NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The exciting and busy Senior Bowl week wrapped up with the conclusion of yesterday’s game. It’s now time to reflect on the week that was and look at all the players scouted down here in terms of fits for the New England Patriots.
Over the course of the week it was clear there are many players who could fit what the Patriots need, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Here are 15 players that fit with the Patriots based on the week in Mobile and the needs of the team.
1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA (6’4/280)
Jones would be a great fit on the Patriots young and rebuilt defensive line. He plays with a tremendous blend of power and speed, but he also offers some position versatility. Jones can rush from a 4-3 Defensive End position, combining with Chandler Jones to make a formidable and young pass rush tandem. In certain packages Jones can move inside to 3-Tech and rush from the interior, similar to Jermaine Cunningham did this year. Unlike Cunningham, Jones has an NFL ready body to withstand the physical play both inside and outside the line. During the week Jones displayed very sound technique and formation understanding, with a genuine love for the game coming through in interviews.
2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue (6’3/308)
Short didn’t have a real flashy week in Mobile, but he certainly didn’t do anything to damage his stock. Out of all the DL here Short is the most versatile, showing the ability to play NT, 3Tech and 5Tech. During the week Short displayed power and penetration from both the NT and the 3Tech. Short can even pack on a few more pounds to play closer to his listed weight off 315. Short came off as very intelligent in interviews, speaking like a leader and making sure to stress he went back to school to graduate, which he did.
3. Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington (5’11/190)
It’s no secret that the Patriots need a cornerback, so the best one down here is obviously a fit. Trufant put on a consistent display of good coverage and aggressive play. Trufant makes quick reads and breaks out of his peddle quickly. He’s able to recovery well and get his hand on a number of balls. What I like best about Trufant is his ability to play both in the slot and outside, a trait that the Patriots need in a cornerback. Besides his on the field display, Trufant came off as very competitive, focused and intelligent in his interviews. Trufant would be a great fit in the Patriots secondary and give them one more really good cover corner.
4. Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State (5096/193)
McFadden got his week off to a great start displaying good footwork and tight coverage on bigger receivers. After the first two days McFadden pulled out to my dismay. McFadden made a number of plays on the ball and was one of the more
fluid corners in Mobile. His lack of height is a bit of a concern, but he convinced me he can play slot corner, which is an extremely important area of improvement for the Patriots.
5. Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State (5’11/183)
Wheaton would fit in great as the number two or three receiver in New England. He would give them another outside receiving threat and one who can make the big play. Wheaton’s hands, body control and big play ability would add another dimension to the Patriots passing attack. Wheaton can play in the slot as well, making him a tough cover over the middle of the field.
6. Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers (6004/236)
Greene doens’t fit the prototype of what the Patriots usually look for in a linebacker, butu he fits what the Patriots currently need. The lack of coverage ability from the Patriots linebackers hurt them all season and needs to be addressed this off-season. Greene exhibited sound coverage ability against running backs and tight ends this week in Mobile. Besides that he can be a play-maker when attacking the line of scrimmage and playing a downhill style. I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to break down coverages and walk me through plays in talking to him this week. Greene would be a little outside the box for the Patriots, but with the Rutgers connection and the need of the team, I think it’s a fit.
7. Conner Vernon, WR, Duke (6002/193)
Vernon is a Patriots type of player. He isn’t flashy and he isn’t loud, he is just consistent. Vernon was all around solid all week, just like he was during his career at Duke. Vernon is a sound route runner and showcased it during the Senior Bowl game. I was impressed by how much separation he got when coming out of his breaks and working his way back to the ball. Vernon loves to work the middle of the field, running digs, curls and slants. Vernon is probably best suited to play out of the slot and has good size for it. Vernon would give the Patriots another complimentary WR to develop in their system.
8. Justin Pugh, OL, Syracuse (6047/301)
Pugh has the ability to play left tackle and right tackle, but worked a lot at guard this week. Long term I like his potential at the position. Pugh measured shorter than expected, but the real let down was his short arms (31.5″). The lack of arm length hasn’t caused him any problems yet (although he did struggle badly in the Senior Bowl game), but I do think it will in the NFL. For a guard Pugh possesses enough athleticism and agility to pull and work well in space. His position versatility and athletic frame fits the mold for what the Patriots look for in an NFL offensive lineman.
Seven more fits for the Patriots on page two.