November 23, 2014

Pats Post-Draft Scenarios: Undrafted Wish List

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Unlike past seasons where NFL teams could seek out undrafted players to fill out their camp rosters, rookie free agents have to sit and wait for the lockout to end.

Below we’ve listed some of those unpicked prospects whom we’d like to see get a shot in Foxboro.

Mark Herzlich, Boston College LB – Unbelievable that no team would spend even a seventh-round pick on this guy. He’s big (6-4, 245) and strong (29 bench reps of 225 pounds) and has been a stalwart on BC’s defense (65 tackles, four interceptions in 2010).

Having beaten cancer, you’d think he’d get a shot on his story alone. But Herzlich’s no pity pick: whatever team he decides to go to will be lucky to have him. Here’s hoping he finds a home at Foxboro this fall.

Jeremy Kelley, Maine WR/ST – Definitely something intriguing about this local athlete, a 6-6, 225-pound receiver who got on the field any way possible, from special teams to pass-rusher. His foot speed (6.60-second 3-cone drill) and suddenness (10-11 broad jump, 42-inch vertical) could get him into an NFL camp. We’d enjoy watching him at Gillette.

Marc Schiechl, Colorado School of Mines OLB – Schiechl gets the Dane Fletcher undrafted nod as the western school defensive end who absolutely killed at his pro day. The 6-2, 252-pound outside linebacker prospect had 38 bench reps and a 35-inch vertical, showing the athleticism that should get him an extra look from scouts.

Jeremy Ross, Cal WR – The Pats drafted his teammate Shane Vereen, and should take a shot at Ross. The receiver has good size at 6-0, 207 pounds, good speed with a 4.45 40, and good special teams prowess, leading Cal in punts. Productive, athletic and smart all have to be worth something, right?

Terrence Holt of Autin Peay

Terrence Holt, Austin Peay RB/RS – We first called Holt’s name in our Superlatives column as the Lil’ Danny Woodhead Award winner. The 5-8, 185-pound pocketknife led the Governors in rushing, receiving and returning. At the very least, that kind of production could make him a versatile addition to New England’s practice squad.

Cedric Thornton, Southern Arkansas DT – Considering the Pats went through defensive linemen last year the way I go through movie popcorn (and believe you me, that’s quick), Thornton (6-3, 310) could bolster the D-line. In eight games last year Thornton had 52 tackles, including 13 for losses.

Jake Kirkpatrick, TCU C – He’s not huge (6-2, 300) nor Herculean (25 bench reps), but Kirkpatrick is consistent. His winning the Rimington Award for the nation’s best college center says all we need to know.

Jeron Johnson, Boise State FS – The 5-10, 212-pound Johnson led Boise State in tackles for the past three years and started 44 games over his Broncos career. Though not the fastest, he put up a respectable 4.5-second 40.

Darrin Walls, Notre Dame CB – Walls had the type of pro day that will get him onto an NFL practice field. Why not New England’s?

He submitted a 4.42 40, a 6.88 3-cone drill, and 10-2 broad jump. With the success of former Irish safety Sergio Brown coming onto the club as a rookie free agent last year, the Patriots must be looking Walls’ way.

Any players whose names went uncalled on draft weekend you’d like to see at Gillette? Please let us know below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Patriots Draft Scenarios: In Belichick We Trust, Mostly

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

This season on PD, we’ve shown different scenarios of how we think the Patriots draft will go, and how we want it to go. Now, armed with updated pro day info and a different week’s perspective, we revisit how April 28-30 will go down.

New England has six picks in the first three rounds (say them with me, people: 17, 28, 33, 60, 74, 92) and one pick in each of the following three. The Patriots have selected 24 rookies over the past two years, 17 of whom remain on the roster.

In short, youth has been served; at this point, quality rules over quantity.

A review of the second round of the 2009 draft helps us predict Bill Belichick’s draft tendencies. He traded down for safety Patrick Chung, a potential long-term starter at Foxboro, then fulfilled a defensive line need with Ron Brace.

Belichick later grabbed cornerback Darius Butler, whom many saw as a first-round talent. Finally, he surprised New England fans by taking offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, an under-the-radar prospect who quickly became a starter.

The second round yielded two starters (Chung, Vollmer), one contributor (Brace), and Butler, who may not pan out for the team despite coming in as the highest-rated of the bunch.

Based on that round, let’s predict the Patriots 2011 draft.

FIRST PICK (17 and 33) – Belichick will trade up for the pass rusher he wants here. As much as we’ve been begging for UNC’s Robert Quinn, we can more safely predict that Cal’s Cameron Jordan gets the call.

At 6-4, 285 pounds, Jordan can rush the passer as a down end or contain the run as a 3-4 outside linebacker. That flexibility makes him an every-down player and gives opposing offenses something else to think about.

SECOND PICK (28) – Offensive lineman Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin. New England’s O-line needs help and Carimi can provide it, as he was the best on the Badgers’ formidable front in 2010.

In the past we would have liked to see a defensive end drafted here, but Jordan gives the Pats some leeway to improve the other side of the ball.

THIRD PICK (60) – Running back DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma. Here’s where we differ with Coach Belichick. We see plenty of backfield talent available on Day Three, and would seek defensive help here. However, Murray’s speed (4.38 40) and production (school record 6,626 career all-purpose yards) bring him to the Pats in the second round.

While recent pro day results have many looking at Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones in this area of the draft (including a 4.33 40 and a 39.5-inch vertical), Jones’ double-digit fumbles over the past two seasons (danger!) will keep him out of a Pats uniform.

FOURTH PICK (74) – Defensive lineman Terrell McClain, South Florida. The word “explosive” gets thrown around in sports the same way “genius” gets used in Hollywood: far too often. Still, McClain’s physical nature fits the description. At 6-2, 295 pounds, he ran a 4.85-second 40, faster than most fullback candidates.

Though we’d look for a taller candidate to fill out the defensive end spot, McClain’s (wait for it…) explosiveness will entice Belichick to draft him here.

FIFTH PICK (92) – receiver Greg Salas, Hawaii. Now, if we were picking, Edmund Gates of Abilene Christian would wind up in Foxboro. Gates has breakneck speed that can open up the field.

Salas lacks that straight-line zip, but he has mid-range quickness and a knack for getting open that Belichick will appreciate, as will a certain someone whose name rhymes with Pom Shady.

SIXTH PICK (125) – Traded for future considerations. Let’s face it: when it comes to Belichick and trades, the man can’t help himself.

So, let’s try that again…

SIXTH PICK (159) – Outside linebacker Bruce Miller, Central Florida. The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year proved a nightmare for opposing defenses. His size (6-1, 254) will keep him on the board late, but his strength (35 bench reps) and his tenacity (watch him wreak havoc here) will make him a contributor on any 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker convert.

SEVENTH PICK (193) – Offensive lineman Andrew Jackson, Fresno State. The 2009 All-WAC guard spent most of this past season injured, pushing back his status to later on Day Three.

Jackson tossed up 225 pounds 25 times at the combine. Besides having a historical name, he plays for old Belichick pal Pat Hill at Logan Mankins’ alma mater. None of that hurts.

FREE AGENTS – With only seven picks taken in this year’s draft (we hope), the Pats will need some players to round out rookie camp. We offer some prime choices below.

Running back Terrence Holt, Austin Peay. Holt already made our superlatives list as the Danny Woodhead of 2011 (he’s 5-7, 185). We’d like nothing better than for the Pats to give him a shot. The running back/returner did yeoman work for the Governors this past season, leading the team in rushing, receiving and return yards (averaging 23.4 per kickoff).

For confirmation that kick and punt returns can be the most exciting plays in football, watch Holt here.

Tackle David Mims, Virginia Union. He’s about as raw as a fresh egg, but who better to deal with young linemen than Belichick and Coach Dante Scarnecchia? Having size (6-8, 331) and strength (29 bench reps) adds a ton of potential.

Receiver Jeremy Ross, California. Ross led the Golden Bears in punt return yardage and, at 6-0, 209 pounds, qualifies as a bigger wideout in New England (aka Receiver Lilliput). His speed (4.44 40) and – dare I say it – explosiveness ( 39-inch vertical) should get him a look.

If you want a look, see his highlights here.

Defensive tackle Elisha Joseph, Temple. Though he got overlooked in favor of teammate Muhammad Wilkerson, Joseph’s pro day turned heads. He benched 225 pounds 43 times (whoa) and managed to hurl his 295-pound body 28 inches skyward (yeesh). If he goes undrafted, he should get a call from Foxboro.

Cornerback Darrin Walls, Notre Dame. The Pats found success signing Irish safety Sergio Brown last year, so why not return to South Bend for his battery mate? Walls managed a 4.42 40 at his pro day and showed good quickness. He had three interceptions and four pass breakups this past season.

Middle Linebacker Cobrani Mixon, Kent State. New England got their money’s worth out of Kent State alum Julian Edelman; look for them to invite this All-MAC Football first-teamer to camp. The 6-1, 245-pound Mixon ran a 4.68 40 and had 33 bench reps at his pro day. In 2010 he had 82 tackles, including 6.5 sacks.

You can see Mixon’s pass-rushing ability in his highlight reel.

Well, dear readers, any thoughts on this year’s draft – or any players we should be looking out for – please let us know in the comment section below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

 

The NFL Draft: Superlatives

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Tired of seeing the same old names on your draft list? Try these special players on for size. And strength. And speed.

Winged Mercury Award: The fastest player at the combine this year was Miami defensive back Demarcus Van Dyke, who blazed a 4.28-second 40. Because speed isn’t an issue, at 6-1, 176 pounds, perhaps Demarcus should consider making a regular appearance at his local Sunday buffet.

Hercules, Hercules Award: Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea bench pressed 225 pounds 49 times. Coincidentally, that’s 49 times more than I’ve bench pressed anything over the past three years.

I guess that’s not coincidental. Ah, well.

Refutin’ Newton Award: Highest vertical jump at the combine went to Virgil Green at 42.5 inches. That, plus his 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump can be witnessed on this clip, where Green appears to float.

Some have associated Green’s name with the Pats. I don’t see that happening, but whoever gets him has a surefire jump ball play near the goal line.

Highest pro day vertical went to Arizona running back Nic Grigsby, who leapt – wait for it – 43.5 inches and broad jumped 11 feet. Now that’s just silly.

Catch That Chicken, Rocky Award: You want quick? Sure. Somehow Oregon receiver Jeff Maehl maneuvered through the 3-cone drill in 6.42 seconds. For perspective, Julian Edelman (no slowpoke himself) timed at 6.62.

Maehl looks like the type of quick-footed, overachieving receiver we could root for. Unless he goes to the Colts. Or the Jets. Or – you know what? Forget it.

Beanpole Award: Wide receiver Mantwan Harris of Albany State (GA) is listed at 6-4, 183 pounds. Thus concludes everything we know about Mantwan Harris.

Lil’ Danny Woodhead Award: This one goes to tiny Terrence Holt, Austin Peay running back. At 5-5, 175 pounds, Holt makes Woodhead look like a linebacker.

Like Woodhead, though, Holt has an outside chance to make the NFL. He led the Governors in rushing (5.4 yards per carry) and kickoff returns (over 1,100 yards total).

Jupiter Award for Best Gravitational Pull: At first we figured defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis of Hampton had the prize at 346 pounds, but then we discovered offensive lineman Cedric Mack of Florida International, who brings it home at 351.

Hey, Cedric. Have you met Demarcus Van Dyke? I didn’t think so.

Brobdingnagian Award: Biggest overall goes to an offensive lineman (yeah, go figure). Josh Davis of Georgia measured in at 6-7, 331 pounds.

For perspective, think of Glen “Big Baby” Davis on the Celtics. Now lop off two inches of height and add over 40 pounds. Low post player, indeed.

Flyweight Award: With all the heft of an electron, Henry Sailes, Tennessee Tech running back (5-6, 169) averaged over 19 yards per punt return for the Golden Eagles.

If you’ve got 22 minutes, you can see all the Sailes highlights you could ever want here. That’s right: 22 minutes. Pass the peanuts, it’s going to be a while.

Wait a minute: did Cedric Mack eat all the peanuts?

Best Football Name: We settled on Bubba Bartlett of Carroll College of Montana. As we remain suckers for alliteration, backfield Bubba bestowed blessings by being a bruising ball-player. He’s a fullback candidate at 6-1, 237.

Any pro day standouts who bested the combine numbers listed above, any all-name candidates or any physical specimens that catch your eye, please let us know.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]