2018 NFL Draft

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:


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.  


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. 


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). 


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. 


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. 


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. 



Prototypical Patriots: Adding more receiver options to a crowded field?

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Prototypical Patriots: Adding more receiver options to a crowded field?

Just look at the Patriots roster. Go ahead. Organize the list by position. Then scroll down to where you start to see players with "WR" next to their names. I'll wait. 

Whole bunch of those guys, right? The glut of players Bill Belichick has at that position at the moment would seem to indicate a couple of things. 

First, they like the depth they've been able to build. They have competitive players competing for limited roster spots, which means the end result will be an effective group where the strongest have survived training camp cuts. 

Second, they're not entirely sure who will emerge as the best options for them. More options mean more opportunities to hit. It's a numbers game.

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

Yet, even with all the numbers the Patriots have at receiver, that doesn't take them out of the receiver market in this draft. Julian Edelman is in his early 30s. Chris Hogan is in the final year of his contract. Malcolm Mitchell missed all of last season with a knee injury and has dealt with knee issues going all the way back to his days at the University of Georgia. 

It would come as no surprise if the Patriots wanted to look for the next centerpiece around which to build their receiver room. They've reportedly met with two of the top pass-catchers in the class, Maryland's DJ Moore and Texas A&M's Christian Kirk, and there are a handful of others who fit the athletic profile shared by other receivers the Patriots have drafted in the past. 

Let's lay out the list here...


Moore checks just about every box the Patriots look for in their wideouts. He's big enough to play on the outside, he has the speed (4.42-second 40) to stress defenses deep, and he's very explosive (11-foot broad jump, 39.5 vertical). His three-cone (6.95 seconds) and short-shuttle (4.07) indicate he has the change-of-direction ability to play inside and create separation with his quickness. Thought to be a mid-first round pick, the Patriots might have to hope he lasts until No. 23 to pick him. Or if they like him enough, they could make him the first receiver Belichick has taken in the first round since taking over in New England. 

DJ CHARK, LSU, 6-3, 199 

Chark is a little on the lighter end for a Patriots outside receiver, but athletically he has it all. His speed (4.34-second 40) made him one of the fastest players at this year's combine, and he stood out at the Senior Bowl. His 40-inch vertical and 129-inch broad jump only reinforce the fact that he is among the most physically-gifted pass-catchers in the draft. Chark is among the talented many Day 2 receiver options, and if someone falls in love with his speed, he could go at the end of Day 1. 


Slightly built, Pettis may be expected to pack on a few pounds if he ends up at 1 Patriot Place. But when it comes to how Pettis tested athletically, Belichick won't want him to change a thing. His 4.48-second 40, 6.87-second three-cone, 125-inch broad jump and 36-inch vertical make him one of the best fits at receiver for the Patriots. Plus, he has experience as a returner, which could boost his draft stock when Belichick and Nick Caserio stack their board. 


Miller may profile as a slot receiver, but his testing numbers seem to be a sign that he could play on the outside without issue. He has big enough mitts (10 inches) to snatch footballs from defenders and his three-cone time at his pro day (6.65 seconds) was outstanding. Miller's 40-yard dash wasn't eye-popping (4.50 seconds), but he's a good leaper (39-inch vertical, 125-inch broad) and certainly qualifies as an NFL athlete. 


Like Miller, Sutton's 40 time (4.54 seconds) won't jump off the page for a team that has drafted outside faster outside receivers (Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson) in the first couple of rounds. But Sutton meets the mark when it comes to his vertical (35.5 inches) and broad (124 inches). And his change-of-direction times were tremendous -- 6.57-second three-cone, 4.11-second short shuttle -- for a player with his size. That might help his 40 time from knocking him way down New England's board.


Brown has the size and speed (4.48-second 40) to profile as a boundary receiver in New England. His 1.54-second 10-yard split is also ideal. We don't have testing numbers for St. Brown on the three-cone or shuttle, but he jumped 34 1/2 inches at his pro day, and he did 20 reps on the bench. He looks the part. 


On the opposite end of the physical spectrum from St. Brown would be Berrios. Still, Berrios profiles as a very nice fit in the slot for Josh McDaniels. He reportedly ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.4s and had a 6.76 three-cone to go along with a 36-inch vertical. Those are all strong numbers for an inside receiver in the Patriots system. 


Kirk was in New England this week for a top-30 visit, an indication that the Patriots are quite interested. Judging by his play, that's not a surprise. But outside of a strong 40 time (4.47 seconds) and vertical (35.5 inches) his athletic numbers don't quite match up with sub-six foot receivers the Patriots have drafted in the past. His broad jump (115 inches), three-cone (7.09 seconds) and shuttle (4.45 seconds) aren't quite ideal, but the Patriots could argue that he's quicker than that on tape. 


Ridley, who reportedly was in Foxboro for a visit on Wednesday, is a little light, judging by Patriots standards, and some of his testing numbers don't quite meet the mark of other highly-drafted Patriots receivers. (Ridley is expected by many experts to be the first receiver off the board.) His 31-inch vertical, 110-inch broad jump and 4.41-second shuttle leave something to be desired. His 40 time (4.43 seconds) and three-cone (6.88 seconds) are quick, though, so if he were to slip to No. 23, maybe the Patriots would consider him. The Alabama connection is there, and Ridley is as polished a route-runner as this class has to offer. 


Washington posted some incredible numbers in the down-the-field-passing offense employed by the Cowboys. And while he's a solid athlete, he doesn't necessarily hit some of the markers other highly-drafted Patriots wideouts have. His 4.54-second 40 is relatively pedestrian in terms of what the Patriots typically like, as are his 7.11-second three-cone and 4.32-second short-shuttle. Washington's ability to track the deep ball may allow the Patriots to overlook some of his measurables. They reportedly met with him privately for a workout.


At first blush, Cantrell has the size and athleticism to be a Patriots type. His vertical (38.5 inches), broad jump (130 inches), three-cone (6.56 seconds) and short shuttle (4.03 seconds) are all excellent. The Patriots, if they take him, will have to get over his 4.59-second 40-yard dash, though. Unless Belichick and Caserio feel he plays faster than that, it could knock him down their board. In the mid-to-late rounds, though, Cantrell's certainly a fit.  


The route-running he showed on tape was crisp, and the change-of-direction times he posted at the combine - 6.84 three-cone, 4.15 short-shuttle - were solid. But otherwise, Hamilton didn't test extraordinarily well. His 4.54-second 40, his sub-35 inch vertical and his sub-10 foot broad jump might make it hard for the Patriots to call his name before Day 3.



Prototypical Patriots: Time to pick up some Gronk insurance?

Prototypical Patriots: Time to pick up some Gronk insurance?

The Patriots have a situation on their hands. 

Their future Hall of Fame tight end hasn't yet popped his head in on the start of the team's offseason training program, and after making almost $11 million on an incentive-laden deal last season, it would come as no surprise if he would like to see his $8 million base salary for 2018 get bumped up. He's supposedly contemplating retirement. 

Though Gronkowski is still at the top of his game, his waffling means it's time for the Patriots to consider re-investing at his position. Though the upcoming draft isn't loaded with surefire Day 1 tight end options, the Day 2 crop is loaded. That could be where Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio strike, hoping to land their next do-it-all threat. 

Before we get to some names, let's lay out what the Patriots like at this spot. They've drafted 13 tight ends under Belichick, and some trends have emerged. Size, obviously, is important. The "prototype" falls in the 6-foot-4 range and a shade over 250 pounds. Big hands (about 10 inches) are also preferred. Athleticism matters, too. Quick 40 times (4.7-second range) and three-cone drills (7.0-second range) will help a player find his way onto the Patriots roster, as will an explosive vertical (35 inches or thereabouts). 

The Patriots probably won't find another Gronkowski any time soon. But by those parameters, they'll find a solid athlete with requisite size to handle the myriad tasks they ask their tight ends to execute. 



Goedert didn't run the 40-yard dash at the combine or at his pro day, leaving teams to either have him run privately or . . . make their best guess as to how fast he is. The issue? He played a lower level of competition so while he looks like a dominant force on tape, some of those plays have to be taken with a grain of salt. Goedert's height, weight, hand size (10 inches) and arm length (34 inches) give him the makeup of a true dual-threat tight end in the Patriots system. And though we don't know his 40, his other testing numbers -- 35-inch vertical, 121-inch broad, 7.02-second three-cone -- indicate he's an explosive and agile athlete. Gronkowski was bigger (6-6, 264) and tested slightly below Goedert when it comes to those measures (7.18 three-cone, 33.5-inch vertical, 119-inch broad). They did the same number of bench reps at the combine (23). 


Gesicki's build gives him the look of a bigger receiver rather than a tight end capable of handling in-line blocking duties. The Patriots have taken players in the 245-pound range, but they've been more compact tight ends like Daniel Graham (6-3, 248), Garrett Mills (6-1, 241) and Aaron Hernandez (6-2, 245). Unless Gesicki can pack more weight onto his frame, he'd probably fall into the "move" tight end category. Wherever he ends up, his rare athleticism will help. Gesicki's 4.54-second 40 would be the second-fastest among tight ends drafted by Belichick in New England (Ben Watson had a 4.53). Gesicki had a blazing three-cone (6.76 seconds) as well, which was almost a tenth of a second faster than Hernandez's. Explosiveness? Gesicki has you covered there, too. His 129-inch broad and 41-.5-inch vertical break the mold on typical tight end thresholds. Gesicki's frame is a question mark when it comes to his Patriots fit, but he checks every other physical marker the Patriots typically draft, including hand size (10 1/8 inches) and arm length (34 inches).



Thomas hasn't received much hype leading up to the draft in part because he was injured last season and had just two years at Indiana. But physically he has it all: height, weight, length (34 1/8-inch arms) and hand size (11 1/2 inches). Athletically, he hits all Patriots marks and then some with a 4.74-second 40, a 36-inch vertical, 123-inch broad and a 4.20 short shuttle. His three-cone drill is a little slower than where they typically like (7.15 seconds), but it was still more than two tenths faster than Watson's. If the Patriots are willing to mold him into more of a technician when it comes to his blocking and route-running, he could end up as a true multi-purpose tight end in their system. 


Where to start here? When compared to some other tight ends Belichick drafted to New England, Hurst compares favorably. His 4.67-second 40-yard is a hair faster than Gronkowski's and a hair slower than Hernandez's. His 1.63-second 10-yard split was actually better than that of Hernandez (1.65) and 2006 third-rounder David Thomas (1.64). He showed some explosion in the broad jump (120 inches), recording a better distance than Graham (118), Thomas (109) and Hernandez (111), all of whom measured similarly at their respective combines. But Hurst's vertical (31 1/2 inches) and change-of-direction testing (7.19-second three-cone, 4.37 short shuttle) didn't wow anyone. He's also a little undersized in terms of what the Patriots typically draft (32 1/8-inch arms). He may be a first-round pick, but judging by Belichick's history, that might be a little early for the Patriots. 


Andrews is an interesting prospect because he has a good combination of size and speed (4.58-second 40). His change-of-direction and explosiveness, however, don't necessarily indicate he's an ideal Patriots fit. His 7.34-second three-cone drill won't help him, his 31-inch vertical was unimpressive, his broad jump (113 inches) was about average in terms of what the Patriots have drafted in the past, and his 4.38-second short-shuttle was not blazing. Those aren't crippling numbers. The Patriots have drafted worse athletes. But Andrews is expected to go in the first couple of rounds, which may be a little rich for Belichick.


Schultz is another long-but-light prospect at the position. And his athletic testing numbers don't necessarily match up with the number in the weight column. His 7.00-second three-cone is good, and his 120-inch broad jump indicates there's some explosion there. But his vert (32 inches), short-shuttle (4.40 seconds) and 40 time (4.75 seconds) are average or worse. For someone with his build, the Patriots might prefer to see a better athlete. His arm length (31 1/4 inches) and hand size (9 1/4 inches) aren't ideal, but he was a two-year starter in a pro-style offense and he's thought to be one of the best blockers at his position in the class. Those elements of Schultz's game may get the Patriots interested in the middle rounds. Wisconsin's Troy Fumagali is a similar player in terms of his willingness as a blocker and his size (6-5, 247). He might be a better fit athletically, but he hasn't been able to do any athletic testing during the pre-draft process because of injury. 


Smythe has the kind of experience as an in-line player that the Patriots would appreciate. And he comes from a program they respect. But when it comes to the measurables, Smythe profiles as a less athletic than a typical Patriots draft pick. Smythe's 40 time (4.81), vertical (31 inches), broad jump (110 inches), bench (18 reps), and three-cone (7.17 seconds) are all below average compared against other Patriots tight ends drafted since 2000. His hand size (9 1/4 inches) and arm length (31 3/4 inches) are also less than ideal. Smythe's tape may earn him a job on Day 3 of the draft, but his athleticism would put him on the outer edges of the range of player the Patriots have drafted in the past. 


Man, if you want a blocking tight end, this seems to be your draft. Dissly falls into the same category. And from a Patriots perspective, he looks the part of an in-line type. Athletically . . . that's another story. Dissly's vertical (28 inches), broad jump (111 inches), short-shuttle (4.4 seconds) and 40 time (4.87) aren't going to rocket him up draft boards. His three-cone is solid for someone his size (7.07 seconds), and his hands (9 3/4 inches) and arms (33 1/4 inches) meet the mark for the Patriots. Still, he's a Day 3 choice.