2011 NFL Draft: Cameron Heyward Could Solidify the Patriots' Front Seven

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2011 NFL Draft: Cameron Heyward Could Solidify the Patriots' Front Seven
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The New England Patriots have all the right pieces to build a strong defense in the upcoming years with players like Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty. 

During the Patriots dynasty years, their defensive front seven was their strong point on defense, and they have the potential to regain the lost strength.

By just glancing at New England's defensive line, which is anchored by Wilfork, they are just one player away from having a terrifying defensive line—assuming Ty Warren will be healthy entering the 2011 season after suffering a season ending hip injury 2010.

That one player that New England could look for at the end of the first round in the 2011 NFL draft this next week is Ohio State's defensive end Cameron Heyward.

 

Strengths

Cameron Heyward is one of the most underrated defensive ends in the 2011 draft class. He is very athletic, powerful and explosive off of the ball.

Heyward has been overshadowed by other defensive ends like Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt, and Aldon Smith for mid-first round selections. It's almost like he's under the radar, but he's certainly on New England's radar.

At the snap of the ball, Heyward uses his hands very well to engage into the blocker and has a very violent punch to incorporate in his bull rush.

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Due to his very acceptable leverage, Heyward, at times, is unblockable and can require a double team.

Heyward is a very well-rounded defender: he's a decent pass rusher—very good at deflecting passes—and he is stout against the run and can clog holes and gets off blockers very well.

He was very productive at Ohio State in the Big Ten as he was selected to the All-Big Ten first team in 2010. Heyward played four seasons at Ohio State, and put up some nice numbers. He recorded a career total of 163 tackles, 37.5 tackles for a loss, and 14.5 sacks—pretty respectable.

 

Weaknesses

Heyward's only major glare is that he can be inconsistent. Some games, it's almost like he's not there. But then there are some games when he simply dominants—he needs to find a happy median.

His lone pass rush move is the bull rush; he needs to expand his aresenal of moves in order to excel at the next level.

When you look at Heyward's natural talent and how he's physically gifted (6'5" 294 lbs.), you may say he's an underachiever.

 

Conclusion

Assuming that New England will stay put at 28th overall, which is unlikley, Heyward could be a quality, smart selection.

He's got a lot of potential due to his freakish size and athleticism—Heyward is someone Bill Belichick couldn't pass on. 

Heyward would be an ideal fit in New England's 3-4 defensive line, as he'd be inserted opposite of Warren and alongside Wilfork—New England's defensive line would escalate their strength.

 

This article was first seen at PatriotsPlus.net. Be sure to follow Tony Santorsa on Twitter @ TonySantorsa.  

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