by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Because New England looks set at quarterback and running back this season (let’s hope that’s an understatement), Day Two will be spent seeking depth at each position. Throw in a change-of-pace back to apprentice under Kevin Faulk and a fullback/special teamer to replace Heath Evans, and now you’re talking.
As has been the case, early Day Two refers to the third round through the mid-fourth, mid signifies mid-fourth through mid-sixth, and late goes on from there.
EARLY DAY TWO – QUARTERBACK
White wing candidate: With the onset of the single-wing (or Wildcat) offense, Patrick White has been pegged as a mid-round potential pickup. At West Virginia last season, White passed for 21 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Not-too-shabby numbers, especially considering his career as a running quarterback. With a new (i.e., non-existent) offensive coordinator, Bill Belichick might look to add a wrinkle to New England’s attack that could give opposing defensive coaches migraines.
And I say this with no small amount of glee: When you think of a coach who loves to make other coaches’ lives more difficult, isn’t Belichick one of the first guys to come to mind?
EARLY DAY TWO – RUNNING BACKS
My winner with Andre: While many expected 6-foot, 224-pound Andre Brown to demonstrate power at the NFL combine, few thought he’d have one of the best times for running backs. Along with a 4.4-yards-per-rush average, Brown showed ability as a receiver in 2008, nabbing 29 passes at an average of over 10 yards apiece. His footspeed and power show up vs. Florida State on his highlight video.
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright: Due to an uninspiring combine and a lackluster senior season at Clemson, James Davis watched his draft stock drop. It has rebounded recently, possibly due to an improved 40 time at his pro day (4.45) and/or his reel showing a runner who finds the right gap and never seems to go down on the first hit. Were he to live up to the promise he showed his junior year, Davis could prove a Day Two steal.
MID DAY TWO – QUARTERBACK
Yes I A&M: It’s amazing what an athletic combine has done for Stephen McGee. After running a 4.6 40, McGee rose up on teams’ radars. He missed most of last season at Texas A&M with a shoulder injury, leaving questions about his abilities as an NFL quarterback. He has proven his proficiency as an option QB. Another Wildcat wonder? Perhaps.
MID DAY TWO – RUNNING BACKS
Devout for Devin: After getting snubbed from combine participation, Devin Moore showed some starch in his nethers by holding his own pro day on the same weekend (his numbers actually bettered most combine running backs). On a trick kickoff return vs. Colorado State, Moore showcased his speed (not to mention a fake handoff reminiscent of a Steve Grogan bootleg).
During his interview with PD, completed the day before his workout with New England last month, Moore discussed his hope of making his small size (5-10, 187) and school (Wyoming) non-issues.
Sutton impact: A terrible 40 time of 4.68 will drop Tyrell Sutton down draft boards. The 5-8, 211-pound Northwestern product has two things going for him, however: production and quickness. In 2008, Sutton had 4.8 yards per carry along with 35 receptions for the Wildcats. In the East-West Shrine Game, he averaged 27 yards per kickoff return and ran hard up the middle.
A second look at Sutton’s testing results draws a comparison to another small back with a so-so 40 (4.57) but solid numbers in the footspeed tests. I’ll give you a hint: he’s been in New England a while.
MID DAY TWO – FULLBACK
Tony Award: If the Patriots decide to fill Evans’ spot with a prototype fullback, let’s hope they go with Tony Fiammetta. The 6-foot, 245-pound bruiser gets credit for going to Syracuse. (Even though the Orangemen play in a dome, merely leaving one’s upstate New York dorm room in January shows the desired heart to play in Foxboro.) He demonstrated his power during the combine as well as while discussing his training regimen during a Q&A with PD.
I know, I know: the fullback position is dead in the NFL. (It’s not even listed on their player page). Just remember to tell that to the poor saps who’ve got to take Fiammetta head-on next season.
LATE DAY TWO – QUARTERBACK
Sure plays a mean football: Starting for three years at Fresno State, Tom Brandstater got plenty of experience working in Pat Hill’s system, which the coach likened to that of Belichick’s. (Brandstater discussed some of the similarities between Patriots and Bulldogs practices in his PD Q&A). It never seems like a bad idea to have an extra arm in camp, and Brandstater’s appendage has passed for over 5,300 yards in the past two years (33 TDs, 17 INTs).
I don’t know though: a California QB? In New England?
(Some people find my irony charming. At least, I’m sure some people do. Somewhere.)
LATE DAY TWO – RUNNING BACKS
Catching a Marlon: Some stats regarding Marlon Lucky that we don’t hear much about: Last year, he had 22 receptions, which is fine. In 2007, he had 75 receptions, which is awesome. He also landed the East-West Shrine Game MVP trophy with almost 10 yards per carry. His 40 time hurt his stock, but if he can produce in the NFL (and it sure looks like he can), then he could become a valuable utility back.
And hey, he ran the Wildcat! Watch the 1:47 mark of his highlight video for his touchdown pass after taking the direct snap.
There’s a Rage in the Cajun: Though only 5-8, Tyrell Fenroy was a big fish in a small pond. At Louisiana-Lafayette, he set the Sun Belt Conference career rushing record. His strength and quickness become evident during his highlight video. Fenroy talked about his hopes and his desire to succeed in the NFL during his interview with PD.
His Spider sense is tingling: With his true “sleeper” status, we could say that Josh Vaughan qualifies as this year’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis, except for the fact that Green-Ellis played for a major program and was listed on most draft sites. The Richmond runner racked up over 1,800 yards in 2008. His size (5-11, 224) and eye-popping pro day make him worthy of a long, hard look late Sunday.
LATE DAY TWO – FULLBACK
David as Goliath: Used mostly as a tight end but projecting as an NFL fullback, David Johnson had 22 receptions last year for Arkansas State. He weighs 260 pounds and runs a 4.7-second 40. In the Red Wolves’ season highlight reel, Johnson catches a wide-open TD pass at the 2:43 mark. Color me intrigued.
Well, O Best Beloved, that about wraps up our position rankings for New England’s draft. Keep checking PD this week for our final draft boards, plus Greg Doyle’s draft preview.
Chris Warner can be reached at [email protected] .