October 18, 2017

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]



Pats Draft Scenarios: Please Don’t Take Offense

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Outside linebacker, defensive end and offensive lineman should sit at the top of New England’s draft list. But what about the rest of the offense?

Fellow PD writer Dan Snapp pointed out a recent comment on boston.com about Bill Belichick meeting Miami wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (I guess you could call that info a Snapp to attention. Ha ha! Right?). It got us thinking about how we’d feel drafting specialty positions with New England’s first three picks (17, 28, 33).

Below lie the various reactions we expect if the home team were to take the best player available instead of addressing their most pressing needs.

Alabama RB Mark Ingram

RUNNING BACK (aka the “All right, I can see that” pick)Mark Ingram stands out as a clear first-rounder. We’re also big on Mikel Leshoure. People love Ryan Williams: that’s a polite way to say we don’t quite see it.

The last time New England won a Super Bowl, they had a big back in Corey Dillon (and the year before that, another bulky ball-carrier in Antowain Smith). That puts Ingram and Leshoure in the forefront for us.

Later round possibilities: Heavier guys like Delone Carter and Allen Bradford intrigue us. Carter (a bowling ball at 5-9, 222) rushed for over 1,000 yards at Syracuse, while forklift Bradford ran a 4.53-second 40 at 242 pounds. As a senior at USC he averaged over seven yards per carry.

WIDE RECEIVER (aka the “Well, that’s cool, I guess” pick) – If the Pats can get their hands on the likes of A. J. Green (consensus number one at the position) or Julio Jones, they have to consider it. However, the next three leave room for doubt.

Maryland’s Torrey Smith, Pittsburgh’s Jon Baldwin and Miami’s Hankerson could all produce at Gillette. Having Tom Brady at quarterback makes that seem obvious, though we shouldn’t forget the Chad Jackson Debacle. Smith (6-1, 204) has had a great spring, burning up the combine turf and showing good skills at his workouts. On the other hand, the freakish Baldwin (6-4, 228) has failed to show the speed or route discipline to make him a must-have selection.

Hankerson, though intriguing, begs the question: what are the Pats going to do with Taylor Price? Compare combine numbers between Hankerson and Price. The former is one inch taller; the latter leaps one inch higher. Their 40 times are both 4.40 seconds. Of course Hankerson’s experience at Miami outweighs Price’s at Ohio, but is he worth a top-33 pick?

Later round possibilities: We still like Edmund Gates and Cecil Shorts III – quick, athletic guys with special teams experience. In a deep receiver class, we can only mildly endorse a high pick.

TIGHT END (aka the “Punch me in the face so I feel something” pick) – Drafting Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez had one big benefit for Pats fans in that, for the first time in years, they spent the college football season not scouting tight ends. Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame will change the dynamic of some lucky NFL team; however, having two 6-6, 260-pounders looks like too much.

D. J. Williams of Arkansas and Luke Stocker of Tennessee round out an unspectacular tight end class. (Here’s a funny, random fact: USC had a tight end named Jordan Cameron, while Cal had a defensive end named Cameron Jordan. Oh, that crazy Pac-10!)

Later round possibilities: We hear whispers about Virgil Green of Nevada, who’s got great athleticism (4.54 40, 42.5-inch vertical). We’d feel more comfortable with an H-back type like Ryan Taylor of North Carolina. He’s listed at fullback, but at 6-3, 250, he can take on the backfield blocker role where New England keeps platooning personnel.

QUARTERBACK (aka the “Hold me as I cry tears of rage” pick) – Some selections seem unnecessary but, much like Devin McCourty, defend themselves with a productive season. Blaine Gabbert of Missouri (who sounds like an Old West gold miner) should go to Carolina at number one overall. After that, Jake Locker and Cam Newton have the uppermost slots, though neither should make it to number 17.

A first-round QB to the Patriots? Shut your mouth. Shut it!

Later round possibilities: We like T. J. Yates, who put up record-setting numbers at North Carolina, and we remain intrigued by Josh Portis of California, Pennsylvania, who’s athletic, a prolific passer, and available late.

I know, I know: some of you believe Baldwin, Rudolph or (shudder) Locker would bring something special to Foxboro. If so, tell us in the comment section below.

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]