Mass College Sports: Top 10 Stories From 2013

By NoontimeSports.com 

In honor of the New Year, which is slowly approaching, we’ve decided to revisit 10 of our favorite stories and moments from the past 12 months.

On behalf of everyone from NoontimeSports.com, we’d like to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Moment No. 1: There were some tremendous finishes to the various games we covered this past year, but probably one of the most amazing endings occurred in March when UMass Lowell topped Boston University, 1-0, in the Hockey East Championship. The win propelled the River Hawks to the Frozen Four.

Yet, before UML made the journey to Pittsburgh, we caught up with Derek Arnold, who netted the game-winner against the Terriers.

Moment No. 2: WPI’s men’s basketball team won 22 consecutive contests before falling to Springfield College, a squad they defeated in the NEWMAC Championship. Their run toward a conference title was certainly a special one, which Coach Chris Bartley and the Engineers will always remember.

Moment No. 3: Probably one of the best football games we covered this past year was Bridgewater State vs. Framingham State. The Rams, who defeated the Bears and claimed the inaugural MASCAC crown, needed a late score to earn the win.

* Moment No. 4: After falling to Endicott College during the regular season, Western New England managed to rebound by defeating the Gulls in the CCC Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship, 9-5. Brandon Body picked up his 11th win between the pipes as he deflected 14 of 19 shots.

Moment No. 5: Sticking with lacrosse, Endicott College’s women’s lacrosse team, which defeated Western New England during the CCC Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship, earned their first NCAA tournament win in program history by defeating Springfield College, 4-3.

Moment No. 6: Tufts University’s softball team, which finished its season 46-3 overall, claimed its first NCAA Championship with a 6-5 win over SUNY Cortland. The Jumbos, who were making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Finals, won all four of its contests in the winners bracket.

Staying the NESCAC, another exciting championship occurred a few months prior the Jumbos championship as Amherst College’s men’s basketball team celebrated its second NCAA Championship.

Moment No. 7: Kyle Juszczyk, who played fullback for the Harvard Crimson, was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in during the NFL Draft in April. Two months later, we ran a quick profile on our blog about the rookie fullback, who completed in his first NFL minicamp.

In July, we highlighted the various college players, who suited up for the various local teams that were competing for jobs in the National Football League (NFL).

Moment No. 8: One thing we learned through our various preseason college football coverage was that WPI’s football team, specifically the offensive line, had “SWAG.”

Moment No. 9: After earning an impressive road win against New Haven, we caught up with Robert Talley, Stonehill’s football head coach, who discussed the exciting victory, but also the Skyhawks’ momentum. Stonehill clinched its first winning season since 1996 with an 8-3 overall mark.

A few months after our interview, Talley was featured in Sports Illustrated’s ‘Faces in the Crowd.’

Moment No. 10: We’ll conclude our list with a highlight reel goal, which was scored by Wheaton College’s Luke Finkelstein during the first round of the NCAA Division 3 Men’s Soccer Tournament. Finkelstein’s goal secured a 2-0 win for the Lyons over Plattsburgh State. You can see the goal by fast forwarding to the 0:54 mark, enjoy.

Mass. College Football: Baltimore Selects Harvard’s Juszczyk In NFL Draft

By NoontimeSports.com

Earlier this afternoon, the Baltimore Ravens selected Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and courtesy of the athletic department, below is the release about the Crimson fullback/tight end being drafted:

NEW YORK  – Harvard senior tight end Kyle Juszczyk has been selected in the fourth round of the 2013 National Football League Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Juszczyk was the 130th overall selection in this year’s draft.

During his four years in Cambridge, Juszczyk established new career records for tight end in receptions (125, sixth all-time), receiving yards (1,576, seventh all-time) and touchdown receptions (22, third all-time). He was a two-time All-American at tight end and H-Back for the Crimson and a three-time All-Ivy selection. Following his senior season, during which he led the Crimson in receptions (52), receiving yards (706) and receiving touchdowns (eight), he was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he carried the ball four times for nine yards, primarily being used as a H-back.

“Guys like Kyle Juszczyk do not grow on trees,” Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, said. “He will go down as one of the great players in Harvard and Ivy Football history. His rare combination of versatility, toughness, leadership and playmaking ability was one of the major catalysts for the highest scoring offense since the Ivy League was formed in 1956.”

The Medina, Ohio native showcased all of those traits on a single play that will live on in Harvard lore for years to come. After catching a ball over the middle against Bucknell this past, the senior bulldozed the first defender in his path. He then shed two arm tackles and stiff armed another defender before outrunning the rest of the Bison defense for a 59-yard touchdown in the Crimson’s 35-7 win. The play ended up on ESPN’s Sportscenter the following day as the No. 3 play in its top 10 segment.

Juszczyk becomes the fourth player drafted under Murphy. He joins Matt Birk ’98, who recently retired after winning the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens this past season, Isaiah Kacyvenski ’00 and Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 as players who have heard their name called at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Overall, he is the 20th Harvard player to get drafted and first since Fitzpatrick was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 draft.

Harvard wrapped up its spring football season Saturday with its annual spring game and will now turn its head to the 2013 season opener at San Diego on Sept. 21.

Road To The 2013 NFL Draft: Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk

Harvard's Kyle Juszczyk hopes to continue his football career in the NFL! (Photo Credit: The Harvard Crimson)

Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk hopes to extend his football career beyond Cambridge! (Photo Credit: The Harvard Crimson)

By Matt Noonan

Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk has always wanted to play professional football, and this weekend his dream could come true as he, along with hundred of other college football players from across the country, will wait anxiously to hear their name announced at this year’s NFL Draft.

According to recent reports, the Harvard fullback/tight end has met with a slew of NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, who maybe interested in his services as Vonta Leach is entering his final year of his contract.

Excluding the Ravens, the Ivy League standout has met with the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers.

The Baltimore Sun confirmed in a report last week that Juszczyk was “snubbed” from this year’s NFL scouting combine, but performed quite well at his campus Pro Day workout.

Juszczyk finished last season tied for first in the Ancient Eight with eight touchdown receptions and fifth in yards per game (70.6). His best effort occurred against Princeton as he finished the contest with three touchdown receptions and 15 catches for 192 yards.

The Ohio native, who played four seasons with the Crimson, ended his career with 125 receptions for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Harvard’s last player to be drafted was Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is currently a member of the Tennessee Titans.

Noonan: Thoughts on the ongoing NFL Lockout

Roger Goodell continues to watch the NFL Lockout go no-where, but really, what can he do to save his league?

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been quite a while since I’ve provided my “two-cents” on the NFL and although it seems that every day the same stuff is being reported. Although, I do wonder what is it that I can add that the ordinary journalist has yet to report?

Hmmm…. Does anyone have a thought, idea or comment? Would anyone like to help me write this article?

I’m not sure where to begin, but let me first state that the NFL lockout has been a demoralizing experience for fans, players and coaches.

The NFL Draft, which occurred last month wasn’t too exciting, especially when hundreds of “die-hards” started booing commissioner Roger Goodell and chanting in unison, “We Want Football!”

Yet, what could Goodell do, except listen to his loyal supporters, right?

Goodell has told us numerous times that he is indeed a fan of the NFL and wants a season to be played in September, but again, will it actually happen? Will Goodell take a page out of Harry Potter’s spell book and magically make this lockout disappear?

I doubt it!

The NFL is in shambles and no one is cooperating. Players are getting arrested, judges are siding with the owners and nothing seems to have been accomplished since March. In fact, almost every day we learn more about the greedy owners, as well as players like New England Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko, who are changing their careers.

Heck, haven’t some players contemplated the idea of retirement?

What exactly can be done to make sure there will be a season? Does someone have an ingenious idea that will bring both sides together and end this lockout?

I think it’s fair to say that egos have been an enormous factor in this entire process. The owners want things their way, the players want things their way and well, no one can come to an agreement at the bargaining table.

The NFL owners and players are some of the richest people in America and only seem to care about one thing, money. It’s one thing to say, “Yes, I want to play,” but really, both sides want money and this is just one of the biggest problems that the NFL and other sports leagues in America deal with everyday.

Why is it that these men need so much money? Really, why do the owners want an additional $1 billion? Why do the Players need $8 billion? Again, why do they need so much money?

Also, whatever happened to playing for the love of the game? Does anyone have answer to that question?

I am confident that the NFL lockout won’t get resolved and a major reason will be because of money. These players and owners are incredibly greedy and yes, it makes fans like myself unhappy. They’re ruining the modern day “America’s Past Time,” and have turned themselves into the latest version of the NHL, which has lost a number of fans due to their past lockouts.

Put aside the egos, return to the negotiating table and strike a deal, otherwise, expect the MLB and College Football to be the top two sports to watch in September.

Jeff Howe (NESN) on Noontime Sports the Podcast (4/30/11)

Jeff Howe from NESN.com joined Noontime Sports the Podcast on Saturday morning to discuss the NFL Draft, as well as talk about the picks made by the New England Patriots. 

Make sure to follow Jeff on Twitter (@JeffPHowe).


 

NFL Draft 2011: New England Patriots – Rounds 2 & 3

By Andy Lindberg 

The New England Patriots selected four new players to join their successful franchise and here is some more information about each player. 

Round 2: Pick 33

Name: Ras-I Dowling

Position: Cornerback

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 198lbs

Overview: This isn’t a bad pick for the Patriots. Clearly New England did not think great pass rush value was available in the second round and figured if they were not going to put a ton of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, shoring up the secondary would help.  Dowling had a tough time his senior year with injuries, but the Patriots have never shown hesitation to draft a banged up player to let him recover.  Dowling had 8 career picks for the University of Virginia and it is possible he can make an immediate impact as a number 3 or 4 corner behind Leigh Bodden and Devin McCourty.  Players like Dowling usually have to prove themselves on special teams, but Bill Belichick must think highly of Dowling to select him 33rd overall in the draft.

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Round 2: Pick 56

Name: Shane Vereen

Position: Running Back

Height: 5’8”

Weight: 204lbs

Overview: I like the selection of Vereen. Even though BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a fantastic year for New England, the Patriots need some depth at the running back position. Much like last year’s draft when New England selected two tight ends in the second round, this year the Patriots took two running backs. Vereen was the first and had a very good year for Cal as a junior rushing for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 209 yards and three scores.  He’s got a low center of gravity and should be able to help New England when needed.  I don’t anticipate a ton of playing time unless the Patriots decide upon platooning their running backs, but Vereen will be a very capable option behind the “Law Firm” and Danny Woodhead.

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Round 3: Pick 73

Name: Steven Ridley

Position: Running Back

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 225lbs

Overview: I watch a ton of SEC football being an Alabama Crimson Tide fan and Ridley is a bruiser. He looks for contact and can wear out a defense. In the toughest conference in college football Ridley ran for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns, including a 159-yard game at Vanderbilt and 123 yards against Tennessee. In the Cotton Bowl against Texan A&M he torched the Aggies for 105 yards on the ground and a score. I believe (partially biased) that Ridley is a better runner than Vereen, but it will be an interesting battle between the two in the pre-season (if there is one) for who comes out higher on the depth chart.

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Round 3: Pick 74

Name: Ryan Mallett

Position: Quarterback

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 253lbs

Overview: I will fully admit (again, I’m an SEC fan) I was completely stoked when New England selected Mallett. Not only do I believe Mallett is a steal, but also a first round, NFL ready talent.

Who better to put behind Tom Brady to learn?  No offense to those who wanted Jake Locker or possibly Blaine Gabbert, but Locker and Gabbert couldn’t hold Mallett’s jock strap in college. Again, Mallett played in (and torched) the toughest defensive conference in college football.  In 2010 he threw for 3,869 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 picks.

Mallett ended his career with 69 touchdown passes and threw for 30+ touchdowns two years in a row in the SEC. However, what stands out the most (aside from his laser, rocket arm) is his size. Ben Roethlisberger is 6’5” and 241 pounds, making Mallett one inch taller and 12 pounds heavier. He has good awareness and with a lockout possible, the Patriots are preparing for the future of their offense without Tom Brady about a year sooner than anticipated.

Mallett was drafted to eventually take over as the starter after Brady leaves. Mallett will be under phenomenal tutelage and this pick for New England may prove to be one of the bigger steals of the draft in a few years. To editorialize some more, I believe this to be a great pick, if that wasn’t already very obvious.

Kilpatrick: Overall Reactions to Day One of the NFL Draft

While Jake Locker may have been a first round selection, Kilpatrick wasn't too pleased that he won't be a member of the New England Patriots!

By Stacey Kilpatrick 

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft wrapped up Thursday night and I was disappointed within the first eight picks. Here are some notes on the night.

1st pick: Cam Newton/QB from Auburn/Carolina Panthers. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and NCAA newsmaker was booed when announced as the first pick official pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. For months he’s been projected as the first selection, but I truly did not expect Carolina to choose him. I wanted his ego to be blown like it should be. He only had one year – albeit a great year – at Auburn, but he just seems incredibly cocky.

8th pick: Jake Locker/QB from University of Washington/Tennessee Titans. First words out of my mouth… “NOOOOOOOO!” I wanted the New England Patriots to select him, so he could back up Tom Brady. I cheered for him at Washington and wanted to cheer for him as a member of the Pats. This made me want to stop watching the draft.

10th pick: Blaine Gabbert/QB from Missouri/Jacksonville Jaguars. After seeing him and his suave, slicked back blonde hair, I thought, “Never heard of him. Don’t even know what school he’s from.” I rarely watched Missouri’s football team and the few times that I did, clearly I wasn’t paying attention to Gabbert. And going to the Jacksonville Jaguars? That’s combining two teams that never cross my mind. But he must be good, so I’ll watch him this season, hopefully.

In the top 10 picks there were three quarterbacks for the first time since 1999. The third time overall (1971, 1999 and now 2011).

13th pick: Nick Fairley/DT from Auburn/Detroit Lions. He is a big guy. I remember watching him, especially with Newton during the Alabama game this past November and he was an absolute BEAST.

14th pick: Robert Quinn/DE from North Carolina/St. Louis Rams. Quinn was out the entire 2010-11 season and yet he was still picked 14th overall. But then again, former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was out most of 2009, but he was St. Louis’s first selection in 2010.

16th pick: Ryan Kerrigan/DE from Purdue/Washington Redskins. He looks like Chris Noth from The Good Wife and (Mr. Big) Sex and the City fame. I’m sure all of you football fanatics know just whom I am speaking of, yes?

17th pick: Nate Solder/OT from Colorado/New England Patriots. I was hoping my team would have picked a player I actually knew, but from what I’ve read about Solder, he seems definitely like a solid pick, especially since he only allowed five sacks in three seasons.

22nd pick: Anthony Castonzo/OT from Boston College/Indianapolis Colts. 54 career starts, which is most in Boston College.

23rd pick: Danny Watkins/OG from Baylor/Philadelphia Eagles. The 26-year-old rookie never played football in high school and yet, he’s a first round pick by the Eagles. The 6’3”, 310-pounder played hockey and rugby. Also, he is a firefighter. This guy sounds tough and oh, by the way, some of his firemen buddies were at the draft going nuts when he was selected. How can I not root for him?

The Baltimore Ravens passed their 26th pick for 27 for – I don’t know why.

27th pick: Jimmy Smith/CB from Colorado/Baltimore Ravens. Smith appeared to be at home – he wasn’t in New York City and was shown not wearing a jacket or tie, which is bizarre. This is the NFL Draft, right?

The New England Patriots traded their 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints.

28th pick: Mark Ingram/RB from Alabama/New Orleans Saints. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner goes to the 2010 Super Bowl Champions down in New Orleans. He had 875 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns after missing the first two games in 2010. Ingram’s father, Mark Ingram Sr., a former player for the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles is currently in jail, although the two reportedly have a decent relationship. An ESPN reporter read a congratulatory email that she received from Mark’s father and in all honesty, it was certainly very touching. People say men don’t cry. There’s no crying in sports, especially in football, but Ingram cried on national television and it was a great, heartfelt moment.

32nd pick: Derek Sharrod/OT from Mississippi State/Green Bay Packers. In the final selection of the first round, the 2011 Super Bowl Champs selected Derek Sharrod. Shouldn’t he have been wearing a cheesehead?

Rounds two and three of the 2011 NFL Draft take place Friday, April 29 at 6 p.m. ET. Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday, April 30 at 12 p.m. ET.

Daily Noontime – April 29, 2011

Mark Ingram is officially a member of the New Orleans Saints, which means Reggie Bush is leaving?

Happy Friday to everyone, especially those Royal Wedding watchers! Here is today’s headlines, news and much more, plus, our video of the day too! 

Headlines: 

*It looks like Reggie Bush‘s time with the New Orleans Saints is officially over, as he tweeted Thursday, “It’s been fun New Orleans.” New Orleans selected Alabama’s running back Mark Ingram, so consider him a possible lock to start.

* Kobe Bryant and the Los Angles Lakers took care of business Thursday, as they officially ended their first round series with the New Orleans Hornets. Now, Los Angles will face Dallas in the NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals, which promises to be a great series.

* If the Dallas Mavericks want to advance to the NBA Western Conference Finals, they must win on the road, but in Los Angles that could be difficult.

* The 2011 NFL Draft featured 32 first round picks, but believe it or not, a good amount of those picks were quarterbacks, which seems quite strange.

* Former Boston Red Sox pitcher and current member of the Atlanta Braves, Derek Lowe was arrested for a DUI.

* Cam Newton is officially a Carolina Panthers, but what exactly are the “naysayers” saying about him and the pick?

Games to Watch: 

* Tampa Bay at Washington (NHL Playoffs) – 7:00pm eastern

* Seattle at Boston (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern

* St. Louis at Atlanta (MLB) – 7:35pm eastern

* San Antonio at Memphis (NBA Playoffs) – 9:00pm eastern

* Detroit at San Jose (NHL Playoffs) – 10:00pm eastern

Video of the Day: 

Remember when this happened? LeBron James and the South Beach Miami Heat take on Boston this Sunday, should be exciting!


NFL Draft 2011: Day One Winners and Losers

By Dan Rubin

With the 2011 NFL Draft already underway, it is officially time to look back on day one and reflect on which teams drafted well, as well as the ones that didn’t. Here is our winners and losers from the first round.  

Winners: Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers come away as big winners of the first round.

Now look, I understand that there’s a very real possibility that Newton could become a major bust and that they drafted Jimmy Clausen to fill the starting quarterback role. But, I also believe that the draft is used to give your fans a very real hope of success in a way that one single day can’t. Fans don’t get hungry for tickets over minicamp, and they don’t get pumped up for OTAs.  They get pumped at the draft.  This is a team that lacked a face for their franchise.  They have it now.  Maybe in three years, we’ll question the pick and refer to the Heisman Trophy winner as a bust, but for now, this day and this draft belonged to Newton. Almost immediately, the future of Panther football was altered.

The Atlanta Falcons were exposed on offense in the divisional playoffs. The Packers took away the deep threat on Matt Ryan in their game back in January, and he only threw for 186 yards.  They had some defensive woes, which I’m sure they’ll address when they can start moving and signing players (as well as later in the draft).  But they had to find a solution to the problem of having only Roddy White for the deep ball.  Now Ryan has White, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner, Michael Jenkins, and Julio Jones to throw the ball to.  He’s only in his 4th year.  They actually didn’t need a lot, so they were able to make the deal.  Sure they got fleeced, but I don’t think it’s a horrible move.

But as much as I loved the gutsy, ballsy move by the Falcons, I really love what Cleveland did. Cleveland has more holes than a donut shop.  The early pick would give them a flashy player, but they don’t need that; they have the face of a franchise in Peyton Hillis. They need to fill pretty much everything else. And they acquired the ability to do it by giving away an early pick that couldn’t make a huge impact on this team.  In the rebuilding future, this could go down as the moment where the Browns became relevant again.

Jon Gruden – thank you for owning the talking hairpiece of Mel Kiper, Jr. Seriously, if Gruden crapped on Kiper any more, Kiper’s address would’ve become “porto-potty in NYC.”  It was awesome.  I love it when football guys just take it to that guy.

Detroit’s pass rush this year will be Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. A couple of months ago, Aaron Burns, (our guest from the Charlotte Weekly this week) thought Fairley would go first overall. I love the pick because he was there at #13.  The NFC North is wide open if Green Bay has any Super Bowl hangover.  The Lions aren’t pushovers anymore.

The Patriots did a good job playing it safe, picking a good, solid offensive tackle with their first pick.  I really wanted Anthony Costanzo, but they got essentially the same guy with a different name in Nate Solder.  Right now, the Pats have nobody under contract for their line. Matt Light is a free agent, Logan Mankins is pretty much history, and Stephen Neal and Nick Kaczur, (a.k.a. your right side of the line) is gone. So that means your preseason offensive line returns only Dan Koppen. I like the pick a lot.

Costanzo became a winner anyways, when he got selected to block for the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.  I remember standing at a Boston College game talking to his dad four-odd years ago, and I knew he was going to be great.  Another year, another Boston College Eagle in the first round.  Ho hum, that’s becoming par the norm for “O-Line U” over there in Chestnut Hill.

The Losers: 

This will go down as the draft where the fans finally rebelled. Roger Goodell had his photo moment with the Hall of Famers and the Prospects, and the fans booed him almost immediately.  The chants of “We Want Football” shocked everyone, and I don’t think the talking heads knew what to do when it happened.

Rich Eisen had nothing to say, and the “commish” looked lost at the podium.  It’s the first moment through the entire labor drama when the fans finally spoke up and could actually be heard, and nobody knew what to do.  The constant booing cascading from Radio City Music Hall’s rafters said it all – the fans are fed up with legal speak and loopholes all over the place.  They want results.  They want football.  And Goodell ended up with egg on his face.

Teams also had to draft by need in the first round because they couldn’t move players ahead of time.  With the league not advising teams on player movement before Friday, the first round featured absolutely zero player movement.  The teams could only trade picks or draft players.  Therefore, it became surreal almost immediately when Von Miller was picked second overall, and he hugged Roger Goodell – a man he’s suing.  It was the fourth or fifth moment where I laughed at the Commish, and but the loser of the moment was Miller.  How can you sue the league, hug the man you’re suing, and have people take it seriously?  I’m sure the NFL will use that in its defense somehow.

The Falcons screwed their future over very badly by giving up two first rounder’s, (including their pick next year), their second round pick, their fourth round pick, and next year’s fourth.  If they don’t hit on every other pick this year, they could be in some deep trouble. Thomas Dimitrioff has mortgaged his job on Jones ability to produce and Atlanta’s ability to win a Super Bowl within the next 2-3 years.

I don’t get why Jacksonville traded up to take Blaine Gabbert.  I mean, I think Gabbert’s better than Jake Locker, but they have a decent quarterback who can win football games.  David Garrard is pretty good, and he can scramble.  I just don’t get why you make the move to take him, when you can sit back two picks later and get an offensive lineman to protect and block Garrard.  Instead, you’ve served notice that Garrard is gone in a couple of years or at least backing up, and you’ve gone into transitional mode.

Christian Ponder?  Really?  Like…really?  I’ve followed him from Day 1 at Florida State…really?!?!

The draft coverage gets a sagging grade because honestly, I didn’t think it was great. Too many talking heads, not enough highlights.  And the gratuitous phone call shots are overboard as always. It just feels like it’s too much. I’d prefer the olden days when they interviewed fans instead of just showing them.

We’ll be back with more coverage throughout the weekend. A long couple of days ahead, especially if you’re a Pats fan like us at Noontime Sports.

NFL Draft 2011: New England Patriots Select Solder, 17th Overall

By Andy Lindberg 

The New England Patriots selected offensive tackle Nate Solder in the first round  of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 17th pick. Here is some more information on the newest member of the Patriots organization.  

Name: Nate Solder

College: Colorado

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 319 lbs

Overview: Solder is far from what many would consider a sexy pick. He’s no Robert Quinn or Mark Ingram in terms of name value, but what he can bring to the team is extremely valuable with the future of left tackle Matt Light and left guard Logan Mankins up in the air. Tom Brady needs protection and Solder has the potential to protect Brady’s blind side immediately.

This is a great pick for New England, but they still need to address the pass rush and receiving corps. There should be great value to be had with the Pats having as many picks as they do in the second and third rounds. Bill Belichick has a very good history of finding offensive line gems in the first round, and I expect Solder to be no different.  One also wonders about New England’s confidence in re-signing Light or Mankins with this pick.