Draft 2011: Brand Name Prospects for the New England Patriots
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Head coach Bill Belichick has his connections. Belichick relies on his network of college coaches to give him honest evaluations of players that fit the Patriots’ system.
And it’s hard to argue with the results. Using this reliable inside information, New England effectively mined great players from well respected programs in Miami, Florida, Boston College, and Alabama.
What catches the eye isn’t just the success with players from name programs, but the success with players with the first name of Brandon.
New England has five Brandons on the roster (Deaderick, Spikes, Merriweather, McGowan, and Tate), four of them drafted since 2007. The four drafted ones all have been great for the Pats.
- Safety Merriweather has been selected to two Pro Bowls.
- Linebacker Spikes started eight games in his rookie year and finished with 61 tackles and an interception.
- Receiver/returner Tate, after a rookie season recovering from knee reconstruction, showed explosive ability as a kickoff returner, returning two for touchdowns in his first full season.
- Deaderick, despite being a near afterthought as a seventh round pick, played in 10 games and started two in his rookie year. He finished with 10 tackles and two sacks.
Drafting Brandons isn’t the Patriots’ secret key to success, just a mere coincidence. But if New England wants to add another Brandon or two, there are several good ones that could fill needs:
RB Brandon Saine, Ohio State, 6’0” 215
A four-year Buckeye, he had a hard time staying healthy at Ohio State. Saine has the measurables of a Patriots RB. He would be available late in the draft or as a rookie free agent.
DE Brandon Bair, Oregon, 6’6” 268
A huge and talented prospect that doesn’t quite fit a 3-4 defense. Bair isn’t athletic enough to move to OLB, but could become a DE if he bulks up to 300 pounds. Bair is a projected fourth round pick.
CB Brandon Harris, Miami (FL), 5’11” 195
CB Brandon Burton, Utah, 6’0” 185
CB Brandon Hogan, West Virginia, 5-10 191
CB Brandyn Thompson, Boise State, 5’10” 180
A quartet of corners within New England’s measurables. Miami’s Harris is the best. He’s a borderline first round selection. Burton is a little taller than the average Pat corner, but his speed, length, and his physical play makes him ideal for bigger receivers. Hogan has the best straight line speed among the four. Thompson gets points for having a different spelling to his first name. Burton, Hogan, and Thompson are late round picks or rookie free agents.
C Brandon Fusco, Slippery Rock, 6'4 306
Small school prospects isn’t typical of Belichick, but Fusco is the second-rated center according to NFLDraftCountdown.com. A likely mid-round pick, Fusco has a lot of potential as a developmental selection. Maybe he can learn to play guard for added value.
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