NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko
Coming off a thrilling AFC Championship victory, it’s tough to focus on anything other than the Super Bowl right now. However, the Senior Bowl starts this week, showcasing the finest Senior college football players in the country.
In this article we take a look at which players might be of specific interest to the New England Patriots in April’s NFL Draft and why.
When the Patriots season ends (hopefully with a Super Bowl victory), we can assume that they will look to upgrade the defense heavily this off-season.
While the defense has come along throughout the season and into the playoffs, more play makers are needed.
I would also expect the Patriots to upgrade the WR through the draft. Wes Welker is a free agent, and I fully expect him to be back. But, Deion Branch is also a UFA and his status is a little bit more unclear. With the tackle position and the guard position seemingly set for the next couple of years, I would expect them to draft a center and solidify the offensive line for the next 5+ years.
The Patriots draft philosophy is to draft the best player available on their board regardless of position. In past years we have seen them take TE Aaron Hernandez, QB Ryan Mallett and OG Marcus Cannon a direct result of picking the BPA.
Even though this year’s needs are more clearly defined I wouldn’t expect to see Bill Belichick change philosophies. The New England Patriots also put a lot of weight on players who have “position versatility” and who can contribute on special teams. With that being said here are the players I feel the Patriots will be watching careful here in Mobile.
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas – Adams is an electric play maker who could contribute right away as a #3-4 WR or as a kick returner. Adams has the ability to play the outside WR spot or possibly the slot. Can take the top off the defense and also is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he returns a kick. He should run very fast and while he isn’t very big he makes up for it with his athletic ability.
Mike Brewster, C, Ohio State– Brewster is big for a center prospect. He has played a lot of football for the Buckeyes and has been the leader of the offensive line. Brewster is flexible and doesn’t allow his height to affect his able to play with leverage. Brewster could start at center from day 1 and solidify the position and offensive line for the forseeable future.
Audie Cole, OLB, North Carolina State– Cole is a big tall linebacker just like the Patriots like. He also has positional versatility as he played OLB as a junior and MLB as a senior. Cole is a pretty good athlete for his size and plays more of a downhill style. He might struggle in coverage, however he is a smart football player who should contribute early in his career. (Note: I spotted a Patriots scout talking with Cole today, just gathering information, but something to keep in mind.)
Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall- Curry is one of the better pass rushers in the draft and we all know how much we want the Patriots to take pass rushers. Curry isn’t a very polished player yet but, he has very good size and strength. Curry is also a possible convert to OLB at the next level.
Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska– Dennard is a physical and tough corner. He likes to play press coverage and can play both inside and outside CB spot. He struggles with his technique at times and had a very rough bowl game. As one of the higher ranked CB in this game Dennard is sure to garner a lot of attention and I’m sure the Patriots will be watching.
Ten more targets on Page 2!