As the NFL creeps further away from the draft and closer to football purgatory, the uncertainty over an ability to relay actual football news has gotten a little nerve-racking. But fear not, because there's still plenty in the queue this week, as we've combed through every artificial piece of grass that we could find to bring you a Two-Minute Drill that reeks of natural pigskin.
1. It's pretty well-documented that the Patriots won't deal with Tom Condon's clients due to a relationship that went south during negotiations with tight end Ben Watson. However, the Patriots drafted TCU offensive lineman Marcus Cannon — a client of CAA, which is Condon's agency — in the fifth round last month.
2. So, any perception that the Patriots wouldn't deal with CAA as a whole should officially be out the window. However, the question still remains about former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, whose direct agent is listed as Condon. Because of that, it's highly unlikely Herzlich will link up with the Pats when free agency begins.
3. Speaking of which, teams obviously aren't following the rules that prohibit them from contacting undrafted free agents during the lockout. One agent said this week 11 or 12 teams had already contacted him about his undrafted clients, four of whom already reached agreements.
4. This is a cut-and-dry case of tampering, and any team that gets caught will likely be subject to a fine and loss of draft picks.
5. I reported last week there are 12-15 Patriots who are conducting organized football-related workouts in the Foxboro area, and one source said the workouts are "intense" and didn't know of "too many people who are working out as hard as [they] are right now."
6. In terms of the pace of their workouts, that may be true, but the Patriots don't have the same attendance numbers as the Cowboys and Dolphins. Albert Breer reported at least 40 Cowboys have been working out together, and he brought up the point that the Cowboys and Dolphins have an advantage because they live in close proximity to their home stadiums during the offseason. After that, Jeff Darlington reported at least half of the Dolphins spend the majority of their offseason in the Miami area.
7. Again, it will be very interesting to monitor each team's injury situation in the 2011 season. We know the Patriots, Cowboys, Dolphins, Jets, Broncos and Saints, among a few other teams, have been working out together during the lockout. If they wind up being the healthier teams in 2011 — in terms of nagging muscle-related injuries that heavily stem from subpar conditioning — we'll know exactly why.
8. Many Patriots fans were surprised Bill Belichick passed over California defensive end Cameron Jordan in the draft. So, too, was Jordan, who said he was "real surprised."
9. You'll be hearing more on NESN.com from wide receiver Tyree Barnes and running back Eric Kettani, two Patriots who are finishing up their 24 months of active duty in the Navy this month and will report to Gillette Stadium when permitted. Last week, they shared their thoughts on the killing of Osama bin Laden.
10. Barnes' parents actually met in the Navy. His mother, Terry, did calibration work, and his father, Ed, still works as a welder on submarines, even though he is retired. "Just so proud of him," Terry said of Tyree, who was promoted to lieutenant junior grade last Thursday. "He's always been such a nice person. I knew no matter what he did, if it was something he wanted to do, he would just excel at it."
11. Time for two leftover items from my conversation with Virginia head coach Mike London about cornerback Ras-I Dowling. London went into detail about Dowling's response to criticism over his injuries: "I know that Ras-I relies on his faith heavily, and some of the questions out there, 'This guy gets hurt too much, can this guy really play?' In the back of his mind, they were probably bothering him. He relies on his faith. A lot of good things happen to people, good and bad. A negative thing, and all of a sudden people's perceptions are, 'Well, he's injured all the time.' But he's the same person, same player, just kind of had a rash of things that happened to him. You turn and you run, you pull a hamstring, it happens. Hamstrings are probably one of the hardest things to come back from, especially for skill players."
12. London also has some background with Belichick, who once considered hiring London to coach the defensive line in New England.
"I consider coach Belichick, when it comes to evaluating talent and putting talent into positions to do things defensively, I consider him one of the best in doing that," London said. "I respect coach Belichick, and I respect what he's done. If you look at his teams, they play very sound. There's a correlation between guys that are college graduates and guys with accomplishments in school. That's also part of the makeup that they have on their teams. It's more of a respect."
13. After Alan Faneca announced his retirement Tuesday, I sorted through Pro Football Reference to count how many draftees from the 1990s who remain in the NFL, and I hope you're ready to feel old.
14. There are 60 players who were drafted in the 1990s and are still active. There were 2,684 players drafted from 1990-99, which means 2.2 percent of those players are still in the NFL.
15. There are only three players remaining from the drafts from 1990-94 — kicker John Kasay (1991), kicker Jason Hanson (1992) and backup quarterback Mark Brunell (1993). There are no players left from the 1990 or 1994 drafts.
16. There are 22 players remaining from the 1999 draft, 16 from 1998 (including running back Fred Taylor), 10 from 1997, five from 1996 and four from 1994.
17. There are 18 first-round picks remaining from the 1990s, and they're all from 1995-99. There are five from 1999, seven from 1998, three from 1997, one (Ray Lewis) from 1996 and two from 1995.
18. The last two first-round picks from 1995 who are still around are quarterback Kerry Collins (fifth pick), who might start in Tennessee next season, and wide receiver Joey Galloway (eighth pick).
19. Came across a very interesting note this week that the Seahawks would have had the seventh overall pick in the draft if they dropped their season finale to the Rams. Instead, the Seahawks won the NFC West, shocked the Saints in the wild-card round and wound up with the 25th pick. So, the Seahawks could have had their shot at Washington quarterback Jake Locker or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, but they instead would up with Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter, which was one of the most heavily criticized picks of the first round. If Locker or Gabbert turn into quality NFL starters, that will be one of the least celebrated division titles ever, even with one of the great upsets in playoff history.
20. Tedy Bruschi, Jeff Fisher and Chad Lewis will begin their climb of Mount Kilimanjaro on Friday. I wonder how much trash talking there will be throughout their trek, especially since Lewis' Rams beat Fisher's Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV and Bruschi's Patriots defeated Lewis' Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
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