Patriots

Free-agent center Mangold: Belichick isn't 'all that fond of me'

Free-agent center Mangold: Belichick isn't 'all that fond of me'

When the idea of playing for the Patriots was posed to Nick Mangold, the former Jets center had a hard time wrapping his head around the whole deal. 

"That would be awfully difficult," he told SiriusXM NFL radio. "I've got to assume that after years of all the battles that I’ve had with New England, I don’t think Bill’s all that fond of me."

Mangold is a free agent after he was cut by the Jets in February. He's still dealing with the lingering effects of an injured foot that forced him to miss half of last season. 

That Mangold assumes anyone in the Patriots organization -- and Bill Belichick in particular -- isn't head over heels for him makes sense. He spent 11 years with the rival Jets after they made him the No. 29 overall pick in 2006.

But what Belichick has said publicly about Mangold has been nothing but complimentary. 

"They do a good job," Belichick said of the Jets offensive line back in 2015. "Mangold is a really good center, a veteran player, smart. I’m sure he sets the table for everybody." 

In 2012, Belichick was asked about Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and referenced Mangold. "Those two guys are probably as good as we face," he admitted. 

The Patriots player who most often battled with Mangold was probably Vince Wilfork since Wilfork arrived to the league just two years before Mangold and then faced him twice a year in the division.

Whenever Mangold's name came up, Wilfork referenced just how difficult the 300-pound pivot made his job. 

"He’s probably the best, probably the best center, I believe," Wilfork said of Mangold in 2012. "I’ve been saying this ever since the guy’s been a rookie. He’s been pretty steady for them. And it hasn’t changed.

"Everything it seems like goes through him. The run game, he calls the plays on the line slides, he’s the guy in charge. That’s how it should be, because that’s their bread and butter. When they need a play, if they’re running the ball, it always seems to end up behind No. 74. He’s a big-time player for them, I give him all the respect in the world facing him numerous times."

The Patriots appear set at the center position with 2016 starter David Andrews returning and second-year player Ted Karras backing up. Mangold's probably not in the plans. 

But, judging by Belichick's comments on the record, it's not because he doesn't like him. 

Protoypical Patriots: What they want on the O-line - Smart, tough, athletic

Protoypical Patriots: What they want on the O-line - Smart, tough, athletic

Before the Super Bowl, Dante Scarnecchia spoke to a small group of reporters and laid out exactly what the Patriots look for in their offensive linemen.

"We covet three things when we look for offensive linemen," Scarnecchia said. "They have to be smart, they have to be tough, and they have to be athletic enough."

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

While there's certainly more to it than that, those are the basics. Check those off the list, and you'll have a chance. Someone like Cole Croston -- an undrafted rookie out of Iowa -- was able to spend the entirety of the 2017 season on the active roster with the Patriots because he met New England's criteria. 

The Patriots have a clear need for depth at offensive tackle after Nate Solder signed with the Giants, but are there players who can come in to be an immediate stopgap on the edge? If so, who are they? And if not, which developmental prospects could be fits?

Here are some names to keep in mind on draft weekend. These "prototypes" have what the Patriots typically look for in terms of size and athleticism up front:

PROTOTYPES IN RANGE
MIKE McGLINCHEY, NOTRE DAME, 6-8, 309


I've been told by evaluators that when it comes to this class of tackles, McGlinchey might be the only one who is truly ready for regular work in the NFL. That doesn't mean others can't develop into starters -- and do so quickly. But it sounds like McGlinchey is already there, particularly in the running game. He has the requisite size that the Patriots look for. Though he's not one of the top athletes in the class (his 28.5-inch vertical is a little under what the Patriots often like), he seems athletic enough (his broad jump, for instance, was 105 inches, which meets New England's criteria). That he comes from a pro-style blocking scheme could also make him a quick fit. Scarnecchia attended McGlinchey's pro day.  

KOLTON MILLER, UCLA, 6-9, 305


Length. Athleticism. Experience in a varied offense. Miller seems to have just about everything the Patriots look for. There seem to be some technique issues that Scarnecchia will have to work with to get Miller ready to go, but he's physically impressive. His 40 time (4.95 seconds) is more than quick enough. Same goes for his 31.5-inch vertical and his 121-inch broad jump. The jumps are significant because they show explosiveness, which for linemen -- who have to operate with force in tight spaces and explode out of their stances in pass protection -- is important. Miller told me at the combine he was scheduled to meet with New England. 

CONNOR WILLIAMS, TEXAS, 6-5, 296 


Williams has been deemed a guard by some because his size isn't necessarily ideal to play on the outside. And if he were drafted by the Patriots to play tackle, he'd be on the smaller side. But at 6-5 he's about the same height as Matt Light, and his arms (33 inches) are just a hair shorter than Sebastian Vollmer's (33 1/4). Athletically, he hits every standard. His 40 (almost five seconds flat) and jumps (34-inch vertical, 112-inch broad jump) were all very good. Belichick has a good relationship with Texas coach Tom Herman, and Williams reportedly paid the Patriots a visit during the pre-draft process. 

BRIAN O'NEILL, PITT, 6-7, 297 


O'Neill, like Miller, is another athletic prospect who will need some time. The former tight end is a little light compared to players the Patriots have drafted in the past. (Even Tony Garcia, whose knock against him was that he was light, weighed 302 pounds at the combine last year.) But athletically there are some eye-popping traits. He ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash and had a 7.14-second three-cone drill. His jumps were good but not out-of-this-world (28.5 vertical, 107-inch broad). 

BRADEN SMITH, AUBURN, 6-6, 315


How much does arm length matter? If the answer for the Patriots is "a heckuva lot" then Smith may not be deemed a fit. His arms measured 32 1/4 inches, which would be shortest for any tackle they've ever drafted. Otherwise? He's just about what they're looking for. Trusted player in the SEC. Tough. Good height. Good athlete. He ran a 5.22-second 40, benched 35 reps, jumped 33.5 inches and broad-jumped 113 inches. 

IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING
TYRELL CROSBY, OREGON, 6-5, 309
 


Crosby measured in at 6-4 and one-half inch, earning him the "6-5" listing by a hair. And his arm-length (32 1/4 inches) are short. But athletically he's solid -- 30-inch vertical, 105-inch broad jump -- and he's considered to have good toughness. Late on Day 2 could be the right time to pounce if he's available. 

JAMARCO JONES, OHIO STATE, 6-4, 299


Jones is short but his arm length (35 1/8 inches) might make up for what he lacks in height. Athletically he's not outstanding. His 40-yard dash time is slower than what the Patriots typically like (5.5 seconds), and his jumps were nothing to write home about (24-inch vertical, 102-inch broad jump). But the Ohio State connection, where the coaching staff has obvious connections to New England and the offense is relatively balanced, could help him get drafted in the middle rounds. 

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