2014 NFL Draft Targets: TE Eric Ebron, UNC

1o9ROG.AuSt.156Ebron is a tight end with ideal size (6’4”, 245lbs) and excellent speed (4.60 40yd dash). He also had good production on a team with shaky quarterback play (62 for 973yds and 3 TDs). Ebron is an extremely talented athlete that can make big plays with his feet and is difficult to tackle. A very versatile player, he can line up next to the O-line, in the slot, or on the perimeter. He plays similarly to 49ers TE Vernon Davis, although Ebron needs to work on his hands (a few too many drops) to reach that comparison. That being said, Ebron is still an incredibly gifted player. He was able to dominate any and every defense that he played in college. He has no issues catching the ball running in traffic, or going up to catch the ball at the highest point. Ebron’s blocking is average, but not bad for a pass-catching tight end. He would give Tom Brady an extremely effective weapon in the passing game to complement the often-injured Rob Gronkowski. That combination would be a matchup nightmare for any defense. Although he was projected to be picked by the Patriots in some early mock drafts, Ebron is unlikely to be unavailable when the Patriots pick. His meteoric post-season stock rise would force New England to move up into the mid to late teens to grab him.

Pro Comparison: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

Advertisements

2014 NFL Draft Targets: DT Aaron Donald, Pitt

Aaron-DonaldAlthough he is undersized (only 6’0”, 285lbs), Donald had a very productive career at Pitt. He totaled 47 tackles, 16.0 TFL and 11.0 sacks in 2011, 64 tackles, 18.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks in 2012, and 59 tackles, 28.5 TFL and 11.0 sacks in 2013. His first step is good, and he creates consistent pressure in the pocket by utilizing an extremely powerful bull rush. Donald can use his hands very effectively to knock an O-lineman of balance, and occasionally displays good swim and spin moves when he chooses to use them (not often enough). The biggest knock on Donald is his size; because he is smaller he isn’t able to wrap up running backs and quarterbacks like a taller DT could. This results in the occasional missed tackle, as is evident in the FSU game. Donald put together an excellent combine performance, running a 4.68 40 yard dash and benching 35 reps of 225 pounds. He was also one of the top performers for his position in the 3 Cone Drill (7.11 seconds), which is a drill the Patriots value highly. His outstanding workout, however, may have pushed him out of the Patriots range. But, if he falls, which is possible, expect the Patriots to jump on the opportunity to pair Vince Wilfork with a pass rushing DT.

Pro Comparison: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals

Two a Day: Patriots Free Agency Preview 1/25

Now that the Patriots season has come to an unfortunate end, it’s time to look ahead towards free agency, which starts on March 12th.

To begin, let’s take a look at the Patriots on the current roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents this year.

hi-res-hi-res-5775202_crop_exact

Sebastian Vollmer: Vollmer has been pestered by injuries in the past, but this year he was able to start 15 games, and remained an anchor in the Patriots offensive line. The 6 feet 8 inch, 320 pound offensive tackle has maintained steady protection during the time he has been healthy. Offensive line is a top priority in New England in order to keep Tom Brady safe, so Vollmer is an important player for the Patriots to resign. New England will most likely get a deal done with the 4th year player from Germany before free agency begins, but if they are unable to successfully negotiate a new deal, it’s possible that the Patriots will place the franchise tag on Vollmer; that is, if they have already dealt with Welker and Talib. Vollmer is a seriously underrated tackle who can play both the right and the left side, as we saw this year, so it is important to get a long term deal done with him.

uspw_6740476

Danny Woodhead: Checking in at 5 feet 8 inches, the Patriots running-back Danny Woodhead is probably the most well rounded back on the team, as well as a fan favorite. Woodhead can run up the middle, take it to the outside, block, catch out of the backfield, and even line up on the line of scrimmage. He is incredibly versatile, and definitely fits the bill as a Belichick-type player. Woodhead’s role has taken a little bit of hit in the past year with the emergence of young running-backs Stevan Ridley, and Shane Vereen, so now he is used mostly as a third-down back, but he has proven that he can convert on third and long situations. Although he is not a necessity to the football team, the Patriots will probably bring Woodhead back if the price is right.

*Images found on http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2012/11/the-paradox-of-danny-woodhead.html, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1316638-sebastian-vollmers-return-sigh-of-relief-for-patriots-and-more-afc-east-news*

Two a Day: Patriots Free Agency Preview 1/24

Now that the Patriots season has come to an unfortunate end, it’s time to look ahead to free agency, which starts on March 12th.

To begin, let’s take a look at the Patriots on the current roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents this year.

wes-welker-fantasy-football-free-agent-500x300

Wes Welker: Although he seems to be the number one priority for the Patriots to deal with this year, Wes Welker’s contract situation with the New England remains unclear to an outsider’s perspective. After unsuccessful negotiations last off season, the Patriots and Welker will look to try to get a deal done before free agency gets under way. If they are unable to do that, I see the Patriots letting Welker test the market, and then trying to match an offer made by another team. It’s possible that the Patriots use the franchise tag on him, but that’s unlikely, and they will use the franchise tag elsewhere. New England feels that they can succeed without Welker, so they are not going to overpay to keep him, but I’m sure they will do their best get Wes Welker back in a Patriots uniform for next season given that he has been one of the most productive players in the league since he joined New England in 2007.

hi-res-156667317_crop_exact-1

Aqib Talib: Talib has had his fair share of off-field issues, but proved to the Patriots why he was Tampa Bay’s first round draft pick back in 2008. It seems as though Talib has molded to the “Patriot Way” and dealt with his off the field problems, and is focused on contributing to the New England secondary. He has had an immediate impact on the Patriots defense since debuting against the Colts, a game in which he returned an interception for a touchdown. Talib allows New England to move Devin McCourty from corner to safety, where he is better suited because of his great range and instincts. Talib’s man coverage abilities also allow the Patriots to use more variety in their defensive packages, given his solid one-on-one play. It is clear the impact that Aqib Talib has when he is on the field, and he is a must to resign for the Patriots, regardless of him being somewhat injury prone.

*Images from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1414000-colts-vs-patriots-aqib-talib-could-bring-new-englands-secondary-together, http://gomadden.com/content/fantasy/fantasy-free-agent-wes-welker-2013/*