2012 NFL Draft: 6 Perfect Fits for the New England Patriots Scheme
Sometimes the best way to get over the past is to keep your eyes squarely on the future.
With than in mind, New England Patriots fans should check out these six prospects that are a prime fit for what the Patriots like to do on offense and defense.
Michael Brockers (DL, LSU)
A devastatingly powerful presence, Michael Brockers would give the Patriots a versatile young lineman to add to their defensive front.
Brockers has the size (6'6"/305), length and ability to take on double-teams that Coach Belichick craves for his 3-4 defensive ends.
When playing in an even front, Brockers stuffs the run with ease while flashing the potential to be an impressive pass-rusher from the 3-technique.
If the Patriots are going to land this Richard Seymour-esque prospect, they almost certainly will have to move into the top 20 picks of the draft.
Fletcher Cox (DL, Mississippi State)
Like Brockers, Fletcher Cox is another lineman that has shown that he can line up at multiple positions.
Cox exhibits an impressive combination of speed and power, beating linemen with both a quick first step or overwhelming force. He sheds blocks with ease and anchors well against double teams—both signs that he has the ability to play the 5-technique.
His first step and excellent change of direction abilities also show that he can be a force as a 3-technique as well.
Playing in both even and odd fronts, rushing the passer as well as stopping the run, Cox is that rare fit as a three-down lineman for the Patriots.
Dont'a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
It's no secret that Bill Belichick likes talented linebackers. Dont'a Hightower has the skill-set to rapidly become one of his favorites.
Hightower excels stopping the run from the ILB positions, regardless of whether he is playing in the 3-4 or 4-3. He also has flashed the ability to rush the passer, both standing up as an OLB or with his hand in the dirt as a DE.
For a coach that loves his defense to be multiple, having Hightower on the field allows for nearly any defensive formation to be employed.
Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
Stephon Gilmore is a fluid cornerback that excels playing in zone coverage and reading the quarterback. His length, awareness, natural instincts and ability to break quickly allow him to make a lot of plays on the ball.
While he always hasn't shown the greatest hands, his improved ball skills this year allowed him to make some impressive interceptions at South Carolina.
Gilmore has also impressed when asked to rush the passer—he could give current Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington a run for his money there.
If Devin McCourty moves permanently to safety or Ras-I Dowling isn't fully healthy, Gilmore could step in on Day 1 and perform in zone coverage for New England.
George Iloka (FS, Boise State)
Patriots safeties are tough to pigeon-hole as either free safeties or strong safeties—Belichick wants them to be able to play both.
Therefore, when a 6'4", 222-pound safety shows up on tape taking snaps at slot cornerback, one tends to take notice.
George Iloka uses his natural length and balance to play tight coverage on tight ends, slot receivers and running backs, while his size allows him to wrap up and deliver the blow in run support.
A team that tries to disguise its coverages as much as the Patriots would have a fun time using Iloka.
Joe Adams (WR, Arkansas)
Joe Adams is a natural fit at wide receiver for the Patriots, while the Patriots are a natural fit for Joe Adams. On and off the field, Adams exemplifies what the Patriots try to do.
Off the field, Adams is a hard-working, humble kid that enjoys playing the game. On it, Adams is electric. Fearless routes over the middle and underneath, stretching the defense with his 4.3 speed, making joysticks envious with his ridiculous punt returns, Adams can do it all.
One scout at the Senior Bowl told a writer of mine at NEPatriotsDraft.com that he would even use Adams as a defensive back. If that doesn't sound like a Patriot, I don't know who does.