AFC Notes: Patriots, Bills, Steelers

Bill Belichick did something he had never done before when he drafted N’Keal Harry 32nd overall in April. During his time in New England, the Patriots had never drafted a receiver in the first round before, so they must’ve been high on the Arizona State product. That being said, Harry won’t be handed anything because of his draft status. Plenty of receivers have come and gone without making much of an impact on the Pats, so Nick Underhill of The Athletic tracked a few of them down to see what advice they might have for Harry.

Underhill talked to 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson, 2004 fifth-round pick P.K. Sam, and Chad Johnson, who joined the team toward the end of his career in 2011. Underhill asked them about their advice for working with Belichick and Brady and Jackson, one of the Patriots’ biggest draft busts, had some interesting comments. “Some people say Brady’s an asshole, and he can be at times – everybody can be an asshole at times,” he said. “The guy wants perfection. He wants everything done right. I’m sure he makes his mistakes too, but it’s not like everybody else.”

Jackson said Harry will have to be prepared for a lot, and that he wasn’t ready for it. “I think I went to the wrong organization when I first got drafted,” he said. “They expected a lot from you, which is, of course, OK, but I think they put the expectations a little bit higher than for any type of rookie coming in.” All of them stressed that developing a chemistry and a relationship with Brady were important, with Johnson saying he “didn’t really have time to come in and build that currency with Tom.” The whole piece is worth a read, and provides an interesting glimpse into life on the Patriots. Harry should have an easier time than any of those three did, but it’s not a given.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Bills made overhauling their offensive line a priority this offseason. Josh Allen spent most of his rookie year running for his life, so it makes sense. The team made some high profile signings like Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long, but they also added Quinton Spain. Spain is competing for a starting spot at one of the two guard positions, and his cause got hurt by a thumb injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the rest of spring practices. Fortunately for him, Spain is expected to be ready to go for the start of training camp, per Nate Mendelson of the team’s official site. Spain entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Titans back in 2015, and started at least 13 games in each of the past three years for them. He received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 35th-best guard. Spain is probably a favorite to win a starting job, and Buffalo’s offensive line looks on paper to be a lot better than it was last year.
  • Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers‘ longtime right tackle, was traded to the Cardinals this spring. That means the Steelers will have a new right tackle, and most have assumed it’ll be Matt Feiler. Feiler filled in for an injured Gilbert, and ended up starting ten games last year. But while he’s the favorite, Feiler isn’t taking it for granted and is insisting it’ll be an open competition. “I’m not by any means the starter,” Feiler said earlier this offseason, per Mike Prisuta of the team’s official site. “Anytime you’re out here, you’re getting pushed by the younger guys.” “It’s up for grabs,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough battle.” While the comments are interesting and suggest we may have to pay attention to the position in camp, it would still be a surprise if Feiler isn’t starting Week 1. While he took the majority of first-team reps, Prisuta does note that he rotated some with 2018 third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor during spring work. Feiler is a 2014 undrafted free agent from Bloomsburg University, who had only started one game before last year.
  • In case you missed it, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders is looking uncertain for the start of the season.
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2 comments on “AFC Notes: Patriots, Bills, Steelers

  1. echozulu88

    Gilbert was traded to Arizona for a 6th round pick. Wasn’t a free agent move.

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