NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Anything exciting happen over the weekend? Oh yeah, that boring Super Bowl game that no one watched was on I guess. What a snoozer, right? I won’t lie, I rode an emotional roller coaster that I thought was going to kill me. I was just glad the night could end with me doing snow angels out in the front yard just like in 2001. Like Belichick probably has done already, we too must move on to next season (maybe not just yet, I have the Patriots marathon on the TV as I am typing this.) The ending to the Super Bowl was great, but the game was far from perfect and this team has plenty of areas it can improve upon, so today I went back and watched some more guard play. A.J. Cann was a guy that jumped off the tape for me, so lets break him down.Name: Aaron (A.J.) Cann
School: South Carolina (Sr.)
Weight: 311 Lbs.
Cann brings a unique combination of size and movement skills to the guard position. He shows excellent power when drive blocking. He shows good fluidy when he gets to the second level and keeps good balance when lining up and blocking players in space. Cann shows good technique in his hands and arms, getting them extended quickly and latching on in great position. He has a powerful initial punch and is able to redirect his opponent. Cann shows good awareness on stunts and blitzes. Cann has good power in his lower body and anchors well in pass protection. For a guy his size and body type, Cann shows impressive short area quickness. He also shows great toughness and will play to the end of the whistle.
Cann does struggle at times with quicker, smaller interior pass rushers, but its not something that shows up on tape on a regular basis. His footwork at times can get sloppy which leads to some balance issues, but again, it does not show up so much as to be too alarmed.
You can tell by my very brief notes in the negatives that I really like this guy. He is big and powerful with above average movement skills. Add to that his great technique and hand use and you have a guy who can be a day 1 starter for a team at Guard. I also think he brings some position flexibility to the table. Not in the sense of him playing a different position, but more in the scheme the offense wants to run. He has the power to excel as an in line blocker, but shows the movement skills and fluidity to excel in a zone blocking scheme as well. Cann is a 4 year starter and was voted permanent team captain in 2013, two qualities I think the Patriots will covet. I give Cann a late first round grade and would have no issue with the Patriots drafting him with pick #32.