Patriots heading into 2013 with five picks


Patriots heading into 2013 with five picks

It's looking like the Patriots will be light on early draft picks next April.

For the first time since 2007, the Patriots don't own multiple picks in any of the first three rounds.

New England currently holds first-, second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round picks.

Their fifth-round pick went to the Redskins as part of the Albert Haynesworth deal. Their sixth-round pick went to the Bengals in the Chad Ochocinco trade.

(Trying . . . to withhold . . . wiseass comments . . . )

The Patriots had two first-round picks and two seconds in last week's draft. In 2011, they had two first-rounders and -- after some dealing -- wound up selecting twice in the second round and twice in the third. In 2010, they had three second-round picks (Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes). In 2009, they didn't have a first-rounder but had four second-rounders and two thirds (Patrick Chung, Ron Brace, Darius Butler, Sebastian Vollmer, Brandon Tate, Tyrone McKenzie). And in 2008, they had two third-rounders (Shawn Crable and Kevin O'Connell).

The Patriots will likely get a couple of compensatory picks next year in return for Mark Anderson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis leaving as free agents (the granting of compensatory picks is based on a few factors including number of free agents signed by the team that had players signed away, value of a lost free agent's new deal and performance of the free agent with his new team).

And there's a good chance there will be some deals afoot as well. But as it stands now, next April may be relatively quiet in Foxboro.

Not a whole lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing


Not a whole lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick


Patriots reportedly deal Derby to Broncos for fifth-round pick

The Patriots pulled off a rare deal with a rival on Tuesday. 

According to ESPN, they've sent tight end A.J. Derby to the Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

Derby played in 33 offensive snaps over four games this season for the Patriots. A sixth-round draft choice in 2015 out of Arkansas, Derby spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. 

One of the stars of the preseason for the Patriots, Derby caught 15 passes for 189 yards in four exhibition games. A former college quarterback for Iowa and Arkansas, Derby was named a practice player of the week by the Patriots when they were hurting for healthy signal-callers early in the season during Tom Brady's suspension.

The deal leaves the Patriots somewhat thin at the tight end position. They now have now true tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. They do, however, have fullback James Develin, who meets with tight ends on a daily basis. On the practice squad, the Patriots have another fullback in Glenn Gronkowski. 

In Denver, Derby will compete with tight ends Virgil Green, Jeff Heuerman and John Phillips for time.