Patriots’ “That Guy” 2016 Senior Bowl Edition

Last year, we had our most success yet with Patriots mock drafts. The key came in worrying less about what New England would do with specific picks (their active trading makes that tough), and focusing on the types of players they tend to select in general areas of the draft. You can take a gander at our 2015 draft review that wrapped up the “That Guy” series here.

With last weekend’s Senior Bowl in mind (along with the previous weekend’s East-West Shrine Game and NFLPA Bowl), we looked at some players of note and tried to figure out where they’d fit in the Patriots draft.

The Solid First-Rounder: The Patriots draft as well in the first round as any team, but they lost their top 2016 pick for using footballs that followed the Ideal Gas Law. Damnit. We’ll do better than the NFL here and just move on.

The Small-School Defender: New England drafted Zach Moore (Concordia) in 2014 and Markell Carter (Central Arkansas) in 2011. Javon Hargrave (6-2, 295) of South Carolina State could fit here. Hargrave had a late sack that helped keep the South atop the North. The stout defender was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the Mid-East Athletic Conference for the second year in a row after notching 59 total tackles (22 for loss, 13.5 sacks) and forcing two fumbles.

The defensive star of the East-West Shrine Game was pass-rusher Victor Ochi (6-1, 244) from Stonybrook. Though on the smaller side, Ochi succeeded no matter who lined up against him, with constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks and one sack. Last season, Ochi tallied 13 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss.

Offensive Line Double-Dips: Just as they did with Bryan Stork/Cameron Fleming in 2014 and Tré Jackson/Shaq Mason in 2015, the Patriots could use a couple of mid-round picks to strengthen their offensive line. Looking at the tackle position, we’ll take prospects Le’Raven Clark (6-6, 312) from Texas Tech and Kyle Murphy (6-6, 300) from Stanford. Clark showed surprising power on run plays, while Murphy displayed good feet and technique on pass protection.

Clark started 50 games at Texas Tech, which this year ranked tops third down conversion rate (52 percent), and second in scoring offense (46.6 ppg), total offense (595 ypg), and passing offense (390 ypg). Big 12 coaches voted him to the conference’s First Team. At Stanford, Murphy helped the Cardinal average 222 yards per game rushing and allow a mere 18 sacks over the season. He was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team by conference coaches.

Pats could have some size and talent to work with, there.

The Alabama Guy: Even if Bill Belichick and ‘Bama coach Nick Saban didn’t go back to the first Bush administration when they coached in Cleveland together, the current national champs are always worth a look. Last year, New England drafted Xzavier Dickson, currently with the Falcons. In 2012, the Patriots took Dont’a Hightower in the first round.

Lots to choose from here, but – despite a pass interference penalty in the end zone – we liked most of what cornerback Cyrus Jones (5-10, 196) presented, as he knocked down two passes and returned punts for the South team. At Alabama, Jones had 37 tackles (four for loss), two interceptions, and seven pass break-ups. He also averaged 12.6 yards per punt return (42 for 530), and took four (yes, four) back for touchdowns.

The Rutgers Guy(s): Having drafted Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and Logan Ryan and taken on Kevin Snyder and Jonathan Freeny as free agents, the Foxboro front office is contemplating renaming the team “The Scarlet Patriots, ” or maybe just “The New England Knights.”

In terms of picking a Senior Bowl favorite, this one should have been easy – receiver Leonte Carroo was the only Scarlet Knight in Mobile last week – but Carroo injured his leg during practice and could not play. Looking back at the Shrine Game, we saw left tackle Keith Lumpkin hold his own. Lumpkin’s got size (6-7, 327) and versatility (38 games at left tackle, 11 at right guard). He was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last year.

In the NFLPA Bowl, linebacker Quentin Gause (6-0, 243) led all tacklers with 6.5 stops (and frankly, the announcers should have talked about him more). By the banks of the Raritan, Gause served as a team captain and All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, tallying 96 tackles including 12 for loss. A smartypants (4.0 fall GPA), Gause fits perfectly as the Rutgers/Special Teams Guy.

For all news of Rutgers football, please follow NJ Advance Media for NJ.com writer Dan Duggan on Twitter @DDuggan21.

The Ohio State Guy: Ol’ Belichick pal Urban Meyer added ol’ Belichick pal (and former Rutgers coach) Greg Schiano as a defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so maybe some kind of connection here, you think? Some interesting guys to choose from, including receiver Braxton Miller (see below), tight end Nick Vannett (see below), safety Tyvis Powell, and defensive lineman Adolphus Washington. They all looked pretty good to us.

You know what? Of the two defenders, we’ll stick with Powell, who had the good sense to not solicit a prostitute before OSU’s bowl game. Powell (6-3, 208) demonstrated solid run support at the Senior Bowl. The graduate student (he completed his studies in 3.5 years) placed third on the team with 71 tackles, adding three interceptions, three pass break-ups, and a blocked kick.

The Injured Guy: New England tends to take chances with players who missed time due to injury. Defensive lineman Dominique Easley and offensive lineman Tré Jackson had knee problems in college; Rob Gronkowski had back issues at Arizona. Sometimes the gamble pays off, sometimes not. (Ras-I Dowling, for one, never got over the injury bug.)

Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib didn’t play in the Senior Bowl (he hurt his shoulder in December and had some injuries during the week leading up to the game). Nassib, a walk-on for the Nittany Lions, had 15.5 sacks in 13 games this past season, with six forced fumbles and one interception. The 6-7, 275-pound pass-rusher was the 2015 Ted Hendricks Award winner, given to the nation’s top defensive end.

East-West Shrine Game running back Danny Lasco of Cal (6-0, 205) caught the eye with a 41-gard draw play on third and eight, and ended up with 62 yards on six carries (10.3 avg). In 2015 Lasco rushed for a 5.1-yard average for the Golden Bears, but only started three games as he battled an ankle injury in the latter part of the season.

The Backup Tight End: Starting with fifth-rounder Dave Stachelski in 2000, the Patriots have drafted plenty of tight ends under Belichick. They got their starters in the first (Daniel Graham, 2002; Benjamin Watson, 2004) and second rounds (Gronk, 2010), but the search for a second TE hasn’t been as productive. (We won’t discuss The Tight End Who Shan’t Be Named.)

While Ohio State’s Vannett (6-6, 260) looked the part of a sub-Gronk, and Greg Gronkowski (6-3, 234) looked the part of a lil’ Gronk, we went with South Carolina’s Jerrell Adams (6-5, 244) as a pass-catching tight end who showed decent on-line blocking skills. Adams looked smooth catching the ball in limited opportunities. We also appreciated his hustle as he prevented a TD by tracking down a South defender trying to return a blocked field goal. Last fall, Adams was second on the Gamecocks with 28 receptions for 421 yards (a noteworthy 15 yards per catch) and three TDs.

The Take-A-Shot-On-This-Receiver Guy: The trick of drafting? Predicting how a player can fit in one’s system. The receiver position has the most pitfalls, because they’re not just learning a system, they’re trying to mesh with a perfectionist QB who also happens to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Too bad Tom Brady can’t got along on scouting trips to play catch.

Yes, the dynamism of former Ohio State QB Miller reminded us of Julian Edelman and would be fun to watch in Foxboro. Still, we’ll go with Jay Lee (6-2, 214) out of Baylor. Lee made some solid catches, running fine routes and showing some elusiveness after the catch. At Baylor, Lee averaged almost 20 yards per reception (38 for 758, 19.9) and scored eight touchdowns.

Two Shrine Game receivers who stood out were Geronimo Allison of Illinois (6-3, 197) and Jared Dangerfied of Western Kentucky (6-1, 214). Allison led the West team with six receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He got invited to the Senior Bowl, where he caught one pass. Last season, Allison had 65 catches for 882 yards, both tops for the Illini, with three touchdowns. In the Shrine Game, Dangerfield tallied five catches for 84 yards, a 16.8 average. At WKU, Dangerfield had 82 grabs for 844 yards and eight TDs.

The Special Teams Guy: It began with Matthew Slater in 2008’s fifth round. It continued with selections of long snapper Jake Ingram in 2009, punter Zoltan Mesko in 2010, Nate Ebner in 2012, and long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015. The Pats like to pick guys with a special teams focus.

Oh, man. So many choices in these bowls. We’ll stick with two undersized linebackers: Tyler Matakevich of Temple (6-0, 233) and the appropriately named Eric Striker of Oklahoma (5-11, 228). Matakevich filled in running gaps well, making many of the opening tackles of the Senior Bowl. Striker made a couple of hard-nosed stops, notable for their speed. At Temple, Matakevich compiled 126 tackles last fall, with 15 tackles for loss (4.5 sacks). He also grabbed five interceptions. At Oklahoma, Striker had 67 tackles, with 19 for loss (7.5 sacks), 11 QB hits, and one interception.

The Navy Guy: Just about everyone following last year’s draft figured Cardona would end up in Foxboro for some length of time; few of us figured he’d get chosen in the fifth and end up starting for the year. Belichick, due in large part to his father’s background as a long-term assistant coach at the Naval Academy, always keeps an eye out for Midshipmen.

Fullbacks Kyle Eckel (scored two TDs in 2007) and Eric Kettani (practice squad, 2009) were signed by the Patriots as free agents, a fact that we believe will pave the way for 2016 Senior Bowler Chris Swain (6-0, 247). At Annapolis, Swain rushed for 847 yards, averaged over five per carry, and notched 10 TDs. Not bad for a guy who sought contact more often than Velcro.

The Seventh-Round Slot Receiver: Thinking about players like Northwestern’s Jeremy Ebert (2012) and Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon (2014) for this category, as well as a little-recognized former QB out of Kent State with a name that sounds like Hulian Jedelman (2009).

In limited snaps, we noticed Minnesota receiver K. J. Maye (5-8, 194), whose quickness helped him make yardage on two end-around plays and one bubble screen. Maye was an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last year with a team-leading 65 passes for 706 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 46 yards and a TD.

At the Shrine Game, one guy – one small guy – stood out. Washington receiver Jaydon Mickens (5-10, 174) caught three passes for 49 yards and one touchdown. He looked like a tough guy to cover, and continued to show his elusiveness as a kick returner, bringing one back for 35 yards. At UW, Mickens led the team with 58 catches for 692 yards (11.9 avg), scoring two TDs. He also ran the ball seven times, averaging 6.3 per carry and getting in the end zone once.

Next month, keep an eye out for our Patriots That Guy 2.0: Post-Combine Edition.

Chris Warner tweets about the inanity of life @cwarn89 

Advertisements

18 Replies to “Patriots’ “That Guy” 2016 Senior Bowl Edition”

  1. Interesting you highlight a tackle from Texas Tech for his run blocking ability (didn’t they throw like 90% of the game?) and a tackle who didn’t allow sacks on a team (Stanford) who was one of the nations elite running teams.

  2. Anyone else think Peyton Manning leaking retirement plans that he won’t talk about is designed to take the spotlight off HGH Gate?

    1. I can’t believe that Beatle and Zo are the ONLY place ANYWHERE I have heard the story that Peyton’s agent, Tom Condon, and a team of investigators went and took the paperwork from the clinic involving Peyton and Ashley. I mean it’s NOWHERE. Brady got a new cellphone and it was a lead story everywhere for a week straight.

      I think there is a great deal of things “going on” to take the spotlight of HGH-gate. But a great many people.

        1. Yep. They brought it up again today. Beatle was just as incredulous as I am saying why hasn’t somebody like Florio addressed this? I think he said Mike Reiss is the only person who has mentioned it.

  3. It si very rare that I criticize Mike Reiss for content. he usually has good insights and even if I disagree I usually just chalk it up to different perspectives. However today in his blog he writes as part of a discussion on how the run game faltered so much and what it will take to get better:

    “McDaniels’ approach. The Patriots want to be a game-plan offense that morphs its attack on a week-to-week basis to exploit the weaknesses of the opposition. If the running back talent improves, I think we could see more freedom for McDaniels to turn to this area more often, and in turn, give the offensive line more of a chance to establish itself physically through the run game (not to mention preserving Tom Brady from taking unneccesary hits). In 2015, my feeling is that McDaniels was handcuffed at times in his play-calling, forced into more of a one-dimensional approach because of the shortcomings/lack of depth at running back.”

    His implication is McDaniels was handcuffed by the personal and dictates of the game. I completely disagree. McDaniels has this need to for “style and sexy”. If he had his way he would throw long every down hoping for a home run. His did not look more towards establishing the run because he had an excuse to pass every down…injuries to both his line, Blout and Lewis. I am not one of those use the run to set up the pass guys. I am one of those use the run or draws or screens to slow down an opposing teams pass rush and keep safeties home guy. McDaniels unlike O’Brien and Weis refuses to consider those plays unless he feels they will hit home runs. So he was willing to use them with Lewis or Blount because they showed home run ability. he was not willing to use them with White or Jackson or Bolden because he was impatient.

    I have written tomes on McDaniels and his tendencies. I understand Bill Belichick trusts him implicitly. I understand Tom Brady loves him. I understand that the Pats offense under him won a SB with him as the OC. I get that I am nitpicking as scoring 30 points a game is difficult. However, I think as far as coaches go on the Pats staff he is the weakest of the high profile guys. I would love to know the real story as to why Dave G got fired from the OL position. I don’t see what he did that was so bad when the OC was exposing the line with ridiculous play calling…but I am not inside Foxboro so maybe there were other issues. All I can say is McDaniels gets off easy in Reiss’ column…he, his stubbornness and his impatience all deserve a lot more criticism.

    1. McDaniels’ strength, I would say, is game planning and finding a way to exploit certain matchups. His weakness, without a doubt, is in-game adjustments and actually “calling” the game once the ball is kicked off. And he’s far too aggressive at times. Remember….we’re all still focused on the Denver loss, but the week before against KC, he called what could have been, but for a lucky bounce and a great catch on a deflection by Edelman, the single dumbest play-call in Patriots’ history with less than two minutes left in that game. The ball was THIS close to being picked and going back for a game-tying TD. It worked out, but it was a foolish call. Then there was the all-out, overly aggressive play-calling against the Bills in Week 2, even after they had an 18-point lead and just needed to start bleeding the clock — that almost cost them that game, too. The ultimate indictment of McDaniels’ inability to adjust once the game is underway, though, is Super Bowl 42. I’ve heard Heath Evans say that the Pats’ game plan was to try to catch the Giants off guard and have more of a run focus that day. Then, the Giants took the opening kickoff, bled 10 minutes off the clock and kicked a FG, and McDaniels pretty much scrapped that idea and had
      Brady chuck it 48 times (with a bad foot that required a walking cast two weeks prior to the game, by the way). Maroney had rushed for something like 240 yards (on about 45 or 50 carries) in their two playoff wins up to that point, and yet he only touched the ball 15 or 16 times that night. What was most infuriating watching that game was seeing Brady get pummeled time after time and yet McDaniels kept calling pass plays — with nary a screen pass in sight. The first thing I said to co-workers on “The Day After 18-1” was: “Charlie Weiss figures things out at halftime, adjusts his play calling, and they win that game by 10 points.” I think Charlie tended to fall in love with his playbook at times, too, but he also knew how to “manage” game situations. McDaniels, at times, just does some mind-boggling things at the most inopportune times.

    2. So it begins…It had to at some point. The young understudy ready and chomping at the bit to take the reigns. The old mentor who doesn’t know and or want to move on and make way for the new. Is McDaniels following around John Kraft like a lost puppy? Is Reiss alluding to a Any Given Sunday scenerio? 🙂

      1. You know they were hoping that the expert would interpret that Brady didn’t care about the fans or was pissed at his teammates, or was a poor sport, or something to make him to look bad.

    1. Since no one in the media gives a crap about cartoon characters and the recently deceased automatically becoming active voters for the democratic party I doubt #coinflipgate will make any waves.

Comments are closed.