Belichick: This is best DL draft class in memory

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Belichick: This is best DL draft class in memory

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

The 2011 NFL draft is stocked with talent among front-seven defenders, Patriots coach Bill Belichick told me this week. And when it comes to finding players who might make impactson thedefensive line, Belichick says there's more of those "than in any draft I can remember.""There is a lot of depth at the top of the draft," said Belichick. "Some good defensive front seven players and on the defensivefront, probably more depth than in any draft I can remember."The full five-minute interview (complete with wordy, meandering questions from me) will air in its entirety during the Quick Slants Draft Special Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet New England. Belichick also said that, when it comes to trade offers, the Patriots have "been on the receiving end of more calls than we've made" during the run-up to the draft. The Patriots own the 17th, 28th and 33rd overall picks. They have two picks in each of the first three rounds. "You always have to be ready to pick," said Belichick. "Theres no guarantee there will be a trade. If you're looking to trade up, you're looking to move up where you can go get a certain player. Draft trades are made for players. Not picks. You dont want picks, you want a guy."In less than a week, we'll find out which guy(s) New England wanted. In addition to the Belichick sitdown, the Quick Slants Draft Special features a roundtable with Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung and Dane Fletcher on their draft experiences, conversations with prospects Cam Jordan and Ryan Williams, a segment with National Football Post draft expert Wes Bunting and - as always - viewer comments and opinions during the interactive segments with Mary Paoletti.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL players vote every year on which players should make up the list of the best their game has to offer, but it's an imperfect system. And that's probably putting it lightly. 

The NFL Network will reveal the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night at 8 p.m. It will be an order that has been chosen by some players, not all. Of those who took part, some hastily made their way through a handful of names at the end of last season handing over their choices. 

Yet it's the list the league ends up with, for better or for worse, prompting responses like JJ Watt's when he found out he was No. 35 this year after playing in three games last season. 

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

This year, several Patriots players from 2016 made the cut: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Tom Brady will be the last of Bill Belichick's players to be named. He's lumped into a Top 10 that will include Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Von Miller and Khalil Mack.

Here's what we think the list should look like when the curtain falls on the finale of this flawed endeavor:

10. Elliott
9. Beckham
8. Bell
7. Brown
6. Ryan
5. Jones
4. Miller
3. Mack
2. Rodgers
1. Brady

David Harris gets Jerod Mayo's old No. 51 with Patriots

David Harris gets Jerod Mayo's old No. 51 with Patriots

If you're hoping to help lead the Patriots defense from the middle of the field, No. 51 wouldn't be a bad jersey to wear in that pursuit.

Those are the digits that were worn by longtime Patriots captain (and Quick Slants co-host) Jerod Mayo during his run with the team from 2008-15. Taking the torch from linebackers like Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau and Mike Vrabel, Mayo was the defensive signal-caller and quarterback of the Patriots defense for the better part of a decade, eventually handing the reins to his understudy Dont'a Hightower. 

With Harris now in the mix, the defense will still be led by Hightower, who was a captain for the first time in 2016. But Harris figures to serve as a leader in his own right for the Patriots. The 33-year-old 'backer has been one of the game's most durable players at his position while with the Jets, and over time he established himself as a savvy communicator at the second level. 

Comparing Harris to Mayo comes easily because of their reputations as coach-on-the-field types. Back in 2014 when Darrelle Revis called New England home, he explained that what Mayo did for the Patriots defense reminded him of what Harris did in New York.

Now Harris has Mayo's old number, and in training camp he'll make a play for some of the duties Mayo held later in his career. How Harris will handle his new role, and how he may help his teammates take their games to new heights, is something we touched upon in this space earlier today

Harris wore No. 52 during his 10 years with the Jets. That number has belonged to Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts since he came into the league last season as a rookie, and it looks like Roberts will hold onto it for the foreseeable future.

No. 51 has bounced around to a couple of different Patriots since Mayo's retirement. Last year it was claimed by Barkevious Mingo, who has since moved on to Indianapolis as a free agent. Through this year's spring workouts No. 51 was worn by undrafted rookie linebacker Brooks Ellis, who now shares No. 47 with fullback Glenn Gronkowski.