Caserio says draft deep at receiver, front-7 players

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Caserio says draft deep at receiver, front-7 players

INDIANAPOLIS - As we dive further into the 2012 draft class, it's worth noting that two perceived positions of need for the Patriots - outside receiver and edge pass rusher - are fairly well-stocked. Whether that makes the Patriots leap is another issue entirely. Bill Belichick said the edge rushers in the 2011 class were as good as he'd ever seen and the Patriots didn't pluck one in the first three rounds. But, as Patriots personnel man Nick Caserio explained, the talent is there in a draft stocked with pre-senior talent.
"This is the most underclassmen I think that actually asked for an evaluation from the league," Caserio said at the NFL Combine. "Theres depth at more positions relative to others. Id say receiver is a position of strength. The offensive line is a position of strength. The front seven is a position of strength. A lot of the players, front seven especially that were down at the Senior Bowl, are some of the better players in this draft. I think its a good draft. Like every year, each position has a little more depth or balance relative to others. Thats kind of where it is right now as we sit here at the combine.

With the Patriots playing a base 4-3 defense to begin the 2011 season then shifting to more 3-4 later in the year, Caserio was asked if scheme mattered in terms of deciding where to rate players. A good question. Caserio was a little vague in his answer though, saying they'll look at versatility. "You look at the front seven in general terms because you could really shift back and forth depending on whether it was the team or opponent we were playing," Caserio explained. "At the end of the year, we were playing a little more odd fronts. We played, I think, 65, 70 percent of the snaps were sub defense. Were a multiple team, so, you look at those front seven players in general terms and then you get them into your program and figure out where their skill set is best going to be utilized."One place the Patriots are well-stocked is the interior defensive line with young players like Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace and Myron Pryor (although Brace has been a bit of a disappointment). One spot that's very weak in this draft is safety. And the Patriots are very thin at that spot.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.