Open Thread: OLB Sleepers

Willie McGinest

Are you looking for me?

There is no position that generates more opinions and controversy amongst Patriots fans than the DE/OLB conversion projects.

Each year four or five guys look like they will be amazing NFL pass-rushers. A couple of them bust, a couple are contributors, and typically one is a star like Clay Matthews, Lamarr Woodley, or Demarcus Ware.

Bill Belichick doesn’t seem to have liked those odds in the past, instead picking the conversion projects later in the draft. He might change up his pattern this year, with so many picks to spend, but chances are the Patriots will look to address the OLB position after the first round.

If that happens, who are some of the DE/OLB prospects that you’d like the Patriots to pick? We’ll give you a mid-round and a late-round guy to get started with.

Thomas Keiser, Stanford

Keiser is a tough player that understands how to create pressure on the quarterback. He isn’t going to wow you with combine accolades, but he gets the job done on the field.

At this point, he would be a situational guy, as his coverage skills aren’t the greatest. That said, after the 1st round, you’re probably not going to find a prototypical 3-down OLB. We see Keiser as a 4th round option.

Dain Taylor, Drake

We’ve been on Taylor since we first reported back in September that New England Scouts had been in Des Moines, Iowa checking him out. Similar to Keiser, he is going to be his best getting after the quarterback.

Taylor has a knack for making big plays in big situations, along with a truly impressive motor. He is another smart kid that has impeccable intangibles and leadership qualities.

Taylor would be a great 6th-7th round prospect that might go undrafted.


36 Responses to “Open Thread: OLB Sleepers”

  1. Jared says:

    Drafting OLB/DE conversions is risky, but Bill has made is own bed, and now he has to lay in it. Its not like needing an OLB is a new problem. We’ve needed one since McGinest left, and have been desperate at the position ever since they gave Vrabel away. I’m not sure i truly understand it, the whole thing. They gave Vrabel away at a time where they already had nobody. The last 4 to 5 years, you could have a made a good argument, that in each and every one of those drafts, OLB could have been their biggest need. But year after year, he passes on them. I fully understand the riskiness of taking these guys, half of them are busts, but if you can’t find them in free-agency…and apparently Bill can’t-ala Adalius Thomas- then you HAVE to draft them. The team with the most draft picks, sounds like the team that can afford to take a chance on ONE of these guys. 32nd in the league on 3rd down last year, personally, i think they should be DESPERATE for a starting OLB, AND a starting DE for that matter.

  2. Bill S says:

    OLB has got to be the hardest position to evaluate, mainly because the NFL mostly converts smallish DE’s, hoping to get one agile and fast enough to do the job. Beyond that its a crapshoot like QB, finding one who can analyze, react, and be instantly decisive. Who cares if your 40 is 4.6 if you’re going in the wrong direction
    God luck, BB, 5 days to go.

  3. Ken W says:

    OLB big board in my opinion:

    1. Robert Quinn- great athlete but would have to trade up to get him
    2. *Martez Wilson- can play inside and out, great value early 2nd
    3. Justin Houston- one of the few that has actually played OLB
    4. Alden Smith- most potential but also biggest bust potential
    5. Ryan Kerrigan- great motor but hasn’t played in space
    6. Sam Acho- smart and would be great value end of the 2nd

    * using #17 and #28 on DE and OL would be the smartest thing to do and then get Martez at #33

  4. Tom says:

    MARIO ADDISON!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. prioris says:

    I lean towards considering maybe Reed, Martez Wilson and Sam Acho at this point in higher rounds. I think only Quinn could possibly successfully convert to 3-4 OLB but he is still risk.

    I think you have to also look at the non drafted players also to find OLB starters.

    OLB is the most difficult position to find for 3-4 defense so I would be scouring every nook and cranny for an OLB.

    • Jared says:

      Hardest position to draft for. Hopes for finding a starter, in a list of undrafted players, sounds hopeless.

  6. brett says:

    I know that the pats scouts were looking at all 3 DEs from Az Reed,Elmore and one other guy. I think that Ayers looks like the safest pick being a true olb.

  7. Noah says:

    Mason foster. Nuff said

  8. John M. says:

    I’m starting to get tired of looking at everyone’s mock draft and overanalyzing everything. The best prediction that I can come up with at this point would be JJ Watt at #17 and Gabe Carimi at #28. If the pats could start off the draft like that I think most fans would be satisfied. I really think that the best strategy for the pats would be to stay put at #17 because at least 1 player they like will be there. I notice that Anthony Constanzo seems to be the latest favorite pick for #17 but I would want Watt or Jordan at that spot. If the pats want extra picks for next year then they should trade the 33rd pick for the best offer. They could also trade one of their 3rd round picks for a 2nd rounder in 2012.

    • CC says:

      Agreed, I’m all for keeping the top two, if not top three pick’s.
      The only way I’d consider it, is if it was a trade down but not out. & as well but for a mere handfull only of pick’s down(nothing drastic) and we received an additional pick this year in addition to do it.
      The O-line is in need of much help-yes, but i’d more than want to use one of the first three pick’s in order to get a monster for the D-line like Phil Taylor.

      Additionally, what they really need, is to compile a list of who’s? for a lack of better term’s…….. “Usless” on/for the team and make plan’s on trading them A.S.A.P. for extra draft pick’s next year.

      I’d actually like to see a thread list on here from the regular’s of who think’s who is….for a lack of better terms…..”Usless” or “Uneccessary”, and What to do with them, what we could get for them.

    • CC says:

      Possition’s/Need vs Depth of talent & where they begin/end in this year’s draft class.

      OT, RDE, Guard, then OLB

  9. Jared says:

    Good to see our man Willie McGinest on NFL network gettin some time. Boy do weeeee missssss that guy. Love Willie, one of the best all-time Patriots.

  10. Jared says:

    Hate to be a homer right now, i’m not a huge B.C fan, but Mark Herzlich has to be a sleeper pick. He has the height Belichick wants, but screw height/weight measurables. You will not find a better football player, at OLB, in the late 4th or 5th round in this draft. Herzlich has instincts you can’t teach. He flashes all over the feild in every game he plays in. Still gaining weight and getting stronger from his battle with cancer, i feel like he will benefit from being in an NFL program, if he gained 15 pound of bulk and muscle, he’d be 6’4″-260. I can’t help but think of Mike Vrabel when i watch Mark Herzlich play.

  11. joe says:

    Dontey moch is no joke runs a 4.4 in the 40 and is 6’2 or 6’3 245-250 he will run around every tackle he is from Nevada also Sam acho is good value that’s what BB likes.

  12. AM says:

    A lot of OLB sleeper potential in this draft. Personally, I like Marc Schiechl, from the Colorado School of Mines, who’s the all-time Division II sack leader. While the leap to NFL-level competition would be astronomical, there have been a number of good and great Division II and III players over the years (including, of course, our own Danny Woodhead), so I wouldn’t discount him on that basis. He has great speed, hustle, and instincts, and decent if not great size for the position. At the very least, he’d be worth a shot as a sub rusher and special teamer.

  13. Waldoon says:

    Here’s a few names: Chris Mathews U S. Carolina, Bruce Miller UCF, Brandon Bair Oregon, and Ricky Elmore. All big guys that might be a good fit at OLB in the late rounds.

  14. CC says:

    It almost in way’s doesn’t matter whom they specifically get; as long as it’s not mediocre guy’s. IMO they should be smart enough to get TWO of them.
    Don’t really care wether it’s two in the draft now or one from the draft and one from free agency later. But I’d like to see TWO upgardes at the possition.
    One for T-B-C right away, and respectfully…. one for Nink.
    Maybe Cunningham will step up this year, and with the newer OLB addition we will finally have decent BOOKEND “start” in place that we have been missing?

    *Good call sweetness on the “Chris Slade” name drop. It was guy’s like him and a few other’s that set the tone & really began to make the Org./Team what it became.

    I also think that specifically adding a mammoth to the D-line like a Phil Taylor, coupled with Big-Vfork will eat ppl up on the field all day long!
    Just the double teaming alone that those guy’s call for will specifically free up our linbacker core for major production, as well as make thing’s easier and open/free thing’s up for the backfield(Safties and CB’s).
    Both The backfield and the LB core will begin to shine through and through if they add a Mammoth like Phil Taylor too coincide with Wilfork on the D-line.
    (Between the two year deal with the veteran Stroud & Wilfork both…..That’s enough and will give ample time and knowledge and toutorage for a rookie like Taylor to get thing’s straight, and be a force for year’s and year’s).

  15. Bill S says:

    I’m surprised no one ever mentions KJ Wright. He’s probably not a true sleeper, because he’ll be gone 3rd round, but he’s a solid SEC star, which bodes well for the NFL

  16. Phil says:

    I totally thought that Keiser was going back for his senior season…he must have bailed when Harbough jumped ship…but i would love it if the Pats got this guy in the 4th. I think he could actually contribute right away. Stanford aint for dummies…so it shouldn’t take him long to learn the system. this kid could be another diamond in the rough. I am not sold on Taylor yet though. Pretty sure that Drake isn’t playing any top talent. But Stanford was playing in one of the better conferences in NCAA. I still think that Dane Fletcher could end up being one of the guys on the outside…tough as nails! Baptized by fire last season…should have a break out year IMO.

    • Phil says:

      Totally forgot to mention Mark Herzlich as a potential sleeper…who did a video segment with Big Willie! I think he is a BB type player as well.

    • Bill says:

      Cal Tech is considered to have an admission policy which positions that institution of higher learning to be closer to a meritocracy than any other college/university in our nation.

      I attended a high school which has an alumnus who earned a tennis scholarship at Stanford. He was a great tennis player, but as dumb as a box of rocks. And he proved that when he participated in a tennis tournament in Sun City during the apartheid era.

      He never got the endorsement contracts he could have received if he had stayed home and read Mein Kampf all week.

      So not EVERYONE at Stanford is deserving of the reputation of a Stanford student(including athletes).

      • Phil says:

        Agreed, I guess that’s good to know…i am sure that even Harvard has it’s share of dumbasses too. But wouldn’t you say the standards there are higher than most schools…i really wouldn’t know living on the east coast but it seems like they have a prestigious reputation. Either way, Harbaugh knows his stuff and the kid made plays for him so i would be happy to have him in a pats uniform.

  17. Bruschi54 says:

    I like Keiser where you have him slotted. Still holding out hope that we land Ryan Kerrigan, think he would be solid piece to the other young talent we have on D. Sam Acho is interesting also, I have not seen enough of him to know one way or another, but read a lot of positive things about him. The other guy that has totally fallen down draft boards is Beal from OU. Sounds like bad week at Senior Bowl killed him, but he was productive player for multiple years, and everyone comments about his work ethic and character being off the charts.

  18. Ryan Buske says:

    An interesting thought occurred to me the other night when perousing for the OLB sleeper. We do not have an OLB over 6-3? Which is weird considering that seemed to be Bill’s qualifications for being an OLB? But maybe he had us all confused just like the other 31 teams. Which now leaves us I think a little more room to consider who is going to be this OLB sleeper. I don think it will be Jabaal Sheard, the reports I’ve read call him inconsistent. So here are my sleepers:

    Sam Acho, young, productive, and fluid
    Ugo Chinasa – for his height, he has good speed.
    Christian Ballard – Recruited as TE, good size, decent speed, tackling…

    Obviously, Brooks Reeds is a possibility, but the more I read about Akeem Ayers the more he impresses me. If he is there at 33, he could be the guy.

    • Waldoon says:

      Eric Moore is 6’4″ and he played OLB in the last 3-4 games last year.

      • Ryan Buske says:

        Truth and he may be one of the reasons Bill doesn’t go looking to hard for an OLB.

        • Jared says:

          I hope one-Eric Moore is not the reason Bill looks into drafting an OLB this year. My opinion, if your going to look for an OLB in the draft, the later you get the more its like finding a needle in a hay-stack. If your going to take one, and they better, you do it in the top 50 picks or so. After the first 2 rounds, the there is a talent drop-off at linebackers AND defensive lineman. They should have a defensive lineman, and an OLB already, by time there pick at 60 is on the clock. They can take offensive lineman, wide receivers, and maybe running-backs in the later rounds.

          I think they need one of these guys

          Aldon Smith
          Akeem Ayers

          Justin Houston
          Brooks Reed
          Martez Wilson
          Jabaal Sheard

          I feel like Aldon Smith and Akeem Ayers are locks to be good players in the NFL. After that, i think it gets tough. Teams swing and miss with OLB conversion picks every season, but the Patriots have put themselves in a position to use one of their MULTIPLE draft picks on a risky player. If your BB and picking Brooks Reed 33rd overall- is too high and a risky pick for….than maybe you should think about using that pick to trade up and get what your looking for. And what the Pats are looking for in a 3-4 OLB, is Aldon Smith, so trade up and get him.
          Ryan Kerrigan

        • Ryan says:


          I believe we need an OLB too, and I was thinking about making a little list like you did. Here is my BIG board.



          Got to have at least two of these guys, one from each class, we have a lot of wants but not a lot glaring needs. But it would be nice to get a DE and OLB early. Agreed. I would probably not want to draft an OLB with our first pick UNLESS we move up to get a guy we really want.

        • Jared says:

          In my first line, i meant I hope Bill doesn’t pass on these OLB projects in the first 50 picks because he has flippin Eric Moore, give me a break.
          The smoke and mirrors isn’t working anymore, the facts are…
          there pass defense sucks. And they have had better pass defenses, with less talent back there in the secondary.
          32nd in the league on 3rd down.
          28th in total pass defense.
          2 pathetic stats
          With the scheme BB runs on defense, you need to be able to beat people 1 on 1 to get to the passer, just as guys like Vrabel, McGinest, and Rosevelt Colvin used to do. They don’t do it with tricky blitzes and confusing scheme, they have to do it by winning more 1 on 1 battles. If you want to try to find guys that can beat NFL tackles 1 on 1, in the 3rd or 4th round, you will keep getting guys like Shawn Crable 9 out of 10 times.
          They have waited long enough.

          My really short wish-list in order….R.Quinn being out of the question.
          Defensive -end- 1. J.J Watt or 2. M. Wilkerson
          OLB- 1. Aldon Smith or 2. Akeem Ayers
          I am always impressed with Jordan, but I can’t see Bill Belichick taking someone in the top 20- at 6’3″-285 lbs, to play the 5 technique. I don’t know if he can handle it and be effective. The closer we get to draft day, the more i want pick 17 to be J.J Watt, because trading up for Aldon Smith seems like a pipe-dream.

          Watt @ 17
          Ayers @ 28 or 33…i would be pumped.

          or A.Smith between 9-17
          Wilkerson at 28 or 33…once again, pumped
          i feel like they neeed at least one of these 4 players.

  19. The Sweetness says:

    Greg Romeus. He is 6’5 265 probably would have been in the 1st or 2nd round if not for injuries. If we can get him in the 4th round that would be a steal. He comes from a similar mold to McGinest. Also don’t forget we had Chris Slade on the other side during that period and he was 6’5 245 as well. That was a good bookend tandom we should try to get back in New England.

    • Ryan Buske says:

      Greg Romeous is having back surgery so I’ve heard so I’m not sure the 4th would be a steal. I think if we want him he might be there in the 5th or later. Just my opinion.

      • The Sweetness says:

        If I remember correctly he missed most of last year because he already had back surgery. The same can be said for Gronk as well and he was a steal in the 2nd round last year. So if medical issues are clear I think it would be worth it. I will say they should get someone in the first or second though and have him for a project.

  20. Patriots Draft Guru says:

    Sam Acho, Chris Carter, and Karl Klug.

    • JMC says:

      Acho looks good on film.

      • Jim R says:

        One name to watch,he is listed as an ILB but could play both. Colin McCarthy from the U. Watch the senior bowl and game film on this kid. Very impressive.

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