Mock party Wednesday: Who will Pats pick?

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Mock party Wednesday: Who will Pats pick?

Here are some of my favorite folks on who the Patriots will pick in the NFL Draft. Spoiler alert: People like UConn's Kendall Reyes. I won't tell you who the Patriots are drafting until later in the month.

On to the mocking. (We'll be updating this frequently between now and April 26.)

Evan Silva at Pro Football Talk

27. Michael Brockers, DT, LSUBrockers cant rush the passer, but has a bright future as a five-technique, 3-4 end.

31. Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State.
Flying under the radar, Quick has tools to develop into a future No. 1 receiver.

Wes Bunting, National Football Post
27. Devon Still, DT, Penn State.
He's not the most dynamic of pass rushers. However, he's a big, strong kid with a good get off, long set of arms and knows how to play the run. He's a potential anchor inside who can push the pocket and give the Patriots a lot of 3-4, 4-3 flexibility.
31. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
New England has had to piece together their secondary this year, but in terms of talent they could certainly use an upgrade at a number of sports. Barron is a smart, instinctive safety with good ball skills, can play in the box and be effective bumping and running with tight ends underneath.

Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly
27. Kendall Reyes, DEDT, UConn
The Patriots are more than capable of stuffing the run with Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love, but they could benefit from more interior penetration, and Reyes has the traits and makeup to appeal to a coaching staff that is one of the best in the league in developing talent.
31. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took a shot on Demaryius Thomas in Denver, and with Chad Ochocinco failing to grasp the offense, the team is still in need of a legitimate vertical threat.

Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
27. Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse.
Jones makes his initial appearance of the year in our first round, but he looks to be the kind of versatile talent who can play multiple spots on the Patriots defensive line. His best spot is probably as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 front, the formation that's expected to return to prominence in Foxboro this season.
31. Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn
It'd be just like the Patriots to deal out of this slot and turn it into future draft capital, but Reyes would be another versatile prospect who can handle more than one role in New England's defensive front.

Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

27. Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford.

The Patriots are in good position to handle the expected retirement of Pro Bowler Matt Light at left tackle because they drafted his likely replacement -- Nate Solder -- in the first round a year ago. Martin, who protected Andrew Luck's blindside his entire career, may lack the athleticism to remain at left tackle in the NFL but could switch sides and handle the heavy pass-blocking responsibilities that would come in blocking for the Patriots.

31. Nick Perry DE, USC
Some teams are hesitant to grade Perry as a first-round prospect due to the fact that he elected to leave USC after just one highly productive season. He led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks in a breakout junior campaign. There are scouts who do believe he's just scratching the surface of his potential and others who like him best as a defensive end rather than an outside linebacker in the 3-4. For Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Perry would likely be asked to play both positions.

Walter Cherepinsky, Walter Football.com

27. Courtney Upshaw, DEOLB, AlabamaIt's tough to figure out Courtney Upshaw. He's too short to be a 4-3 defensive end, and he can't cover well enough to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. As I mentioned before, I think he'll fall on Draft Day.

Maybe Bill Belichick will know what to do with him, as Upshaw projects as a good scheme fit in New England. He has the same frame as Adalius Thomas, whom the Patriots gave a big contract to once upon a time.
31. Devon Still, DEDT, Penn State.
Here's one of many front-seven upgrades the Patriots will need to make. With Albert Haynesworth gone, they need to address the front line. Devon Still could go as high as No. 15, so the Patriots are getting great value with this selection.

Russ Lande, Sporting News
27. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
The Patriots' defense needs an infusion of young talent and Upshaw is the strong, physical outside linebacker who fits their scheme.
31. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
The Patriots continue adding talent to their defense by drafting the powerful, versatile Worthy, who could line up all across their line.

Mel Kiper, ESPN.com
27. Kendall Reyes, DEDT, UConn

31. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Todd McShay, ESPN.com
27. Chandler Jones, Syracuse DEOLB

31. Kendall Reyes, DEDT, UConn

Ourlads
27. Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
Barron is a big time run enforcer. All opposing wide receivers know where hes at when going across the middle. Sudden to get downhill when supporting the run. Good instincts to read and react quickly. Did not workout at the Combine due to double hernia surgery.
31. Kendall Reyes, DEDT, UConn
Reyes is a big athletic defensive lineman. OLB Zach Brown is also a consideration. As is Peter Konz a OCOG Also a trade down is a real possibility.

Pat Kirwan, CBS Sports, SIRIUS NFL
27. Kendall Reyes, DEDT, UConn
As usual the Patriots have a lot of early picks. This is the first of four in the top 62. Reyes had a very good Senior Bowl and followed that up with impressive measurables. The Patriots need playmakers in the defensive line and Reyes is that kind of player. His quickness next to the bulk of Vince Wilfork will be a nice combination. Second round No. 48 -- Shea McClellan, OLB Boise State, No. 62 Antonio Allen, S South Carolina
31. Trade with Ravens for RFA CB LaDarius Webb

NE Patriots Draft.com

13. (Acquired in trade with Arizona) Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State
In exchange for picks 27 and 31, the Patriots receive this pick plus a 5th round selection from the Cardinals. A true junior, Cox is just scratching the surface of what he can do with his massive body and elite athleticism. The Patriots need some youth and talent on the defensive line and Cox is a guy that could play multiple positions for them.

Patriots make Floyd a healthy scratch for AFC title game

Patriots make Floyd a healthy scratch for AFC title game

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will go with four receivers against the Steelers as Michael Floyd has been listed as a healthy scratch for the AFC title game. 

PATRIOTS-STEELERS PREGAME

The Patriots had all five of their wideouts -- Floyd, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola -- available to them for Sunday's matchup, but they're opted to use the four who are most experienced in the team's offense. 

Hogan (thigh), Mitchell (knee) and Amendola (ankle) were all listed as questionable going into the weekend, but all have been deemed physically ready to play as their team vies for a Super Bowl berth. 

Floyd had his worst game as a member of the Patriots last week in the Divisional Round against the Texans. On two routes, both slants, Floyd ran the pattern in such a way that there appeared to be some miscommunication between him and quarterback Tom Brady. One was picked off and the other was almost picked. 

Floyd admitted as much last week, saying that there are still intricacies to the Patriots offense that he needs to pick up -- including exactly how Brady wants certain routes run.

Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans last week but felt optimistic soon thereafter that he'd be good to go for the conference championship. Mitchell hasn't played since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 16. 

Other Patriots inactives for Sunday include quarterback Jacoby Brissett, running back DJ Foster, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, safety Jordan Richards and corners Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones.

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

Haggerty: For better or worse, Bruins need to make a call on Julien

The Bruins coach and leaders in their dressing room spoke out this weekend, and their words all basically spread the same supportive message.

Claude Julien and his longtime players aren’t ready for a change at the head coaching position for the Black and Gold and they hope the longtime bench boss is in Boston for as long as possible after 10 mostly successful years on the job.

Still, it may not go down that way this season with real pressure on B’s management, coaches and the players to end a two-year playoff drought. Things are currently going pretty badly with the Bruins in the middle of a three-game losing streak before facing the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon.

The heat has been dialed up as high as it’s ever been on Julien in his 10 years of employment with Boston and everybody seems to know it.

“Right now we’re all confident in Claude, and we all want to be here and play for him. If [saving Julien’s job] is the extra motivation you need for the games then so be it,” said Patrice Bergeron. “But we’re all professionals and we’re here to win hockey games. I’ve said this before that I’ve been with Claude for 10 years, and he’s the guy that I believe in and that I want to play for.”

Similarly, the Bruins captain has been with Julien for the long haul in Boston and has worked closely with the coach keeping lines of communication open in good, Cup-winning times and bad, non-playoff times. Chara bestowed Julien with every bit the endorsement that Bergeron did, and it’s clear much of the core group wants to keep the longtime coach in place.

“We don’t pay attention [to the chatter]. Claude is our coach and Claude will be our coach. We have confidence in him,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “He’s proven to be a coach that does a lot of good things for this organization. We just have to come up with some wins, battle it and we’re all in this together.”

One thing that’s a legitimate question: Is the devotion of players like Chara and Bergeron toward Julien a defining reason to keep the longtime coach?

There isn’t a sense the Bruins have tuned out their coach, as can happen in dysfunctional NHL situations, but there is a feeling that longtime B’s players with status are pretty comfortable with iron-clad no-movement clauses in their contracts and a relationship with the coach where there’s a level they may not be getting pushed toward very often.

Comfort isn’t always a good thing in an NHL dressing room and it’s felt altogether too comfortable at times in some of those no-show performances from the Black and Gold over the past couple of failed seasons. 

For his part, Julien doesn't think that was the case and intends on continuing to work his way through the struggles with a mix of youth and veteran players who clearly have enough to be a playoff team.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the [firing] rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

It would be ridiculous and pointless to compare this season’s Bruins roster to the groups that won Cups, made it to the Finals twice and even won a President’s Trophy in 2013-14. Clearly, this particular roster isn’t as deep, or as difficult to play against, as those talent-stuffed hockey clubs, but this team also has enough high-end talent that they should edge teams like Toronto, Ottawa and Philadelphia out of a playoff spot.

This is where the theoretical move to fire Julien comes into play.

The Bruins are at a critical stage of their season where things are slipping away from them and the team is showing some of the maddening characteristics of the past two seasons.

They are unprepared to play on too many nights. They take opponents lightly on too many nights particularly in the past couple of months. A tiring Tuukka Rask isn’t able to bail the team out as much as he was in the first couple of months. Because the Bruins are being strangled by a roster of immovable players with no-trade clauses and can’t even entertain trading their blue-chip prospects Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, the trade options just aren’t there for Don Sweeney and Cam Neely right now.

It would take a brilliant, creative GM to swing a hockey deal that could pump life back into the reeling Bruins. The B’s front office hasn’t shown those qualities in the past few years running the team. Instead, they have GMs from other teams lining up and making one-sided offers to the desperate Bruins in hopes that Sweeney/Neely will buckle under the pressure to push into the playoffs this spring.

So, the only impactful card the Bruins can play is firing a coach in Julien who probably isn’t the coach of the future when the next generation of B’s prospects is ready to go. The hope is that move can light a fire under their meandering hockey club if it doesn't start reeling off some wins in a row. An argument can be made that a coach such as current assistant Bruce Cassidy could get more out of some of Boston’s younger players they’re relying heavily on this season. The former Providence Bruins coach might fit a little better into the overall philosophy that management is looking to instill.

It might just be that making a coaching change is the best midseason card that Bruins management has to play given all of the circumstances.

Still, the one thing that B’s management can’t do is keep Julien twisting in the wind and answering all the questions about his future with no clear vote of confidence from his bosses. Julien is the winningest coach in Bruins history and led them to their glorious Stanley Cup run in 2011. He’s earned a wealth of respect around the league for the professional, classy way he’s always conducted himself on and off the ice and he won’t be out of work long if/when he is relieved of his duties on Causeway Street.

So, if the Bruins intend to make the move with their coach then they need to do it sooner rather than later.

People around the NHL are watching the Bruins intently to see how they handle this situation with a world-class coach in Julien, and Neely and Sweeney continue to be radio/TV silent, despite the Bruins media requesting to speak with them on Friday morning in the throes of their losing streak.

It’s high time for Bruins management to step up and make a decision on Julien for better or for worse, and treat him the way they’d undoubtedly like to be treated if it were them suddenly in the danger zone should they miss the playoffs again this spring.