2011 NFL Draft: Five Prospects for the New England Patriots to Consider
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After three hours and 32 selections, the Patriots came away with an offensive tackle rated lower than where he was drafted, an additional pick in the second round and a second pick in the first round next year.
Excited about the 2011 rookie class so far?
With eight remaining picks (five in the next two rounds), the Patriots will be very busy for the next two days. With few needs addressed, there here are five prospects that could fill some of those needs.
One interesting twist is the opening of the league year at 8 AM. With player movement allowed, will G Logan Mankins be traded?
Everyone will have their eyes on the Patriots for the next two days:
OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona
The Patriots are rumored to be very interested in Reed.
He’s been compared to Clay Matthews Jr. in appearance because of Reed’s long, blond hair and in play because of Reed’s all-out hustle. The comparison is also because New England passed on drafting Matthews Jr. in 2009 and fans don’t want the Pats to repeat history.
The Reed-Matthews Jr. comparison should be in appearance only as Reed isn’t the same athlete as Matthews Jr. is.
But Reed has the bulk the Patriots like (6’3” and almost 260 pounds) and possesses a non-stop motor that can’t be taught.
OLB Justin Houston, Georgia
Houston is the athletic definition of a Patriots OLB.
Houston has ideal size (6’3” 258), quickness at the snap, and speed (4.64 in the 40-yard dash). But Houston’s mental could discourage New England. Houston, an early entry prospect, doesn’t always hustle in pursuit and will quit if the play goes away from him.
If the coaching staff feels they have what it takes to kick Houston in the ass and motivate the former Bulldog, the Pats might throw Houston a bone.
OLB Sam Acho, Texas
Ever since DE Brian Orakpo established himself as a star with the Washington Redskins, I’ve been intrigued by defensive ends out of the University of Texas.
Fortunately, the Patriots passed on Sergio Kindle in 2010 as rumors about immaturity sprang up and a fractured skull from and accidental fall cost Kindle his rookie season.
There are no character red flags off the field for Acho and he’s an agile athlete on it. Acho posted some of the best numbers for defensive ends at the NFL Combine, which backs up his career at Texas. He had nine sacks and 17 tackles for a loss, a very important statistic in the Patriots’ eyes.
To top it all off, Acho graduated with a 3.55 GPA and New England loves smart football players.
What holds Acho back is his height. He’s a hair under 6’2”, making him a better fit for Indianapolis than New England.
RB Evan Royster, Penn State
Let me make this clear: I don’t have a thing for running backs that wear the No. 22.
Since the Patriots passed on Mark Ingram (and Boise State’s Donald Martin isn’t in this year’s draft), Royster is intriguing because of his resume.
Royster finished his career as Penn State’s all-time leading rusher with 3,932 yards. He’s about as flashy as the uniform he wore at Happy Valley, but Royster was productive in the physically tough Big Ten Conference.
Royster probably isn’t destined to be a workhorse back, but as half of a tandem, spending a late round selection or signing the former Nittany Lion as a rookie free agent isn’t a gamble.
G Andrew Jackson, Fresno State
The Patriots love developmental O-linemen and Jackson would be one heck of a gem to mine in the middle rounds.
Jackson can take some credit for turning Ryan Matthews into a first round pick last year. Jackson played through an injury his senior year, which dropped his stock. Neither of the linemen drafted last year stuck with the Patriots, though Ted Larsen became a starter with Tampa Bay. Jackson would have a good chance of securing a roster spot because the Pats are currently thin along the line.
Of all the guards in the NFL Draft, why would Jackson be a fit with the Patriots? The last guard New England drafted out of Fresno State was Logan Mankins. That turned out well.
Maybe the Pats will see if lightning can strike twice.
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