Patriots Draft Potential: Offensive Linemen

By Chris Warner

Today we preview possible New England draft picks for the guys up front protecting quarterback Tom Brady.

In 2012, the Patriots got surprise performances from veterans Matt Light and Brian Waters. The latter’s effort deserves special praise considering he arrived late in the preseason and ended up as a 16-game starter.

All seemed set for an uneventful transition year to give 2011 rookies Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon more experience, but both Light and Waters are considering retirement, guard Logan Mankins is recovering from knee surgery, and center Dan Koppen is entering his tenth season, crossing the Rubicon for NFL linemen. The health of tackle Sebastian Vollmer has become a lingering concern.

That all points to an unexpected urgency in finding at least one new linemen in the 2012 draft. The Patriots have two picks in the first round (27 and 31 overall), two in the second (48, 62), one in the third (93) and one in the fourth (126). They traded away their fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks.

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Red Sox snap five-game losing streak, Bruins prepare for Game 7

The Red Sox were able to snap their five-game losing streak Monday night in Minnesota. Cody Ross led the team with two home runs, including the game-winner in the top of the ninth inning, leading the Sox to a 6-5 win over the Twins. He also homered in the seventh inning to tie the game at 5. Daniel Bard pitched 2/3 of an inning in the eighth to earn the win. He didn’t allow a hit and walked one batter, but is still scheduled to start Friday. Alfredo Aceves came on for the ninth to earn his third save of the year.

Valentine lightens mood– Scott Lauber has in his notebook how Bobby V joked with Aceves when visiting him on the mound in the ninth inning.

Daniel Bard silences Minnesota in relief but increases chatter to return to bullpen– Didler Morais has with Bard’s performance Monday night the talk of him moving back to the bullpen will continue.

For Cody Ross game-winning homer was a blast from the past– Alex Speier has how Ross’ home run to the opposite field was something he learned to do a number of years ago while in the Tigers organization.

Decision time is closing in on Aaron Cook, Red Sox– Rob Bradford looks at the decision the Red Sox have with starting pitcher Aaron Cook. If the team does not call him up to the big leagues by May 1 he has an opt-out in his contract.

Bobby Valentine can’t rescue ship going down– Gerry Callahan looks at the decision to hire Bobby V as manager, and how things have not worked out thus far.

It’s not Valentine’s fault– Bill Reynolds says the start the Red Sox have had is not the fault of their manager.

Both the Bruins and Celtics were off Monday night. The Celtics will host the Heat tonight as the regular season is winding down. The team already knows they will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, but who gets home court as being the No. 4 seed remains to be seen. The Bruins are in preparation for their decisive Game 7 with the Capitals tomorrow night at TD Garden.

Emphasis on health, not homecourt– Steve Bulpett in his Celtics notebook has with Doc Rivers resting his start players of late shows he is more concerned with the teams health rather than the homecourt advantage.

Homecourt or health: For Celtics it’s no challenge– Paul Flannery says the Celtics will need to continue being a good road team in the playoffs as they will be on the road a lot considering they have chosen health over homecourt.

Newly aquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics– A. Sherrod Blakely takes a look at the newest member of the Celtics, Sean Williams.

One big history lesson– Ron Borges takes a look at tomorrow night’s Game 7 and says all the teams’ Game 7’s last year mean nothing now.

Bruins need vintage Tim Thomas in Game 7– DJ Bean has in what has been an extremely close series the Bruins need Tim Thomas to be the Tim Thomas of last year’s Stanley Cup run.

Bergeron a money player– James Murphy says the Bruins can count on Bergeron to be a force in tomorrow night’s Game 7.

Selfless Bergeron has proved to be the model Bruin– Matt Kalman looks at how Bergeron has made his case for being named one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL.

Where is the Red Sox player accountability during the 4-10 start?

The Red Sox have started the 2012 season 4-10. Their pitching has been abysmal. They haven’t been able to get the timely hit. They even blew a 9-0 lead to the New York Yankees last Saturday in one of the biggest single game collapses in recent memory.

Although the 2011 Red Sox started their season 2-10, this start may be even worse.

Going deeper into the numbers, the pitching staff’s ERA of 6.68 is the worst in the majors by more than a run and a half. The Red Sox’ bullpen ERA is a dreadful 8.44, which ranks worst in major league baseball.

Their closer going into spring training, Andrew Bailey, whom the team traded for in the offseason, had thumb surgery before the season began and isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break.

Mark Melancon, who was supposed to be the set-up man, is now in Triple AAA Pawtucket after allowing 11 runs, and five home runs in just two full innings of work this season.

Kevin Youkilis, has started the season hitting .190, with just one home run and 13 strikeouts, and their starting center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, was injured in the first week of the season and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a separated shoulder.

With all of the struggles on the field, who has taken the most criticism this season? Not any of the players, not the general manager, instead it has been the manager, Bobby Valentine.

Every time he goes out to make a pitching change, the boo’s echo all around Fenway Park. Late in Friday’s game there were even chants of “We want Tito.”

Criticism of the team is all well and good and certainly deserved, but Bobby V? Sure, he’s made some questionable decisions regarding keeping pitchers in too long, or who to bring in from the bullpen in certain situations, but when your bullpen can’t get 12 outs with a nine run lead, that is not the managers fault, it is the players.

Where has the player accountability been during the 4-10 start?

The players are the ones who have gave up 26 home runs in 14 games. The players are the ones who have failed to get the timely hit in certain games this year. The players are the ones losing games, not the manager.

With all the heat their manager has taken the past week, why haven’t any of the players come out and taken responsibility? Why hasn’t someone spoken up and say the players are the ones that deserve the blame, not the manager?

How about even speaking to the media at all…

After Saturday’s debacle with the Yankees all of the star players, and so called “leaders” didn’t even speak to the media.

David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, the list goes on and on, they all declined to comment, or bolted out of the clubhouse before the media was allowed in.

They left it up to role players, such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Aviles, and pitchers Felix Doubront and Matt Albers to explain to the Boston media what just happened, and their 4-10 start.

None of the four players had been with the team prior to last season; they shouldn’t be the ones having to speak after a loss such as Saturday’s. That should be left to the veterans and key players.

All of this adds up to a sign that Bobby V has lost his clubhouse.

Imagine if this were last year and Terry Francona were the manager, and he was hearing the same boo’s and the same criticism that Bobby V is now.

Don’t you think a player like Pedoria or Jason Varitek would have come to the defense of their manager, and say how the players deserve the blame, not the manager?

There has been none of that this season. The only time the team has spoken out about their manager was when they were responding to Bobby V’s comments that Youkilis has “not been as into the game” as much as past years.

Pedroia and Youkilis questioned their own manager and his style saying it might work in Japan, but not America. This forced Bobby V to issue an over the top apology through the media to Youkilis, essentially taking back the comments he had made.

The bottom line is this… The Red Sox are a mess right now, both on the field and off, but the season is only eight percent completed. They are only 4.5 games back in the AL East. There is still plenty of time to come back.

With all the signs pointing to Bobby V losing his clubhouse, only one thing can fix that… winning.

After all winning solves everything, doesn’t it?

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Feel free to email me at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @hannable84.