1. New England Patriots star left guard Logan Mankins is one of the veteran leaders of this squad, so when he defended tight end Rob Gronkowski, it was certainly a big deal and made other defender’s of Gronk (like me) feel better about the whole situation. But the best news that involved Mankins is the news that he will not need surgery this offseason. Mankins struggled with some injuries early in the season, but he was in full form during the second-half of the year and his knees look much better. It looks like Mankins is finally 100% after tearing his ACL late in the 2011 season (and somehow playing through it), and this news reflects his improved health. Man, Mankins is just a tough guy and easily one of the most respected players in the league.
2. Mike Dussault offers a candid response to the “Is the Patriots window closing?” question by using some advanced stat charts. Love the knock on the defense, but that part of the Pats game is quickly improving. Seriously, look at how much better their second-half was than the first-half after Devin McCourty moved to safety and Kyle Arrington moved inside with the addition of Aqib Talib.
3. Rob Gronkowski is “sorry for partying” . Apology accepted, Gronk.
4. Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan has been gaining some steam as a potential target for the New England Patriots in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he was actually burned less frequently than an even bigger name in rising prospect Desmond Trufant from Washington. I love Trufant’s size, but he’s not that fast and is getting grossly overrated by some people. He’s worth a high or mid second-round choice, but he’s not a first-round talent. Jonathan Banks had the worst burn rate of the five listed (Xavier Rhodes and Dee Milliner were also on the list as the “top two”), and I think this stat highlights how good Rhodes is. He excels as a lockdown coverage guy, and he is also a guy with great size like Trufant. If you want to take one of those two in the first-round, you had better take Rhodes. Banks and Milliner are, of course, first-round locks. I’d rather take Milliner.
5. ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is someone who gives an excellent take on how much a free agent can make, and he believes that Sebastian Vollmer will get around $6 million or $7 million in free agency. The Patriots bookend right tackle and priority in free agency, Vollmer deserves that amount of money as the top right tackle in the league. Health concerns will prevent him from getting a large contract (that’s a good thing), but money is definitely not an issue for a player as steady as Vollmer is on the right side.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.