2013 NFL Draft: Belichick Poking Around Illinois

Michael Buchanan Illinois

Could Michael Buchanan be a potential Patriot target in the 2013 NFL Draft? (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

According to multiple reports, Bill Belichick has been on the Illinois campus meeting with and working out potential 2013 NFL Draft Picks.

Who might he be targeting?

The top name on our board at Illinois is “bandit” linebacker / defensive end Michael Buchanan. He had some incredible tape in 2011, most notably against Northwestern. His play seemed to suffer a bit in 2012 under the new coaching regime, but he still has the athletic skills to make an impact on the edge.

Here is our full scouting report on Buchanan from early this year. I currently see him as a 2nd-4th round pick.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence is another player that the Patriots might be looking at this April. Due to his height (6’1″), Spence doesn’t really project as a 5-technique defensive end for the Patriots, and would be limited to the inside. He excels at shooting gaps from the 1 and 3-techniques and makes a lot of tackles in the run game. His 3.5 career sacks aren’t anything to write home about, however.

With Armond Armstead and Tommy Kelly already filling a similar role, I’m not sure Spence would offer the Patriots much in his first year – especially as a 3rd-5th round pick.

Lastly, cornerback Terry Hawthorne, center Graham Pocic and guard Hugh Thornton are all late round options that the Patriots could be interested in. The Patriots have surprised us with picks from Illinois before – Tavon Wilson and Eugene Wilson come to mind – so it is best not to sleep on any of these prospects.

Out of the three, Hawthorne has the most upside as an NFL player. He came in to 2012 as a highly touted prospect, but his injury plagued season did little to help his draft stock. He has some size (6’0″ / 195) and speed (4.44), but his technique and injury issues should be a major red flag for the Patriots.

Here is a full list of Patriots Draft Contacts for 2013.

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5 Responses to “2013 NFL Draft: Belichick Poking Around Illinois”

  1. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I think BB was thinking about CB Terry Hawthorne in the 7th round. He would have seen him last year as well when watching S Wilson.

  2. Michael says:

    I think Buchanan play-wise (2011 highlights not 2012) matches up very well with former Patriot great Mike Vrabel (not sure how good a TE Buchanan is but we have Gronk for that). He is a versatile defender who can play 4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 OLB in a pinch, sub DE, sub OLB in a pinch. Not a flashy athlete being average in his measurables, but a top performer in the 3-cone drill with a 6.91 3-cone time. Right now CBS Sports and NFL Draft Scout have Buchanan listed as a 6-7 but he is a 2nd rd prospect in my opinion. He should be able to replace Ninkovich as a starting DE/OLB in 2014 and play 2013 as a sub DE.

  3. Jeff M says:

    I’d love Buchanan in the late 2nd round. His strengths all seem to like with what Belichick like and his weaknesses all seem to be coachable errors that would be easily correctable. Could be exactly the kind of prospect to line up opposite Jones for the future.

  4. qazmlpgh says:

    I like Buchanan as a guy similar to chandler jones last year. Would love to get him in 3-4 round despite our many young outside rushers.

  5. AM says:

    Love Spence, and think he has great potential as a DT on a 4-3 front. Agreed, however, that he would be a bit of a luxury at this point with Kelly and Armstead coming on board. Buchanan is athletic enough, but I wonder about his effort and motor; the key with him might be comign back from the broken jaw and the weight it cost him.

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