by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Coach Bill Belichick has said of playing for the Patriots, if you only do one thing, you’d better do it really well. Because few second-day picks end up as number one receivers (especially on a team with Randy Moss and Wes Welker), kick return ability becomes an integral part of making our mock draft board.
For tight ends, we’re looking for players who can both catch and block. And by “catch,” we mean that when the ball is thrown in their vicinity, they come up with the reception; also, they don’t cause their own fumbles to end potential scoring drives deep in Jets’ territory. Just, hypothetically, I’m saying.
EARLY DAY TWO – RECEIVER
Step up to the Mike: Though only 5-foot-8, Mike Thomas has managed to stand out over his career at Arizona (150 receptions in his last 25 games will do that). After notable performances in the East-West Shrine Game (99 all-purpose yards) and Senior Bowl week practices, Thomas cemented his status as an early Day Two pick with a 4.3-second 40 at the combine.
Thomas brought back two punts for TDs in 2008 and averaged 22.6 yards per kick return (he makes one vs. Arizona State look easy). With this pick, New England could cement their PR/KR/WR position for the foreseeable future.
EARLY DAY TWO – TIGHT END
Children of the Cornelius: Some aspects of Cornelius Ingram (6-4, 245) scare Pats fans, including his apparent inability to block, his coming from Florida’s program, and his representation by agent Drew “Dream-crusher” Rosenhaus. Recent ex-Gator gaffes have hurt New England (Reche, Jabar, Colts: Write your own haiku), but as a wideout in a tight end frame, Ingram looks like he can play. He actually went to Gainesville as a quarterback and played on the Gator hoops team, which could mean he learns offenses better than another ex-Gator who brought new-yet-still-frustrating meaning to the term “Florida Chad.”
Ingram’s combine and pro day results have alleviated concerns about missing 2008 with a knee injury. A highlight reel displays why he’d be an intriguing pick, especially if available on Day Two.
MID DAY TWO – RECEIVERS
Tate what you do, it’s the way that you do it: On the positive side, North Carolina’s Brandon Tate should last until the middle rounds. On the negative, his status comes from being unable to test his knee after having shredded it like a head of lettuce. Before getting hurt his senior year, Tate was averaging 23.5 yards per catch and 15.8 yards per rushing attempt (11 runs for 143 yards). If he can get back to his old self, as seen here, he could provide a spark on special teams and fill in nicely as a third receiver.
I have here an affidavit: Seems like Mike Wallace has all the proof he needs that he can play. His deep touchdown catch for Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl proved he can track down passes in traffic, as did his 20-yards-per-catch in 2008. A 4.33-second 40 at the combine didn’t hurt, either.
At six-feet, 199 pounds, some deem Wallace too slight. As long as his skinny self is scooting past coverage, who cares?
MID DAY TWO – TIGHT ENDS
Getting Cavalier: Virginia’s John Phillips (6-6, 251) had 48 receptions in 2008, making him worth a look. Having gone to Virginia, Bill Belichick will have a solid scouting report on him from Cavalier coach Al Groh (did you know that those two coached together? It’s true. They did. Bring it up in your next cocktail party conversation). After showing surprising quickness on his pro day (6.84-second three-cone drill), Phillips could prove himself as a viable target at the next level.
Smile at the Cameron: Cameron Morrah became a goal-line target for Cal this year with eight touchdown receptions. The 6-3, 244-pounder shows off some pretty nifty catches and a few solid blocks from the H-back slot in this highlight video. For some thoughtful answers to PD’s questions, see his Q&A here.
LATE DAY TWO – RECEIVERS
The Stroughter that stirs the drink-ter: Oregon State’s Sammie Stroughter (5-9, 189) wanted to prove that he could run faster than his 4.54-second 40 from the combine and did just that, notching two 4.45s in a row at the Beavers’ pro day. He had three punt returns for touchdowns in his college career. On my favorite clip from last year he failed to score, but he did manage to set the Beavers up at the two-yard line vs. Cal using his field vision and cutback ability. He spoke with PD about returning kicks, overcoming off-field issues, and looking ahead.
Will Nice Guice finish last? Coming out of Northwestern State in Lousiana, Dudley Guice (6-3, 209) had a hard time getting noticed until his pro day. After compiling scores that would have put him at or near the top of most combine receivers, Guice gave himself a chance to hear his name called on draft weekend. To read about how much he loves playing special teams, see his interview with PD here.
LATE DAY TWO – TIGHT END
Solid. Solid as a Brock: Despite 26 catches in 2008, Rutgers’ Kevin Brock (6-5, 255) didn’t do enough on offense to garner much interest. However, if you watched the Scarlet Knights this year, you saw him excel at special teams. Though not invited to the combine, his pro day numbers put him near the top at his position, including a 4.64 40-yard dash that would have been the third-fastest for tight ends at Indy.
Tomorrow, check out our Day One offensive line notables.
Chris Warner can be reached at [email protected]