Patriots

NFL evaluator: Easy to see Josh Gordon in N'Keal Harry's game

NFL evaluator: Easy to see Josh Gordon in N'Keal Harry's game

FOXBORO -- Even if you're watching tape of one NFL-caliber prospect after another, all considered among the best of the best at their position in college, there are some talents who stand out even among the elite because of their combination of size and skill. 

That's what happened to one evaluator I spoke to over the weekend who studied New England's first-round pick, N'Keal Harry from Arizona State, during the pre-draft process. This person had worked with Josh Gordon before, and it was Gordon who first came to mind when Harry's tape was on the screen.

While Gordon is still among the most gifted receivers in the league, the comparison between Harry and Gordon is a natural one for a variety of reasons. 

A layman could make the comparison following the combine -- as I did on an episode of "The Next Pats Podcast" (31:37) -- because of their remarkably similar physical traits. According to Mockdraftable.com, their respective frames (6-foot-2.5, 228 pounds for Harry; 6-3, 224 for Gordon), their arm lengths (33 inches; 33.25 inches), hand sizes (9.5 inches, 10 inches), 40 times (4.53 seconds, 4.52 seconds), vertical jumps (38.5 inches, 36 inches) and broad jumps (122 inches, 121 inches) are all nearly identical. 

But it goes beyond the measurables. Watch them play, I was told. The word that continued to come from the evaluator who had worked with Gordon and studied Harry was "rare." Both play faster than their 40 times, and both have the body control and change-of-direction ability of a receiver 30 pounds lighter. That's not something that would necessarily show up in a combine test. 

For example, Ole Miss wideout D.K. Metcalf had numbers in Indianapolis that blew everyone's out of the water. At 6-foot-3.5, he checked in at 228 pounds, had better jumps (40.5-inch vert, 134-inch broad) and a much quicker 40 (4.33 seconds). But, I was told, Harry plays "twice as fast" as Metcalf. "And I'm not sure it's close." It seems as though others around the league agreed. Metcalf ended up being drafted No. 64 overall by the Seahawks.

The Gordon-to-Harry comparison was helped, in the eyes of this evaluator, by their work after the catch. Even without the benefit of working with the Patriots before the season, Gordon was a terror in 2018 on slants, hitches and the occasional back-shoulder throw. On some of the shorter tosses that got him the football in space, he broke tackles regularly and fought through contact to pick up whatever yardage was available to him.

The ability to make contested catches are part of what makes Harry's skill set so appealing, but I was warned, don't consider him a jump-ball specialist. The instincts to find a crease and keep plays alive with the football in his hands was something Harry exhibited time and again as a Sun Devil; he broke 38 tackles in three seasons and was a pest for opposing defenses on screens.

With a creative coordinator like Josh McDaniels, and a short-area surgeon like Tom Brady, the Patriots will likely find a variety of different uses for their shiny new first-round toy who looks like he could be the closest thing to Gordon in this year's draft class.

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Rob Gronkowski set to compete in virtual beer pong tournament

Rob Gronkowski set to compete in virtual beer pong tournament

Who knew virtual beer pong was a thing? 

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski apparently is set to compete in a virtual beer pong tournament hosted by Post Malone to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts, according to TMZ Sports. The tournament will be live-streamed on the @ballinacup Instagram over eight days and the winners will receive a trophy and wrestling belts. 

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Gronkowski will be partnered with his girlfriend Camille Kostek, and they aren't the only familiar faces in the tournament. Former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola and former Boston Bruins forward Tyler Seguin also will compete in the competition. 

The first round kicks off on Friday with Gronkowski and Kostek taking on Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson and USWNT star Mallory Pugh. Amendola will take on Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Saturday and Seguin will take on New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman on Monday, April 6. 

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It's no surprise Gronkowski signed up to compete in this tournament -- he loves to party, after all. 

This definitely is something out of the ordinary, but it should be pretty comical to watch Gronkowski, Amendola and Seguin compete to see who the king of beer pong is. 

Patriots have dominated this category since turn of the century

Patriots have dominated this category since turn of the century

The New England Patriots have been an unstoppable force over the course of the past two decades. The team has won six Super Bowls, 17 division titles, and hasn't logged a losing season this century.

One of the reasons for their success? They have been insanely good in one-possession games.

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According to Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf), the Patriots have the best winning percentage in one-score games since the turn of the century. They are one of just two teams that have won greater than 60 percent of those contests. Here's a look at the numbers:

While several teams have more wins than the Patriots in these contests, it's still remarkable that the team has won two-thirds of their one-score games in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. It takes great decision-making on the parts of players and coaches to maintain such a strong record.

With Brady no longer on the Patriots, It looks like we're going to figure out just how much he has mattered to the Patriots' ability to win close games. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer are the two quarterback options on the roster after Cody Kessler was released on Thursday, so Belichick will have his work cut out for him with either option.

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Meanwhile, Brady's impact on the Buccaneers may be notable depending on how much they improve in this area. The Bucs have the third-worst winning percentage of the century in one-possession games, coming in at 40.2 percent. They have the second-most losses overall with 98.

Last season, the Bucs were 3-6 in nine one-score games with Jameis Winston at the helm. If Brady can help to improve upon that record by making fewer late-game mistakes than the turnover-prone Winston did, then the Bucs may have a chance to make some noise in the NFC.

Either way, we'll soon see how Brady's presence impacts the Bucs and if the Patriots can continue their winning ways in close contests.