2012 NFL Draft: 15 Potential Patriots (Defense)

12) Audie Cole, LB, North Carolina State
One common factor with all the prospects being discussed here is versatility and Audie Cole is certainly another one of these versatile players. During his time at North Carolina State Cole played both the inside and outside linebacker positions.

On top of that, he has the size that the Patriots look for in a LB, standing over 6’4″ tall and 246 pounds. Cole isn’t a big time athlete, running only a 4.72, but instead possess solid instincts and above average read and react skills. Cole is a team first player moving positions multiple times to accommodate other players.

Cole isn’t likely to go until the mid-rounds, so in round 4 or five Cole is a nice fit.

13) Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Mark Barron gets all the headlines at safety, but Antonio Allen might have been the best Safety in the SEC this year. Allen is a physical, aggressive, in the box safety who makes a ton of plays near the line of scrimmage.

While Allen has played both near the line of scrimmage and the deep safety at South Carolina, Allen is best suited to play only the Strong Safety spot in the pros. While watching South Carolina film this year Allen continually stood out making play after play. He’s a great tackler who delivers a real blow to opponents. He’s a good blitzer, he reads run plays, and shoots the gap very nicely.

Even if the Patriots take a safety early in the draft, they will likely be looking for depth at the position since it was such a mess this year. Allen in the 4th round would make sense to me.

14) Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
Wolfe is another one of those blue-collar, hard-working interior DL. He’s someone that is going to be able to play all over the defensive line and might be best suited for the 5-Tech.

At Cincinnati this year Wolfe was a disruptive force recording 21.5 TFL. Wolfe is someone who really impressed me at the combine with his flexibility and proved to me he’s a better athlete than initially thought. Wolfe is a fierce competitor who has a tremendous motor. He is the exactly type of hard working kid that the Patriots organization prides themselves on.

Wolfe is over 6’5″ so he gets too upright at times, but with his long arms and upper body strength (33 reps) that isn’t too much of a concern. Despite his tremendous post-season at the Senior Bowl and at the combine Wolfe is still under the radar a bit. With one of the last picks in the 4th round Wolfe is someone to keep an eye on.

15) Trenton Robinson, S, Michigan State
Robinson is another safety who should be on the Patriots radar. While he’s undersized compared to other safeties, he showcases skills that will be very attractive to NFL teams.

Not only does he has really good instincts for the safety position and above average coverage skills, Robinson is able to contribute on every single special teams unit. Robinson was a team captain at Michigan State, something that the Patriots always take into account.

To go along with his solid senior season and Senior Bowl week, Robinson had an outstanding combine running a 4.46 and 35″ vertical leap. Robinson is another one of those players to keep an eye on with the Patriots 4th round pick.

5 Others to Keep and Eye on:

Shea McClellin, DE/LB, Boise State
McClellin is a player I have talked about at length. His athleticism and positional flexibility, along with his edge rushing a blitz capability will put him on the Patriots radar in round two.

Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Still is another DL that could be in the mix for the Patriots in the first round. He has a great frame, had very solid ball awareness and is someone who just took over games this season.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
It once looked like Jenkins would go much to high for the Patriots to have a shot at him. He is a great cover corner who has fantastic hips and can click and close. If he’s there at #27 the Patriots should pull the trigger.

Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
Branch looked like one of the more natural DE to OLB converts at the combine, which really put him on the Patriots radar for me. He has the perfect size and speed combination for the Patriots OLB position

Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
Fleming is another one of those CBs whose numbers are the combine and style of play on the field match up with what the players look for. In the middle of round two Fleming is an attractive option.

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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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