Senior Bowl Patriots Prospects

The following eight players caught our eye at this year’s Senior Bowl this past Saturday.

Ezekial Ansah, BYU DE (6-5, 270). The Ghanaian Go-getter stood out in the Senior Bowl with a persistent pass rush (1.5 sacks, forced fumble) and an eye-bulging ability to chase down runners. Kept the broadcasters focused on him throughout the game with several individual plays (seven overall tackles). Has only played football since 2010, so scouts slobber over his potential.

Kawann Short, Purdue DL (6-3, 315). Short by name, huge on talent, this Boilermaker provided consistent pressure up the middle and seemed unblockable at times, earning the North’s Most Outstanding Player honors. Can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment and would instantly provide a stout presence in the middle – where the Patriots lacked depth this season. Had 14.5 tackles for loss this past year.

Desmond Trufant, Washington DB (6-0, 186). This consensus first-rounder seems ready to step up to the next level, showing strength and quickness while also displaying a strong field sense. Began the Senior Bowl with one of its most impressive plays, chasing down speedster Robert Alford on the opening kickoff to save a TD.

Larry Warford, Kentucky OL (6-3, 333). Warford made the highlight reel several times, most notably on a pancake block during the South’s ultimate touchdown drive. A mauler who could add strength and depth to the Patriots’ interior offensive line.

Brian Schwenke, California OL (6-4, 300). Playing for the South (go figure), Schwenke demonstrated the type of versatility Coach Bill Belichick covets by playing left guard on one TD drive and then center on another. He showed quick feet and solid leverage on several plays.

Conner Vernon, Duke WR (6-1, 200). Whatever Vernon lacks in straight line speed, he makes up in route precision. The Blue Devil caught four passes for 36 yards in the Senior Bowl and looked like one of the afternoon’s most consistent receivers. That makes sense, as he set the ACC record for career receptions. Also stood out as a perimeter blocker.

Marquise Goodwin, Texas WR (5-9, 180). Goodwin failed to produce big numbers at Texas (26 catches, 340 yards). But, playing for the North (again, go figure) his five receptions for 44 yards led all receivers. Throw in 30 yards on two punt returns, and you can color us intrigued. A world-class athlete who made it to the London Olympics for the long jump, Goodwin has the speed and quickness to extend short passes into long gains.

E. J. Manuel, Florida State QB (6-4, 240). The best, most consistent QB at the Senior Bowl, it was no coincidence the South’s three TDs happened with him under center. Manuel earned South team Most Outstanding Player honors, completing seven of 10 passes and one TD while running for another. While New England may want to avoid drafting a quarterback too high, Manuel has the athleticism and poise to instill any team with confidence in the backup position.

Any players you saw on Saturday that caught your interest, please let us know in the comment section below.

You can email Chris Warner notes of praise and/or haikus at [email protected]


“The Fellowship of the Miserable” – A Boston Magazine Feature on Sports Media

You’ll recall that last year, Alan Siegal wrote a feature for Boston Magazine on 98.5 The SportsHub morning team Toucher and Rich.

Siegal, who has also written for Deadspin among other publications, is back in the pages of Boston Magazine this month with a feature entitled The Fellowship of the Miserable.  The introduction for it goes like this:

Whiny, petulant, entitled, self-important—no, it’s not Boston fans we’re talking about, it’s Boston sportswriters. How did the sports media in this town, once the envy of the nation, become so awful?

The piece focuses on how far the local media has fallen in terms of being beaten regularly by the national media on local stories, (The Jeff Passan piece on the Red Sox last summer, and Adrian Wojnarowski on the much of the Ray Allen stuff with the Celtics) and by non-beat reporters on other pieces (he reports that then-Globe publisher Marty Baron was the one who initiated what became the Bob Hohler “beer and fried chicken” column following the 2011 season, not sports editor Joe Sullivan) and why they seem to be getting worse and worse on the rest of the stuff. Dan Shaughnessy is among those dinosaurs who are targeted in the feature.

 To put it bluntly, “The Lodge”—as Fred Toucher, cohost of the 98.5 The Sports Hub morning radio show, mockingly refers to the city’s clubby, self-important media establishment—is clogged with stale reporters, crotchety columnists, and shameless blowhards. Their canned “hot sports takes” have found a home on local television and talk radio, but do little but suck the fun out of a topic that’s supposed to be just that. And we haven’t even gotten to Dan Shaughnessy yet.

If you’re a sports media junkie, it’s a must-read. And yes, I am quoted in it.

Rondo Injury Sparks Many Different Reactions

The Celtics received the devastating news yesterday that point guard Rajon Rondo will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the double-overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

How the news was disseminated yesterday was interesting to follow, as social media reports early in the afternoon suggested it could be a a torn ACL, and Sean Grande on the Celtics radio broadcast was among the first on the air to report the news.(The Celtics put it on Twitter around 3:15.) Behind the scenes, Jackie MacMullan recounts how she was the one who told Rondo that people were speculating the ACL was torn, before he even got the official word on it. She then told Dwyane Wade, who took it back to the Miami bench. It appears the Heat knew before the Celtics did.

Doris Burke of ABC/ESPN broke the news to a visibly distraught Paul Pierce following the game. Doc Rivers said he told his team about the injury after the game, though he knew before the game that Rondo was likely done for the season.

Callers and texters to 98.5 during the game (and WEEI this morning) celebrated the injury, a pattern that is sure to continue with the hosts today. While Felger and Mazz are in New Orleans for the Super Bowl this week, you can bet they’ll be gleeful over the injury. It’s a contrast to the reaction of teammates and opponents around the league alike, many of whom (including Kobe Bryant) expressed their affection and respect for Rondo.

You’ll hear the phrase “blowing it up” a ton in the coming days and weeks, and armchair GMs, fan and media alike will be advocating getting rid of anyone, including Pierce and Kevin Garnett. (They can’t get anything for them.)  A few might insist that the team might get better without Rondo and all his “selfish” assists.

A few other thoughts on the short and long-term future of the Celtics.

Rondo’s done, and so are the Celtics – When a guy I like and respect as much as Steve Bulpett is writing this, I know things can’t be good.

Rajon Rondo injury clouds Celtics future – Chris Gasper manages to work in references to the deaths of Reggie Lewis and Len Bias when discussing what this injury means to the Celtics.

Celtics forced to look for options in wake of Rondo’s injury – A. Sherrod Blakely thinks that the Celtics will be at least considering a look at Delonte West.

Where do Celtics go from here? – Ben Rohrbach thinks that the Celtics will either be the latest example of the Ewing Theory, or that this injury will be what finally killed the heart of champion.

Doc Rivers, Celtics not packing it in – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics feeling that they can still make a run in the East.