NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
As part of the “A Prospect For Every Round” series, we previously examined some potential defensive end targets whom the New England Patriots may be interested in drafting; today, we’ll look at some other defensive line prospects the Patriots could target, whether they are defensive tackles, nose tackles, or five-technique defensive ends. Read on to find out who may be on New England’s mind as the 2013 NFL Draft approaches. As always, prospect rankings and values are provided by FRX.
1. DT Kawann Short, Purdue (FRX: #39 overall prospect, $979)
While Alabama’s Jesse Williams could also be an option due to his experience playing under Nick Saban, Kawann Short is more deserving of a first-round pick. At 6’3” and 299 pounds, he possesses an ideal frame for a three-technique defensive tackle, but could also add additional weight and play nose tackle if needed. A two-time team captain, Short is a disruptive pass rusher who can control blockers and split double teams. Purdue also used Short as a defensive end, and even as a rusher out of a two-point stance.
2. NT John Jenkins, Georgia (FRX: #55 overall prospect, $677)
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick obviously prizes size in the defensive front seven, which Georgia nose tackle John Jenkins has plenty of. A 6’3”, 358 pound behemoth, Jenkins played nose tackle in the Bulldogs’ 3-4 base defense, where he was often asked to occupy double teams. However, Jenkins is not purely a two-down run stuffer, as he possesses impressive quickness and an incredible motor. Academic issues could cause him to slip to New England’s second-round choice.
3. DT Bennie Logan, Louisiana St. (FRX: #87 overall prospect, $506)
Bennie Logan didn’t have the junior campaign many anticipated, but chose to declare for the draft regardless, which could cause him to slide into the third or fourth round on draft day. At 6’3” and 295 pounds, Logan’s primary value is as a gap-shooting under tackle, although he could potentially play some five-technique as well. His deficiencies as a run defender are cause for concern, but in a thin defensive tackle class he may represent the best available option in the third round.
4. NT Akeem Spence, Illinois* (FRX: #119 overall prospect, $453)
Spence is an active defender whose hand use and range are his greatest assets as a defensive tackle. At 6’1” and 305 pounds, Spence’s size is more evocative of a three-technique player, but his best fit at the next level should be as a nose tackle in a 4-3 defensive front. He has a surprising anchor and is a reliable wrap-up tackler, qualities that should contribute to a mid-round selection in 2013. Spence could provide the Patriots with a more reliable reserve option than Myron Pryor.
5. NT Kwame Geathers, Georgia* (FRX: #138 overall prospect, $439)
A 6’6”, 355-pound nose tackle, Geathers started for one year at Georgia and opted to declare for the draft as a redshirt junior. Bill Belichick is known to favor SEC defenders, and Geathers’ size translates to a two-gap nose tackle role at the next level, whether in a three or four-man front. Considering his inexperience, he possesses some upside and would be an interesting addition as Vince Wilfork’s apprentice. His most immediate contribution may be as a goal-line defender.
6. DT Josh Boyd, Mississippi St. (FRX: #184 overall prospect, $425)
Boyd’s stock slipped this season after former teammate Fletcher Cox was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in last April’s draft, which could lead to Boyd being available in the sixth round later this month. At 6’3” and 310 pounds, Boyd has ideal size for an interior lineman in a 4-3 defense, and his 32 repetitions on the bench press at last month’s NFL Combine are indicative of his strength. New England could be interested in adding a two-gap player such as Boyd in the late rounds.
7. 5T Quinton Dial, Alabama (FRX: #184 overall prospect, $425)
Quinton Dial was implicated in a deer antler spray controversy this past January; however, those claims were unsubstantiated and he could still end up being drafted in the sixth or seventh round later this month. New England previously targeted former Crimson Tide defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick in the draft, and they could bring in Dial to provide some competition for Deaderick’s roster spot. At 6’6” and 318 pounds, Dial could project as a 4-3 nose tackle or 3-4 defensive end.