Sunday, April 13, 2014

New England Patriots 2014 Offseason: Defensive Draft Targets Pt. 2

1. Defensive Line
Ra’Shede Hageman, University of Minnesota
6’6″ 310 lbs
5.02 40 Yard Dash
Strengths: Proportional weight, long arms, explosiveness, MASSIVE upside
Weaknesses: Converted tight end, 1990, motor, unrefined
2013: 38 tackles, 13 for loss, 2 sacks, 8 passes defended
Hageman is a raw prospect who, with the right coaching, could be spectacular. He is not the ideal player to step in and produce right away on a team’s defensive line, as he is still somewhat of an amateur student of the game. If the Patriots love Hageman’s potential, he could very well be available at pick 29 and be coached up to his full potential by defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and defensive line coach Patrick Graham. The defensive coaching staff got the most out of rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, undrafted, and a sixth round pick, respectively, so they could work wonders with the thoroughbred athletic specimen that is Hageman. I could see the Seattle Seahawks drafting Hageman, if he is available at pick 32, to further bolster their line that has a hole in it with the departure of Red Bryant to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hageman would, in the best case scenario, be an upgrade to Tony McDaniels, Seattle’s right defensive tackle who shares physical similarities with the 2013 Big 10 First Teamer. Knowing the Jamie Collins’ project was a massive success, as the former Southern Mississippi pass rusher turned into the Patriots best defensive player down the stretch, look for New England to grab Hageman, a comparable athletic freak, who would be tutored by Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. However, if my other #29 potentiality, Aaron Donald out of University of Pittsburgh, is still around, the pick should hands down be Donald. Ceiling of JJ Watt.
2. Defensive End
Kony Ealy, University of Missouri
6’5″ 275 lbs
40: 4.92
Strengths: Length, can be put anywhere on line in a pinch and hold his own, technique, burst, motor
Weaknesses: Struggles against run, pass coverage
2013: 42 tackles, 14 for loss, 9 sacks, 6 passes defended, 1 interception (for TD)
Ealy could easily be gone in the top 15, but scouts are torn on his ability against the run. As seen by the numbers, Ealy fills up the stat sheet and has prototypical size. He is a loose athlete, similar to Jamie Collins, in defensive end form. Ealy has to work on his balance and hand work, as he tends to get manhandled on double teams. Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones barely got to the passer all of 2013. This could very well be due to both tallying the most defensive snaps in the NFL, but Ninkovich, in particular, is an over-achiever, now sitting at age 30. Ealy would be the perfect understudy to Ninkovich, who excels against the run, the part of Ealy’s game that needs refinement. New England desperately needs a third defensive end, and Ealy would be an absolute steal at 29, if the trend of his draft stock slightly falling is holds true. Robert Quinn, Aldon Smith.
Inside Linebacker:
CJ Mosley, University of Alabama
6’2″ 235 lbs
40: 4.63
2013: 108 tackles, 9 for loss, 5 passes defended; 2012: 107 tackles, 8 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 for TD); 2 pick 6′s, 12 passes defended as freshman
Strengths: High football IQ, instincts, speed, coverage, blitzing
Weaknesses: Strength
Mosley is by far the best player at his position. There is no other player in the 2014 Draft that is in a league of his own compared to his counterparts. Mosley is hands down the best inside linebacker in the draft. He is the total package and is a better prospect than Dont’a Hightower was coming out of Tuscaloosa. That said, with Brandon Spikes now a Buffalo Bill, Mosley would be an ideal fourth linebacker to pick the brain of Hightower as a rookie. Hightower came on strong down the stretch in 2013, but the jury is still out on his ceiling and if he has the smarts to diagnose plays regularly and cover tight ends. Mosley is stellar in coverage, is a prime blitzer, and has excellent ball seeking instincts. He isn’t a wrecking ball like Spikes, but is much smarter and locates where the ball is headed as opposed to just wanting to crack the center or a guard. Mosley could give Hightower a run for his money as a rookie for the starting job, but even if he didn’t, it would be nice to see the Patriots employ a long term plan at inside linebacker if they choose to part ways with the (potential) bust of first round pick. Lavonte David.

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