NFL Draft 2012 positional breakdowns: Safety

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NFL Draft 2012 positional breakdowns: Safety

Each weekday, from now until the week of the draft, we'll take a position-by-position look at the Patriots' draft needs and which players they may be looking at. Today: Safeties

POSITION OVERVIEW
The safety class in the 2012 NFL Draft is very shallow. And, as recent history suggests, it's just not a priority position for teams, especially at the top of the draft. In 2010, Eric Berry and Earl Thomas were the fifth and 14th selections respectively (Chiefs, Seahawks). Other than that, very few over the past few seasons. The Patriots have drafted two safeties early in the past five drafts - Patrick Chung in the second round in 2009 and Brandon Meriweather in the first round in 2007. Alabama's Mark Barron is the only player with a shot to be taken in the first round this year at the safety position. Behind him is Notre Dame's Harrison Smith, a well-regarded free safety, and South Carolina's Antonio Allen.

PATRIOTS PREDICAMENTSafety is a position of need for the Patriots. Chung is a very good player and - if he can stay healthy - is a borderline Pro Bowler. But the safety position alongside him was a revolving door in 2011 and nobody who went through it was a show-stopper. Josh Barrett - a big, 6-2, 226-pounder - wound up on IR. Sergio Brown didn't get it done in his absence. And James Ihedigbo - an in-season pickup - did the best job back there. Chung is interchangeable in the free and strong safety roles and the Patriots like versatility back there; they also want a big special teams role filled by their safeties. Barron may be off the board before the Patriots pick at 27. But he's a guy who has the requisite pedigree to attract New England - two-time team captain in a big-time program who is smart, works hard and can come with a recommendation from Bill Belichick buddy Nick Saban.
TOP OF THE CLASS
Mark Barron, 6-1, 213, Alabama
A solid hitter who is excellent in run support but also can make athletic plays in pass defense downfield. An excellent leader (two-time captain) who is more of an in-the-box safety than a coverage guy. Had a double-hernia surgery after the season.
Harrison Smith, 6-2, 213, Notre Dame
A free safety with excellent quickness and instinctiveness. A four-year starter who commands respect and is an on-field leader. Has versatility between the safety positions and is solid in special teams coverage.
Antonio Allen, 6-2, 210, South CarolinaHad 88 tackles and three picks last year for the Gamecocks. Makes plays, forcing 10 turnovers his last two seasons. Solid tackler. Good worker and leader but not at the same level as Smith or Barron in terms of polish.

Jordan Bernstine, 5-10, 212, Iowa
Under-the-radar prospect the Patriots have been snooping around. He didn't go to the NFL Combine, but at Iowa's Pro Day he ran a 4.4 40 and had a 41-inch vertical. As a senior, he had 89 tackles and has terrific special teams ability in coverage and as a returner.
Brandon Taylor, 5-10, 210, LSU
Started 14 games at strong safety in his fourth and final season at LSU. Needs to become more fundamentally sound as a tackler but is highly respected as a leader and was one of Les Miles' favorite players at LSU.
BEST PATRIOTS FITS
Barron as a late first-rounder. He won't last until the Patriots' pick at 48.

Smith in the second round.

Bernstine anytime after the fourth round.

Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

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Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while knowing that nobody will ever forget the courage and zest for life that 5-year-old Red Sox fan Ari Schultz showed in his far too short life. Rest in peace, little guy.  

 *PHT writer James O’Brien has the Chicago Blackhawks adjusting to the returns of both Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp after their short stints away from the fold. It will be really interesting to see if the Blackhawks can recreate their magic by bringing some of the past Cup pieces to the scene after last year’s disappointing end.

*Ilya Kovalchuk is primed for a return to the NHL in 2018-19 after playing one more season, an Olympic season no less, in the KHL.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Arpon Basu chronicling the day with the Cup in Montreal for Marc-Andre Fleury.

*Speaking of the Blackhawks, it sounds like Jonathan Toews is going to scale back on the “Captain Serious” approach to his hockey career this upcoming season.

*Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee is pleased with the state of his expansion team after looking at some of the pieces, and doing a little wheeling and dealing after the fact. I mean, you have to wheel and deal if you’re a hockey team in Vegas, right?

*Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar is relieved his new contract with the Winged Wheels will allow him to avoid arbitration.

*For something completely different: It remains to be seen whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we’re completely in a culture where media entities are writing full stories about posters. Okay, I think this is a bad thing and my mind is already made up.

 


 

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

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Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When runs come in bunches, so do the wins for the Los Angeles Angels.

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3-for-4 with two RBI and the Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

"When we got a pitch to hit we hit it hard," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Albert got us going, that's a big double. One thing that can get you back into the game, extra-base hits tonight showed up."

The Angels improved to 38-10 when scoring four or more runs, compared to a 10-41 mark when held to three or fewer.

Battering Red Sox ace David Price even after facing a 3-0 deficit after two innings made this particular offensive eruption all the more impressive.

"We started chipping away," said Simmons, who went 2 for 4. "Guys just kept putting up good at-bats. We just didn't make it easy for them."

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings despite struggling early.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the scoring, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.

Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

"The one thing that they did do well was they forced him to throw a lot of pitches," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Obviously, the third inning, two big swings were the difference."

ANOTHER PUJOLS MILESTONE

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

Scioscia called Pujols' continued climb into the history books a moment of "living history."

"He's had an incredible career and he's got more in his tank," Scioscia said. "It's fun to see the guys he is connected with."

FARRELL TOSSED

Farrell got the boot for arguing with umpire Phil Cuzzi in the middle of the fifth, though his original intent was to keep Dustin Pedroia from the same outcome. But by the time Farrell got to home plate, Pedroia had ended his conversation with Cuzzi and Farrell picked up where it left off.

"Anytime you make a comment about balls and strikes, that's probably what it's going to get you," Farrell said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. ... Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.