Wise leaning on Flowers, Ninkovich as he adjusts to life with Patriots

Wise leaning on Flowers, Ninkovich as he adjusts to life with Patriots

FOXBORO -- Deatrich Wise was paying attention. He watched as Trey Flowers burst onto the scene for the Patriots in the second half of last season, and he noticed as Flowers racked up six tackles and 2.5 sacks in Super Bowl LI. 

For Wise, an Arkansas defensive end with NFL aspirations, seeing his former college teammate make the impact he did in his second season as a pro was encouraging. 

"I kind of said, 'If he can do it, I can do it,' " Wise relayed on Thursday.

Now that Wise has followed Flowers to New England, he's making sure he's learning as much as he can from the player who was dubbed "Technique" by his teammates last season. 

"He's a big mentor," Wise said during his first in-person meeting with reporters since being selected in the fourth round of this year's draft. "The advice he gives me is pretty much take one day at a time. Don't try to think ahead. Be in the now. He's been helping me out here and there with the plays and what I have to do. It's been great."

Wise says he's careful not to suffocate Flowers, but he knows he has a lot to learn, and that there are few who are better to learn from. 

"I try to follow him a little bit. I try not to get too close to him," Wise said with a laugh. "Try to follow him, see what he does, see how he works, and do the same."

At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Wise is bigger than Flowers (6-2, 265), but they're similar in that they both have long arms and both have some versatility along the line of scrimmage. 

Rob Ninkovich, meanwhile, fits a different profile on the edge. But Wise has tried to absorb everything he can from the veteran leader of the defensive end group as well. 

"Today we [were] doing drills and Rob pulled me to the side and just taught me just some little things I could learn on my pass rush, the drills, how to improve things," Wise said. "He's taught not only me but [rookie third-round pick] Derek [Rivers] as well. He's also another mentor type. Like an older brother-slash-father-like figure on the d-line."

Ninkovich is more of an edge-to-linebacker player rather than the edge-to-tackle player Wise seems to be, but the rookie knows that he can refine his game simply by watching the 12-year pro go to work.

"He's very technical," Wise said. "Everything he does is precise. There's no lag. Everything is perfect . . . I'm really looking forward to getting my technique from him, fine-tuning my skills, and just learning everything from him. Whether it's small things he sees in the offense or just little techniques."

Whether it's Flowers or Ninkovich, Wise is surrounded by knowledgable peers from whom he can learn. Less than a month in to his pro career, he certainly sounds like an eager student. 

Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

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Report: Cam Fleming visiting the Cowboys

There's one gigantic hole to fill on the Patriots offensive line.

Replacing Nate Solder is no easy task and it's not exactly clear how the Pats will yet.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport was first to report the Patriots would like to bring back Waddle or Fleming.

It now appears that one of the former backup tackle is taking a serious look elsewhere, according to Ian Rapoport. 

It's not the best offensive line free agency market this season, so the Pats may prefer to bring back a guy they are familar with.

If Fleming is off the board, Waddle still remains as an option for New England.



How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

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How the compensatory pick formula may impact Patriots free-agent calls

How highly do the Patriots value their mid-round draft picks? We'll find out as the run on NFL free agents continues this week. 

If Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio plan to make any signings from outside the organization, they'll have to factor into that decision what they will be giving up. Money and cap space matter . . . sure. But there is draft capital at stake.  

The Patriots are currently projected to land two third-round compensatory picks in 2019 after losing both Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency. There's real value there, and the decision-makers at One Patriot Place may be reluctant to give that up. 

Recent Patriots third-round picks include Derek Rivers, Tony Garcia, Joe Thuney, Jacoby Brissett, Vincent Valentine, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan. 


Before we get into how the Patriots might lose those third-round comp picks if they remain active in free-agency, it's worth noting how comp picks are assigned. 

The compensatory-pick formula the league uses has never been published, but we know the basics. It's based on free agents lost and free agents acquired in a given year by a particular team. The level of those players is taken into consideration -- based on salary, playing time and other factors -- and then picks are issued to teams who have lost more (or better) free agents than they acquired. Only free agents whose contracts have expired (not players who've been released) qualify for the compensatory-pick formula.'s Nick Korte is the best in the business when it comes to predicting how many picks teams will land based on their free-agent losses and acquisitions, and he has the Patriots down for two third-rounders in 2019 and nothing else. 

That may sound surprising given the Patriots lost Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola in addition to Butler and Solder, but that's the way the formula broke, according to Korte. The Adrian Clayborn signing (given a sixth-round value by OTC) cancelled out the Amendola loss (sixth-round value). The Matt Tobin signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Lewis loss (sixth-round value). And the Jeremy Hill signing (seventh-round value) cancelled out the Johnson Bademosi loss (sixth-round value). 

Why do Tobin and Hill cancel out Amendola and Lewis, despite being lower-value moves? Here's how OTC describes the process. (Free agents who qualify for the comp-pick formula are known as Compensatory Free Agents or CFAs.)

1. A CFA gained by a team cancels out the highest-valued available CFA lost that has the same round valuation of the CFA gained.

2. If there is no available CFA lost in the same round as the CFA gained, the CFA gained will instead cancel out the highest-available CFA lost with a lower round value.

3. A CFA gained will only cancel out a CFA lost with a higher draft order if there are no other CFAs lost available to cancel out. 

That final point is key. An example? The Seahawks recently signed CFA Jaron Brown, a seventh-round value. The only Seahawks "CFAs lost" available to cancel out the move were Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, both fourth-round values. Even though there's a three-round difference between Brown and Richardson, per Korte's projections, those moves still will cancel each other out. 

With that in mind, the Patriots may want to tread lightly when it comes to signing free agents who will qualify toward the comp-pick formula. They could lose out on the third-rounders they've received for Solder and Butler even if they sign a lower-value free agent.

Players like Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro or Raiders linebacker NaVorro Bowman would count toward the comp-pick formula. Would their value to the team be such that losing a 2019 third-round pick wouldn't matter to the Patriots? Or would their comp-pick impact hurt their chances of being picked up in New England? My guess would be the latter. 

The good news for the Patriots is that re-signing their own players -- like offensive tackles LaAdrian Waddle and/or Cam Fleming -- doesn't impact the comp-pick setup. Neither does signing players who've been released, meaning the Patriots could theoretically make a splash by signing Ndamukong Suh or Eric Ebron and they'd retain their comp picks.

Given the Patriots made just four draft picks last year, and since comp picks can be traded now (that rule was changed last year), it would come as little surprise if retaining those picks weighed heavily on Belichick and Caserio's decisions as they move through the remainder of the offseason.