by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Continuing with our Nobel-Prize-winning series on the draft (note: previous statement may not be true), today we preview potential picks for rounds two and three, to be chosen on Friday, April 29.
Defensive front seven: Though we hope beyond hope that the Patriots address these positions in round one, a couple of players stand out in the top 100. One is defensive lineman Phil Taylor out of Baylor. At 6-3, 334 pounds, Taylor has the size to play anywhere in a three-man defensive front. Speaking of size, 6-5, 346-pound nose tackle/forklift Kenrick Ellis of Hampton also warrants a closer look.
Arizona’s Brooks Reed has prototypical size as an outside linebacker. Reed showed the type of hustle that too often eludes players with such athleticism. (For a heavy-metal-infused highlight reel of the long-haired dervish, click here.) We’d love to see him flying around Gillette next season.
Keep an eye on – Christian Ballard out of Iowa, a little light at 290 but well-suited for the defensive end spot.
Offensive line: Danny Watkins of Baylor could go in the second round, while Clint Boling of Georgia looks like a third-rounder. Both would restock New England’s interior.
Keep an eye on – Orlando Franklin of Miami. Despite hurting his knee last August, he played the entire season at left tackle for the Hurricanes, making the move from guard. Toughness and adaptability put him on our list.
Receivers: It looks like Torrey Smith of Maryland had his breakout combine, including a 4.41-second 40 and a 41-inch vertical leap. At 6-1, 204 pounds, Smith could provide the size/speed combo that opens up the field for the smaller guys. Though Jon Baldwin of Pitt hasn’t had a great off-season, I’m not ready to give up on him. His 6-4 frame should harass defenders, and his 42-inch vertical won’t hurt, either. He didn’t make these kinds of plays by accident.
Keep an eye on – Sure, Edmond Gates went to lil’ ol’ Abilene Christian. Fine, his highlight reel makes it seem as though he competed below his talent. But then you see his combine numbers (4.31 40, 40-inch vertical) and think, hey, maybe this guy could do something for New England.
Running backs: Lest we forget, the Pats have the first pick in the second round (thank you, Carolina Panthers). If Illinois’ Mikel Leshoure remains available at 33, New England should consider picking him up – or, as Bill Belichick is wont to do, trading down for him and getting future picksohfortheloveofGodpleaseno.
Keep an eye on – Delone Carter, Syracuse. Short (5-9) but not small (222 pounds), Carter managed to gain over 3,000 yards rushing in his career, impressive considering the Orangemen had an offense about as potent as a hypoallergenic pillow.
Defensive backs: Though a little slight at 185 pounds, we like Curtis Brown out of Texas as a second-rounder. His lack of upper-body strength could hurt him, but he has great quickness numbers from the combine (top seven in both 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle).
Keep an eye on – Chris Culliver, South Carolina. The free safety missed much of 2010 with a shoulder injury, but his feet seem fine. The Gamecock ran a 4.36 in the 40, fastest of all players projected at safety.
Up next: 10 players the Pats should look for on Day Three.
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