Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (Andrew Weber, USA Today Sports)

Continuing with the theme of profiling potential Patriot tight end targets, we shift our focus to Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz. Like Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas, Fiedorowicz has the make-up of a more traditional tight end. As a skilled blocker who excels on the line, Fiedorowicz isn’t a guy who is ever going to catch 80 passes or 12 touchdowns in a given season.

However, he has the potential to be a longtime NFL player who can do a lot of good things for an offense like the Patriots who are seeking a tight end to be a supporting piece to an already potent attack. Fiedorowicz is likely to go in the third round, but a team (like the Patriots) might be enticed to select him in round two. If you’re a fan (like me) who would prefer that the Patriots address other needs in the first round, like defensive line or safety, then Fiedorowicz might be a prospect to keep an eye on. Continue reading 2014 NFL Draft Profile: C.J. Fiedorowicz »

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Tuitt would be an intriguing pick for the Pats since he's so versatile, cbssports.com

With draft day just under 25 days away, the actual NFL draft and not the Kevin Costner film, speculation about which player a team is going to take are heating up. With the Patriots being one of the most exciting teams to watch in the draft, whether it be trading high picks for multiple lower round picks or drafting punters in the fifth round, New England never fails to surprise. And thus begins the speculation of “experts” and amateurs alike.

Heading into the 2014 season there are a few areas that New England could address. The offensive line could always use more depth, the wide receiver corps has been heavily criticized this past season, the tight end position has not been the same since ol’ what’shisname became one of the most notorious people in New England, and the defensive line could use a little overhaul. Continue reading 2014 NFL Draft Profile: Stephon Tuitt, DL, Notre Dame »

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Notre Dame's Troy Niklas (Joe Camporeale, USA Today Sports)

Rather than chase after the next Aaron Hernandez, many Patriots pundits believe that the team would be better off selecting a more traditional tight end in the draft. The idea that the Patriots could play smash-mouth football using 22 personnel with Gronkowski, TE X, Ridley, and Vereen is an intriguing proposition. This year’s draft class is fairly deep at the tight end spot, and there are a few options that the Patriots might consider. Perhaps the best traditional tight end in the draft is Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas.

Gronkowski-Lite

One player Niklas has been compared to (thanks to his size and athleticism) is Rob Gronkowski. Niklas replaced Cinciniati Bengal Tyler Eifert in the Notre Dame starting offense last season and caught 32 balls for 498 yards and five touchdowns. Continue reading 2014 NFL Draft Profile: Troy Niklas »

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Texas Tech's Jace Amaro (Matthew Emmons, USA Today Sports)

In 2010 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots struck gold at the tight end position by selecting both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The two revolutionized the Pats offense, and it appeared that the two would be staples of the New England offense for years to come. However, with Hernandez behind bars and Gronkowski being chronically injured, the position has become a huge need for the Patriots.

A Position of Need

With the 2014 NFL Draft less than a month away, and Gronkowski’s Week 1 status still in doubt, it’s time to start seriously looking at tight ends that the Patriots might try to land during the first two days of the draft. One name that was commonly linked to the Patriots around the time of the combine was Jace Amaro. The 6’5″ TE out of Texas Tech was a common named displayed next to the Patriots in mock drafts a couple months ago. Since then, however, he has sort of dropped off the radar. Mainly because most believe the Patriots should focus their attention on the defensive line. There is also the fact that this draft is fairly deep at the tight end position, and good value can be found on days two or three. Nevertheless, Amaro is the real deal, and should be considered a real option at #29, or as a candidate to trade up for in the early-to-mid second round.

Potential Hernandez Replacement

One thing that is intriguing about Amaro possibly joining the Patriots is his similarity to Aaron Hernandez. Like Hernandez, Amaro has the potential to play the “Joker” role in the Patriots offense. While Amaro’s combine numbers represent that he may be a step slower than Hernandez, he put together a very impressive combine overall. Unlike Hernandez, who was small for a tight end, Amaro has prototypical tight end size at 6’5″ and 265lbs. At Texas Tech he demonstrated impressive route running ability, a good release off the line, and superb body control. One knock on him, however, is that he struggles to catch contested balls. This may be due to his small hand size. His hands measured at just 9″ at the combine, which is shockingly low for a player his size.

Amaro has also shown improvement as a blocker during his time at Texas Tech, and has become a better all-around player each and every season. While he certainly could play the Joker role that Hernandez has left vacant, he also has the size needed to play as a traditional tight end. Amaro certainly makes sense as a scheme fit next to Rob Gronkowski, but with Gronk’s injury problems, Bill Belichick and company may look to select a more traditional tight end like Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas or Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz in the upcoming draft.

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Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater (Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

With the NFL Draft a little over a month away, teams are now beginning to visit with players at team facilities. Last week, the New England Patriots used two of their thirty pre-draft visits on quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. For the Patriots, quarterback hasn’t been a position of need since Drew Bledsoe was selected first overall in 1993. However, with Tom Brady on the wrong side of 35, the future is going to have to be answered at some point. Ryan Mallett is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and these pre-draft visits aren’t a good omen for his future in New England.

Quarterback Prospects

So should we make of the Patriots hosting two of the top QB prospects for pre-draft visits? Continue reading Will the Patriots Draft a Quarterback? »

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Connecticut players celebrating 2014 Championship/AP Photo/David J. Phillip

On March 8th, the Connecticut Huskies were manhandled 81-48 against the Louisville Cardinals in their last regular season game of the year. A month later, that same Huskies team is now on top of the college basketball world after defeating a star-studded freshman bunch of Kentucky Wildcats 60-54.

So, is Connecticut now the best program in all of college basketball? Continue reading UConn Men’s Basketball Program Continues Elite Run »

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Derrick Gordon (Steve Helber/AP)

University of Massachusetts guard Derrick Gordon has come out as gay, becoming the first player in Division I men’s basketball ever to do so. Gordon made the public announcement in a conversation with ESPN’s Kate Fagan, where he said that he told his teammates on April 2, a few days after coming out to his parents.

Gordon broke the news at a team meeting after speaking to head coach Derek Kellogg, and said the response from his fellow Minutemen was overwhelmingly positive. Gordon credited the precedents of Jason Collins and Michael Sam for helping him make the decision to go public.

Continue reading UMass Guard Derrick Gordon Is First Openly Gay Player in D-I »

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