Christopher Price profiles 'throwback' TE Lee Smith, taken in the fifth round of the draft.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick referred to him as an "outstanding blocker." Phil Ratliff, Smith’s position coach at Marshall, added to that on Thursday, calling him a "throwback" who was "far and away the most respected player on the team because of how hard he practices and how hard he plays."
Ratliff knows something about the sort of player that appeals to the Patriots -- while as a player at Marshall, he was a college teammate of eventual New England football legend Troy Brown. "Lee is the kind of player the Patriots draft -- a quality person who takes to system and does whatever it takes to succeed," Ratliff said. "New England is getting another leader -- he’s a natural-born leader."
"A lot of people don’t realize he had a good tight end that played in front of him — this past year was the first year he really had a chance to thrive in the passing game," Ratliff said. "At 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds, so a lot of people don’t realize how good he in the passing game. When you think of Lee Smith, you think of a big, pounding blocker. That’s what he is, but he has capability in the vertical passing game. He’s got soft hands and a knack for getting open -- and he will get better."
"All I can tell you is this -- people can all the negative things they want about him, but Lee, when he came to us, he was a guy who was a leader," Ratliff said. "He was a guy who got it. It was unbelievable. When he got into our system, he got structure, and just took off from there. "What happened in the past is in the past. He’s gone beyond that. He’s the most mature guy I have ever coached. He has a family and kids -- all that stuff is in the past. It’s so irrelevant to what he is now. It really is."
"I will tell you one thing -- they have a very impressive tight end group," Ratliff said of New England. "[But] there’s no challenge for him that’s too big. He won’t back down. Those guys are all really good players, but whatever is asked of Lee, he’ll roll with it. He’ll do whatever he needs to do, and take care of business. That’s just how he is."
Ryan Osborne (TCU Daily Skiff) Patriots 7th-round draft pick Malcolm Williams is packing his bags for the NFL after unlikely football journey.
"I'm living in a dream right now," said Williams, who was drafted by the New England Patriots with the 219th overall pick in the seventh round of the NFL Draft Saturday afternoon. "It's the best thing that can happen to me."
Williams offered a simple, timeless phrase to sum up his journey from airport bag collector to NFL draftee.
"Hard work pays off," Williams said. "That's all you can really say."
- The New England Patriots 2011 Draft: Notes, stats and trends from the team.
- PFW in Progress - 5/05/11: This edition continues to recap the 2011 NFL Draft. (2 hour program.)
- Mike Reiss helps fans get to know CB Ras-I Dowling, after speaking with Virginia cornerbacks coach Chip West.
- Ian Rapoport notes Ryan Mallett has always dazzled with his strong arm and throwing ability.
- Ian Rapoport reports PGA star John Daly has offered guidance to Pats QB Ryan Mallett about overcoming past and the pitfalls of being a celebrity.
- Ian Rapoport continues his 'The Making of Mallett' series with an explanation of why QB Ryan Mallett left Michigan for Arkansas.
- Jeff Howe opens up his draft column for a string of second-guessing offerings before everyone's vision becomes crystal clear in hindsight.
- Mike Reiss discusses Vic Carucci's article about how the Patriots and Colts each take a different approach when it comes to drafting QBs.
- Jeff Howe points out that Bill Belichick carried out his 2011 draft philosophy with the future in mind.
- Jon Fucile from WickedGoodSports offers some examples of Bill Belichick's trade down lifestyle.
- Mike Reiss offers a list of Pats players who have Twitter accounts, after ESPN's "Outside the Lines" program discussed Twitter's impact on sports.
- Tom E. Curran's Quick Slants with Nate Solder. (2.47 min. video)
- Mike Reiss offers the transcript of his weekly online chat. Terrific insight here as usual.
- Tom E. Curran scouts out how the Jets did in the draft.
- Mike Reiss reports Tedy Bruschi will join former Titans coach Jeff Fisher and others to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.
Mike McDermott posts a photo of Tom Brady hugging 77-year old fan Loraine Pitka at a promotional event last week. In this ESPN Page 2 picture, she's got a solid grip on his arm.
- NESN reports Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen were photographed walking the red carpet at the metropolitan Museum of Modern Art Benefit Gala.
- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.(ESPN) Soon to be stars: Patriots LB Brandon Spikes.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) John Daly, Ryan Mallett forge a friendship.
- Evan Silva (ProFootballTalk) Our discoveries, after tracking pre-draft visits and workouts. "No team puts in more face time than the Patriots."
- NFL Live (ESPN) Patriots draft-day decision-making discussed after interview with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. (4.39 min. video)
- Nathan Jahnke (Pro Football Focus) First thoughts on each of the first round picks in the 2011 NFL Draft.
- Wes Bunting (Nat'l Football Post) Second/third-round breakdowns.
- Gregg Easterbrook (ESPN) The 2011 TMQ draft review.
- Adam Schein (Fox Sports) Explaining the draft's inexplicable.
- John Clayton (ESPN) Running theme developing.
- Khaled Elsayed (Pro Football Focus) The Top 101 players of 2010: No. 101-81 -- No. 80-61 -- No. 60-41 -- No. 40-21 -- Top 20. This list is whacked.
- Dan Arkush (Pro Football Weekly) Playing the NFL draft name game. Who has the coolest names in the draft?
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Rashard Mendenhall loses endorsement deal with Champion.
- AP (The Gainesville Sun) Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell arrested for marijuana possession.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Goodell says the league, players need to be talking in order to strike a new deal.
- Adam Teicher (Kansas City Star) Goodell and Hunt paint a dark picture of an NFL without a labor deal.
- Eric Edholm (Pro Football Weekly) Agents:Teams have tampered with undrafted players during lockout.
- Rick Horrow (Fox Sports) Rookie wage scale concern. (1.04 min. video)