New England Patriots: Ranking Albert Haynesworth and the New Additions
The New England Patriots spent the short offseason grabbing up as much talent as possible. They started with the draft, where they picked up top names such as Nate Solder and Ryan Mallett, and then again hit it big with two big trades to start the new year and then most recently added some former big name pass rushers.
The Patriots are one of the teams who can bring in talent and have the support staff to make most of those pickups.
The Patriots took gambles on some of their pickups as well. Mallett had "character concerns." Albert Haynesworth has a well-documented history with effort in Washington. Chad Ochocinco has made a bigger name for himself lately with his off-the-field ventures.
Somehow these pickups always turn out to either be successful or the kiss of death for a player's career. It seems that the Patriots are the NFL's ultimate pass/fail course. Pass and you have the chance to play for a championship contender; fail, and you might be out of a job for good. Here are the best and worst of this season's new crop of players.
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There are four players we truly won't know anything about this season: Lee Smith, Markell Carter, Malcolm Williams and Marcus Cannon.
All were late-round draft picks, but if any team can turn a late-round pick into a solid starter, it is the Patriots.
A special note on Marcus Cannon: The Patriots really found a steal in him if he is able to fully recover from cancer. While the diagnosis could literally not have happened on a worse day, Cannon seemed to take it in stride and found himself on one of the best situations in the NFL.
The Patriots have the luxury of buying low on players like this. With the talent that they have, they are able to find players who have fallen due to various reasons and pick them up. This was one of those picks. Much like the San Antonio Spurs who stash away foreign prospects, the Patriots bring in talented, but damaged players and turn their careers around.
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The Patriots made some poor decisions this offseason in what has been a spectacular offseason so far.
The drafting of Ras-I Dowling and Steven Ridley aren't home runs.
Dowling isn't showing the potential the Patriots though he would in his first few practices, and Steven Ridley's drafting is questionable with the re-signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Both are downhill runners, and being a change-of-pace back only works if you are actually changing something.
The most questionable free agent signings were Mark Anderson and Chris Morris. Anderson adds depth at defensive end but he would only be a back up to current Patriots Eric Moore and Jermaine Cunningham. Then the Patriots added Andre Carter and Shaun Ellis, making this a bizarre move.
Chris Morris is a backup lineman for a position the Patriots have a backup for. The Panthers felt solid enough at lineman to let him walk and replaced him with an undrafted rookie.
5. Nate Solder ,OT
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Nate Solder is a mountain of a man, and with Matt Light being re-signed, Solder can take his time in developing to the left side of the line which is where he should be.
Solder is a former tight end who converted to a lineman. He is ultra athletic, but his height is causing some mobility problems especially getting leverage.
Fortunately, he has the time and the size to be a true force in the NFL.
What might hold Solder back this year is that he held out in what is already a shortened offseason. He won't have quite as much time to adjust to the game. Long term though, Solder will be a force and anchor of the Patriots line for years to come.
4. Shaun Ellis, DE
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It's rare that picking up a 12-year veteran can be seen as one of the highlights of the offseason.
Shaun Ellis is far removed from his double-digit
3. Albert Haynesworth, DT
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Haynesworth has boom or bust written all over him.
Redskins fans will gladly admit that he was not worth the $100 million he was given after his monster final season in Tennessee. That doesn't mean there is nothing left in the tank.
Haynesworth didn't get along with Mike Shanahan. There is not reason to think he will find Coach Belichick a dream either. There is something about him that turns disgruntled players into hard workers. This would be his biggest turnaround yet.
Haynesworth certainly has the talent to be dominant, and although he is on the wrong side of his peak, he can still be productive. With the right motivation, he might be the biggest steal of this offseason.
2. Ryan Mallett, QB
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The Tom Brady era cannot last forever, no matter how much Brady wants to believe it will. There is a significant drop off after a quarterback turns 37. Brady just turned 34, so the window is closing.
Brian Hoyer is a back up quarterback. That is his ceiling. Mallett was once a top-10 prospect due to his incredible arm strength and accuracy.
At 6'5", Mallett certainly brings the tools to the table, but there are concerns about his character. No one has specifically stated what those concerns are. There was speculation that there was drug and alcohol problemsm but that was never confirmed. This "problem" never
Concerns aside, Mallett loves the game of football. He is the son of a coach. Mallett lives for the game and has a great mentor in Brady. At worst, the Patriots ship him somewhere for a second-round pick and a player, at best, you are looking at becoming the heir to the Brady throne.
1. Chad Ochocinco, WR
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Chad Ochocinco is one of the biggest characters in the NFL. His skills are diminished, but he has stayed relevant simply by taking his "talents" to the small screen.
The reason this will be such a big pickup is that Ochocinco is finally going to be focused solely on winning. He is a huge admirer of both Brady and Belichick and has referred to New England as "heaven."
Ochocinco has had some trouble adjusting to Brady's throwing mechanics and has had some dropped balls in training camp but that is something he can easily overcome.
With a renewed focus and the acting in the past (hopefully), Ochocinco should see a spike in his sagging stats.