Curran: The Draft According to Me

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Curran: The Draft According to Me

"So who the Patriots picking?"

It's an innocent question posed by people who know what I do for work. Same as me asking a CPA on April 12, "So, you kinda busy with taxes?"

In both instances, the person posing the question knows the answer.

My answer: "Man, hard to say. Tell me who's there and I'll tell you who they'll take."

The CPA's: "Taxes are due in three days, what do you think, moron?"

It's with that in mind that I present to you my annual draft day treatise on what the Patriots should do and what they will do in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.

All rights to gloat if this particular blind squirrel finds a nut? Reserved.

No. 27
WILL DO
Last year, Bill Belichick raved about the front-seven talent in the draft, specifically the edge rushers. So I did everything but build a wooden altar to Cam Jordan and then the Patriots passed on him. This year, they don't pass, they take the edge rusher and his name is Shea McCellin from Boise State. Does it give me pause that Mike Mayock has the Patriots taking Nick Perry? Sure. And it gives me even more pause that Mike Lombardi has them taking Vinny Curry from Marshall. Any of the above will work. McClellin works best, though, and his smarts win out for a team that was burned by going for athleticism with Jermaine Cunningham in the second round two years ago.

SHOULD DO
I'm good with Shea McClellin as well. If, as Mayock says, this is a 10-year NFL starter Mayock will bang the table for, that's good enough for me.

No. 31

WILL DO
The Patriots trade back right here. They get a team in the 30s that's got an itchy trigger-finger to move up, the Patriots fall back to the spot in the 30s and take free safety Harrison Smith while adding a third in 2013.

SHOULD DO
It's too early for Harrison Smith who can be had by dealing back into the second round. It's probably too early for a wide receiver that the team has any reservations about as well. It's not too early to go safe on the offensive line, though, and 6-4, 314-pound Kevin Zeitler -- a guard from Wisconsin -- is the pick here. Kendall Reyes is also a recommendation here and that's even if they've taken McClellin.

No. 48
WILL DO
Having grabbed Smith and McClellin and still needing some late-draft picks so they aren't idle in Rounds 5-7, the Patriots trade again, dealing back and adding picks for Saturday. If they do not deal, look for them to take either Vinny Curry (Lombardi must know something) or watch out for a surprise pick with South Florida's Jeremiah Warren, a guardcenter.

SHOULD DO
Going by what they've done in the Draft According to Me, they've gotten a defensive end and an offensive lineman. Now it's time to get a young, strong, smart, productive wide receiver and that's Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers.

No. 62

WILL DO
Now we're deep into the Best Player Available portion of the program. There's good and varied depth at running back and wide receiver, though, and the Patriots are going to find the successor to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and grab Virginia Tech's David Wilson here because they are stunned -- stunned -- to see him still on the board.

SHOULD DOPatriots need to go Best Fatty Available here. Try and find the low-cost replacement to Vince Wilfork with a guy who's got some upside but question marks to conquer. Belichick loves to go risky in Round 2 and the pick in that case should be Alabama nose tackle Josh Chapman.

Flashback: Belichick breaks down lasting impact of Buddy Ryan's '46' defense

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Flashback: Belichick breaks down lasting impact of Buddy Ryan's '46' defense

When news broke on Tuesday of Buddy Ryan's passing, it wasn't very long before the NFL community at large paid tribute to one of the most well-respected defensive minds in the history of the league. 

Ryan, a longtime coordinator and head coach, leaves a legacy that includes two sons -- Rex and Rob -- who have carved out length careers spent on NFL sidelines. His legacy also includes a defensive scheme that confounded offenses, particularly in 1985, when the Bears '46' defense dominated all comers. With eight men in the box and just three defensive backs, Ryan's defense could be as confusing for quarterbacks as it was intimidating.

On the day of Ryan's passing, we can add to the list of Ryan rememberances a long quote from a Bill Belichick press conference back in 2012. The Patriots were getting ready to play Rex Ryan's Jets, but as the topic of conversation shifted away from the game itself and toward football philosophies, Belichick explained how Ryan's '46' defense changed the game, and where it can still be seen today. 

(To see the video of the press conference, you can head here. It's a bit slow for the first six or seven minutes, but when Belichick is asked about the idea behind being a "game-plan offense" and which coaches inspired him to take that mindset into his own career, things start rolling. Belichick rattles off the names of those who influenced him, including Annapolis High coach Al Laramore, Phillips Andover's Steve Sorota, Navy coach Wayne Hardin, Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda and several others. He calls the list of coaches who educated him -- including his father, of course -- a "menagerie." If you're into those types of Belichick responses about football philosophy and his own personal football upbringing, it's a video that's worth your time.)

Here is Belichick's response to a question from Sports Illustrated's Greg Bedard, then of the Boston Globe, concerning Ryan and his '46' scheme. A tip of the hat to Chris B. Brown of Smart Football for pointing out the quote on Twitter early Tuesday. 

Q: You mentioned Buddy Ryan earlier. How come we don’t see more 46 defense? I’m not talking about for a full season – not everybody is the ’85 Bears, but in a one-game situation. Is it because of the quarterbacks and the shotgun?

BB: "A lot of the success that Buddy had with the 46 defense came in the ‘80s when there was a lot of two-back offense. It was one of the things that probably drove the two-back offense out. If you remember back in the ‘80s when Buddy was in Philadelphia, he had a lot of trouble with the Redskins and their one-back offense, a lot of trouble. There were a lot of mismatches of Art Monk and Gary Clark on the middle linebacker and stuff like that.

"I think the 46 was really originally built for two-back offenses, whether it be the red, brown, blue and the flat-back type offenses and eventually even the I-formation. I think it still has a lot of good application; a lot of teams use it in goal-line situations. They either use a version of it like a 5-3 or cover the guards and the center and however you want to quite fit the rest of it, but that principle you see a lot in goal-line, short yardage situations. You see it and some teams have it as part of their two-back defensive package.

"As it has gone to one-back and it’s gotten more spread out, if you’re playing that, it kind of forces you defensively to be in a one-linebacker set. You lose that second linebacker and depending on where the back lines up and what coverage you’re playing, then there’s some issues with that. If you’re in a one linebacker defense and you move the back over and the linebacker moves over then you’re kind of out-leveraged to the back side. If you don’t move him over, then you’re kind of out-leveraged when the back releases and that kind of thing.

"There are some issues there that, I’m not saying you can’t do it, but you have to work them out. In a two-back set, I’d say it was probably a lot cleaner and it always gave you an extra blitzer that was hard for the offense. Even if they seven-man protected on play-action, there was always an eighth guy there somewhere. You didn’t have to bring all eight; if you just brought the right one and they didn’t have him or somebody would have to have two guys and that creates some problems.

"I think that’s what Buddy, really, where the genius of that was. He had by formation a different combination and group of blitzes so depending on what formation you were in, then he ran a blitz that would attack that formation and then when you changed formations, then he would change blitzes. Now, plus the fact [he] had Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, [Otis] Wilson, [Wilbur] Marshall, that was a pretty good group there. You could have probably played a lot of things and that defense would have looked pretty good, especially when they put Hampton on the nose. That was pretty unblockable."

Amendola forced Brady to break a ping pong paddle in first week with Patriots

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Amendola forced Brady to break a ping pong paddle in first week with Patriots

Tom Brady has never been one to hide his emotions when he's on the field, and it sounds like he's not much different at the ping pong table.

When asked about Brady during an interview on ESPN's NFL Insiders show, Patriots receiver Danny Amendola recalled one story from his first few days at Gillette Stadium back in 2013.

"He's the best teammate," Amendola said. "He's so competitive . . . I remember one story, it was my first week in the building and he wanted to play some ping pong. I didn't know how to go about it. I knew I was better than him, [but] I didn't want to beat him too bad because I wanted him to throw me the ball.

"I knew I was better. Needless to say, his competitive nature unleashed a broken paddle by the end of it. It's the reason we love him, and the reason why he's the best quarterback."

That first encounter at the ping pong table didn't seem to hinder Amendola's relationship with Brady in the least. In their first game together, Amendola fought a groin injury and still ended up with 10 catches for 104 yards in a win over the Bills. Since then, when healthy -- and particularly since New England's most recent run to a Super Bowl title -- Amendola has established himself as one of Brady's most trusted targets.

Amendola and the rest of the Patriots are facing a start to the regular season without their No. 1 quarterback as Brady awaits a decision from the Second Circuit on whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Should backup Jimmy Garoppolo take the reins in Brady's place, however, Amendola said he'll be confident. 

"He's a great player," Amendola explained. "He's been in the system a couple of years now and he's learned a lot. He's picked up everything that Tom has taught him and then also what coach [Bill] Belichick has to offer him. So we're all excited to see where he goes and see what the future holds for him."

Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

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Amendola says he feels 'really good' following offseason surgeries

Danny Amendola did not participate in OTA or minicamp practices that were open to reporters, but that doesn't mean he's ailing. 

"I feel really good," Amendola said while paying ESPN's NFL Insiders show a visit. "I had a couple minor procedures done after the season. Everybody knows how long the season can be. I wanted to go into next season feeling as fresh and ready as I can."

Amendola joined a relatively long list of Patriots regulars -- including LeGarrette Blount, Julian Edelman, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon -- who were not spotted during spring workouts. There exists, however, some optimism that he'll be ready to participate in training camp.

Though Amendola has battled nagging injuries in three seasons with the Patriots, he's often played through them rather than miss time. The 30-year-old wideout has played in all but six regular-season games since 2013.

Amendola is coming off of his best year in a Patriots uniform, finishing 2015 with 65 catches for 648 yards and three scores. He now helps make up a receiving corps that will include Edelman, newly-acquired wideouts Chris Hogan and Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien.