Combine thoughts and observations: Defense

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

In my previous post, I gave you some of my thoughts on what I saw from the offensive players at the Combine. Now it is time to turn the page and look at some of the defensive players that stood out.

As I stated in my post on the offense, I did not catch the Combine live and power watched it over the last couple of nights. It actually is a good way to watch it. It was nice to be able to condense a 7 hour show down to just a couple of hours. Real quick before I get into these defensive notes, I forgot to mention one more player that caught my eye on offense, Guard Isaac Seumalo out of Oregon State.  Now onto the defensive players.


What a group. There is a lot of talent to be had in later rounds because of it. I expect the Patriots will draft one just because of the value. We all know the bigger names, but a few that caught my attention in the drills and from their testing were Chris Jones and Joel Heath. I was high on Chris Jones going into the Combine (#57 on my big board) but I think with this performance, he may have moved himself out of the range for the Patriots. Heath on the other hand is not a guy that I have focused on. I do not remember him sticking out when watching some of the other Michigan State defenders, but I need to go back and watch him because his measurables and testing were really good.


Another group where some guys solidified my thoughts on them (Fackrell, Nassib, and Kaufusi) or surprised me and are going to make me go back and recheck. Charles Tapper had one of the better combines in my opinion. His size and athleticism really stood out. His was misused at Oklahoma, but he reminds me a bit of Owamagbe Odigizuwa from last year. Diggy was more polished, but physically they are similar. Stephen Weatherly(DE/LB) out of Vanderbilt is a guy I know nothing about, but he checked a lot of boxes from a physical and athletic standpoint. Alex McCallister out of Florida is an enigma from a physical standpoint. He is tall but skinny, has big hands, but shorter arms. His tests were okay and he has some okay tape. I need to do some more on him to see what exactly he is and where he fits.


Besides Weatherly, who I mentioned above, a few other guys stood out to me. First, Joshua Perry out of Ohio State. Physically he is a perfect fit for the Patriots system and he tested really well. His tape shows he can do a lot of things, but in my opinion, he does run a bit hot and cold from an effort standpoint. The physical and athletic traits are there and I am not even sure he will make it to the Patriots. The same goes for his teammate, Darron Lee. I had him as a first rounder before the Combine, and with his performance, he could end up somewhere in the middle of the first round. I thought Joe Schobert looked good in the drills and I was surprised by Shilique Calhoun’s agility test scores. I did not see that when watching his tape. Two guys I need to watch are Travis Feeney out of Washington and BJ Goodson from Clemson.


My dream of William Jackson making it to 60 is all but gone after his performance. I think he has a real shot of going Round 1 now.  I thought Cyrus Jones looked really smooth in the drills. Two guys that caught my attention that I don’t know a whole lot about are Brandon Williams and Ryan Smith. A guy who I am higher on than most, Xavien Howard, had an up and down day I thought. He didn’t test as well as I thought he would, but he looked good in the drills.


This is a group that I have not done much film work on at all, so this was my first exposure to a lot of them. Sean Davis is a guy I did a report on early in the process and liked him at Corner. With how he tested out, I think he has all the physical and athletic tools to do so, he just needs more time and coaching. Two small school guys-Miles Killebrew and Deandre Houston-Carson caught my attention and I really hope I can find tape of these guys. Finally, Boston’s own Justin Simmons tested really well and I look forward to watching his tape to see if it matches up with his Combine performance.

That wraps up my review of the Combine. I will be getting back to the usual Scouting Reports very soon. We are quickly running out of time to get through all these players. Let me know your thoughts on the guys I mentioned or maybe some that caught your attention.






47 Responses to “Combine thoughts and observations: Defense”

  1. Russell says:

    Watching lots of tape, James Cowser is very interesting 6’3″ 248 lbs. 33″ arms, 10 1/4′ hands, 4.8 40 yd. 6.82 3-CONE drill, 21 reps on the Bench. To small for every down DE but has LB short area quickness (3-cone drill). Plays with a high motor!
    Charles Tapper 4.59 40 yd at 271 lbs. !!!! But tape was hard to watch playing left DE always against the other teams best blocker. Totally should be a stand-up OLB, very sad he played out of position, as his tape did not show much.

    • Ryan says:

      I loved Cowser and Tapper before the combine, so they’re pretty high on my list right now. Two other guys I like are Anthony Zettel and Matt Judon. Also, Dean Lowry’s combine numbers demand a second look.

    • steve earle says:

      I took some time to check out Cowser and liked what I read and saw although very little tape was available. An interview report gave the strong impression of the kind if guy BB wants in the locker room and I think he could make the team. I do think your right about him converting to LB a good idea but not sure where I would rate his draft pick position? So then the question is who do any of us with mocks drop to fit him in?

  2. Dan Sullivan says:

    Free agents and Mock Draft for Patriots.
    Kamar Aiken WR Ravens
    Joique Bell RB Lions
    Shea McClellan OLB Bears
    Chris Conte S Tampa Bay

    2 Nick Martin G/C Notre Dame
    3 Kyle Murphy OT Stanford
    3 Maliek Collins DT Nebraska
    4 Jordan Payton WR UCLA
    5 Taveze Calhoun CB Mississippi St.
    6 Aaron Green RB TCU
    6 Bryce Williams TE East Carolina
    7 Silverberry Mouton OLB Cincinnati
    7 Chris Brown WR Notre Dame

  3. J H TARBORO says:

    The Big Ten Network will televise the Ohio St. and Michigan St. Pro day over the next 2 weeks, check for listings.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    They’re 2 potential draft fallers LB Noah Spence and CB McKenzie Alexander. Coaches and GMs didn’t show up at Spence’s pro day, combine interviews were sketchy at best. Alexander rubbed combine interviewers the wrong way at the combine.

  5. Russell says:

    The Patriots are 3d in the NFL with Cap spent on DE’s. $20.5 mil. Also most money spent on any position by the Patriots.
    Chandler Jones $ 7.7 mil.
    Sheard………… $6.8 mil.
    Ninkovich……… $ 4.7 mil.
    Grissom…………$ 680 K
    Flowers…………. $ 664 K
    Jones , Sheard, and Ninkovich’s contracts end 2017. Ninkovich is starting his 11th year. Easley could play DE.
    Paying Jones and Sheard more money with new deals? VERY unlikely. Ninkovich retiring, likely.
    Seem’s likely to me Jones is traded, a DE is drafted, and Sheard is resigned.

    • steve earle says:

      Ninkovich still going strong but could hang it up in 2017. As for Jones other then guess work no sign either way yet ( no rumers even) so we have to wait and see. Easley probably could play DE at least until his next injury. I just can’t see relying on him. I mocked DE with my 2nd because of all those considerations.

  6. J H TARBORO says:

    Alabama and Mississippi’s pro day is televised on the SEC Network on wednesday and thursday. If you’re interested !!!

  7. steve earle says:

    Post combine and after that exercise threw all my thinking off a bridge I’ve come up with what I think is a decent mock giving us pratical picks at each spot. Here comes:

    2) Bronson Kaufus DE BYU 6-6 285 (and in case BB trades Jones)
    3) Jordan Howard RB Ind. 6-1 230 ( Blount replacement)
    3 comp) Eric Murray CB Minn 5-11 196 ( good #2 CB good tackler agressive defender)
    4) Jatavis Brown LB/SS Akron 5-11 218 ( sideline to sideline hitter, very fast )
    5 comp) Willie Beavers OT W.Mich. 6-5 309 ( solid prospect)
    6) Antwion Williams OLB Geo.So. 6-3 245 ( solid backup/ developemental)
    6 comp) Tanner McEvoy WR/TE?H-back Wis 6-6 230 ( Here is that big WR matchup guy)
    7) Devon Johnson RB/FB Marshall 6-1 250 ( Big back insurance compete with Devlin)
    7 comp) Devon Cajuste WR Stan 6-4 235 ( Big WR ins. based on comb. perform)
    And a few UDFA prospects:
    A) Vernon Adams QB Ore. 5-11 195 ( high prod. guy only thing is size)
    B) LaQuan McGowan Ath.? Baylor 6-7 410 ( see this guy lead blocking? )
    C) Jakeem Grant WR Tex T 5-6 170 ( the return of mini Mack)

    • steve earle says:

      Yea, I know Russell said he didn’t see BB taking a WR early and I disagreed but this is the way if turned out on my board, go figure!

    • jim R says:

      pick 199 got to take a QB,just because

      • steve earle says:

        Okay Jim who would you like? I’m not locked in on anybody in that area but do like the Adams kid maybe just because he’s an underdog with perhaps a chip on his shoulder who will over achieve.

  8. steve earle says:

    Using Russell’s 1st mock which I liked I suggested a slight change. Whai I would try is this:
    2) Sean Davis S/CB
    3) Joe Haeg OT
    3 comp) Tyler Higbee TE
    4) Mathew Ioannidis DL
    5)Antione Williams OLB
    6)Malcolm Mitchell
    6 comp) Jordan Walsh
    7)Joe Stave
    7comp) Ryker Mathews
    This would keep all but one of his origional picks and add a popular TE said to have higher upside then TE Morgan and still get a good LB prospect for depth as Wright surely would be.

  9. Russell says:

    Thanks for the impute I will be doing another Patriots Mock at next week.

    Adjusted Mock;

    2nd- Sean Davis CB/S
    3d– Joe Heag OT
    3d– Matthew Ioannidis DT
    4th- Antione Williams LB
    5th– David Morgan TE
    6th– Malcolm Mitchell WR
    6th– Jordon Walsh OG
    7th– Curt Maggitt LB
    7th– Joel Stave QB
    If the Patriots trade DE Chandler Jones to the 49ers, and get a 2nd, the mock would look different.

    • steve earle says:

      If that trade ever happens it will change everything, not that I’d be thrilled with it. But if Bill does and gets a high 2nd I would expect a trade down marathon to commence and where things would go from there is impossable to tell. No way to mock such.

      • munchkin says:

        Pats trade Jones to Dallas for their 2nd round pick which I believe is #34. This would allow Dallas to draft one of the QBs, Ramsey or Jack with their first pick. With Hardy not coming back and Gregory out for the first four games the trade would really help the Dallas defense. My brother is a Dallas (and Pats fan; don’t ask:)) He thinks Dallas, despite JJs denial of such, needs to bring in Romo’s potential replacement sooner rather than later. He has little faith in him staying healthy. A reasonable worry given his last couple seasons.

    • Matt says:

      Why would the Pats trade Jones to SF when they play them this year. Why not trade him to Tenn who has the 33 pick and they don’t play Tenn this year. Wouldn’t it be a better pick the 33 pick and not a lower pick?

      • Jeff says:

        Not sure either team is begging for the trade – if the Pats wanted to do it, I don’t think they’d be picky about it. If they want to do it and multiple other teams do too, they’ll trade for the best pick(s). I would think they’d even trade him to the Jets/Bills/Dolphins if they offered better compensation for him.

    • Jim R says:

      Steve, It’s a project, what are your thoughts on LaQuan McGowan – Baylor. Goal line short yardage menace?

  10. Ryan says:

    News from ASU’s pro day:

    Receiver Devin Lucien measured 6010, 222 pounds, timed 4.48 in the forty, touched 34.5 inches in the vertical jump, 9-9 in the broad and completed 13 reps on the bench. I’m told his 3-cone was “in the 6.9s,” and he looked sharp catching the football.

    He looks NFL-sized and he had a great season, his first with ASU. He’s definitely worth a pick, and I think he makes sense with one of our many 6th rounders.

    If I were calling the shots I’d probably take him in the 4th, but I understand that that might be a bit extreme.

    • Russell says:

      What about his hand size?? ….9″ ??

      • Ryan says:

        If he’s sharp catching the ball, I’m not sure it’s a huge issue. Other guys with 9″ or smaller hands include Corey Coleman, Keyarris Garrett, and Tajae Sharpe, and they’re all pretty good at catching. He seems to secure the ball well, so even if his hands are a little small I’m not too worried.

  11. J H TARBORO says:

    Patriots release LB Darius Flemming

  12. Russell says:

    DT Siliga will not be resigned. this is good news for DT Akiem Hicks and a likely drafted player in this years draft.

  13. Russell says:

    Coach Belichick WILL make a trade of some kind, but for now a no trade Mock;

    2nd- S/CB Sean Davis, I really want Joshua Perry here but I think he’s gone. In my Patriot Grade book both grade 6.1, scouts have Davis 5.4, Perry 5.3.
    3d- LB Scooby Wright, Maybe late for him but about were most Mocks have him, with his size and after knee issue. I grade him, 5.9, scouts have him, 6.0. With No LB Perry, wright is my second choice.
    3d (Comp.) – OT Joe Haeg, (6.4) maybe late here as well, but from smaller program. Reminds me Of Ali Marpet from last years draft and about where he went.
    4th- DT Matthew Ioannidis , Another guy I moved up my board, I grade 5.6. I like Ronold Blair as well, (5.1) but going with Ioannidis.
    5th (Comp.)- TE David Morgan Another guy moving up my board (5.6)
    6th- WR Malcolm Mitchell, (5.7) again I like WR Alex Erickson (5.7) here, but Mitchell’s speed win’s out, where Erickson is more of a slot guy.
    6th (comp)- OL Jordon Walsh, (5.9) solid looking prospect reminds me of Ryan Wendell.
    7th- QB Joel Stave interesting prospect very intelligent 3 time Academic All-Big Ten. His Tape against Alabama made me a believer. A guy for the P-squad.
    7th- OT Ryker Matthews 6’5″ 325 lbs, Interesting guy here who coach Scar can work with, also a P-squad guy.
    All grades are my own from my Patriot prospect grade book, on how they fit the Patriots system/family.

    • Mike says:

      Overall I like your draft except one player, Scooby Wright. Before the combine, I didn’t see anything better than a mid to late Day 3 guy. After the combine, I am not sure he is draftable. Slow and stiff with medical issues does not give me a lot of confidence.

      • Russell says:

        LB Wright lacks speed and size for what the Patriots want, he loses points there. However his instincts are Loc Keckley like, his work ethic, film room work, leadership all are highly reguarded traits that Coach Belichick like, Plus points. I will be shocked if he’s not drafted by the end of the 3d round.
        I would like to switch him with Joe Haeg, however.

    • Todti says:

      I really like your draft although I doubt Davis and Haeg will be available at those spots. Thus, I’d switch Kyle Murphy for Haeg. Then again, what do we know at this point of the year. I was really impressed by Ioannidis, Morgan, and Mitchell and Stave is my favorite developmental QB prospect since the Alabama game.
      I’m not sure about Wright. His intangibles apparently are off the charts but I was rather disappointed by his combine performance, as Mike pointed out he looked slow and stiff, and then there’s the injury.

      • Russell says:

        Always had to tell how the draft board plays out. I feel very safe with Sean Davis at #60, Heag at #92 or #97 not so much.

    • steve earle says:

      I like this mock it’s one of your best so far but I find myself in agreement with Mike about Scooby Wright. Slow and stiff looks like to little to late on the field I fear. May I suggest to replace Wright with Tyler Higbee then find a spot for Antwion Williams further down in your mock?

      • Russell says:

        Good idea Steve, Patriots need a LB, but with Morgan one TE is enough.

        • steve earle says:

          Well maybe that’s where you take Antwion Williams is what I think I’m trying to suggest.

    • Ryan says:

      I really like this mock. Davis would be a great addition to our secondary and there should be no gripes about him if he’s there. I know others aren’t a fan of Scooby Wright, but I think that he’s worth the risk at the end of the third round. We do have an opening at MLB with Mayo retiring, and Wright was extremely accomplished in college even if he isn’t the best athlete. Finally, I like the choice to go OG late in the draft. There are some good players who will be available late, such as Joe Dahl, Connor McGovern, Isaac Seumalo and your guy, Jordan Walsh.

    • acm says:

      I very much like that mock, Rus. Nice effort.

  14. Russell says:

    DT Matthew Ioannidis screams Patriot type player in the middle rounds. 6’3″ 300lbs. 33+’ arms, 10 3/8″ hands, 5.03 40yd, 32 reps on the bench. Watched more tape on him, again very skilled guy, handles double teams better than most DT’s I’ve watched, stays out of the “wash” and moves very well. Strong tackler, intelligent interviews well.

  15. Dan Sullivan says:

    Free agents and Mock Draft for Patriots.
    Mitchell Schwartz OT Browns
    Travis Benjamin WR Browns

    2 Kamalei Correa OLB Boise State
    3 Kenyan Drake RB Alabama
    3 Jihad Ward DT/DE Illinois
    4 Justin Simmons S Boston College
    5 Alex Redmond G UCLA
    6 James Cowser DE Southern Utah
    6 Tyler Higbee TE Western Kentucky
    7 Morgan Burns CB Kansas State
    7 Tavon Young CB Temple

    • Russell says:

      I like OT Schwartz as well, the question is do you pay a larger contract deal for him to sit behind Vollmer for one year, or draft a guy to develop? Patriots NEED depth at OT.

    • Mike says:

      I am not picking on you Dan, I just do not get the Jihad Ward infatuation at all. The only positive I see from his tape is that he plays with powerful hands. I see him only as a 5-tech at the next level and I don’t love him there even. He has little to no lower body explosion and he is so stiff and rigid in his movements that will struggle to win off the edge. He consistently gets blown off the L.O.S on tape and his combine numbers were brutal.
      He will not be on my big board for sure.

      • Dan Sullivan says:


        Thanks for your input on my draft. Jihad Ward you need to be patient with his development.
        But he has the length strength and speed to help at DT or DE. He is the type of player
        BB can do a lot with.

        Enjoy the Draft!

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