NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Another day, another position. Today the focus is back on defense and the big fellas up front. It is a position that lost its star of the last decade plus in Vince Wilfork. He will be tough to replace, but there are some players on the roster who can play that type of role. The real interesting question will be if the Patriots really want a big run stuffer like Wilfork or if they want to shift gears and go with quicker, more penetrating type of defensive tackle. There is good talent in this draft at the position and the Patriots should be able to find a guy that fits the style they want to play. Here are the guys that would intrigue me if they ended up on the Patriots.
Current Roster: Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Dominique Easley, Antonio Johnson, Joe Vellano, Chris Jones
Position Need: Medium
This is a very interesting position. I could make an argument that the Patriots need to draft a defensive tackle early or I could find myself defending the team the day after the draft ends because they didn’t take one at all. Last year, they drafted my binkie in Dominique Easley and I have high hopes that he will be healthy this year and be an impact player. Siliga and Branch both showed they can come in and play well, but are probably not going to be dominant and could be upgraded. Vellano and Jones are more rotational/situational type players and could be upgraded as well. Johnson has been a very good player in the past, but he is coming off injury, so he is an unknown player at this point.
Danny Shelton, Washington (6’2″, 339 Lbs.) 1st round
Putting Shelton on this list is a bit of stretch, but we saw Wilfork slide in the draft and while it is a long shot, I could see Shelton sliding as well. If the Patriots want a true replacement for Wilfork, Shelton is that guy. He is sneaky athletic and powerful and would be a great fit in the Patriots scheme. Do not get fooled by Shelton’s sack numbers, they were inflated this year with most of that production coming against lower level competition. He can move laterally quite well though and could bring some flexibility to where he plays along the line. Shelton can be over aggressive at times which exposes his chest and allows offensive lineman to move him more than they should.
Malcom Brown, Texas (6’2″, 319 Lbs.) 1st round
see my report from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-malcom-brown-dt.html
Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma (6’5″, 329 Lbs.) 1st/2nd round
see my report on him earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-jordan-phillips-dt.html
Grady Jarrett, Clemson (6’1″, 304 Lbs.) 2nd round
I will be honest, I had dismissed Jarrett for most of this process because of his size. Last week I decided to give him a look and I am so glad I did. I quickly fell in love with his tape and think he could be a steal in this draft. He plays much bigger than his size and he actually uses his smaller size to his advantage. He keeps a low pad level and consistently wins the leverage battle. He is very quick and athletic with smooth movement skills and agility. He uses these traits to wedge through double teams and beat lineman one on one. He has quick and heavy hands with a variety of pass rush moves. He has NFL bloodlines and he is a hard worker on and off the field. My only issue would be if he would be a redundant pick to Dominique Easley, but I think the Patriots are creative enough to get both on the field and create havoc.
Eddie Goldman, Florida State (6’3″, 337 Lbs.) 2nd/3rd round
see my report on him earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-eddie-goldman-dt.html
Carl Davis, Iowa (6’4″, 320 Lbs.) 2nd/3rd round
Davis looks the part of an athletic defensive tackle who can succeed in the NFL. He has long arms and good short area movement skills. Davis shows flashes of a player who can be disruptive from the inside, but it is inconsistent on tape. He plays too high and struggles with leverage. His effort has been questioned and you can see on film that once the play is by him he tends to shut it down and move on to the next play. Davis has a good combination of strength and athleticism, but a coaching staff will have to work on his technique to maximize his talent in the NFL. If a staff can do that, Davis can be an impact player.
Marcus Hardison, Arizona State (6’3″, 307 Lbs.) 3rd round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/02/scouting-report-marcus-hardison-dt.html
Michael Bennett, Ohio State (6’2″, 293 Lbs.) 3rd round
Bennett is very similar to Grady Jarrett in many regards. He is a smaller DT that plays with good leverage and quickness. Bennett is a smooth athlete with fluid movement skills. He plays with good balance and motor, making him a difficult player to block for extended periods of time. He is strong hands and longer arms than you would expect and uses them to disengage from linemen. Bennett is not as stout against the run and can be moved around by bigger lineman. He wins more with technique than strength and in the NFL that will only get you so far. Bennett looks to wear down towards the end of games which led to bad habits and inconsistent technique. He needs to get stronger and and some weight to be more than a rotational player at the next level.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Mississippi (6’2″, 307 Lbs.) 3rd/4th round
The theme continues with Roches. He is another athletic tackle with good size, flexibility, and movement skills. He moves very well and consistently gets pressure in the backfield. He has a high motor and never gives up on any play. He plays with good leverage and will work down the line on run plays. Roches is a high character guy and a hard worker. He needs to improve his strength, especially in his upper body. He is inconsistent with his hand/arm use and will need to work on his technique.
Tyeler Davison, Fresno State (6’2″, 316 Lbs.) 4th round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/03/scouting-report-tyeler-davison-dt.html
Bobby Richardson, Indiana (6’2″, 285 Lbs.) 4th/5th round
If the Patriots are looking to go smaller on the defensive line and want to wait on this position, this could be there guy. Richardson has really good athleticism and quickness. He moves really well laterally and uses a quick first step to get in the backfield consistently. He has long arms and active hands and uses them well to effectively get off blocks. He has good awareness with 6 pass break ups and 3 blocked kicks over his career. He also diagnoses plays quickly and reacts. Richardson has a non stop motor and will wear down his opponent. He has played inside and out in college and will be scheme diverse in the NFL. He was a team captain at Indiana. Needs to add more bulk and strength, but has the frame to do so. Although he was disruptive in college, he did not produce many sacks and needs to learn to finish.
Derrik Lott, Chattanooga (6’4″, 314 Lbs.) 5th round
I was watching Chattanooga games to see Davis Tull, but Lott was the one that kept catching my eye. Lott has good size and long arms for the position. Lott is athletic with good movement skills and an aggressive play style. He has active hands and can be a disruptor from the defensive tackle position. Lott shows good awareness; reading and reacting to plays quickly. He uses his long arms and strong hands to his advantage. Lott plays too upright which negates his natural power. He is also over aggressive at times and will over pursue on fakes and trick plays. Lott will be 25 when he enters the NFL and will also be making a big jump in competition, so teams may see the age and the adjustment time as big negatives as he may not be a regular contributor until he is closer to 30 than 20.
Xavier Williams, Northern Iowa (6’2″, 325 Lbs.) 6th round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/01/scouting-report-xavier-williams-dt.html
David Parry, Stanford (6’1″, 308 Lbs.) 6th round
see my report on him from earlier this year. http://www.nepatriotsdraft.com/2015/03/scouting-report-david-parry-dt.html
Ellis McCarthy, UCLA (6’4″, 338 Lbs) 7th round
If the Patriots are looking for a true run stopper than brings very little else, then McCarthy might be that guy. He is big, but not really fat, and has long powerful arms. He lumbers and really is only effective in short areas. He needs a lot of technique work, but the raw skills are there to be a force in the middle. McCarthy must improve his field awareness and balance as he ends up on the ground far too often for someone his size. He seems to fatigue easily and has to come out of games for series at a time. Must improve his conditioning so he can play more.
Darius Kilgo, Maryland (6’3″, 320 Lbs.)
David Irving, Iowa State (6’7″, 283 Lbs.) side note: as a former cyclone, it was such a shame to see this kid get in trouble and kicked off the team. He has real talent.
Angelo Blackson, Auburn (6’4″, 318 Lbs.)
Leon Orr, Florida (6’5″, 323 Lbs.)
Terry Williams, East Carolina (5’11”, 344 Lbs.)