2014 NFL Combine Preview: Potential Patriots at Each Position

Defensive Ends

Pass rush is an understated need for the Patriots. They simply don’t have enough of it, especially from their defensive ends. If they felt good about their DE depth they wouldn’t have cut all the young veterans off the roster last summer and wouldn’t have signed Andre Carter 1/3 of the way through the year. Jake Bequette’s time is up, so it’s time to add at LEAST one defensive end that can rush the passer.

Kony Ealy has the size and athleticism that the Patriots like in a DE. He can play on his feet or with his hand in the dirt. If he makes it to their pick in the first round, he’s someone that needs to get a long look. Scott Crichton is a player in the Rob Ninkovich mold. He wins with effort, motor, and power. He’s not very flexible and lacks a fluid frame. If the Patriots want to add a hybrid DE/DT then Tuitt is their guy. They have longed to find a big, strong, athletic DE that can bounce outside or inside. I like Tuitt in the Red Bryant role at the next level.

Aaron Lynch is someone that could explode after the combine. Perhaps the most gifted natural athlete at this group, he has failed to progress since his great Freshman year at Notre Dame. It’s a critically important week for him.

1. Kony Ealy, Missouri

2. Scott Crichton, Oregon State

3. Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame

4. Aaron Lynch, South Florida

5. Will Clarke, West Virigina

6. Jeoffrey Pagan, Alabama

Defensive Tackles

I’d be willing to wager that the Patriots will spend one of their first three picks on a Defensive Tackle. It’s a deep group, but also a group I feel is top heavy. Louis Nix is the prize of the group from a Patriots perspective. The combine is important for him to check out medically, which will help him rebuild his draft stock. After Nix there are two explosive players, both under 300 pounds.

Aaron Donald is going to put on a show this weekend. With his quickness there’s a good chance he posts impressive numbers in the agility drills and even the 40. Easley, like Nix needs to check out medically. He’s been stricken with injuries since his arrived on campus and teams will be anxious to see how bad things really area. After the top three, watch out for DaQuan Jones, he’s a powerful run stopper that shed weight to become more explosive this past year and it showed.

1. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame

2. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

3. Dominique Easly, Florida

4. DaQuan Jones, Penn State

5. Anthony Johnson, LSU

6. Caraun Reid, Princeton

7. Justin Ellis, Louisiana Tech

8. Khyri Thornton, Southern Mississippi

9. Jay Bromley, Syracuse

Outside Linebackers

The Patriots are likely set at OLB for starters, but as I said above, they are always thinking ahead. Depth behind the starters is lacking and there is a group of middle-late round prosepcts that the Patriots may find attractive. Both Jordan Tripp and Tyler Starr are under the radar guys that fit that mold. Starr is interesting because he’s already come out and said he plans to break the 3-cone record, we all know how Belichick feels about that.

This position isn’t on top of the needs list, but these are players they will be looking at closely none the less.

1. Kyle Van Noy, BYU

2. Christian Jones, Florida State

3. Christian Kirksey, Iowa

4. JordanTripp, Montana

5. Tyler Starr, South Dakota

Inside Linebackers

Brandon Spikes departure has already been conceded for the most part and with him the team loses their physical, run stuffing presence in the middle of the defense. As with Outside Linebacker, this position isn’t a priority, but there are a few player that Patriots could look to bring in to supplement the run defense and add positional depth. James Morris isn’t as good as his teammate Christian Kirksey, but he is a high-character player, with special teams experience, and a good head on his shoulders. He’s a late round value.

1. Shayne Skov, Stanford

2. Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA

3. James Morris, Iowa


Everything at this position revoloves around Aqib Talib. If Talib returns, then the Patriots can slot their top four CB back together and perhaps look to add a depth guy in the final rounds. If Talib does leave and they don’t add another #1 cornerback in free agency, then his position jumps to the top of the needs list.  Kyle Fuller is a guy at the end of the first round the Patriots will consider. He’s an aggressive, instinctive corner, that isn’t afraid to play against the run. Jason Verrett has some Asante Samuel to his game and the Patriots have shown they will tap into Gary Patterson’s program for defensive backs.

Without Talib the Patriots would need size and man coverage ability. That’s where CB like Bashaud Breeland, Keith McGill, Travis Carrie would come into play. A corner like E.J. Gaines would add depth and physicality, but lacks a high ceiling. Without Talib you can add the top guys like Dennard and Gilbert to this list.

1. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

2. Jason Verrett, TCU

3. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson

4. Keith McGill, Utah

5. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraksa

6. E.J. Gaines, Missouri

7. Travis Carrie, Ohio


Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to trying to figure out how the Patriots evaluate this position. I could throw a bunch of names out there that I think they’d be interested in but, I’d just be guessing. Instead, I’ve put togeter a list of guys that I believe would help improve the position. Devin McCourty is great, but he’s a finesse player and Steve Gregory can’t tackle a parked car.

The Patriots need more impact in the run game from the safeties and players that thrive on playing downhill, taking away underneath crossers. They could also use some high end depth players that can fill a certain role in a sub packages, similar to what they envisioned with Tavon Wilson (ugh). Here’s some of those guys.

1. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

2. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois

3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State

4. Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama

5. Craig Loston, LSU

6. Daniel Sorensen, BYU

7. Johnathan Dowling, Western Kentucky

Continue to Page: 1 2

Tags: ,

55 Responses to “2014 NFL Combine Preview: Potential Patriots at Each Position”

  1. Justin says:

    As far as aggressive, down-hill strong safeties go, some other guys that are intriguing: Ahmad Dixon, Dion Bailey, Tre Boston, and Isaiah Lewis.

  2. MaineMan says:

    FWIW – in the category of “I know a guy who knows a guy”…… who went to school with Richard Rogers (TE).

    Apparently, baseball is Roger’s best sport and he’d rather be doing that, but he’s going for the NFL because it seems to him like the shortest path to $$. IOW, he’s not really committed to football. That seems to show up in some scouting reports I’ve read about his inconsistent effort receiving and lack of willingness to block.

    Probably wouldn’t be on my draft board, under the circumstances. There are other guys about the same size out there who may not be quite as obviously athletic but who really, really want it.

  3. TD says:

    Want to see an OLinemen put others to shame? Watch Larry Allen on youtube hoist 700 on the bench.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    There is no way that TE Amaro would be a pick at #29!

  5. bob says:

    Ive been strong about a defense tackle as first pick and d-end as 2nd.Then t- end. Its been at east 4-yrs. But too many yrs. wasted on positions that didn’t. We need to start building from the front, for a change.

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    Bold prediction: Chris Johnson’s combine record in the 40yd. will fall. Dri Archer!!! just sayin!

    • acm says:

      ah, yeah, the youtube legend of Dri Archer. Hope he finds a niche for himself in the NFL, otherwise potentially breaking CJ2K’s record may well turn out to be the biggest achievement of his post-collegiate career.
      Anything could happen but if I were to guess, I would say he has to pack on 10-15 lbs to have a legitimate shot of being more than a special teamer.

      Jeff Demps would have blown that record out of the water, imo.

      • Bill Vermont says:

        people are still speaking about Demps, but he’s never been seen on a field. So much for speed!!!

      • J H TARBORO says:

        Oh yeah! by the way Demps is an Olympian that played football and the other is a football player!!!

    • J H TARBORO says:

      I’m impressed with Dri Archer at the combine, he ran an official 4.26 40yd, 38″vert jump and hoisted 20 reps at 225 in which was better than most of the RB group and WR group and if you remember last year Tavon Austin put up 15 reps at 225 and ran a 4.31 officially. This kid is a lot tougher than most and would thrive in the Patriots system, he’s a playmaker and would be an absolute nightmare in space, off bubble screens, in the slot, and as a RB, he could run between the tackles. I can’t stand it when we start speaking about size, he’s a football player and a good one! The Patriots has a future contract for KR/WR Reggie Dunn, Dri is a much better option.

  7. The Take-Over says:

    I think the Pats needs are big fast WR, TE, DE, OG, OC….Not a DT..Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly & the young DT’s Armard Armstead (IR last season) , Chris Jones, Seliga.

    • Pete H. says:

      You could be right! If they draft a DT there may be a corresponding cut, most likely Wilfork or Kelley to shed salary. The argument for that would be to make sure you get a quality body so you’re not trying to replace both of them next year. Armstead, Siliga, and Jones form a good 3rd, 4th, and 5th option at DT at low costs, so there’s not much reason to move on from those guys unless there is a surprise injury or regression. If they do pick a DT, I’d expect it to be in the top rounds of the draft.

  8. J H TARBORO says:

    UNC OC/OG Russell Bodine threw up 42 reps at 225lbs is the leader so far in the bench press!

    • Ryan says:

      Nice. He seems like a really solid Day 3 player if he lasts that long.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      TE Joe Don Duncan Dixie St. hoisted 35 reps in the bench press, most among the TEs today.
      K Pat O’donnell Miami hoisted 24 reps as a kicker. a kicker???

    • steve earle says:

      I see where David Yankee only had 22 and he’s been touted as a great OG prospect. What are we to make of this? Strength can be developed to a point yet both these guys had very productive collage careers. Both had decent times in the 40’s and 10’s. Guess I’ll not base all on the lifting alone must be the lesson here.

      • Bill Vermont says:

        watching a lot of these guys on NFL network, the OL guys are pretty doughy around the arms. But The vision test really works for some of them The Penn State guy Urschel looks great, as does su’a filo. Taylor Lewan really helped himself.

  9. Pete H. says:

    I’m in the group of people that think wide receiver will be a low priority in the draft, considering the youth the Pats already have at the position. However, I’m wondering if the Pats might consider extending themselves for a receiver early given Brady’s closing window – in a couple of years, the window may not allow you develop a guy for a season. In other words, now may be your last chance to draft a receiver high to play with Brady. Any thoughts on this? I’m curious to hear what folks think.

    • Pete H. says:

      Consider 2011 when many of us thought that the Pats needed an outside veteran receiver. The Pats traded for Ocho. Imagine if they had prioritized wide receiver in the draft instead. They could have, for example, taken Torrey Smith in the second round instead of Vereen. Now I love Vereen, but having Smith on the outside right now after a couple of years with Brady and the Pats would be looking for a new vet every season or two to start at wide receiver.

    • TD says:

      This Offensive system is not rookie friendly, you’re looking at 2-3 yrs for one to develop. In the Ravens system it seems Smith is asked mostly to run deep routes only, when he came in they had Boldin and the 2 TE’s to open up defenses along with Rice.

      Not sure what kind of WR Pat’s could find in this draft that would be better than last years rooks with one year experience.

      They need to find a TE or two to pair with Gronk when he’s healthy and it would open things up for the other WR’s and RB’s.

      • Pete H. says:

        Thanks for commenting. I agree that you wouldn’t be looking for major impact this season. The idea is that if you think “the window” is, for example, 3 years, you’d be getting impact in year 2 and 3. If the Patriots were to draft a WR in the top couple of rounds, I’d expect them to find a FA looking for a one year prove-it deal, perhaps Sidney Rice from the Seahawks or something to help fill in for a season at a low cost. If you don’t draft WR this year, I think you’re basically committing to the guys currently on the roster plus free agents for the rest of Brady’s career. The Patriots have had issues integrating veterans almost as much as they have rookies, and to get a really good WR in free agency costs big dollars that the Pats may not want to or be able to spend. Might be easier to sign a free agent at another position (DT, TE, G) rather than devoting the high pick there. Might be worth the risk if this draft is as stacked at WR as some people are saying.

        • td says:

          We, as fans are thinking window, window, window but you can bet the big kahuna is always thinking long term Brady or no Brady. And he may be right, after Brady goes they will probably still be successful only it will look a lot different. Just look at the beginning of last season; the defense carried the day for most of the games, Gronk came back and we starting scoring mucho points, he got hurt and we turned on the power run game.

          I’ve been telling people that what we learned since 2007 is that the team has to find different ways to win games other than scoring a zillion points on Brady’s arm. Just look at what happened to Denver in the SB. Shut down Denver’s pass game and they are ordinary or worse.

    • Ryan says:

      Now that the Jets have all but officially released Santonio Holmes, I think that he should be heavily considered by the Patriots as a top target for Brady for the next three years. The largest concern would be his injury history, as he will only be 30 when the season starts and should have plenty left in the tank. Another option is 27-year-old Sidney Rice, who the Seahawks plan to release. He’s been dormant recently, but he had a great year with Brett Favre and I think Brady could find a way to use the experience and talent he provides.

      Either way, with Anquan Boldin most likely resigning with the 49ers due to mutual interest, the Patriots could use a veteran receiver and with Hakeem Nicks fishing for a large contract these two could be well worth a look at a discount price after they are released.

      • TD says:

        I’m not sold on Holmes, if he couldn’t make it with the Jets and their lack of WR’s, what is he going to bring to the table…besides an attitude and a bong?

        Rice has had problems getting on the field for Seattle and his knee and salary may retire him permanently.

        • Ryan says:

          I am more sold on Holmes than Rice. Holmes struggled in New York, but that could have been because of a lack of a good quarterback, to get him the ball and a lack of other weapons on the offense. Those two issues could be remedied in New England and it might be possible for him to see a return to form.

  10. TD says:

    If the Pat’s want to let Connolly go, they could kick Cannon inside, but then would need another good, versatile T-G via free agency or draft.

    I would expect BB to add FA’s at all the “need” positions so that he is not forced to pick for need; that is add an OLineman or two, a DT, a WR and a LB.

    If this draft is indeed loaded more than normal, I would think he would trade that 1st rounder ala Vikings last year in order to pick up more picks: Patterson for Collins, Ryan and Boyce was super last year.

    I’m also hoping he can finally find a kick returner this year, the kickoff return position has been pitiful since he let Tate go and this year we may see Edelman go.

  11. YESSIR77 says:

    Hey Mike…How come no Niklas on your TE list? He is clearly top 5, and I think he could be top 3 by the time the draft comes around. If NE is going to grab a TE, then need to do it Rd 2. My thinking; there are 4 teams that need TE and pick before NE. Atl, Buff, NYJ and GB. I see Ebron landing in Buff or NYJ, so that leaves Amaro, AS-J, Niklas, CJF for the rest. IF NE does not make a move for a TE in FA, then we have to take one. If it was me, I would like to see them grab Chandler(Buff), he has good size. Then take Niklas in Rd 2, or wait for CJF in the 3rd. I would be happy with both of these guys. Top 3 picks for me today..

    1- Tuitt DE/DT ND. It was Nix, but he wont be here now.
    2- CJF- It is a reach for him, but BB is know for reaches to make sure he lands his guy. I see Amaro, AS-J and Niklas all gone by the time NE picks.
    3- McGill. It may seem like a reach for him here, but it wont be. We get that big, hard hitting S we need.
    4- Caraun Reid- DT. He is from Princeton, and BB loves smart players.
    5- Bryan Stork. We move back into the 5th, not sure how…
    6-Richard Rodgers. Another big TE.
    6-Dri Archer. Need some speed to return kicks and punts, I do not see Edelman back.
    7- BPA

  12. GM-In-Training says:

    It seems like every 3-4 years the Pats have to reload on above-average value players at running back. They usually need a year on the bench to to learn the ropes, so this would be the year for it again, but with fewer picks than usual, and substantial need at TE, DE, and G…dunno. I guess it depend a lot on free agency.

    • steve earle says:

      I like your observation about the RB’s and while needs may force taking a RB on day 3 it looks like there may be some real values to be had down there so don’t write off the possability of one or two.

  13. Ryan says:

    Some more players I want to see perform at the combine:
    WR- Donte Moncrief, Devin Street, Brandon Coleman, L’Damian Washington, Quincy Enunwa, and Shaquelle Evans
    TE- Troy Niklas and Jacob Pedersen
    OT- Jawuan James, Wesley Johnson, and Justin Britt
    OG- Brandon Thomas, Brandon Linder, Jon Halapio, and Andrew Norwell
    C- Bryan Stork, Tyler Larsen, and Russell Bodine
    DE- Demarcus Lawrence, Josh Mauro, and James Gayle
    DT- Kelcy Quarles, Will Sutton, and George Uko
    OLB- Trevor Reilly, Morgan Breslin, Adrian Hubbard, and Ronald Powell
    MLB- Lamin Barrow, Jeremiah George, and Avery Williamson
    CB- Jaylen Watkins, Russ Cockrell, Chris Davis, Antone Exum, Aaron Colvin, Andre Hal, and Dontae Johnson(might be an FS but is a good fit at CB)
    S- Ed Reynolds, Dion Bailey, Ahmad Dixon, Terrence Brooks, Hakeem Smith, Dezmen Southward, Brock Vereen, and Ty Zimmerman

  14. Jim R says:

    IMO a Cornerback is something that should be addressed within the first 3 rounds. Even if Talib re-signs. he has proven that he cant play a full year. We need another long corner

    • steve earle says:

      I agree but somehow I think BB will be looking at other positions in the top 3 rds. Well unless we get some additional picks up there. I’d be looking at a 4th rounder. That’s just my gut not what I would do but you never can tell with Bill.

      • Bill Vermont says:

        With TE, OL, and DE probably dominating top 3 picks, its more and more necessary to keep Talib. Having him move on is one step forward 2 steps back. Add in the mythical SS and 1st 4 rounds are booked

        • steve earle says:

          Right you are Bill and there are 3 maybe 4 SS that could be around in late 4th plus a couple undersized ( by BB’s standards) Lb’s that might be converted to SS. Keeping my fingers crossed because what we got isn’t very good.

        • Matt says:

          If Wilfork doesn’t rework his contract and get cut not saying it could happen or will happen.
          They would need to draft a DT in the first round.

        • Matt says:

          Let me rephrase that. Not saying Wilfork will get cut but it could happen. We have seen top Pats players get cut in the past. Then first pick should be a DT.

        • acm says:

          possibly, but that would also depend on which DTs are available at 29. If say Nix and Jernigan are gone, then taking a 2nd round grade DT there would be a waste. It’s a decent draft class for Dts so good players would likely be available all the way into the 4th round.

          Also, there are quite a few young but experienced DTs in free agency – would give the vet presence the Pats would lose in Wilfork and you can’t get that by drafting a rookie. Linval Joseph, Arthur Jones, Lamarr Houston, Henry melton come to mind – all very good players and shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive (as in Greg Hardy expensive) either.

      • Russell says:

        I feel very sure BB takes a CB in the first 3 rounds. I like Kyle Fuller with the 1st pick, where ever that is after trading back.

        • steve earle says:

          Very reasonable Russell and Fuller would be a great addition. I’m also wondering if Joyner might not slip down into the 4th rd due to his height which you have mentioned before. Would you consider him a value pick at there? He could compete with Arrington for the slot coverage.

  15. J H TARBORO says:

    With the shear depth of this draft, the UDFA list is going to be good also, after the combine I will have a big list in play!

  16. Ray Foley says:

    Re: Antonio Andrews
    After Ridley’s fumbling issues, I’ll take a pass thanks.

  17. acm says:

    Nice list, Mr. Loyko.

    Some other players I think may attract interest:

    OC/OG Russell Bodine (UNC) – projected across the board by people; very athletic, strong player and a very good technician; has experience at both OG and OC in college.

    WR – Martavis Bryant (Clemson) – Marc Sluis has been high on him – reminds me a lot of Randy Moss; very similar built and style of running/play; still a bit raw but quite the physical specimen. Possibly a 3rd rounder but one of those players who could light up the combine and move up a round.

    SS/FS – Terrence Brooks (FSU) – a physical player with great instincts both in coverage and run support. Has stayed in the shadow of Joyner and lacks the 6’2″ frame of the most saught after SS these days but he can hit – has a bit of Byrd and Ward in him, a hybrid safety BB usually goes for.

    DE/OLB/WLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech) – at 6’3″ 250 lbs he is a little less athletic version of Jamie Collins but not by much. Has the size, athleticism and instincts to play a speed-rusher of a DE (like the Seahawks use), a 3-4 OLB and a 4-3 OLB (like Collins this last season). Can drop in TE coverage too. Isn’t as athletic as say Christian Jones (FSU) but has higher football IQ and is a better football player overall. At the same time wouldn’t require a draft pick as high as someone like say Kyle Van Noy.
    He would bring in positional versatility, make the LB core more athletic and could factor in improving the pass rush too. Can easily see BB being very interested.

    DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence (Boise St.) – very similar in characteristics to Jeremiah Attaochu; will likely go a round and more later, probably somewhere in the 4th.

    DT Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina) – similar athleticism to that of other interior rushers like Aaron Donald and Dom Easley; unlike them, however, Quarles does have the size 6’3″/6’4″, 300 lbs of a NFL DT, which may attrcat BB’s attention if he is looking for that sort of DT in the draft.

    • acm says:


      OG – Dakota Dozier (Furman) – similar to Martin and Bitonio he has played also at OT in college but likely will stick at OG int he NFL. Small school player, who’s been going up boards lately. First time I saw him, he projected in the 6th/7th round, now he is seen as a 3rd rounder. Fits the BB type of OG better than someone like C. Richardson or Gabe Jackson, imo, and can see the Pats look at him in late 2nd or early 3rd (with a trade) should Su’a Filo and Yankey be gone by then, as is likely the case.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Good list ACM! Some of the players that I’m looking at are off the radar, but I will be looking at OLs, DTs,DEs,CBs,etc. and Micheal Sam, can he move in space? And his agility drills.

    • Ryan says:

      Love Quarles and I think he will be available in the 2nd. Brooks is intriguing because he seems very solid but not very dynamic. Bodine seems like a great pick at the center position, especially since he could be grabbed in the fifth or sixth.

  18. J H TARBORO says:

    Players to watched at the combine.
    QB Dustin Vaughan W. Texas A&M
    RB Andre Williams BC
    RB Lache Seastrunk Baylor
    RB James Wilder Jr. FSU
    RB Kapri Bibbs Colorado St.
    RB Trey Mason Auburn
    FB JC Copeland LSU
    WR Beckham & Landry LSU
    WR Kelvin Benjamin FSU
    WR Dri Archer Kent St.
    WR Martavis Bryant Clemson
    WR L’damian Washington Mizzou
    WR Marcus Lucas Mizzou
    WR Jeremy Gallon Michigan
    WR Quincy Enunwa Nebraska ( possible draft sleeper late round, a former RB that plays the WR position with toughness, reminds me of an Anquan Boldin type reciever! must see more with on field drills, and catching.
    TE Troy Niklas Notre Dame
    TE Jordan Najvar Baylor
    TE Trey Burton Florida ( An RB that plays QB/RB/WR and CB and is working out a TE at the combine, a pure “Joker” or H-Back. 6’2″ 230-245LBS.
    OC Gabe Jackson Mississippi St.
    OC/OG Weston Richburg Colorado St.

  19. Robert says:

    Let’s make a small bet. I bet the Patriots will not draft any of those players you mentioned. Guaranteed!

  • Categories

  • Search NEPD Archives

  • Archives