WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Aaron Donald (AP)

Aaron Donald recorded 11 sacks as a senior in 2013. (AP)

AARON DONALD

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Pittsburgh

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 288 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-American, 2013 first-team All-ACC, 2013 ACC Defensive Player of the Year

What he brings: Donald is a speedy athlete with a very good first-step. CBSSports.com notes that “his first step routinely beats opponents for immediate pressures.” He is considered to be very quick but undersized. Donald’s hand placement could be better and his arms are short for a defensive tackle.

Where the Patriots could get him: Donald is expected to be a top-20 pick, so the Patriots likely would need to trade up to to get him.

Notes: Donald recorded 11 sacks and four forced fumbles during his senior season. He played in 51 games during his four years at Pittsburgh. … Donald went to high school in Pittsburgh as well, playing defensive tackle and offensive guard. … He is widely considered one of the two best defensive tackles along with Notre Dame‘s Louis Nix. Mike Mayock of NFL.com recently rated Donald as his No. 1 defensive tackle.

Related articles:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s dominance noted at awards show

Alabama Local: Aaron Donald earns Senior Bowl‘s top award for practice performance

Video: Here are 2013 highlights of Donald at Pittsburgh.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Joel Bitonio (AP)

Joel Bitonio (left) is considered undersized for an NFL offensive tackle, but he started 39 consecutive games at Nevada. (AP)

JOEL BITONIO

Position: Offensive tackle

School: Nevada

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 315 pounds

Achievements: 2013 All-Mountain West first team

What he brings: Bitonio is considered strong, quick and athletic. He plays with power and has strong hands and good balance and can move well laterally. Bitonio, who started 39 consecutive games in college, is considered undersized to be an NFL offensive tackle. He has shorter than average arms. According to CBSSports, he “€œcan get fundamentally lazy and stop moving his feet, allowing himself to get over-extended.”

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: Bitonio’s father, Mike Bitonio, was a mixed martial artist who passed away in 2010. … Bitonio was a star athlete in high school, participating in football, basketball and track (shot put). He was a three year letterwinner in basketball and lettered in track during his senior year. … Bitonio surprised many at the combine, running 4.97 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.44 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.37 seconds in the 3-cone drill.

Related articles:

Reno Gazette Journal: Wolf Pack’s Joel Bitonio uses father’s inspiration to become a dominant player

Reno Gazette Journal: Senior Bowl: Nevada’s Joel Bitonio showing versatility ahead of today’s postseason bowl

Video: Here is Bitonio performing a variety of drills, including the 40-yard dash, at the NFL combine. 

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal
LeGarrette Blount had 772 rushing yards over the course of the 2013 regular season, second-best on the team. (AP)

LeGarrette Blount had 772 rushing yards over the course of the 2013 regular season, second-best on the team. (AP)

1. With the first wave of free agency now complete, look for the Patriots to start addressing some of their own next level free agents, a group that includes running back LeGarrette Blount. Blount finished 2013 with 153 carries for 772 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, and added 166 yards and four touchdowns in the divisional playoff victory over the Colts. Despite those numbers, it’€™s been a slow market for Blount and the rest of the free agent running backs. However, now that the first week-plus has been completed, Blount has started to draw some interest around the league — he had a weekend visit with the Steelers lined up, and has reportedly also caught the eye of the Ravens. It’€™s not hard to see why Baltimore might be coveting Blount, as Ravens coach John Harbaugh professed a desire to remake the Ravens’€™ running attack in the mold of the Patriots, and looking for more diverse backs in hopes of improving their rushing numbers. “I think we need to diversify as much as we can what guys can do,”€ Harbaugh said when asked at his season-ending press conference about signing a bigger back. “€œI’€™ve had a lot of conversations with Ozzie [Newsome] and with Eric [DeCosta] and our different scouts about that, and our coaches, too. Yes, we want to have as many weapons as we can at our disposal. Big backs, fast backs, quick backs, route-running backs that you see around the league — we want to chase all those guys.”€ As it relates to the Patriots, if Blount decided to sign elsewhere, it would leave New England without one of its key cogs down the stretch and into the playoffs, but the fact that the Patriots already have three different types of backs in Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden still leave them ahead of most of the rest of the field in terms of being able to provide different looks for the opposition. If they weren’€™t able to retain Blount and went looking for a replacement, there are a few intriguing names still on the market in veterans Maurice Jones-Drew and Knowshon Moreno, but they might not be financial fits with New England at this stage of the team-building process. Then, there’€™s always the draft — while running back isn’€™t an overwhelming need for the Patriots at this point (figure on New England targeting defensive line, tight end and offensive line, at least in the first two days), they could still grab a bigger back in the middle rounds.

2. In that same vein, one area that will continue to shake out over the course of the rest of free agency is the market for situational pass rushers. The Patriots could likely call on the services of veteran Andre Carter if needed — the defensive end hinted as much in this interview with ESPN — but with the highly-respected Carter set to turn 35 in May, that seems like a bit of a long shot. The possibility of Jared Allen still exists, however remotely, but at this stage of the process, he might be out of New England’€™s price range. One name that might fit, both from a financial and personnel perspective, is Robert Ayers. The 28-year-old, a 6-foot-3, 274-pounder, started his career as an outside linebacker, but was switched to defensive end for the 2011 season. He’€™s established himself as a pretty fair pass rusher — he had a career-best 5.5 sacks last season, and according to Pro Football Focus, had seven quarterback hits and 31 quarterback hurries (both good for second on the team). Josh McDaniels took Ayers in the first round of the 2009 draft when he was running the show in Denver. While Ayer™s is not an All-Pro, at this stage of free agency, he could represent a high-value signing, and be the sort of quality backup who could be called upon to play significant snaps with the Patriots.

3. In an eventful offseason to this point, one guy we haven’€™t heard a lot from is tight end Rob Gronkowski. We know the big fella underwent surgery on his right ACL on Jan. 9, and was up and around at Whole Foods shortly after that. (For the record, it was the eighth surgery for Gronkowski that we know of, with seven of them coming within the last two years — the knee procedure, to go along with four on his forearm, two on his back and one on his ankle.) In the months since, he’€™s popped up occasionally here and there, but made his first extended appearance this past week in a video from TMZ. Shot while apparently hiking (?!) in Southern California, he proclaimed himself as being, “jacked central, baby,”€ and adding that he was “€œimproving every day”€ when it came to his health. Asked about where he is percentage-wise, he responded: “I don’€™t do percentages. I’€™m just working hard every day and doing better every day. I’€™m working hard every day, doing the best I can every day.”€ Check out the full video below:

4. Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Stevan Ridley and some of the rest of the Patriots have showed up fairly regularly out on the West Coast over the last few months, according to various reports and league sources. (In the case of the quarterback, he’€™s been seen at multiple locations over the last month-plus, mostly looking to get some vacation time in with his family.) While a few of them have been drawn to California by the “Entourage”€ movie, there have been others who have headed to California for various reasons, including a desire to work out with teammates in warmer conditions. Ridley has been seen working out with the likes of Edelman, Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. While there has never been any formal news of a “Patriots/Brady West”€ camp like the Jets and Mark Sanchez conducted in recent years, Brady has regularly thrown to receivers who make the pilgrimage to Southern California — last year, he held a workout at USC with Danny Amendola. (Terrell Owens also stopped by to get some work in.) As for playing a role in the “Entourage”€ movie, Gronkowski apparently has a cameo, and Edelman had the chance to visit the set. “€œIt was surreal to go out there and meet all the fellas and all the people that are in it and the people that are producing it and directing it. It was an awesome experience,” he said. “€œIt was definitely a fun experience to go out and watch these people go out there and do their work and compare it to how we do our work.”€ However, Edelman was coy when he was asked if he was going to appear in the film. “You’€™d have to ask Coach [Bill] Belichick on that,”€ he said with a laugh. Perhaps Belichick doesn’€™t want anyone on the roster potentially one-upping him when it comes to his own acting work.

5. One thing we’€™ll be watching for this week at the league meetings in Orlando is the potential rule changes, particularly the four that have apparently been proposed by the Patriots: raising the goal posts by five yards; moving the extra-point line of scrimmage to the 25-yard line; adding six cameras to all boundary lines to supplement TV camera angles; and allowing any officials decision to be challengeable. The one that has drawn the most notice was the extension of the goal posts — likely because of the end-of-game furor in the Patriots-Ravens contest a few years back — but the one that appears to have the most history as far as Belichick is concerned is the idea of camera on the goal line. At least publicly, Belichick started calling for the inclusion of cameras near the end zone to better determine whether or not a ball has crossed the plain in 2005. Following a tough loss to the Panthers that season (one that included a disputed touchdown from Carolina running back Stephen Davis), the Patriots coach wondered aloud as to why the league hadn’€™t adopted the idea of cameras on the goal line. “It’€™s been brought up many times, but the league refuses to do it,”€ Belichick said back then. If implemented, “€œif you do challenge that play, then there’€™s absolutely one look at it and that will tell you did the ball cross [the goal line] or didn’€™t it cross it.”€ As for the rest of the proposed rules changes, it would seem to be a slam dunk that the league would approve goal-line cameras and extended goal posts. However, it would be a surprise if the league approved the idea of allowing all officials decisions (other than scoring plays and turnovers) to be challenged, as well as the idea of extending the line of scrimmage for extra points. From this viewpoint, the latter has more of a chance than the former, but we’€™ll see this week.

6. The Jets said farewell to the Sanchez era on Friday night, releasing the quarterback while adding Michael Vick. We’€™ll always have the buttfumble to remember Sanchez, but the move can impact New York in a couple of immediate ways. First, from a financial perspective, they don’€™t have to pay Sanchez a $2 million bonus (that would have been due if he was on the roster on March 25), and while they do have to absorb $4.8 million in dead money against the cap, there’€™s still $8.3 million in savings in space. Two, they could be in prime position to land a playmaker like DeSean Jackson without dumping more personnel and cash in hopes of clearing some space. It appears Jackson’€™s time in Philly is nearing an end, as reports continue to persist that he’€™ll be gone before the start of the 2014 season. Vick and Jackson have a history together in Philly, and the occasionally combustible receiver could provide an instant jolt for the offensively challenged Jets. In a situation that has some similarities to the recently concluded Darrelle Revis drama (Will the Eagles cut Jackson? Will they try and trade him?) it’€™s a situation that could have long-term effects on the AFC East.

7. Life in the NFL is transitory, but even with that in mind, it was shocking to see the tweet from Albert Breer of NFL Network Friday night, who indicated that with the release of Sanchez on Friday, just two of the top eight picks from the 2009 draft (Detroit’€™s Matt Stafford and Cincy’€™s Andre Smith) remain with their original teams. In fact, there’€™s no one left on the Jets roster left from that year’€™s draft, while the Bills and Dolphins both have just one player from that year’€™s draft under contract for the 2014 season — offensive lineman Eric Wood, taken in the first round by Buffalo, and wide receiver Brian Hartline, taken in the fourth round that year by Miami. (Defensive back Chris Clemons, a fifth-round pick of the Dolphins that year, is an unrestricted free agent who is unlikely to re-sign with Miami.) When stacked against their AFC East counterparts, it appears that we can now say the Patriots enjoyed the greatest long-term yield from that draft of anyone in the division: Second-round pick Sebastian Vollmer has managed to become one of the better right tackles in the NFL, and signed his second deal with New England last offseason. Meanwhile, seventh-rounder Edelman signed the third contract of his professional career this past week with the Patriots, a four-year deal with New England.

8. When it comes to brother combinations in New England, we’€™ve written about the Vereens, the Gronkowskis and the McDonalds. Now comes the news out of Florida that Kendal Thompkins, the brother of Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, is making is mark in the Arena League. In his first two games with the Orlando Predators — including a 69-63 win over the Los Angeles Kiss Friday night in Florida — Thompkins has 10 catches for 86 yards and four touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Kendal, who had 14 receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns as a collegian at the University of Miami, has a “commitment to excellence,”€ according to Orlando coach Rob Keefe, and is described as a dynamic offensive presence for the Predators. As you can imagine, the brothers talk on a regular basis, and both say their combined achievements serve as inspiration for the other. “Seeing him get that scholarship, that set me up and put me in the position I am today,”€ said Kenbrell, who took a year off after high school before heading to junior college and then ultimately landing at Cincinnati. “€œI was confused. €œI had a lot of loose screws at the time and didn’€™t understand my purpose in life. He motivated me to put my cleats back on.”€ For a great story about the duo, check out the story from Alicia Del Gallo of the Orlando Sentinel here.

9. From this viewpoint, the announcement from Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III that he won’€™t be wearing a knee brace for 2014 made us recall the back and forth that Brady has done on the knee brace over the course of his career. The Patriots quarterback started wearing a brace in the wake of his 2008 season-ending knee injury, but wasn’€™t wearing it last summer when Tampa Bay’€™s Adrian Clayborn collided with him in a training camp session with the Bucs. (That caused Brady to go back to the brace, at the apparent urging of team owner Robert Kraft.) While it goes without saying that the two are wildly different quarterbacks when it comes to speed and playing style, it is worth pointing out that many quarterbacks wear them as a precautionary measure — protection from getting their knees blown out. Brady remains an advocate for the brace, and given his experiences, it will be interesting to see if Griffin decides to go back to the brace at some time this year.

10. By the looks of his Twitter feed, it appears that wide receiver Chad Johnson is enjoying his time away from the football field. Sure, there have been occasional football-related updates — including this Vine of him working in what appears to be a flag-football game — but for the most part, he appears to be at least semi-retired. That didn’€™t stop the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL from inquiring about his services recently. While it’€™s highly questionable if it will actually lead to Johnson actually returning to the field, he was added to the Aloutettes’€™ “negotiation list”€ this week, a way for a CFL team to put in an exclusive right claim on a player if he ever decides to go north of the border. Montreal GM Jim Popp is apparently notorious for this sort of thing, as he’€™s placed just about every notable from Tim Tebow to Lawrence Phillips to Quincy Carter on the Alouettes’€™ “€œnegotiation list.”€ For his part, The Artist Formerly Known As Ochocinco did nothing to quash the idea, tweeting “Nothing to negotiate, I’€™ll be fast as hell and in shape.” Later, someone asked him what are the chances of him suiting up and signing, Johnson tweeted: “€œ85% yes 15% probation.”€ Johnson did say recently he’€™d be interested in reviving his career in British Columbia, but the Lions’€™ GM Wally Buono roundly dismissed the talk. “I felt I would disrespect the individual if I didn’€™t even sit down and talk about it,” said Buono, adding he did not talk with Johnson or his representatives. “But when you start measuring all the obstacles and you start to evaluate as an organization what you’€™ve supported, what you stand for and what you have expounded on, it just doesn’€™t even come close to working.”

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 2014 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’€™s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr started his UCLA career as a running back, the position his father played in the NFL, before switching to linebacker. (AP)

ANTHONY BARR

Position: Outside linebacker

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 248 pounds

Achievements: 2013 consensus All-American, 2013, 2012 first-team All-Pac-12

What he brings: With a great combination of size, athleticism and production, Barr is what many NFL teams are looking for in an elite edge-rusher. While Barr still needs to develop more pass-rushing moves, he has shown great burst, good pursuit and tenacious energy. He could add some more weight and needs to improve in defending the run and dropping into coverage. CBSSports compares Barr to Demarcus Ware.

Where the Patriots could get him: Barr is expected to be a top-15 pick, so the Patriots likely would need to trade up to to get him.

Notes: Barr started out as a running back at UCLA and played some tight end and receiver before moving over to linebacker in 2012. In 2013, Barr recorded 62 tackles, 10 sacks, 20 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. … Barr ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. … Barr’€™s father, Tony Brooks, and uncle, Reggie Brooks, were running backs in the NFL. Another uncle, Cedric Figaro, played nine years as a linebacker in the NFL. All three went to Notre Dame.

Related articles:

Los Angeles Daily News: UCLA junior Anthony Barr enjoying success after making switch this season to linebacker – and quickly turns into a hot NFL prospect

Los Angeles Times: Anthony Barr figures out which side he wants to be on

Video: Here are Barr’€™s highlights at UCLA during the 2013 season.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Mike Evans (AP)

Mike Evans heads to the NFL after spending two seasons as the primary receiving threat for Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M. (AP)

MIKE EVANS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Texas A&M

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 225 pounds

Achievements: Finalist for Biletnikoff Award, semifinalist for Maxwell Award, semifinalist for Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Associated Press first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC

What he brings: Evans’ physical play, as well as his size and strength, makes him hard to defend. While many scouts talk about his strength in jump ball situations, some have said that Evans should take another year at Texas A&M to improve on his route-running.

Where the Patriots could get him: Evans is likely a top-20 pick, so the Patriots would have to trade up to get him.

Notes: Evans only played varsity football for one year in high school. After redshirting his freshman year along with quarterback Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, Evans started in every game for the Aggies and led the team in catches with 82 for 1,105 yards. During the 2013 season, he led Texas A&M in receptions and receiving yards for the second consecutive year and broke the school’€™s record for receiving yards with 1,322.

Related articles:

ESPN: Mike Evans to enter NFL draft

NFL.com: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans would have benefited from extra year

Video: Here is a highlight reel of Evans’ 2013 season

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri
Mark Sanchez was cut by the Jets Friday. (AP)

Mark Sanchez was cut by the Jets Friday. (AP)

The Jets decision to release Mark Sanchez and add Mike Vick brings this week’€™s quarterback carousel to an end.

Sanchez, who was a first-round pick of the Jets in 2009, was cut loose four days before a $2 million roster bonus was due to the USC product. He spent five years with New York, leading the Jets to back-to-back trips to the AFC title game in his first two seasons with the Jets. However, he was never able to hit the same heights, and sat out all of 2013 with a shoulder injury.

“I’€™d like to thank Mark for everything he’€™s done for this team and me personally,”€ Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released by the team. “We were rookies together and had some early success, becoming the first rookie head coach and quarterback to go to back-to-back championship games. We experienced a lot together, and I really appreciate Mark. He’€™s a great player, a great teammate, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

The Jets later announced they had signed Vick, a veteran who lost his starting job with the Eagles midway through the 2013 campaign to youngster Nick Foles. Vick, 33, inked a one-year deal to (presumably) serve as the backup to Geno Smith.

“€œIt means a lot to have the chance to come in and play for a great organization that had a lot of success last year and being on the brink of doing some good things,” Vick told the Jets’€™ website Friday. “Maybe I can come here and be an asset whenever my number’€™s called. I’€™m excited, I’€™m elated, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for me and my family.”

Those moves come in the wake of the Raiders decision to swing a deal with the Texans for Matt Schaub on Friday morning. The 32-year-old Schaub, who had been the starting quarterback with Houston for the last six-plus years, stumbled in 2013, throwing 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, including an interception returned for a touchdown during a league-record four consecutive games.

It was later revealed that the Raiders sent a sixth-round pick to Houston in exchange for Schaub.

“€œOn behalf of the Houston Texans organization, I’€™d like to thank Matt Schaub for the contributions he has made to this franchise on and off the field.’€™’€™ Texans executive vice president of football operations/general manager Rick Smith said in a statement. “Matt and his wife, Laurie have given so much back to the Houston community through their GR8 Hope Foundation and have really served as role models here in so many ways. ‘€œWe wish the entire Schaub family well in the future.’€™’€™

That move was made 24 hours after Houston signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. Fitzpatrick is an NFL journeyman who has played for the Rams, Bengals, Bills and Titans. He enjoyed his best success with Buffalo, where he had three straight years of 3,000-plus yards and 23 or more touchdowns between 2010 and 2012.

All of these moves take place against the backdrop of the pre-draft process. Both Houston (which holds the No. 1 pick overall) and Oakland (No. 5 overall pick) were believed to be in the market for a quarterback with their first round picks, but after these moves on Friday, it’€™s debatable what they’€™ll do when the NFL draft rolls around on May 8.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

The Steelers have a weekend visit planned with free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Blount, who played with the Patriots last season, finished 2013 with 153 carries for 772 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, and added 166 yards and four touchdowns in the division playoff victory over the Colts.

New England has reportedly maintained an interested in re-signing the 6-foot, 250-pound Blount, who has not taken any other visits throughout the free agent process.

LeGarrette Blount

LeGarrette Blount

The Steelers have a weekend visit planned with free agent running back LeGarrette Blount, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

Blount, who played with the Patriots last season, finished 2013 with 153 carries for 772 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, and added 166 yards and four touchdowns in the division playoff victory over the Colts.

New England has reportedly maintained an interested in re-signing the 6-foot, 250-pound Blount, who has not taken any other visits throughout the free agent process.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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 2014 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.

Jackson Jeffcoat (AP)

Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat. (AP)

JACKSON JEFFCOAT

Position: Defensive end

School: Texas

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 247 pounds

Achievements: 2013 consensus All-American, 2013 Ted Hendricks Award winner, 2013 first-team All-American (Walter Camp, Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association), 2013 Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year (Associated Press, San Antonio Express-News, 2013 first-team All-Big 12 selection (coaches, media)

What he brings: Jeffcoat has the solid form of an NFL defensive end and also has good speed, which allows him to make plays all over the field. The knock on him is that he has shown periods of inconsistency and has battled injuries during much of his career.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-3

Notes: Jeffcoat was named the team MVP for the 2013 season and he is one of just five defensive ends in school€™ history to be named a consensus All-American. He missed the last seven games of the 2012 season after suffering a right pectoral muscle rupture. … Jeffcoat’€™s father, Jim Jeffcoat, was an NFL defensive lineman for the Cowboys from 1983-94 and for the Bills from 1995-97. In his school bio, Jeffcoat said that his father, who is now the assistant coach and defensive line coach at the University of Colorado, is his sports hero.

Related articles:

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Longhorns football: Draft information and projections for Mike Davis, Jackson Jeffcoat, Anthony Fera, Chris Whaley

The Daily Texan: Jackson Jeffcoat has successful career at Texas, hopes to have even better career in NFL

Video: Here is a video highlighting Jeffcoat’s 2013 season

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2014 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.

Justin Gilbert may have improved his stock with a solid performance at the NFL combine. (AP)

Cornerback/return man Justin Gilbert may have improved his stock with a solid performance at the NFL combine. (AP)

JUSTIN GILBERT

Position: Cornerback

School: Oklahoma State

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 202 pounds

Achievements: 2013 second-team All-America, first-team All-Big 12, finalist for Jim Thorpe Award, 2012 second-team All-Big 12 kick/punt returner (coaches)

What he brings: Scouts praise Gilbert’€™s athleticism and point out how he both moves quickly and has the ideal size for the position. Other scouts question his maturity level and inconsistency, noting that he does not play as physical as expected based on his size. He impressed scouts at the NFL combine when he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and posted 20 reps in the bench press.

Where the Patriots could get him: Gilbert is predicted to be a top-20 pick, so the Patriots likely would need to trade up to get him.

Notes: Gilbert led the Big 12 in interceptions in 2013 with seven, two of which he returned for touchdowns. The 22-year-old also finished his collegiate career one kickoff return touchdown shy of the NCAA record of seven. … He was the Defensive MVP of the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. … As a quarterback in high school, Gilbert rushed for more than 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns and passed for just under 800 yards in his senior season.

Related articles:

NFL.com: Justin Gilbert, Jason Verrett stand out on combine’s final day

CBSSports.com: 2014 NFL Combine: CB Gilbert cruises to Tuesday’s fastest 40

Video: Here is a highlight video of Gilbert’s career with Oklahoma State

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri