Reviewing the New England Patriots' 10 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways

Oliver Thomas@OliverBThomasContributor IFebruary 29, 2012

Reviewing the New England Patriots' 10 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways

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    The New England Patriots' front office, scouts and head coach Bill Belichick left the 2012 NFL combine with some names highlighted on their draft board.

    A player's draft stock is largely determined by their combine showing. Yet physical measurements, bench presses, leaping ability and speed drills aren't everything. Great players shine brightest in football pads, not Under Armour spandex.

    Nevertheless, the following players stood out to the Patriots based on their position needs and draft picks.

David Molk, Center, Michigan

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 298 pounds

    Bench Press: 41 reps

    David Molk drastically improved his draft stock after benching more reps than any other offensive lineman at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

    Strong linemen rely on the bench press workout to put themselves on the map. Look at former Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. In last year's ombine, Paea benched a record 49 reps and was drafted in Round 2.

    This four-year starter at Michigan won the 2011 Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center. His seasoned experience with the Wolverines should benefit him in the NFL.

    With Dan Koppen's future with New England in question, Molk could be a bargain in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. Wisconsin's Peter Konz will be selected by the end of the first round, so the options at center dwindle from there.

    New England may elect to go heavy on defense in the first and second rounds of the draft. If so, this strong man would make sense in Round 4.

Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech

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    Height: 6’4”

    Weight: 215 pounds

    40 Time: 4.36

    Wide receiver Stephen Hill turned on the afterburners during his 40-yard dash. He unofficially ran a 4.30 and a 4.31, but later his official time was changed to 4.36.

    So who is Stephen Hill?

    He's a long-armed deep threat out of Georgia Tech. The wideout's combination of size and speed has most analysts comparing him to former Yellow Jacket Demaryious Thomas, but optimists think he just might be the next Randy Moss.

    Hill has the tangibles that make scouts drool; however he's leaving school after a junior year in which he only caught 28 passes. Despite the lack of catches, Hill posted a staggering, 820 yards last season. Yes, that's roughly 30 yards per catch.

    Hopefully, Hill will further develop his route running abilities because he cannot be a one-trick pony in the NFL. He's got raw talent, but you can't coach height and speed.

    In New England, Hill could spread the field to alleviate the pressure built up underneath for Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

    With Hill's stock rising, the Pats should consider him in Round 2 or 3. That is, if the speed-loving Oakland Raiders don't draft him first.

Tommy Streeter, Wide Receiver, Miami

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    Height: 6’5”

    Weight: 219'

    40 Time: 4.40

    Tommy Streeter is a long and rangy receiver who impressed in Indianapolis at the combine.

    This 6'5" athlete looks like a track star on the field. Streeter can gain separation over defensive backs, and his 33-inch vertical helps him jump up for the 50-50 balls.

    Streeter has upside, but he's got downside, too. This junior needs to refine his route-running, and he was only a one-year starter for the Hurricanes. Experience is not his strong suit, he caught only 52 passes in three years for the "U."

    Still, "Touchdown Tommy" could fall into the Patriots' hands in Round 2. Since Randy Moss left New England, Tom Brady hasn't thrown many deep balls. Expect this trend to change in the 2012 season.

    Obviously the Patriots want to select a receiver early in the draft, why not Streeter?

Brian Quick, Wide Receiver, Appalachian State

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 220

    40 Time: 4.55

    Brian Quick excelled at the Division 1 FCS level and proved his doubters wrong at the NFL Combine. Quick wowed scouts with his sure hands and undeniable potential. He ran a faster 40-yard dash than expected at 4.55, and his vertical was notched at 34 inches.

    This former basketball player hasn't been playing football for very long, but his growth is on the rise. In his senior season, Quick had 71 grabs for 1,096 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    Even though Quick's inexperience may scare the Bill Belichick staff after struggling with project player Taylor Price, his potential is still scary.

    In the end, Quick could become a matchup nightmare in the pros. Therefore, the Patriots must take a hard look at this Mountaineer in Round 3. He could become a No. 1 wide out in this league.

Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 346

    40 Time: 4.98

    Bench Press: 44 reps

    Dontari Poe shored up his draft position by putting up jaw-dropping numbers at the NFL Combine.

    When a 346-pound man runs a 40-yard dash in under five seconds, he's worthy of being drafted high. Also, benching 44 reps at the combine doesn't hurt either.

    Poe exemplified what strength and speed can do to a player's draft stock. His gargantuan legs will make him an immovable object in the NFL. The Memphis product will be the anchor of a team's defensive line before too long. Poe embraces double teams and clogs lanes.

    If the Patriots choose to stay with their 4-3 defense, Poe and Vince Wilfork could be one of the best trench tandems in the league. However, Poe's impressive combine might take him out the Patriots' reach in the first round.

    Either way, the Pats should ponder drafting Poe.

Kendall Reyes, Defensive Tackle, Connecticut

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 299

    40 Time: 4.95

    Bench Press: 36 reps

    Connecticut's Kendall Reyes was well spoken in his interviews and might be a nice fit in New England.

    The defensive lineman grew up in nearby Nashua, N.H., just 90 minutes from Foxborough, Mass.

    Reyes would transition well into the Patriots' 3-4 scheme. He's a versatile guy who could play defensive tackle or end on the line and rotate in for Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love.

    Reyes put up a reputable 36 reps in the bench press, making him one of the top performers in the event. The Nashua North alum ran a 4.95 40 yard dash as well. He's a solid all-around player and could be a disruptive man on the Patriots' defensive front.

    He's not the best athlete, nor is he as heavy as most defensive tackles, but Reyes plays with heart. In his 42 starts at UConn, No. 99 showed his consistency by amassing 31.5 tackles for loss. New England needs exactly what Reyes offers: consistency.

    Reyes' name could be called by the Patriots in Round 2.

Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 261

    40 Time: 4.68

    Bench Press: 27 reps

    Whitney Mercilus had 16 sacks in 2011 for Illinois. Skeptics will call him a "one year wonder", but he proved all he could after three years of college. Mercilus even won the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the NCAA's top defensive end.

    Mercilus should be one of the Patriots' first-round picks in the 2012 NFL draft. His combine workouts reinforced his standing as one of the elite defensive ends in this class. This lineman runs well and will keep offensive tackles on their heels in the NFL.

    After his spectacular season and solid combine, New England should pull the trigger on Mercilus at pick No. 27.

Bruce Irvin, Defensive End / Outside Linebacker, West Virginia

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 245

    40 Time: 4.50

    Bench Press: 23 reps

    West Virginia's Bruce Irvin is a sack specialist.

    Irvin wowed everyone at the NFL Combine after he ran a blazing, 4.50 40-yard dash. This hybrid pass-rusher ran faster than many wide receivers, defensive backs and running backs.

    With that said, Irvin has faced some off-the-field issues. He was academically ineligible to play high school football, and he spent time in juvenile jail. Yet, Irvin has tried to turn his life around. He passed his General Education Development test and went on to play junior college football before enrolling at West Virginia.

    Although he's undersized for an NFL defensive end, "Bruce Almighty" could become a great outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Irvin's a sub-par run defender, but he would be a nice player in passing situations.

    New England may want to give Irvin a call in the third or fourth round because he would definitely bolster their pass-rushing woes.

George Iloka, Safety, Boise State

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 225

    40 Time: 4.66

    Bench Press: 20 reps

    With Alabama's Mark Barron unable to workout at the combine due to double hernia surgery, George Iloka seized his opportunity to impress scouts.

    The Boise State safety showed great strength as he benched 20 reps. To put it in perspective, Miami linebacker Sean Spence only benched 12 reps.

    Iloka is also blessed with height and long arms which allow him to bat down passes. Even though he's a 6'4" safety, Iloka has deceptive speed and can hang with the best of them.

    For the Broncos, Iloka was a field general in the secondary. Although he didn't record an interception in his senior season, Iloka was all over the field and managed to sack the QB three times.

    New England would be perfect place for Iloka to land. If he falls to the mid-second or third round, any team would get a gem.

Josh Robinson, Cornerback, Central Florida

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    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 199

    40 Time: 4.33

    Bench Reps: 17

    Speed doesn't always translate to the football field, but don't tell that to Josh Robinson.

    The Central Florida cornerback was a three-year starter for Knights. Gifted with good ball skills, awareness and elite athleticism, Robinson is an intriguing prospect.

    Declaring for the draft after his junior season, Robinson was unheralded prior to his incredible combine performance. This guy showed some wheels, running the fastest 40 time at the combine with a 4.33.

    Robinson is best utilized as a zone corner where he collected 10 interceptions over three seasons. Although he isn't very reliable in man coverage, his quickness will elevate him up the draft boards.

    The Patriots should turn to this defensive back in Round 3. Behind Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and Ras-I Dowling, Robinson could thrive in New England's youthful secondary.