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Matt Cotcher

NFL Draft (Brown, Hicks, Thompson, Diggs & Swaim selected - details & stories)

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Patriots go the safe route by picking Malcom Brown




That’s the best way to characterize the Patriots’ selection Thursday night in the first round of the NFL Draft, taking Texas nose tackle Malcom Brown with the last pick of the night.


And many draftniks had Brown going higher than 32 (the Globe’s mock draft had him at No. 23 to the Lions). So, the Patriots’ favorite buzzword was being tossed around social media by the pundits immediately after the pick — “value.†The Patriots supposedly got good value on Brown.

But Brown looks like a safe pick off the field, which in the wake of the Aaron Hernandez tragedy is as important for the Patriots as his on-field prognosis.

Brown doesn’t appear to have any significant “red flags†on his résumé. In fact, for one of the youngest players in the draft — he’s still only 21, barely old enough to legally celebrate with an alcoholic beverage on Thursday night — Brown displays impressive maturity.

In Brown, the Patriots drafted a player who is married and supporting a young family. His one-year anniversary with his wife, Faith, is May 14. He adopted her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Rayna, and the couple had their first child last August, a daughter named Mayah.

“I’m playing to support my family,†Brown said in February at the Combine. “I can’t just think about myself when I make decisions. It just gives me more motives. I’m not just playing for myself anymore.â€

Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford called Brown a “man among boys,†and certainly that is the reason the Patriots tabbed Brown. He’s a beast in the middle and he can clog run lanes — 38 run stops in 2014, the most of any defensive tackle in this year’s draft.



But Brown’s maturity and character clinched the decision. You’ll notice they took the family man over any of the “red flag†players still available, such as Randy Gregory or the suddenly-undraftable La’el Collins.

In previous years, the Patriots perhaps would have tried to trade up and select a “red flag†guy such as Marcus Peters or Shane Ray, who both went off the board before No. 32.

But the Patriots are still smarting from the Hernandez disaster, and aren’t in the mood for taking chances on guys with questionable characters — especially with the No. 32 pick, with a whole universe of players available for the taking.

“No. 1, he’s a great character guy,†Bedford said recently in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “He knows who he is. He’s settled. He has children, and he does the little things right. When we’re not around, we know what he’s doing. Why? Because it’s important to him. He’s a family man. On the football field, he’s another coach. He was a great leader for us.â€

After watching Brown and his wife support themselves and their two children last year — both were full-time students, Brown also played football, and neither had a job — the Patriots don’t have to worry too much about Brown getting into trouble or drifting aimlessly now that he’s away from the protective cocoon of college life.

“I think he did a lot of things that lend themselves to making good decisions, being loyal, committed, sticking with it, finishing the job, all that,†Belichick said. “I think that’s impressive.â€

We’ll see if Brown can adequately fill Wilfork’s shoes. The Patriots have enough depth at defensive tackle where they don’t need Brown to play 70 percent of snaps right away, like Wilfork did last year. Brown will likely be brought in on short-yardage situations to stop the run, and given an expanded role over time.

Should the Patriots have targeted a cornerback to replace Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner? Possibly, although there are still several good players left on the board, and the Patriots hold four of the next 69 picks. There are still plenty of offensive guards for them to take in Day 2.

Brown certainly wasn’t the sexiest pick for the Patriots. But it was a safe one, all the way around.



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From Grantland:



Least Confusing Pick

Patriots drafting Malcom Brown. How did the Patriots end up getting exactly what they needed without budging an inch? Despite rumors they were going to deal their pick at the end of the first round to the Texans, Bill Belichick’s team somehow came away with a player it could have justified grabbing 15 spots earlier. Although the Patriots were a respectable 13th against the run per DVOA last year, that was with Vince Wilfork, who was a cap casualty this offseason.

While the Patriots can expect to get more out of 2014 first-rounder Dominique Easley this season, the 290-pound defensive tackle simply doesn’t do the same things that Wilfork, nominally playing the same position, did for years and years. The 319-pound Brown can’t expect to play like Wilfork overnight, but he has the frame to hold up as a two-gapping tackle if Belichick wants to use him that way. Brown was regarded as arguably the best run defender in this class, and Belichick will be able to use him for 40 snaps a game to clog up the interior of the defense while Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo run free behind him. We don’t know if Brown will be an above-average pro yet, so it’s impossible to say this is a great pick. Given pre-draft projections and analysis of where the Patriots are weakest, though, it sure seems like a logical one.




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Patriots' pick of Malcom Brown a throwback to early Bill Belichick years



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In the early years of Bill Belichick's head-coaching tenure with the New England Patriots, selecting a big, powerful defensive tackle was a given if the opportunity presented itself.

There was Richard Seymour in the 2001 first round (sixth overall). Then Ty Warren in the 2003 first round (13th overall). And finally, Vince Wilfork in the 2004 first round (21st overall).

Belichick once explained the approach by saying there simply aren't that many 300-pound-plus defenders who are athletic and powerful, noting that those types of players were usually the first to score big-money contracts in free agency. In those days, the Patriots played a two-gapping 3-4 defense, and building a sturdy wall at the line of scrimmage made players such as Seymour, Warren and Wilfork even more valuable.

The Patriots haven't used a first-round pick on that type of player since Wilfork, but after considering trade options Thursday night, they went back to their roots in drafting 6-foot-2⅜, 319-pound Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown 32nd overall. In what hardly seems like a coincidence, Brown will now be part of the group called upon help fill the void created by Wilfork's free-agent departure to the Houston Texans.

"We feel good about our selection of Malcom," coach Bill Belichick said in a late-night news conference. "A combination of his talent, work ethic, production, skill set relative to what we're looking for, we felt like he was the best [fit] for us."


Capturing the throwback feel of the pick, Belichick even referenced Seymour when asked about Brown's college statistics and how he projects to the team's scheme.

"[When] we took Seymour, it was a big crisis because he only had half a sack in college and he couldn't rush the passer. I don't think that's very accurate, but that was big [in the media], couldn't get over that," he said. "I worry more about what they [do] when they get in our uniform."

It was perfect synergy -- Seymour quickly became a star -- and a reminder that Belichick's memory remains a steel trap.

As for Brown, few media analysts projected he'd be available at No. 32. ESPN's Todd McShay had him going No. 23 to the Detroit Lions, as did McShay's colleague Mel Kiper Jr. NFL Network's Mike Mayock, meanwhile, had Brown going No. 21 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

So the Patriots someday might have a few thank-yous to send out to teams such as the Lions (they took guard Laken Tomlinson), the run-defense-challenged Indianapolis Colts (receiver Phillip Dorsett) and the New Orleans Saints (linebacker Stephone Anthony), even though Belichick said this is the type of draft in which one team might have a player rated 15th and another team might have the same player rated in the 60s.

"Just seems like there's a lot of spread on a lot of players in this draft," he noted.

Belichick described Brown as a versatile player who has played everywhere from a 5-technique (head up on the tackle) to nose (over the center). He also noted Brown's athleticism, saying it shows up on the field by the way he runs and plays on his feet, while making the point that Brown, at 320 pounds, is a completely different type of defensive tackle than last year's first-round pick, Dominique Easley, who is a lighter, penetrating presence at around 290 pounds.

Brown, who is married with two children, described his style of play as "relentless." On a late-night conference call, he struck a balance between humble and confident, saying he'll play anywhere, do whatever's asked of him and work hard, before relaying his message to Patriots fans: "You’re all about to get the best player y’all have ever drafted. So just be ready for when I take the field.â€

It'll be hard to top quarterback Tom Brady, of course, but if Brown can turn back the clock and follow in the footsteps of Seymour, Warren and Wilfork, that would be an ideal scenario for the Patriots.



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Jordan Hicks was picked by the Eagles with the 20th pick in the 3rd round (No. 84 overall). That's a good spot for him as most had him slotted as a 3rd day pick.


UT's release on his selection:


University of Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 20th pick (84th overall) in Friday’s third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, which is being held in Chicago. 
Hicks is the fourth Texas linebacker selected in the draft during the last six years. Keenan Robinson (fourth round in 2012 to Washington), Emmanuel Acho (sixth round in 2012 to Cleveland) and Roddrick Muckelroy (fourth round in 2010 to Cincinnati) join Hicks on the list. Acho has spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia.
“I’ve been talking to Philly for a while, actually,” Hicks said about being picked by the Eagles. “I went on a pre-draft visit there and had a great time, felt really comfortable and enjoyed meeting with all the coaches and getting a feel for the place. I really like the city, and I know the organization is doing big things right now, so I can’t wait to get there and get going.”
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Hicks is the second Longhorn to be taken in this year’s draft.  Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was selected Thursday with the 32nd choice in the first round by the New England. 
Texas has at least two players selected in the first three rounds in 13 of the last 15 years. There have been at least two taken overall in 51 of the last 54 NFL Drafts, dating back to 1962.
Last season, Hicks was a key cog in a UT defense that ranked No. 25 nationally in total defense (348.5 yards per game), No. 11 in both passing yards allowed (184.2 pg) and sacks (3.08 pg), and 22nd in third-down conversion defense (35.3 percent).
“Jordan has a lot of skill,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He’s someone that can go in coverage and cover backs or anyone he needs to. He does a great job of dropping into a zone or matching up, but he’s also very physical at the point of attack where he can run downhill and take on blockers.”
Hicks ended his five-year career with 299 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He shook off a pair of injury-plagued seasons (2012-13) to record 147 tackles in 2014, a total that ranks tied for seventh on the school's single-season list. Hicks was a second-team All-America choice from both the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player.
“The thing about Jordan is he’s very smart,” Strong said. “He’s just like another coach out on the field. He’s someone who did a great job this year getting our defense lined up, and guys respected him because of how hard he worked.”
Defensive tackle Chris Akins was the last Longhorn selected by Philadelphia, going in the seventh round in 1998. Britt Hager was last UT linebacker to get drafted by the Eagles (third round in 1989). But it will be Acho who will help provide guidance to Hicks moving forward. 
“Making this transition from college to the NFL is going to be huge, and I think having somebody like [Emmanuel] who I know and have a really good relationship with, we stay in contact all the time, he’s the guy I usually turn to if I need something like advice in football, because I know he’s been through it,” Hicks said. 
Hicks knows there will be an adjustment at the professional level, but his experience at Texas should help prepare him for the transition. 
“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and say I know what to expect because it’s new,” Hicks said of the transition to the NFL. “You can’t be ready for something brand new. You have no clue what it truly means to step into the situation, but I also know who I am, and I’ve been through some things in my life that I’ve overcome, and I’ve learned a lot about myself since I’ve been at The University of Texas.”
On Thursday, Brown became the fourth player under Strong to be drafted in the first round during the last two years. Last season, Louisville had three first round picks in safety Calvin Pryor (18th overall to New York Jets), defensive end Marcus Smith (26th overall to Philadelphia) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (32nd overall to Minnesota). Strong was the head coach with the Cardinals from 2011 to 2014. Since 1995, Strong has coached 13 players selected in the first round and 31 taken in the first four rounds. 
The third, and final, round of the NFL Draft will be held Saturday.
Strong on NFL Network: While Charlie Strong appeared on NFL Network during the second and third rounds Friday, four players he has coached at either Texas or Louisville were chosen, including a stretch of three in four selections. The group includes LB Jordan Hicks (84 overall) from Texas, and OT Jamon Brown (72 overall), OG John Miller (81 overall) and LB Lorenzo Mauldin (82 overall) from Louisville. That brings the total to six combined for the 2015 draft (Malcom Brown of Texas - New England; DeVante Parker of Louisville – Miami).

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You have to hand it to Charlie, he puts them in The League.


What would a team comprised of Charlie Strong players, from Louisville and Texas, have looked like on the field at Texas in 2013?


David Ash and Bridgewater at QB, and no concussion for Ash.

A good o-line

A great defense, with Big Mal leading the charge.


Coaches on the sidelines and the field.

Recruiting problems?  Puh-lease.


That would take us to 2014, with a healthy David Ash.  I bet we would even have QB depth.  Now, what does the picture look like?  I know.  I know.  One can dream, right? 

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Comments about Jordan Hicks from Charlie Strong, Kiper, and McShay.



Here's what they said about Hicks. Strong, of course, coached the new Eagles linebacker last year:

"The thing about Jordan is, he's a coach on the field. A young man who has battled a lot of injuries, and I'm just so happy for him, for him to come back and have the senior year that he had, I was telling our players, you go through a season, and there are some guys you wish you could have back. He's one of those guys. I told big Malcom [brown], he can go ahead on, but I would love to have Jordan back because he is a very physical, smart player and a guy who can play in space when you talk about spreading him out, he can play in space.

"I thought he would go a round earlier, but that's me talking."



"They're getting four-year players, graduates and smart football players and individuals, and Jordan Hicks is exactly what Chip Kelly is looking for. He graduated with a sports management degree. He's on the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, smart player. He doesn't run the fastest 40. He ran a 4.68. 6-1, 238 pounds. I think people really appreciated him at the Senior Bowl. They saw his tape, and his tape is really good because he's diagnosing quickly, and he's making plays in that Texas defense, and I thought he had his best year of his career in this past year under Charlie Strong and that defensive coaching staff. But at the Senior Bowl, you really got to see him and his instincts take over: matching up man-to-man when he wasn't as fast as the running back, but he was in his hip pocket because he was reading the route; reading the offensive linemen and getting his eyes into the backfield and diagnosing plays quicker than any of the other all-star linebackers at the Senior Bowl. I think Jordan Hicks really helped his draft stock during the pre-draft process. I think this is a really good pick and a really good fit for the Eagles."



"Well the thing is, he couldn't stay healthy, injury riddled seasons back-to-back. He finally was at full strength all year and had the best season of his career at Texas with 138 tackles. The UCLA game, 18 stops. Durability, though, with Jordan Hicks is the only concern."

Read more at http://www.phillymag.com/birds247/2015/05/02/mayock-kiper-on-rowe-and-hicks/#PhBcxSC1z82tLd5E.99

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Texas has had 4 5 players selected after Strongs first year.  Count 'em...5!  One each in Round 1, Round 3, Round 5, Round 6, and Round 7.  This after no Longhorns were selected last year for the first time, practically, since Texas became a state.


Our prodigal step-brother to the East (shhh, the one with issues) has had 2 players selected.  One each in Round 1 and Round 5, and if I am not mistaken, they were both Sherman recruits.


Hey, Charlie, you are the man!  How many Louisville players have you had taken in addition to our Longhorns?  Nine?  You have got to be kidding me!  You are making a lot of kids dreams come true this weekend - 13 14 so far.  Wow, just wow!!! 


btw, none of Stumblin's Houston players have been selected yet.  Sad, really.




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Devante has a smart mom.



DeVante Parker's Mom Says What We All Think About The Cleveland Browns




Sports moms are usually good moms. Devante Parker, who was picked 14th overall by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of this year’s draft, has a good sports mom.

Parker has been deemed a pretty highly-rated receiving prospect. As he slid out of the top-1o of this year’s draft, any of the teams picking could’ve justifiably snatched him up. As it were, Parker’s mom Raneca was happy to see her son slip past Cleveland at No. 12 and end up with Miami. Here’s what Raneca had to say, via Adam Beasley of Miami Herald:

“We didn’t want him going to Cleveland,†Raneca Parker said Friday, less than 24 hours after the Dolphins took her son with the 14th pick. “They don’t have a team, really, or a quarterback. I knew I didn’t want the Cleveland Browns.

“I know the teams he could go to and the teams he couldn’t go to. We were happy with the Miami Dolphins. He was very ecstatic. We’re happy, we love the weather.â€

She left out the fact that Cleveland’s owner was associated with some serious white-collar crime and that the team may take draft advice from homeless people, but otherwise, yeah, a pretty solid assessment of the Browns.



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UT release on Mykkele Thompson getting picked:


Thompson picked in fifth round of NFL Draft by New York Giants
Defensive back chosen 144th overall Saturday, during final day of draft
Texas had its third player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft when defensive back Mykkele Thompson was chosen by the New York Giants with the eighth choice (144th overall) during Saturday’s fifth round. 
New England chose Malcom Brown with the final pick in Thursday’s first round and Philadelphia took Jordan Hicks in Friday’s third round of the draft, which has spanned the last three days in Chicago. 
The Longhorns now have had at least three players selected in 12 of the last 13 NFL Drafts. Thompson is the fifth UT defensive back to be picked in the last five drafts. 
“It’s always great,” Thompson said of continuing the tradition of Texas defensive backs playing in the NFL. “The older guys laid the foundation for us, and we just want to uphold the tradition they put ahead and keep it going. It’s great to part of something like that.”
Cornerback Aaron Ross was the last Longhorn selected by the Giants, going in the opening round in 2007. Thompson will join cornerback Chykie Brown and running back Chris Ogbonnaya as former Texas players on the New York roster. 
“I haven’t had a chance to spend time with Chris, but of course Chykie, with him being a DB, we’ve had conversations,” Thompson said. “It’s always great to know somebody that’s from your school on the roster. I know Chykie will do nothing but push me.”
A two-year starter who played in all 52 games the last four seasons, Thompson ranked seventh on the team in tackles (69) in 2014 and averaged 7.0 stops during the last seven contests. He posted a career-high 72 tackles in 2013. 
“Mykkele is really good cover guy and also played the nickel position, but he has a lot of skill and a lot of ability,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “He has a lot of range when he’s in the middle of the field, but he’s good enough to play man coverage because he has height, and can get into receivers’ bodies and make them work to catch the ball.”
For his career, Thompson started 25 games and tallied 213 tackles, including 125 solo stops, seven tackles for loss and two interceptions. He was also a regular on special teams, contributing three career blocked kicks (two punt/one field goal). His two blocked punts in 2012 tied for the Big 12 lead. 
While there are two Longhorns on the current New York roster, Thompson is just the third to be selected by the team in nearly 50 years. Rod Babers was picked in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Prior to him, Phil Harris was chosen in the seventh round of the 1966 draft. 
“That was the only team that I took a visit to,” Thompson said. “I went and saw their facilities and everything and got a great vibe from everyone on the staff. I had a feeling I would end up with them, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen.”

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