by Greg Doyle
Last week we took a look around the country at games that would include a few Juniors who could end up in the next NFL draft. Let’s do that again this week with a few more Juniors to watch.
Michigan CB Morgan Trent (#14): Trent has really emerged as a player this year and has been instrumental in leading the Wolverines defense back from its abysmal start to the season. Trent will be on ESPN today at Noon visiting Wisconsin with the rest of Michigan. Originally a wide receiver when he came to Michigan, he was quickly switched to corner. He has excellent there and has nice height and enough size to hold up in the NFL. He is not spectacular in any area, but just a solid all-around player. He does have good speed and never seems to get badly burned on a play this season after occasionally letting it happen last season. Has been praised as one of the more improved players on Michigan from last season. Good prospect that the Patriots would be interested in, but probably shouldn’t come out and stay in school next year to build on the marked improvement he has shown this year.
Wisconsin CB Jack Ikegwuonu (#6): Over on the other side of the same field as Trent will be on this afternoon is this Wisconsin All-American cornerback. A big, sturdy corner who was 1st Team All-Big 10 as a Sophomore, Ikegwuonu’s stats are down a bit this year as a junior. Partly that is due to teams just not throwing in his direction. He has perfect NFL corner size at 6’1″ 201.A solid tackler and good in coverage, he had 2 Interceptions last year but has none this year. Had 3 as a part-time player as a Freshman. If he comes out this year, should be a first day pick and has a chance to move as high as the first round with a good combine. The Patriots will certaintly be interested.
Georgia DT Jeff Owens (#95): Perfect 3-4 lineman type for the Patriots from the same school that produced Richard Seymour. Owens will be highlighted on CBS this afternoon at 3:30 facing off against Auburn. He is a big strong and stout lineman who could certainly 2-gap for the Patriots on the end. In his second year as a starter. Doesn’t have any sacks this year and had only one last year. More of a run-stuffer now, but has excellent physical talent so his pass rush ability could improve in the NFL. Has the size and strength, as well as functional quickness, to do it as he had 12 quarterback hurries last year and has 13 more this season. May come out and end up being a steal and long-time starter for the team that gets him.
Boston College DT Ron Brace (#60): Brace was pretty unknown coming into this season, but has been a difference maker anchoring the middle of the Boston College defense. A massive 340 lb. nose tackle, his quickness and ability to make plays has surprised. Seemingly college linemen can’t block him and you can regularly see him blow up offenses or destroy a play watching BC play. They’ll be on tonight versus Maryland at 8:00 on ABC. Had a decent year his first year as a starter last year as a sophomore, but really has improved by leaps and bounds this year. Only has 17 sacks, but its his ability to tie up linemen in the middle and destroy a play that has been his main effectiveness. At his size, would seem to fit perfectly as a nosetackle in the Patriots 3-4 system. You have to be somewhat concerned about his conditioning and ability to stay healthy. Also is somewhat short with short arms at 6’1″. Has shown improved pass-rush ability this year and has 2.5 sacks. Probably will stay in another year as he is not yet ready to be a definite draft pick or a high pick. Another strong year could solidify him as an NFL draft prospect. Originally from Springfield, MA.
Virginia OLB Clint Sintim (#51): This could be a rare find for the Patriots…..a 6’3″ 256 lb. defensive player who already plays linebacker and does not have to be converted from defensive end. You can watch Sintim this evening on ESPN2 at 7:15 PM as he faces off against Miami. Sintim is a play-making outside ‘backer who has been troubled by shoulder injuries, but when healthy has shown himself to be a stout run-defender and able to rush the passer. This season he has stayed healthy and had a very good year. Plays for his head coach Al Groh, who of course coached for many years with Bill Belichick and runs a similar defense to him. So Sintim should fit right in here. He hasn’t been used in coverage much, if at all, so that is a negative. He could come out and would be probably a mid-round pick at this point. Could come back to college and improve that status as well. Would be a good pick as a Patriots draftee.
Fresno State TE Bear Pascoe (#85): A big 6’5″ 260 lb tight end for Fresno State who can run, catch and block. He’ll be on ESPN2 tonight at 11:00 facing off against undefeated Hawaii. Pascoe seems to be the type of tight end the Patriots like, big and versatile. And he plays for Belichick close friend Pat Hill. This year, Pascoe leads Fresno with 37 catches for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns in 9 games. He could declare and be a first-day draftee as a tight end and someone the Patriots might like to groom given their extensive use of tight ends.