2012 NFL Draft: Potential Patriots DL

Michael Brockers NFL Draft

Does Michael Brockers really fit the typical mold of a Patriots defensive lineman? (Photo: ICON SMI)

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

If you look at any mock draft, you will typically see the Patriots taking a defensive lineman in the first two rounds.

There’s good reason, it’s a big position of need for the Patriots. The difficult part is predicting which players the Patriots may be looking at.

From my case study on Tuesday, I discovered since 2000, the Patriots have taken 16 NTs, 3-techs or 5-techs. Five of those players were taken in the first two rounds (Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Marquise Hill, Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace.)

There are a few noticeable splits when looking at size/speed combo.

-The Patriots took five players under 300 pounds from 2000 to 2003. Since 2003, they’ve taken one in 2007 (Kareem Brown).
-The Patriots typically take more athletic players earlier in the draft, that includes Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork. Ron Brace from 2009 is an exception.
-The Patriots have typically taken bigger, but less athletic players from 2007 on.
-The Patriots have only taken one defensive lineman in the first two rounds since 2004 (Brace).

All of those splits seem to relate to one another. If you’re taking players later, you’re probably not going to be finding elite athletes. If you’re taking players over 300 pounds, they’re probably not going to be running 4.8 40 times.

Here are some of the main attributes I found from my case study on Tuesday and which 2012 prospects fit those criteria.

-Ten of the DL have been over 6’3” (Alecxih, Brockers, Cox, Crawford, Crick, Hamilton, Harris, Hicks, Howard, Jackson, Kuhn, Poe, Randall, Reyes, Robertson, Still, Sweezy, Winn, Wolfe)

-Lately, the Patriots have been drafting players over 300 pounds. (Brockers, Chapman, Fangupo, Forston, Hamilton, Harris, Hicks, Howard, Hughes, Martin, Poe, Powell, Robertson, Still, Ta’amu, Thompson, Tyson, Worthy)

-Arm length is typically over 33” (Alecxih, Brockers, Cox, Crawford, Forston, Guyton, Hamilton, Harris, Hicks, Howard, Hughes, Jackson, Meatoga, Randall, Reyes, Still, Sweezy, Thompson, Tyson, Wolfe, Worthy)

-The Average 40 time is around 5.0 or 5.1. (Crick, Fangupo, Forston, Guyton, Kuhn, Meatoga, Randall, Robertson, Still, Sweezy, Winn, Wolfe, Worthy)

-Ten yard splits are typically under 1.8 (Cox, Crawford, Crick, Fangupo, Forston, Guyton, Hicks, Howard, Jackson, Kuhn, Martin, Meatoga, Poe, Reyes, Still, Sweezy, Ta’amu, Winn, Wolfe, Worthy)

-Twenty yard splits are typically under 3. (Cox, Crawford, Crick, Guyton, Howard, Jackson, Kuhn, Martin, Meatoga, Poe, Randall, Reyes, Sweezy, Winn, Wolfe, Worthy)

-3 cone and 20 shuttle times have been very high in the last few years and are generally very unpredictable.

-Bench press reps are typically over 20. (Only Alecxih put up less than 20)

-Only three players have had less than 20 starts during their college careers. (Only Brockers, Crawford, Fangupo, Forston, Guyton, Hicks, Kuhn started less than 20)

-The Patriots have never taken a small school DL. (Hicks is the only small school DL)

-The Patriots typically like captains and team leaders (Daniels, Howard, Martin, Meatoga, Poe, Powell, Randall, Reyes, Robertson, Still, Sweezy, Ta’amu, Thompson, Tupou, Tyson, Wolfe were all captains)

The following players fit eight or more of the above criteria: Howard (40 time faster than typical), Meatoga (under 6’3”, under 300 lbs.), Poe (fast 40 time, arms shorter than 33”), Randall (under 300 lbs, slower 10 yard split), Reyes (fast 40 time, under 300 lbs.), Still (20 yard split not recorded), Sweezy (under 300 lbs), Winn (less than 300 lbs, arms shorter than 33”), Wolfe (under 300 lbs), Worthy (under 6’3”, not a captain).

The following players fit five or less criteria: Brockers, Chapman, Daniels, Fangupo, Hamilton, Harris, Hicks, Hughes, Powell, Tupou).

Of course, these criteria are based off small samples and like I said before there appears to be a divide pre-2007 and post-2007 and depending on which round the player was taken.

A guy like Brockers may not fit a lot of the criteria, but he has the right size, and he’s the type of player the Patriots have been looking at lately. He fits the mold of a Marquise Hill, David Nugent or Richard Seymour.

From doing a case study on the defensive backs the Patriots have drafted and the defensive linemen the Patriots have drafted, DBs had a much clearer criteria to look for. When a team takes guys like Ron Brace and Dan Klecko or Jarvis Green and Kareem Brown it makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the prototypical Patriots defensive line prospect.

From the above research, Jaye Howard, Devon Still, J.R. Sweezy and Derek Wolfe appear to fit best from a size/speed/college career standpoint. Josh Chapman, Mike Daniels and Christian Tupou appear to fit the least.

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32 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: Potential Patriots DL”

  1. Tony D says:

    I have been scouting JR Sweezy for a few weeks now and I can’t figure out why he is projected to be a mid to late round pick. I think he would fit the Pats scheme perfectly. I wish the Pats zdraft would look like this:

    1. S. Gilmore – CB
    2. S. McClellin – OLB/DE
    3. H. Smith – S
    4. D. Wolfe – DL
    5. J. Adams – WR
    6. J.R. Sweezy – DL

    We would be stacked!!!

  2. psw says:

    I could be happy with Still and Reyes in the first, then double dip corners in the second. Let one of them or McCourty play safety. Round 3 & 4 are gravy after that, RB, blocking TE, WR, any offensive depth, or best OLB available and I’m gonna be a happy guy

  3. Stephen says:

    It seems like there is alot of solid players but not many playmakers coming out in the draft on Defense this year in regards to the DL DE and OLB positions where next year it appears to be deeper with playmaking abilities would you rather draft someone thats solid this year or pick up more picks next year in hopes of landing a playmaker(s)

    • Jim R says:

      What would you consider deep 15, 25. Hey if they do rope somebody in to a trade and they stumble. That would be awesome. if they could end up in the top 15 next year….all for that

  4. Bruschi54 says:

    Fletcher Cox will end up being the most productive DL to come out of this draft, and long gone before Pats pick. Brokers and Worthy to me are risky 1st round picks because of the inconsistent effort and production in college. Young players without the drive to play the game hard all the time may not be willing to flip the switch once you fill their pockets with a big pay day. I know the rookie wage scale will keep things more in check this season, but I would be more interested in Still or Reyes at 31 or 48 and Wolfe at 62 than either of those two in round 1. Don’t know anything about the kids from NC State, but those two along with Winn might be 3rd round value.
    Drafting a CB to play FS is fine if you want the results in 2-3 seasons, the Pats are obviously ready to win now. They need to get a player that is experienced and been successful playing FS, not a project conversion, those are already on the roster. If Barron is out of reach, and they don’t have Smith rated as high as other teams then Iloka, Martin(OSU) and Allen(USC) may be available in round 3 and are good players.
    BB is smarter than most and will probably go OL, TE, RB, CB and have people blowing up this site for the month of May, then take the team to SB with Aaron Hernandez at FS and Slater/Edelman at OLB.

    • Jim R says:

      We (Laughing) are all experts here. Everybody expresses different ways in which the Pats could improve. We may agree or disagree. In the end BB does what he damn well wants and we all will be scratching our heads again. You prediction of OL,TE,RB and CB might happen.

    • qwerty says:

      It didn’t take mccourty a lot of time to play Safety. A decent CB who is not too small should be able to figure out safety sometime in first year. It’s an easier position to master than CB. CB is one of the hardest positions mentally to conquer.

      Fletcher Cox is my top rated DT.
      Melvin Ingram my top rated OLB.
      If Patriots got either, I’d be ecstatic.

  5. BILL says:

    Look at RB. Jones Drew is 5-7/ 205 and Arian Foster is 6-1 / 230. Both are great backs. Elvis Dummervil is 6′ DE. Its all in the heart and the head.
    I hope BB doesn’t hold himself to the cookie cutter OLB needs to be 6-3.5/ 262# because Willie McGinest was and he was great. I’m more interested in versatility, speed and power.

  6. Joe Blake says:

    Perhaps this will be the year BB will become less rigid in trying to draft player that only fit his system on D. With Josh overseeing the O, maybe BB, with more time to focus on D will allow talent to play a bigger role in the overall D scheme: best athlete available for example. So what if an OLB is 6’1″ 240…he could still be a beast! Same for a DL who can rush the QB versus maintaining the line. Watching the D for the last few years has been water torture.

  7. MJP says:

    Malik Jackson is going to be a very good NFL player, one of the most underrated players in this draft. He played out of position as a DT and even a NT for the Vols because they needed him to step in for injured players, had he played DE all year his stat line would be much more eye catching. That said, all SEC 1st team honors should speak clearly about his ability.

    Jackson was a headache for LSU and Bama, never mind the lesser teams. He plays with tenacity, leverage and good explosion, he also has a good motor, shows surprising strength for a guy with such length, really impressive skill set and has upside as a pass-rusher.

    Why no one is talking about him is beyond me but he’ll be a hell of pick if available at the end of round-2

    • qwerty says:

      he looks pretty good. he doesn’t fit a DL or OLB in Patriots system. He is a tweener. In the right system and team, he could do real well. The key question is his frame and what it can add along with lower body strength. not saying he doesn’t have strength but in nfl he wouldn’t play nt. He seems to have a knack for searching out the ball carrier so good mental skills on field. I would guess he would be a developmental player for first year to get him up to 300 pound range and strengthened more for patriots system. to really get a lock on him, i’d really have to study him more. so he is interesting.

    • BILL says:

      I agree, but a lot of potential stars need more developmnen t time than teams can afford to give them. Jackson may not contribute right away whilwe he learns new position abd technique, and puts on 15# of muscle. Same with hte guy who plyed in Canada.

    • Jim R says:

      He looks great when he is out in space. 4-3 packages would suit his skill set a lot better. 5-Tech looks like he would have to add some bulk. I agree in the right system he will be productive. Another player of this type is Jaye Howard of Florida. If you could light a fire under this guys butt he could be part of real good d line rotation. These guys could be available in rounds 3-5

  8. Ryan says:

    So what your saying is that we will be taking an OL in the first round?

    • Tom says:

      I am thinking that they end up with an OL in the first round again this year. It seems the best DL will be gone by the 20th pick and if there is a run on DL and WR, it could mean some of the best OL talent drops to the end of round 1. Looking at many of the mocks, it looks like the DL/OLB that are projected for the end of round 1 come with some sort of caveat and I do not think BB will roll the dice on them. Right now, I think they take an OL at 27 and Harrison Smith at 31, provided they make both picks.

      • JV says:

        Great, looking forward to another year of great offense and terrible defense. defense wins championships.



      • AM says:

        As much as Belichick likes to stand on principle in this area, I don’t think we will see OL early on unless DeCastro drops to #27 somehow, or they have Konz rated way higher than expected. The team must realize that at this point, pass rush and safety play are the items holding them back; they have to address these somehow, and I think this is the year they do it through the draft.

        That being said, I’ve thought that before to no avail. Either way, I think the closest thing to a guarantee is that they take a DB in the first two rounds (thinking back to Belichick’s “starting pitching” line).

        • Ken W says:

          If they walked away with Konz and any defensive player in the 1st round I would be fine with that.

      • Ryan says:

        I just have this terrible feeling we wont take a FS in the first two rounds. That is just me. I think its going to be like every year when we wanted a Pass Rusher, Cb and etc. I think Harrision Smith walks right by the Pats.

        • Jim R says:

          Ryan, it would be a good thing if they do not draft a FS in the first two rounds. They are much better off Drafting a Corner and converting him to Safety. Barron and Smith are nice players but are limited to the back end of the defense.

    • qwerty says:

      I have no problem with Patriots taking in the trench talent.

  9. Joe Blake says:

    When I read any article about DLs, I am struck by why they drafted Brace…I still can’t get beyond that one! Hope them the best, we need to have a solid draft and focus on Defense.

    • qwerty says:

      Brace is second rounder so some risk acceptable. He’s big enough to play NT. Brace’s main negative is his injuries.

  10. Dan says:

    When the Pats draft any front 7 guys they want big…the bigger the better. Seymour was the ideal, Warren wasn’t far behind; and Wilfork is the ideal for the nose…huge big, like Washington. Spikes is more of the same…big.
    So, Brockers is what they like…he has the size, played in the SEC, but we all know he’s green…needs to be coached-up…play more consistantly etc…
    I don’t think he’ll be close to them anyway, so it shouldn’t be an issue…other teams & systems want big also.
    I say they end up with one of these guys high (first 2 rounds) and maybe one more later.
    Which one is too hard to figure out…I think we all can narrow it down to a dozen, and maybe a half dozen in the first 48 picks.
    Should be interesting though…there are some nice players and we need one good one.
    Love is a good player…they like him. Fanene will be a stud, Wilfork is a superstar, and the rest of JAGs or can’t stay healthy…we will see.

    • qwerty says:

      Seymour was a few pounds under 300. Cox is somewhat similar.

      Brocker’s is second round or later material

      • Dan says:

        I understand Seymour was about 300 when drafted a decade ago…he was also very young and still had room to grow and projected bigger. The important thing is he was a giant young guy with extreme athleticism; and he also didn’t lift well at all. He’s a tough one to judge others by…he’s is a freak.
        Brockers is clearly going in the first round…to someone. But, I’m not sure if you are saying he simply doesn’t deserve the first round, or you think he won’t be drafted then.
        Not a big deal…he’s a project for sure, but I think many that go in the first round can be projects because the first round forces reaches. We see this with QB’s the most, but the receiver Hill is another, and the list goes on & on. The league is about finding stars…playmakers; so guys that are very large, very fast, very strong etc…will be gambled on to some extent.
        This is why BB has the policy to try not to reach too much in the first, but reach in the second. The cost is far less. The misses on Butler, Brace & Cunningham arent’ going to sink this franchise…salary cap etc…low risk. That’s why he takes guys like Solder in the first…very low risk…at the very least the guy is a star right tackle, but looks like a stud LT of the future.
        They may see Brockers as too much of a project…not sure, but the size thing helps these guys do the job in their system…take up space; and he is young and seems like someone who could be worked with.
        I do like Cox too…but, different, but a special kind of big guy who can move and play the game.

        • qwerty says:

          brockers doesn’t deserve first round. if a team accepts that he will likely be a project then it’s always possible. there are just too many other sure bets than brockers. brockers is just too unsafe for my tastes.

        • Stephen says:

          I agree with qwerty I wouldnt pick Brockers up in the 1st he has the size and comes from the SEC sure but no real production and not an athletic freak by any means. Now does that mean he couldnt become a productive player sure he could but isnt the 1st round picks for people who have produced who are athletic and ready to play at a high level or at least are multidimensional/versatile now it maybe me but i dont see that in Brockers. I think he will be a solid player but not the stud so many claim or think he is.

        • qwerty says:

          11. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU*: Like LSU teammates Claiborne and wide receiver Rueben Randle, Brockers significantly improved his workout results at his March 22 pro day after a combine workout that, frankly, was disappointing. Brockers will likely be drafted within the top 20 picks of the 2012 draft not because of his current ability but because of the significant upside his frame, strength and versatility indicate he has.

          someones evaluation ranks him as 11th best player in draft but that is based on UPSIDE. He may turn out to be greatest player ever but there is a lot of risk hoping for that upside. i want someone who is a highly probable sure bet in first round. if a team with more information has done their homework on him, he may be ok risk.

  11. AM says:

    For my money, Reyes looks like the best fit out of this group. He may be under 300 pounds, but the 36 reps he threw up on the bench press at least speaks to upper body strength and core power.

    • qwerty says:

      I like Reyes from what I have seen but not sure where he should be drafted. Not enough film.

      Football is a game of lower body strength in the legs. You see very few high rep bench press guys ever make it in the nfl. The bench press is about whether the effort the player put forth preparing for the combine. Too low tends to raise red flags that they may be lazy.

      • AM says:

        Fair enough on the lower body strength, though I would add that initial hand punch and push-off in the trenches is also a function of arm strength (and length). To the extent that lower body strength is measured by vertical leap (i.e., muscle “explosion”), Reyes tops the charts there as well. I’d be happy with him at #48, and I don’t think #31 is *too* much of a reach.

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