Potential Patriots draftees: Akeem Ayers

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Potential Patriots draftees: Akeem Ayers

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran plans a series of looks at potential Patriots draftees. Today's player: Akeem Ayers.

Akeem Ayers, 6-3, 254OLB, UCLA

The Skinny: A player who only flashes moments of playing to his athletic ability. But those flashes are good enough to make Ayers a player teams are going to be intrigued by and may overdraft. He's smooth, quick, has good hands and can pursue, pursue, pursue.

Gotta Have Him: If the Patriots could extract consistent play from Ayers, he'd be a nice component in their defense. As Wes Bunting of the National Football Post says, "Talent-wise, he's a top-20 player. He could physically play any linebacker position in the NFL."

Don't Need Him: He's way too inconsistent and intermittently soft for a demanding team like the Patriots. "If a game is close he can be a nasty player. When his team gets down he gets real soft. Putting in effort day in and day out? He doesn't show it. His motor is not consistent and it shows on tape every time you watch him."

Forecast: He could be seen as a Rosevelt Colvin-type player but effort was never a concern with Colvin and it is with Ayers. Interesting because of his versatility but doubtful for New England.

Patriots Draftability: 4

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

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."