View from Above
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Tue., Feb. 20, 2018 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EST
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View from Above: Do these rookies have what it takes?
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But don't believe for a minute that at least some of the newcomers don't know what to expect, when it comes to the actual on-field competition. The Patriots have long had a love for leaders on the field - experienced, mature players who have held captaincies, or perhaps were named all-conference in their respective leagues. Guys who can be looked up to, and lead by example on and off of the field...willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
The key trait here, is successful Patriot draft selections usually have measurable "intangibles." You know, that certain "somethin' somethin'," or Je ne sais quoi. Something that might set them apart from someone else with similar size, or ability.
New England seems to have found at least a couple of those players in this Draft, as we get to know just who these Patriot hopefuls are.
To begin with, 2nd round pick (and the first for the Patriots) Cyrus Jones from Alabama obviously comes from a winning program. But he hasn't always been a cornerback, having started out for Nick Saban as a wide receiver. He volunteered to make the move to defense, and seems to have made a solid choice.
Not just versatility in his game, which the Patriots crave, but selflessness in his character? Major bonus points when it comes to being a potential pro football player.
Saturday, the Patriots addressed a need for the offense, by selecting wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell out of Georgia in the 4th round. It's true that the receiver position has been a sore spot for New England in its recent draft past, but when you're able to lock in on a player you believe has talent, physical ability and intelligence - while also having overcome injuries along the way in order to be productive - you have the chance for a winner.
And as you may already know, Mitchell has that "intelligence" thing pretty well figured out. He's an author, having written and published a children's book entitled "The Magician's Hat." He's also made a name for himself by joining a book club, populated mostly by women old enough to be his mother or grandmother, in order to become "a person who learns and grows throughout life in general."
Mitchell has said he could read only at an eighth-grade level when he entered college. Add to that a knee injury he suffered early in his collegiate career that temporarily slowed him, and it appears he's definitely embraced his shortcomings. Nothing like fueling your fire, right?
"If people are more focused on becoming the best person they can be, reaching their full potential, all the outside noise really doesn't matter," Mitchell said to the media, in addressing questions about his character. "You do whatever it takes to put yourself in the position you want to be in."
As the days and weeks pass us by, and as we approach OTA's, training camp and the next regular season, we'll undoubtedly learn more about the newest Patriot players. Hey, 6th round pick Ted Karras from Illinois has a great uncle whose name you might know - former Pro Bowler (with Detroit) and longtime actor and broadcaster Alex Karras. Did the Patriots select him for his ability (as a four-year starter for the Illini) or his bloodline?
Does it really matter? Ability is a given if you're chosen in the draft. Having the "intangibles," that certain something extra that can set you apart from the competition, is what can separate the extraordinary from the merely ordinary.
It's what the Patriots surely look for in considering their newest players. Because it helps to have some idea of what you're getting into. Read
Is Laremy Tunsil's story for real?
The Ole Miss offensive tackle was projected as an early 1st round selection before the NFL Draft began, but then a video of Tunsil wearing a gas mask - smoking through a bong - was released through his Twitter account. Tunsil's name reportedly was removed from several draft boards after the social media blunder, and the Miami Dolphins stepped in (at #13 overall) to stop what could have (should have?) been a precipitous slide.
Of course not. And that's how things like this happen, because those involved don't think. Or they're too buzzed to think clearly. Add to this social media fiasco another one on Instagram in the hours after his selection, alleging Tunsil accepted monetary payments from his coaches at Ole Miss - to which Tunsil himself neither confirmed nor denied when initially confronted with the information.
He later admitted during a press conference to taking money while in school, and was summarily suspended seven games during the 2015 season for accepting impermissible benefits.
Well then. Excuse me for standing on the soap box to preach here, but as Bill Belichick might say "that's not what we're looking for." To begin with, the social media blunders are one thing - and many employers do check the social media accounts of potential employees for behavior that could be considered "unprofessional," whether it's an invasion of privacy or not.
You put it out there, it won't go away. You make a decision to post something like wearing a gas mask smoking a bong - that's your choice. Own it, and accept the consequences of your decision and actions.
But it shouldn't matter if you're the reincarnation of John Hannah on the field or not - the decisions being made by this young man are huge, giant, obvious red flags, pointing to possible flaws in more than just his decision-making. And the Dolphins apparently are willing to gamble, with a lot of money, on Tunsil's ability to overcome those flaws.
Maybe he will, and for his sake, I hope so. But it appears Laremy Tunsil needs a heckuva lot more than a football team giving him a ton of money right now, if you ask me. To start with, he could use a few life lessons, to go along with the football ones he may have learned along the way. Read
Bradford's plan backfires?
You can almost excuse away Laremy Tunsil's actions on a lack of knowledge or maturity, of course. He's a rookie, a young man, and hopefully with time he'll learn his lessons.
So what is Sam Bradford's excuse?
It was reported last week the Philadelphia Eagles' QB wants out of Philly, more so after the Eagles selected North Dakota State's Carson Wentz with the second selection in the draft. Bradford will reportedly skip the rest of Philadelphia's off-season training program in an effort to force the team to trade him.
Philly was one of the few teams to give him a shot at being a starter when he signed a two-year deal that guarantees him $22 million. Good coin for a guy with two bum knees and no real performance track record (in St. Louis) to back him up, after winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, don't you think?
Other than being on the receiving end of this slap in the face, why would the Eagles trade him? And yet, why would they keep him around or sign him to another deal? Sam, Sam, Sam. Either your Oklahoma education has failed you miserably, or your agents have an overinflated sense of your worth in the current marketplace. Maybe, a team in dire straits under center (Denver???) will have a look.
Eventually, as mentioned above, everyone must accept the consequences of their decisions or actions.
But when it comes to hiring potential employees, other teams certainly don't have to follow suit.
John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and just completed his 23rd year as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for 27 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. Read