Patriots

Bill Belichick lauds retiring Urban Meyer as 'great man' and 'good friend'

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AP Photo

Bill Belichick lauds retiring Urban Meyer as 'great man' and 'good friend'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer are still close, in case you were wondering.

Belichick hasn't drafted a player coached by Meyer since 2014, when he dipped into the pool of available Florida Gators twice to take first-round defensive lineman Dominique Easley and sixth-round offensive lineman Jon Halapio. 

But on Wednesday, one day after Meyer's final game coaching Ohio State -- Meyer is stepping down, citing health reasons -- Belichick praised the Buckeyes boss.

"Go back a long way with Urban," Belichick said. "Talk to him multiple times every season. Have great respect and appreciation for what he's done -- the national championships and the programs that he's built . . .

"Great man. Has had tremendous success. Has been a good friend. Have great admiration for what he's done."

Belichick is of course keenly aware that Meyer's name has been in the news for the better part of the last six months because of how he handled domestic abuse allegations against a former assistant coach. Meyer was suspended for the first three games of the season after an investigation into the situation. 

But Belichick's loyalty to his friend was apparent at his most recent press conference. 

There was a time when Belichick seemed to be ushering Meyer-coached players to New England on a semi-annual basis. Nate Ebner, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Jackson and Jeremy Mincey were all drafted by Belichick in a seven-year span.

Though it's been years since Belichick selected one of Meyer's players in the draft, he has attended the Ohio State pro day, and he spoke at the school's coaching clinic last year. There Belichick discussed, among other things, how having role players like Ebner can help build a successful program.

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Quick Slants the Podcast: Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff lauds Bill Belichick; A deep dive into the newly-released 2019 Patriots schedule

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Quick Slants the Podcast: Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff lauds Bill Belichick; A deep dive into the newly-released 2019 Patriots schedule

1:24 - Tom E. Curran is joined by General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons Thomas Dimitroff, who talks about his impressions of Bill Belichick following the NFL meetings in March.

9:55 - Before letting him go, Tom gets Dimitroff's thoughts on the batch of receivers in the upcoming draft.

13:58 - Tom breaks down each and every matchup of the Patriots 2019 schedule, from their Week 1 opener vs. the Steelers, to their tough Week 5-through-9 stretch  (18:31), to an interesting December with games against the Texans and Chiefs (23:55).

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Prototypical Patriots: Athletes available if Belichick is looking for tackles

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Prototypical Patriots: Athletes available if Belichick is looking for tackles

Two of the Patriots' last seven first-round draft picks have been offensive tackles: Isaiah Wynn and Nate Solder.

And though tackle doesn't seem to be a pressing first-round need this year, there's no doubt that New England could look to beef up that position by going back to the well at some point in this year's draft.

The Patriots don't have an obvious candidate for their swing tackle spot at the moment. Plus, there could be shakeup coming up front in 2020. Joe Thuney will be a free agent, and if the Patriots want the flexibility to move Wynn to guard, then a tackle from this year's draft class would make sense. 

Based on past picks in the Belichick era, Phil Perry takes a look at some tackles who fit the Patriots' mold and could work in Foxboro this fall.

Click here for hsi list of Prototypical Patriots tackles in the 2019 Draft.>>>>

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