When Bob Kraft took in a football game at the University of Florida last year, did he know that he would be watching three of his future employees? Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, and Aaron Hernandez were all plucked from the Gator sidelines to join the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft.
If there is any correlation at all there between Kraft’s one college game a year that he attends and who the Patriots end up picking, then these members of the Wisconsin Badgers should starting looking at real estate in Boston.
Kraft attended the Wisconsin vs. Michigan game this past November, seeing the Badgers hang 48 points on the lowly Wolverines.
So who might have the Patriots owner been checking out first hand? These behemoths are pretty hard to miss.
J.J. Watt, DE (6’6″ / 292)
J.J. Watt has all the physical skills to be an imposing force as a 5-technique defense end for the New England Patriots. He was a game-changer each Saturday for the Badgers – blocking kicks, batting down passes, making interceptions, and creating havoc in the opponent’s backfield.
If Watt can learn to effectively two-gap, his dynamic pass-rush skills would be a much-needed boost to a Patriots defense that has lacked a true threat from the RDE position for way too long.
His name also starts with a “W”, which evidently is an important factor in determining whether a prospect will fit on New England’s defensive line. (Wright, Wilfork, Warren, etc…)
Gabe Carimi, OT/OG (6’7″ / 326)
Gabe Carimi is a violent blocker that can play either tackle position. If drafted by Coach Belichick, one would have to imagine Sebastian Vollmer protecting Tom Brady’s blindside, with Carimi manning the right tackle position.
Carimi’s smarts, instincts, willingness to play through pain, and renowned work-ethic would make him a good fit for the Patriots line. His strength and technique at the POA are great, but offensive-line coach Dante Scarnecchia would still have plenty of work to do. Staying low and balanced, bending at the knees, and footwork at the second level are all things that he can still improve on.
John Moffitt, OG/OC (6’4″ / 314)
Another versatile Badger, Moffitt can play both guard positions as well as center. We can see the Patriots letting him play guard for a year while grooming him as a potential replacement for Dan Koppen, whose contract will expire after the 2011 season.
Moffitt excels in the “phone booth”, manhandling defenders with a huge punch. He moves decently, but like Carimi, his technique breaks down a bit in space.
With the futures of Stephen Neal and Logan Mankins still up in the air, the need is certainly there to add an interior lineman.
While the Patriots probably won’t select three players from the same school again in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the Wisconsin Badgers certainly have the talent at positions of need for the Patriots to make it close.