Patriots

NFL Rumors: Jalen Hurd, Baylor WR and converted RB, met with Patriots

NFL Rumors: Jalen Hurd, Baylor WR and converted RB, met with Patriots

Gillette Stadium has been a revolving door for NFL Draft prospects this week, and it appears many share a common trait.

The New England Patriots hosted another skill player Wednesday in Baylor wide receiver prospect Jalen Hurd, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

The Patriots also brought in tight end Noah Fant and wide receivers A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel on Thursday after meeting with quarterback prospects Will Grier and Daniel Jones on Wednesday, per various reports. They even mixed in some current NFL players, bringing running back T.J. Yeldon and Demaryius Thomas in for free-agent visits Wednesday.

Hurd is an interesting prospect: The 23-year-old began his college career as a running back at Tennessee from 2014 to 2016 but transferred to Baylor in 2017 because he wanted to transition to wide receiver. After sitting out the 2017 season, he thrived in his new role at Baylor, tallying 946 receiving yards on 69 catches with a total of seven touchdowns (four receiving, three rushing).

Hurd still is an unfinished wide receiver prospect and likely won't come off the 2019 NFL Draft board until Day 3, but at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.47 seconds, he's an exceptional athlete with upside as a goal line or deep threat. 

NFL Network's Lance Zierlein has converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor listed as Hurd's NFL comparison.

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Former Patriots DE Chris Long announces retirement

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USA Today Sports Images

Former Patriots DE Chris Long announces retirement

Former Patriots defensive end and Super Bowl 51 champion Chris Long announced his retirement on Twitter Saturday night. 

The 11-year veteran had been mulling over the decision for the last four months after his season with the Eagles ended in the NFC's Divisional round against the Saints. 

Long will exit the NFL with two Super Bowl championships, both coming in consecutive years with the Patriots and then the Eagles. In 2016 with the Patriots, Long totaled four sacks, 35 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits. He will finish his career with 70 sacks, 85 tackles for loss and 150 quarterback hits.

Another legacy Long leaves will be his philanthropy. He donated an entire seasons worth of game checks to charity in 2017, and then donated a quarter of his salary in 2018 to help local children. Long was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in February

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This stat should make Patriots fans excited for year two of JC Jackson

This stat should make Patriots fans excited for year two of JC Jackson

As an undrafted free agent coming into the 2018 season, cornerback J.C. Jackson made the most out of his opportunity by earning himself a starting spot on the Patriots' Super Bowl championship defense. 

Jackson will face higher expectations as he heads into his second season in the pros, but the Patriots and their fans should have plenty of reason to be optimistic about the young corner. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson ranked as the top corner in the NFL during the 2018 season in Passer Rating allowed (42.0), which was nearly 18 points higher than second place Avonte Maddox of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Jackson allowed just 22 for 262 yards and zero touchdowns on 42 targets last season. He was also seventh in forced incompletion rate and 12th in the NFL with an 82.4 coverage grade, according to PFF's rankings. 

Jackson is with elite company at the top spot of PFF's Passer Rating allowed, beating out Miami's Xavien Howard, Denver's Chris Harris Jr., and Chicago's Kyle Fuller. The Dolphins just recently made Howard the highest-paid corner in the league. 

But Jackson wasn't the only Patriot to crack the top-10. Stephon Gilmore finished 10th in this category with a 71.8 passer rating allowed. Gilmore experienced the best season of his career in 2018, making First Team All-Pro and making the game-clinching interception in Super Bowl 53. 

A lot of people like to talk about what the Patriots lose each offseason, but after letting Malcolm Butler walk in free agency to the Titans, Bill Belichick seems to have found an ample replacement in Jackson. 

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