Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. I have been impressed with how articulate and poised Patriots first-round picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have been over the last few weeks, and most recently on Friday. Bill Belichick will take his chances on certain prospects, but the first round is for the “sure thing”, and it’s easy to see why these two fall into that category from a complete package standpoint.
2. This is how hot for Jones I think the Patriots were – I believe they were in talks to move up higher than 21 to get him, but it didn't come together. Once the Seahawks took Bruce Irvin at 15 and the pass rushers started to come off the board, it was action time.
3. Making any definitive conclusions at rookie minicamp is risky business, so it was notable from this perspective that Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he was impressed with receiver Rueben Randle over the last few days. LSU's Randle slipped to the bottom of the second round and is a top candidate to replace the departed Mario Manningham. The Giants generally do a solid job of reloading through the draft.
4. Random thought from the past week: The game has changed so much over the last few years that a player like defensive lineman Ty Warren, drafted 13th overall by the Patriots in 2003, probably would be more of a second-rounder at this time. Warren was a solid player in the base 3-4 defense, but didn’t factor much into sub defenses, which are being run more and more.
5. First-round draft choice David DeCastro, the guard from Stanford, should be a Day 1 starter for the Steelers (probably on the right side). Second-round draft choice Mike Adams of Ohio State will compete for one of the tackle spots. That’s often the way the Steelers roll – nothing flashy, just solid. Interesting story about Adams – he was taken off the Steelers’ draft board after the Combine, but requested a face-to-face meeting with the team and got back into their good graces. Don’t hear that too often.
6. Texans owner Bob McNair said he plans to extend the contracts of coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith, both of whom enter the last year of their deals. Just a few years ago, Kubiak had been on the hot seat. File this one in the same category as Tom Coughlin from about five years ago – sometimes patience is the way to go.
7. Tough blow for the Browns, potentially losing defensive lineman Phil Taylor for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle while lifting weights. Taylor, a 2011 first-round pick, is their Vince Wilfork (just not as good). Don’t see the Browns generating enough momentum to be a factor in the tough AFC North.
8. Talked to one agent who said negotiations with prospects drafted in the third round have been more challenging than the first round. The reason, according to the agent, is that first and second-rounders receive their full slot allocation, while fourth- to seventh-rounders don’t. That puts the third-rounders right in the middle. Something to keep an eye on, perhaps, with Jake Bequette and the Patriots.
9. Smart move by the Jets to pass on "Hard Knocks" this year. That's not what they need.
10. When I learned that Patriots seventh-round pick Jeremy Ebert doesn’t have graduation at Northwestern until June 16, two days after the team’s minicamp concludes, it reminded me of Taylor Price from two years ago. Price got a late start (besides rookie minicamp, a player can’t practice until he graduates) while the rest of his teammates were working, and it showed.