WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

RONALD DARBY

Position: Cornerback

School: Florida State

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 195 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-ACC third team, 2012 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year

What he brings: Darby is a very athletic cornerback who is expected to use his speed and athleticism to his advantage in coverage. Scouts think he will be able to keep up with most NFL receivers, even in more complex routes, but are concerned about his ability to match up against larger receivers. When lined up with receivers who are not too much taller than him, Darby is able to knock down 50-50 balls but sometimes struggles to hold on to passes that should be intercepted. Scouts would like to see him get stronger to help him in run defense and in press coverage.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-3

Notes: Darby recorded 37 tackles in 2014. He played every game for Florida State the last two seasons. Darby was the second-fastest cornerback at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. He was second in the vertical jump (41.5 inches) and seventh in the broad jump (10 feet, 9 inches).

Related articles:

NFL.com: Darby among standout corners at the combine

CBSSports.com: Darby will use athleticism to excel

Video: Here’s Darby recording three tackles against against Miami in November.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

DONOVAN SMITH

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Penn State

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 338 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-Big Ten honorable mention

What he brings: Smith “has the size, foot quickness and the high competitive nature that translates well to the next level,” according to Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports. He has good leg strength and a powerful base that helps “drive the defender off the spot,” Lance Zierlein of NFL.com wrote. His large frame certainly helps get in the way of defenders as well. However, he has does not have the athleticism to play tackle and has trouble changing direction against pass rushers. Zierlein also noted that Smith “can recognize stunts but is very slow to react to them” and that his “ability to recover when beaten is lacking.” Rang and Brugler cite his arm and hand technique as areas that need improvement before Smith can go pro.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: His overall frame and skill set could have teams moving him over to guard. At the combine Smith posted a 5.27-second 40-yard dash, 26 reps on the bench press, a 9-foot, 1-inch broad jump and a 4.79-second 20-yard shuttle. Smith graduated with a degree in criminology and “wanted to be a forensic scientist” but because science “is not [his] forte,” he pointed out that being an FBI agent or detective would be something he’d love doing.

Related articles:

KCChiefs.com: Meet the Penn State Offensive Tackle Who Wants to Make a Name for Himself

PennLive.com: Penn State and the NFL scouting combine: Is tackle Donovan Smith a second-round draft pick?

Video: Here is a video of Smith at 2014 media day before the start of Penn State’s most recent season.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Rashad Greene (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Rashad Greene is Florida State’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yardage. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

RASHAD GREENE

Position: Wide receiver

School: Florida State

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 180 pounds

Achievements: AP All-America second team, 2014 Biletnikoff Award semifinalist as nation’s best wide receiver, 2014 All-ACC first team, 2013 All-ACC first team, 2012 All-ACC honorable mention

What he brings: Greene has great speed and is praised for being able to make defenders miss and gain some extra yards after the catch. The main concern among scouts is his thin frame, which could cause durability issues in the NFL. Experts want to see more physicality with blocks and fighting for 50-50 balls. He has experience both as a wideout and a slot receiver.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Greene had a school-record 99 receptions in 2014 for 1,365 yards and seven touchdowns. He leaves Florida State as the Seminoles’ career leader in receptions (270) and receiving yards (3,830). At the scouting combine he posted 4.53-second 40, a 36.5-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot, 2-inch broad jump, a 6.88-second three-cone drill and a 4.12-second 20-yard shuttle. None of those scores ranked among the leaders at his position.

Related articles:

Fox Sports: Greene’s combine diary

SI.com: Greene FSU career overview

Video: Here’s Greene catching eight passes for 137 yards and a touchdown against NC State in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

LEONARD WILLIAMS

Position: Defensive tackle

School: USC

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 302 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team (AFCA, ESPN), 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 USC Most Valuable Player, 2014 Hendricks Award finalist for best defensive end in the country, 2013 All-America first team (ESPN), 2013 USC Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year

What he brings: Williams is an impressive talent who is projected to go top three in the draft. According to Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports, the 6-foot-5 Williams boasts “a rare combination of size, easy athleticism and raw power to go along with a passion for the game.” He has long arms and good flexibility and balance. Williams is big, powerful and “has the look and feel of the biggest, strongest kid on the playground but hasn’t figured out how to unlock his natural gifts and consistently dominate the rest of the kids on the playground just yet,” wrote Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Williams, a USC captain, played through the 2014 season with an ankle injury and still managed to earn all of the above accolades. He also underwent shoulder surgery during last year’s offseason. In his career at USC, Williams had 138 tackles, 27 for losses, with 14 sacks, four deflections, three fumble recoveries and one interception. At the combine, Williams ran a 4.97 second 40-yard dash, posted an 8-foot-, 10-inch inch broad jump and recorded a 4.53 second 20-yard shuttle.

Related articles:

Washington Post: A closer look at NFL draft prospect Leonard Williams

Yahoo Sports: Greg Cosell’s Draft Preview: Leonard Williams has talent, and questions

ESPN: Versatile Leonard Williams could be NFL’s next great defensive lineman 

Video: Here is a video of Williams’ highlights.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

Let’s face it — Tom Brady could post a half-million videos of him jumping off cliffs or Photoshopping his body into a full cast as an April Fools prank, but he’d never be able to come up with something like this. Julian Edelman just changed the social media game in the Patriots locker room with this little number.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

XAVIER COOPER

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Washington State

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 293 pounds

Achievements: 2014 WSU Defensive Lineman of the Year, 2013 WSU Tim Petek Award for strongest man, 2012 All-Pac 12 honorable mention

What he brings: Cooper has “outstanding foot quickness and an ability to pursue in space,” wrote Lance Zierlein of NFL.com. He barely ever gives offensive linemen a still target, and “it’s hard to land a solid, sustained punch on him.” He is good at timing the snap and can sync the quickness of his hands with that of his feet for “early wins along the line of scrimmage.” Cooper has shorter limbs for his size and he doesn’t have “pure power at the point of attack.” If he doesn’t win with his hands, Zierlein wrote, he gets pushed off the spot.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: Cooper sat out his first season so that he could make sure his academics were in order, while in 2012 he had 34 tackles, with 8.5 for loss, and three sacks. He got even better in 2013, making 50 tackles, 13.5 for loss with five sacks, and in 2014, he made 37 tackles, 9.5 for loss and had five sacks. At the scouting combine Cooper ran a 4.86-second 40-yard dash, had 29 reps on the bench press, posted a 9-foot, 2-inch broad jump and ran a 4.37-second 20-yard shuttle.

Related articles:

Dallas Morning News: Bob Sturm’s 2015 NFL Draft profile: What I see in Xavier Cooper, DT, Washington State

Seahawks.com: Tacoma native, Washington State standout Xavier Cooper: ‘Hard work has got me here’

Fox Sports: NFL Draft Diary: Washington State DT Xavier Cooper tracks path to NFL

Video: Here is a closer look at Cooper, courtesy Washington State.

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Eric Kendricks (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Linebacker Eric Kendricks, who led all FBS teams with 149 tackles in 2014, owns UCLA’s records for single-season and career tackles. (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

ERIC KENDRICKS

Position: Inside linebacker

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 230 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America second team, 2014 Butkus Award for best linebacker, 2014 Lott IMPACT Trophy for defensive player of the year, 2014 All-Pac-12 second team, 2013 All-Pac-12 honorable mention, 2012 All-Pac-12 honorable mention

What he brings: Kendricks has been one of the top tacklers in the nation for several years, and scouts are impressed with his ability to finish tackles. He is considered to be a good man-to-man defender, as well as very aggressive, which helps him attack the run but can also catch him out of position. There are concerns that he may be small for an inside linebacker and have trouble outmuscling blockers, but he has been able to use his agility to get around defenders. Scouts also note that he needs work as a blitzer.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Kendricks finished the 2014 season with an FBS-leading 149 tackles to go along with two sacks and three interceptions. He holds the UCLA record for tackles in a single season (150 in 2012) and career (481). He was named Defensive MVP of the 2015 Alamo Bowl after recording 10 tackles (three for loss) and helping the Bruins beat Kansas State, 40-35. His father, Marvin, was a running back at UCLA in the early 1970s and played in the Canadian Football League. His brother, Mychal, is a linebacker for the Eagles who was drafted in the second round out of California in 2012. At the scouting combine he ran the 40 in 4.61 seconds, put up 19 reps in the bench press, reached 38 inches in the vertical jump and leaped 10 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump.

Related articles:

Philadelphia Magazine: Kendricks brothers compared

SB Nation: Kendricks looks forward to joining brother in NFL

Video: Here are highlights from Kendricks’ 2014 season.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

IFO EKPRE-OLOMU

Position: Cornerback

School: Oregon

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 185 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-America first team, 2014 All-Pac-12 first team, 2014 Thorpe Award finalist for best defensive back, 2013 All-Pac-12 first team, 2012 All-Pac-12 first team

What he brings: Ekpre-Olomu is expected to be a great cover corner in the NFL. He is considered to be above average in both man and zone coverage. There are concerns about his short frame, but he is able to be efficient when defending contested balls. Scouts consider him a physical defender who is aggressive in run defense, and runners are rarely able to break tackles once Ekpre-Olomu wraps them up. One of the main concerns with his game is that he might be too physical when the ball is in the air, leading to unwanted pass interference and illegal contact penalties.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4

Notes: He recorded 63 tackles and two interceptions in 2014. He tore his ACL while preparing for the Rose Bowl and had surgery in December, which has made him unavailable to work out for teams prior to the draft. He likely would be ranked higher on many draft boards if he were healthy.

Related articles:

The Oregonian: Ekpre-Olomu discusses injury, targeted September return

CBSSports.com: Ekpre-Olomu on working out while injured during Oregon pro day

Video: Here’s Ekpre-Olomu recording five tackles, an interception and a pass defended against Washington State in 2013.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2015 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Chris Hackett (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Chris Hackett led the Big 12 and ranked seventh in the nation with seven interceptions in 2014. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

CHRIS HACKETT

Position: Free safety

School: TCU

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 195 pounds

Achievements: 2014 All-Big 12 first team (AP, coaches), 2013 All-Big 12 second team (AP)

What he brings: Hackett has been praised for not shying away from hits and doing whatever he can to make tackles. However, many scouts are concerned about his below-average speed and size. Experts say that he is able to read offenses well but has trouble recovering from fakes because of his speed. He will have trouble being a force in run defense, but there are more than a few people in the NFL that like his ability to defend the pass.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 5-7

Notes: In 2014 as a redshirt junior Hackett led the Big 12 and was seventh in the nation with seven interceptions, and he had 75 tackles. In 2013 he had three interceptions and 88 tackles. He did not miss a game due to injury in his three seasons with the Horned Frogs. He ran a 4.81 40 at the combine, among the slowest times for defensive backs.

Related articles:

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Hackett looking forward to NFL

Video: Here’s Hackett recording 13 tackles and an interception against Oklahoma in 2014.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler
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Alfonzo Dennard, Will Sullivan, Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon pose for a picture at Sullivan’s workout facility in Arizona on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Will Sullivan)

Over the last couple of years, a handful of Patriots’ defensive backs have made the trek out to Arizona to work with Will Sullivan, who has collaborated on training schedules for several NFL players over the course of the offseason, including Darrelle Revis.

Sullivan’s work with several members of the New England secondary has been well-documented in stories here and here, and he texted over a photo on Thursday night of many of the Patriots who have been with him in at his facility in Arizona. It’s a group that includes cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safeties Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon. (Cornerback Logan Ryan had worked with Sullivan earlier in the offseason.) With the Patriots set to begin their offseason workouts at Gillette next week, the group said farewell to Sullivan (for now) on Thursday night with the group shot.

 

 

 

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price