Just as suspected, Patriots draft a quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo

The Patriots are looking toward the future. With the 62nd pick of the NFL draft, they selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to back up Tom Brady.

The Patriots had tried to dismiss any claims that they were looking more closely at quarterbacks despite reportedly visiting with 12 quarterbacks this offseason. Garoppolo was one of those the Patriots had met with.

He was the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner and the FCS ADA offensive player of the year. In 14 games in 2013, he threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns, completing 66 percent of his throws and throwing only nine interceptions. He’s 6-2 and 226 pounds.

“I can’t imagine a better situation,” Garoppolo told a National TV audience. “It’s a dream scenario.”

Read the full post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

Mayor Walsh: ‘I’d love to host the NFL draft in Boston’

Following a report that stated that Boston applied to host the NFL draft, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has said he would welcome the NFL’s signature offseason event as a fan of the game.

“As a Patriots season ticket holder, I’d love to host the NFL draft in Boston,” Walsh said in a statement to Boston.com. “We have the resources and infrastructure to do it — the hotels, convention space, the tourism amenities — and we would welcome the opportunity.”

There is no formal process for applying to host the draft, which has been held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City since 1965. A dozen cities have shown interest in hosting the draft, according to an NFL spokesperson, including Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, four additional locations than were named in the initial report. Mayor Walsh spoke directly with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to express his interest.

Read the rest of this post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

Patriots have shown a strong interest in quarterbacks

The NFL draft is 20 days away.

If you’re like me, you’ve been watching with intensity which players the Patriots have blessed with their interest.

Each team in the NFL gets 30 out-of-town visits, and that’s what’s been the buzz of late, but there are also numerous pro days to attend, local athletes to evaluate, and that’s all in addition to the information teams have on hand because of the NFL Scouting Combine.

So while we were monitoring the visits, the totality and accuracy of which we’ll never truly know, we noticed a trend developing. And no, this is not your average Scarlet Knight connection. (Although there’s a surprising lack of those guys associated with the Patriots.)

In 62 reported visits/workouts/Pro Days for the Patriots since the Senior Bowl, according to WalterFootball.com, the Patriots have made contact with 10 quarterbacks and 10 defensive backs, the most of the group. Nine have been defensive linemen. Eight have been linebackers. Seven have been wide receivers. And then there have been six tight ends, running backs and offensive linemen each. With so many QBs and DBs on the list, there’s credence to the theory that the Patriots are going after another backup quarterback for Tom Brady and aren’t finished with their work in the secondary.

That shouldn’t be a surprise. The Denver Broncos’ passing attack made mince meat of the Patriots in the AFC Championship and the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive blueprint — tall corners, capable defensive line — seems to be the motivation du jour. Brady, who will be 37 in August — insert obligatory groan — is not getting any younger. So Bill Belichick and company are working the short game and the long game, which is what you want your franchise to do.

Adding Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as another secondary piece, addresses the immediate concern back deep. Addressing the quarterback situation, as usual, is sticky because Brady has already outplayed many of his colleagues into his late 30s. There’s also the notion to consider that the Patriots are simply performing their due diligence on future opposing players. That has to be taken into consideration. But long-term planning, with the number of players receiving interest via workouts or meetings, doesn’t appear to be off the agenda either.

Who are the quarterbacks?

Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater
Eastern Illinois’s Jimmy Garoppolo
Ohio State’s Kenny Guiton
Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel
Alabama’s A.J. McCarron
LSU’s Zach Mettenberger
Georgia’s Aaron Murray
South Carolina’s Connor Shaw
Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas
Ball State’s Keith Wenning

Read the rest of this post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

Some work from April and early May

I’ve been out of it again. That’s just the way it is on this site in the month of March, April and May. I’m too busy doing non-football related things to really get a chance to post here.

But I wanted to make sure I got a chance to highlight some of the things I’ve written and produced in the last month and a half. After the Boston Marathon bombing, a good portion of my time went to Patriots coverage and the NFL Draft, which was April 25-27. I wrote a number of items on the draft and ran our live coverage of the event on Boston.com. (You can find an archive of that coverage here.) I was also did some video, both producing and appearing on air.

And then I’ve also been writing a new weekly feature in the Extra Points Patriots blog on Boston.com called “Patscetera.” It’s basically a catch-all for interesting items and commentary. So far, so good with that. You can read a new one each Friday on the site. I’ll try and link it up here more regularly going forward. No promises, though.

Here’s a look at what my last month and a half has been like.

Hopefully I don’t take this long to send in another update again. And hopefully I’m doing more video, on air.

Until next time.

Five draft prospects that keep popping up – Boston.com

The NFL Draft Combine is still in the throes of devouring its young, with linebackers and defensive linemen going through drills today. Defensive backs will take the field Tuesday. But in the week of buildup toward the combine’s conclusion, more than a few names have been tossed about with relation to the Patriots. Here’s a rundown of who has been mentioned, as well as any pertinent information.

1. Florida safety Matt Elam — The hard-hitting safety is one of the best rated defensive backs on the board, so it’s no wonder his name has been connected with the Patriots after the team finished a paltry 29th in pass defense. As a Florida football player, Elam has connections with former Gators Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Jermaine Cunningham, and Jeff Demps. But his game speaks for itself. He tallied 76 tackles, 2 sacks, and 11 tackles for a loss. He was first team All-SEC and first team AP All-American. It’ll be tough if he makes it to No. 29, but he’s definitely on the radar. We’ll see more details on Elam when he works out on Tuesday.

2. West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin — What’s the likelihood that there are two guys named Tavon on the Patriots? After the way Austin’s name was thrown around by mock drafters and media folks, you’d think it was a done deal. Austin ran a 4.34 40-yard dash Sunday. In his senior season for West Virginia, he was all over the field as a returner, receiver, and in the back field. He caught 111 passes for 1,287 yards, ran for 652 yards on 73 carries, and averaged 25.1 yards on kickoff returns. He totalled 17 touchdowns on the season. He’s only 5-feet, 8-inches and weighs 174 pounds. So he fits the mold of another slot-like wide receiver. But he has the versatility to be moved around, an attribute Bill Belichick thoroughly values.

See more of my original post on Boston.com: Five draft prospects that keep popping up – Extra Points – Boston.com.

Patriots draft prospectus

Editor’s note: This was written for Boston.com.

Possible Patriots draft picks. (Boston.com)

Before considering whether or not the Patriots will trade away either of their two picks (Nos. 27 and 31) in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, which is in the “likely” column, one first has to consider whether or not there is any value in staying put. The key word, as it always is for coach Bill Belichick and company, is value. Do the Patriots envision any more value in multiplying the picks they have in the second round (two, 48 and 62), or the third (93) and fourth rounds (126)? Doing so changes the board for the Pats dramatically. So when considering the Patriots draft prospects, one has to consider the positioning, the projected talent, and then begin throwing darts at a board. Here’s where our darts landed.

Better late than never?

Colin Kaepernick
The 49ers were smart to wait till the second round to select Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.
In the 2011 NFL draft, there were five quarterbacks selected before the San Francisco 49ers picked Alex Smith’s replacement. The 49ers, a franchise without a legitimate leader under center since Jeff Garcia was given the boot, passed on its first opportunity to select a QB in the first round. It can be hard to make a decision as dynamic as a quarterback selection. Literally speaking, the franchise hinges on it. You could end up with a Joe Montana or a Jim Drunkenmiller.

So in all the knee-jerk glory and perspective that is the NFL draft, it was hard to not hate the 49ers’ decision to pass up on the likes of Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and, yes, Ryan Mallett. With the No. 7 pick in the first round, the 49ers brass decided to go with defensive end Aldon Smith out of Missouri — Gabbert’s teammate. With time, I’ve come to terms with their decision because, simply, after Cam Newton’s selection (at No. 1 overall) the quality of talent in the draft pool dropped significantly.

Stop for a second and think about the NFL draft in terms of value over need. (With all this time in New England covering the Patriots, that word is starting to stick with me.) The 49ers were drafting based on value. Value — not need — determined who they took at the No. 7 spot. And value, not need, is what kept them for choosing a quarterback in the first round. It’s widely known that the cost of an NFL quarterback in the draft is outrageous. With Newton as the top pick, the pay scale for the 2011 rookies is likely to blow the minds of every NFL owner if this lockout is ever resolved. (And a rookie wage scale may avert this problem in the future.) With the economics of the draft tied so closely into the maneuverability for franchises, particularly in free agency, passing on quarterbacks and running backs is almost the prudent thing to do when you’re drafting higher than the No. 3 pick.
Continue reading “Better late than never?”

All in due time

Aldon Smith
Defensive end Aldon Smith, the first-round draft pick of San Francisco 49ers, holds up a jersey at a news conference at the team's training facility in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP photo)

In a perfect world, I would’ve already expressed my concern about the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. That is, if concern is the most appropriate feeling. And I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s been the dominant feeling about both of those football teams for, oh, the last decade.

Instead, I’ve been busy doing Patriots coverage of the NFL draft over on the Extra Points blog for Boston.com. So excuse me as I continue my amateurish ways and hold off on posting something so immediately.

I think some post-draft analysis will be appropriate given the circumstances.

Until then, follow along on Twitter at @zuriberry.

NFL draft coverage: Who will the 49ers pick?

OK, I really don’t care who they pick. I’m really more interested in what they pick with their first pick of the 2010 NFL draft.

Will it be a quarterback? A wide receiver? A running back? That’s really what’s important.

Readers of this blog will know from prior posts where I stand. The San Francisco 49ers need a quarterback. They continue to sign and trade for receivers as if the team has a receivers problem. Arnaz Battle wasn’t the problem. And Ted Ginn Jr. is not the answer.

Neither is David Carr.

Every problem with the 49ers offense — and I mean every problem — falls at the feet of Alex Smith. He’s a former No. 1 pick that’s not a No. 1 quarterback. That’s plain and simple to me.

No offense to Smith, but 2010-11 cannot be his year for the sake of my sanity. This year, like last year (and the year before that), the 49ers need to go in a different direction.

So what will it be? Jimmy Clausen (above) looks kinda sexy at No. 13 … or No. 17.