2012 NFL Draft: 15 Potential Patriots (Defense)

8 ) Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
If the Patriots are unable to get Mark Barron in round one and choose not to address the need in free agency, then Harrison Smith is likely the next best alternative. Smith is not flashy and may not be as exciting to watch on the field as other DBs, but he is a smart, cerebral and steady player at the back end of a defense.

Smith is the type of player the Patriots usually look for because they are natural competitors who show a love for the game. At the very least Smith will be able to be a core special teamer and a great locker room presence. While his ceiling isn’t as high as other safeties, he comes with much less risk and fewer question marks than other DBs.

Smith has shown the ability, like Mark Barron, to play multiple safety roles in different situations. Smith’s combine numbers put to rest questions that he’s a below average athlete. In the middle to end of round two Harrison Smith would be great value at a position of need.

9)Trumaine Johnson, CB/S, Montana
Johnson is a small school player who is not as well known as the other top DBs in the draft. Johnson played primarily CB at Montana and exhibited terrific man to man cover ability. However, I think Johnson might end up being the best Free Safety in this entire draft.

Johnson possesses great size at almost 6’2″ and 204 pounds. He also has 34 1/2″ arms which allows him to get his hands on a lot of passes thrown his way. What would make Johnson an intriguing FS prospect is the fact that he has very good range, great closing speed and can really hit people.

In a draft where their is a lack of safeties and especially free safeties, Johnson could really see a boost in his value. That versatility to play both CB and FS is always attractive to Bill Belichick. We saw him move Devin McCourty to FS this year when he struggled to regain his confidence at CB.

While Johnson isn’t likely to go in the first round, the Patriots would have to use one of their second round picks on Johnson, because he’s not lasting much longer than that.

10) Jared Crick, DL, Nebraska
Before Jared Crick tore his pectoral muscle this season he looked like a sure fire first round pick. Like many prospects before him, once you’re out of the spotlight your stock tends to fall a little bit.

Crick should be firmly on the radar of the Patriots because he is a legitimate 3-4 DE. He played mostly 3 technique at Nebraska but possesses the size and strength to play DE in the 3-4. Crick also has displayed natural ability to be a 3-4 end in that he doesn’t offer much of a pass rush. He does gets really good extension with his arms and is able to tie up blockers.

He is also a very solid run defender and tough to move off the line of scrimmage. Crick is a disciplined player similar to the type of player the Patriots picked when they selected Ty Warren in 2003. While Crick’s stock has take a hit, it’s tough to see him lasting until the Patriots third round pick.

11) Josh Robinson, CB, UCF
What makes Robinson an especially intriguing fit for the Patriots is that current Patriot assistant coach George Godsey was Robinson’s lead recruiter at the University of Central Florida. T

he Patriots already have a natural “in” with Robinson based on the fact that one of the reasons Robinson chose UCF, according to him, was his relationship with Coach Godsey. Bill Belichick often uses these coaching connections to get a better feel for a prospect. Last year, for example, the Patriots hired Moses Cabrera as their assistant Strength and Conditioning coordinator from the University of Colorado. Bill Belichick said during his draft press conference that he was able to lean on Moses to learn what kind of work ethic Nate Solder had and what kind of person he was off the field.

I expect Coach Godsey to provide similar information to Bill Belichick and scouts on Robinson. Besides all that, Robinson is the fastest CB in this year’s draft. He is a little undersized and has some flaws with his technique, but is coachable. A team may over-draft Robinson based on his combine numbers, but if not, the late third round would be good value for Robinson.

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12 Responses to “2012 NFL Draft: 15 Potential Patriots (Defense)”

  1. baba says:

    KEEP DREAMING !! BELICHICK will do the same , as usual , and select nobody you and “gurus ” selected ! Result – very average players, inexpensive and play to stay that way ! No hope , no glory ! And , what most important – no more SB , so keep drinking your Cool- Aide !!

  2. Tom says:

    This is a nice review of a lot of the usual suspects, but what about someone like LaVonte David from Nebraska? He is an OLB in a 4-3 system, probably projected for the 2nd round, a little small at 6’0″, but he has a lot of speed/quickness and is a fairly heady player. Had a great game against Ohio State, helping to keep Nebraska in the game. Do LBs from a 4-3 not transition well to a 3-4?

  3. Eric says:

    According to Bucky Brooks…”Most teams see Perry as a 4-3 defensive end; he’s not comfortable being a 3-4 outside linebacker”. If this is true, do you think the Patriots are going to use the 27th pick on someone like this?

    • MJP says:

      I hope so, I don’t care if he pretends to be a 3-4 OLB while standing up and just rushes the passer and plays the run, I don’t care if he drops into coverage twice a year, he’s got talent and upside as a pass-rusher and is just putting it all together.

  4. MJP says:

    I would replace Mercilus with Branch though neither is a 1st-Rounder from what I’ve seen. I give Branch the nod because he is much better against the run and his athleticism is a much better fit in the 3-4. Branch looks really raw but he does look explosive when he stands up. He really needs work on his pass-rush skills since he’s all speed rush and he doesn’t bring the violent, strong hands as a pass-rusher like he does vs. the run. Good upside with Branch though.

    I really don’t know how Mercilus recorded all those sacks, of the 5-6 games I found on him he was stonewalled most of the time, he is strong and on occasion will get a bull-rush going but very rarely. He plays tall and stiff so bending the edge is not his strongest asset. He has no secondary moves that are successful and I’m willing to be a very large majority of his sacks came on broken plays or coverage sacks. I will give him credit for his motor which is the only reason he seems to win because it’s not from pass-rushing skill. I think he’s serviceable vs. the run when he wants to be but he’s not as disciplined as Branch in that area. I wouldn’t put Mercilus in a 3-4, I saw 3 occasions where he was blatantly off-sides and still couldn’t beat the OL…not a legit first step and way too stiff to stand up.

    Please add Brandon Taylor to this list as well as Casey Hayward and Devon Wylie. Very valuable players that should be available from 48 on.

  5. Jeff says:

    My wish list in the draft right now is:
    #27 – Brockers
    #31 – Hightower/Gilmore/Barron Depending on who’s left
    #48 – Harrison Smith/Trumaine Johnson
    #63 – Crick

    The more I’ve looked at the WR and CB, crop I think that 3rd-5th round is where you can really hit on some guys, so I won’t be surprised if BB tries to pick up some later picks to grab some of the talent at those positions for a little cheaper.

    • MJP says:

      If Brockers weren’t 6’5” 322lbs with 35” arms would he be a 1st round pick? Nope, doesn’t show up on tape enough. I’ll take Reyes or Malik Jackson in the 2nd-3rd round though. Jackson gave the best 2 teams in college football all they could handle and that’s playing out of position as a DT (should be a DE, especially if he can bulk up another 15lbs to be the 5-tech in the 3-4)

  6. Billy C says:

    I’m a big fan of going D-lineman early in the draft. Entering the offseason and under contract the Pats only have “Big Vince” as a sure fire contributor (others on the line are very average with low ceiling potential). I know it’s not a sexy pick but in the second round I’d look real hard at drafting Chapman (the big nose tackle from Alabama). I understand he’s a nose tackle in the mold of Wilfork, but with BB moving Vince around so much Chapman could play the 3 or 5 technique in whatever Bill decides to run.

    • Billy C says:

      I forgot to mention that Chapman would be limited to interior lineman in either front that Bill uses. There is no way he plays the outside, as his mobility is somewhat limited.

  7. Jeff says:

    No Upshaw…is that because the odds are he will not be on the board?

  8. The Hooded 1 says:

    Brandon Boykin needs to be on this list. Plays defense, offense and special teams. Wouldn’t be shocked if was one of our second round picks.

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