Which 2012 NFL Draft Prospects Are the New England Patriots Learning About?
New England is known for doing their diligence, and as such, it can be hard to keep track of all the players they've brought in to have an extra look at.
* = private workout only; not a visit to team facility.
+ = BOTH private workout and visit to team facility.
*Louisville cornerback Josh Bellamy (3/21).
*Iowa safety Jordan Bernstine (?/?).
Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden (?/?).
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers (4/5).
*LSU cornerback Ron Brooks (3/?).
*North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown (?/?).
*Beloit receiver Derek Carrier (?/?).
South Florida defensive end Claude Davis (4/?).
*Bethune-Cookman linebacker Ryan Davis (3/?).
UCLA safety Tony Dye (4/3).
South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram (4/11).
West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin (?/?).
Montana defensive back Trumaine Johnson (?/?).
Ohio linebacker Noah Keller (4/17).
Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis (4/?).
*Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis (?/?).
*Hampton cornerback Micah Pellerin (3/5).
USC defensive end Nick Perry (4/?).
*Florida receiver Chris Rainey (?/?).
*Iowa State receiver Darius Reynolds (3/?).
*LSU safety Brandon Taylor (3/?).
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson (4/13).
Top priority: Defensive Back
With six pre-draft visits/workouts committed to the secondary (three safeties and three cornerbacks), the Patriots look primed to grab one of the many available talents at the position.
What intrigues me about the list is that there are two safeties, LSU's Brandon Taylor and UCLA's Tony Dye, who are both very similar in both size and skill set to safety Patrick Chung. While pre-draft visits can never be used as an indicator of intent, the Patriots may be concerned by Chung's rap sheet of injuries. The Patriots lack of depth left them crippled by injuries last year.
I am intrigued by LSU cornerback Ron Brooks. He has great speed, and was the fourth cornerback on a defense for a team that rode its defense to the National Championship game. What's more, he has a clean bill of health, having appeared in all 52 games the Tigers played since 2008.
Top prospect: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Expected to go well out of the Patriots range at No. 27, Brockers was another key cog on the aforementioned Tigers defense. What's most intriguing about Brockers is his unique combination of size and athleticism. He came to LSU as a budding 250-pound defensive end, and added 50 pounds of strength and mass.
The Patriots could sorely use an athletic freak like Brockers in the trenches, but it will take a hefty price to move up to get him. With the wage scale in place for the 2012 draft, this could be the best year for it to happen.
Biggest surprise: Lack of offensive linemen
The Patriots are facing a good deal of turnover on the offensive line; although Dan Koppen is returning for a 10th season, and Brian Waters will also be returning, Matt Light could retire and Steve Neal retired last year. Even if Light stays, it will likely be only for one more year.
If Koppen and Waters call it quits next year, the Patriots will have lost four starting linemen to retirement in a three-year span.
That being said, the Patriots grab depth on the offensive line in later rounds of the draft, and have done well at finding those players in the past.
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