Signing Spree: Pats Sign 5 Rookies

July 17, 2009

Over the past 48 hours, the New England Patriots have been really busy completing contracts for their rookies.  They have wrapped up deals with Julian Edelman, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, and Darryl Richard.

And now, according to Pro Football Talk, they have signed the 40th overall pick of the draft, nose tackle Ron Brace.

Left unsigned are 2nd round draft choice Patrick Chung, 3rd rounder Tyrone McKenzie, as well as George Bussey and Jake Ingram.


Darius Butler Signs

July 10, 2009

2nd round draft pick Darius Butler has signed a four year contract with the Patriots, his agent Drew Rosenhaus reports on his Twitter page.

The deal will be for four years, and is particularly interesting because it includes no signing bonus.  Instead, it includes a roster bonus of $440,000 and an option bonus for next year greater than $1.6 million.  ProFootballTalk.com has all of the details.

Butler, the 41st overall pick in this year’s draft, is the second Patriots draft pick to sign with the Patriots.  The first was offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger.


Catching Up

May 11, 2009

Sorry for the hiatus guys.   Over the last week, unfortunately, I had been unable to update the website.  However, I’m back, and we’re moving full steam ahead.  I was going to have someone else update the website, but I figured there wouldn’t be much news, and I was wrong, kind of.

A day after introducing Patrick Chung to the media, the Patriots held their annual rookie minicamp.  In attendance were the twelve draft picks, a few tenured players (Ryan Wendell, Angelo Craig, and Brad Listorti), as well as over 10 tryout players.

However the biggest news coming out of rookie camp was the knee injury suffered by rookie inside linebacker and third round pick Tyrone McKenzie.  It has been reported that the injury is a torn ACL and that McKenzie will be done for the year.  McKenzie had been one of my early favorites from the 2009 rookie class, and I’m disappointed to see such a hard worker and charismatic player suffer another setback.

The big question now is who is the fourth inside linebacker?  Is it rookie free agent Antonio Appleby?  Is it veteran and core special teams player Eric Alexander?  The Patriots could also address the position through free agency.  The first name that comes to mind for me is Junior Seau, who is a real hit in the Patriots locker room.  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see him “finish what we started.”

Soon following Patriots mini-camp, the Patriots signed eight tryout players.  The Patriots signed three Navy rookies: wide receiver Tyree Barnes, receiver/running back Shun White, and fullback/halfback Eric Kettani.  They also signed seventh year veteran Vinny Ciurciu.  Ciurciu is mostly a special teams player, but could possibly earn himself a role in the Patriots rotation.  The only other rookie they signed was Aaron Perez, the punter from UCLA.  However, the also picked up defensive lineman Steve Williams and running back Omar Cuff, two longer shots to make the roster.

The Patriots may have made their biggest signing just a day later when they picked up Brandon McGowan, safety from the Chicago Bears.  McGowan is coming off a season ending injury, but played very well in starting duties in 2007, and should immediately compete for playing time.  The deal is for two years, and that makes it kind of surprising, considering the Patriots already have three slightly undersized safeties in James Sanders, Patrick Chung, and Brandon Meriweather.  They also have rookie free agent Marcus McClinton, as well as veteran strong safety/inside linebacker Tank Williams.

Last but not least, free agent cornerback Ty Law has been “talking” to the Patriots according to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.  I don’t buy it.  Ty Law smacked the Patriots in the face after he returned to the Jets last year.  And frankly, I’m just tired of talking about a possible Law return.  With youngsters Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, and Darius Butler in the fold, and the free agent additions of the phyical Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, would signing Law even help?

That’s all for now, expect more later in the day today.


Day 2 Recap

April 28, 2009

In day two of the 2009 NFL draft, the Patriots made a bang once again.

With four picks in the third round, the Patriots traded two of them (73, 89) for 2010 2nd round draft choices.  Again, these trades solely focused on future value, giving the Patriots 10 total picks for the 2010 NFL draft (3 2’s, 2 7’s).

At 83, they picked up North Carolina wide receiver Brandon Tate.  There is a bit of a controversy surrounding Tate.  For one, he tore his ACL and MCL mid-season.  He also tested positive for marijuana at the combine (which supposedly is a big deal because the players are supposed to know it is coming).  Clearly, there is some risk surrounding Tate.  But the upside, is well, through the roof.  Tate, before the knee injury, was on the verge of breaking the NCAA’s all-time return yardage record, and was considered a better pro prospect than his fellow teammate, Hakeem Nicks.  Tate is well built, with long arms, and is both quick and physical off the snap.  He can adjust his body to make the difficult catch, and he is an improving route runner.  Overall, I like this pick a lot, but only time will tell if he’s the next Bethel Johnson, or the next Deion Branch.

With the 97th pick, a compensatory selection, the Patriots took Tyrone McKenzie.  McKenzie is 6-1.5, 243 pounds and is built in the mold of Jerod Mayo.  But the comparisons between him and Mayo don’t end there.  Like Mayo, Tyrone McKenzie is a very hard worker, great leader, versatile player (all three linebacker positions in college), and very mature, smart player.  Consider this quote by Bill Belichick at his post-draft press conference:

…I would just say of all the players that I’ve talked to and we’ve interviewed this year and even through the years, that Tyrone is amongst the most impressive. Maturity, intelligence, what he’s done with the opportunities that he’s had or that he’s had to overcome, how he’s approached them, how he’s dealt with them, how he’s made the most of them. It hasn’t been easy. Yet, he’s continued to excel, jump over hurdles and overcome obstacles that I think would have derailed a lot of other people and/or football players. I think he’s a very impressive, mature, humble young man.

I think that McKenzie, with hard work and determination, will be able to start by 2010, and will pair up with Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo to make a young and nasty three man rotation at inside linebacker.

After the McKenzie selection, the Patriots weren’t scheduled to be on the clock until pick 170 in the fifth round.  However, the Patriots then acquired two additional fifth round selections (137, 141) from the Eagles in a trade for Ellis Hobbs.  Hobbs was an underrated cover man in New England, but with the logjam of young talent at the position (Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley) this trade shouldn’t have come as a surprise. However, Hobbs was also undoubtedly one of the best kickoff return men in the NFL.  Naturally, this opens up a spot on special teams as the primary kickoff return man.  A few candidates: Brandon Tate, Matthew Slater, Jonathan Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk.

Soon after acquiring those two fifth round picks, the Patriots packaged them together to move up into the fourth round (pick 123).  They also acquired a sixth rounder, pick 198.  With the fourth round pick, the Patriots selected Penn State guard Rich Ohrnberger.  While this pick may have been a slight reach, I think the Patriots found themselves a solid player.  At 6-2, 297 pounds, Ohrnberger is undersized.  However, he is a fearless, smart player.  He is a great blocker on the second level, and can pull effectively and get out in front on screens.  He has quick feet and will never give up on a play.  With both Stephen Neal and Logan Mankins having their contracts expire after the season, Ohrnberger may be able to step into a starting role as soon as 2010.

In the fifth round (170), the Patriots selected guard/tackle George Bussey from Louisville.  Bussey is a tough player who started for all four years at Louisville.  He is undersize for a tackle at only 6-3, so he will likely move to guard at the pro level.  Bussey is good in pass protection, and will always finish his blocks.  With almost every offensive lineman a free agent after 2009, Bussey could become a good role player down the road.

With their first pick in the sixth round (198) the Patriots took a long snapper in Hawaii’s Jake Ingram.  Ingram was the consensus #1 long snapper in this year’s class, and he will compete with Nathan Hodel for the “starting” spot.  But, with the cost of a sixth round pick, I hope Ingram wins.  Poor Nathan Hodel, the man has never missed a snap in his eight year NFL career and he is already get pushed out.

At pick 207, the Patriots selected another nose tackle in Kentucky’s Myron Pryor.  I like Pryor a lot, although I would have liked this PICK more if the Pats hadn’t already selected Ron Brace in the 2nd round.  Still, Pryor is a work horse who is known for making big plays, but is a solid run stuffer.  I think Pryor would be more of a practice squad candidate for year one (consider that the Pats already have Vince Wilfork, Mike Wright, and Le Kevin Smith who can all play nose tackle too), and then could compete for playing time by year two.

At pick 232, the Patriots may have found a potential steal in Kent State’s Julian Edelman.  Edelman was a quarterback at college, but could play a variety of positions in the NFL.  He has shown enough altheticism, speed, and agility to be developed as a receiver or even a running back.  He could also return kicks.  And if the Patriots want to use a Wildcat formation, Edelman would be an obvious candidate to run that show.

With their final pick in the seventh round, at pick 234, the Patriots selected Georgia Tech defensive end/tackle Darryl Richard.  Richard is a two gap run stuffer who could play end or tackle for the Patriots in the 3-4.  If he’s a nose tackle, I don’t like this pick because of the prior Brace and Pryor choices.  However, if he’s an end, where the Patriots may need future depth, I think this is a solid pick.  Richard is a hard worker and a smart player, and can take on double teams.  He could compete for a roster spot or practice squad spot year one.

Overall, a solid second day for the Patriots.  My favorite pick?  Tyrone McKenzie.  All in all, through both days of the draft, the Patriots picked up seven potential starters (Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie, and Rich Ohrnberger) as well as some potential quality role players.  Did I even mention that they picked up two additional second round picks next year?


Patriots Sign Two From Navy

April 27, 2009

Mike reiss reports that the Patriots have signed a pair of navy players: fullback Eric Kettani and wide receiver Tyree Barnes.

Eric Kettani reminds me of Kyle Eckel, as he will be a hybrid halfback/fullback.  I’m not sure he will be our starting fullback, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  He can really run, but is effective as a quick lead blocker, and has decent hands as well.

Barnes was never a go-to option because of the option offense at Navy.  Nevertheless, he put up some nice numbers for a receiver in that system, and he has some good size and decent speed.

Update: These deals have been denied by the agent for both players.  Patriots are not ruled out from signing these players, but they haven’t, as of yet.


Patriots Sign Antonio Appleby

April 26, 2009

The Roanoke Times reports:

Agent Sunny Shah said Sunday night that Virginia inside linebacker Antonio Appleby from Virginia Beach has accepted a free-agent deal with the New England Patriots.

“We were in dialogue the whole time,” said Shah, who also represents UVa offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, a first-round pick.

“He was one of the first [free agents] they signed. He was a priority.”

I absolutely love this signing.  He doesn’t have Gary Guyton speed, but is a real thumper inside and could be the developmental two-down (possibly three down as well) inside linebacker the Patriots are looking for.  He may also be able to develop into an outside linebacker, because he has excellent size and strength.

After the draft, I wanted the Pats to pick up either Antonio Appleby or Frantz Joseph, and I’m glad they got one of them.  The Appleby signing could solidify the future at inside linebacker, as the team now has four young players at the position.


Hoyer, McClinton Agree

April 26, 2009

Two top rookie free agents, quarterback Brian Hoyer from Michigan State and safety Marcus McClinton from Kentucky have signed deals with the New England Patriots.

Check out the official rookie free agent list for analysis.