NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
Which 2012 prospects don’t fit the Patriots defensive scheme? Who could be this year’s Aldon Smith? What’s the worst Patriots draft that you can possibly imagine?
Those are some of the questions I’ll be answering in my weekly “Too Long For Twitter” Friday mailbag where I take questions from Twitter that warrant, deserve or need answers longer than 140 characters
If you have a question about anything, tweet it to me @DougKyedNEPD, and I’ll try to include it in the column on Friday. If you aren’t on Twitter, feel free to throw in a question in the comments section.
Aldon Smith was a great player last year, but he was almost limited to passing downs. Smith was also so dominant last year that it’s a tough task to predict that anyone in this class will have that kind of early effect.
Smith was also coming into the league with character issues, so that’s another cog to throw into the equation. The first round pass rushers in this class are all very different players than Smith. Upshaw is just as effective against the run as he is against the pass, Ingram is a tweener who can fill a lot of roles with his versatility and Nick Perry might be the closest among the top three OLB/DEs, but he doesn’t have quite the same flexibility and fluidity around the edge. He’s also a better run defender.
My votes for players most like Smith are Andre Branch and Bruce Irvin. Both players are better suited as stand up rushers and neither will be asked to play pass coverage or run defense snaps early. Neither player will come anywhere close to being taken in the top 10, but both will beat you with their speed and pass rush moves rather than power.
In the first round, these names come to mind: Whitney Mercilus, Chandler Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Stephen Hill, Mohamed Sanu. I think Mercilus and Jones are both overrated players and project much better to me as simply 7-tech pass rushers. Jeffery is a decent prospect, but the character, weight, speed, separation, explosion really scares me. Stephen Hill is too much of a project. He has just as much of a chance of being Taylor Price or Chad Jackson as he does of becoming Demaryius Thomas. Mohamed Sanu is too much of a short target player without the after the catch ability the Patriots need.
Other than that, an offense heavy draft will certainly aggravate me. I’ve taught myself to expect the worst, but it’s going to drive me a little crazy if even two of the Patriots first four picks are on offense. I know they still need another offensive lineman, they need some youth at WR and they could afford to draft another RB, but none of those needs are as great as the needs they have at 5-tech, pass rush and in the secondary.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to who Belichick is highest on and which players he’s really focused in on this year. Belichick has “his guys” and he doesn’t stray too far from them.
If I had to mock out a worst case scenario keeping the Pats current picks? 27: DE Chandler Jones, 31: OT Mike Adams, 48: WR Dwight Jones, 62: RB Ronnie Hillman, 93: TE Michael Egnew, 126: CB DeQuan Menzie.
How’s that look to you guys?