Who’s The FA? UDFA!

New England has made an annual habit of holding on to at least one undrafted free agent (UDFA) who had to wait out seven rounds of the draft before booking a plane ticket. Below, we review some of the guys reportedly signed by the Pats who might want to check out properties in the Foxboro area.

Plus, at my reader’s request (note the singular), a return of high school fun facts!

The Zach Pack: Nevada’s Zach Sudfeld (6-7, 253) offers another big target at tight end for Patriots camp, potentially giving Rob Gronkowski some rest.

Why undrafted: Sudfeld had only 11 bench reps at his pro day, a low output for a tight end. He was also injured plenty at Nevada, missing both the 2008 and 2011 seasons. The NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility.

Why invited: He showed decent speed (4.84 40) and good quickness (7.00-second 3-cone) at his pro day. Was third on the Wolf Pack in receptions with 45, averaging 13.3 yards per catch, and led the team in TD grabs with eight.

High School Fun Fact: Sudfeld lettered in football, track and field, basketball and tennis at Modesto Christian High in California.

Run As Fast As You, Ken: Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (6-1, 193) out of Cincinnati will get a once-over this spring as New England continues to revamp their pass-catching corps.

Why undrafted: While Thompkins had some production for the Bearcats, his stats won’t wow many – 34 catches, 541 yards, two touchdowns. Also had a mere eight reps on the bench at the combine.

Why invited: Some quick math on the above stats (or, for us English majors, a quick glimpse at his player page) shows he averaged 15.9 yards per reception. Thompkins also ran a 4.46-second 40 and had a 6.88-second 3-cone drill, solid numbers, both. Also had a decent game vs. Rutgers, and heaven knows, all roads to Foxboro go through Rutgers.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: While attending Miami Northwestern in Florida, Thompkins fell in with a bad crowd and got arrested a few times. He didn’t consider playing football again until, inspired by his younger brother Kendal going to the Miami Hurricanes, he went to El Camino Community College for two years and became a co-captain on the gridiron.

Original Cincy: Running back Quentin Hines (5-10, 194) out of Akron (and other places – see below), offers depth as a smaller back and return option for the Patriots.

Why undrafted: Hines has had a – shall we say – interesting go of it, attending Cincinnati (three years), Murray State (spring semester) and Akron (one year). Did little for the Zips, averaging fewer than three carries per game.

Why invited: Averaged over 5.5 yards per carry. Plus, wowed at his pro day, running a 4.40-second 40, leaping a whopping 42.5-inch vertical and an eye-opening 11.5-foot broad jump. Seriously – take a 10-foot hoop, lay it down on the ground, and jump 18 inches beyond it. Ridiculous.

High School Fun Fact: Hines rushed for 1,491 yards and 21 TDs as a senior at Mt. Clemens High in Detroit. He also ran the 100-meter dash in 10.6 seconds.

For Those About To Walk, We Saluki: Well, apparently the rumors of Southern Illinois longsnapper Jason Stegman coming to Foxboro turned out to be false. Such a shame: we really liked that reference.

Morris The Cat: Nittany Lion cornerback Stephon Morris (5-8, 188) will compete for a special teams slot while hoping to add depth to the Patriots’ defensive back group.

Why undrafted: Height-wise, Morris leaves a bit to be desired. He also tallied zero interceptions last year.

Why invited: Myriad reasons. First, he had five pass breakups, five passes defensed, and 1.5 sacks. Second, he ran a 4.35-second 40 at his pro day. Third, with former Pats offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien now at Penn State, the locals must have gotten a solid heads-up.

High School Fun Fact: Morris was a three-year football captain at Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, Maryland, where he played corner, running back and kick returner.

Look, Kids: Big Ben! Tennessee fullback Ben Bartholomew (6-2, 245) could become the prototypical run-blocker that New England has lacked since Fred McCrary in 2002.

Why undrafted: It seems that coaches always believe they can fill the fullback spot with players from other positions, from tight ends to offensive linemen to linebackers. Also, Bartholomew had exactly two carries his entire college career.

Why invited: Maybe the above sentence isn’t such a bad thing, as it means the man’s a devoted blocker. Bartholomew did catch 11 passes for 102 yards last year and filled in at tight end. His 4.75-second 40 is noteworthy considering his size, and his 30 bench reps mean he can take on NFL linebackers.

High School Fun Fact: At Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Bartholomew won the state shot put championship (51 feet, two inches) and the state wrestling championship (215-pound division) in 2007.

Jonesing For One More Knight: Cornerback Brandon Jones (6-0, 191) out of – big surprise – Rutgers, joins about sixty thousand other Scarlet Knights in Patriots camp.

Why undrafted: Jones probably got overlooked playing alongside Logan Ryan and some other more notable defenders, most of whom live in Foxboro now. He also had some injury issues in school. Posted a mediocre 40 time (4.56 seconds).

Why invited: The big reason begins with an “R” and ends with an “-utgers.” But Jones did start for two years on a strong defense and had five interceptions and nine pass break-ups in 2012. Also showed some quickness in his pro day drills (4.08 20-yard shuttle, 6.76 3-cone drill). Strong special-teamer.

High School Fun Fact: At Winslow Township High in New Jersey, Jones played both sides of the ball his senior year, picking off eight passes and returning two for touchdowns while notching 47 receptions for 997 yards. Also averaged almost 17 yards per punt return.

A Sandwich Is A Sandwich, But A Stankiewitch Is The Deal: Center Matt Stankiewitch (6-3, 302) out of Penn State could add some insurance to the interior line, a needy part of the Patriots’ roster.

Why undrafted: Scouts viewed this as a meh year for centers. Not a huge guy (relatively speaking). Displayed little speed at his pro day, running a 5.42-second 40.

Why invited: Oh, where to begin? Stankewitch led Penn State’s offense, which – again, due to the Coach O’Brien connection – had a lot of similarities to what he’ll see in Foxboro. Had 27 bench reps at the combine, a respectable O-line number. Was named All-Big Ten First Team by conference coaches. Started at center for the past two years and played guard as a sophomore.

High School Fun Fact: Playing center and D-line for Blue Mountain High in Pennsylvania, Stankiewitch was named the Berks Inter-County League Offensive Lineman of the Year and the Reading Eagle All-Anthracite Defensive Player of the Year.

In The Midnight Hour, We Cried Moe, Moe, Moe: Missouri wide receiver T. J. Moe (5-11, 204) will fill out an ever-growing field of pass-catchers for the Patriots, likely in a flanker role.

Why undrafted: At the combine, Moe ran a 4.74-second 40. Though he bettered that at his pro day (4.62), he may have fallen off some lists. Had only 40 receptions for 399 yards in 2012. Also, judging by this past offseason, flanker doesn’t seem like a coveted slot in the NFL. (Literally.)

Why invited: The guy’s got quicks, with a 3.96-second 20-yard shuttle and a 6.53-second 3-cone drill (for comparison, Julian Edelman had 3.92 and 6.62, respectively). Let’s wrap up this part with NFL.com scout Gil Brandt’s quote from Missouri’s pro day: “Moe has very good hands and reminds you a lot of Wes Welker.”

High School Fun Fact: Moe played QB at Fort Zumwalt West High in Missouri, where his senior year he passed for – if you have a hat, hold onto it – 2,557 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for – seriously, hold on – 2,029 yards and 30 touchdowns.

A Serious Load Of Bull: Defensive tackle Cory Grissom (6-1, 306) out of South Florida could help inject some youth into an aging interior defensive line.

Why undrafted: At 6-1, Grissom’s a bit undersized (a funny word to use for a 300-pounder, but still). Though he did well for the Bulls, the Big East football conference doesn’t receive much national attention. None of his combine numbers stand out.

Why invited: Coach Belichick loves him some South Florida football. Grissom made the All-Big East Second Team, and he excelled against solid competition (including two sacks vs. Florida State).

High School Fun Fact: Grissom lettered in football for three years and wrestling for two years at Troup County High in LaGrange, Georgia.

Elvis Was A Hero To Most, But He Never Meant It To Me: Ah, had to go with a little Public Enemy there. Here’s hoping Missouri offensive tackle Elvis Fisher (6-5, 296) gets to mean something to Foxboro fans.

Why undrafted: Fisher hurt his knee last September and missed several games. That setback came after having been granted a hardship year due to a season-ending knee injury in 2011.

Why invited: Started all 40 games at left tackle over his first three years. Ran a respectable 5.13-second 40 at his pro day. Served as team captain for the Tigers over the past two seasons. A little underweight, but could be a rewarding project.

High School Fun Fact: While at St. Petersburg Catholic High in Florida, Fisher was ranked number 53 on the Super Prep list of the U.S.’s top offensive tackles.

His Game Is Afoot: Punter Ryan Allen (6-2, 215) of Louisiana Tech will compete with Patriot Zoltan Mesko throughout the preseason. Allen gives coaches and players a different look at a special teams position.

Why undrafted: He’s a punter. No offense. (Get it?)

Why invited: Allen won the Ray Guy Award as the best college punter in the nation the past two years in a row. If you’ve ever heard Coach Belichick talk about Ray Guy, you understand his interest. Averaged 48.4 yards per punt and notched an 85-yarder at New Mexico State, the longest anywhere in 2012.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: Allen only played two years of football but lettered twice as a kicker and punter at West Salem High in Oregon. He redshirted at Oregon State in 2008 but left there after riding the pine as a backup in 2009.

As Tough As Ford Knocks: Clemson tight end Brandon Ford (6-3, 245) looks like a smaller hybrid type who could demonstrate some versatility in New England’s offense.

Why undrafted: A combine snub, Ford failed to wow at his pro day, running a 4.74-second 40 and benching 225 pounds 17 times. Size-wise, he looks like a ’tweener, though he did gain 10 pounds after the season.

Why invited: An All-ACC First Team pick by both coaches and media, Ford had eight touchdown receptions in 2012 and caught 40 passes for 480 yards. Also excelled against tough competition, catching five passes for 51 yards against Auburn and four for 69 at Florida State.

High School Fun Fact: Besides playing football at Hanahan High in South Carolina, Ford was MVP of the basketball team and also ran the 100- and 200-meter events for the track squad.

Just In The Time Of Nick: Michigan State offensive guard Chris McDonald (6-4, 300) joins brother (and current Patriot lineman) Nick in Foxboro. After the position got overlooked during the draft, New England has bolstered it in rookie free agency.

Why undrafted: Similar to Stankiewitch’s situation, this draft never had a big run on interior linemen as teams seemed less than overwhelmed by available centers and guards.

Why invited: First and foremost, we have to assume that the Pats like what they’ve seen in his brother. For his part, the younger McDonald started his last 30 games in a row at right guard and earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. He also had a noteworthy pro day, running his first 40 in under five seconds and benching 225 pounds 31 times.

High School Fun Fact: McDonald played both offensive and defensive line at Henry Ford II High in Sterling Heights, Michigan. His 22 career sacks broke the school record.

Offensively In Kline: Kent State offensive guard Josh Kline (6-3, 307) jumps on the rookie free agent O-line bandwagon. Coach Dante Scarnecchia is driving, so behave yourselves.

Why undrafted: Julian Edelman notwithstanding, Kent State has never been a hotbed of NFL draft activity. Add to that the aforementioned note of interior lineman getting picked later, and Kline’s quiet Saturday afternoon makes sense.

Why invited: Named to the All-MAC Second Team, Kline helped the Golden Flashes (definitely a Top Ten mascot) become the nation’s 11th-ranked rushing offense. He also garnered attention at his pro day, running the 40 in 5.06 seconds, the 20-yard shuttle in 4.59 seconds, and putting up 225 pounds 25 times. Also showed position flexibility by playing right tackle his junior year.

High School Fun Fact: Besides excelling in football at Mason High in Ohio, Kline also posted a 45-1 record wrestling his senior year, winning the state title.

The Place That Launched A Thousand Hits: Troy has had a number of solid defenders enter the league; safety Kanorris Davis (5-9, 211) hopes to add his name to that list.

Why undrafted: Davis played the season as a linebacker and looks to make the transition to safety. His lack of both size and top-line speed (4.57 40) have set him back.

Why invited: If the dude played linebacker at 5-9, you know he’s tough. Showed some athleticism with a 37.5-inch vertical and a 7.07-second 3-cone drill. Made the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team with 62 solo tackles on the season. Had an impact on special teams.

High School Fun Fact: For his career at Perry High in Georgia, Davis tallied 398 tackles, 24 sacks and eight forced fumbles. He was a two-time all-state selection.

Here Comes Dewayne Again: At 6-2, 345 pounds, defensive lineman/condominium Dwayne Cherrington of Mississippi State seems memorable. New England has gone with smaller, speedier D-linemen of late; Cherrington could add some bulk to the inside.

Why undrafted: Teams seeking faster defenses these days have less of a demand for Cherrington’s services. He ran a very slow 40 at 5.57 seconds. Failed to open eyes on the stats page with just 24 tackles last year for the Bulldogs.

Why invited: The Patriots drafted Vince Wilfork in 2004. Time to inject some youth into the position and see if Cherrington can hold down the middle. His 36 bench reps show he might prove up for the challenge.

High School (and College) Fun Fact: Cherrington attended Central Gwinnett High in Georgia and played both sides of the ball at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.

A Cup Of Joe With The Patriots? Maryland defensive lineman Joe Vellano (6-1, 306) hopes to stick around Gillette a while. He adds another penetrating interior presence to New England’s 4-3 defense.

Why undrafted: Vellano lacks what scouts call length, which I believe is a fancy way of saying he’s not all that tall. Doesn’t have a ton of straight-line speed: ran a 5.35-second 40. Was listed at 285 pounds in his college program.

Why invited: The stout pass-rusher was named to the All-ACC First Team by both coaches and the media. He compiled 61 tackles, including 14 for loss (six sacks). At his pro day he demonstrated some quickness for his size (4.47-second 20-yard shuttle, 7.58-second 3-cone). Also had 27 bench reps.

High School (and College)Fun Fact: Vellano captained his team at Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, NY. After being named an All-American his junior year in college, Vellano and his father Paul (Maryland class of 1974) became the first father-son duo to each receive such an honor in ACC school history.

Which of New England’s UDFAs will you be rooting for this summer? Comment below.

You can email Chris Warner at [email protected] or tweet @cwarn89

Patriots Draft Review Panel

We at Boston Sports Media Watch couldn’t do much without the actual Boston sports media, so we figured we’d get a few of our locals involved in a New England draft review.

Joining Bruce Allen and Chris Warner in the discussion are Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston’s Patriots blogChris Price of WEEI.com’s It Is What It Is blog, and Chad Finn of Boston.com’s Touching All The Bases.

A brief rundown of this past weekend’s picks/moves…

THE BIG TRADE

New England traded their first-round pick (29th overall) to Minnesota for a second (52), third (83), fourth (102) and seventh (229), setting in motion an array of selections that must have warmed the cockles of Bill Belichick’s heart.

THE SMALL TRADE

The Patriots traded running back/returner Jeff Demps and pick 229 to Tampa Bay for running back LaGarrette Blount.

THE PICKS

Round Two (52): Jamie Collins, Southern Mississippi DE/OLB

Round Two (59): Aaron Dobson, Marshall WR

Round Three (83): Logan Ryan, Rutgers DB

Round Three (91): Duron Harmon, Rutgers DB

Round Four (102): Josh Boyce, TCU WR

Round Seven (226): Michael Buchanan, Illinois DE

Round Seven (235): Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers LB

We’re going to avoid overall grades here, but we’ll stick with a school premise, rating the moves like we would the condition of a textbook. (Note to our younger readers: a textbook is like an analog website.)

Here’s what rates, and how:

EXCELLENT

Bruce Allen: Trading out of the first – If Ron Borges and Tony Massarotti hate something the Patriots do, I know they did the right thing. Also, the more I read and hear about Dobson, I’m going away from my initial impression, which was Taylor Price, and towards someone who might be able to actually get on the field and be a threat. Physically and skill-wise he fits the bill. Belichick raved about his smarts and recall, so that encourages me too.

Man, I also love the Boyce pick, maybe even more than Dobson. His profile seems to remind me of David Givens, a strong, physical, tough receiver with smarts. Sounds like he could even potentially pick up some of Aaron Hernandez’s routes should the TE go down during the season.

Chris Warner: After watching how the weekend shook out, I put the big trade in this category. Sometimes we roll our eyes when we hear the term “value” tossed around, but it’s difficult to imagine any one player having as much potential impact in Foxboro as Collins, Ryan, Boyce and Blount (via trade). Moving down surprised no one, mostly because it made a lot of sense.

Mike Reiss: The double-dip at receiver. We don’t know if Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce will pan out, but personally am intrigued by the “redo” at the position. Both have physical traits that can be cultivated, and while there has rightfully been talk about the team’s struggle to draft and develop receivers, now it’s up to the coaches and I think they are excellent (Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, Brian Daboll and Co.).

Chris Price: Josh Boyce. I love the choice of Boyce in the fourth round. I talked to his high school coach (Boyce was on the same high school team with RG3), and he said that if Boyce doesn’t become a star in the league, he’d buy me a steak. I’m used to talking to high school coaches who love to inject a little hyperbole when it comes to their players who make the league, but this is different. (He did add that if Boyce had some better quarterbacking play in 2012, he would have been a first- or second-rounder.) A physical combine freak who also graduated in three years? And in the fourth round? Why not? Only question with Boyce is that he might be too smart for his own good.

Aaron Dobson. Anyone who can make a catch like he did against East Carolina last year deserves some attention. A big physical receiver who has some positional versatility, he’s the tallest receiver ever drafted by Bill Belichick, which I think represents a traditional change in approach, at least when it comes to how the Patriots identify their wide receivers. (At 6-foot-3, technically, he’s the same size as P.K. Sam.) Belichick also raved about his smarts as soon as he came off the board. Based on the fact that the receiver position is in a state of flux right now, he’s going to get plenty of chances. In the short term, his best course of action might be to jump on a plane to California, take a cab to the USC campus and wait for Tom Brady to show up.

Chad Finn: Aaron Dobson wasn’t one of the wide receivers who was most often projected as a potential Patriot in this draft, at least in my recollection. But man, you read about his attributes – intelligence, the ability to stretch the field despite not being a true burner, dependable hands, disciplined route-running, a knack for the spectacular ­– and it’s easy to envision him as the receiver who will end the Patriots’ less than glorious recent history of drafting receivers in this round. And anyone who might make us forget about Chad Jackson works for me.

Trading the No. 29 pick for four selections – including second-, third-, and fourth-round selections – was a no-brainer, even if it meant we’d have to spend Friday morning listening to a cacophony of sports radio callers caterwaul about Belichick’s (exaggerated) willingness to trade down in the draft. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but a word of warning: I remember every single one of you who complained when he passed up Sergio Kindle to take Rob Gronkowski three years ago. Every single one.

Jeff Demps is this year’s winner of the Michael Bishop Award as the player whose hype-to-contribution ratio is the most out of whack. Had to figure once he revealed that football wasn’t entirely his priority over track that he might be sent on his way. To get LaGarrette Blount, a big back who has had NFL success, in exchange seems like a worthwhile lottery ticket at worst and a coup at best.

GOOD

Chris Warner: Though it took me by surprise, I appreciate the Collins pick. The Pats needed to grow more athletic at linebacker and he fits that description, running a 4.59-second 40 and leaping a ridiculous 41.5 inches at the combine. The Pats should be able to utilize his versatility. Also, as much as I liked Markus Wheaton (and I know I’m not the only one), taking Dobson makes a lot of sense. A speedy, lanky outside receiver who happens to hail from Marshall? Why not? While I have some questions about Boyce’s consistency, his eye-popping athleticism gets him here, as well as the Pats going all out to address the outside receiver position. Finally, Beauharnais and Buchanan seem like better-than-average seventh-round defense/special teams pickups.

Bruce Allen: I too was a bit surprised by the Collins pick, though I shouldn’t have been, and have no right to be. I purposely stayed away from really getting immersed in this draft, simply because we never can predict what the team is going to do. That said, after hearing Lou Merloni mutter angrily for months about getting a “damn coverage linebacker” – even though Matt Chatham has said there is no such animal – this looks like a pick somewhat in that vein. Physically, Collins reminds me a bit of Gary Guyton, but Guyton, for all his speed, could not cover anyone. Collins has experience in the secondary, and his speed and athleticism both as a pass rusher and a pass defender has me intrigued. Buchanan seems like exactly the type of player you use a seventh-round pick on. Good potential, needs work, some trouble in the background, but has promise.

Mike Reiss: Logan Ryan. While I had them pegged for an interior offensive lineman at that point (83rd) – and thought Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas would have been a good fit before he was nabbed by the Dolphins – Ryan is a tough player who adds depth at a critical position. Can never have enough cornerbacks, Aqib Talib is a free agent after the season, and there should be immediate special teams contributions.

Chris Price: Steve Beauharnais. Talk to people associated with the Rutgers program, and while they acknowledge he’s not blessed with the greatest physical tools, they all praise his leadership, his character and his approach to the game. He’s certainly not going to take reps away from Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes or Dont’a Hightower. But he could provide depth at the spot and find a role on special teams, potentially battling with someone like Tracy White for playing time, while working into the mix as a possible option as an occasional option as a coverage linebacker.

Chad Finn: The Patriots drafted 27.3 percent of last season’s starting Rutgers defense. Of their three new Scarlet Knights, the one with the most potential to contribute immediately is the first one selected, No. 83 overall choice Logan Ryan, a bright, instinctive cornerback with 4.45 speed.

Loved this comment from No. 103 overall pick Josh Boyce, a wide receiver from TCU: “I’m really smart so I think I can pick up things pretty quick.” The confidence is encouraging. But I’m going to wait Tom Brady tells us he’s smart and is picking things up pretty quick before believing we’ll see much of him on Sundays this year.

Steve Beauharnais doesn’t have the ideal measurables, but he was the unquestioned leader of the Rutgers defense, and at the very least the 235th overall pick should fill the Tracy White role on special teams, with his intelligence and instincts giving him a chance to be something more.

FAIR

Chris Warner: In terms of Ryan, I understand the coach’s love of Rutgers players – after all, he helped raise one. Still, do they need another Scarlet Knight corner who’s primed to convert to safety next year? New England gave up more long passes than most other teams; seems like a speedier backfield defender would be in order. I’d also use the word “fair” – meaning both so-so and reasonable – to describe the Demps/Blount trade. Once Demps started favoring track, he became Dead Man Sprinting. Would have been interesting to see a pick at 229, but at least the Pats get a past producer in Blount.

Bruce Allen: I guess I’ll lump the Rutgers duo in here together, though I like adding depth to the secondary. With Harmon, the first thing I heard from several media was that they had nothing on him, he wasn’t even in their draft books. Well, rather than saying the Patriots are reaching, I think it illustrates the point about what an inexact science the draft is. Every year undrafted players come in, make rosters, and some become huge stars. Simply put, it’s impossible to put a definite evaluation on every player eligible for the draft. The Patriots do their own evaluation, and obviously don’t subscribe to the outside draft publications. So when I hear a borderline media type state with 100% certainty that this was an awful pick, and that even if he turns out to be a good player it was poor pick, I just have to laugh. I also heard the question about why is Greg Schiano passing on all his former players, but Belichick is gobbling them up. Something that occurred to me was that perhaps Harmon was taken where he was because Tampa was up before the Patriots’ next pick. Who knows? Maybe Beauharnais was taken in the seventh so that the Patriots wouldn’t have to compete with Tampa for him as an UDFA? If they’re taking someone where they are, I’m guessing they have a reason for it.

Mike Reiss: Trading for LeGarrette Blount. As a player, there’s plenty to like, and the value of the trade was more than reasonable. The “concern” is the non-football stuff with Blount. In one breath, we can praise some of the Patriots’ picks because they are players who do things the right way (Duron Harmon), but if we’re going to do that, we have to be consistent and mention that Blount has been at the opposite end of the spectrum. Building a team is complicated and it’s never black and white, and maybe a fresh start helps Blount. Just some trepidation in adding that type of complete package – specifically with his on- and off-the-field altercations – to the mix.

Chris Price: Cornerback Logan Ryan and defensive back Duron Harmon. Regardless of whether or not one or both were a reach – and Harmon may have been one, at least initially – in my mind, the biggest advantage you get with the pickup of both Ryan and Harmon is that they have already have an extensive working relationship with each other, and by extension, with Devin McCourty. I honestly don’t know how much they’ll be able to contribute this season beyond special teams, but I imagine the best possible scenario for the two of them would be for Ryan to challenge Ras-I Dowling for work as a backup outside corner, while Harmon could battle with last year’s second-round pickup Tavon Wilson as an additional defensive back in dime packages. I will say that Greg Cosell of NFL Films – a man who has forgotten more about the game than I’ll ever know – really likes the selection of Harmon, tweeting, “Harmon smart with excellent play recognition + awareness” shortly after the Patriots made the pick.

Linebacker Jamie Collins. Collins is an intriguing pickup, one that’s probably a little raw. At least right now, the thing that sticks out the most about him is his positional versatility – he’s done multiple things on the defensive side of the ball, so it was no surprise to hear Belichick praise that part of his game up and down on Saturday night. I suppose the best possible template for his rookie season would be follow in the footsteps of Dont’a Hightower, another similarly versatile linebacker who had a pretty good rookie season last year with the Patriots. Hightower was slowed at times by a nagging hamstring – if the same problem arises in 2013, Collins could be the next man up. He’s athletic and can run – if it all comes together for him, he could be that coverage linebacker the Patriots have been seeking.

Chad Finn: Their first choice in this draft, linebacker Jamie Collins from Southern Miss, draws comparisons to Jermaine Cunningham. As far as I can tell, one Jermaine Cunningham should more than suffice. Collins does reportedly have decent coverage skills, and the holdover Patriots linebackers collectively do not, so there is an opportunity for him to play a role as a rookie. I’ll perk up should reputable sources start telling us they’ve finally found another Roman Phifer.

Michael Buchanan (226th overall, linebacker, Illinois) is said to physically resemble Willie McGinest. Given that McGinest is the most physically imposing Patriots player (non-fat division) I’ve ever run into, at least we know he looks the part. But Buchanan arrives with baggage, including a DUI conviction.

POOR/INCOMPLETE (PAGES MISSING)

Mike Reiss: The lack of value at pick 91 with Rutgers safety Duron Harmon. By all accounts, Harmon is the type of player you want in your locker room, and a great example to follow. But this isn’t about Harmon personally as much as what the Patriots conceded in selecting him. There were other intriguing options who I think could have helped more. For example: would have loved to see them select RB Marcus Lattimore here with an eye on a power back for 2014 and beyond. Those are the type of forward-thinking moves where the Patriots, at least in my mind, had previously been steps ahead of the competition in the past.

Chris Warner: In a previous column I placed certain Patriots picks in the “They Know Something You Don’t Know” category. With Harmon, I think the Pats’ front office may have outsmarted themselves. Didn’t they go through this “unheralded safety” thing last year with Tavon Wilson? Especially with safety-to-be Ryan on board, this pick made the least amount of sense to me on Day Two.

Chris Price: The LeGarrette Blount-for-Jeff Demps swap. This is not so much an indictment of an individual or the trade, but the whole Demps era. He was placed on season-ending IR before last year began because of an injury that would have embarrassed Al Czervik. (In retrospect, New England probably would have preferred to send Visanthe Shiancoe to season-ending IR and keep the possibility of Demps contributing in 2012 alive.) Then, Demps started talking out of school about possibly splitting time between football and track, which likely sealed his fate. Ultimately, Demps spent the year in New England as a redshirt and earned $211,000 in guaranteed money (the second-most for an undrafted free agent last season), only to decide that he was going to treat the game as a hobby. If Blount gives them anything, it’ll represent value (maybe he’s Brandon Bolden insurance?), but I’m not holding my breath.

Chad Finn: It’s always amusing when the Patriots choose a player who doesn’t have the consensus endorsement of the Kipers, Mayocks, McShays, etc. Sometimes they’ve hit on those types (Logan Mankins in the first round, Sebastian Vollmer in the second, fringe college players such as Matt Slater and Matt Cassel). But lately it feels like they’ve reached a little too far sometimes. Tavon Wilson was such a shocker in the second round last year that one couldn’t help believe they could have chosen him later. The same goes for Rutgers safety Duron Harmon this year. He’s a player they clearly liked, but it certainly seems like they could have gotten him a round or two later.

Who/what was your favorite aspect of the 2013 draft in New England? Comment below.

The Pats Draft We’d Like To See

Way back in February, we wrote about the various draft modes Coach Bill Belichick could choose. Of those, we’ve decided to stay put with the five picks available to New England this year for our very own, very serious mock draft.

Not much room to move around the board? Fine. Clean slate in 2014.

For now, we’ll pick our best bets for Rounds One, Two and Three, and two picks in Round Seven.

ROUND ONE: Desmond Trufant, Washington CB (6-0, 190) [Read more…]

Navy Football Voice Bob Socci Is The New #Patriots Voice

Bob Socci

Bob Socci

98.5 The Sports Hub announced today that Bob Socci  (pronounced SO-See) will be the new radio voice of the New England Patriots, replacing the legendary Gil Santos.

Socci has been the radio voice of Navy football for the last 16 years and also was the lead voice

CBS Sports Network’s Patriot League college basketball telecasts.

The Navy and CBS connections surely could not have hurt Socci’s chances.

The news was first reported by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe.

Somewhere, Gary Tanguay and Jon Meterparel weep bitterly…

BOB SOCCI NAMED PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER FOR THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS ON 98.5 THE SPORTS HUB

AND THE PATRIOTS RADIO NETWORK

Socci joins color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth for

98.5 The Sports Hub, the official flagship station of the three-time

Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots

Boston, MA – April 24, 2013 –  Veteran sportscaster and play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci has been named the radio play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM), the official flagship radio station of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  Socci will join color commentator Scott Zolak in the booth to provide in-depth analysis of every Patriots game.  Socci replaces the renowned Gil Santos, who retired after the 2012 season after 36 seasons of calling Patriots games.  Socci’s appointment is effective immediately, according to an announcement made earlier today by Mike Thomas, Vice President of Programming for CBS RADIO Boston.

“Bob has more than 16 years of play-by-play experience,” said Thomas. “We were impressed with his extensive work and expertise calling various football and baseball games and he’s a local guy with great knowledge of the Patriots.  No doubt, Bob has big shoes to fill, but we are excited about this new era of play-by-play with Bob and Scott.”

“This is the thrill of a lifetime to get the opportunity from 98.5 The Sports Hub and the Patriots organization to continue the tradition established by the legendary Gil Santos to be the play-by-play announcer for the New England Patriots,” said Socci about his new role.  “I look forward to teaming up with Scott in the booth and building on The Sports Hub’s great success.”

For the past 16 years, Socci has called radio play-by-play for the U.S. Naval Academy football team. He is also the lead announcer for CBS Sports Network’s coverage of Patriot League college basketball.  Socci resides in Milton, MA with his wife, Monique Tello, and two children, Gio and Maria.

In addition to being the official flagship station for the New England Patriots, 98.5 The Sports Hub is also the official flagship station of the Boston Bruins and the New England Revolution.

Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub is owned by CBS RADIO, a division of CBS Corporation.  CBS RADIO, one of the largest major-market radio operators in the United States, operates 126 radio stations, the majority of which are in the top 50 markets, including Boston’s WBMX-FM (MIX 104.1), WBZ-AM (NewsRadio 1030), WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub), WODS-FM (103.3 AMP Radio) and WZLX-FM (Classic Rock 100.7).

#  #  #

Here is an interview with Socci talking about working the Patriot League telecasts for CBS Sports Network.

You can learn more about Socci at his personal website, and follow him on Twitter @BobSocci

Bob Socci Named Patriots Radio Play-By-Play Announcer On 98.5 The Sports Hub – CBSBoston.

Globe Hires Ben Volin, Locals Crushed

No, the two parts of that headline are not related.

It was a rough night in Boston sports, as all three teams lost and looked bad doing it. The Celtics appear to be at the end of the line, (wait, are they really not better without Rajon Rondo????) the Bruins are disappointing, and Alfredo Aceves and the Red Sox bats both failed to show up last night. Let’s move on…

The Globe yesterday officially hired Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post as the replacement for Greg A Bedard, who is departing for Sports Illustrated at the end of this month.

A Maryland native, Volin has been at the Post for seven years, and has covered the Dolphins for the paper for the last four years. He also covered the Florida Gators football team for two years, making him familiar with several current Patriots.

Note: We’ll be having a Q&A session with Ben sometime next week. If you’ve got a question you’d like us to ask him, please leave a comment below, or send Ryan an email at [email protected]

************

Pete Sheppard continues to be publicly critical of his former employer. Some have asked for audio of the rant against Entercom that he went on during his debut show on Monday. 1510  has posted the segment online.

Also, he was a guest on FOX25 television on Monday night. Only 2 and half minutes were shown on the air, but the station posted the entire interview online:

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Sports Media Musings: Mike Francesa Still Hates Twitter, Bob Lobel Tries His Hand In Blogging

Quick Note: Shooting for another mailbag this week.  To contribute, either shoot me an email at [email protected], hit me up on Twitter @Hadfield__, or leave a response in the comments section of any one of my columns.

*****

“AGAIN, WITH THE TWEETS! IT’S ALWAYS THE TWEETS!”

Mike Francesa (still) hates Twitter. The rant above came after the AP’s Twitter account was hacked. Twitter is far from perfect and this certainly was a bad incident from a security standpoint, but focusing on one mishap fails to take proper context into its benefits and shows severe lack of perspective. Coincidentally, I actually wrote about athletes and Twitter this week in my column for Metro Boston.

This isn’t the first time the mike-francesa-sleeping-gifWFAN host has lashed out against the social media website. A year ago he infamously quipped “Do you know how inane some of this stuff is?”  

The irony of a sports talk radio host reprimanding the inanity of Twitter doesn’t escape me.

I’d make a joke about Francesa asking me to get off his lawn, but he seems like the type who’d ask me to mow it before leaving.

*****

Bob Lobel, meanwhile, is more progressive. He thinks that blogging thing is gaining steam and will be contributing to SuiteSports.com. The press release may or may not be riddled with hyperbole. The word “giant” was used to describe Lobel’s reach. So there’s that. I’ll let you decide, here is an excerpt:

Legendary Sports Broadcaster Bob Lobel Will Begin a Weekly Blog and Podcast with SuiteSports.com

BOSTON, MA- APRIL 22, 2013 - SuiteSports.com, a new hybrid site that will feature both local Massachusetts high school sports coverage, as well as national sports opinion pieces from bloggers and reporters across the country, today announced the addition of legendary sports broadcaster Bob Lobel to its team.

For nearly 30 years, Lobel was a New England sports institution as the lead sports anchor for WBZ-TV in Boston. With his signature catchphrase “Why can’t we get players like that?”– Uttered whenever a former Boston player made a big play for his new team– and memorable humorous personality, Lobel quickly became one of the most recognized sports broadcasters in the country.

Now, Lobel joins SuiteSports to take a shot at the blogging world, a format he believes is tailor made for his writing style.



”I think blogging will play right into the way I thought for TV,” Lobel said. “It’s just going to be a collection of my thoughts. Perfect for my ADD when it comes to sports.”



Lobel will write a weekly blog running on Tuesdays. In his blog, Lobel says he will cover it all – The four major Boston teams, national stories, scandals – with a sense of institutional knowledge, but also with humor.



”You can’t have enough humor,” Lobel chuckled.



Lobel will also appear on a weekly podcast for SuiteSports every Thursday where he will discuss the greatest events he has covered in his illustrious career. SuiteSports co-founder Joe Parello will host the segment, and can’t think of a better person to join the SuiteSports team.

“The idea that Bob Lobel is joining our team, it’s almost surreal,” Parello said. “I feel like sometimes we get stuck in the Boston bubble, but I mentioned Bob to a friend of mine in Texas and he immediately shot back ‘Why can’t we get players like that!’ That was a reminder that Bob is a giant, not just here in New England, but across the country. I honestly can’t think of a better guy to join our site, and he’s got some opinions that will get people talking, trust me.”

 

A Belichick Draft: The Tendencies

New England begins this week with five draft picks: one each in the first, second and third rounds, plus two in the seventh.

No one can read Bill Belichick’s mind (we imagine it’s full of X’s, O’s, and secret fishing spots off of Nantucket). What we can do, however, is look at some of his past draft tendencies and try to plug in players like those taken at previous spots.

For a comprehensive review of the Patriots’ picks since 2000, our round-by-round rundown appeared on BSMW in February. [Read more…]

#BostonStrong on Sports Illustrated Regional Cover

SI-boston

 

SI also features a regional cover this week of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes pumping his fists in the air after beginning a game-winning rally with a double in Saturdays’ emotional victory at Fenway Park. The image falls under the headline: “Strong. Triumph After Tragedy.” SI managing editor Chris Stone on why this regional cover was chosen:

“From a sports context, Boston Strong was the story in New England this weekend, especially on Saturday, the day after the lockdown and the capture of the second of the Marathon bombing suspects. There it is: a Sox player flexing his guns after hitting a double to start a game-winning rally. At that moment, I don’t know if there’s any image that could have better captured the mood.”

Inside SI, senior writer S.L. Price writes that the apparent end to last week’s terror resulted in a weekend to celebrate in Boston, a time for civic pride and a time to proclaim that the Marathon will be bigger and stronger next year. However, as the period of relief settles down, Price says now is the time to ask what can be done to avoid a similar tragedy in the future.

“The celebrations will pass and new tougher, darker questions are going to have to be considered—S.L. Price, who’s been in Boston for more than a week, explains this convincingly and hauntingly in this week’s issue,” says Stone.

Price raises questions about terrorism security at future sporting events. He spoke to Rey Mey, a former FBI counter-terrorism expert now working as an international security consultant. Mey was concerned by the lack of security at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and tells Price that we can’t go forward with the same attitudes toward public safety at sporting events because these types of incidents aren’t going away. He says Marathon day is “really something special. But with the society we live in, it’s never going to be the same. (Page 58)

The future of such events is already changing shape. Price notes that the planning power will shift from event planners to security officials. Sunday’s London Marathon, for instance, was staffed by 40% more police than usual.

Price says: “Marathons that end on congested areas surrounded by storefronts and offices could well find their traditional courses altered…crowds lining the route will face increased scrutiny and hassle, and more popular races could erect temporary, ‘sanitized’ stands for family and friends. Undercover operatives, some armed with pole-cameras that stream back to monitors viewed in real-time, will move among the crowds. Entry fees will rise. Ticketing may become mandatory.” (PAGE 58)

Attempting a Return to Sports and Media

The events of last week will never be forgotten.

As we slowly swing back into our lives, here are a few bits and pieces from the sports media world:

Boston Sports Media Watch comes to Chicago Sports Media Watch – I had a chance last week to speak with a similar type of site to this one based out in Chicago.

As mentioned by Ryan on Thursday, Pete Sheppard takes over the drive time slow at 1510 NBC Sports Radio Boston starting today. While signal remains an issue for 1510 AM, they do have an on-line stream available on their website. It’s another option for those of you who listen on-line while at work in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, at WEEI, it seems that at least some of the weekend shifts that Sheppard had been taking will be taken by Jen Royle, who is on the schedule this Saturday from 1-3 in the afternoon.

The rumors keep flying out of WEEI, but ironically, the bombings last week might’ve been a reprieve for someone like John Dennis. When there is legitimate reason for anger radio, like there was last week, there is no duo better than Dennis and Callahan.

An industry newsletter/blog title Inside Music Media had a post last week  in which an Entercom Boston employee referred to the company CEO as “Kim Jong” Field. The author says “One doesn’t know whether the reference applies to CEO David Field because he is the next in line of family “dictators” or that the son of the boss isn’t quite ready for prime time.

It also had this to say about the “town meeting:”

One who attended said: “Field was not inspiring and uptight. The GM tried to blame others, pointing the finger at staffers..like  a coward. Only pre-submitted and sanitized questions were allowed, the whole charade has made things worse“.

The Entercom Boston cluster has had, according to an employee who attended the town meeting, “a long parade of incompetent management, layoffs, horrendous morale, salaries cut, very high turnover, and failed leadership and finger pointing form (sic) Mr. Field and MS. Kramer“(referring to the recently promoted Weezje Kramer).

To improve morale, GM Jeff Brown bought the staff pizza. Yup.

Maybe they’ll allow them to wear Hawaiian shirts with jeans on Friday, too.

Greg A Bedard signed off in his Sunday NFL Notes yesterday, noting it will be his last edition of the notes. He’ll be with the Globe through the draft this week before he departs to SI and Peter King, but will not have the notes on Sunday.

One name I’ve heard in regards to a possible replacement of Bedard at the Globe has been Ben Volin, who has covered the Dolphins with the Palm Beach Post for the last four seasons. I don’t think he was the first choice for the job, but might be their highest remaining candidate. I’ve attempted to contact Volin, but have not gotten a response from him.

Mike Emrick’s call during Bruins game really hit home – This was Chad Finn’s media column from Friday, where he looked at the call from the veteran announcer at the Bruins game against the Sabres last Wednesday night.

Don’t expect to see Kevin Garnett shaking hands til it’s over – Bill Doyle had Flip Saunders, the former coach of Kevin Garnett with the Timberwolves (and Celtics consultant last spring), and who is now serving as a studio analyst for ABC and ESPN during the NBA playoffs, talking about the competitive fire of KG.

ESPN, NFL Network unveil NFL draft plans – Richard Deitsch looks at how the two networks will battle it out over the draft this week.

The Globe added Baxter Holmes to its roster this season as the new Celtics beat writer. I’ve watched as he’s established himself as a strong company man (lots of retweets/promotion of Globe content) and then on Friday, he came up with a tremendous feature on perimeter defense in the NBA and what makes Avery Bradley so good at it.

If you missed it with everything else going on, be sure to check it out today.

David Ortiz made his feeling about Boston known during his emotional speech on Saturday prior to the first Red Sox game at Fenway since the bombings.

The FCC apparently has no issues at all with Ortiz’s use of an expletive on live TV during the speech. Good for them.

Sports Media Musings: Pete Sheppard to Join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510

We’ll call it “Return of the Meat,” a sequel that took, oh, six days to produce.

On Saturday, a disgruntled Pete Sheppard was airing out Entercom’s dirty laundry on WEEI’s airwaves, offering a poignant resignation to his audience. The following Thursday, Sheppard took to Twitter to announce he is set to join NBC Sports Radio Boston 1510 AM, hosting an afternoon drive show from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.

Sheppard’s debut at his new home talking sports earlier today included veiled shots at his former employer:

“You walk into [1510’s studio] and it is a complete antithesis of what I had to go through very recently. It’s too bad. It’s sad to see what happened over there. I feel bad for my friends, who are still over there, that have to go through this.”

Sheppard’s exodus Saturday continued a trend of startling roster changes to WEEI’s lineup in recent months including the departures of Jon Rish, Glenn Ordway, Kevin Winter, and Jon Meterparel. Save for Ordway, who was fired in February, four out of the five moves were “resignations.” At least that’s what The Suits on Guest Street would have you think.

Meanwhile, NBC Sports Radio 1510, who added Danny Picard‘s popular webcast, “I’m Just Sayin'”, to its lineup just a few months ago, will give a WEEI refugee a chance at his own afternoon drive show.

Thoughts on the move for Sheppard? For NBC 1510? Leave it in the comments section.

@Hadfield__.