Even though the NFL offseason is in full swing with three weeks to go until the draft, plenty is happening around the New England Patriots and the rest of the league. Let’s use this forum right here to go through some of the stories that emerged recently: time for our Sunday Patriots Notes.
1. Tom House has some nice things to say about Jarrett Stidham. When veteran throwing coach Tom House appeared on NBC Sports’ Patriots Talk podcast earlier this week, his remarks about Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton made most of the headlines. House, whose clients include, among others, Tom Brady, expressed confidence that Newton “will throw the football better this year” after a challenging 2020 season.
However, he also spoke positively about another Patriots quarterback as well: third-year man Jarrett Stidham.
“His mechanics are pretty solid, and I’m sure that the decision makers with the organization recognize that,” said House about the former fourth-round draft selection. “He also looks like he has the mental capacity to handle it. Physically, I think he’s going to be fine. What he needs right now is just snaps under pressure. Just to see if he can compete. But as far as mechanics are concerned, he’s as good as there is out there.”
Stidham backed up Brady and Newton the last two seasons, and could be a candidate to compete for the Patriots’ starting job in 2021. Based on his first two years in the NFL the odds do not favor him — he has played a mop-up role in eight games and completed 24 of 48 pass attempts for 270 yards as well as two touchdowns and four interceptions — but House’s remarks are encouraging nonetheless.
2. Josh Uche seems to be progressing well after an injury-riddled rookie season. Injuries forced second-round draft pick Josh Uche to miss seven games last year, but he seems to be on a good way to return to form. A recent video shared by his personal coach, Pedro Marti, shows the 22-year-old go through a pass rushing drill and he appears to be moving quite well and without any visible limitations:
Working hips, hands, and finish with @_Uche35 #createchaos #dline pic.twitter.com/ZjW3qew440— Pedro Marti (@CoachMarti) April 10, 2021
Uche, who was picked 60th overall last year, could be a serious candidate for the famous second-year jump. The Michigan man, after all, already played some strong football as a situational pass rusher at times last season, despite being unable to establish a proper rhythm.
With Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy being brought in during the offseason, and with Chase Winovich still around as well, Uche projects to be used as the fourth member of the outside linebacker rotation.
3. Top-tier draft prospects Justin Fields and Trey Lance will conduct second Pro Days. Patriots owner Robert Kraft acknowledged his team’s need to find a long-term solution at the quarterback position, which means that New England is very much in the market for a passer come the draft. Two potential candidates to be picked by the team have now decided to hold a second set of Pro Days.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will hold his second session on Wednesday, April 14. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance will throw again on Monday, April 19. The Patriots being present at both sessions would not be a surprise, given that they did the same when Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, another first-round prospect, participated in a second Pro Day.
The Patriots already scouted both Lance and Fields during their first workouts. New England sent national scout Matt Groh to North Dakota State, and scouting consultant Eliot Wolf to Ohio State. This time, head coach Bill Belichick and/or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could make the trips — they already did that to visit Jones at Alabama.
4. A note on the draft quarterbacks’ success beyond the first read. There are always some dominant storylines heading into a draft, and this year it seems to be “Are the quarterbacks good beyond the first read?” One widely-spread misconception is that Justin Fields would not be that, but Gang Green Nation’s David Wyatt-Hupton shared a table produced by the Draft Network that shows this is very much not the case.
19.1 percent of Field’s throws went beyond the first read, with 69.1 percent of those passes completed. While read progressions are sometimes hard to evaluate without knowing the play call and what passers are asked to look for in their progressions, those numbers are still impressive.
On the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, is Mac Jones. Per the Draft Network chart only 9.7 percent of his throws came on a second, third or subsequent read; just 31.6 percent of those passes ended up as completions.
The full table looks as follows:
Great stuff by the Draft Network. Below is a table of the QB's percentage of pass attempts past their 1st read & the completion %. That 7 passes past his first read is absolute BS as we've been saying. Not only did he throw past his 1st read more than anyone, he was accurate too. pic.twitter.com/3bfD3RA2s3— David Wyatt-Hupton (@DWyattHupton) April 11, 2021
5. A possible Falcons-Patriots draft day trade from Atlanta’s perspective. While a lot has been made about New England possibly continuing its aggressive offseason by moving up in the first round of the draft to pick a quarterback, the other side of this speculation oftentimes gets ignored: it takes two to tango, and just because the Patriots might want to move up does not mean they will be able to do that in a reasonable manner.
One team seen as a potential partner in this first-round dance are the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta is reportedly looking into the possibility of moving out of the fourth overall slot via trade with a quarterback-needy team such as New England. As a recent analysis by The Falcoholic’s David J. Walker shows, however, such a move might not be as realistic a scenario as it looks like on the surface:
This one feels like a real possibility, but it does buck history. Belichick has just gone on a free agent spending spree and he probably did not like the taste of having his first losing season in decades. Watching Brady win it had to have been salt on the wound. Would he be willing to part with multiple future first round picks? Possibly. He may be thinking less about the long-term and more about finishing his career out strong and proving that it wasn’t just Brady that made the Patriots, and if the aggressive spending matches his aggressiveness in the draft, landing his next quarterback could be the move.
That said, if I’m the Falcons, I’m a little more hesitant here. Those future 1sts could be in the back half of the first round if New England rebounds. That’s still valuable, but maybe not as valuable as picks from a team with a worse long-term track record and immediate future. I could see this happening, but it would still shock me.
Other teams mentioned as trading partner for the Falcons are the Denver Broncos (No. 9), the Minnesota Vikings (No. 14), the Washington Football Team (No. 19), Chicago Bears (No. 20) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 24). All of those teams are looking for quarterbacks, and therefore might consider a move up the board to get their guy.
6. Randy Moss’ son is available again. Speaking of the Washington Football Team, it released tight end Thaddeus Moss on Friday. Moss, the son of former Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, arrived in Washington as a rookie free agent last year, and spent the entire 2020 season on the team’s injured reserve list.
The Patriots, of course, have shown interest in the 22-year-old before. Moss confirmed during a media session last spring that three teams gave him a call when the draft was nearing the end and it became possible he would go unselected: Washington, New England and the Cincinnati Bengals. He eventually decided to go with the club that called him first, and signed a three-year pact with the Football Team.
Now, the Patriots might again be in a position to bring him in. That said, such a move has to be considered unlikely. Not only did they bolster their tight end depth chart by signing Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in free agency, they also already have 78 players under contract. With only 12 spots remaining on the offseason roster, New England might prefer trimming the roster rather than signing long-shot players such as Moss.
7. Short-time Patriots player Phillip Adams kills six, then shoots himself. Authorities in South Carolina announced this week that former NFL defensive back Phillip Adams killed six people before shooting himself. Adams played in 78 games during his career, including six as a member of the 2011 Patriots.
His brain is now reportedly being examined for signs of CTE, a degenerative disease linked to head trauma that has caused violent mood swings and other cognitive disorders.
8. Dont’a Hightower is supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To end this on a positive note, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower has put out a call to raise $100,000 to support cancer patients:
If each of my followers gave $5, we’d raise $2.3 million dollars. At the minimum, let’s raise $100,000 so that we can honor two special Patriots Fans with a $50,000 mission portfolio for cancer research in their name.
Hightower also announced that he will be picking donors to win game tickets, autographed items, surprise FaceTime chats and more. If you are able to support this cause, please follow this link to donate.
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