Patriots

Prototypical Patriots: King's agility, toughness seem ideal for slot role

Prototypical Patriots: King's agility, toughness seem ideal for slot role

The Patriots may soon find themselves back in the cornerback market even after adding free-agent cover man Stephon Gilmore this offseason.

There's no guarantee that Malcolm Butler will be in the fold in New England in 2017, and even if he is, it's safe to say that no team -- no matter how flush with cover men they may be -- will turn its nose up at a good player at the position. It's simply too important. 

PHIL PERRY'S PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS DRAFT PREVIEW

This year's draft class is loaded with talented corners, which means that Bill Belichick and his staff could watch a first-round player slip deep into the second round or later. If that's the case, they may make a move to add to a group that already features Gilmore, Butler, Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and special teams standout Jonathan Jones.

What do the Patriots typically like to draft at cornerback? They have a track record of grabbing great athletes with sound footwork who are willing tacklers. If you have experience playing man-to-man as well as zone, that's a plus. If you can play inside and out, that will also earn you points. Of course, production in big-time conference and special teams ability won't hurt you either.

There are so many draftable corners in this year's class that we've broken them up into two groups: Those who look like they'd be better fits primarily in the slot with the Patriots, and those who look like they could handle responsibilities outside the numbers for Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. 

We handled the outside guys yesterday, and today we'll provide you with some names who could make their livings inside.

This is the fourth installment of a 12-part pre-draft series where we're looking into Prototypical Patriots at a variety of positions. To catch up on our first few cracks at this, head here for boundary cornershere for linebackers and here for safeties.

Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado, 6-feet, 202 pounds: Awuzie could conceivably play just about anywhere in the secondary, but the slot may be where he settles. An explosive athlete (third-best broad jump among all defensive backs at this year's combine) with the quickness and agility to plaster good route-runners on the inside (6.81-second three-cone, 4.14-second 20-yard shuttle), he has experience both inside and out. The Patriots might be turned off by his inconsistencies as a tackler (33 missed tackles in three years, according to Pro Football Focus) -- which almost forced his name off this list -- but they would appreciate his position flexibility and his aggressive style of play. As a blitzer from the inside, he had eight sacks, six hits and 17 hurries over the last two seasons, per PFF. 

Desmond King, Iowa, 5-foot-10, 201 pounds: King seems to be among the best nickel fits for the Patriots given his agility (third-best three-cone for defensive backs at this year's combine), lateral movement (top-15 in the shuttles), instincts (14 picks in the last three years) and tackling ability (11 missed tackles in 176 solo attempts). A four-year starter in coach Kirk Ferentz's program, he held quarterbacks to a rating of below 50.0 in each of the last two seasons, and PFF compares his game to Logan Ryan's. King plays with an edge that should serve him well inside, though he may have to dial back the attitude a touch in New England. He picked up 11 penalties over the last two seasons, including five personal fouls, per NFL.com. King received extensive experience as a returner in college.

Jourdan Lewis, Michigan, 5-foot-10, 188 pounds: Identified as someone who could handle slot duties thanks to his tackling (missed 13 tackles of 114 attempts in three years, per PFF), his eagerness to play the run, and his ball skills (six picks, 28 pass breakups in three seasons), Lewis could find himself knocked off New England's draft board completely after being charged with one misdemeanor count of domestic violence stemming from an alleged incident in March with his then-girlfriend. Lewis pleaded not guilty, and the case is scheduled to go to trial July 10. Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft has been staunchly opposed to drafting players who have a record of violence against women.

Johnathan Ford, Auburn, 5-foot-11, 205 pounds: Ford has the length (30-inch arms) and strength (20 reps of 225 pounds) to sort through crowds near the line of scrimmage and stop ball-carriers in their tracks. Combine his thirst for contact with his speed (4.34-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), and he looks like an immediate contributor on special teams. A three-year starter and versatile option in Auburn's secondary, he played some safety in addition to his responsibilities in the slot. He also helped return kicks as well as cover them for the Tigers.

Jalen Myrick, Minnesota, 5-foot-10, 200 pounds: A solidly-built corner who can disrupt timing of bigger players at the line of scrimmage, Myrick can also turn and run with burners. He had the second-best 40-yard dash of any player at this year's combine (4.28 seconds) and checks most other boxes in terms of the athleticism that the Patriots like at the position (37.5-inch vertical, 4.22-second 20-yard shuttle, 7.06 three-cone). Myrick's tackling isn't thought to be outstanding, but his physical profile and his special-teams potential may be worth a flier in the later rounds. 

Xavier Coleman, Portland State, 5-foot-10, 189 pounds: This small-school prospect put up some impressive testing numbers at his pro day (4.50-second 40, 40-inch vertical, 125-inch broad jump, 6.85-second three-cone at his pro day) that could put him on some team's radar as a late-round selection or a priority free agent. Coleman, a team captain who was named a first-team All-Big Sky honoree last season, underwent open-heart surgery in high school.

Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

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Patriots-Dolphins injury report: Tom Brady sits out with Achilles injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both sat out of the entirety of Wednesday's practice at Gillette Stadium. 

Brady is dealing with an Achilles injury, per the injury report released by the Patriots. The Boston Herald has reported that Brady will play despite the issue. It's unclear when exactly Brady suffered the injury, but Brady was hit low by Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Mack was called for a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Gronkowski, like teammate David Andrews, is dealing with an illness. Patrick Chung, who left Sunday's game briefly, has an ankle issue. 

Here's the full injury report for both the Patriots and Dolphins . . . 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
C David Andrews (illness)
QB Tom Brady (Achilles)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (ankle)
TE Rob Gronkowski (illness)
WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (knee)
TE Marellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring)
DT Malcom Brown (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Stephone Anthony (quadriceps)
G Jermon Bushrod (foot)
QB Jay Cutler (concussion)
DE William Hayes (back)
T Laremy Tunsill (illness)

FULL PARTICIPATION
RB Senorise Perry (knee)
S Michael Thomas (knee)

 

Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

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Curran: Randy Moss better not have to wait for Hall call

If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer. The notion that a great player’s candidacy has to have some kind of gestation period before it can be deemed induction-worthy is just plain cruel.

And if you think “cruel” is an overstatement, consider Ken Stabler. Three times a Hall of Fame finalist, Snake had to croak before Pro Football Hall of Fame voters decided it was time to put him in Canton.

There are borderline guys whose candidacies need to marinate. There are players whose contributions to an era take on greater meaning as time passes. You could make the case Stabler was one of those.

MORE PATRIOTS:

You could also make the case that too many HOF voters in each of the major sports get caught up in a “guardian at the gate” mentality, puffing out birdlike chests until they align with swollen stomachs and declaring an athlete’s not getting inducted on HIS watch.

Or until said athlete’s served time in purgatory and either begs for induction or says, “F--- it, I don’t care if I get in at this point anyway.

Which brings me to Terrell Owens and how his HOF candidacy will impact Randy Moss.

Moss was a better player than T.O. Historic. The second he entered the league in 1998, he was probably one of the five best players in the league at any position. Owens took a while. He didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fifth NFL season.

Moss was a technician and a savant. Owens just wrestled the game to the ground with brute force.

When measuring what a player “means” to the NFL and its fans, a reasonable Moss comp is Allen Iverson. They were iconic. Owens? Dwight Howard. Where T.O. felt needy, desperate and narcissistic. Moss just didn’t GAF.

And that’s where some voters start to rub their hands together and scheme.

How can we exact revenge for perceived crimes against football and propriety? Make 'em sweat. Use incidents, moments and comments as cudgels and pound penance out of them.

Even though Moss was better than T.O., that doesn’t mean Owens is borderline. Owens is second in all-time yards (Moss is third), eighth in receptions (Moss is 15th), third in touchdowns (Moss is second) and was a five-time All-Pro (Moss was a four-time All-Pro).

The only justification for voters keeping T.O. out the past two years was that he was a prick.

Few – if any - of his ex-teammates say that he should be kept out of the HOF for that. But scores of people in the media, ex-players and league lobbyists do think he should be kept out. At least until he learns his lesson, or whatever.

Owens’ narcissism chewed at the fabric of franchises he was a part of, is the contention. That’s why he played for five teams. That’s why he only played in one Super Bowl. That’s why tears weren’t shed when he signed someplace else.

Moss also played for five teams. He also played in just one Super Bowl (like Owens, Moss’ ’07 Patriots lost though Moss – like Owens – did his part to win). And tears weren’t shed too often when Moss left either.

Check this Tom Brady quote from September 2010. It came just days before Moss began shooting his way out of New England because he was unhappy the team wouldn’t extend his deal.

"There's only one Randy Moss that will ever play this game," Brady said. "He's the greatest, probably, downfield receiver in the history of the NFL. Those catches that he makes, where you guys see he runs 65 yards down the field, you throw it and he just runs and catches it. That's impossible to do.And I ask him, 'How did you do that?' And he says, 'I don't know, man. I've been doing it for a long time.' He has some special skills that nobody's really gifted with." 

That weekend, Moss gave his “This probably will be my last year here as a Patriot…” press conference after a season-opening win over the Bengals. The next week, he caught two of 10 passes that Brady threw his way in a loss to the Jets. One of the passes was a touchdown pass where he blew past Darrelle Revis and made a one-handed pull. Two of the other passes were picked off and Moss was non-competitive. After that, he was effectively frozen out of the offense and was traded after Week 4, less than a month after Brady accurately described him as the greatest downfield receiver in the history of the NFL.

Stuff like that, nudging a traffic cop for a half-block with his car stating “I’ll play when I want to play…,” fake-mooning the Lambeau Stadium crowd, saying he still smoked weed “once in a blue moon” – all those occasions will be aggregated and used as cudgels used to beat down Moss’ candidacy just as the driveway situps are used to beat down T.O.’s.

Whole bunch of voters will hand-wring about what it all meeeaaaannnnnsssss if they sweep Moss in on the first ballot after keeping T.O. out. And then wonder if T.O. should go in before Moss, after Moss or with him. Meanwhile, they’ll rush to get Ray Lewis in line for his gold jacket with nary a word about disappearing white suits 

The whole “between the lines is all that matters” defense.

Randy Moss belongs in the Hall of Fame. ASAP.