NEPD Editor: James Christensen
Sometimes the best way to get over the past is to keep your eyes squarely on the future.
The Patriots are loaded with four early 2012 NFL draft picks, so they should be able to move around and get exactly what they are looking for.
With than in mind, New England Patriots fans should check out these six prospects that are a prime fit for what the Patriots like to do on offense and defense.
Michael Brockers, DL, LSU (Scouting Report)
A devastatingly powerful presence, Michael Brockers would give the Patriots a versatile young lineman to add to their defensive front.
Brockers has the size (6’6″/305), length and ability to take on double-teams that Coach Belichick craves for his 3-4 defensive ends.
When playing in an even front, Brockers stuffs the run with ease while flashing the potential to be an impressive pass-rusher from the 3-technique.
If the Patriots are going to land this Richard Seymour-esque prospect, they almost certainly will have to move into the top 20 picks of the draft.
Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State (Scouting Report)
Like Brockers, Fletcher Cox is another lineman that has shown that he can line up at multiple positions.
Cox exhibits an impressive combination of speed and power, beating linemen with both a quick first step or overwhelming force. He sheds blocks with ease and anchors well against double teams—both signs that he has the ability to play the 5-technique.
His first step and excellent change of direction abilities also show that he can be a force as a 3-technique as well.
Playing in both even and odd fronts, rushing the passer as well as stopping the run, Cox is that rare fit as a three-down lineman for the Patriots.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama (Scouting Report)
It’s no secret that Bill Belichick likes talented linebackers. Dont’a Hightower has the skill-set to rapidly become one of his favorites.
Hightower excels stopping the run from the ILB positions, regardless of whether he is playing in the 3-4 or 4-3. He also has flashed the ability to rush the passer, both standing up as an OLB or with his hand in the dirt as a DE.
For a coach that loves his defense to be multiple, having Hightower on the field allows for nearly any defensive formation to be employed.