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Raymond Clayborn on Hall call: ‘Why did it take so long?’

04.16.14 at 9:36 pm ET
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Raymond Clayborn was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Patriots. (Photo courtesy New England Patriots)

Raymond Clayborn was a Pro Bowl cornerback for the Patriots. (Photo courtesy New England Patriots)

Raymond Clayborn isn’t much for small talk.

Asked on Wednesday for his reaction to the news that he had been nominated as a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame, the former New England cornerback didn’t mince words.

“Why did it take so long?” he replied.

Clayborn could very well have a point. The three-time Pro Bowler played with the Patriots from 1977 through 1989. The first-round pick out of Texas finished his career with a franchise-leading 36 interceptions (tied with Ty Law) for 555 yards for a 15.4 yard per interception average. Clayborn also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns — as a rookie in 1977, Clayborn returned 28 kickoffs for 869 yards and led the NFL with a 31.0-yard return average and returned three kicks for touchdowns, both of which remain franchise records.

Clayborn, Law and Bill Parcells are this year’s three finalists for the Hall of Fame. (Fans can vote on the finalists for the next month at Patriots.com.)

“I’€™m really honored with the people that I’€™m a finalist with, the two other gentlemen — Bill Parcells and Ty Law,” Clayborn said. “Bill’€™s already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I believe Ty will definitely get there one day himself.”

Clayborn and Law are often linked as the two best corners in franchise history, and are tied atop the franchise list for most career interceptions. While he remains competitive, Clayborn acknowledges Law would likely sit in first place alone if he hadn’t missed the bulk of the 2004 season because of injury.

“Realistically looking at it, Ty got hurt and he did it. I think it was the (fifth) game of the season or something and the next year, he wasn’€™t with the team,” Clayborn said. “So quite frankly speaking, Ty would have broken the record if he hadn’€™t been injured and to hold the record with him is an honor. I really truly believe he’€™s one of the better cornerbacks to play during his time.”

Here are some highlights from the rest of his Q&A with the media:
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Ty Law: Hall induction would be ‘icing on the cake’ as far as career with Patriots

04.16.14 at 7:24 pm ET
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Ty Law was a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. (AP)

Ty Law was a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots. (AP)

For Ty Law, it’€™s the chance to bring a legendary career full circle.

The cornerback, who is one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame, admitted Wednesday that when it came to how things ended with the franchise, it was a less than ideal scenario.

After playing 10 years with New England, he left as a free agent following the 2004 season. He ended his career with brief stints with the Jets, Chiefs and Broncos (and retired following the 2009 season), but it was a bittersweet final act for one of the best defensive backs of his era.

“€œI’€™d be the first one to admit now, I’€™m older, wiser, more mature, that if I could have done something all over again, I would have tried my damnedest to stay in New England and finish my career,” he said on a conference call with New England media.

“€œNot that I have any regrets about the teams that took me in as far as the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs — I’€™m thankful for the opportunity. I think I said this early in my career; I would have loved to start and finish my career with the Patriots. Unfortunately that didn’€™t happen, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have made more effort to stay a Patriot.”

Now, Law has the opportunity for a final farewell. It was revealed Wednesday that he’€™s one of three finalists for the Hall of Fame, a class that includes cornerback Raymond Clayborn and former coach Bill Parcells. (Fans can vote on the finalists for the next month at Patriots.com.)

Law was a three-time Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX), a four-time Pro Bowl player (1998, 2001, 2002, 2003) and a two-time All-Pro (1998, 2003) during his tenure with the Patriots. Law tied Clayborn’€™s career franchise-record with 36 interceptions and finished with the most interception-return yards in team history with 583

Law, who said he was “€œspeechless”€ when he was informed that he was a finalist, said, ‘€œit would mean a lot’€ if he gets the nod.

“€œIt will put the icing on the cake, as far as my playing career with the Patriots, and give some validation to me that I’€™m appreciated by the fans, they still care for me and they show me that with my business on and off the field and it just puts a stamp of approval [from] Patriot Nation,”€ he said. “€œI’€™m really humbled by that to even be considered with the great Bill Parcells and Raymond Clayborn, who was such a great player and spent so much time in New England. I’€™m honored just to be considered and on the list with those two guys.”
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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Stanford DE Trent Murphy

04.16.14 at 5:12 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Trent Murphy (AP)

Trent Murphy led the FBS with 15 sacks in 2013. (AP)

TRENT MURPHY

Position: Defensive end

School: Stanford

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 250 pounds

Achievements: 2013 consensus All-American, first-team All-American (Walter Camp, AFCA, FWAA, Sporting News, SI.com, ESPN.com), first-team All-Pac 12, 2012 Butkus Award semifinalist

What he brings: Murphy is known as an above-average athlete with strong instincts. While he has a solid frame, though, analysts note that he does not have as much muscle as an average professional football player.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Murphy played in just two games during the 2010 season after he suffered a leg injury. … During the 2013 season, Murphy led the FBS with 15 sacks and had at least one sack in 10 of 14 games. … Murphy was one of the top performers at the 3-cone drill during the combine.

Related articles:

FOXSports.com: Draft Diary: Stanford LB Trent Murphy tracks path to the NFL (Part 1)

FOXSports.com: Draft Diary: Stanford LB Trent Murphy tracks path to NFL (Part 2)

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL draft: Winners, losers, surprises in combine 3-cone

Video: Here is a video highlighting Murphy’s career at Stanford.

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What does history tell us about Patriots and pre-draft contact with elite prospects?

04.16.14 at 3:14 pm ET
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Tackle Nate Solder had a pre-draft visit to Foxboro scrubbed at the last minute, but the Patriots still made him a first-round pick. (AP)

Tackle Nate Solder had a pre-draft visit to Foxboro scrubbed at the last minute, but the Patriots still made him a first-round pick. (AP)

With the pre-draft process longer now than it’s been in year’s past, there’s more time for speculation, and official visits, workouts and attendance at Pro Days are all ways fans and the media try and gauge a team’s interest in a prospect. Some of the pre-draft work can be a smokescreen, some of it can be done for intel down the road and some of can be for practical scouting purposes. With that in mind, here’s a look at the pre-draft connections the Patriots have made with some of their top draft picks over the last few years.

Linebacker Jamie Collins (taken with New England’s first pick in 2013, a second-round selection at No. 52 overall): Bill Belichick flew South to work out Collins before the draft, but the linebacker later indicated that he did not have much pre-draft contact with New England when compared to other teams.

Defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round pick 2012, 21st overall): Jones recalled a conversation with the Patriots at the combine in Indy the year he was drafted. “I talked to the Patriots — I talked with them at the combine,” he said. “That was the most formal thing we did. That’s basically it — we talked at the combine.”

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first-round pick 2012, 25th overall): He didn’t work out for Patriots, but he said he “had a small (idea)” the Patriots were interested. “I met with those guys at the combine and I met them at one of the Pro Days,” Hightower recalled, “so I knew that they were kind of interested in some of the defensive players that we had at Alabama.”

Tackle Nate Solder (first-round pick 2011, 17th overall): Solder had what he called “fairly limited contact” with the Patriots throughout the pre-draft process. He met with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia the Monday before the draft in Colorado, but also had a scheduled visit to Foxboro cancelled at the last minute. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Solder later explained. “I was scheduled to visit (but) the minute before I left it was cancelled. That’s all I know.”

Defensive back Devin McCourty (first-round pick 2010, 27th overall): McCourty met with Belichick prior to the draft, where the two had a film session on campus at Rutgers. “Bill Belichick had come to my school for a coaches’ clinic, and he was going to fly right out after the clinic to see his son play in a lacrosse game,” McCourty recalled. “But we had an hour, we watched some film and we spoke for a little while. We had a real generic conversation, but he showed me some things on film, just watching and helping me out as far as being a player.”

Linebacker Jerod Mayo (first-round pick, 2008, 10th overall): Mayo had 11 visits with teams during the pre-draft process, and remembers his visit to Foxboro fondly. “I had a great visit when I came down there,” he said. “The coaches and I sat down and talked football for a long time. Like I said, I just had a great visit and I felt like we clicked.”

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Patriots Hall of Fame finalists: Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law, Bill Parcells

04.16.14 at 11:36 am ET
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Ty Law believes in the 2012 Patriots. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Ty Law is one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Patriots announced Wednesday that former defensive backs Raymond Clayborn and Ty Law and ex-coach Bill Parcells were named finalists for the team’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote on which individual deserves to be the 2014 inductee starting Wednesday and continuing through May 15. The winner will be announced in early June.

Clayborn played for New England from 1977-89 before finishing up with two seasons with the Browns and was named to the Pro Bowl three times (’83, ’85, ’86). A first-round draft pick (16th overall) out of Texas, Clayborn finished his career with 36 interceptions (tied with Law for the team record) and 555 interception return yards (second to Law’s 583). He also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie in 1977, he set single-season team records with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and a 31.0-yard return average.

Law played 10 seasons for the Patriots (1995-2004) as part of a 15-year NFL career after being drafted 23rd overall out of Michigan. A four-time Pro Bowler (;98, ’01, ’02, ’03), Law won three Super Bowls in New England. He returned a Kurt Warner pass 47 yards for a touchdown in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win over the Rams in 2002. He holds franchise records for interceptions (36, tied with Clayborn), interception return yards (583) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (6). He became the first Patriot to lead the league in interceptions when he had nine in 1998.

Parcells coached New England for four seasons and led the team to the playoffs twice, including a run to the Super Bowl in 1997. He was named Coach of the Year for his performance in 1994, when the Patriots won their final second regular-season games to clinch their first playoff berth in eight years. In 1996 the Patriots won a then-franchise-record 11 games and their first division title in a decade. They eat the Steelers and Jaguars to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in team history before losing to the Packers. Parcells, who is the only coach to lead four franchises (Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys) to the playoffs and three different teams (Giants, Patriots, Jets) to a conference championship game, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Florida State RB Devonta Freeman

04.16.14 at 9:37 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Devonta Freeman (AP)

Florida State’s Devonta Freeman surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in 2013, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. (AP)

DEVONTA FREEMAN

Position: Running back

School: Florida State

Height: 5-foot-8

Weight: 206 pounds

Achievements: 2013 first-team All-ACC

What he brings: Freeman is a solid back who doesn’t possess blazing speed or size, but has good balance, solid hands and quick feet that make him dangerous and allow him to change directions quickly. He’s more of an outside runner as he lacks elite strength to run up the middle. Analysts see pass protection and a tendency to run laterally while looking for the big run as his two biggest weaknesses.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: In 2013 Freeman ran for 1,016 yards, becoming the first Florida State running back to go over the 1,000 yard mark since 1996, on 173 carries for a 5.9 average, with 14 rushing touchdowns. He added 22 catches for 278 yards and one touchdown. The 22-year-old led the team in rushing attempts all three of his years at Florida State.

Related articles:

Tallahassee Democrat: Freeman’s draft stock on the rise

Tampa Bay Times: FSU’s Freeman displays toughness of top back

Video: Here are Freeman’€™s 2013 highlights with Florida State.

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Reports: Patriots have Wednesday meetings with C.J. Fiedorowicz, Deone Bucannon

04.16.14 at 7:00 am ET
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Deone Bucannon (AP)

Deone Bucannon reportedly will meet with the Patriots. (AP)

The Patriots have pre-draft meetings set up with Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and University of Washington safety Deone Bucannon on Wednesday, according to reports.

Fiedorowicz is a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder who is considered to be a second-round pick. He has a couple of New England connections already: one, Iowa’€™€™s offensive line coach the past two seasons was Brian Ferentz, who spent the previous season as the Patriots tight end coach, working with both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. And two, D.J. Hernandez — Aaron’s brother — was a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes last year.

Fiedorowicz had 75 catches the last two seasons at Iowa, including 30 catches for 299 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. He said he spent plenty of time watching Gronkowski while in college.

“I was watching him on film. I always used to watch him in games, but when you see it break down as film it’€™€™s even more impressive,” Fiedorowicz said at the combine. “He plays hard every down, every play. He finishes guys. He uses his body in the passing game. He’€™€™s just an impressive guy. It’€™€™s the way he plays the game.”

News of his visit was first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

As for Bucannon, he’s a relatively oversized safety in the mold of the Seahawks‘ secondary. Considered a Day 2 pick, the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder is a three-time captain who led the Pac-12 with 109 tackles during the 2013 season, to go along with six interceptions.

For more on Bucannon, our pre-draft capsule on him can be read here. Aaron Wilson of National Football Post first reported the Bucannon news.

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