2012 NFL Draft: 15 Potential Patriots (Defense)

Stephon Gilmore NFL Draft Patriots

Is Stephon Gilmore a potential Patriot?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

In recent weeks we’ve talked about all the statistics, measurements and testing numbers the New England Patriots look for when drafting players. It’s time to narrow the scope and look at 15 players.

This week I will be looking specifically at defenders, in the 2012 draft who have a legitimate shot at hearing their name called by the Patriots during the April draft.

Please note that this list is not in any specific order based on their likelihood of being drafted by the Patriots. I am simply looking at players based on all the information I have gathered to this point in the process and combining it with what I know the Patriots look for in college players.

1) Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Barron is the consensus top safety in this year’s draft and safety is the biggest need on the Patriots roster. Barron was a four year starter at the University of Alabama, so he has a lot of big game experience. Having been coached by Nick Saban for four years, Barron understands the type of work ethic and commitment the Patriots will ask of him.

While Barron is considered a SS, he has shown the ability throughout his career of being a ball hawk. He was able to intercept 12 passes throughout his career including seven in his Sophomore season. Barron is also a strong in the box safety, playing the run, shooting gaps and blitzing. Bill Belichick has shown that he will draft a safety in the first round as he did with Brandon Meriweather in 2007.

Barron is a far superior player and much more pro ready than Meriweather. With Barron’s leadership, experience, ability to move around the defense, he’s a natural fit for the Patriot organization.

2) Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
In my latest 15 thoughts article I touched on the comparison of Nick Perry to former USC DE Everson Griffen, whom the Patriots were ready to draft in 2010. Their numbers are strikingly similar in every aspect, so naturally one would think that Perry could interest the Patriots.

Perry has only had one year of big time production at USC and is one of these DE-OLB converts that will have to play a new position in the NFL. Perry proved at the combine that he is one of the best athletes among front seven defenders in this draft, so he likely has the ability to play standing up in the NFL.

Perry might end up going before the Patriots even have a chance to take him. However, if he does last until the Patriots pick at #27 he is a player that the Patriots could pull the trigger on.

3) Michael Brockers, DL, LSU
Brockers is a player whose stock has peaked and is now coming back down to earth. When Brockers entered the draft he immediately shot to the top of draft boards. Now that people have had a chance to further evaluate Brockers his stock has seemed to settle somewhere in the 20-30 range.

Entering the draft after his Sophomore season, Brockers is still a relatively raw player, especially technique wise. He is a player that will take some coaching but has a very high ceiling. With his 6’5″ 322 pound frame and his 35″ arms, I actually think Brockers best position in the NFL is as a 5-Tech DE in a 3-4 system.

The Patriots have had a revolving door at the DE spot since they traded Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders and I have to think part of the reason for them playing more 4-3 last season is that they didn’t have any 3-4 DEs they trusted on the roster.

Getting younger on the defensive line is going to be important this off season as players such as Gerard Warren and Andre Carter are UFA and Mike Wright has already been released. With Ron Brace looking like a bust and Myron Pryor unable to stay healthy, the DL is a major area of need. If Brockers is there are #27 or #31 it will be tough to pass on him.

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12 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: 15 Potential Patriots (Defense)”

  1. baba says:

    KEEP DREAMING !! BELICHICK will do the same , as usual , and select nobody you and “gurus ” selected ! Result – very average players, inexpensive and play to stay that way ! No hope , no glory ! And , what most important – no more SB , so keep drinking your Cool- Aide !!

  2. Tom says:

    This is a nice review of a lot of the usual suspects, but what about someone like LaVonte David from Nebraska? He is an OLB in a 4-3 system, probably projected for the 2nd round, a little small at 6’0″, but he has a lot of speed/quickness and is a fairly heady player. Had a great game against Ohio State, helping to keep Nebraska in the game. Do LBs from a 4-3 not transition well to a 3-4?

  3. Eric says:

    According to Bucky Brooks…”Most teams see Perry as a 4-3 defensive end; he’s not comfortable being a 3-4 outside linebacker”. If this is true, do you think the Patriots are going to use the 27th pick on someone like this?

    • MJP says:

      I hope so, I don’t care if he pretends to be a 3-4 OLB while standing up and just rushes the passer and plays the run, I don’t care if he drops into coverage twice a year, he’s got talent and upside as a pass-rusher and is just putting it all together.

  4. MJP says:

    I would replace Mercilus with Branch though neither is a 1st-Rounder from what I’ve seen. I give Branch the nod because he is much better against the run and his athleticism is a much better fit in the 3-4. Branch looks really raw but he does look explosive when he stands up. He really needs work on his pass-rush skills since he’s all speed rush and he doesn’t bring the violent, strong hands as a pass-rusher like he does vs. the run. Good upside with Branch though.

    I really don’t know how Mercilus recorded all those sacks, of the 5-6 games I found on him he was stonewalled most of the time, he is strong and on occasion will get a bull-rush going but very rarely. He plays tall and stiff so bending the edge is not his strongest asset. He has no secondary moves that are successful and I’m willing to be a very large majority of his sacks came on broken plays or coverage sacks. I will give him credit for his motor which is the only reason he seems to win because it’s not from pass-rushing skill. I think he’s serviceable vs. the run when he wants to be but he’s not as disciplined as Branch in that area. I wouldn’t put Mercilus in a 3-4, I saw 3 occasions where he was blatantly off-sides and still couldn’t beat the OL…not a legit first step and way too stiff to stand up.

    Please add Brandon Taylor to this list as well as Casey Hayward and Devon Wylie. Very valuable players that should be available from 48 on.

  5. Jeff says:

    My wish list in the draft right now is:
    #27 – Brockers
    #31 – Hightower/Gilmore/Barron Depending on who’s left
    #48 – Harrison Smith/Trumaine Johnson
    #63 – Crick

    The more I’ve looked at the WR and CB, crop I think that 3rd-5th round is where you can really hit on some guys, so I won’t be surprised if BB tries to pick up some later picks to grab some of the talent at those positions for a little cheaper.

    • MJP says:

      If Brockers weren’t 6’5” 322lbs with 35” arms would he be a 1st round pick? Nope, doesn’t show up on tape enough. I’ll take Reyes or Malik Jackson in the 2nd-3rd round though. Jackson gave the best 2 teams in college football all they could handle and that’s playing out of position as a DT (should be a DE, especially if he can bulk up another 15lbs to be the 5-tech in the 3-4)

  6. Billy C says:

    I’m a big fan of going D-lineman early in the draft. Entering the offseason and under contract the Pats only have “Big Vince” as a sure fire contributor (others on the line are very average with low ceiling potential). I know it’s not a sexy pick but in the second round I’d look real hard at drafting Chapman (the big nose tackle from Alabama). I understand he’s a nose tackle in the mold of Wilfork, but with BB moving Vince around so much Chapman could play the 3 or 5 technique in whatever Bill decides to run.

    • Billy C says:

      I forgot to mention that Chapman would be limited to interior lineman in either front that Bill uses. There is no way he plays the outside, as his mobility is somewhat limited.

  7. Jeff says:

    No Upshaw…is that because the odds are he will not be on the board?

  8. The Hooded 1 says:

    Brandon Boykin needs to be on this list. Plays defense, offense and special teams. Wouldn’t be shocked if was one of our second round picks.

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