A Roller Coaster Ride: Reviewing the Patriots Draft

Welcome to my in-depth draft review for the New England Patriots.  I have already begun writing draft grades for each team (organized by division), but I figured I’d go more in depth for my favorite team.  Plus, I was able to submit this as a critical review for English class.

Read below for my draft grades for the Pats alongside my review.

In addition, I had the chance to catch up with Bob Socci about New England’s draft:

Now, let’s jump right in:

new_england_patriots New England Patriots

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

 

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Analysis:

Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Patriots should remain elite in 2019.  However, with tight end Rob Gronkowski hanging up his cleats and multiple receivers leaving through free agency, the Patriots still had a few tasks to accomplish coming into the NFL Draft.  

First of all, they needed to find quarterback Tom Brady some receivers.  Going into this draft, Julian Edelman was the only capable pass-catcher on the roster that Brady already has a strong rapport with.  Their depth behind Edelman was limited to Demaryius Thomas (coming off torn achilles) and Phillip Dorsett (has yet to prove himself dependable).  They also added Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a veteran tight end who was signed to help fill the hole Gronk left behind. But ASJ is no more than a temporary solution.  He has been terribly inconsistent throughout his career, and after playing 5 years on 3 different teams, he has never reached 400 receiving yards or 5 TDs in a season.  The Pats will eventually need to find another option there.

Second, they needed to fill some of their other positional needs.  They lack defensive line depth and are in desperate need of an elite pass rusher.  They brought Adrian Clayborn on board for 2018, but he didn’t consistently produce.  They haven’t really had a consistent one since DEs Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich left a few years ago.  The team could also use help at linebacker and in the o-line. Lastly, Brady’s not retiring anytime soon unless his stats suddenly decline.  But they still need time to start planning for the post-Brady era.

I feel the team worked towards achieving all of these objectives, but still could have done more to achieve them.  

There were rumors that New England would consider trading up to draft an elite tight end.  Instead, they opted to wait on a tight end and draft WR N’Keal Harry in Round 1. At #32, Harry was one of their best options, and he fills a need.  Once he gets into a rhythm with Brady, expect to see him starting and producing across from Edelman, so this was one of their better picks in the draft.

I wasn’t a huge fan of their 2nd round trade up for cornerback Joejuan Williams though.  Round 2 is a bit early for Williams; the Pats had bigger needs at #45. For example, they could have taken Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr.  But if they were going to trade up for a cornerback, it should have been LSU’s Greedy Williams. He ended up going to the Browns at #46. He may be a flawed prospect, as he’s not a very physical player and he opted out of visiting with teams prior to the draft.  But he has insane potential and refuses to leave receivers open.

The Pats redeemed themselves in the 3rd round.  After trading their later 2nd round pick, they managed to snag edge rusher Chase Winovich early in Round 3.  At the age of 24, Winovich is an older rookie, but he should still bring the energy to the locker room that Gronk left behind and make an instant impact in the pass rush where Ninkovich previously thrived.  This was the perfect choice for the Pats.

In this round, they also snagged a running back, Damien Harris and a tackle, Yodny Cajuste.  Harris is one of the better RB prospects in this draft, and he was a steal at #87. He has played in committees, but it’s hard to get a lot of opportunities in New England’s four-man backfield, something established in 2017.  As long as Michel is healthy, I’m not so sure they needed a fourth man. But he’s still a decent investment in my eyes.

Cajuste was one of the best tackles on the board and fills a need for the Pats, so I liked the pick.  Isaiah Wynn has yet to play a regular season game after losing his rookie year to an ACL tear, so the left tackle job is anyone’s for taking.

Though it received mixed reviews overall, one of my favorite picks in this draft was the selection of Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham in Round 4.  Stidham may have struggled at Auburn, but he wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for Auburn’s system, and I trust that he’ll fit better with the Pats and is capable of replacing Brady when he retires.

They also took guard Hjalte Froholdt in this round.  This was a bit of a reach, but he does help fill the team’s need for o-line depth.  

I was a bit disappointed at first when the Pats took DT Byron Cowart in Round 5, when better options were on the board.  But since then, I’ve looked further into this pick, and it actually makes sense. It fills a need, and as a former top high school prospect, Cowart has plenty of potential despite underperforming in college.  

On the other hand, it’s hard to argue in favor of the selection of punter Jake Bailey.  First of all, Bailey is a right footed punter, the first right footed punter on the Pats in a long, long, time.  Plus, they already resigned punter Ryan Allen. In baseball, they put right handed batters in a platoon with left handed batters.  Would the Pats consider something similar with punters? Regardless, the 5th round was a bit early to draft one.

Their drafted concluded with the addition of cornerback Ken Webster.  This pick didn’t make much sense, as they had already added depth at the position by drafting Joejuan Williams.  But it’s the 7th round, so I doubt it’ll have that much of an impact in the long run.

Overall I thought this draft class was pretty solid.  Some of the decisions they made were a bit confusing, but that was mixed in with some amazing picks, and it’s hard to doubt Bill Belichick.  This draft class makes a lot more sense now that the Pats have reunited with TE Ben Watson and LB Jamie Collins in free agency.  So if I had to give this draft class a letter grade, it would be somewhere in the B-range.

Stay tuned for more draft grades soon.

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2019 NFL Mock Draft: Who Takes the QB of Their Future?

Welcome to my 2019 NFL Mock Draft!  Today, I’ll be sharing a one-round NFL mock draft with trades.  I have also predicted what the rest of the New England Patriots’ draft will look like (Rounds 2-7).  There’s always a handful a QB prospects who are lined up to be future starters.  But while there’s a lot of teams that could use a young QB on the roster, most teams would do alright without one.  Even the Giants, who have been rumored to replace Eli Manning since the start of 2018 could make do with just Manning, Kyle Lauletta (drafted later last year), and Alex Tanney.  But I do see a few teams making their move this year, some in the first round, and some waiting till later rounds.  Who will they be?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Let’s begin with the Arizona Cardinals.  They own this year’s first overall pick and are likely close to making a decision.  But I cannot see them trading down.

1.  With the 1st overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals select…

Kyler Murray

QB

Oklahoma

I don’t typically predict something in a mock draft solely based on rumors, but all signs have pointed to Arizona taking Kyler Murray #1 after Kliff Kingsbury’s statement a year ago about taking Murray #1 if he ever had the chance.  If they do decide to stick with Josh Rosen at QB (who they drafted last year), they can take edge rusher Nick Bosa #1, who could definitely help this defense.  I have them trading Rosen to the Giants for a second or third round pick.  This will allow the Giants to use their first rounder to improve the team around Rosen while Arizona moves on to Kyler.

 

2.  With the 2nd overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers select…

Nick Bosa

DE/OLB

Ohio State

The 49ers could use Bosa as an OLB or a DE.  At whichever position they don’t put Bosa at, they can start the recently acquired Dee Ford.  The Niners definitely improved their front seven this off-season, but they could still benefit from more depth on the outside.  They can wait on a wide receiver, their biggest need, thanks to the deep WR class.

3. NYJ With the 3rd overall pick, the New York Jets select

Josh Allen

OLB

Kentucky

New York signed ILB C.J. Mosley this off-season, but after a failed attempt to add OLB Anthony Barr, the Jets are left with a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Their 3-4 scheme is a perfect fit for Allen, who will fill a need and significantly boost the pass rush.  Allen totaled 17 sacks in his senior year at Kentucky, which nearly tops Nick Bosa’s college career total of 17.5.  The Jets have been rumored to trade down, but the outside linebacker class isn’t very deep.  They should take advantage of the 3rd overall pick here.

 

4.   With the 4th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

Quinnen Williams

DT

Alabama

The Raiders have been linked to Ed Oliver frequently, and if Williams is taken Top 3, the Raiders should consider taking Oliver.  But if Williams is available, this pick is a no-brainer.  The Raiders still have a gaping hole at defensive tackle despite drafting Maurice Hurst in 2018.  Williams is one of the best prospects in this draft and should definitely fill that hole playing next to Hurst.  The Raiders could also snag ILB Devin White or CB Greedy Williams, but it would be smart to take Quinnen while he’s still available, and who knows, Greedy might still be available at #24.

 

5.  With the 5th overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Rashan Gary

DE

Michigan

Though the Bucs drafted Noah Spence a couple years back at this position, they would still benefit from drafting another edge rusher.  They have been linked frequently to Devin White since Kwon Alexander’s departure, but I don’t see it happening and trust Kendell Beckwith as the starting middle linebacker in his 3rd NFL season.  The Bucs also added Deone Bucannon, who can play on the outside or inside.  So rather than drafting a linebacker, they’ll draft Rashan Gary for additional d-line depth.

 

6.  NYG With the 6th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Jonah Williams

T

Alabama

There has been a lot of Top 10 buzz surrounding T Jawaan Taylor, but I still think Williams, the Alabama product is the best o-lineman in this draft class.  The Giants finally released T Ereck Flowers in 2018, so Williams can start on the right side in Flowers’ former spot..  The G-men will stick with Nate Solder at left tackle for now.

 

7. JAX With the 7th overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…

Noah Fant

TE

Iowa

A lot of people have projected TE T.J. Hockenson in the Top 10, but the Jags are the only team I could see drafting a tight end in this Top 10.  My personal belief is that Fant is the better of the two Iowa TEs, and I have the Jags taking him over Jawaan Taylor or T.J. Hockenson.  The Jags don’t really need Jawaan Taylor even though they’ve been linked to him.  Though Hockenson outperformed Fant at the Combine, Fant has scored double the TDs Hockenson has scored in their final two years at Iowa.  With Fant off the board, Hockenson may fall to the latter portion of Round 1.

8.  With the 8th overall pick, the Detroit Lions select…

Montez Sweat

OLB

Mississippi State

If I were Detroit’s GM, I would be concerned about Sweat’s heart condition and consider Brian Burns instead.  But the Lions seem to like Sweat, who could fit in as a defensive end next to Trey Flowers or fill a gaping hole at outside linebacker.  Also, Sweat’s heart condition is not as concerning as DT Maurice Hurst’s.  Sweat’s was just noticed at the Combine, while Hurst couldn’t participate in the Combine at all.

 

9.   With the 9th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select…

Brian Burns

OLB

Florida State

The Bills may like Ed Oliver as a prospect, but it’s too early to give up on 2018 2nd round pick Harrison Phillips at DT.  Instead, I have the Bills drafting someone on the outside in this defense-heavy draft.  This draft is flooded with elite edge rushers, and the Bills need help at both outside linebacker and defensive end.  Burns can help fill both of those needs, but they’ll need some pass rushers in the later rounds or free agents to support Burns.

 

10.  With the 10th overall pick, the Denver Broncos select…

Ed Oliver

DT

Houston

The Broncos could still use a QB despite upgrading in consecutive off-seasons.  Denver went from starting Trevor Siemian to starting Case Keenum to starting Joe Flacco in the span of two seasons.  But the Broncos don’t need a rookie QB in Round 1 as they should be able to trust Flacco as this year’s starter.  Plus, waiting will allow them to take advantage of the elite d-line class.  The Broncos have needed d-line help ever since Sylvester Williams left in free agency.  They could reunite with Williams, who is once again a free agent.  But if DT Ed Oliver is available at #10, it would be a no-brainer for Denver to take him.  In general, I feel that Denver should wait and see how the draft goes before making a move on any more free agents.

 

11.  With the 11th overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select…

Dwayne Haskins

QB

Ohio State

Andy Dalton has definitely declined in the last few years, and he has been inconsistent throughout his career.  It’s a shame that the Bengals couldn’t hold onto A.J. McCarron as a backup.  But it’s time to move on and draft another QB.  They’ll have plenty of options here with Haskins, Drew Lock, and Daniel Jones all available.  But Haskins would be the best QB left on the board.  It’s easy to forget that he threw 50 TDs in 2018 alone at Ohio State, and he could learn a few things backing up Dalton.
12.  With the 12th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

D.K. Metcalf

WR

Ole Miss

After dominance at the Combine, Metcalf has proven himself as the best receiver in this draft class.  People have overrated his Combine performance, but it’s not too crazy to mock him at #12.  This would be a smart pick for Green Bay, who would add a solid WR2 with WR1 potential.  Metcalf would not have as much pressure on him in Green Bay as he plays next to star WR Davante Adams.
13.   With the 13th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins select…

Drew Lock

QB

Missouri

The Dolphins weren’t smart to trade away Ryan Tannehill so soon, especially to the Titans, who didn’t need a starting QB.  Tannehill will be forced to battle with Marcus Mariota for a starting job.  Meanwhile, in Miami, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the best QB left on the roster.  He’s a respectable bridge QB, but he is not meant for a full time starting job.  The Dolphins should draft Lock behind Fitzy if Murray and Haskins are off the board.

 

14.  With the 14th overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons select…

Devin Bush

OLB

Michigan

With Vic Beasley in the 4-3 defensive end slot, Atlanta has a big hole at outside linebacker.  They don’t really need another edge rusher, but Bush is a quality outside linebacker who recorded 161 tackles and 10 sacks in his last two seasons combined at Michigan.  He can add depth to Atlanta’s defense, allowing Beasley to play defensive end full time.
15.  With the 15th overall pick, the Washington Redskins select…

Devin White

ILB

LSU

White falls to #15 since there are very few teams with a gaping hole at inside linebacker like Washington’s.  It’s very rare that linebackers of White’s ability level enter the draft, but unfortunately, there aren’t many teams in the Top 10 that need to draft someone like White.  He falls to the Redskins, who look to replace the released Zach Brown.  It’s a steal for the Redskins, who fill their #1 need in the 1st round.
16.  With the 16th overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select…

N’Keal Harry

WR

Arizona State

The Panthers may miss out on Metcalf if Green Bay or Washington drafts him.  But I think their need at WR is desperate enough for them to snag N’Keal Harry if Metcalf is drafted and Harry is still available.  They could also draft a tackle to replace Matt Kalil, and Cody Ford would be available.  But I think it’s more important for them to have a top line receiver than a top line tackle.

 

17. NYG With the 17th overall pick, the New York Giants select…

Clelin Ferrell

DE

Clemson

Ferrell doesn’t fit the Giants’ defensive scheme as well as some other prospects, but would fill a huge hole for New York and would be the best d-line prospect remaining by far.  Ferrell recorded 11.5 sacks last season, leading a stacked Clemson defense.  Hopefully, New York can adapt their defense to be favorable for prospects of different backgrounds, because they may need to start a lot of rookies on defense this season.

 

18.  With the 18th overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings select…

Christian Wilkins

DT

Clemson

Wilkins has been targeted by Tennessee aggressively.  Though the Vikings do need a defensive tackle to replace Sheldon Richardson, the Titans haven’t even thought about trying to trade up and could be left shocked if the Vikings snagged Wilkins one pick before them.  Defensive tackle is Minnesota’s top need in my eyes, so I’d have them taking Wilkins regardless of who was up next.  But preventing Tennessee from snagging him is an added bonus.

 

19.  With the 19th overall pick, the Tennessee Titans select…

Greedy Williams

CB

LSU

With Wilkins off the board, I have the Titans signing free agent DT Ndamukong Suh rather than reaching for a defensive tackle.  They will think about their other positional needs with this pick.  They could use another WR, and Kelvin Harmon would be available.  But if Greedy Williams is still available at #19, the Titans cannot pass up on him.  The Titans are deep at corner, but don’t really have a true #1 CB.  Greedy wouldn’t be their #1 right away.  He may even start on the bench as the #4 CB.  But he has the upside to eventually fill that #1 slot, which is what the Titans are looking for.

 

20.  With the 20th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…

Cody Ford

T

Oklahoma

Nothing against Alejandro Villanueva, but it’s a problem if Villanueva’s the only viable starting tackle on a roster.  If the Steelers add Ford to the mix, they should be able to trust Ford and Villanueva as starters.  The Steelers will have to figure out which of the two pays left tackle, but with this pick, they at least fill the hole Marcus Gilbert left them with and draft their 2nd viable starting tackle.

 

21.  With the 21st overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks select…

Byron Murphy

CB

Washington

With S Earl Thomas out of Seattle, the Legion of Boom’s entire core has left Seattle’s active roster.  It’s time to begin rebuilding this secondary.  They already added Shaquill Griffin in the 2017 NFL Draft, but they still have a huge hole at safety and could use another CB.  There’s no safety in this draft class I would take #21, but Murphy would be a steal at #21.  Murphy caught 4 interceptions in his final year at Washington, which is more than any Seahawks current corner has caught in their entire career.

 

22.  With the 22nd overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens select…

Kelvin Harmon

WR

North Carolina State

The Ravens don’t really have a #1 receiver right now, so wide receiver is by far their biggest need.  Harmon posted back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at NC State.  He should quickly obtain the WR1 role playing alongside Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts, Chris Moore, and others.  The Ravens may need to add another receiver later in the draft for depth, but the NC State product will at least help make the WR corps look respectable.

 

23. HOU With the 23rd overall pick, the Houston Texans select…

T.J. Hockenson

TE

Iowa

Houston has plenty of tight ends on the roster after adding Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins in 2018.  But there is no clear #1 TE, so tight end is still one of Houston’s biggest needs.  Hockenson should be better than any tight end on this Texans roster from Day 1, so it would be smart for Houston to draft him, especially at #23.

 

24.  With the 24th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

DeAndre Baker

CB

Georgia

With Devin White off the board, Mack Wilson would be the top inside linebacker available here, and Wilson is not Round 1 material in my eyes.  It would be smarter for Oakland to take a corner here.  There are plenty of corners who are Round 1 material.  I’m not ready to trust Nick Nelson or Daryl Worley (who has off the field issues) as Oakland’s #2 corner.  Even Gareon Conley, Oakland’s #1 CB has off the field issues of his own.  Baker will provide stability to this secondary, and should eventually become the reliable #1 corner they have needed for a while.

 

25. TRADE ALERT (see details after pick #32): With the 25th overall pick,            the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…

Josh Jacobs

RB

Alabama

Tampa reportedly has significant interest in making Jacobs their starting RB, but with the Raiders interested in drafting Jacobs at #27, there’s no guarantee the Bucs can draft Jacobs unless they trade up and leapfrog the Raiders.  It might be smarter to trade with a team who picks before Oakland’s #24 pick, but I can’t see them taking a RB until #27, so I don’t know if that’s necessary.  If the Bucs miss out on Jacobs, they could always sign Jay Ajayi to be their new RB1, but Jacobs wouldn’t just give them a 2019 RB1.  Jacobs gives them long term stability at running back, where Tampa has had issues since Doug Martin (now a free agent) began to decline.  Jacobs rushed for 640 yards and 11 TD in just 120 attempts during his junior year at Alabama, where he played as a part of a committee alongside fellow draft prospect Damien Harris.  Imagine what Jacobs could do as a full time NFL starter.

 

26.  With the 26th overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts select…

Dexter Lawrence

DT

Clemson

The Colts will take another Clemson d-lineman here.  Cornerback is probably their #1 need this year, but the CB class is pretty deep, and they should be able to wait until the #34 pick they acquired from the Jets to draft a corner.  Their current d-line is made up of washed-up, borderline starters, so Lawrence will bring some livelihood to Indy’s front seven if they draft him.

 

27.  With the 27th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select…

A.J. Brown

WR

Ole Miss

With Jacobs off the board, I have Oakland drafting A.J. Brown, a teammate of D.K. Metcalf who actually outperformed Metcalf at Ole Miss.  Even with Metcalf healthy all season in 2017, Brown totaled 1252 yards while Metcalf, then a redshirt freshman totaled just 646.  Metcalf will be drafted before Brown as his Combine performance and play style boost his draft stock.  The stats aren’t everything when it comes to NFL scouting.  But don’t discount Brown’s back to back 1000 yard seasons at Ole Miss.  He should still be a top 5 receiver off this draft board, and the Raiders could still use another WR for depth despite adding Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams.

 

28.  With the 28th overall pick, the Los Angeles Chargers select…

Jerry Tillery

DT

Notre Dame

The Chargers finally released injury prone DT Corey Liuget this off-season, but it would be smart to draft a young, healthy DT in Round 1, filling the hole Liuget left behind.  Tillery was a big contributor to Notre Dame’s dominant defense in 2018 as he led the team in sacks (7).  He would make a strong Chargers defense even stronger as he competes for a starting d-line job.

 

29. KC With the 29th overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select…

Garrett Bradbury

C

North Carolina State

Kansas City would have also benefitted from drafting Jacobs here, but there is no other RB I see as first round material, and they have a bigger hole at center anyway.  Bradbury should be able to fill this hole if they draft him.  Bradbury played parts of his college career at other positions (tight end, guard), but should fit in as a center in Kansas City.  If he wanted to go back to playing guard, the Chiefs could use some depth there as well.

 

30.  With the 30th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select…

Deionte Thompson

S

Alabama

This year’s safety class wasn’t the greatest even before Thompson’s draft stock began to fall after an underwhelming Combine.  But I still see Thompson as the best safety in a weak class; the best of the worst.  I wouldn’t have a problem with safety-needy teams like Green Bay drafting Thompson later into Round 1.  The Alabama product caught 2 interceptions in his senior year.

 

31. LA With the 31st overall pick, the Los Angeles Rams select…

Dre’Mont Jones

DT

Ohio State

With Ndamukong Suh on the open market, the Rams will need a new defensive tackle to play next to Aaron Donald.  They could draft an interior offensive lineman here, but Bradbury is the only interior lineman I’d feel comfortable drafting in the first round.  Defensive tackle is LA’s next biggest need after Suh’s departure.  Only sophomore DE Chase Young had more tackles for a loss and sacks for Ohio State than Jones in 2018.  He could be a quality supplement to Donald in a strong Rams d-line.

 

32.  With the 32nd overall pick, the New England Patriots select…

Irv Smith Jr.

TE

Alabama

Fant and Hockenson may be off the board at #32, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins can fill in as New England’s starting tight end.  But I still think the Pats should draft their TE of the future in Round 1 after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement.  They could also go for WR Marquise Brown or DT Jeffery Simmons here, but the TE class is not as deep as the WR and d-line classes in this draft, so it’s important they draft one early.  Smith caught 44 balls for 710 yards and 7 TD in his final season at Alabama and in my eyes, he’s the best tight end on the board that wasn’t an Iowa Hawkeye.

 

TRADES:


 

TB acquires: 2019 1st rounder (#25)

PHI acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#39), 2019 5th rounder (#145)

 

NYG acquires: QB Josh Rosen

ARZ acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#37), 2020 4th rounder

 

(FOR PATRIOTS MOCK DRAFT BELOW)

NE acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#60)

LAC acquires: 2019 2nd rounder (#64), 2019 6th rounder (#205)


 

Patriots Mock Draft (Rounds 2-7)

I will not be a sharing a full seven round NFL Mock Draft, but as a Patriots fan, I figured I’d share my later round Pats’ predictions.  I have them drafting TE Irv Smith Jr. at #32 (as seen above), but what will they do after that?  Read below to find out what I think:

I have the Pats drafting the QB of their future on Day 2 so he’s ready to start by the time Brady retires.  It will be easier to find viable starters at WR and in the d-line than at QB, and the WRs the Pats would be willing to draft here will probably already be off the board.

Winovich led the Wolverines in tackles for a loss (15.5) in 2018.  He should boost the New England pass rush and fit in New England’s 4-3 scheme after the release of Adrian Clayborn.

Jelks’ draft stock has fallen of late, but he is still a good third round investment for the Pats, who could seek an upgrade over Elandon Roberts and another linebacker in the mix in case the injury prone Dont’a Hightower misses time in 2019.  The Ducks installed a 4-3 defense in 2018, so Jelks should be used to New England’s 4-3 schemes.

Copeland will replace Malcom Brown, who left for the Saints via free agency.  He should   be able to compete for the starting job next to fellow DT Lawrence Guy.

Though he will be the last of the four Clemson 2018 starting d-lineman to be drafted, Bryant will add more depth to the Patriots d-line.  He will join Michael Bennett, Winovich, and Deatrich Wise Jr. on the Pats defensive end depth chart.

So long as he is healthy, Demaryius Thomas should serve in the WR2 role for the Pats.  But if Thomas is hurt and Josh Gordon remains suspended, the Pats are left with Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and who else?  That’s why they should still draft a receiver at some point.  However, they should be okay to wait till Day 3 due to the deep WR class.  Guys like Mitchell and DaMarkus Lodge should still be available come Round 4.

New England owns one of the best interior o-line trios in the league, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another guard for additional depth.  Ted Karras is their best backup at guard, but injuries are frequent in this league, and if Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason both get hurt, there could be a slot open for Gray.

.

A lot of times, Round 7 is solely about taking some of the better available options and adding depth to shallow positions.  Saunders would be drafted to add more depth at DT in case Copeland or Guy struggles.

One of New England’s biggest questions headed into 2019 is whether Isaiah Wynn can be trusted as Trent Brown’s replacement, especially after missing all of 2018 with an injury.  Frantz will provide New England with another option at tackle in case Wynn or Marcus Cannon isn’t doing his job.

This pick will add more depth to the WR corps if they keep Hardman on the roster.  Hardman will likely compete with 2018 late round pick Braxton Berrios for the #6 or #7 WR slot.  Matthew Slater will most likely remain on the roster for his special teams abilities though.


 

That’s all for my 2019 NFL Mock Draft. Stay tuned for Patriots draft grades and possibly other teams’ draft grades after the draft!  On a side note, New England’s schedule has come out.  I will be posting NFL Predictions and Pats Game-by-Game Predictions sometime before the season.

 

 

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Welcome to the first article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where offensive skill position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) end up signing.  Where will Le’Veon Bell be headed after a year away from football?  Where will Nick Foles find himself a starting job?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below.  In later articles, I will include links to the previously posted articles:

Image result for nfl logos

2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Wednesday, March 6: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Saturday, March 9: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

QB

In my eyes, Foles is the only viable starter that’s currently on the free agent market. Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill could eventually be released/traded, but for now, the choice is targeting Foles or waiting for the draft. Unlike other QB needy teams, the Jags could easily return to the playoffs with the right QB leading them. That being said, a veteran QB makes sense. The Giants, Redskins, and others will go for a combo of a rookie and a veteran mentor.

For Washington, Alex Smith will not be able to serve as a veteran mentor considering his severe knee injury in 2018. Colt McCoy isn’t a viable starter in my eyes either. However, Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent who has experience starting, so he could serve as Washington’s bridge starter (no pun intended) until their young QB, whether it be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or someone else, has time to develop.

The Bucs and Dolphins will also be on the lookout for veteran backups. Look for them to resign their 2018 backup QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. The Bills could also use some depth at QB behind Josh Allen, so bringing back their former QB, Tyrod Taylor, could be smart.

That would leave Josh McCown as the best free agent QB left. I have him going to LA to backup Philip Rivers until they draft Rivers’ successor.

RB

Viable Starters

Bell might be the best player on the open market in a long time. The Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted. But who will be up to pay him? He reportedly wants $25 million annually. I don’t think anyone will give him that, but I think he’d settle for $20 million/year if he ever wants to play again. If the Eagles free up enough cap between Foles’ departure and a release or two, they will be willing to pay for him for some answers at RB. Right now, they have a surplus of RBs, but no clear cut starter.

I see Ajayi, Philly’s last starting RB, leading a refined RB committee in Tampa. Expect an aging Adrian Peterson to do the same in Indianapolis. On the contrary, Ingram and Coleman will leave RB committees to become full time starters on RB needy teams. Coleman will replace Kareem Hunt, while Ingram will replace Marshawn Lynch (I see him retiring). The Ravens’ backfield is getting pretty crowded after the emergence of Gus Edwards, but I think Alex Collins will wind up back in Baltimore.

RB2 Options

The 49ers may have Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida at RB, but a veteran mentor like 3-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount could be helpful if they resort to an RB committee.  Yeldon will serve a similar role in Green Bay, playing alongside young RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.  The Steelers could also use a veteran in their backfield behind new starter James Conner, and I think Martin could be a good fit.  Despite leading the Rams in the playoffs, Anderson may have to settle for a backup/committee role as well.  He could be a good replacement for Coleman in Atlanta.  Murray was successful in Minnesota, and there’s room for him in the backfield, so I see him coming back.  With Coleman headed to Kansas City, the Chiefs will move on from Spencer Ware as he heads to Dallas to backup Ezekiel Elliott.

WR/TE

Top Tier WRs

Sam Darnold showed flashes of talent in his rookie year.  I think a better RB and a #1 receiver could make all the difference for him.  They should chase after Tate aggressively if they cannot land Antonio Brown (I have him going to San Fran).  Bryant barely played last year, but he still could serve as a WR1.  The Bills could be a fit, but if they pass up on Bryant, they could also take D.K. Metcalf in Round 1 of the draft.

Cobb looks to be leaving Green Bay, and the Steelers may seek depth options at receiver after Antonio Brown leaves.  Cobb could be a fit to play across from JuJu Smith-Schuster.  The Lions have no clear cut WR1 after Tate’s departure, but if they sign a lower tier option like John Brown, Matthew Stafford could look evenly split targets among Brown, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.

Moncrief and Wallace aren’t viable #1 receivers at this point, but they could still be a big help for WR needy teams.  Moncrief could be a good option for the Pats, rather than overspending for Golden Tate.  I have Wallace returning to the Eagles to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  This trio never played together despite being lined up as Philly’s top 3 receivers on the depth chart in 2018 training camp.

WR Depth Options

The Bills need more than just Bryant or Metcalf – maybe they can pair up Bryant with Beasley, his former teammate.  The Ravens could also use some more depth at WR.  Funchess isn’t a top tier option, but if they cannot land or draft someone top tier, he will have to do.  Maybe they can pair Funchess with a rookie WR1.  The Chiefs may not bring in anyone new, but they could bring back Conley to play behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Colts could use some more experienced options across from T.Y. Hilton – Matthews could be a good choice.  They could always draft someone to split time as the #2 receiver with him.  Williams upped his value this season, but I still cannot see many teams paying him WR1 money.  The Jets could use another depth option behind Tate, especially if Robby Anderson leaves.  The Patriots need all the quality WRs they can afford, so Dorsett could be a good option to bring back considering his developing chemistry with Tom Brady.

Top Tier TEs

Eifert has a concerning injury history, and I think it’s time for Cincinnati to move on.  But Detroit could pair him with a drafted TE to ensure security at the position.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  The Saints could also use a veteran TE alongside the young Dan Arnold, and Cook might be the most consistent veteran on the market.  It would be smart for the Texans to target Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson in the draft, but signing a veteran in the meantime couldn’t hurt, and James could be a good mentor for their new TE.

Lewis and Rodgers are not cut out to be a team’s #1 tight end at this point.  But they can provide depth as a TE2, with Lewis backing up Vance McDonald and Rodgers backing up Chris Herndon IV.

WR/TE Depth Options

Darnold needs more consistent receivers, so I could see the Jets moving on from Robby Anderson.  Anderson could be a good depth piece in Cleveland, serving as the WR2 over Antonio Callaway.  Humphries is also going into free agency expecting WR2 money.  But I think he will have to settle for a little less, and if his price drops, the Pats may be willing to pay for him for additional depth.  He is a good fit in New England.  Despite a disappointing 2018, I could still see Benjamin contributing behind Davante Adams in Green Bay.  They’ll need to draft a younger receiver to play alongside them though.

If the Lions sign anyone else at TE besides Eifert, I don’t think it will be their 2018 tight end Luke Willson.  Josh Hill has a slightly better track record and could be a good bargain for the Lions.  I see Willson returning to Seattle to compete for playing time with Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, and others.  Kendricks was the most consistent of Green Bay’s tight ends this year, so look for them to retain him alongside Jimmy Graham.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of quality free agents.  The madness will begin in a little over a week.  Stay tuned for more predictions later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Countdown: Final Injury Report, Outlook Before the Game

Welcome to my 7th and final post in my series of Super Bowl LIII Preview articles.  With just hours till game time, I will be giving you guys a final update on injuries among other things before the game begins.  In addition, I have included an iMovie trailer to get everyone excited. You can also check out my entire Super Bowl LIII preview schedule below.

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Super Bowl LIII: Official Boston Sports Mania Preview Schedule

January 28: Super Bowl LIII: How They Got Here

January 29: The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

January 30: The Case for the Rams: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

February 1: Super Bowl LIII Fast Facts and Their Significance

February 1: Super Bowl LIII: Final Prediction, Projected Stats & MVP

February 3: Super Bowl LIII Video Preview

February 3: The Final Countdown: Final Injury Report, Outlook Before the Game (Including iMovie Trailer)

February 3: Enjoy the game and stay tuned for my recap after the game!

Part 1: iMovie Trailer: Back to their Roots

Part 2: Final Injury Report

Both teams are pretty much at full health, which will make for an exciting game.  RB Todd Gurley may not be 100% after an injury suffered late into the regular season, and DE Deatrich Wise Jr. of the Patriots was hurt in the weeks leading up to the game, but unless Wise is a healthy scratch, both Gurley and Wise are expected to play.  I’m hoping DE Adrian Clayborn isn’t an inactive instead of wise.  We need some good pass rushers in this game.

Part 3: Final Outlook

I’m pretty confident that the Patriots can win this.  But in addition to winning the turnover battle, scoring early, and stopping the run, they’ll need the special teams to step it up.  If the Patriots want to win, they need to play complimentary football: good offense, good defense, and good special teams.  Though a big game from Edelman or Gronk would be nice, I see WR Phillip Dorsett as an X-factor for us.  Some games, he has made next to no impact.  In other games, he has been an unsung hero.  I saw Dorsett at training camp, and he looked like one of the best receivers there.  Apparently, Bill Belichick had wanted to draft this guy in 2015 (he traded for him later on).  There’s got to be a reason for that.  I have confidence that Dorsett has the potential to make a big impact.  Plus, if he does well, he may be rewarded with a return to the Patriots (he is an upcoming free agent).

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If the Rams can outrun the Pats, they’ll be in good shape.  But they’ll also have to outplay QB Tom Brady, which will require not only Gurley and Anderson but also QB Jared Goff to be at his best.  If Goff has a big game, and the Rams defensive line (who I see as their X-factor) is at their best, pressuring Brady and stopping the run, the Rams have a chance.  But I still have more confidence in my home team.

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This will definitely be close, and it could be another classic, as most Patriots Super Bowls are.  But I think this is the year that the Pats finally get their sixth ring and tie the Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins ever.

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That’s about all I can say that I haven’t already said.  With just about six hours left, food has been purchased.  Parties have been planned.  Commercials have been made.  Now, it’s just time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the game with friends and family, commercials, halftime, and all.  Unlike other football games, anyone can enjoy the Super Bowl thanks to the funny ads and the halftime show added in to appeal to all audiences.  I hope everyone enjoys the game, and stay tuned for my recap when it all ends.  Go Pats!

 

 

Super Bowl LIII: Final Prediction, Projected Stats & MVP

Welcome to my 5th post in my series Super Bowl LIII Preview articles.  Now that I’ve looked back at previous stat nuggets that could be significant to the game and established the keys to victory for each team, it’s time to unveil my official Super Bowl LIII prediction.  Who will win Super Bowl LIII?  Will it be a nail-biter?  A blowout?  Something in between?  What players will have the biggest impact on the game?   Keep reading to find out what I think.  You can also check out my entire Super Bowl LIII preview schedule below.  I will be posting preview articles throughout the week as festivities in Atlanta take place.

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Super Bowl LIII: Official Boston Sports Mania Preview Schedule

January 28: Super Bowl LIII: How They Got Here

January 29: The Case for the Patriots: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

January 30: The Case for the Rams: How They Can Win, Keys to the Game

February 1: Super Bowl LIII Fast Facts and Their Significance

February 1: Super Bowl LIII: Final Prediction, Projected Stats & MVP

February 2: Super Bowl LIII Video Preview

February 3: The Final Countdown: Final Injury Report, Outlook Before the Game (Including iMovie Trailer)

February 3: Enjoy the game and stay tuned for my recap after the game!

The Final Pick

Typically, I just predict the score. But it’s the Super Bowl, so I went a little deeper.  I simulated the entire game based on my basic score prediction.  Below are the final score, scoring summary and stat predictions I came up with.

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Though I don’t see QB Tom Brady matching his Super Bowl LII stats, he will outplay QB Jared Goff, tossing 2 TD and no interceptions while Goff throws more picks than TDs.  But it’s not the stats that matter for the Pats – it’s winning the game.  Expect a close, back and forth match-up, as RB Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson dominate against a weak Pats run defense.  But QB Tom Brady will find open men and put up a quality victory in his 9th (yes, that’s a record) Super Bowl.

Projected Stats and Scoring/Turnover Summary

Note: I showed a projected scoring summary for the purpose of highlighting who makes an impact, not to predict the order of events in the game.

Team   1  2  3  4   TOTAL

NE        3 10 10 3  26                                                                                                                            LAR     3  7    7  7   24

1st Quarter

  • Greg Zuerlein 52-yard FG made (3-0 LAR)
  • Stephen Gostkowski 28-yard FG made (3-3 TIE)

2nd Quarter

  • Todd Gurley for 2-yard rush TD.  Greg Zuerlein PAT made (10-3 LAR)
  • Tom Brady to Cordarrelle Patterson for 9 yard TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (10-10 TIE)
  • Stephen Gostkowski 37-yard FG made (13-10 NE)
  • Jared Goff intercepted by Devin McCourty (13-10 NE)

3rd Quarter

  • Stephen Gostkowski 51-yard FG made (16-10 NE)
  • Jared Goff to Robert Woods for 9 yard TD.  Greg Zuerlein PAT made (17-16 LAR)
  • Tom Brady to Julian Edelman for 8 yard TD.  Stephen Gostkowski PAT made (23-17 NE)
  • Jared Goff intercepted by Patrick Chung (23-17 NE)
  • Stephen Gostkowski 54-yard FG missed (23-17 NE)

4th Quarter

  • Greg Zuerlein 54-yard FG blocked by Albert McClellan (23-17 NE)
  • C.J. Anderson for 4-yard rush TD.  Greg Zuerlein PAT made (24-23 LAR)
  • Stephen Gostkowski 36-yard FG made (26-24 NE)

Stat Projections

NE

Passing

  • Tom Brady: 33/49, 284 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack (My projected Super Bowl MVP)

Rushing

  • Sony Michel: 17 rush, 64 yards
  • James White: 10 rush, 47 yards
  • Rex Burkhead: 4 rush, 9 yards

Receiving

  • Julian Edelman: 9 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD
  • Rob Gronkowski: 8 receptions, 56 yards
  • Phillip Dorsett: 5 receptions, 53 yards
  • Chris Hogan: 3 receptions, 31 yards
  • Cordarrelle Patterson: 3 receptions, 21 yards, 1 TD (Will be Unsung Hero)
  • James White: 4 receptions, 21 yards
  • Rex Burkhead: 1 reception, 6 yards

Defense (Best players ONLY)

  • Adrian Clayborn: 2.5 tackles, 1 sack
  • Devin McCourty: 6.5 tackles, 1 INT
  • Kyle Van Noy: 8.0 tackles
  • Patrick Chung: 4.0 tackles, 1 INT

LAR

Passing

  • Jared Goff: 23/40, 234 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 1 sack

Rushing

  • Todd Gurley: 22 rushes, 100 yards, 1 TD
  • C.J. Anderson: 17 rushes, 57 yards, 1 TD

Receiving

  • Brandin Cooks: 6 receptions, 86 yards
  • Robert Woods: 7 receptions, 74 yards, 1 TD
  • Josh Reynolds: 3 receptions, 31 yards
  • Gerald Everett: 3 receptions, 19 yards
  • Todd Gurley: 3 receptions, 18 yards
  • Tyler Higbee: 1 reception, 6 yards

Defense (Best players ONLY)

  • Aaron Donald: 4.5 tackles, 1 sack
  • Bryce Hager: 8.0 tackles
  • Marcus Peters: 8.0 tackles

That’s all for my Super Bowl LIII prediction.  Stay tuned for a video preview to sum up my takes on the game tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to their Roots: Pats Dynasty Continues after OT Thriller

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It was 31-31 in overtime.  After winning the toss, the New England Patriots had the ball on 3rd down at the Kansas City 30 yard line.  QB Tom Brady had made two straight third down conversions going to WR Julian Edelman, but this time, he looked in the direction of TE Rob Gronkowski.  Gronk had not been himself for most of the season.  But after stating that he would ‘seriously consider’ retirement with the conclusion of the season, he had stepped it up so far in this game, with 5 receptions for 64 yards.  He was tightly covered by S Eric Berry, but it didn’t matter.  He reached up and caught it, keeping the Patriots’ drive alive with a clean set of downs.  After that, Brady handed it off to RB Rex Burkhead three times, and he finished the job.  Touchdown.  37-31, Patriots win!

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The Patriots are now headed to their 4th Super Bowl in 5 years, as Brady looks to ‘Blitz for Six’ and Gronk looks to potentially end his career with a bang.  The best part is, as intriguing as a Brady vs. Drew Brees match-up would be, they’re playing the Los Angeles Rams, taking the Brady-Belichick dynasty back to their roots.  Back in 2001, Brady led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory over the QB Kurt Warner-led St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams.  You could also compare that victory to tonight’s when Brady and co. took down QB Patrick Mahomes II and an explosive Chiefs offense after coming in as 3 point underdogs.

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The Pats set themselves up for success with a strong start to the game where they showcased complimentary football.  The Pats were in no rush in the 1st quarter, so they took their time, running the ball and eating clock on their first scoring drive of the game.  It was important to get into a rhythm early on to keep up with the Kansas City, but keeping the ball for 80% of the first quarter works.  Their opening drive was the longest playoff opening drive in the history of the Brady-Belichick Patriots.  The Pats held Kansas City to under 3 minutes of 1st quarter possession time by sacking Mahomes and shutting down the Chiefs offense quickly.  Preventing the Chiefs from developing a rhythm of their own also works.  In fact, while the Pats had 100+ total yards after one quarter, the Chiefs had negative yardage.

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New England had another drive going that continued into the 2nd quarter, but things went south when Brady threw an end zone pick to LB Reggie Ragland.  The Chiefs had just successfully pressured TB12 and taken control of the turnover battle in one measly play.  Many people say this was a blatant mistake by Brady, but I saw it as a job well done by an underrated, young Chiefs D.  Though the Pats had lost their rhythm after marching down the field, they did shut down the Chiefs easily after the interception, forcing 3 and out.  With just about 7 minutes left in the 1st half, the Pats had 155 total yards, and the Chiefs still had just -2.

It took a bit for the Pats to get back into the swing of things after the pick, but on a deep throw to WR Phillip Dorsett, they scored again two drives later.  Utilized as a receiver, White led them through majority of the drive, but it was the deep throw to  Dorsett that scored the TD for New England.  After their defense’s big showing in the first half, the Pats held a 14-0 lead at halftime.  The defense had held the Chiefs to just 32 total yards in the half, and this was the first time the Chiefs had been shutout in the first half at home in 51 games

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However, the Chiefs figured out New England’s formula in their first drive after halftime, marching down the field in 4 plays for a TD thanks to a huge catch by WR Sammy Watkins and a quality TD by TE Travis Kelce in tight coverage.  Preventing big plays is a definitive weakness of the Pats D.  The Patriots needed to extend their lead so they didn’t have to press the panic button when Mahomes and co. started dominating.  They failed to score another TD in the 3rd quarter, but they did add a field goal to their lead, making it 17-7 Pats.  However, Mahomes and RB Damien Williams led the Chiefs on a huge drive to end the 3rd quarter.  This one did end in a touchdown, narrowing New England’s lead to just 3 points after a somewhat questionable pass interference call.  It had been 14-0 at half, but the Chiefs offense had just taken control of the game, outscoring New England 14-3 in the 3rd quarter.

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The Pats tried again to score a TD at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but they couldn’t convert on 4th down.  They forced the Chiefs to punt on the next drive, but initially, the refs called the punt muffed by Edelman when the Chiefs picked up the ball.  However, the call was overturned after instant replay showed that Edelman never touched it.  Edelman ended up costing the Pats the following drive though, as he bobbled a pass, allowing the Chiefs to intercept it and go on to take the lead with a TD the following drive.

The 4th quarter was a back and forth battle with several lead changes.  The Pats and Chiefs each scored a touchdown on their next drives, making it 28-24 Chiefs.  With two minutes to go, the Pats had the ball in what was still a one possession game.  The Pats marched down the field and Burkhead scored the TD, but they scored a little too fast.  They left enough time for the Chiefs to add a field goal to tie it up and force overtime.  It was 31-31.

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After that the Pats won the toss, and though it was a nail biter with many close calls and 3rd downs, the Pats made their way down the field for the TD, winning the game!  This was Brady’s third OT victory in a postseason game, making him the first player to do so.  This was also the first time two playoff games had gone into overtime in one day.

Despite 2 interceptions, Brady finished 30/46 with 348 passing yards and a TD.  Sony Michel rushed for 113 yards and scored two TDs, and Burkhead had two rush TDs of his own.  Edelman and Gronk each had 75+ receiving yards, and James White nearly had 50.

Mahomes threw 3 TDs and 0 interceptions as the Chiefs won the turnover battle despite losing, but Mahomes only threw for 295 yards, partly because the Pats had the ball for much longer.  Though Watkins had 114 receiving yards, Damien Williams caught 2 TDs as well as rushing in one.

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It’s hard to name one MVP for the Pats in this game, because everyone did their job.  The important thing is, the Pats will travel to Atlanta to take on QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, and the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.  In Belichick terms, ‘We’re on to the Super Bowl’.  The Red Sox beat the LA Dodgers in the World Series just three months ago.  Can Boston teams not only win two championships in a year, but also beat the city of LA twice?

Texans @ Patriots Preview: Getting Creative

Below is my preview for the Patriots Week 1 game against the Houston Texans as well as the voice-over script used in the video.

The Patriots open their season today against the Houston Texans. With Deshaun Watson healthy, this is bound to be an exciting game between two of the league’s top quarterbacks. The Texans and Patriots are arguably two of the AFC’s best teams this year, but we’ll have to see how they do down the road, because it’s only Week 1, and anything can happen from here.

With Julian Edelman suspended, the Patriots are left with just 3-4 reliable receivers, if they even have that. Brady and the Pats are going to have to do something they’ve done very well at in the past: finding creative ways to score. Whether this means throwing to running backs or putting your 3rd string tight end in the starting lineup, the Pats will do what it takes.

Before Bill Belichick, it was common practice for teams to receive when winning the coin toss. When Belichick started deferring, people wondered why. But Belichick chooses what he thinks is best for the team and always sticks to that even if some think it may not appear as best. He sets the standards and players who don’t buy in are cut.

The Texans have a tough game ahead, especially with WR Will Fuller and RB D’Onta Foreman injured. However, they have star players in WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller, so the Pats will have to keep them covered and prevent them from leading the Texans to victory with big plays. Defensively, the Texans will have to keep Tom Brady under pressure and TE Rob Gronkowski well covered. I think the Texans strong D is up to the challenge. However, New England will have a game plan to counter and it will come down to which team executes better.

For injuries, the Patriots have RB Sony Michel out and T Marcus Cannon and TE Jacob Hollister Questionable. The Texans have it off worse: WR Will Fuller, a key player on this offense, is out, and RB D’Onta Foreman is on the PUP list. In the end, I have the Patriots working around Houston’s shut down D and winning, 30-23, with Phillip Dorsett stepping it up and leading New England in receiving yards.