, 190 pound projected-gadget player that was incredibly productive as a runner, receiver, and returner while at college. Former DB. Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans (source): 6’3, 232 pound one-year starter out of JuCo that can run and pass; one of the most productive QBs in the country. When asked if Cowboys QB Dak Prescott showed that draft posit[...]
The Patriots kicker might not have been perfect on field goals and extra points, but he added value everywhere else.
New England Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski had a down year in 2016 as far as kicking was concerned. He missed five field goals and five extra points over the course of the season and showed poor consistency in kicking technique.
Of course Gostkowski connected on 90.1% of his kicking attempts in 2016 (field goals + extra points) which is not too far from his 91.9% conversion rate on kicks over the previous five seasons (field goals + 2015 extra points). But after an All Pro 2015 season, his 2016 performance was a letdown.
There are a few reasons for Gostkowski’s downturn season, but my favorite is that he had to change his kicking technique to account for the new kickoff rules. The league moved up the starting field position after a touchback, so the Patriots opted to try and pin return teams deep and force a return for bad field position.
Gostkowski pinned the Atlanta Falcons deep in Super Bowl LI and helped force overtime, but his contributions on kickoffs reasonably don’t receive the same magnifying glass as from field goals and extra points, even if head coach Bill Belichick highlights it during radio spots.
While Gostkowski’s ability on kickoffs might not fully offset his missed field goals, it’s certainly value added that needs to be taken into account. And now Washington has proposed a rule change that could make Gostkowski’s kickoff ability even more apparent.
2017 Playing Rules Proposals, #6. By Washington; Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
That’s right. If a team kicks the ball through the uprights on a kickoff, then the opposing team is forced to start on the 20-yard line. This presents three opportunities for starting field position and adds value to special teams players and a facet of the game that has been eroding lately.
Teams can either start on the 25-yard line via touchback; they can start on the 20-yard line via the new rule proposal; or they can start wherever their return takes them.
I’m in favor of this rule. What about you?
The Patriots now have more money to play with.
The New England Patriots have gained $3 million in cap space, increasing the team’s available amount to $29.7 million, the 8th most in the NFL. The move was first noticed by Pats Cap’s Miguel Benzan, who recognized the change over Friday night into Saturday morning.
On the official salary cap space tracker page https://t.co/0SD0258hi7 the Patriots salary cap number increased by 3M since yesterday.— Cap Space=26,660,850 (@patscap) March 25, 2017
The Patriots currently don’t have a first or second round pick, so it’s unlikely that the team will draft Langi until the third round- at the earliest. It’s just unique to see a player so heavily and vocally linked to the Patriots during the draft process.