September 2, 2014

Pats Draft Scenarios: Local Talent

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

A brief look at some local college talent with chances to hook on with NFL teams this spring.

BOSTON COLLEGE – Beyond offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo and linebacker/inspirational-sports-movie-waiting-to-happen Mark Herzlich (a New England fan favorite), the Eagles could place a few more players into the league next year.

Candidates include tackle Damik Scafe and defensive end Alex Albright. Scafe anchored BC’s defensive line at 6-2, 300 pounds. At the Eagle’s pro day, Albright (6-4, 250) displayed solid quickness, including a 4.03-second 20-yard shuttle.

UCONN – A lot of Huskies look to make their mark in the NFL. At the top, there’s running back Jordan Todman, who is graded as a Day Two prospect. In the middle rounds, look for outside linebackers Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus, productive, speedier guys who fit a 4-3 defense.

Keeping the Pats in mind, Todman and offensive guard Zach Hurd seem to fit best on New England’s roster. Meanwhile, fullback Anthony Sherman might find a spot on a team willing to devote a spot to that position.

On to standouts from some of the region’s smaller programs…

DARTMOUTH – Charles Bay, DE:

Charles Bay of Dartmouth

Bay put up solid numbers at his pro day, including a 10-foot broad jump and 25 bench press reps. The 6-2, 250-pounder should get to show off his stuff at an NFL camp this spring.

HARVARD – Collin Zych, SS: An impressive pro day,  including a 4.45-second 40, will get Zych a second look from scouts.

MAINE – Wide receiver Jeremy Kelley has one of the more compelling stories going into this week. Kelley possesses the size (6-6, 225) and quickness (3.89 20-yard shuttle, 6.60 3-cone) to make an impression. Even more intriguing: somehow he went all of 2010 without catching a pass, getting on the field as a special-teamer and occasional pass rusher.

One Kelley fact of interest to Pats fans: in the off-season he works out with fellow upstate New Yorker Rob Gronkowski.

Other Black Bears getting consideration are outside linebacker Mark Masterson (6-2, 240), and receivers Tyrell Jones (6-2, 204) and Desmond Randall (5-11, 185, 36-inch vertical).

UMASS – Interesting that two candidates below transferred from Northeastern (or maybe not that interesting. Whatever). Offensive guard Greg Niland worked out at BC’s pro day. The 6-4, 300-pounder did well for himself, running a 5.07-second 40 and putting up 27 bench reps.

Running back John Griffin ran a 4.57 at the BC pro day, adding a 36-inch vertical and 6.82-second 3-cone drill for good measure. At 5-11, 205 pounds, Griffin averaged five yards per carry for the Minutemen.

Though his slow 40 will turn off some scouts, receiver Anthony Nelson (5-9, 185) deserves mention here. He not only led the team with 61 catches, he averaged over 25 yards per punt return and 27 yards per kick return.

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Hugo Souza, SS: Souza (5-11, 212) made the All-Colonial Athletic Association First Team. He had 82 tackles in 2010.

RHODE ISLAND – Outside linebacker Victor Adesanya (6-3, 227) made the All-CAA First Team, leading the Rams in sacks along with four QB hits and three forced fumbles. At his pro day, he ran a 4.62 40 and leapt a 36.5-inch vertical.

Sure, linebacker Matt Hansen may look small (5-11, 230), but so does dynamite. Hansen led URI with 114 tackles last season. If you want to watch Hansen put up 26 reps at his pro day, click here.

YALE – Chris Blohm, tight end: The 6-4, 260-pound Blohm showed his strength (30 bench reps) at his pro day and his hands (26 receptions) throughout the season.

Team captain Tom McCarthy fits the part of a college defensive end at 6-5, 265. His 4.72-second 40 and a 35-inch vertical jump put him in line with other outside linebacker candidates. In 2010 he led Yale with four sacks and three forced fumbles.

Any local college candidates you think deserve a mention here, dear readers, please comment below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

 

Pats Draft Scenarios: Picks To Avoid

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Well, now that I have as much chance of winning my NCAA pool as Pittsburgh does (thanks a lot, Big East!), time to refocus on the NFL draft.

Today we’ll discuss some players whose names have appeared on many mock drafts, but with whom we have some issues. (For a concise rundown of Pats mock picks, check out the draft tracker on patriots.com.) While most of the choices below have some merit, we just don’t see them as helping out the team as much as others could.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: (Um, just one, please?) While New England needs a boost to its front five, we disagree with taking two with their first two picks.

For the love of all that’s decent, Coach Belichick, WILL YOU PLEASE DRAFT A PASS RUSHER?

In other words, Mike Pouncey or Derek Sherrod or Gabe Carimi. Also, as much as we enjoy watching BC football – although “enjoy” is stretching it of late – we’re not looking to bring tackle Anthony Castonzo to Gillette. After watching his matchup against North Carolina’s Robert Quinn, we don’t have the confidence that Castonzo can start right away as an NFL tackle.

Jake Locker

QUARTERBACKS: We’ve seen Jake Locker of Washington mock-selected by prospective Pats fans in the first or early second round. Except for trade scenarios, we don’t want to see any QBs picked until at least Round Five. I mean, come on. That’s obvious. Or “obvi,” as the kids are saying.

Heaven help me, I just don’t get the kids.

PASS RUSHERS: The Patriots lack a pass rusher in the same way the moon lacks gravity: what’s there will hold you, but it’s less than what you really need. Some of the names being floated around on the team’s behalf make us nervous. For example, Aldon Smith of Missouri has good size (6-4, 263) but not-all-that-great strength (20 bench reps of 225) or quickness (4.5 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle). Declaring early for the draft after his sophomore year, he’s also greener than Kermit.

Dontay Moch of Nevada has tremendous speed (4.4 40) and production (22 tackles for loss in 2010), but at 6-1, 248, it’s hard to imagine him setting the edge in New England’s 3-4 defense.

While we like the leverage of Akeem Ayers of UCLA (6-3, 254), he failed to impress at the combine. A slow 40 (4.81) and a weak bench (18 reps) take him off our list.

RUNNING BACKS: New England needs a running back the same way I need a workout – if I continue without one, it doesn’t bode well for the future. That said, Daniel Thomas of Kansas State has left our draft boards due in part to a slow 40 (4.63), but mostly because of nagging injuries that have prevented him from displaying his quickness. While he remains on our radar, his current rank as a second-rounder looks too risky right now.

Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech has been posited as a first- or early second-round pick, but for whatever reason I don’t see it (that means good news, Ryan: you’re going to Foxboro!). He has solid quickness (4.18 in the shuttle) but only so-so speed (4.63 40); he’s also a smaller guy at 5-9, 212 pounds. His 2009 highlight reel looks impressive (the first three minutes of it feature the BC defense, by the way) but we wonder how well his game will translate from the ACC to the NFL.

WIDE RECEIVERS: First and foremost comes Jon Baldwin of Pittsburgh. The Brobdingnagian ballplayer (6-4, 228 pounds) failed to impress scouts at the combine, running dull routes, showing little quickness, and missing too many catches. While his athleticism intrigues, his lack of fundamentals frightens.

Tandon Doss of Indiana (6-2, 200) was unable to participate in the combine due to double groin surgery (Good gracious: two groins?). He looks like a solid, versatile receiver; however, so does Julian Edelman. If Doss puts up the kind of 40 time that makes him a downfield option, that’s just fine. If not, New England needs to look for something beyond what they already have.

Greg Little of North Carolina looks better on paper than a winning lottery ticket. At 6-2, 230 pounds, he ran a 4.5-second 40, leapt 41 inches and completed the 3-cone drill in 6.80 seconds. All remarkable. One problem with bringing him to Gillette, though: don’t the Pats already have a gifted, raw receiver out of UNC in Brandon Tate? As a third-rounder, there’s more than a Little temptation here (get it? So funny), but the team needs to stay away from another developmental project and look for a pass-catcher who can contribute from day one.

So, what mock Pats players chafe your chaps? Let us know in the comment section below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

College Scout – Offensive Line

By Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff

Offensive line is tough to rate from casual viewing. But even us lay people and fans of the draft can get some idea of a guy’s quality if you actually take the time to watch. You don’t need to watch the lineman literally every single play. We all know its more fun and natural to just follow the ball. But I sometimes make a point to check out some guys on the o-line and will watch. If a play is coming up for replay and isn’t something spectacular I really want to study, I sometimes then will say…..okay, lets see how such and such a guard did. Replays are actually a great time to see how the blocking held up that sprung a play or caused it to fail. In any event, here is our rankings of the best offensive linemen in college right now.

Clint Boling

1.) Clint Boling (#60), Offensive Tackle, Georgia: Boling has been rated anywhere from the 5th best player in next year’s draft and best lineman, to further down the list and a late first rounder. Georgia’s poor season does have potential to damage Boling, but this kid is as complete a lineman as you’ll find. He’s a technician and very good in many areas, but not outstanding in any. He can be versatile, having played left and right tackle and right guard. He is tough, physical and competitive. He’s never missed significant time with injuries and been a 4 year starter. He did have ankle surgery in the offseason, but it was minor. Boling will be a steady, starting tackle in the NFL for a long time. Its conceivable a better athlete will wow teams prior to the draft, leaving Boling to be chosen behind them. But for my money, Boling is as much a can’t miss, will-be-good prospect as there is along the offensive line.

2.) Anthony Castonzo (#74), Offensive Tackle, Boston College: Local product Castonzo has manned BC’s offensive line virtually from the moment he stepped on campus as a freshman. A physical and tough kid with an attitude, Castonzo plays left tackle for BC. Many have him rated as the best lineman in the draft and a top 10 pick. Watch him tonight pave holes on the left side and protect a freshman quarterback, Chase Rettig, making his first college start. BC will be on ABC at 8PM EST playing Notre Dame at home.

3.) DeMarcus Love (#65), Offensive Tackle, Arkansas: Antother former guard who has made the switch to tackle. Love is a better athlete than the above two, but probably not as good a football player overall right now. Still, his natural physical ability points to a big upside. He could switch back inside to guard in the NFL, but given his talent to be a top tackle that would seem to be a waste. Right now, Love plays right tackle but he has the talent to switch to left. His upside could vault him to be taken ahead of the above two. He also shows weight room strength, benching 415 regularly. Given that he’s a right tackle and the Patriots prefer a different style lineman, they probably won’t be interested in Love. But many teams will be.

4.) Stephen Schilling (#52), Guard, Michigan: Schilling is a captain for the University of Michigan football team that is off to a pretty good start this season after some down years. The Patriots always like to see players who display leadership. He also is versatile, having started his first two years at right tackle and now playing left guard for this last two years in college. As a left guard, it could be he’s a match for the Patriots as they may be looking for a player at that position next offseason given the Logan Mankins situation. Schilling fits the Patriots typical lists of requirements of strong, tough, physical, loves the game, versatile, smart and a leader. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they look in this direction next year at the draft.

5.) Gabe Carimi (#68), Tackle, Wisconsin: Carimi is rated higher by some, including as high as the best tackle in the draft. He is a typical Wisconsin road grader. Big, strong as an ox and excels in run blocking over pass blocking. Carimi actually took over left tackle for Joe Thomas after he graduated. Thomas has gone on to become one of the best tackles in football playing for the Cleveland Browns. Carimi has a massive frame and a lot of talent. His rawness as a pass blocker could scare away the Patriots, but given how Thomas adjusted and excelled that is unlikely.

6.) Nate Solder (#78), Tackle, Colorado: This guy has tons of talent. Runs fast with a 4.88/40 time but also puts up great strength numbers such that those in the Colorado football program have taken to calling him “The Freak.” Came to Colorado a tight end, which is a biography the Patriots like for their tackles. They like guys who are not just maulers, but also have some foot speed and quickness. They have repeatedly brought in former tight ends who have converted to tackle. Solder is a guy who maintains the speed he had as a tight end and is a good athlete. But now he is packing it on a 6’9″ 315 lb. frame. Solder is a guy the Patriots will likely have an interest in. The day after Thanksgiving he’ll be on with his Colorado teammates taking on a tough Nebraska squad on ABC at 3:30 PM EST.

7.) Mike Pouncey (#52), Florida, Center: The twin brother of Steelers first round choice Maurkice Pouncey, who has won the starting center job in Pittsburgh. Mike Pouncey himself is now a center taking over after converting from guard for his brother Maurkice. The reason one twin is in the NFL while the other, Mike, isn’t is that Maurkice came out early to the NFL Draft while Mike decided to wait. Mike has shown some versatility in his ability to play guard and center and that could interest the Patriots. Like his brother, Mike is likely to be the top center in next year’s draft.

8.) Derek Sherrod (#79), Mississippi State, Tackle: If you’re noticing a trend of tackles you are absolutely correct. The best linemen in this draft are at that position. And Sherrod is another good one with left tackle ability. He consistently grades out as one of the best Mississippi State linemen. Slower and less athletic than Solder, but still not a slouch. Has good power and is a run blocker.

9.) Kristopher O’Dowd (#61), USC, Center: The second best center in the draft, he has plenty of experience in the shotgun and pass blocking. He’s had a few injuries, but is another line captain who can be physical, tough and strong but also has the intelligence and leadership you look for from a center. USC takes on Stanford October 9th at 8PM EST on ABC.

10.) Danny Watkins (#59), Baylor, Tackle: Another big, strong tackle who can play on the left side and has plenty of experience pass blocking. May end up being one of the strongest players at the Combine. Watkins has an interesting back story as well. He turns 26 years old this football season and will be 27 midway thru his rookie year in the NFL. Additionally, he never played football until 2007 and played only hockey in high school. Tried out for football team on a whim when he enrolled in some classes at Butte Junior College to study firefighting. Eventually that led to a spot at Baylor and here he is, being talked about as one of the better linemen in college football just years after he first tried the game. His age and inexperience will likely hurt him at draft time. But its important to remember how talented and strong he is and how far he’s come. He proved in college he could leap in and contribute right away and any team drafting him high will have to feel comfortable he could make the leap in competition quickly again.