The Wisconsin Connection

JJ Watt NFL Draft

Should J.J. Watt and company hang on to their winter clothing?

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.

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10 Responses to “The Wisconsin Connection”

  1. cash says:

    Im interested to see how teams draft in the late rounds do to the CBA. Because no teams can sign free agents that also means no UNDrafted free agents can be signed. I know the pats always seem to scoop 1 or 2 good UFA a year. Personally I dont care if they just trade up and grab Quinn, I get a hard on just thinking about Quinn, Mayo, Spikes, and Cunningham as our LBs for the next decade.
    Also the pats should sign Mankins, Moffitt looks like a good player but why restart at a position when you can sign a guy you already have and use that high draft pick in another position of need?

  2. TD says:

    I believe we got Brace because we needed DL’s and after BJ Raji he was about the only one big enough and decent talent for our defense.

    As for RB’s making an OLine seem better than they are, not sure about that since an RB needs some blocking to run, ask Barry Sanders.

  3. Ryan says:

    Some good o-line depth is a must, espicially in this draft. It seems like there are a lot of good options that would fit our system. I think we need to atleast snag one in the second. I hope to come back with TWO quality O-line speciemens. Leave it to our O-line coach to decide whom he wants, he knows what he is looking for.

  4. Bill says:

    During the 2007 draft, JaMarcus Russell was considered one of the blue chip players in the draft. Yet, Russell was throwing the ball to three quality receivers. So, there was the obvious possibility that three NFL quality college receivers made a college QB appear to be a much better player than he was in reality. A possibility which never existed for Matt Ryan at BC.

    In 2010, Wisconsin had three very productive RB’s. So, the possibility exists that the Wisconsin RB’s made the OL appear to be better players than their talent level justifies. But the reality is that the Wisconsin OL made three average college RB’s appear to be better players than their talent level.

    Which is why the Pat’s should target one of the Wisconsin OL. If you believe the Pat’s should draft Castonzo, then they should target Moffitt with a second or third round pick.

    • Steve says:

      Good points…

      I’m sure that’s a common problem with judging any talent…is he the result of surrounding talent, lousy competition, system etc…

      There are some foolish franchises out there, and if Russell was that big of a loser, or even showed a fraction, and teams were willing to be sucked into taking him because of his amazing arm, then that’s the gamble they chose. Good luck to teams like that, and there are penty of them.

      I just feel that the Pats are smart enough to evaluate talent on an individual basis and to project how far those skill will translate into their system and the HUGE jump up in competition they are about to make.

      That’s why those Senior Bowl practices are so important….can a guy move his feet and play tackle, against repeated rushing talent???

      I like Costanzo personally, and a guard in the 2nd or 3rd depending on where they think this O-line is going…Mankings, Light etc…They do need to add at least one I would figure…with the top 3 picks, but only the player(s) they like are there and the value makes sense according to their big board.

    • Ryan says:

      I agree and is that how we got stuck with Ron Brace?

  5. Bruschi54 says:

    All 3 players seem like they would help fill needs, come from a solid program and should be available at various times between our first 4 or maybe 5 picks(Moffitt). Watts is projected by many to the Pats at 17, personally I hope they would not look there before 28. While he has good size and a strong work ethic/motor, does that fit the description of Mike Wright who we already have. I hope that we can get somebody whose skill is off the chart at 17, and has the potential to be a dominant pass rusher for the next 5-10 years. Carimi at 28 or 33 and Moffitt at mid to late 3rd would be great additions to Coach Dante’s O-Line stable.

    • Steve says:

      I couldn’t agree more…

      Going back a few months to old threads/discussions I felt that Watt worries me, so I’m hoping they don’t reach for him at 17. If they like him that much and take him at 28 so be it, and I’ll have to hope I’m wrong about his game and he warrants that 1st round pick.

      Moffit makes too much sense, If they take Carimi that’s cool too…I like the fact that he’s big & mean, I’m just not too sure he’s a left tackle and if he’s not, then he shouldn’t be taken in the first by us.

      • Ryan says:

        I keep reading comments from people scouting some of the potentional O-line in this draft as “nasty” lets hope we draft some more of those type guys. Once Mankins returned the entire O-line went from Charmin soft, to semi-“nasty”.

    • Mike says:

      Absolutely. All 3 would fill some type of need, it works on whichever one that is being picked.

      Watt is going to play interior DL which would make a solid line tandem in the NFL for years to come.
      As for the other too O linemen, both are solid. Moffit is probably a more likely possibility than Carimi because of draft positions.

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