Friday, April 25, 2014

Top 5 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

1. Joel Embiid, center, University of Kansas
7′ 250 lbs
2013 Stats: 11.2 PPG 8.1 RPG 2.6 BPG 63 FG% 69 FT%
The Kansas Jayhawks undoubtedly would have gone further than the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament had Embiid’s back not acted up in early March. The Cameroon native didn’t play in his team’s 80-69 win over #15 Eastern Kentucky, nor in its 60-57 loss to #10 Stanford. Embiid’s first sports were soccer and volleyball and has only been playing basketball since 2011, but he astonishes scouts with his natural instincts and feel for the game. A specimen of an athlete, Embiid has adapted to basketball swiftly and has an array of offensive moves that has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. A nice mid-range J, baby hook, and even the ability to stretch out from 3. Embiid needs to perfect his 3 point stroke and back-to-basket post moves, but he continues to polish his game year after year which trends in the right direction for his future success. Defensively, Embiid has the length and weight to be a stalwart in the paint. The biggest knock on him is his intensity and ferocity on the court to put fear in his opponent. That will develop with time, but he is still raw and needs to focus on the other aspects of his game. The fiery attitude will follow. Maybe not 2014-15, but by 15-16, people will be saying, ” I didn’t know he was this good”, in a similar fashion of the present consensus of 2012 first overall pick Anthony Davis.
2. Jabari Parker, small forward, Duke University
6’8″ 240 lbs
2013: 19.1 PPG 8.7 RPG 47 FG% 36 3PT% 75 FT%
The first overall pick can go either way, Embiid or Parker. It depends on which position you deem most important in building a franchise. Parker may be the better scorer, but total package centers don’t come around too often, and having a legitimate 7 footer who can protect the rim and get easy shots is the most important piece of a team. Some will argue that a versatile scorer is the bread and butter of a franchise. That said, Parker has the handle, crossover, and J, everything you want in an All Star. He accelerates hard to the bucket finishing after contact, and still has a sweet 3 stroke. Parker isn’t your average small forward. Not many players currently in the NBA can bang down low and still step out deep or anywhere on the court for that matter. Parker’s near 7 foot wingspan should allow him to transition pretty smoothly when guarding 3s and some 4s, and his work ethic is strong. Will have trouble with quicker 3s such as Kevin Durant and Paul George, which is concerning. Did fracture his foot senior year in high school, and athleticism isn’t off the charts. Carmelo Anthony + Jared Sullinger.
3. Dante Exum, pointguard, Australia
6’6″ 200 lbs
2013: 18.2 PPG 3.8 APG
Exum is an incredible talent, but the questions about his play against low level competition make NBA executives unsure about his transition to big boy basketball. He dominated on the Australian National Team in competitions such as the Under 19 World Championships in Prague, but that playing field is no where near the NCAA. Still, Exum has the best handle in the Draft and runs like a gazelle in the open court. His lanky, yet calculated drives to basket make him tough to defend, especially with his long strides. Exum is unselfish, and creative in transition and half court. He’s pesky on defense and competes. Exum’s main flaw is his shooting. He has years to improve it and is already viewed as a better shooter than fellow foreign talent Ricky Rubio. Exum reminds me of Michael-Carter Williams, and watching MCW play against Rajon Rondo opened my eyes to how valuable a big pointguard is. MCW is the real deal and nearly impossible to stop on the break. Once Exum hones his shooting mechanics in the NBA he will fill up the stat sheet and be a tough player for opposing teams to control.
4. Andrew Wiggins, small forward, University of Kansas
6’8″ 200 lbs
2013: 17.1 PPG 5.9 RPG 45 FG% 34 3PT% 78 FT%
For all the hype Wiggins got going into the college basketball season, I was underwhelmed. Though there were flashes, I didn’t see a lot of domination from Wiggins throughout the year. Of course, it’s tough as an 18 year old to meet all of those expectations, especially while balancing being a team player and not too much of a ball hog. Wiggins is the raw total package. He can score from anywhere in whichever way, has a 7 foot wingspan, and is the most athletic player in the Draft. From what I’ve watched, his shooting isn’t pinpoint like Kevin Durant’s was coming out of Texas, which scares me. Wiggins also scored just 4 points on six shot attempts against Stanford in the second round of the Tourney. 39 FG% in losses. Has to put on weight, period. Sky is the limit for defensive ability due to elite lateral quickness.
5. Julius Randle, power forward, University of Kentucky
6’9″ 250 lbs
2013: 15 PPG 10.4 RPG 50 FG% 71 FT%
Randle has the potential to be a force in the paint. He could stand to pack on more mass, but handles his current weight well. Randle is a bully down low, utilizing smooth spin moves, and lightning quick first steps for a player his size. He catches passes with soft hands and isn’t turnover prone. Very polished offensively. Randle didn’t dominate as much as he could have. Sometimes shied away from asserting himself as Wildcats’ number one scoring option. Had just 10 points and 6 rebounds in National Championship. Promising catch and shoot J, needs to refine face up and fall away. A lefty, can get predictable with moves and isn’t great with right hand yet. Passing from paint needs work Not active on defense, that part of his game must change. Not a shot blocker. A more athletic Jared Sullinger (I’d take Sully if both were in same Draft).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Report: New England Patriots Want to Trade Up in First Round to Draft Wide Receiver

We say it all the time. No one outside the New England Patriots organization knows what position Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio will go after, in any Draft. However, team officials have reportedly told Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that Belichick is targetting a big time, play-making threat at wide receiver and that it’s one of the Patriots “main missing ingredients”. Freeman claims the team is looking to move up from pick 29 in the first round to snag a top-tier wide out.
It’s tough to bank on he said she said reports with regards to the Draft. Politics are involved so much that team officials are often used as media puppets to stir up rumors and, in this case, get other teams to draft wide receivers early, so Belichick and Caserio could have, say, a defensive tackle fall in their laps due to teams wanting to keep weapons away from New England.
Of course, teams need to satisfy their own agendas first and foremost, but an example of this cat and mouse game occurred when Rex Ryan drafted former Ohio State muscle man Vernon Gholston sixth overall in 2008 after rumors were flying around that Belichick coveted the workout warrior. Gholston is now known as one of the biggest defensive Draft busts in history, and the Patriots have a Pro Bowl linebacker in Jerod Mayo, who they grabbed tenth overall.
Still, these reports are intriguing, as New England doesn’t boast a very frightening pass attack at the moment. Since Randy Moss left in 2009, the Patriots have lacked a fast or physical receiver who can straight up make plays. The 2014 Patriots currently lack a reliable downfield speedster and a physical presence at the wide receiver position. Championship teams need one or the other, a la DeSean Jackson for the blur who creates natural separation, or Anquan Boldin, who uses strength off the line of scrimmage and body positioning to win battles.
Right now, New England’s wide receiver depth chart looks like this:
Y (slot): Danny Amendola (Tore groin Week 1, didn’t require surgery, will this injury linger?)… Josh Boyce (Injured reserve for ankle, five total games played)
X: Aaron Dobson (Foot stress fracture Week 12, missed five games including first playoff game vs. Indianapolis Colts, had surgery in March)
Z: Kenbrell Thompkins (Hip injury Week 13 and concussion in playoffs vs. Colts, missed five total games)
Julian Edelman played every wide receiver position in 2013, leading to his remarkable 105 REC 1056 YD season. It is also unclear where Brandon LaFell will play. Though the Z is likely his spot, LaFell’s former head coach, Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers, says he played everywhere for him, including tight end.
An intriguing option the Patriots have that many casual fans don’t know about is 2013 rookie free agent Mark Harrison. The 6’3″ 240 lber out of Rutgers was viewed as a 2nd-4th round pick in 2013, but went undrafted due to character concerns. Harrison ran a 4.47 40 Yard Dash and posted other impressive measurables, but allegedly trashed his Crowne Plaza Hotel room in Indianapolis, where the Scouting Combine was being held, to the point where it was strewn with mass amounts of garbage and bodily fluids.
During his time at Rutgers, Harrison totaled 107 catches for 1769 yards and 18 touchdowns. He didn’t play a single snap in 2013 due a foot injury, and was put on the physically unable to perform list. Harrison could be the physical receiver New England has coveted for years, while others speculate he may see reps at tight end. A serious talent to keep an eye on.
The Patriots did not come out of 2013 knowing they have a downfield burner or a physical weapon.
Edelman was Tom Brady’s only option in the AFC Championship vs. the Denver Broncos.
Amendola can be explosive when healthy, but his health is a massive if.
Dobson showed flashes of being a downfield, bomb-catching threat, but he is a soft 6-3 200 lbs and had his troubles hanging on to the ball. A bit of an in-betweener with regards to prototypical speed and physicality, not one or the other. Coming off foot surgery.
Thompkins was impressive at times as well, but wasn’t always on the same page with Brady and had his share of nagging injuries. He has the the body type to be physical at a stout 6’1″ 200 lbs, but, like Dobson, just doesn’t seem to have the will or durability to go over the middle and take contact consistently.
Boyce was electrifying returning the ball and scampering for yards after the catch, but his ankle injury retarded his progress significantly.
I hope I’m wrong, but Dobson and Thompkins seem to have a bit of Brandon Lloyd in them. The talent and hands are there, but the toughness and physicality could be lacking to some extent. In addition, Boyce included, all three rookie receivers suffered lower body injuries, which obviously isn’t a great sign. I’d be absolutely content to go into 2014 with no new starting receivers (outside LaFell) and see how these kids respond to their respective adversities. They have it in them to flourish and make the second year leap, all three displayed big time talent when they were healthy and if 100% for the playoffs, we may have seen a different outcome in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl.
But I love competition. When I read the Bleacher Report… report, I was ecstatic, knowing Belichick isn’t going to hand these kids jobs and could potentially grab a wide out that isn’t a 2nd, 4th or undrafted talent, as Dobson, Boyce, and Thompkins respectively are. Especially with their injuries considered, it makes all the sense in the world to trade up for a top 20 receiver who may be more physically gifted than all three and can take those NFL hits or has that elite top flight speed.
Or, as explained earlier, the whole team official leak could be a smokescreen for other teams to grab wide outs in the first round before the rich gets richer.
I’m fine with drafting any position in the first round, but snatching a big name wide out, in the first round for once, who could legitimately be a future Pro Bowler and consistent weapon for the 37 year old American legend, would certainly be a power move for the suddenly balanced Patriots.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Aldon Smith: Talented, Troubled

Coming off their Super Bowl 48 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, a couple of San Francisco 49ers superstars haven’t put their team in the best light this past week. On April 10th, Los Angeles-based paparazzi firm Thirty-Mile Zone reported quarterback Colin Kaepernick was being investigated by Miami Beach Police for sexual assault on April 1st.
Here are TMZ’s latest words regarding the matter: “Officials say they are still awaiting toxicology results from the woman who claims she was hanging out with Colin and two other NFL players on April 1 before winding up in the hospital. As we first reported, a rape kit was administered on the woman at the hospital, where she met with police. So far, officials have not revealed the results.”
On Saturday April 12th, Kaepernick was seen shopping for sunglasses on Robertson Boulevard in downtown L.A.; clearly brushing the very serious incident off his shoulder. Stay tuned.
Then there’s Aldon Smith.
San Francisco’s seventh overall selection in the 2011 Draft from University of Missouri has blossomed into one of the NFL’s most complete outside linebackers. Smith, now 24, is the fastest player to reach 30 sacks (27 games) tallying 14 his rookie year, 19.5 in 2012, and 8.5 in just 11 2013 games. He had 5.5 sacks in a 2012 Monday Night Football match up against the Chicago Bears, a record for MNF programming. In addition, Smith won the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Many considered Smith, if he kept his head on straight, to one day be known as the best pass rusher of all time. The elite strength, tenacity, speed, length. Smith has all the tangibles.
It’s his history with breaking the law that has retarded the Greenwood, Missouri native’s growth, now entering his fourth year as a professional.
On January 28, 2012, Aldon Smith was arrested for DUI in Miami Beach, Florida… I see this incident as many others do, an initial mistake. Tons of well-respected professionals have DUIs on their records. What always ticks people off about DUIs with rich people is that they can more than afford a cab to drive them home. Alas, a mistake from a 22 year old.
On June 30, 2012, Smith suffered stab wounds when attempting to break up a fight at a party at his home in San Jose, California… This altercation, though incredibly serious to even be involved in, still doesn’t resonate with me as a criminal act. He tried to break up a fight and got hurt in the process.
September 20, 2013, Smith was involved in a single vehicle accident in San Jose, California. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of DUI and possession of marijuana. After the Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, he voluntarily entered a rehab facility, to be put onto the non-football injury list with an indefinite leave of absence. As a result, Smith missed the 49ers 9/26 Thursday Night game at St. Louis, 10/6 v. Houston, 10/13 v. Arizona, 10/20 at Tennessee, and 10/27 at Jacksonville… No one wants to hit rock bottom and go into rehab. To this point, the most idiotic act he has committed.
On October 9, 2013, Smith was charged with “three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon” relating to the 2012 stabbing incident… Having illegal Bushmasters and Armalites is something I cannot bring myself to condemn, but to play devil’s advocate once again, tons of professional athletes illegally own guns. Smith obviously should have got them registered. Still, athletes need to protect themselves, and many would be surprised at the amount that own unregistered guns. It’s inevitable with how much urban influence there is in sports. As for the shots fired, I envision the scene as Smith firing into the air to stop the fight. There were no gunshot wounds reported.
Most recently on April 13, 2014, eyewitness accounts indicate that Smith was detained and arrested following an incident in LAX airport in which Smith was alleged to mention a bomb to TSA officers. He faces up to one year in prison if convicted.
Here is the police report:
“At approximately 1400 hrs, a 25-year-old male resident of San Jose, California, was going through Terminal 1 screening and was randomly selected for a secondary screening. The suspect then became belligerent and uncooperative with the process and with the TSA agent, making a comment indicating that he was in possession of a bomb before proceeding towards the gate area. Los Angeles Airport Police made contact with him at the gate and he was positively identified as the person in question. Once again the male subject became uncooperative and he was detained and taken into custody by Airport Police and is currently being transported to LAPD for booking.”
My first reaction was how can someone be so moronic? Then, I heard on SportsCenter that witnesses heard Smith say “I didn’t do anything wrong”, and “You will be embarrassed” referring to the TSA officials. To this point, the details are blurry and completely confidential. The way I see it, Smith could have been confused as to why he was being selected for secondary screening, perhaps not knowing it was random. This is where semantics kick in. Who’s to say Smith’s I didn’t do anything wrong sounded like a bomb reference? Or, maybe he said, jokingly, I don’t have a bomb or anything, and TSA’s ears perked up like German Shepherd’s, immediately reacting to the word bomb, detaining him. In this situation, his tonality obviously wasn’t the clearest, and didn’t articulate his thoughts well enough to TSA. Again, the specifics of the incident are vague.
When I was in 8th grade, I watched the film 12 Angry Men in English class. It spoke to me. Juries have such an important duty to be objective and not take scenarios at face value. People who have been quick to accuse have landed innocent individuals in jail, ruining lives due to their incompetent judgment.
Smith doesn’t come across to me as a bad guy, as outlandish as that sounds. On December 13, 2012, Smith announced that he would be making a charitable donation of $5099 per each of sacks during his sack record-pace 2012 NFL regular season. The total would be split between the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco (Willy Mays Clubhouse at Hunters Point) and Boys & Girls Clubs of The Peninsula (East Palo Alto Clubhouse). The donations amounted to a grand total of $99,430.
Aldon Smith could have serious mental problems that are unsuitable to maintain as a famous professional athlete. He could also be someone who hasn’t fully matured yet and hasn’t been kicked in the ass hard enough by a mentor to get through to him. I simply can’t fathom someone faking a bomb threat, especially with his history. Therefore, I’m holding reasonable doubt that it could have been a misunderstanding, until further information emerges and Smith speaks on the matter himself, representing his constitutional rights. Everyone in America is innocent until proven guilty.
If Smith is in fact a bafoon and did utter a fake bomb threat, he is on the path to becoming All-Done Smith, and relinquishing his legitimate potentiality as a future NFL Hall of Famer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New England Patriots 2014 Offseason: Defensive Draft Targets Pt. 2

1. Defensive Line
Ra’Shede Hageman, University of Minnesota
6’6″ 310 lbs
5.02 40 Yard Dash
Strengths: Proportional weight, long arms, explosiveness, MASSIVE upside
Weaknesses: Converted tight end, 1990, motor, unrefined
2013: 38 tackles, 13 for loss, 2 sacks, 8 passes defended
Hageman is a raw prospect who, with the right coaching, could be spectacular. He is not the ideal player to step in and produce right away on a team’s defensive line, as he is still somewhat of an amateur student of the game. If the Patriots love Hageman’s potential, he could very well be available at pick 29 and be coached up to his full potential by defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and defensive line coach Patrick Graham. The defensive coaching staff got the most out of rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, undrafted, and a sixth round pick, respectively, so they could work wonders with the thoroughbred athletic specimen that is Hageman. I could see the Seattle Seahawks drafting Hageman, if he is available at pick 32, to further bolster their line that has a hole in it with the departure of Red Bryant to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hageman would, in the best case scenario, be an upgrade to Tony McDaniels, Seattle’s right defensive tackle who shares physical similarities with the 2013 Big 10 First Teamer. Knowing the Jamie Collins’ project was a massive success, as the former Southern Mississippi pass rusher turned into the Patriots best defensive player down the stretch, look for New England to grab Hageman, a comparable athletic freak, who would be tutored by Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. However, if my other #29 potentiality, Aaron Donald out of University of Pittsburgh, is still around, the pick should hands down be Donald. Ceiling of JJ Watt.
2. Defensive End
Kony Ealy, University of Missouri
6’5″ 275 lbs
40: 4.92
Strengths: Length, can be put anywhere on line in a pinch and hold his own, technique, burst, motor
Weaknesses: Struggles against run, pass coverage
2013: 42 tackles, 14 for loss, 9 sacks, 6 passes defended, 1 interception (for TD)
Ealy could easily be gone in the top 15, but scouts are torn on his ability against the run. As seen by the numbers, Ealy fills up the stat sheet and has prototypical size. He is a loose athlete, similar to Jamie Collins, in defensive end form. Ealy has to work on his balance and hand work, as he tends to get manhandled on double teams. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones barely got to the passer all of 2013. This could very well be due to both tallying the most defensive snaps in the NFL, but Ninkovich, in particular, is an over-achiever, now sitting at age 30. Ealy would be the perfect understudy to Ninkovich, who excels against the run, the part of Ealy’s game that needs refinement. New England desperately needs a third defensive end, and Ealy would be an absolute steal at 29, if the trend of his draft stock slightly falling is holds true. Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith.
Inside Linebacker:
CJ Mosley, University of Alabama
6’2″ 235 lbs
40: 4.63
2013: 108 tackles, 9 for loss, 5 passes defended; 2012: 107 tackles, 8 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 for TD); 2 pick 6′s, 12 passes defended as freshman
Strengths: High football IQ, instincts, speed, coverage, blitzing
Weaknesses: Strength
Mosley is by far the best player at his position. There is no other player in the 2014 Draft that is in a league of his own compared to his counterparts. Mosley is hands down the best inside linebacker in the draft. He is the total package and is a better prospect than Dont’a Hightower was coming out of Tuscaloosa. That said, with Brandon Spikes now a Buffalo Bill, Mosley would be an ideal fourth linebacker to pick the brain of Hightower as a rookie. Hightower came on strong down the stretch in 2013, but the jury is still out on his ceiling and if he has the smarts to diagnose plays regularly and cover tight ends. Mosley is stellar in coverage, is a prime blitzer, and has excellent ball seeking instincts. He isn’t a wrecking ball like Spikes, but is much smarter and locates where the ball is headed as opposed to just wanting to crack the center or a guard. Mosley could give Hightower a run for his money as a rookie for the starting job, but even if he didn’t, it would be nice to see the Patriots employ a long term plan at inside linebacker if they choose to part ways with the (potential) bust of first round pick. Lavonte David.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New England Patriots 2014 Offseason: Offensive Draft Targets Pt. 2

I’m still liking my Part 1 selections as legitimate potentialities for the Patriots at pick 29 overall in the May 8th-10th NFL Draft. In case you missed that article, scroll down until you reach New England Patriots 2014 Offseason Draft Targets Pt. 1, where I wrote about the top talents at positions the Patriots need help at, and the realistic, available talent at those positions come pick 29.
Tight end, center, and wide out were the positions I highlighted that are of New England’s most substantial needs. As the cards of the offseason are falling in place, the Patriots have made a couple of moves that don’t rule my hypothetical first round player options out, but make them a little less likely, as well as they would fit with the club.
For example, New England re-signed center Ryan Wendell to a two year deal. With the bulk of the Patriots protection issues coming in the interior offensive line, I thought they could address it with a moose in the first round to replace the former undrafted Wendell. New England very well could draft a thoroughbred in the second or third round, but who knows if my top center, Travis Swanson out of University of Arkansas, will be available. Teams may neglect offensive line for skill talent in the first, so it’s a possibility Swanson is on the board in the late second round. Still, with the signing of Wendell, drafting a center in the first round can be all but ruled out, unless Belichick signed him for depth and plans on bringing in high level first round-caliber competition.
In the case of my former top ranked guard, Cyril Richardson, the Baylor University stalwart could easily be on the board at 29 and be a talent to compete with Dan Connolly and the aging, injury-riddled Logan Mankins. Like with Wendell and Swanson, Belichick and co. could look to amp up the guard and center competition, knowing Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder are manning right and left tackle for the foreseeable future. However, other guards are shooting up the Draft boards after impressive combines.
The Patriots also signed former Carolina Panthers wide out Brandon LaFell to a three year $9 million contract in mid March. LaFell isn’t a blazer or a number one option, but he is as solid as solid gets for a number 2. I thought New England could trade up for a guy of Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans’ incredible skills, but it seems unlikely with the signing of LaFell, who is versatile and can play every wide receiver position, including a little tight end, according to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. Still, a splash such as Watkins or Evans in the top 10 would would give Tom Brady a big time electric play maker, which he hasn’t had since Randy Moss. It’s impossible to predict trades, but as I noted in my first offensive Draft article, Watkins or Evans would be well worth trading a future first round pick for.
Staying with the wide receivers, if Belichick doesn’t want to unload Draft picks to nab Watkins or Evans, Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin could still be around at 29, and he held a private workout with New England in late March after the NFL Combine. Benjamin is a specimen at 6’5″ 240 lbs and would be a physical deep threat to push Aaron Dobson’s development, or take his job, as Dobson is currently rehabbing from foot surgery.
1. Tight End
CJ Fiedorowicz, University of Iowa
6’7″ 270 lbs
4.76 40 Yard Dash
Strengths: Size, balance, route-running, durability
Weaknesses: Speed, elusiveness
2013: 30 REC 299 YDS 6 TD
With North Carolina’s Eric Ebron at the top of the tight end class, Fiedorowicz is a guy who is projected to go in the third round. I can’t seem to figure out why he grades out so low, though. In my eyes, CJF is a poor man’s Gronk, which is great by all accounts. I love his clean bill of health, as well as his demeaning stature that reminds me of Jake Ballard (before injury, of course) and fellow Iowa alumnee, Scott Chandler. The Patriots don’t need another Aaron Hernandez. They need an inline tight end who has Gronk’s skill set: blocks like a beast, catches over the middle, and is an end zone threat. It’s easier said than done to find Gronk Jr., but CJF does all of that, without the elite speed and athleticism. Besides, all of these “athletic” tight ends such as Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham go ghost against physical defenses. CJF is along the lines of a Heath Miller (and poor man’s Gronk), as he fearlessly goes deep over the middle, takes contact, is a fantastic blocker, and puts his body on the line in the red zone.
The knock on CJF is his productivity at Iowa. He didn’t kill it like Ebron or Jace Amaro statistically, but his quarterback, Jake Rudock, threw just 18 TDs to go along with 13 picks, 2383 yards and a 59 completion percentage. As an inline tight end, with an accurate quarterback, CJF will excel at the next level with his massive frame and smooth ability, especially if he has three to four established options ahead of him.
2. Runningback
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State University
6′ 240 lbs
2013: 1521 YDS 7.3 AVG 15 TD
Though Hyde is the top back on many people’s boards, we’ve seen Belichick go after one in the first round before. If he believes Hyde is the best player left on the board at 29, he will take him. In all honesty, it wouldn’t be a stupid move. The Patriots lost their bruiser in LeGarrette Blount to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but after carrying the ball just five times for six yards, he wasn’t worth the $3.85 million over two years that Pittsburgh rewarded him. In addition, it is quietly a do or die year for Stevan Ridley. A free agent after the 2014-2015 season, Ridley must fix his fumble problems or New England will move on in free agency, or the 2015 Draft. If Hyde is sitting on the board at 29 and there is still defensive value in the later rounds, why not grab the best back in the Draft, who also has solid hands, catching 16 passes for 147 yards and 3 TDs in 2013.
3. Guard
Xavier Su’a-Filo, University of California Los Angeles
6’4″ 310 lbs
2013: Second Team All American, First Team All Pac-12
“X”, as his teammates call him, is a monster. Being of Samoan descent, X is looking to succeed in the path paved by fellow Samoan, Mike Iupati, starting guard for the San Francisco 49ers and 2012 All Pro. I find all Samoans to be beastly football players with (good) psycho attitudes and mean streaks. X has no injury history and is a great all around blocker, not just a tank that is an effective straight ahead, and trap blocker. He is athletic in pass blocking and has great footwork. X tends to get confused by complex defensive schemes, and with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia gone, he would need extra help diagnosing switches and stunts. Bottom line, he is more athletic than Dan Connolly, and has played tackle as well. Would be a fantastic pick at 29 as the heir to Logan Mankins or replacement for Connolly. Gotta protect the franchise.