Drafting DEs, LBs, TEs, OL: A Patriots Case Study

What were the Patriots thinking when they drafted these two linebackers?

NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the draft is TOMORROW, so what does that mean for our case studies?

We’re running out of time. I’m combining all of the remaining worthwhile case studies into one big post (I skipped QBs and special teamers). I’m leaving it up to you guys to find the best potential fits at each position.

PASS RUSHERS

HEIGHT

It’s not mystery that Bill Belichick likes his pass rushers/DEs/LBs big. The shortest pass rusher drafted was Tully Banta-Cain at 6’2 1/8″, he was also by far the most productive in the pros. The tallest was “Bird Legs” Shawn Crable at 6’4 7/8″. Every other player was either 6’3″ or 6’4″.

WEIGHT

Surprisingly, the tallest prospect, Crable, was also the lightest at 245 lbs. Jermaine Cunningham was the heaviest at 266 pounds. Once again, Belichick likes his pass rushers very big. You won’t find many Chris Clemons types in New England.

ARM/HAND “

Banta-Cain had the shortest arms at 31.5″ while the norm has been around 33-34″ lately. Banta-Cain also had the smallest hands at 9.75″, everyone else had 10″ hands.

SPEED

These guys aren’t exactly speed demons, Banta-Cain was the fastest with a 4.62 40 time. Cunningham ran a molasses-esque 4.89. The ten yard splits are likely what the Patriots really look for, Markell Carter has the slowest at 1.71, everyone else was in the 1.5s or 1.6s.

EXPLOSION

Crable’s “Big Bird” legs only gave him a 28″ vertical, by far the lowest number. Everyone else jumped at least 33.5″. Crable also had the shortest broad jump at just 111″, everyone else was over 116.

AGILITY

Short shuttle times were between 4.25 and 4.55, 3 cone were between 6.99 and 7.43. Jeremy Mincey had the most agility of the bunch.

BENCH

Bench press numbers ranged from 17 (Carter) to 29 (Crable).

COLLEGE STARTS

Everyone had over 20 college starts. Cunningham had the most at 38.

UNDERCLASSMEN/SMALL SCHOOL?

None of the players were underclassmen, only Carter came from a small school.

PRODUCTION

College production didn’t seem to play a huge role here. Jeremy Mincey had just 9.5 career sacks in 24 starts. Banta-Cain was the most productive with 26.5 sacks, no one else had over 18.5.

LINEBACKERS

HEIGHT

While most drafted LBs were over 6’1″, Oscar Lua was the exception at 6’0 3/4″. Bo Ruud was the tallest at 6’3 3/8″.

WEIGHT

Once again, the tallest prospect is the lightest. Ruud weighed just 234 years coming into the league. T.J. Turner was the biggest at 273. That’s a huge range is size and makes it evident that the Patriots could draft someone as light as LaVonte David or as heavy as Dont’a Hightower.

ARM/HAND “

All measured arm length ranged from 32″ to 33″. Mayo had the smallest hands at 9.25, biggest were 10″.

SPEED

Once again, Belichick isn’t looker for burners at linebacker. Five of the seven players drafted had 40 times of 4.73 or higher with Brandon Spikes topping out at 5.05. Jerod Mayo was the fastest at 2.54. Ten yard splits are a lot better with Spikes being the only one with a time higher than 1.65. Jerod Mayo had an other worldly 1.50 ten yard split. That’s as fast as Stephen Hill.

EXPLOSION

Spikes was the least “explosive” with a 111″ broad jump and 29″ vertical. The best jumps were a 118″ broad jump and 33″ vertical.

AGILITY

Spikes killed it on his 3 cone with a 6.97, which shows he does have some athleticism. Short shuttles ranged from 4.28 to 4.71 and the worst 3 cone was two players at 7.31.

BENCH

Recorded bench reps range from 18 to 27.

COLLEGE STARTS

Oscar Lua was the only player with less than 20 college starts, he had 14. Claridge and Spikes each had 39 career starts.

UNDERCLASSMEN/SMALL SCHOOL?

Jerod Mayo was the only underclassmen, no small school prospects.

OFFENSIVE LINE

HEIGHT

Kenyatta Jones was the shortest at 6’2 3/8″ while the massive Nate Solder topped out at 6’8 1/4″. Jones’ height is especially surprising since he was drafted as a tackle. Adrian Klemm was also an undersized tackle at 6’3 7/8″. Lately, the Patriots have been drafting massive tackles in Solder, Vollmer and Welch.

WEIGHT

Only three players under 300 pounds have been drafted, not that there’s many sub 300 lbs.-ers in this draft anyway. The Patriots have been more than willing to draft huge prospects, Robinson-Randall, Klemm, O’Callaghan and Cannon were all over 330 lbs.

ARM/HAND “

Kan Koppen had the shortest arms by far at 31.375, which isn’t a big deal for centers. Arm Length doesn’t seem like a huge part of evaluation sicne almost all of the prospects had arm length between 32″ and 33″. Even the 6’7″ Collmer only had 33.2″ arms. Solder and Cannon had the longest arms at 35.5″ and 34″. Koppen had the smallest hands at 8.5″, while Mankins had the biggest at 11.4″. Most prospects had 9″ hands.

SPEED

Nate Solder was the first Patriots offensive lineman drafted with a sub 5 40 at 4.96. The slowest was Robinson-Randall in 2000 with a 5.57. Robinson-Randall also had the slowest 10 yard split at 1.93, while the undersized Mike Elgin had the fastest at 1.69.

EXPLOSION

The OL jump numbers are all over the place. Vertical ranges from 24″ to 32.9″ while broad jumps range from 89″ to 117″.

AGILITY

Agility times range a lot too, Solder had the fastest short shuttle at 4.34 while Robinson-Randall had the slowest at 5.14. Most times range between 4.3 to 4.7. 3 cone ranges from 7.1 to 8.24.  Most times are around 7.5.

BENCH

The Patriots have never drafted an offensive lineman with a huge bench press rep number. Cannon had the most at 33 reps while four players only repped 21.

COLLEGE STARTS

Most of the drafted OL had a ton of college starts, Robinson-Randall had the least at 22, but 15/17 players had over 30 college starts and five had more than 40. Nick Kazcur had the most at 51.

UNDERCLASSMEN/SMALL SCHOOL?

The Patriots have never taken an underclassmen at OL. Kenyatta Jones was the only small school prospect, coming from the then division 1-AA South Florida.

TIGHT ENDS

HEIGHT

Pats drafted TEs range in height from 6’1 1/8″ in Garrett Mills all the way to 6’6 1/4″ in Gronk. There pretty much couldn’t be a higher range for that position.

WEIGHT

Weight doesn’t range quite as much as height, Arther Love was the lightest in 2001 at 236 pounds, while Lee Smith was the heaviest last year at 266 pounds. Almost everyone else is in the 250 range.

ARM/HAND “

Arm” range from 31.125 to 34.4 while hand” ranges from 9.5 to 10.75.

SPEED

Obviously there are blocking TEs, receiving TEs and Gronk, but speed ranges from pretty far from Watson’s 4.53 to Smith’s 4.94. The typical Patriots TE runs right around a 4.65 40 time. Ten yard splits are typically around 1.65 as well.

EXPLOSION

Nead and Smith had the least explosion, each having the lowest vertical and broad jump measurements at 28.5″, 29″ 102″ and 108″. Jabari Holloway had the highest vertical at 38.5″ while Gronk and Stokes each jumped 119″ in the broad jump.

AGILITY

Gronk very surprisingly had the worst short shuttle time of 4.47, the undersized Mills had the best at 4.05. Hernandez and Mills both had great 3 cone times at 6.83 and 6.81 respectively. Typically NE TE draft picks had 3 cone times right around 7. Watson surprisingly had the worst at 7.38.

BENCH

Only two players were able to bench less than 20 reps, David Thomas and Spencer Nead. Ben Watson and Aaron Hernandez had the most at 34 and 30.

COLLEGE STARTS

Only Spencer Nead and Rob Gronkowski started less than 20 games in their college careers, Gronk due to injury. David Thomas had 38 careers starts.

UNDERCLASSMEN/SMALL SCHOOL?

Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were each underclassmen. Andy Stokes went to division 2 William Penn while Arther Love went to Division 1-AA South Carolina State.

Thanks to NFLDraftScout.com and Boston.com for all measurements and information.

So what pass rushers, linebackers, offensive linemen and tight ends do you see as possible fits for the Patriots using these measurements?

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7 Responses to “Drafting DEs, LBs, TEs, OL: A Patriots Case Study”

  1. @59russo59 says:

    7 pass rushers in 12 years. I am shaking my head.

  2. BILL says:

    Its more than a coincidence that Mayo is the only LB drafted with 40 time under 4.6. He’s also the best we have. Surprise!! It would be great to have one of the 240# LB’s who run a 4.5 40 and can cover a RB/TE. , and blits when asked.

    • Big Dan From Maine says:

      Gary Guyton was the fastest linebacker in his draft class. Ran a 4.4 I believe. Give me smart athletic linebackers over fast linbackers any day.

      I believe that everyone that has watched a Pats game in the last 2 years would say Brandon Spikes with his 5.05 40 is a better linebacker than Guyton and his 4.4 forty

  3. Mark says:

    I’d like to see us get one of the versatile OLers if they fall to us.
    Esp – DeCastro
    Glenn
    Zeitler

    or if Konz is truly an upgradeover Koppen or Connelly and it makes sense at whatever pick then take him. I think its important to forge the best possibe O-line if the value to do so is there. Otherwise, just a later flyer.

    I’m not sure I like any of the pure tackles except maybe MArtin.

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