Embarrassment All Around In Haggerty/ Minihane Incident

I’m not sure I should be writing about this.

If we’ve learned anything about sports media members, it is that they’ll do anything for attention – good, bad or embarrassing.

Part of me still suspects that at least some of this Joe Haggerty weirdo column and the Kirk Minihane hit piece today was done for attention and that I’m feeding into that by writing about it.

On Haggerty – I find his reaction and excuse-making worse than his actual column.

First it happened because he was tired from working SO hard. Being at the ice early in the morning, and going all day and night and being on TV and then filing the column. Of course, all the other writers covering the team worked the same hours, and they weren’t inserting references to 13-year-old girls into their articles.

Then he threw his editors under bus, saying he just sent it along and figured he’d wake up to a heavily-edited piece. That’s professional pride at work right there. I know it sucks, but the editors have nothing better to do at 2AM, let them clean up my mess.

Then he went on 98.5 and played grab-ass with the Toucher and Rich show, downplaying the seriousness of it, like this sort of thing could happen to anyone.

He deserved to be called out on it, and he was, Deadspin picked up on it, Chad Finn wrote a post about it.

Haggerty’s words from the 98.5 interview, sort of say all you need to know about him:

“I made Deadspin. That’s always a great thing for a journalist. Excellent.”

Well, getting attention was his goal, he achieved it. It’s not like he’s purposely gone out and tried to manufacture a story and bring attention to himself by making it on Deadspin.

Then, this morning, Kirk Minihane weighed in – Hockey writer’s latest misstep hard to fathom.

Minihane acknowledges bad feelings between himself and Haggerty. He hits hard. He makes some very valid points while going so far as to call for a suspension for Haggerty. He also gets personal and it is clear that this whole column has been written because of the bad feelings he has for Haggerty. It is a personal hit piece.

I’m surprised that Rob Bradford and company at WEEI.com actually allowed this column to be published. Unless of course its all about the publicity and looking for clicks. Then it is understandable.

Then followed endless talk on both stations about this “story.” Dennis and Callahan behind their guy Kirk and Toucher and Rich supporting Haggerty. At one point Toucher discussing Minihane, said something along the lines of “Writing for a radio station is like jogging for an accounting firm” whatever that means.

Haggerty writes for a TV station. How is that any different?

There have been a lot of jibes thrown back and forth about trying “actual journalism” and questioning the “journalistic compass” and being “on the edge of trouble journalistically recently” as well as “journalistic indiscretions” and being “everything that’s wrong with journalism.”

In the end though, this is just taking sides and throwing rocks. Haggerty vs Minihane,  WEEI vs TheSportsHub, radio vs TV.

We’ve got the NFL draft starting tonight, the Bruins and Canadiens play game four tonight with the Bruins on the edge of a must-win situation, and the Red Sox finally reached .500 on the season.

And we have to talk about Joe Haggerty and Kirk Minihane?  Why am I writing about this?

THAT is everything that is wrong with the so-called sports media today.

The 2014 Boston Sports Media Mock Draft (Non-NFL Edition)

In the spirit of the mock draft being everywhere (including here) I’ve put together not one, but two mock drafts for your perusal today.

The first draft is more of a “power-rankings” sort of thing. These are the top-30 most influential and powerful media personalities, not counting editors, producers, publishers, etc. These are the folks who create the storylines and talking points that drive the Boston sports media.

The strengths and weaknesses in this list are compiled based on what is going to be attractive to today’s sports media market, which favors sensation and controversy over fact gathering and reporting.

Current Influence/Power Draft

1) Mike Felger, WBZ-FM, CSNNE

Strengths: Intelligent, can spot trends and get on the other side of them. Can argue his side cognitively, and concisely. Above average knowledge of hockey and football. Average baseball, knows more basketball than he puts on.

Weaknesses: Will take a point too far. Not above taking ridiculous positions and  then never backing down. (Cap is Crap!) Dwells in the negative, no matter how successful teams are. Weak partner.

2) Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe

Strengths: Ability to infuriate and insult readers and fans. Above average knowledge of the history of baseball and basketball, and some of Boston sports in general. Always knows how to twist the knife and anger people. Ingratiates himself with people like John Henry Williams just for access.

Weaknesses: Tends to laziness, agenda-riddled, no self-awareness, little to no knowledge of football and hockey.

3) Gerry Callahan, WEEI, Boston Herald

Strengths: Still an excellent columnist. Knows football, baseball and basketball very well. Been on a national stage with SI, knows how things work. Forceful personality.

Weaknesses: Easily blinded by personal beliefs and loyalties. When challenged, resorts to high-school bully act of mocking challenger and doing sarcastic voices.

4) Fred Toucher, WBZ-FM

Strengths: Not Dennis and Callahan. Beating them in the ratings. Occasionally entertaining rants. Can run the show well.

Weaknesses: Below average knowledge of sports.

5) Tom E Curran, CSNNE

Strengths:  Best all around talent in the draft. Can entertain as well as inform. Does well in print, radio and on television, excellent football knowledge and insight. Adequate in other sports. Not a toady, despite suggestions by others. (ask Dr Gill).

Weaknesses: Perceived as football-only.

6) Dale Arnold, WEEI, NESN

Strengths: Experience in market, knowledge of hockey and football. OK with other sports. Hosting on radio and television, chemistry with Michael Holley.

Weaknesses: Personality doesn’t appeal to all, tends to pile on excessively to human interest-type stories.

7) Scott Zolak, WBZ

Strengths: High energy, appealing personality, knowledge of football. Uses experience as ex-NFL QB to provide insight on subject.

Weaknesses: Just OK on other sports, can get carried away on a topic.

8) Kirk Minihane, WEEI

Strengths: Willing to challenge the sports media conventional wisdom and other media members with a pack mentality. Good ability to analyze and debate. Good knowledge of sports.

Weaknesses: Some concern he is being assimilated in to the Dennis and Callahan mindset. Will also attack too harshly at times making recipient of criticism appear more sympathetic.

9) Gary Tangway, CSNNE

Strengths: Innate ability to stir the pot when there is no pot. Plenty of hot takes. Good voice.

Weaknesses: Takes some of the weirdest and nonsensical stands ever seen or heard. Not much in the way of sports knowledge.

10) Lou Merloni, WEEI, CSNNE

Strengths: Excellent baseball analyst. Can provide insight from a former player’s perspective both on and off the field. Decent knowledge of other Boston teams.

Weaknesses: Damnity damn damn. Damn damn damnity damn damn.

11) Chad Finn, Boston.com/Boston Globe

Strengths: Underrated prospect. Rare gift of actually enjoying sports. Can write about all four sports, though baseball is his best. Uses humor, can be critical of but doesn’t needlessly bash local squads. As media columnist, he wields a certain amount in influence.

Weaknesses: Because he enjoy sports, Joe Sullivan will continue to bury him on Boston.com and never give him more than the sports media column in the paper Globe.

12) Mike Reiss, ESPN Boston

Strengths: The gold standard of beat reporters. Get the information, gets it to you quickly, doesn’t muddy the information with personal “takes.” Respected by those he covers, Nicest guy in the business.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t always stand up for himself as much as he probably should.

13) Rob Bradford, WEEI

Strengths: Good relationships on beat. Gets scoops and information. Put together a good group at WEEI.com.

Weaknesses: A voice made for print.

14) Andy Gresh, WBZ-FM, CSNNE

Strengths: Good host, brings energy and passion. Good knowledge of most sports, particularly football.

Weaknesses: Bombastic. Can go overboard with insults or rants.

15) Michael Holley, WEEI

Strengths: Likeable. Good on basketball, football and baseball. Not going to crawl into the morass of negativity so common on sports radio. Not a leading man, but a valuable piece.

Weaknesses: Feel like he should be more assertive, and draw on his “embedded” work with the Patriots more.

16) Rich Shertenlieb, WBZ-FM

Strengths: Other half of duo that knocked Dennis and Callahan from atop the ratings. Most of his bits are pretty good. He’s likable. Doesn’t pretend to know more about sports than he does.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t know a lot about sports. Some bits are repetitive and immature.

17) Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston

Strengths: Great, compelling writer. Few better on the NBA. Can hold her own on other sports.

Weaknesses: Curious dislike of Patriots, while embracing everything Kobe Bryant.

18) Joe Haggerty, CSNNE

Strengths: Gave the hockey beat a much-needed jolt when he joined it. Though he’s more of a baseball guy at heart, he’s fully embraced the role as hockey guy and in many ways is the most visible on the beat. Big self-promoter.

Weaknesses: Known to occasionally make no sense whatsoever.

19) Alex Speier, WEEI

Strengths: Hands down best baseball scribe in town. Knows it all, majors, minors, highly intelligent, can debate anyone and win.

Weaknesses: Keeps a low profile. Not a self-promoter.

20) Kevin Paul Dupont, Boston Globe

Strengths: Successfully made transition from respected NHL authority to professional Twitter troll.

Weaknesses: Obscure references don’t play well with the Twitter crowd.

21) John Dennis, WEEI

Strengths: Biggest bully in the market. Universally loathed, except for a curious group of sycophantic listeners who think he’s awesome and actually wanted to pay money to go to his “bachelor party.”  Wields influence through bully tactics.

Weaknesses: Too many scheduled pedicures reduces his available bullying time.

22) Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald

Strengths: The Dean of the NBA beat here in Boston. Still the best. Great history, a must-follow on Twitter, and the go-to guy for Celtics news.

Weaknesses: Never been a self-promoter. Does his job, lives his life.

23) Adam Jones, WBZ-FM

Strengths: Completely mastered the art of taking the Felger storylines from the afternoon and making a whole new show out of them. Dishes out #hotsportztakes like nobody’s business.

Weaknesses: Only heard at night. Less exposure for his epic takes.

24) Christopher Gasper, Boston Globe

Strengths: Following in the footsteps of the hallowed Bob Ryan, Gasper has managed to carve out his own niche in Boston.

Weaknesses: That niche happens to be “the guy who followed Bob Ryan” in much the same vein as Ray Handley following Bill Parcells.

25) Field Yates, ESPN Boston

Strengths: A rising star, Yates experience with two NFL clubs (including the Patriots) and ability to analyze from that perspective has Yates already appearing on national ESPN programming on a regular basis. Enjoy him while he’s here.

Weaknesses: Outside of a few WEEI appearances there isn’t much in the way of local airtime for him at the moment.

26) Baxter Holmes, Boston Globe

Strengths: Another fast-riser. Best writer I can remember on the Celtics beat for the Globe since the days of MacMullan and Ryan. Hard worker, seems to want to do things the right way. Wrote some great features this year which should’ve been discussed more.

Weaknesses: Another who isn’t much of a self-promoter.

27) Sean McAdam, CSNNE

Strengths: Long time beat writer, knows the game and the team, also very good on hockey. More measured analysis instead of the negative controversy-driven approach. Once called Felger “Mr Baseball.”

Weaknesses: Seems less prominent now than he once was.

28) Mike Giardi, CSNNE

Strengths: Tenacious reporter. Works the stories, good on-camera presence not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Weaknesses: Too skinny.

29) Leah Hextall, NESN

Strengths: Hockey bloodline, appealing personality, can also venture into other sports.

Weaknesses: We haven’t seen her here outside of NESN so hard to gauge full abilities.

30) Rich Levine, CSNNE

Strengths: Shown that an online-only columnist doesn’t have to just be a click-baiting troll to be successful.

Weaknesses: Isn’t enough of a click-baiting troll to be successful enough to rank higher on this list.

How I would rank the same people in terms of what I want from a media person.

1) Tom E Curran

2) Mike Reiss

3) Chad Finn

4) Baxter Holmes

5) Field Yates

6) Mike Felger

7) Alex Speier

8) Scott Zolak

9) Steve Bulpett

10) Kirk Minihane

11) Sean McAdam

12) Michael Holley

13) Gerry Callahan

14) Dale Arnold

15) Mike Giardi

16) Leah Hextall

17) Rich Levine

18) Fred Toucher

19) Rob Bradford

20) Andy Gresh

21) Lou Merloni

22) Rich Shertenlieb

23) Kevin Paul Dupont

24) Joe Haggerty

25) Jackie MacMullan

26) Christopher Gasper

27) Adam Jones

28) John Dennis

29) Gary Tanguay

30) Dan Shaughnessy

Bruins Fans Busy With Their Phones At TD Garden

This information came courtesy of AT&T:

Bruins Playoff Mobile Usage Stats-AT&T

Hockey playoffs are underway! Fans everywhere—Boston included—are cheering on their favorite teams, and we know that they are doing so with their smartphones in hand.

Boston fans are using their smartphones to share their most memorable experiences– from slap shots to shootouts. That’s why AT&T worked to ensure the influx in mobile traffic that Boston hockey fans are using at TD Garden can be handled by its Distributed Antenna System (DAS), which helps increase cellular capacity from inside the venue.

Here’s what we saw from our customers using our Distributed Antenna System (DAS) network at some recent games at TD Garden in Boston:

·         Total data usage from inside TD Garden on 5/1 was 97GB. 97GB is the equivalent to more than 277K social media posts with photos.

o    The data usage on 5/1 was 76%, or 42GB, more than the data usage during the regular season finale on 4/12. That’s equivalent to an additional 120K social media posts with photos being sent or received from the game.

o    The data usage on 5/1 was 27%, or approximately 20GB, more than the average data usage for the first round of the playoffs at TD Garden.

  •   On 5/1, fans uploaded and downloaded the most data from 7-8pm EST. During this hour more than 19GB crossed our in-venue mobile network.

o  Average total data usage from inside TD Garden on 5/1 and 5/3 was 87GB. 87GB is the equivalent to nearly 250K social media posts with photos.

 

Your BSMW Patriots Mock Draft (May Edition) 

Here’s our final New England mock draft, with the actual NFL draft due to begin May 8. If you like comparing the NFL draft to Christmas, this year it takes place in January.

As mentioned in our previous mock, instead of deleting past potential picks, we decided to show our work. For our final attempt, we’ve kept most of our previous picks and added some last gasp comments on each selection, including other potential picks to consider.

Round One: The Versatile Defensive Lineman

Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame (6-6, 312). (Actually 6-5, 304.) (Actually, 299.) Tuitt was diagnosed with a foot injury at the combine and had surgery to correct it. Though unable to participate in his pro day on March 20, he spoke with reporters and mentioned that his weight was down to 299. At the combine, he did put up 31 reps in the 225-pound bench press.

Tuitt played all along the defensive line at South Bend, with 49 stops and 7.5 sacks on the year. He would add a dynamic, versatile pass-rusher to New England’s front seven. Coach Bill Belichick has a friendly relationship with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, a potential window into Tuitt’s abilities and tendencies.

Final Word: Aw, hell. They’re going to trade down, aren’t they? They got Will Smith as veteran insurance, so now they’re going to look at their board and figure they can get Tuitt or somebody similar in the early second round; they’re going to trade this pick and take someone in the second round who needs a year to develop.

Are we over thinking this? Maybe we’re over thinking this. Is it June yet?

Round Two: The Long-limbed Cornerback The Overlooked Defender

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska, (6-3, 215). (Weighed in at 218 pounds.) With the additions of Revis and Browner, we assume the Pats will seek to bolster other parts of the roster.

Their history of picking defenders in the second round has been about as secure as one of those rope bridges in an Indiana Jones movie, with such names as Terence Wheatley, Patrick Chung (yup, that Patrick Chung), Darius Butler, Ras-I Dowling, Tavon Wilson, Ron Brace and Jermaine Cunningham coming to mind. They seem to covet players that other teams may not, which brings us to…

Brock Coyle, Montana LB (6-1, 235). Looking for another athlete who could move around a defense? Someone with the speed of 2013 second-rounder Jamie Collins crossed with the relative anonymity of 2012′s Tavon Wilson? Look no further than Coyle, a combine snub who turned heads at his pro day with a 4.60-second 40 and a 6.74-second 3-cone drill. (For comparison, Shane Vereen had a 6.95 3-cone.)

In 2013, Coyle led the Grizzlies with 125 tackles, including four sacks. He added two interceptions and five forced fumbles. His work on defense earned him Montana’s Co-MVP award with QB Jordan Johnson. Considering the Patriots play sub defense most of the time, this gives Coyle chances to display his positional versatility.

Final Word: We like Jean-Baptiste here, but the team’s history with Round Two picks forces our hand into less familiar territory. Depending on their Round One decision, a D-lineman like Penn State’s DaQuan Jones might fit their needs. Utah cornerback Keith McGill, like Jean-Baptiste, also comes in at a bigger size (6-3, 211) and could get the call here. In any case, we look for them to bolster the defense.

Round Three: The (Other) Big Tight End

C. J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6-6, 262) (Actually 6-5, 265). Due to numerous ailments in the past year, tight end Rob Gronkowski has been sliced up more than an Easter ham. Matthew Mulligan left New England for Chicago in free agency, depleting the team of a butcher-block end, albeit with limited catching ability (two receptions, one TD in 2013). In a limited TE draft class, Fiedorowicz looks like one of the most complete, with a notable ability to block and a size-speed combination (4.76-second 40, 7.10-second 3-cone drill) that makes him a tough match-up. Fiedorowicz caught 23 passes for five touchdowns in 2013. The former Hawkeye made the Senior Bowl and was lauded as the best tight end in attendance. For what it’s worth, two Patriots representatives attended Iowa’s pro day.

Final Word: We assume Troy Niklas from Notre Dame will be gone. Do the Pats trade down again and settle on a plugger like Arthur Lynch out of Georgia (and Dartmouth, Mass.) or an overlooked athlete like Blake Annen out of Cincinnati (he of the 4.41-second 40)? Is their necessity for a faux Gronk overrated, meaning they’ll settle on having an O-lineman block and using in-house personnel as a “move” tight end? (I feel like we should accompany the preceding with soap-opera organ music.) Fun to watch for these developments.

Round Four: The Solid Interior Lineman

Tyler Larsen, Utah State (6-4, 317). (Weighed in at 313 pounds.) Worth repeating that Larsen started 51 consecutive games at Utah State, making the All-Mountain West Conference team three times and qualifying as a Rimington Trophy finalist (for best center) his senior season. He’s an experienced, sturdy pivot who bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times at the combine, tied for second-best overall. The Aggies’ offense scored 32.6 points per game.

Final Word: New England may also seek a tackle here, such as Justin Britt out of Missouri. Still, despite the presence of 2013 starter Eric Wendell and second-year player Braxston Cave on their roster, we see them adding depth in the middle of the line with Larsen.

Round Four (Compensatory): The Hard-hitting Linebacker

Max Bullough, Michigan State (6-4, 250). With both Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher gone to Buffalo and Tampa Bay, respectively, New England could use their extra pick to bulk up a bit in the middle. Bullough quarterbacked the Spartans defense (his coach’s words, not ours). The feisty Spartan made All-Big Ten First Team with 76 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss (1.5 sacks) and a forced fumble. He ran a 4.78 40 and benched 225 pounds 30 times at the combine (top bench for all linebackers at Indy), then ran a 7.08 in the 3-cone at MSU’s pro day.

Bullough missed MSU’s bowl game due to undisclosed reasons (only a vague “violating team rules” was offered). If New England checks him out – and, oh, they will – he could add important depth to the position and contribute right away on special teams.

Final Word: We would still love to know the “undisclosed reasons” but figure the Patriots will get a handle on that. Bullough looks like the kind of nail-spitter the Pats need to take reps in the middle. They could go for Avery Williamson out of Kentucky if they seek better athleticism at the position, or even take their time converting a college defensive end in the Fletcher mode like Aaron Lynch from South Florida.

Round Six: Doubling Down On Round Four

Marcus Martin, USC (6-3, 310). Would be nice, but …

John Urschel, Penn State (6-3, 313). We let Martin go here because the junior has risen up draft boards. We go with two offensive linemen because it seems that the Pats have doubled up each year, nabbing two receivers in 2013 (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce), two defenders in 2012 (Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower) and two running backs in 2011 (Vereen, Stevan Ridley). Urschel played at Penn State under Bill O’Brien, who coached New England’s offense for years. Urschel earned a 4.0 average both as an undergrad and grad student in math.

The former Nittany Lion ran a less-than-spectacular 40 in 5.31 seconds, but he showed good strength (30 reps in the bench press), and agility (7.55-second 3-cone drill, top 10 for all O-linemen). Most importantly, he has experience in a New-England-style offense, and he looks more and more like a Foxboro candidate.

Final Word: We’re sticking with Urschel here. Too much good stuff (brains, brawn, be knowing the Pats’ system – and yes, that last “B” was a stretch), and only a mediocre 40 time against him. Maybe Urschel knows the statistical probability of landing in Foxboro, but we’ll just say it’s pretty good.

Round Six: The Complementary Receiver

Kevin Norwood, Alabama (6-2, 198). We crossed off Norwood after his successful combine – coupled with his SEC pedigree – made him unobtainable in the sixth round.

Cody Hoffman, BYU (6-4, 223). Hoffman’s 4.65-second 40 time should keep him on the board, along with his senior year nagged by injuries. He caught 57 balls for 894 yards and five touchdowns in his last season at Provo after a 100-catch effort with 11 TDs as a junior. This pick would add more variety to a multi-pronged passing attack.

Final Word: In a draft where slot guys seem about as plentiful as fleas on a beach dog, we see New England hunting for larger game here. (You like your metaphors neat, or mixed?) They could take a look at Bennie Fowler (6-1, 217) who left Michigan State early, ran a disappointing 4.52-second 40 at the combine, improved that to 4.35 at his pro day, and showed potential as a pass-catcher. If Rutgers alum Brandon Coleman remains available here, New England will take a long look at him, despite his physical similarity to current Patriot receiver (and Rutgers alum) Mark Harrison.

Round Six (Compensatory Pick?): The Special-Teamer/Quality Backup

Tyler Starr, South Dakota (6-4, 250). Nope. As previously noted, the Pats get their compensatory pick earlier than anticipated. If Starr remains available after the draft, we imagine they’ll give the linebacker a call, especially considering his 6.64-second 3-cone drill and 4.15-second 20-yard shuttle.

Final Word: If the first-round trade goes down as predicted, the Pats could pick up Starr in this area of the draft after all. Someone call former Patriot linebacker/South Dakota alum Matt Chatham and see if he can help this happen.

Round Seven: The Big Defensive Lineman With Potential

Zack Kerr, Delaware (6-2, 334). (Actually 6-1, 326.) Yes, Vince Wilfork is back, but we figured the Pats would look for backup at the end of the draft. Kerr was voted All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team. As much as we liked him, we remembered that the Patriots tend to stick with FBS schools when drafting. So, we’re going with…

Beau Allen, Wisconsin (6-3, 330). Allen makes our list for so many reasons, from size to experience. He played in 54 games for the Badgers, switching to nose guard in a three-man front his senior year after playing tackle in a 4-3 defense most of his career. The change in position accounts for his decreased stats, totaling 20 tackles (1.5 for loss) as a senior after tallying 37 tackles (7.5 for loss) as a junior. In the East-West Shrine Game, Allen played in a 4-3 for former Pats defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

Final Word: This position becomes one of quantity over, well, quantity, in the sense that 300-pound youngsters Chris Jones and Joe Vellano could have some more gravity-enhanced mates. We like Allen a lot, considering his size and consistency. Also, though not a ton (right?!?) of heavy D-linemen will remain available this late, Arkansas State’s Ryan Carrethers qualifies. At 6-1, 337 pounds, he may or may not be related to the Raiders of the Lost Ark boulder, but he rolled over opponents on his way to making the All Sun-Belt Conference First Team.

ROOKIE FREE AGENTS

Under Coach Belichick, the Patriots have signed at least one undrafted free agent almost every fall (receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and punter Ryan Allen are two recent examples). Below, we feature several athletes who may get bypassed during the draft but could easily find their way to Foxboro the following week.

Only one three of these players got invited to the NFL combine (receiver Corey Brown out of Ohio State, Lorenzo Taliaferro out of Coastal Carolina* and Maurice Alexander from Utah State*). We’ve kept our original stats-based comments about each and added combine results or pro day dates.

*recent additions

The Productive Small-School Running Back (Big Version)

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina (6-0, 229). We’ve added Lorenzo in light of Blount heading over to Pittsburgh, as well as the fact the Pats have done well finding bigger backs after the draft (BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brandon Bolden). Taliaferro rushed for 1,729 yards (6.3 avg.) with 27 touchdowns for the Chanticleers while catching 23 passes for 153 yards and two TDs. The Big South Offensive Player of the Year had a solid combine, running a 4.58 40 with a 6.88 3-cone drill. As mentioned in our Senior Bowl review, Taliaferro complemented tough running with solid pass-blocking skills.

Final Word: Taliaferro has done well in his post-season campaign and could get picked up late on Day Three. For your consideration, Stephen Houston out of Indiana (5-11, 225) wowed pro day scouts with a 40-inch vertical and 11-foot broad jump. Both measurements would have made top three for running backs at the NFL combine. Houston averaged 6.7 yards per carry for the Hoosiers (112 for 753).

The Productive Small-School Running Back (Pocket Version)

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (5-7, 208). (Actually 5-6.) After Vereen went on the temporary disabled list thingy (or whatever the hell it’s called) for over half of last season, the Patriots found themselves without a prototypical third-down back. Oliver fits that bill, making the All-MAC First Team with 1,535 yards rushing with (5.0-yard avg.) and a head-shaking 15 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 173 yards and one TD. The bullish Bull ran a 4.62 40, which will keep him undrafted but won’t affect his overall effectiveness: he also ran a 7.04 3-cone and benched 225 pounds 26 times.

Final Word: We love Oliver but came across a Bill Belichick connection at this position worth mentioning. Kansas’ James Sims (5-10, 207) rushed for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons under Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis (former Patriots offensive coordinator – but you probably knew that already). Sims made the AP All Big-12 First Team in 2013.

The Underrated Middle Linebacker

Greg Blair, Cincinnati (6-1, 252). (Actually 244.) Even after the hypothetical Bullough pick, Blair could contribute in New England. He led the Bearcats with 106 tackles with seven for loss (one sack). He also broke up three passes and forced one fumble.

The Patriots made a productive Cincinnati selection by picking up undrafted rookie Thompkins at receiver last year. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them return to that source in some capacity.

Final Word: Blair showing up at his pro day under 250 pounds makes us turn our attention to a local product with an idyllic football name. Steele Divitto led Boston College with 107 tackles. The 6-2, 241-pounder from Ridgefield, Connecticut made the switch from strong side to middle ‘backer this season. He ran a respectable 4.72 40 and a noteworthy 6.91 3-cone at his pro day.

The Pass-catching Fullback/Tight End Hybrid

Gator Hoskins, Marshall (6-1, 244). (Actually 6-2, 253.) Hoskins made our Senior Bowl review, and he stays on this list as a potential “move” tight end with the ability to line up anywhere on the field. He should go undrafted after a pro day that included a disappointing 4.73-second 40 and a so-so 7.22-second 3-cone. Hoskins led all tight ends in the country with 13 touchdown passes. In 2013, he had 44 catches and averaged almost 17 yards per grab.

Final Word: Though not a pass-catcher (in fact, he’s not really a fullback), Wake Forest defensive lineman Nikita Whitlock could get some consideration. Playing nose guard in the ACC at 5-10, 250 pounds was a tall task (Ha! Tall. Get it?) and Whitlock nailed it, finishing the season with 82 tackles, including 19 for loss (nine sacks). Whitlock got some notice in our Combine Snubs series by benching 225 pounds 43 times, which bested the top combine number this year. He could join former Foxboro denizen Dan Klecko and current Patriot James Develin as another D-lineman converted to fullback.

The Small-School ‘Tweener Defender

Jerry “BooBoo” Gates, Bowling Green (5-10, 227). (Actually 5-11, 203.) BooBoo had a noteworthy pro day, but perhaps most noteworthy was the discrepancy between his previously listed weight and what the scale read. Bye-bye, BooBoo old pal.

Maurice Alexander, Utah State (6-1, 220). We made the switch to Alexander here, who had a 38-inch vertical at the combine, along with a 7.05-second 3-cone drill and a respectable 4.54 40. An All-Mountain West Honorable Mention, Alexander had 80 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and nine tackles for loss.

Final Word: Lots to like about Alexander, but we have another submission in this category (even though Georgia Tech fails to qualify as a small school). Outside linebacker Brandon Watts (6-2, 225) ran a 4.41 40 and a 6.89 3-cone at the Yellowjackets’ pro day. Watts’ performance, along with his 66 tackles and one interception in 2013, should ease any skepticism about a potential switch to NFL strong safety.

The Raw Receiver

Corey “Philly” Brown, Ohio State (5-11, 190). (Actually 178 pounds.) We liked Brown because he led all Buckeyes with 63 catches, as well as because of Belichick’s  connection to OSU coach Urban Meyer, but really: what the hell are the Pats going to do with another slot guy?

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (6-0, 210). Not unlike Julian Edelman, this college QB should make a switch to pass-catcher in the pros; he displayed the potential to do so at his pro day, running a 4.44 40, a 3.83-second 20-yard shuttle, a 39-inch vertical and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump. All of those scores would have been top six for combine receivers. As the Husker head honcho, Martinez rushed for 117 yards in four games before missing the rest of the season with an injury. As a junior, he compiled 1,019 yards rushing (10 TDs) and 2,871 yards passing (62 percent completion rate).

Final Word: Sure, Martinez seems raw, but the guy we have in mind has the perfect surname for this category. USC’s Kevin Greene caught zero passes in his college career, working mainly as a special-teamer and backup defensive end. He finished his four years as a Trojan with eight career tackles. Now, after an impressive pro day that included a 4.40 40 and a 6.94 3-cone, Greene has shown his willingness to take on any position available, working out as both pass-rusher and tight end. So why not big, raw receiver? New England does have some history with taking a chance on an untested Trojan product (um… let’s just move on). They took QB Matt Cassel – he of the 19-of-33 college passing career – in the seventh round.

The Backup QB For Grooming

Tommy Rees, Notre Dame (6-2, 214). Seemed like a good idea at the time. However …

Garrett Gilbert, SMU (6-3, 225). Oof. We move away from Gilbert after discovering he had a great pro day on March 28, good enough to get this productive signal-caller (3,528 yards and 21 touchdowns) into the thick of the draft’s Day Three. Seriously: if he ends up as a rookie free agent, New England needs to get this guy.

Brendon Kay, Cincinnati (6-3, 226). Kay completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,302 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also had a great pro day, running a 4.63-second 40, traveling 10 feet, one inch in the broad jump, and completing the 3-cone drill in 6.99 seconds.

Two Belichickian connections: Kay was recruited by current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was at Cincinnati until 2009. Also, aforementioned Bearcat and current Pats receiver Thompkins played with Kay in 2012.

Final Word: Lots to like here, as either Gilbert (if undrafted) or Kay could come into camp and provide solid summer back-up with potential to stick. One other name to watch? Casey Pachall out of TCU, who has had a shall-we-say-interesting couple of years. Pachall left campus in the fall of 2012 to enter rehab after a DUI arrest; he came back to school and fought for the starting job in 2013, only to break his left arm last September and miss over five games. As a sophomore (his final full season), he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,921 yards (25 TDs, 7 INTs). If New England can provide him with the right support, he has potential to produce at the NFL level.

The Rutgers Guy

Antwan Lowery, Offensive Guard (6-3, 310). (Actually 329 at his March pro day.) Rutgers rookies to Foxboro = swallows to Capistrano. Lowery had an injury-riddled senior year but was honored as a First Team All-Big East offensive lineman as a junior. He was invited to the East-West Shrine Game. Went from a defensive lineman as a redshirt freshman to the offensive line. Has battled weight issues but plans on getting down to about 320 before the draft.

Final Word: Of all the Rutgers players picked up by Coach Belichick over the past few years, it’s rare to find offensive linemen. That’s why we’ll offer outside linebacker Jamal Merrell (not to be confused with twin brother Jamil, a defensive end). Jamal had 38 tackles, two interceptions, and two blocked kicks in 2014. At 6-4, 230 pounds, he projects to special teams and an occasional sub defender.

The Other Rutgers Guy/Utility Player/Special Teamer 

Jeremy Deering, Free Safety (6-1, 200). We felt we had to add this category after the Scarlet Knight ran a reported 4.33-second 40 at his pro day. Deering did a little of everything at Piscataway, including run the Wildcat as a QB his freshman year (averaging 4.6 yards per carry). After switching to safety full-time as a senior, he tallied 39 tackles and one interception. Over his career, he averaged 26.8 yards per kick return, including a 99-yard take-back his sophomore year. Also caught 16 passes for 338 yards as a freshman (21.1 avg).

Final Word: We feel tempted to put Jamil Merrell here, but, seriously, we would find it difficult to construct a more perfect potential Patriot than Deering. Looking forward to seeing him and a half-dozen of his classmates in July.

Any college players we didn’t mention whom you think the Gillette jefes will bring in, please give us your thoughts below.

Chris Warner can be reached via email at chris. [email protected] or through Twitter at @cwarn89

 

 

Bruins Go Down In Double OT Game One Loss

The Bruins dropped game one of their second round series with the Montreal Canadiens at the Garden last night, falling 4-3 in double overtime. The Bruins had their chances to win this one, but couldn’t get the big goal when it counted.

As predictable as the sun coming up, Mr Bruins Dan Shaughnessy writes about ghosts and fear and worry this morning, while in his own paper, Fluto Shinzawa writes that if the Bruins just keep playing as they did last night, they’ll be fine. That opinion seems to be the consensus of most of the other writers who actually follow hockey, such as DJ Bean, Joe McDonald, Steve Conroy.

Get all the coverage from last night at BruinsLinks.com If you’re looking for Bruins playoff tickets visit our ticket page.

Bruins’ radio voice Goucher thinks this is how playoff hockey should be – Bill Doyle spoke to Dave Goucher prior to last night’s game one.

TV coverage of Donald Sterling saga was top-notch – Chad Finn applauds the coverage by TNT, NBA TV and ESPN this week on the racist comments by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

EPIX – A network available online and on many portable and streaming devices will be premiering a special on David Ortiz entitled “David Ortiz: In the Moment” on July 17th.

The documentary follows the nine-time MLB All-Star, three-time World Series champion and Red Sox legend during the past two seasons, including Boston’s championship run last fall and the drama on and off the field that the nation witnessed throughout a very emotional run to the title for both the city and the club.

For more on how to get EPIX and see the documentary, click the link above.

Bruins Round Two Ticket Prices Fetching Highest Prices

This interesting little infographic shows that the Bruins have the highest average ticket prices in the league for the second round of the playoffs. The average price for a Bruins ticket has doubled over what they were for the first round.

It also shows that they have the best Vegas odds at this points as well.

Bruins Window Slamming Shut

They’re wasting Tom Brady’s Zdeno Chara’s prime!

He has maybe 3 or 4 years left at the very most and they don’t have a replacement on the roster yet! What are they going to do when Brady Chara retires????  He doesn’t have enough help! Belichick Chiarelli has been wasting draft picks and instead going for system players! Sure, Robert Kraft Jeremy Jacobs spends to the cap every year, but he still cheaps out when it comes to putting his team over the top.

The window is slamming shut! If they don’t win another Super Bowl Stanley Cup then the entire Belichick/Brady Chiarelli/Chara era will have been a major disappointment!

The Patriots Bruins didn’t do enough in free agency at the trade deadline and it will come back to haunt them.

The Patriots Bruins pretend like they don’t get calls don’t flop and yet they are the worst offenders in the league! The Denver Broncos Montreal Canadiens play a style that that is going to give YOU fits and you homers always think that Tom Brady Tuukka Rask is better than Peyton Manning Carey Price when really most objective people think otherwise.

We can play this game all day. Sports radio and columns have really just become Mad Libs. Let’s trot out a storyline and just fill in the blanks. BOOM. Column or segment, DONE.

Can’t we just enjoy what promises to be an intense, emotional and exhausting series without all the ancillary angst and storylines?

It starts tonight. Get all the coverage (much of it very good) at BruinsLinks.com.

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It was interesting monitoring Twitter yesterday afternoon as reporters scrambled to report first that the Red Sox game last night had been postponed due to rain – many reported it before the club officially announced it – and then about the double-header scheduled for today. The Rays were complaining about it, and saying that it wasn’t official, even after the Red Sox had announced the schedule for today.

What we didn’t know, or at least wasn’t clearly explained, was that the Red Sox and Cubs have special rules when it comes to rescheduling games.

Zobrist: After rainout, Sox pushed doubleheader on Rays

But, the teams will return to Fenway today for a day/night doubleheader because none of that mattered. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Red Sox have the final say in this matter and they wanted to play two Thursday.

“We were told that in the Basic Agreement there is a grey area for teams like Boston and Chicago (Cubs) to basically exercise their own right to do what they want to do. So that’s what they did. Major League Baseball told us it was (the Red Sox) decision and they chose to do a doubleheader (today),” Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist said.

Interestingly, I can’t find this in any of the local newspapers/sites. It might be there somewhere, but my first look through didn’t show it anywhere, it was mostly about how the Red Sox tried as a courtesy to work something out, but ultimately it was decided to play today. (Which is also in doubt.)

The other part of this is that last night was supposed to be Dustin Pedroia bobblehead night, and while the team says they don’t have space tp store the bobbleheads in Fenway, the real reason is likely the uproar that would come from those who thought they were getting one last night and it turned out to be pushed off weeks or months away. Bobbleheads are serious business.

Bruins Set To Flop Around Against Canadiens Tomorrow Night

I guess we shouldn’t be all that shocked, but now Boston sports radio and online columnists are taking their talking points from Montreal blogs?

Dive Files: The Bruins are the NHL’s uncontested emperors of embellishment

I’ve heard Felger and Mazz, Mike Mutnansky, Adam Jones and, over on Boston.com, Eric Wilbur tell us that the Bruins can’t talk about Montreal flopping because they do it just as much.

I guess that’s your storyline for this series, for them at least.

The series begins tomorrow night with game one at TD Garden at 7:30. The game will be seen only on the NBC Sports Network.

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Nice post from the Shaughnessy Watch blog on the latest from the Globe columnist.

Color Him Wrong

Comparing Adam Silver to Kenesaw Mountain Landis might not have been the best comparison.

Dennis and Callahan are in all their glory on the Donald Sterling story. There’s nothing those guys enjoy more than a good discussion on race. (Well, except perhaps talking about prison rape, but I digress.) Whenever Gerry Callahan can mention Al Sharpton’s name every five minutes, it’s a good day for him.

Briefly – Like just about everyone else, I was incredibly impressed with Adam Silver yesterday. Maybe my expectations were low coming in, but his authority came across in a strong way.  That press conference was a great moment for the future of the NBA.

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According to the network, Jerry Remy missed last night’s game due to “similar symptoms” to a stomach flu that a “few members of NESN’s Red Sox traveling crew have recently suffered from.”

While that could be completely legitimate, the red flags aways go up when Remy misses a game, and especially when the wording is a bit ambiguous like this was.

Steve Lyons filled in for Remy last night, and he was pretty much as we remember in the booth. He did seem to have some good chemistry with Don Orsillo, who has shown the ability to work with just about anyone. Lyons talks alot in the booth, which could’ve been an adjustment for Orsillo, but they worked pretty well together. They had some light moments, of which there actually haven’t been that many of thus far this season due to obvious reasons.

They said that Remy would be back in the booth for tonight, so we’ll keep an eye on that.

Combine Snubs’ Pro Daze, Part III

Here’s our wrap-up of the best performances from those NFL hopefuls who didn’t get invited to the February combine at Indianapolis. You can link to Part I from March here and Part II from early April here.

From what we could tell (with lots of help from Gil Brandt’s pro day blog on NFL.com), four non-invitees did the best nationwide in combine events, as you’ll see below. Lots of depth in this draft, athletically speaking.

First, a pair of brief updates on late top performances: [Read more...]

Bruins Take Wings To Brink, Jared Not Doing Jerry Any Favors

The Bruins pushed the Detroit Red Wings to the brink of elimination after a hard-fought 3-2 OT win at Joe Louis Arena last night. Boston now leads the series 3-1 and has a chance to close things out tomorrow at home.

That 3:00pm game will NOT be broadcast on NESN (the channel will still have pre and post game coverage, as will CSNNE) but will instead be on NBC.

Get all the Bruins coverage today and this weekend at BruinsLinks.com.

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The Jared Remy situation is not going away quietly. The son of Red Sox NESN color analyst Jerry Remy isn’t doing his father any favors with his reported letters to Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan and reporter Laurel J. Sweet.

Jared Remy’s jailhouse screed: Leave my dad out of this

The younger Remy was also in the news recently for his reported attack on another inmate earlier this month.

Meanwhile Jerry Remy continues on the air on NESN. I’ve made my case on this already, and it seems like what I feared is happening – this isn’t going away, and the more incidents that Jared has while in prison, and the more information that comes out  – does that have an impact on how people are viewing Jerry Remy on the Red Sox broadcasts?

I think Jerry Remy has actually been very good this season – he seems to have picked things up a notch in terms of his analysis, and while he’s still goofing with Don Orsillo at times, much of the ancillary stuff that was getting annoying in the past has been eliminated or toned down.

It still feels like this is going to come to a head at some point and not end well for Jerry Remy. Does NESN ever say “enough?”

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Patriots cleared of mishandling injury reports

There was quite a bit made out of statements from former Patriots Brandon Spikes and Aqib Talib on the matter of the team and their reporting of injuries. Ben Volin reports that there has been found to be nothing to those allegations.

The allegations were played up quite a bit in the national media:

I’m sure all these will be cleared up now…

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It’s cute that Christopher Gasper thinks we should give the Red Sox the benefit of the doubt because they’ve had lots of injuries and have not been able to get their full lineup out on the field.

I haven’t listened to a ton of sports radio as of late, but in the afternoons I’m finding that the renewed Dale and Holley show is much more appealing than Felger and Mazz, who every time I’ve turned in have been ripping the Bruins in Patriots-like fashion. Can’t be all puppies and unicorns.

I’ve checked in on The Big Show Unfiltered from time to time, and it’s nice to have that there as an option as well. After a lot of buzz at launch time, it will be interesting to see how things develop there and if they can keep is going and growing.

I wonder how many more hockey columns Mr Bruin, Dan Shaughnessy will have for us in the coming weeks. Bruins fans would just as well have Shaughnessy continue to ignore their team.

If Roger Goodell hadn’t messed with the schedule, we’d be having the NFL draft this week. Now it is still two weeks away. Now there’s talk of extended the draft to FOUR days in the future. Goodell seems determined to kill the golden goose by trying to mess up as many thing good things as he can. They’re just going to keep pushing and pushing, Thursday night games…when do Tuesday night games start? More playoff teams? Why not have all teams make the playoffs? 18 game schedule? Let’s for an even 20. Team in London? Let’s go to Moscow while we’re at it.