Patriots

Bill Belichick had a great exchange with Rob Gronkowski over dented Super Bowl trophy

Bill Belichick had a great exchange with Rob Gronkowski over dented Super Bowl trophy

Only Rob Gronkowski could get away with vandalizing one of the most prestigious trophies in sports.

The retired New England Patriots tight end famously dented the Lombardi Trophy in April when he wielded the team's Super Bowl LIII hardware as a baseball bat at a Boston Red Sox game.

That Lombardi Trophy still hasn't been fixed, and it was on prominent display Thursday night at the Patriots' ring ceremony.

And when Gronk got his hands on the damaged goods, head coach Bill Belichick happened to be standing right next to him.

Here's how that exchange went:

We have a feeling Belichick's "nice job" remark wasn't 100 percent sincere. The Patriots head coach seemed to find the whole thing pretty amusing, though, erupting (by his standards) in laughter after quarterback Tom Brady spotted the dented trophy.

You'd be less worried about a damaged trophy too if you had five others laying around.

The dented trophy was far from the star of the show Thursday night, as the Patriots flashed some serious bling during a lavish ceremony at team owner Robert Kraft's house.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Stephen Gostkowski on Patriots career, quarantine life and what the future holds

Patriots Talk Podcast: Stephen Gostkowski on Patriots career, quarantine life and what the future holds

The New England Patriots ended an era last month when they parted ways with longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Gostkowski took over for Adam Vinatieri as the Patriots' kicker in 2006 and went on to help New England earn three Super Bowl titles. The 36-year-old has four Pro Bowl selections in his career and is a two-time first-team All-Pro.

In 2019, Gostkowski missed most of the season after he was placed on injured reserve. While it obviously isn't how he hoped his Patriots career would come to an end, there's no taking away his contributions to the team's success over the course of its dynasty.

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So now that his Pats career is over, where does Gostkowski go from here? He caught up with Tom E. Curran on the latest Patriots Talk Podcast to discuss.

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

Gostkowski makes it clear he plans on playing in 2020, as long as the coronavirus pandemic doesn't lead to the season's cancellation.

I'm not ready to just hang it up. I'm gonna try to play. It's going to be tough to show teams what I can do right now or work out or do a physical, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm not concerned. I kind of take things day by day.

I feel good. I'm starting to feel better. I'm trying to keep getting in better and better shape and I've probably done more so far this year as I would heading into a normal season so I feel like I'm ahead of where I usually am and I have nothing but time.

Along with discussing the future, Gostkowski also took some time to reflect on the past.

We've been so successful as a team, there's nothing for me to complain about...We have had it really good and finally being done with the Patriots it's fun to actually look back at it and be able to talk about it in a positive way.

Because when you're in it and in the mode, you can never like, sit back and pat yourself on the back or talk about how good it was because you'd win, get drunk at the parade and after that you're like, 'OK, can't talk about it anymore.' It's fun to look back and everything I look back at is all positive memories.

Gostkowski also chats with Curran about what he's been up to while quarantining, Tom Brady's departure from the Patriots, and much more. Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting the top running backs

2020 NFL Draft: Scouting the top running backs

We'll be blunt: This isn't exactly the Golden Age of running backs.

Only one running back (Josh Jacobs) was a top-50 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and it's very likely that trend will continue in 2020.

Teams are more wary than ever of spending premium draft capital at a position with such injury risk, especially with a host of talented wide receivers and tight ends on the 2020 NFL Draft board.

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And yet: The running back position still is a great place to find value.

Just ask the Buffalo Bills, whose 2019 third-round selection, Devin Singletary, is now a high-upside starter. Or the New Orleans Saints, who snagged superstar Alvin Kamara in the third round of the 2017 draft.

  • 2020 Draft Rankings: QB

The New England Patriots have taken a running back in back-to-back drafts -- Sony Michel in 2018 and Damien Harris in 2019 -- to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden, so they don't necessarily have a backfield need.

But have you known Bill Belichick to pass up value? Let's check out the top 10 running back prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft.

1. D'Andre Swift

College: Georgia
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 196 carries, 1,218 yards, seven touchdowns (24 receptions, 216 yards, one touchdown)

The latest workhorse back to come out of Georgia, Swift is the most well-rounded runner of the 2020 class. He boasts top-end speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash) and a strong frame (5-foot-9, 215 pounds) but more importantly possesses patience and vision that should help make him a successful three-down back for whatever running back-needy team scoops him up.

Projected Round: First

2. Jonathan Taylor

College: Wisconsin
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 320 carries, 2,003 yards, 21 touchdowns (26 receptions, 252 yards, five touchdowns)

Taylor put up monster numbers at Wisconsin, leading the Big Ten in rushing in three straight years and winning two Doak Walker Awards as the best running back in college football. His heavy workload (926 carries over three seasons) might make some teams wary, but Taylor has the tools to be a starting NFL running back out of the gate.

Projected Round: First or Second

3. J.K. Dobbins

College: Ohio State
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 301 carries, 2,003 yards, 21 touchdowns (23 receptions, 247 yards, two touchdowns)

Dobbins averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2019 and broke Ohio State's single-season rushing record held by Eddie George with 2,003 yards. He's no George or Ezekiel Elliott, though, and will have to prove those numbers weren't just the byproduct of an explosive Buckeye offense as he tries to compete for a starting NFL job in 2020.

Projected Round: Second

4. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

College: LSU
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 215 carries, 1,414 yards, 16 touchdowns (55 receptions, 453 yards, one touchdown)

What Edwards-Helaire lacks in height (5-foot-8), he makes up for with exceptional balance and explosiveness, as evidenced by his 6.9 yards per touch for the national champion Tigers. His receiving ability (3.7 receptions per game in 2019) also should appeal to a club looking for a boost on offense, although there's a good chance he slips to the third round with so many elite wideouts on the board.

Projected Round: Second or Third

5. Cam Akers

College: Florida State
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 231 carries, 1,144 yards, 14 touchdowns (30 receptions, 225 yards, four touchdowns)

A highly-touted recruit out of high school, Akers broke Dalvin Cook's freshman rushing record in 2017 and put up three seasons of solid production for an otherwise disappointing Seminoles team. Ball security is an issue (10 fumbles in three seasons), but Akers represents solid value in this second tier of backs.

Projected Round: Second or Third

6. Zack Moss

College: Utah
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 235 carries, 1,416 yards, 15 touchdowns (28 receptions, 388 yards, two touchdowns)

The cousin of former NFL wide receivers Santana and Sinorice Moss, Zack Moss is a bruiser whose physical running style could translate well to the NFL. Moss turns 23 in December and his 2018 knee injury is a potential red flag, but he has the potential to be a solid sleeper pick.

Projected Round: Third

7. Eno Benjamin

College: Arizona State
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 253 carries, 1,083 yards, 10 touchdowns (42 receptions, 347 yards, two touchdowns)

Benjamin's production actually dipped last season after a 300-rush, 1,642-yard campaign for the Sun Devils in 2018. The Texas native has top-end elusiveness, though, and could be a serviceable change-of-pace back for an NFL team after averaging 8.3 yards per reception in 2019.

Projected Round: Fourth

8. Anthony McFarland

College: Maryland
Class: Sophomore
2019 stats: 114 carries, 614 yards, eight touchdowns (17 receptions, 126 yards, one touchdown)

McFarland is one of the fastest running backs in the 2020 draft (4.44-second 40-yard dash) but has been dogged by injuries, including a high ankle sprain that limited his production in 2019. If an NFL team is convinced he can get healthy, he's an enticing mid-round flyer.

Projected Round: Fourth

9. A.J. Dillon

College: Boston College
Class: Junior
2019 stats: 318 carries, 1,685 yards, 14 touchdowns (13 receptions, 195 yards, one touchdown)

Boston College's bell-cow back amassed 845 carries over three seasons, boasting impressive athleticism for someone with his 6-foot, 250-pound frame. Dillon doesn't have any standout traits, though, and likely will begin his NFL career as a backup.

Projected Round: Fourth or Fifth

10. Ke'Shawn Vaughn

College: Vanderbilt (via Illinois)
Class: Senior
2019 stats: 198 carries, 1,028 yards, nine touchdowns (28 receptions, 270 yards, one touchdown)

Vaughn's best college season came in 2018, when he averaged 7.9 yards per carry (1,244 yards on 157 attempts) after transferring from Illinois to Vanderbilt. A regression in 2019 impacted his draft stock, but he still should go in the middle rounds after a decent showing at the Senior Bowl.

Projected Round: Fourth or Fifth