MIchael Lombardi

Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

If anyone could provide insight into what Bill Belichick and the Patriots might be thinking on the eve of the NFL draft, it's Michael Lombardi. The former Pats staffer and Belichick confidant once dubbed "one of the smartest people I know" by the coach.

Lombardi joined Phil Perry this week on "The Next Pats Podcast" to look ahead to a draft he doesn't seem enamored with - particularly at quarterback for those thinking the heir to Tom Brady might be selected this weekend.

Lombardi was on Belichick's staff the last time that attempt was made - when Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014.

"Tom has defeated Father Time," Lombardi told Perry. "When we drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, did anybody think Tom would last another five years?  Anybody who said yes, other than Tom, probably wasn't telling the truth. Tom's just remarkable..."

As for this draft class of QBs, Lombardi said: "I'm not sure there's a quarterback in this draft, [rumored No. 1 pick Kyler] Murray included, who doesn't have some kind of fault in them...I have a hard time looking at this draft and saying [of the QBs] this guy's a Day 1 starter or a Pro Bowl player. "

Lombardi echoed Belichick's comments at the coach's pre-draft meeting with the media about the difficulty involved in evaluating college passers because of the level of competition they're coming from.

"Nobody ever talks about the level of competition and that's really the challenge of evaluating college players," Lombardi said. "When you watch pro players it's easy because they're going against other pro players."

And what might the Pats be looking for tomorrow night with pick No. 32? Lombardi sees them leaning toward defense.

"I think the thing about the Patriots is they realize that they've got to get a good player at 32," he told Perry. "If it's a corner that they like, that can come in and play a role for them this year, I think they could pick the corner. If there happened to be a linebacker or a defensive end that could rush, they can do that. It's going to be what the player's skill set is, what he could do this year and what impact he could utilize within there. You know there's always the chance he [Belichick] could trade down for more second-round picks."

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Hightower responds to Lombardi's idea of moving him to defensive end

Hightower responds to Lombardi's idea of moving him to defensive end

Former Patriots and Browns executive - and Bill Belichick confidant - Michael Lombardi suggested on a podcast this week that the Pats would benefit from Dont'a Hightower moving from linebacker to defensive end.

“I think what New England needs to do is stop playing Hightower at linebacker and just make him a defensive end because when he’s at linebacker they are really slow," Lombardi said on The Ringer GM Street podcast. 

Hightower said if that's what his coaches wanted, he'd be amenable to it.

"That's not my coach," Hightower said of Lombardi, via WEEI.com's Ryan Hannable. "I mean, if that's what Bill [Belichick] or Flo [linebackers coach and de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores] want to do, then we'll handle it at that."

"Whatever it takes," Hightower said. "I've never been one to not do whatever I need to do."

After missing a good portion of last season with a shoulder injury, Hightower told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry that while disappointed in the Pats' 1-2 start, he's elevating his game each week.

"I feel I'm elevating each week," he said. "Obviously it's still early in the season. We all got a lot of work to do, but me personally, I hold myself to a higher standard than that. Had a good week. Didn't play great but just want to continue to get better each week and that's all I can hope for."

On this week's Quick Slants the Podcast, former Pats linebacker Jerod Mayo said he thought a move back to the middle for Hightower would benefit the defense.

Listen here:

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How the Randy Moss trade cost Mike Lombardi his job

How the Randy Moss trade cost Mike Lombardi his job

This weekend, Randy Moss goes into the Hall of Fame. He's probably more Viking than Patriot, but some of his most indelible moments came with the Patriots in 2007 when he set the single-season touchdown reception record (23) and was part of the most prolific offense in NFL history to that point.

Twice, Moss came damn close to having his signature NFL play happen in Super Bowl 42. First, he caught a 6-yard dart from Tom Brady to put the Patriots ahead 14-10 with 2:42 to play. Then, in the closing seconds, a 75-yard javelin throw from Brady that would have put the Patriots in field goal position, ticked off Moss' fingers.

Without either, Moss' New England tenure becomes a little more difficult to define. Brilliant. Iconic. Enigmatic. Maddening. Like Moss himself.

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Even the backstory to Moss' becoming a Patriot is fascinating. We spoke to Mike Lombardi on Quick Slants the Podcast this week -- you can click and listen at the end of this story -- and the former Raiders "Senior Personnel Executive" said that dealing Moss to the Patriots cost him his job with the Raiders.

"I got fired because I told Bill Belichick that (Moss) could still run," Lombardi explains. "And Al got mad at me because I told Bill that. I still can't figure out why Al got mad at me when Al wanted to trade (Moss), but that might require a whole different book."

Lombardi's first book, Gridiron Genius, will be released September 18. It will detail Lombardi's years working alongside three of the game's greatest minds, Belichick, Davis, and Bill Walsh.

Hit the podcast link to hear Lombardi's discussion of those three and, specifically, Belichick.

It was that link to Belichick that made Al Davis color the Moss trade as a Lombardi double-cross.

"You know how many teams turned [Moss] down,?" Davis asked reporters after a bizarre press conference where Davis fired Lane Kiffin. "That guy in Green Bay [Ted Thompson] thought he couldn't run anymore. Even Denver, where they'll take anybody, turned him down.

"But what's his name (Lombardi) knew he could run, he's a friend of Belichick's. Mike Lombardi," said Davis. "Mike sold what's his name, Belichick, on the idea that he could run. They tampered with him. I remember Bob Kraft saying that he had to look him in the eye and all that. They went down and worked him out, he could run. He's their team, of course, with the quarterback."

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Lombardi later addressed that accusation in an interview with Cris Collinsworth saying, "After that press conference Al Davis threw everyone under the bus, [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft, Bill Belichick and myself, saying that I told Bill Belichick that Randy Moss could still run. Well, we were trying to trade Randy Moss to the New England Patriots. I thought that was good information to give Bill Belichick, But now [Davis] accused all of us of making those charges and now he is going to have to face them.

...I was trying to do the best thing for the Raiders, always have...In this situation, Bill Belichick is not going to always rely on my opinion for information. He is going to look at what he sees on the tape."

Lombardi's recollection of Moss?

"He was the most incredible player that I ever witnessed on the field. His hands were incredible, his speed was something I'd never seen before."

There's more to that quote, but ya gotta listen to the pod (below). Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

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