New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Patriots Pick Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn and RB Sony Michel in Round One of the NFL Draft

The Patriots took a pair of teammates from Georgia on Thursday night in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, taking OL Isaiah Wynn with the 23rd overall pick, and then later in the round they took running back Sony Michel with the 31st pick.

Video: The Latest on What the Patriots Might Do with Pick 23

The NFL Draft is less than 2 hours away, and while the Pats have awhile on Thursday before they make a pick at 23, here’s the latest on what direction the team might go.

Is Tom Brady NOT Coming Back to Play for the Patriots in 2018?

It’s crazy to think about, but there’s still no OFFICIAL word from Tom Brady or his camp about him playing this season, and with all the issues from the end of last season between he and Bill Belichick, is there a legit shot he might walk away?

Unlikely, but as Adam Schefter says it on Twitter today, it’s odd that he’s not put out a statement or made an announcement that he’s returning to play this upcoming season.

Report: Patriots Coach Bill Belichick “Chastised” TE Rob Gronkowski for Being a TB12 Client

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reportedly “chastised” tight end Rob Gronkowski in front of his other players for being a TB12 client” early last season according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald.

NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran added the incident was a “big part” of Gronkowski’s “irritation” with the organization last season. Back in March, Curran’s colleague Mike Giardi reported Gronk and Tom Brady were “miserable” playing under Belichick last season with much of the disconnect tying back to Alex Guerrero, Brady’s and now Gronk’s trainer. At this point, Gronkowski is expected to return to the Patriots, but it is clear there is real friction between the tight end and his head coach.

Recent sighting of Gronkowski indicate an even leaner version of the tight end than what was seen in 2017 as he continues to train with Guerrero. After the 28-year-old’s multitude of injuries, including a third back surgery, he last year decided he would put his faith in Tom Brady’s body coach, who focused on getting the tight end more pliable. There is some concern that Gronk may be getting too lean to play his position, although reportedly he is only five pounds lighter than the weight he played last season and he plans to get back to that weight by training camp. Last season, which was his first on the program, Gronkowski put together one of his finest years, amassing 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. He earned All-Pro status for the fifth time while also making his fifth Pro Bowl. He missed one game due to injury, and one due to suspension.

Belichick, on the other hand, does not want the entire team to ditch the official trainers or to have too many different voices in the training room. At this point, it seems he is being tuned out by his two best and most famous players.

Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph Has a Private Workout for the Patriots

The Patriots have conducted a private workout with former Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph, and the Buffalo Bills will bring him in for a visit this weekend to continue what has been a busy visit schedule, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com.

Rudolph’s contact with NFL teams to this point also has included visits or workouts with the Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Patriots Ink WR Jordan Matthews to One-Year Deal

The Pats have been in the market for a wide out since the moment the team dealt Brandin Cooks to the Rams, and now it appears they have found a receiver to take his place.

The team has come to terms with Jordan Matthews to a one-year deal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports.

Matthews entered the league with the Philadelphia Eagles as a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2014, and looked to have the potential to become a No. 1 receiver. He saw less playing time in his final season in Philadelphia, and Eagles GM Howie Roseman gave up on those hopes entirely in 2017 when he dealt Matthews to Buffalo. The receiver struggled to stay healthy and caught just 25 passes for 282 yards and one touchdown in his lone season with the Bills.

Bill Belichick has quite a history of taking chances on castoff receivers. He’s had mixed results, with Randy Moss serving as the best payoff and Chad Johnson being the worst.

Prior to 2017, Matthews averaged 75 receptions for 891 yards receiving and just over six touchdowns per season. He’s demonstrated he has the physical tools to be an effective receiver. Should the 6-foot-3, 212-pound wideout return to that level, New England will have found itself a bargain.

Patriots Deal WR Brandin Cooks to the Rams for the 23rd Pick in the Draft

The Patriots pulled off a stunner with the NFL Draft closing in less than a month away, as the team on Tuesday evening dealt receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for the 23rd pick in this month’s draft.

The Pats also sent a fourth-round pick (No. 136 overall) to Los Angeles and received a sixth-round pick (No. 198 overall) from the Rams.

The Rams — who had explored a trade for Odell Beckham Jr. but liked the Cooks option better — were seeking a vertical threat for second-year coach Sean McVay’s dynamic offense after Sammy Watkins joined the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency.
Patriots Trade Brandin Cooks to Rams

Brandin Cooks New England is sending receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2018 fourth-round pick to Los Angeles for the 23rd overall pick in the draft and a sixth-rounder. Read more

The speedy Cooks, who totaled 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns for the Patriots last season, fills that void alongside Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Cooks had 16 receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield last season, tied with DeAndre Hopkins for most in the NFL.

The move likely means that the Pats will be looking at offense early in the draft, and also looking hard at a wide out, as the teams’ offense continues in transition following the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.

Patriots Dolphins Gab 2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: USC QB Sam Darnold

The hype for USC quarterback Sam Darnold has b3en growing by leaps and bounds the last few weeks, to the point where many feel he’s going to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft in April.

At 6-4, 220 pounds, he’s got the look of a player who with some time learning could be a very good to excellent quarterback in the NFL, but time will tell when he might get that chance.

In his final season at USC, Darnold threw for 4143 yards, with 26 touchdowns to go along with 13 picks. This after throwing 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions the season before.

Here’s a look at Darnold and what various places are saying about him in our latest scouting report.

Walter Football

Strengths:
Naturally accurate passer
Fits passes into tight windows
Excellnt ball placement
Throws a catchable ball
Pocket presence
Has poise
Advanced anticipation; instinctive thrower
Throws with good timing
Can accelerate his throwing motion
Quality arm strength
Pushed team to wins
Good internal clock
Mobility
Throws very well on the run
Throws accurately off platform
Displays some feel in the pocket
Not easy to sack
Can hurt defenses on the ground
Can make all the throws required
Can pick up yards on the ground
Threads passes into tight windows

Weaknesses:
Ball security
Too many interceptions
Too many fumbles
Had some confidence issues in 2017
Doesn’t secure the ball well when getting sacked
Good enough not doesn’t have elite arm strength
Throwing mechanics are a bit unorthodox
Needs to start games faster

Summary: Darnold took college football by storm during the 2016 season, and even though he wasn’t eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, the redshirt freshman had scouts buzzing about his pro potential. After a 1-2 start to the 2016 season for USC, Darnold was made the starting quarterback. For his debut season, he was an extremely efficient passer who led the Trojans to a 10-3 record. Darnold lost his first-ever start against a good Utah team, but after that he led his team to ripping off a nine-game win streak to close out the year, including impressive wins over Colorado, Washington, and a comeback Rose Bowl win over Penn State. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The 2017 season was more of a mixed bag for Darnold. The redshirt sophomore completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,143 yards with 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He had an up-and-down season with too many turnovers – fumbles were a particular issue beyond the interceptions. Darnold also made some beautiful anticipatory throws with excellent accuracy in just about every game.

There is a lot to like about Darnold as a future starter in the NFL. First and foremost, he is an accurate pocket passer who throws with good ball placement and is very precise in the short to intermediate part of the field. Darnold has excellent anticipation to know when and where receivers are going open. With his feel and timing, Darnold hits receivers on the run, leading them to picking up yards after the catch. He also regularly will throw receivers open and help them to find space to beat tight coverage. Darnold is a natural rhythm thrower who would fit best in a West Coast system to maximize his ability to throw accurately in the short to intermediate part of the field. He is a smooth precision passer who can be deadly when he gets into a good groove.

Darnold is comfortable in the pocket, but also has the ability to move around to buy time. While he is not a running quarterback, he is functional to avoid sacks and will move around to help his offensive line and receivers. Darnold made a number of really nice plays during the past two years when things went off script as he got creative to move the ball for his offense. Routinely, Darnold would buy time with his feet and then make an accurate throw downfield with the rush closing in on him.

The Drafster

In my eyes, Sam Darnold is a very odd prospect. Talked about as a number 1 overall draft pick. Talked about as the best Quarterback coming out of college this year. However, I am not seeing any of this. When I watch Darnold, I see one of the most streaky Quarterback play I think I have seen in awhile. At time looks very hesitant to throw, missing an opportunity. Other times he looks too eager and makes a bad decision. He has his good moments, but then a play later he will have a combination of bad plays. Moving in the pocket too early and too often, inconsistent accuracy, and staring down a play for too long are major turn offs to me.

The first thing I notice about Darnold when watching him is that he seems to ignore his dump off routes. He seems so locked in on making a big play, he forgets about the guys that are 5 yards away from him. I can respect wanting to make a big play for the team, but after staring downfield for eternity it’s time to hit your shallow routes. At least LOOK at them to see if they are open. There is no shame in taking an easy three to five yards. Not every throw has to get the crowd on their feet.

The second thing I notice is how much he likes to move around in the pocket. And that is just not his style. I get running to avoid a sack, but too many times I saw him run with a clean pocket. Multiple times he would take off to the outskirts of the pocket, making it easier for defenders to get off their block. He seems to just panic unless he has the cleanest pocket one could possibly have. If he would stand tall in the pocket and deliver, his accuracy issues would go down as well. His deep balls are inconsistent, and the times he does go to dump it off, those are not always pretty either. His best throws come from his 10-15 yarders. Which always happen to be when he stands his ground.

I will say though, 4th quarter Sam Darnold seems to be a better player than in other quarters. He reads the field better, has better ball placement, and doesn’t try to run around as much. It just seems something clicks a bit better for him during the 4th. Like he has calmed down. He just needs to be able to play similar to that all game if he is gonna be the number 1 overall pick this upcoming draft.

I think Darnold has a lot to work on. Personally there are 4 other Quarterbacks I would take before drafting him. He does good things, unfortunately, his good things just are not consistent enough and are overshadowed by his flaws. I believe if he can work on sitting in the pocket longer instead of trying to escape right away (while not holding the ball for too long), a lot of his issues will start fading. I think Darnold will have a real rough start to his career, but if keeps his confidence and keeps fixing his game, it will work out for him in the long run.

Cover 1 Scouting Report

Strengths:

Darnold’s entire game is predicated upon his ability to create. Darnold is an athletic player; he is able to pull the ball down and gain chunks of yardage with his legs. His agility and change of direction catch many defenders off guard.

That is why offensive coordinator Tee Martin built an offense that maximized his legs. USC ran a heavy dose of run pass options (RPOs), a concept that gave Darnold many options pre- and post-snap, and he absolutely flourished. On a majority of their plays, Darnold had the ability to give the ball to star running back Ronald Jones, keep it as a runner, or throw it to one of his many weapons outside. This multi-dimensional structure of a play was obviously super productive. His decision making was very good all season, especially on these RPOs. He can process the coverage, find the conflict defender, and distribute the ball quickly.

But what is often overlooked is the accuracy and velocity needed on these kinds of concepts. At times, after the mesh with the running back or play fake, the passing lane is cluttered with defenders coming downhill to defend what they perceive to be a run. Once they realize that it is a pass, they immediately try to get their hands up in the passing lanes. Darnold makes these throws look easy. Standing at 6’4? and 220 pounds, he is able to place the ball in optimal locations, allowing his weapons to make plays.

At the next level, Darnold is going to make his money in the short area. While his elongated release and sloppy footwork will cause issues at times, something I will cover later, it isn’t an issue from 0-9 yards. That bodes well for Sam, because that is where football is won and lost on Sundays. His mechanics aren’t an issue because he is throwing in rhythm and not having to worry about mechanics.

According to SportsInfo Solutions (SIS), Darnold’s short game is phenomenal. From 0-9 yards, he had the highest completion percentage (75.4%), the 4th-most passing yards (1,534), 12th-most touchdowns (10), the 3rd-highest yards per attempt (7.6), and the 5th-highest rating (107.2).

Weaknesses:

As productive as Darnold was over his 27 games at USC, he has some serious flaws that need to be addressed, the first of which is turnovers. Darnold threw 22 interceptions over two years and added another 20 fumbles. This lack of ball security will get you benched quickly.

While the offense surrendered an average of 2.14 sacks a game and a grand total of 30 sacks in 2017, he admitted that he was pushing it too much.

Many of his turnovers are linked to his mechanics. Darnold has some of the worst mechanics I have ever seen from a quarterback. Let’s start with his delivery. Typically, a quarterback with an elongated delivery like Darnold’s will struggle at the next level. From the time he begins his delivery to the time of release is often the difference between a tight window completion and an interception. Defensive backs are just too good on Sundays. If he is slightly late anticipating a throw and needs to drive a pass, the split second longer that it takes to release the ball due to his delivery could lead to an interception, much like it did versus Washington State. The safety bails post-snap, baiting Darnold to throw the speed out as he gets the 1-on-1 coverage. The defensive back reads the route, breaks, and picks him off.

What Matt Miller says about Darnold – Ranking him as the #1 QB on the board

1. Sam Darnold, USC

A two-year starter at USC, Sam Darnold is widely praised for his toughness, football IQ and leadership. A coach with the Trojans told me Darnold only cares about football and not the benefits of being a star quarterback. He did turn the ball over 22 times in 2017, which should at a minimum send scouts back to the tape to find the context of each turnover. But Darnold’s tangible and intangible traits are tops in the class.

Scout’s Quote: “Crystal clean off the field. Smart, poised, tough, accurate. He might be the only one that could work in Cleveland because he won’t let the pressure go to his head.”

Coach’s Quote: “The release and turnovers bother me, but he has the makeup to be good. He’s better than [Mitch] Trubisky was last year but he’s not on the level of [Carson] Wentz or Jared [Goff].”

Scout’s Comparison: Tony Romo, retired

Darnold impressed at his Pro Day, throwing in the rain back on March 21st