Intro by Scott Benson
Last fall, while we all dreamed of an undefeated season and fussed about Cameragate, PD’s Own Greg Doyle was keeping one eye on the college football scene in anticipation of this month’s NFL Draft. His weekly preview column, called College Scout, sought out the junior and senior prospects from that week’s slate of major TV games, primarily from a Patriots perspective.
With the draft now just days away, it seems fitting to review those past columns for Greg’s take on several players who have since risen to the top of the NFL draft boards.
Remember, these are just a few of the players Greg wrote about last fall. Hit this link to review all of his past columns and read about the dozens of prospects that Greg was watching last season.
Let’s start with the some of the top defensive prospects. Tomorrow, we look at the offensive side of the ball.
LSU DT Glenn Dorsey (#72): Dorsey would have been a top 10 pick in the NFL had he come out last year. He was a first team All-American as a junior. He could move into the top 5 with a good year this year. It’s at least a question if he’d fit with the Patriots, as he plays in defensive coordinator Bo Pelini’s one-gap system. Pelini, incidentally, was the Patriots linebacker coach under Pete Carroll and is in my mind one of the top coordinators in college football, is likely headed for a head coaching job after this season. But then again, Vince Wilfork switched from a college one-gap player to a two-gapper with the Pats, so it is possible. In any event, it’s fun to watch Dorsey dominate. 9/30/07.
There has been a lot of talk about Virginia defensive end Chris Long (#91). Long is the son of former Oakland Raider and Hall of Famer Howie Long, a native of Charlestown, Massachusetts. His son Chris is a 275 lb. defensive end and playmaker. Racked up an impressive 14 sacks this season. Personally, I feel he may not fit well into the Patriots 3-4 system and they won’t take him in the top 10. On the other hand, he played for Belichick protégé Al Groh so there is carry over. May be able to be a Willie McGinest type for the Patriots and Belichick does always find ways to use talent. I am sure they will examine him closely. 12/26/07.
Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston (#50): One of the best defensive ends in college football, he is a pure pass rusher. Was 2nd Team All Big-10 last year and a chance to be an All-American this season. Speed and good size. Played linebacker in high school, so possibly could convert there and be a Mike Vrabel/Willie McGinest type for the Patriots. Might come out, but only a junior. 9/22/07.
Florida DE Derrick Harvey (#91): Another athletic freak who checks in at 6’4″ 262, perfect size for the Patriots to convert to 3-4 outside linebacker. Named Defensive MVP of the National Championship game last year. Had 11 sacks as a Sophomore and has 6.5 so far this year. Harvey has the speed and athletic ability to convert to linebacker, but one thing that might discourage the Patriots is they drafted and attempted to convert a Florida defensive end – Jeremey Mincey – to linebacker last year and failed. There was too much difference between the Patriots’ system and Florida’s, and he lacked the ability to adapt. Of course Harvey is far more talented than Mincey and the Patriots will likely take a good long look at him. 11/3/07.
Penn State LB Dan Connor (#40): There is a rumor going around that Penn State has produced an NFL linebacker or two in the past. Connor will be the latest to continue that tradition. He is currently the second leading tackler for the Nittany Lions. Has good NFL size at 6’3 233 and can get bigger. Good toughness and leadership ability and a solid tackler. Finished only 2 tackles behind Paul Posluszny last season and Posluszny was drafted in the second round of this year’s draft. Has shown an ability to blitz this year with 5 sacks, but has also gotten out in coverage and can do that. Just a solid, smart all-around player and will be a first day draft pick. 10/27/07.
Purdue DE Cliff Avril (#32): A great sized defensive end with the tools to switch to outside linebacker. This would seem the prototypical type college defensive end who could make the switch to linebacker in a 3-4. I’ll predict the Patriots are very interested in this pass rusher and athlete. 9/22/07.
Kansas CB Aqib Talib (#3): Possibly the best cornerback in the country, he’ll face off against Nebraska this week. (12:30 PM Fox Sports Networks) This 6’2″ 205 lb. corner has the talent to be a Pro Bowl NFL corner. He was on everyone’s pre-season All-American lists and he hasn’t disappointed for the undefeated Jayhawks this year. If he comes out, this is someone the Patriots will be very, very interested in with the pick they got from the 49ers. Names Randy Moss as his favorite athlete. Has 3 interceptions and 9 pass breakups this year. Picked off 6 and had an amazing 22 pass breakups last year despite playing in only 10 games (was suspended for 2). 11/3/07.
Alabama CB Simeon Castille (#2): An excellent corner who should really blossom with Saban’s coaching. He was first team All-SEC last year. Shows good playmaking ability and had 6 INTs last year. Good all around and has a shot to be a first round pick and the direction the Patriots go in if they want a corner. Saban will have input. 9/15/07.
Colorado CB Terrence Wheatley (#26): A top-notch corner with a knack for big interceptions. He’ll play for someone on Sundays, despite his smallish size. Has 4.37 speed and was 1st Team All-Big 12 last year. Can return kicks and somewhat reminds of Ellis Hobbs. 9/29/07.