Potential Patriots draftees: Cam Heyward

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Potential Patriots draftees: Cam Heyward

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

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

Cam Heyward, 6-5, 294, DE,Ohio State

The Skinny:Son of Ironhead. A four-year starter at high-profile, highly-competitive program. While Cam Jordan is wonderfully versatile, Cam Heyward is near the other end of this deep class of defensive end prospects. He's a run-stopper; a plugger. He doesn't do a ton of different things - little pass rush upside - but what he does, he can do pretty well. He's got a very good reputation as a player, teammate and worker.

Gotta Have Him:Drafting Heyward would likely mean the days of kicking Vince Wilfork out to the edge would be over. Coupling Heyward with Wilfork on first and second down would mean a very, very stout front wall that should keep linemen off of inside linebackersJerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. Additionally, he's a very unselfish, team-first player. Safe pick.

Don't Need Him:Talk about a panning of physical skills? Here's Pro Football Weekly draft analyst on Heyward: "Too gawky, oafish and bumbling in his movement. Lacks coordination, balance and grace." The Patriots love versatility and Heyward really doesn't bring it. A guy like Cam Jordan would address all three downs. Heyward is just a two-down guy.

Forecast:Wes Bunting at the National Football Post says Heyward is the "steady Eddie of the group." Continuing, Bunting said, "He's just a really solid two-down player. He doesn't give you a ton on third down but he's a really safe pick. Not the sexiest selection and could fall into the second round, but if you look at recent drafts, these kinds of guys are the ones teams like. He could be off the board from 20 to 32 or in the early second round. He'd present very good value there."

Patriots Draftability: 7

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

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

Whalen, part of Colts' infamous fake punt play, settles in with Patriots

FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.

So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate. 

Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons. 

Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.

The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.

Whalen is a move they made.

The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”

His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”

I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.

“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”

Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”

The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.

 

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.