Midweek Media Notes

A few items of interest across the Boston Sports Media world…

With Yoan Moncada and Other Elite Red Sox Prospects, It’s OK to Believe the Hype – I’m glad Chad Finn addressed the absolutely ridiculous memes on sports radio following word that the Red Sox had agreed to terms with the Cuban phenom.

Not that this is anything new, but I just don’t understand this mindset. The ability to find a negative – even a perceived one – in anything, is just astounding, and frankly, disturbing. That train of thought then spreads from show-to-show, from radio to TV like an insidious disease.

Putting on the old bastard hat for a moment, I remember when following sports used to be fun, and it was actually OK to be excited for your teams, and when they made a big move.

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It was interesting to see John Henry directly refute what his own employee, Dan Shaughnessy wrote about Larry Lucchino losing power in the Red Sox front office. Henry said “I read that ridiculous story…

Shaughnessy insists today that he’s not retracting what he wrote. So is this 1) Shaughnessy attempting to save face, 2) Henry trying to minimize embarrassment for Lucchino, or 3) A way to drum up interest in the Globe by creating a false conflict between owner and employee?

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Keep Revis and McCourty, that’s all I ask.

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Emily Austen named new on-air reporter for Tampa Bay Rays television broadcasts – The Celtics digital and arena reporter is moving on to a new position with FOX’s Sun Sports.

This position has been a stepping stone in recent years. Kristine Leahy is now anchor at CBSLA, Molly McGrath is now host of America’s Pregame on FoxSports1, and now Austen is leaving for a more prominent role elsewhere.

Jason Mastrodonato is the latest MassLive.com reporter to be plucked for a larger role. He’s done great work over there, and bringing him on essentially to replace John Tomase is a really good move for the Herald.

Adam Kaufman slides into the seat that was held for decades by legendary Patriots radio man Gil Santos.

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The Boston Sports Media in the Information Age and Taming the Beast Within – Take some time to read this by Larry Russell. Some mind-blowing quotes in here from the likes of Gary Tanguay, Dan Shaughnessy, Bob Ryan and Mike Felger, all of whom, not surprisingly, are either harsh or condescending towards Patriots fans.

New Brookline sports show by the fans, for the fans – A look at a new show by Scott Kerman.

Red Sox Spring Training Game Schedule on NESN

NESN will broadcast 12 games of the Red Sox spring training schedule, beginning with a March 8th game against the Mets. Remember, for a safe place to bet visit GamblingSites.org.

NESN’s 2015 Red Sox Spring Training Game Telecasts

DATE OPPONENT TIME*
Sunday, March 8 New York Mets (Port St. Lucie) 1:00 PM
Friday, March 13 New York Yankees 7:00 PM
Sunday, March 15 Philadelphia (Clearwater) 1:00 PM
Tuesday, March 17        Atlanta 1:00 PM*
Saturday, March 21       Pittsburgh (Bradenton) 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 22 Philadelphia 1:00 PM
Sunday, March 29 Tampa Bay                                     1:00 PM
Monday, March 30 Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tuesday, March 31        Tampa Bay (Port Charlotte) 1:00 PM*
Wednesday, April 1 Toronto 1:00 PM*
Friday, April 3 Minnesota 1:00 PM
Friday, March 4              Minnesota (Hammond Stadium) 1:00 PM

*Select Spring Training day games will be replayed in their entirety at 7:00 pm as the schedule permits.

Patriots Draft Preview (The “That Guy” Edition)

Before we begin our draft preview, a quick note on a tweet by Chad Finn about how Seattle giving New England five free yards at the end of the Super Bowl demonstrated their coach’s inability to prep them for the big moment.

Something about that comment stuck with me, and not just the fact that I agreed with it. Then it hit me: I’d heard Bill Belichick discuss this before. [Read more…]

Will ESPN Learn From Its Latest Disaster?

The process of breaking news is obviously a complicated one. How much information do you need to have before you go with a story?

In the case of the Outside The Lines reporting this week, it seems that the reporters involved came up woefully short.

otl_mcnally_d1_300x300

ESPN put the spotlight (literally in this case) on Jim McNally.

ESPN is without an Ombudsman at this time, so we won’t have an internal reaction on that front as to how those involved came to the conclusion that the information that they had was worthy of smearing a part time employee from coast to coast.

It’s worthy to check the writings of the departed Ombudsman, Robert Lipsyte for some prescient insight on how ESPN views journalism, and perhaps how they should view it.

In his final entry, Lipsyte writes I think that improvement is most needed in ESPN’s inconsistent execution of journalism, which does not appear to be the highest of company priorities.

He suggested a central news desk with a dedicated staff whose entire job would be breaking actual news. Currently the network just sort of taps into resources here and there as needed amongst its personnel.

This incident seems a perfect example of the flaws in the ESPN way of doing things. The initial report seemed so incomplete and raised many questions, but the main reporter, Kelly Naqi, (who is no rookie, she’s been at ESPN since 1987.) was adamant on WEEI yesterday that she engaged in “no speculation” and her job was to “literally just report the facts.”

She failed in her job then.

Jim McNally ended up at the center of a whole new wave of CHEATING! cries from around the country, ESPN First Take made comments such as “such a dumb attempt to cheat on the part of this part time locker room attendant.” and “this part time locker room attendant for the referees will take the fall for this, he will clearly lose his job and go down in infamy as the guy who went rogue and attempted to cheat.

The network even came up to McNally’s house here in New Hampshire and attempted to bully him into a comment.

ESPN then planned their Outside The Lines broadcast yesterday in which Naqi could take her bow as having broken open a new angle to the AFCCG story.

Except that the show was a mess. Their guests – one a former NFL official and the other a former official and head of NFL officials – directly contradicted each other, and then Adam Schefter unexpectedly called into the program and dropped a bomb, which essentially cleared McNally within 30 seconds.

After that, ESPN went into crisis mode. An internal alert went out directing all personnel that they were “holding off further reporting [on this story] temporarily until we resolve a few issues.” Despite Schefter’s report, the story was not updated on any ESPN site for a number of hours. The network later also directed staff to not attach the tag “deflategate” in rundowns on the story, preferring to use “NFL Ball” instead.

It’s not clear what the issues were that needed resolving, be they journalistic, or perhaps even legal. We know that the NFLRA demanded an apology from ESPN for what appears to be sloppy wording in the reporting – “NFL Official” vs “NFL Employee.”  Was someone representing McNally involved?

Schefter may have saved ESPN from itself. Had they continued along the path of painting McNally as the villain here, they could’ve been in deeper trouble with McNally, who as it is, should be considering his options.

The questions of what happened that allowed the original report to be published need to be answered. Even a loyal soldier like Mike Reiss is openly questioning the process:

If I’m a reader/Patriots follower, and passionate about the team, the natural follow-up is to search for answers. What happened? What was the process that led to the story being published, then altered, and the time lag in which it happened? I wish I was in position to provide those answers, but that’s not my job and quite honestly, I don’t know those answers. But it is my job to communicate with you and be honest and accountable. I’ve said in the past that I feel like an ombudsman would be beneficial for all involved when it comes to coverage of the Patriots/under-inflated footballs, and I include myself in that category because I’m far from perfect.

While in the past it has been fun to mock Patriots fans as being paranoid about the coverage the team receives, it sure seems like there is a concerted effort by someone (*cough*Mike Kensil*cough*) to dictate the coverage that is coming out, especially in this instance with ESPN.

It’s interesting to me anyway, that all initial “leaks” seem to be slanting in one direction, and then they are followed up by leaks that swing things in the other direction. It is clear to most by now that the NFL has screwed this up royally.

What is ESPN’s role in that? I think we deserve answers.

Update: From Tom E Curran: Strong NFL link to recent ‘Deflategate’ leak

It’s about the ties of Kelly Naqi’s husband:

More recently, Hussain Naqi worked for the New Meadowlands Stadium Company in East Rutherford, N.J. There, he served as Vice President of Business Planning and General Counsel at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Jets and Giants. Naqi would have worked closely with the league office on all the logistics for Super Bowl 48. The man in charge of “running” the Super Bowl for the NFL is its Vice President of Game Operations. He would speak to Naqi a lot. His name is Mike Kensil.

Ugh.

NFL Integrity Takes Another Hit

Before ESPN’s Outside The Lines ran their program this afternoon, they sent an afternoon email promising new developments.They quoted a former NFL head linesman as calling the activities of Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally “unusual.” They even created a cute little hashtag for Twitter people: #PatriotsIssues

After Kelly Naqi repeated her reports that McNally had attempted to introduce an unapproved game ball to the AFC Championship Game, Adam Schefter called into the program. The show turned.

Let all that sink in, will you?

So the NFL, investigating the Patriots, is revealed to have had an employee stealing charity-bound game balls.

Great work, Roger.

Also:

Report: NFL official fired in deflate-gate case for selling football

Another Kick at the Balls from ESPN

At this point we can just admit that ESPN has giving up any hope of doing actual reporting, right?

They’ve just turned into ProFootballTalk when it comes to the Patriots.

Seriously, what is this junk?

Patriots locker room attendant tried to put unapproved ball into AFC final

There is nothing there. Absolutely nothing. All it is is red meat to dangle in front of the CHEATERS crowd. (and Kirk Minihane and Tim Benz.)

In fact, all this “report” does is muddy the waters even further, and directly contradict early ESPN reporting. What’s more, they cite within the story reports from Chris Mortensen, Jay Glazer and even ProFootballTalk, but completely leave out the report made by Ian Rapoport.

Moreover, this is from Outside The Lines, which is purported to be the last bastion of actual investigative, stick-to-journalistic integrity at the network.

CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley, who has done great work in hitting back at this entire under-inflated football scandal, has a good takedown of the report today:

New ESPN DeflateGate Report Paints Problematic Picture Of Entire Situation

It’s been encouraging to listen to Lou Merloni this morning, as well as the new Bertrand and Zolak pairing taking apart the report and exposing it for what it really is – sensationalistic clickbait.

More worrisome is the continued one-sided leaks that come from this “thorough and objective” independent investigation led by men with “impeccable” credentials, who “will not compromise the investigation by engaging in speculation.”

How’s that Revis tampering case coming along, anyhow?

Cabin Fever Setting In

After finally finding my way out of the snowdrifts and to the keyboard, I’m back to offer a few frostbite-influenced thoughts on the latest happenings:

It’s amazing how much has changed in ten years. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February of 2005, there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram. There was no FOX Sports 1 or NBC Sports Network. We had ESPN and a young NFL Network to get the recaps, and reviews from. Locally we had WEEI and whatever minor league competitor was on the air at the time.

The growth of social networks as well as increased competition on the television and radio side, both locally and nationally has led to a constant saturation of highlights, views, reviews and punditry.

The difference between 2005 and 2015 is amazing, and for me, its another reason I’m glad the Patriots were able to get that Super Bowl win in this new era – in many ways we got to experience it in a whole new way.

But, it’s already onto next season, as we talk combine and franchise tags.

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Can the Red Sox do another worst-to-first turnaround? Amazingly so, it seems that it’s not only possible, but many of the analysts out there are picking them to come out of somewhat weakened AL East. They’re also popular in Vegas and even in the UK where it looks like a tightly-contested season ahead with the Nationals and the Dodgers leading the MLB baseball betting markets at a price 13/2 respectively, with the Tigers next in-line at 7/1 from UK bookies Betbright.

Ben Cherington, after seemingly not  doing too much in the aftermath of the surprise 2013 World Series win got back on the horse this offseason and signing free agent bats and trading for starting pitching, while missing out on bringing back Jon Lester.

While there are still many questions around the team – young players, lack of an “ace”, the closing situation – the Red Sox figure to be much more competitive this season. Spring Training coverage should be announced shortly for NESN and CSNNE, and for once perhaps, the green fields and reporters having faux debates poolside at a Florida resort might actually be a welcome sight for the rest of us.

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The NBA trade deadline is this week. Coach Brad Stevens has said he’d like to keep the group he has now somewhat intact so that they can develop some cohesion. That is completely understandable from a coaches perspective, but I suspect if Danny Ainge can get more assets for his rebuild, he’s going to make deals. It still doesn’t look like it’s time to begin adding the “keeper” pieces, but we’ve been surprised before.

This team has been pretty fun to watch in recent games, especially their west coast swing, and that game against the East leading Hawks. While wins might not be the best thing for draft pick positioning at this point, they’re nice to be able to enjoy.

Congratulations to CSNNE’s Tom Heinsohn who will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching career with the Celtics. Already in the Hall for this playing career, Tommy should be also considered for the broadcasting wing as well.

Younger viewers might scoff at that notion, but Heinsohn pioneered much of how basketball is produced for television. He’s a lot more worthy than many of the names that have been honored by that wing of the Hall.

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Are these the 2015 Bruins or the 2009 Patriots? Is Claude Julien standing next to Zdeno Chara saying “I just can’t get this team to play the way it needs to play.”

A 4-3 OT loss to the Flames last night was the Bruins latest poor performance, and it sure looks like some major changes need to be made to this roster.

Round-By-Round Review, Pats Draft 2015

As of right now, Coach Bill Belichick has nine picks in the 2015 draft, including a potential third-round compensatory pick from letting free agent Aquib Talib walk: First, Second, two Thirds, two Fourths, Sixth, and two Sevenths.

Last year’s draft had some ups and downs. Early yet to see what first-rounder Dominique Easley can add to the defense, or what second round pick Jimmy Garoppolo can bring at quarterback (either at Gillette or as trade bait – not sure even William Hill has odds on which it will be). That said, any 2014 pick still on the roster will be treated as a success until further notice.

First Round –

2000: None (pick went to NYJ for BB)

2001: Richard Seymour, DL, Georgia

2002: Dan Graham, TE, Colorado

2003: Ty Warren, DL, Texas A&M

2004: Vince Wilfork, DL, Miami; Benjamin Watson, TE, Georgia

2005: Logan Mankins, OL, Fresno State

2006: Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota

2007: Brandon Meriweather, DB, Miami

2008: Jerod Mayo, LB, Tennessee

2009: (No Pick – traded down)

2010: Devin McCourty, DB, Rutgers

2011: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

2012: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse; Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

2013: (No Pick – traded down)

2014: Dominique Easley, DL, Florida

Total Picks: 14

Successful Picks: 12 (sans Maroney, Meriweather)

Most Successful Pick: Seymour

Percentage: 86

Every Patriots First-Round pick has started for the Patriots; though neither Maroney nor Meriweather could be considered a true bust, each went by the wayside too quickly for us to deem a success. The noteworthy impact that Jones and Hightower have had in Foxboro has helped improve the defense to their championship level.

If you take out 2005-2007 (Mankins, Maroney, and Meriweather – again, all starters), every other pick has at least one Super Bowl win. New England’s top picks tend to a) stick around, and b) play.

Second Round –

2000: Adrian Klemm, OT, Hawaii

2001: Matt Light, OT, Purdue

2002: Deion Branch, WR, Louisville

2003: Eugene Wilson, DB, Illinois; Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M

2004: Marquise Hill, DE, LSU

2005: (No pick)

2006: Chad Jackson, WR, Florida

2007: (No pick – traded for Wes Welker)

2008: Terrence Wheatley, DB, Colorado

2009: Patrick Chung, DB, Oregon; Ron Brace, DT, BC; Darius Butler, DB, UConn; Sebastian Vollmer, OT, Houston

2010: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona; Jermaine Cunningham, DE, Florida; Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida.

2011: Ras-I Dowling, DB, Virginia; Shane Vereen, RB, California

2012: Tavon Wilson, DB, Illinois

2013: Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss; Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall

2014: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 11 (Light, Branch, E. Wilson, Vollmer, Gronkowski, Spikes, Vereen, T. Wilson, Collins, Garoppolo, Chung*)

Most Successful Pick: Light

Percentage: 55

*Chung returns to the successful list after getting left off last year. Dobson stays off for now, but he could find himself back on the list if he contributes to the 2015 squad.

When you start out grading at a B-plus, it’s tough to get down to what your teacher would considered an F. But this is statistics class, and the professor grades on a curve. The Patriots tend to take some chances here (i.e., ignore common knowledge) in terms of rankings, resulting in lesser-known players sometimes failing to reach Round Two expectations (Tavon Wilson) or exceeding them (Vollmer). They look past college injuries, which got them Dowling and Wheatley, but it also got them Gronk. So maybe that ends that debate right there.

The best argument for bucking convention? On the one hand, you have Jamie Collins, a college defensive end from a winless Southern Miss squad; on the other hand, trading up to get the consensus best receiver of the 2006 draft resulted in Chad Jackson.

And the Pats don’t win this year without Collins, Vereen, and Gronk.

Third Round –

2000: J. R. Redmond, RB, Arizona State

2001: Brock Williams, DB, Notre Dame

2002: (No pick)

2003: (No pick)

2004: Guss Scott, DB, Florida

2005: Ellis Hobbs III, CB, Iowa State; Nick Kaczur, OL, Toledo

2006: David Thomas, TE, Texas

2007: (No pick)

2008: Shawn Crable, OLB, Michigan; Kevin O’Connell, QB, San Diego State

2009: Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina; Tyrone McKenzie, LB, South Florida

2010: Taylor Price, WR, Ohio

2011: Stevan Ridley, RB, LSU; Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

2012: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

2013: Logan Ryan, DB, Rutgers; Duron Harmon, DB, Rutgers

2014: (No pick)

Total Picks: 16

Successful Picks: 6 (Hobbs, Kaczur, Ridley, Mallett, Ryan, Harmon)

Most Successful Pick: Ridley

Percentage: 38

Ryan and Harmon help keep this round respectable after some expectedly inconsistent picks. (We still think keeping Brandon Tate in favor of Chad Ochocinco in 2011 would have worked out better for the team.) Price didn’t work out, adding to the idea of playing Roulette Receiver in Foxboro: some guys get it, some don’t.

Quick Third Round snapshot? Defensive back and running back, sure. Wide receiver? If you’re feeling lucky, Bill Belichick.

Fourth Round –

2000: Greg Robinson-Randall, OT, Michigan State

2001: Kenyatta Jones, OT, South Florida; Jabari Holloway, TE, Notre Dame

2002: Rohan Davey, QB, LSU; Jarvis Green, DE, LSU

2003: Dan Klecko, DL, Temple; Asante Samuel, CB, Central Florida

2004: Dexter Reid, DB, North Carolina; Cedric Cobbs, RB, Arkansas

2005: James Sanders, DB, Fresno State

2006: Garrett Mills, FB, Tulsa; Stephen Gostkowski, K, Memphis

2007: Kareem Brown, DL, Miami

2008: Jonathan Wilhite, DB, Auburn

2009: Rich Ohrnberger, OL, Penn State

2010: The Tight End Who Shan’t Be Named, Florida

2011: (No Pick)

2012: (No Pick)

2013: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU

2014: Bryan Stork, OL, Florida State; James White, RB, Wisconsin; Cameron Fleming, OL, Stanford

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 8 (Green, Samuel, Sanders, Gostkowski, Boyce, Stork, White, Fleming)

Most Successful Pick: Gostkowski

Percentage: 40

Gostkowski took Samuel’s place last year, but we’re going with Stork now. Worth an argument, but Stork’s ability to settle down the O-line on one of the Patriots’ most versatile squads puts him on top.

After trading away picks for two straight years, then Boyce, the Pats crushed it in 2014, bringing their Round Four percentage up from 29 percent to 40. We’re keeping Boyce on the list due to lesser expectations that those on Dobson (second-rounder); plus, Boyce’s athleticism could still get him a spot. Interesting to see what White can do next year.

Fifth Round – 

2000: Dave Stachelski, TE, Boise State; Jeff Marriott, DT, Missouri

2001: Hakim Akbar, DB, Washington

2002: (No pick)

2003: Dan Koppen, OL, Boston College

2004: P. K. Sam, WR, Florida State

2005: Ryan Claridge, OLB, UNLV

2006: Ryan O’Callaghan, OL, California

2007: Clint Oldenburg, OL, Colorado State

2008: Matthew Slater, WR, UCLA

2009: George Bussey, OL, Louisville

2010: Zoltan Mesko, P, Michigan

2011: Marcus Cannon, OL, TCU; Lee Smith, TE, Marshall

2012: (No pick)

2013: (No pick)

2014: (No pick)

Total Picks: 13

Successful Picks: 4 (Koppen, Slater, Mesko, Cannon)

Most Successful Pick: Koppen

Percentage: 31

As we say every year: We used to call Round Five “Koppen or Bust.” Now, with Slater and Mesko, we can name it “The Special Teams Round.” Cannon ended a rough streak of failed O-linemen. A middling success rate for a middling round; however, hard to overlook the impact of the solid selections.

Once again, the Patriots have no fifth-rounder this year (traded away for Jonathan “Confetti Man” Casillas). Considering how well they’ve done recently in other rounds, they may want to maintain their status and avoid the Fifth.

Sixth Round –

2000: Antwan Harris, CB, Virginia; Tom Brady, QB, Michigan; David Nugent, DT, Purdue.

2001: Arther Love, TE, South Carolina State; Leonard Myers, DB, Miami

2002: (No pick)

2003: Kliff Kingsbury, QB, Texas Tech

2004: (No pick)

2005: (No pick)

2006: Jeremy Mincey, OLB, Florida; Dan Stevenson, OL, Notre Dame; LeKevin Smith, DL, Nebraska

2007: Justin Rogers, OLB, SMU; Justise Hairston, RB, Central Connecticut; Corey Hilliard, OL, Oklahoma State

2008: Bo Ruud, OLB, Nebraska

2009: Jake Ingram, LS, Hawaii; Myron Pryor, DT, Kentucky

2010: Ted Larsen, C, NC State

2011: Markell Carter, DE, Central Arkansas

2012: Nate Ebner, DB, Ohio State

2013: (No Pick)

2014: John Halapio, OL, Florida; Zach Moore, DE, Concordia

Total Picks: 20

Successful Picks: 4 (Brady, Pryor, Ebner, Moore)

Most Successful Pick: One guess

Percentage: 20

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Brady Round. (Do you hear harps and angels? I think I hear harps and angels.)

Ebner continues to contribute on special teams, while Moore showed some promise as a pass-rusher. After several years of consistent meh, New England has hit on two out of three, with a pair of sixth-rounders this year. Can’t ask for much more from this late in the draft.

I mean, Tom Freaking Brady, for God’s sake.

Seventh Round – 

2000: Casey Tisdale, OLB, New Mexico; Patrick Pass, RB, Georgia

2001: Owen Pochman, K, BYU; T. J. Turner, LB, Michigan State

2002: Antwoine Womack, RB, Virginia; David Givens, WR, Notre Dame

2003: Spencer Nead, TE, BYU; Tully Banta-Cain, LB, California; Ethan Kelley, NT, Baylor

2004: Christian Morton, CB, Florida State

2005: Matt Cassel, QB, Southern California; Andy Stokes, TE, William Penn

2006: Willie Andrews, DB, Baylor

2007: Oscar Lua, LB, Southern California; Mike Elgin, OL, Iowa

2008: (No pick)

2009: Julian Edelman, WR, Kent State; Darryl Richardson, DT, Georgia Tech

2010: Thomas Welch, OT, Vanderbilt; Brandon Deaderick, DL, Alabama; Kade Weston, DL, Georgia; Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State

2011: Malcolm Williams, CB, TCU

2012: Alfonso Dennard, DB, Nebraska; Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern

2013: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois; Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers

2014: Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

Total Picks: 27 (or almost two per year)

Successful Picks: 9 (Pass, Givens, Banta-Cain, Cassel, Edelman, Deaderick, Williams, Dennard, Buchanan)

Most Successful Pick: Edelman

Percentage: 33

I remember when New England drafted Julian Edelman. I had never heard of him. Ever since then, I scour NFLDraftScout.com for college QBs who could convert to wide receiver. Haven’t found one quite like him yet.

Hey now: 27 picks in 15 years? Why not? It’s a low-risk pick with potential, where some players who failed to rate as successes here still contributed in the short term (Beauharnais, Richardson, Andrews).

UDFAs

The Patriots seem to have a knack for finding roster-worthy prospects after the last name gets called on draft weekend. Some past undrafted free agents who contributed: Stephen Neal, OL; Tom Ashworth, OL; Eric Alexander, LB; Randall Gay, DB; Wesley Britt, OL; Antwain Spann, CB; Kyle Eckel, RB; Santonio Thomas, DL: Mike Wright, DL; Corey Mays, LB; Pierre Woods, OLB; BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB; Vince Redd, OLB, Tyson Devree, TE; Gary Guyton, LB; Brian Hoyer, QB; Ray Ventrone, DB.

Some UDFAs on the roster now: Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech; Brandon Bolden, RB, Ole Miss; Josh Kline, OL, Kent State; Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland; some guy named Malcolm Butler, CB, West Alabama.

Our advice on watching the Patriot’s draft? Skip Round One the evening of April 30 (or tune in at the very end to potentially watch the Patriots trade down), check out the beginning of Day Two (Round Two), then wait until Saturday evening to see whom they select with their seventh-round pick. And by all means, keep track of undrafted free agents. There might be a Butler somewhere among them.

Chris Warner wastes time on Twitter @cwarn89

New Marc Bertrand/Scott Zolak Show Starts Tuesday

98.5 The Sportshub made it official this afternoon, announcing the latest worst-kept secret in Boston sports media, that Andy Gresh is being replaced on the midday show by Marc Bertrand.

Gresh will be staying on at 98.5, in “a variety of roles.”

Bertrand will also take over co-host duties of Patriots pre and post game programming.

From the release:

“I’m beyond thrilled to be moving to middays to work with Scott Zolak,” said Bertrand. “Being able to say I’ve been at The Sports Hub since day one is an incredibly proud moment for me. As someone who was born and raised in Boston, I know it is the best sports town in America with the very best fans. The loyalty of our listeners has driven the success of our station, and I can’t wait to interact with them on a daily basis.”

 

 

Super Bowl MVP Had Impact On The Field, Even When Off It

After multiple viewings of “Sound FX” and “NFL Replay” on the NFL Network, as well as “Turning Point” on NBC Sports, we’re putting a different focus on Seattle’s final offensive play.

As everyone reading this knows, the Seahawks passed the ball from the one-yard line with 26 seconds left and one timeout. Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, reversing the fortunes of two sports regions.

So, the question remains, why? Why, when you have Marshawn Lynch, the most brutish runner in the game, one yard away from glory, would you try anything else?

Tom Brady, that’s why. Brady did amazing things on the field, but he also did something remarkable off the field: he scared the bejeezus out of Seattle.

Take what Seahawks offensive coordinator Darell Bevell said to QB Russell Wilson before the penultimate play (on both “Turning Point” and “Sound FX”): “We still have a timeout. We’ll use every minute of this clock here.” Coach Pete Carroll, pacing the sideline, says, “Take your time. We have plenty of time to do this.”

You have to believe that – despite what Carroll would say later about matching up with New England’s goal-line defense – the coaches (along with everyone else) figured running Lynch would result in a touchdown. If Seattle had faced a fourth-and-goal at the one, then no question, Lynch would have gotten that football in his hands.

In the “Turing Point” broadcast, Carroll said during his post-game interview that maybe they should have run the ball, “But we had plenty of time to win the game, and we were playing for third and fourth down.”

We were playing for third and fourth down.

Now, back to the opposing QB: Brady had just accomplished what no other Super Bowl passer ever had: overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. His offense had scored 14 points against the defense that had not allowed such a thing in years. No wonder Pats fans got depressed in the third quarter.

But Brady hit five of seven passes on one drive, then eight of eight on the next, leading his offense to two TDs in ten minutes.

Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column offered a thorough breakdown of those final two drives from interviews with Brady and OC Josh McDaniels, seen here.

Remember also: in the NFC Championship, Seattle had come back to take a 3-point lead with 1:25 showing on the clock, only to watch Aaron Rodgers complete two 15-yard passes and limp-scramble for 12 more, getting into field goal range with 19 seconds left. And, efficient as Rodgers was, he had two incompletions on that possession. Brady had two incompletions on two successive TD drives. (For a play-by-play rundown, see this link to NFL.com. Even more impressive to see it in writing.)

Carroll had that in mind when he didn’t call timeout. He had that in mind when the clock wound down. He definitely had it on the brain when he said he did not want to “waste a run play” at the one.

So, again, why not run the ball there? As Brady said in his post-game interview, “I’m glad they didn’t.”

Chris Warner tweets things at people on a regular basis. Follow him at @cwarn89