Paul Perillo profiles 7th-round draft pick, rookie OL Thomas Welch.
Despite his inexperience and limited size (at the time) Welch displayed great quickness and technique, particularly for a player new to the position. He immediately showed the ability to use his hands well and worked at both right and left tackle during his career. A severe ankle injury hampered him throughout his senior season, a problem that [Brentwood coach Ron]Caldwell believes affected his draft status.
"We talked to some Patriots scouts, Tim Heffelfinger was here to work with him and they were very inquisitive about him," Caldwell said. "Thomas was destined to be a higher pick had he stayed healthy. He hurt his ankle and kept trying to play — he’d go 15-20 plays a game and then the thing would go on him. Coach Belichick came down and worked out our corner and liked Thomas. He’s got a special quality about him. This year against LSU he did extremely well against their great front and he told me it was the most fun he ever had playing football."
Welch’s toughness no doubt endeared him to the Patriots staff. His flexibility also earned him some points and eventually New England took him at the top of the seventh round (No. 208 overall). He played the 2008 season at right tackle before moving to the left side last year. Not only did Welch insist on playing each Saturday but he also refused to sit out practice. He typically went as long as he could and only when the pain became unbearable would he go to the bench.
"His best football is ahead of him," Caldwell said. "I had him about two full years on the offensive line. His body is still getting accustomed to carrying that weight around. Thomas is a tremendous person and he’ll be a pillar in your community."
Andy Hart explores what the rookie seasons of the new 'Dynamic Duo' (or is it H-Bomb and G-Force?) could look like, comparing Hernandez and Gronkowski to previous TEs and their rookie seasons for the Patriots.
My gut tells me that the pair will complement each other well from Day 1. That they’ll contribute and be counted on as rookies. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them combine for somewhere in the range of 60 catches with seven or so touchdowns.
Based on this little research project, looking for The Duo (good name for the movie, no?) to be a key part of the offense in 2010 might be a bit optimistic on my part. But the summer time period leading into training camp is all about optimism.
- Ian Rapoport reports Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco lobbed the first loaded twitter aimed at firing up CB Leigh Bodden for game 1 in September.
- Albert Breer notes Chad Ochocinco isn't waiting until September 12th to mix it up with Leigh Bodden.
- Ian Rapoport catches up with DL coach Pepper Johnson, who is becoming a more coveted defensive coordinator candidate every year.
- Mike Reiss looks at the cornerback position and how the Patriots compare with the rest of the NFL.
- Jeff Howe says that in terms of talent and potential, the Patriots could possibly have the deepest pool of safeties in the NFL.
- Mike Reiss looks at why the Patriots have 17 starters on 'D'.
- Albert Breer notes ESPN.com names the 2004 Patriots Super Bowl XXXIX champs as franchise's best ever.
- Mike Reiss offers the transcript of his weekly online chat. Check it out for some great off-season chatter.
- Mark Farinella reports the Hall at Patriot Place will open its "Cheers Through the Years" exhibit on July 8th, including the unveiling of the new Patriots Cheerleader uniforms.
- Albert Breer notes the CFL is set to usher in blood screening for hGH, and the NFL could be right behind.
- Mark Farinella offers his thoughts on the rise and fall of the ATBB web site.
- Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) Effective pass rush from OLBs pivotal to 3-4 defense's success.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) On the radar: Backup QBs.
- Robert Boland (Nat'l Football Post) 2010 franchise rankings: Part two.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) Revis:"I'm the best defender in sports."
Don Banks (SI) Payton doesn't hold back in book chronicling Saints' Super Bowl run. You have to read how Sean Payton "became Bill Belichick" to critique his team before the Championship.
- Pat Kirwan (NFL.com) Pop Quiz:Time to test your knowledge on what transpired in 2009.