Belichick offers up 100-Watt praise for Texans


Belichick offers up 100-Watt praise for Texans

FOXBORO - Words don't go careening around Bill Belichick's brain and out his mouth haphazardly.

What he says, to whom he says it and when it's said are all important factors to consider when perusing a Belichick press conference transcript.

During Wednesday's conference call with the Houston media, Belichick verbally rolled J.J. Watt over like a yellow lab and scratched his tummy until Watt's legs kicked.

Most disruptive player in the league. Defensive Player of the Year material. Comparing the combination of Watt and Antonio Smith to Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. Check, check annnnnd check.

Belichick talks up every team the Patriots face. He expresses his weekly talking points to his team and then delivers them to we in the media, who then reintroduce them into the discourse.

But when Belichick is talking to out-of-town media, he knows that words of praise will be shared as well, hopefully leading to a sense of overconfidence.

Speaking about Watt, who's having a dominant season at defensive end for the Patriots next opponent, the Houston Texans, Belichick spared no superlative.

"Hesthe most disruptive player in the league certainly that weve seen," said Belichick. "Hes reallypretty good at everything. Hes got great quickness and length, instincts, goodplaying strength, got a high motor. That looks like the defensive player of theyear to me. Hes been so productive and so disruptive. Its not just the passrush. Its batted balls. Its tackles for loss and the blocking that he drawshelps everybody else out. Hes been a terrific player for them in a lot ofdifferent ways. He contributes so many things to their team. This guy is reallya good player.

All of it is, of course, true. Watt is having a career season. But the bouquets laid at Watt's feet by Belichick got deeper and deeper on Wednesday.

"It was easy to see the physical talent, but he didnt have a lotof college experience," said Belichick. "Hes developed kind of different, but similar to like aJason Pierre-Paul situation, didnt have a lot of college production, but hadenough. You could see enough, just wonder how high the bar can go and howquickly it will get there. As it did with JPP, its risen very fast for J.J."

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.