Potential Patriots draftees: Justin Houston


Potential Patriots draftees: Justin Houston

By TomE. Curran

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

Justin Houston, 6-3, 270OLB, Georgia

The Skinny: An intriguing player with an explosive first step, Houston looks straight out of 3-4 OLB central casting with long arms, excellent athletic ability and a ton of power. The consensus is he's best coming out of a three-point stance as opposed to being a stand-up edge rusher. Had 10 sacks last season for the Bulldogs in the always-competitive SEC.

Gotta Have Him: The Patriots need pass rush. Justin Houston provides pass rush. Let's be honest, Tully Banta-Cain's 2010 is probably more indicative of what he is all about than his 10-sack 2009 was. And Rob Ninkovich is not going to morph into Mike Vrabel. A bookend tandem of outside linebackers comprised of Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Houston could be a devastating pair.
Don't Need Him: He may not be versatile enough. According to Wes Bunting at the National Football Post, Houston just doesn't cut it when he's asked to stand up and rush the passer. "He's stiff and will struggle in space," predicted Bunting. "He's got that great first step but he's a bit of a one-trick pony. He's going to need a changeup move."
Forecast: The Patriots need to determine whether they want a 3-4 defensive end who is versatile enough to drop in coverage or whether they want a 3-4 linebacker who can play the run and set the edge on two downs and bring pressure on third. They drafted a player in the second round last year who fits that mold - Jermaine Cunningham. Bunting says Cunningham was a better overall prospect than Houston but not necessarily a better pass rusher. "(Houston) can take that first step off the edge and can make quarterbacks step into the pocket into the teeth of the defense. But as a 270-pound guy, I'm not sure he can consistently set the edge."

Patriots Draftability: 7

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

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.