The second half of our quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
6. New Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was former Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware's position coach in Baltimore during their Super Bowl season in 2000. This week, Del Rio compared current Denver linebacker Von Miller to Boulware. While both have pass-rushing production that far exceeds what Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower had at Alabama, you have to wonder if that comparison could extend to the Patriots' first-round pick. Hightower's 40-time is considerably slower than Boulware's or Miller's, but his size and positional versatility are comparable.
7. Two seasons ago, every team in the AFC East had adopted a defense that at least resembled a 3-4 alignment. The Patriots were the first to do so, dating back to the 2003 season. Last season, the Patriots shifted back to a 4-3 look, and in 2012, two AFC East teams will join them: the Bills and the Dolphins. With 3-4 nose tackles a tough asset to acquire, you have to wonder how much both Buffalo and Miami wanted to maximize their top shelf pass rushers, Mario Williams and Cameron Wake, in making the defensive switch.
8. How the front seven of the Patriots' defense aligns and utilizes personnel continues to be one of the biggest story-lines of organized team activities from this perspective. From a general standpoint, sub packages are becoming a bigger part of how the team practices, making the base defense -- and who is part of it -- less important.
9. At least one undrafted free agent seems to make the 53-man roster for the Patriots every season. With only nine signed this year -- on a 90-man roster -- could 2012 be the season when none make the cut?
10. Kudos to current Patriots Dan Koppen and Jerod Mayo, as well as former players Christian Fauria, Scott Zolak, and ESPNBoston's Tedy Bruschi for making it out to Tom Brady's Best Buddies Challenge bike ride on Cape Cod yesterday, despite the threat of rain. The tandem ride portion of the event was cut short due to heavy winds that began blowing over barricades and other equipment.