Most improved: Running game or defense?


Most improved: Running game or defense?

The Patriots did two things really well on Sunday that they didn't do in more than spurts last season: run the ball and defend well.

Mike Felger likes the way the Pats ran the ball, saying that it not only helps the offensive line who is still working on protecting Brady, but it also takes pressure off of Brady.

Andy Gresh notes that it makes the Pats much more complimentary in terms of the pass and the run together.

But is a run game the missing ingredient to a Super Bowl win? Or is it defense? Most likely, it's both.

NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces


NFL Draft picks No. 1-8: Tunsil sliding after video of bong hit surfaces

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Rams: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

“Is there anything you’d like to translate to the fans of the Los Angeles Rams?!?!” Deion Sanders wheezed into the face of Goff moments after he was selected. Goff, who to that point had done little but shake his head and “golly-gee” then had something else to be befuddled by. Goff will, for the next few years, provide adequate cover for Jeff Fisher to continue stealing money as an NFL head coach. Fisher – who’s won 8, 6, 7, 7, 6 and 7 games in his past six seasons and hasn’t coached a playoff win since 2003 – did as he was told by the league office and milked the clock all the way down before making the selection everyone knew the Rams would make when they mortgaged the future to make a 2016 splash in their new city.

Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

“Now, the competition really begins,” Deion Sanders told to Carson Wentz. “Who’s gonna prepare their team to the playoffs first?” Wentz, who fits the quarterback suit so much better than Goff, had to be stunned that he not only had to lead his team to the playoffs on the field but also prepare them there as well. Now the Eagles have to assuage the feelings of a former No. 1 overall pick, Sam Bradford, who’s pissed that the Eagles were going to draft a quarterback. And Wentz has to look at Bradford and make sure he doesn’t end up like him.

Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

“You fillllllleddddd with emotions,” Deion Sanders told Joey Bosa. “Give me the feeling right now.” The feeling from Bosa was surprise. He said he thought he’d be cooling off for another half-hour or 45 minutes before being selected but the Chargers brought the first eye-widener of the night by selecting Bosa who Pro Football Focus had as their No. 1. The Chargers knew it all along and didn’t tip their hands.

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State

“This kid can bring them right into the playoffs!” proclaimed NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. Whoa, Mooch. Whoa. First off, it’s a playoff team to begin with if Tony Romo doesn’t crack his collarbone again. Second off, running behind that offensive line with an outside receiver like Dez Bryant and a tight end like Jason Witten on the field, you don’t necessarily need to burn the fourth overall pick on a running back. But the Cowboys love their splash factor and Elliott provides one.

Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State

“You’re dancing,” Deion Sanders observed. “You’re exuding your swag. Are you happy right now?” Ramsey, the massive 6-1, 209-pound corner confirmed that he was. He also confirmed that he’s a shutdown corner. The Jaguars, as Senator Phil Perry noted as we watched the draft from our Burlington offices, are going to be good soon.

Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

“Folks,” said NFL Draft Analyst Mike Mayock, “he’s got 35 and three-quarter-inch arms.” Yes he does. And now he’s going to the Ravens where his physicality and toughness are going to enable Baltimore to plunk him down on Joe Flacco’s blind side and let him roll. Still doesn’t really address the issue of wide receiver talent aside from the ageless Steve Smith but what can you do. Stanley’s a good pick.

49ers: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon

It was between Buckner and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at this point but just before the draft commenced, a video of Tunsil taking a bong hit while wearing a gas mask popped up on his Twitter feed. It was deleted and a hacking was blamed. And Buckner likely became the beneficiary of the Tunsil fiasco. My suspicion is Tonya Harding was behind it.

Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State

The Titans made a deal with the Rams, sending them the 15th overall pick to move up and get former walk-on Conklin. The Browns got the 15th overall pick in return and a third-rounder as well. And the Laremy Tunsil debacle rolls on as reports that the Ravens took Tunsil off their draft board when the video popped up. .

NFL Draft picks No. 9-16: Dolphins stop Tunsil's slide at No. 13


NFL Draft picks No. 9-16: Dolphins stop Tunsil's slide at No. 13

No access at Gillette? No first-round pick unless the Patriots make a swap into the latter stages of the round? No problem. We're all over it from the palatial offices here in Burlington. We go pick-by-pick through the first round.

Bears: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

The Bears traded up from the No. 11 slot to go and get the pass-rusher they coveted, dealing with the Buccaneers to leap-frog the Giants. Could the Bears have used a tackle? Potentially. But after a video of Laremy Tunsil smoking while wearing a gas mask surfaced online, he has fallen down draft boards. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the video could be as many as five years old.  

Giants: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Like Joey Bosa to the Chargers, this was one of those did-not-see-that-coming moves. Apple is an athletic corner with good size, but his college tape left him more open to criticism than some of his peers at the position. Again, a tackle could have been in play. Maybe a receiver. Instead the Giants went with a corner who many ranked behind Flordia corner Vernon Hargreaves, Clemson corner Mackensie Alexander, and Houston cover man William Jackson III. 

Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

The Buccaneers played this well. They could have taken Hargreaves at No. 9, but they traded out, added draft capital, and still got their man. Hargreaves may be a bit undersized to play some of the bigger No. 1 receivers at the next level, but his footwork is pristine, and he has a knack for making plays on the football. 

Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

The Saints desperately needed to add to their defense after putting together one of the weakest units in the league last season. Rankins is a ready-made interior lineman who can play multiple different spots along the New Orleans front. At 6-foot-1, 299 pounds, he's smaller than the prototypical defensive tackle but he'll be stout against the run and pressure opposing quarterbacks on third downs. 

Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

The Tunsil slide finally came to a stop at No. 13. At first blush, this doesn't seem like great news for the Patriots. Bill Belichick's defense will now face a player that many considered the No. 1 prospect in the draft twice a year. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder was asked by Deion Sanders immediately after the pick was made what in God's name happened with his Twitter account. "It's a crazy world," Tunsil said. "Things happen for a reason." Sanders asked if it was his step-father who hacked the account. Tunsil's step-father filed suit against Tunsil on Wednesday after a domestic incident. "I don't know who it was," Tunsil said.

Raiders: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia

The Raiders went after their Charles Woodson replacement early. Considered to be more of a bottom-of-the-first-round selection, Joseph is a heat-seeking missile who just plain destroys ball-carriers. He has good insticts and ball skills and should be able to play as a single-high safety or a box safey. Joseph is coming off of a season-ending knee injury, but his medicals must have checked out with Raiders brass. 

Browns: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor

Coleman didn't run the most varied route tree in college, but he's an explosive athlete and a relentless competitor. He'll give quarterback Robert Griffin III a pro-ready down-the-field threat. And they need one. Badly. 

Patriots show support for Brady just before start of the draft


Patriots show support for Brady just before start of the draft

The Patriots haven't made any kind of statement about Tom Brady's four-game suspension since the Second Circuit ruled to have it reinstated earlier this week. They did make a statement showing support for their quarterback just before the start draft, though. 

In the moments leading up to commissioner Roger Goodell's announcement that the Rams were "on the clock" with the first pick of the first round, the Patriots posted an image of Brady's jersey to their Instagram account. 

The image is the same one that the Patriots have used as their profile photo on Twitter for much of the duration of the Deflategate saga. The team has no first-round pick (No. 29) as a result of the punishment issued by the league due to Deflategate. The team was also docked a fourth-round pick in 2017 and $1 million for the alleged ball-deflation scheme. 

Patriots coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have the ability to trade into the first round, but if they do, they will make their selection with the lower of their two first-rounders. Therefore they cannot make a selection before pick No. 29.