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The NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and teams are now gathering to pore over drill results of various prospects, as well as their game tape, interviews, and reports from coaches and teammates.
And somewhere, in a bunker half a mile underground, Bill Belichick has gathered his team of scouts and executives together (all dressed in their ceremonial jet-black hoodies) to rip this 2014 Draft Class into tiny, tiny little shreds.
More so than any other team in the NFL, Bill B.’s big board tends to be completely different than the agreed-upon one (see: Harmon, Duron and Wilson, Tavon) which makes predicting his potential draft choices…well, somewhat irrelevant.
But that hasn’t stopped hordes of sportswriters to guess just that (here are my first and second New England Patriots mock drafts). And this past combine did change our perceptions of many of the players many had pegged down as potential fits in New England.
Here’s a quick look at how these players’ stock was affected this past week:
Jace Amaro – Stock Even
Amaro kinda had a mixed bag at the combine. He was comfortable in his press interview. His measurements (namely his 9-inch hands) were a bit of a concern. He was a top-five finisher in his position in the 40 and the bench press. He had some costly drops in the gauntlet drills. Which leaves Amaro’s stock at…well just about evened out, and his weaknesses in the blocking game wouldn’t be a concern playing next to Gronk. But then he had to ruin it…
On his Patriots’ interview: “It was good, they broke my tape down and it looked like they liked me a lot. They said I fit their system very well, so I guess we’ll see how it goes. It’s a hard organization to ignore, what they’ve had with the success at the tight end position.
So now there’s no chance Belichick takes him because it’s too obvious. Welcome to the draft, everybody.
CJ Fiedorowicz – Stock Up
I’ll admit that I’ve never been that excited about Iowa’s Fiedo, mostly because he seemed a bit like a poor man’s Gronk, but also because his game isn’t the sexiest. He’s a big-bodied run-blocker with good hands, but he doesn’t have the tremendous athleticism or mismatch-creating as Eric Ebron, Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, or Troy Niklas.
That being said, Fiedorowicz had a great combine with a 40-time of 4.76 (better than expected) and a 7.10 three cone and 4.26 short shuttle (SO much better than expected). He showed that he has the agility to be a receiver, but don’t expect him to be a burner at the pro level. Should the Patriots move more towards the power running game that they showed last season, Fiedorowicz could be a good fit.
Colt Lyerla – Stock Up
I wrote 1,500 words on Lyerla over here, so I won’t talk too much about him. But the barebones are Lyerla is both supremely talented and has a myriad of personal issues that have threatened to completely derail his potential NFL career. His performance at the Combine was a step decidedly in the right direction. He flaunted his excellent athleticism in his drills (unofficial 4.47 40, a 39-inch vertical, a 10-foot-8 broad jump) and seemed sincere (and self-aware) in his press conference. The key will be his team interviews obviously, which could Lyerla could land anywhere from Round 4 to never seeing an NFL regular season snap. For someone who has as much talent as any other tight end in the draft (and someone who would shine on the field next to Gronk), this is a story to watch.
Bradley Roby – Stock Up
On a day where Justin Gilbert and Daqueze Dennard did enough to solidify their positions as the top corners in this draft class, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby stock skyrocketed after a tremendous combine. After a truly disappointing junior season, the 5-foot-11 Roby had a blazing 4.39 40, a 38.5 vertical, and looked really good in his position drills. While he’s almost certainly not an option for the Patriots, now that he’s a lock for Day 1, his rising stock means pushing down other corners a spot, and a heightened chance of New England taking a good prospect in a later round.
Loucheiz Purifoy – Stock Down
Like Roby, Loucheiz Purifoy had a rough college season that saw his stock falter. Unlike Roby, Purifoy did nothing to help himself at the combine. A player who was once touted as a Top-10 pick may have been the third most impressive Florida Gator corner in the combine (Jaylen Watkins was great, Marcus Roberson was passable). Purifoy’s combine results (4.61 40, six bench presses, 35.5-inch vertical) and off-the-field issues while at Florida leave his outlook bleak, unless he can put together an impressive showing at his Pro Day.
Pierre Desir – Stock Even (But Really Sneaky Up)
Hopefully, teams will look at Desir’s mediocre 4.59 40, his lesser competition playing at Lindenwood, and the rising interest in likewise tall corners in Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Utah’s Keith McGill, and pass him up. All the better for the team that picks up Desir, who had a great 11-foot-1 broad jump, measured well with 33” arms, and, most importantly, looked great in drills. Desir has all the intangibles to be a successful corner in the NFL, weaker college competition be damned.
Xavier Su’a-Filo – Stock Up
My feeling about the Pats drafting an o-lineman has been it shouldn’t be early and it should be a center (namely, Weston Richburg, who’s stock is also up). Xavier Su’a-Filo is testing that feeling. After a great combine performance, Su’a-Filo is, if not topping, breathing down Stanford’s David Yankey’s neck as the top guard in the draft. He had one of the top 40’s for offensive linemen at 5.04, and also had one of the top 20-yard shuttles. He has everything the Pats want: versatility (played tackle and guard at UCLA), size (6-4, 307), and plays with an awesome mean streak. Most importantly, he said the player he tries to model his game after is Logan Mankins. So…yeah sign him up.
Joel Bitonio – Stock Up
The Nevada product had a great Combine. For his size (6-4, 302) his 4.97 40, 4.44 20-yard shuttle, and 114-inch broad jump are all hugely impressive, and definitely made Bitonio a name to remember in the 2nd or 3rd round. He’s versatile, able to play tackle and guard, but is probably best suited for guard at the pro level, because of his shorter arms and good awareness.
Russell Bodine – Stock Up
Yes, three players whose stock rose, but the showings for guards and centers was pretty good overall at the combine. The 6’3, 310 center out of North Carolina called a lot of attention to himself with his offense-leading 42 reps in the bench press. Now bench-press strength doesn’t exactly correlate with functional game strength but it’s promising nonetheless. Like the other top interior linemen, Bodine has played guard and center in college, and shows good technique overall. He’s a bit of a project, but could be a steal in the middle rounds.
Aaron Donald – Stock (Way) Up
Aaron Donald whooped the Combine. Flat-out killed it. Donald both showed off his strength (35 bench-press reps of 225 lbs) and his athleticism (an insane 4.68 40), which is a strange combination for a defensive lineman. More importantly, he looked great in drills and said all the right things in his press conference. Donald’s facing an upward battle because of his size, but has pretty much cemented his spot as a Top-20 pick. While he may not be a great fit with New England (who desperately need a big tackle who can defend the run), his rising star means a better chance of Timmy Jernigan, Louis Nix III, and Ra’Shede Hageman being available at 29. Though if Donald is somehow around by then, New England may find it hard to pass him up.
Larry Webster – Stock Weird
I have no idea how to judge the stock of my former Draft sleeper. Webster, coming from Bloomsburg, had the second-fastest 40 amongst defensive linemen, the third-best vertical, and the third-best broad jump. While this wasn’t exactly a surprise for the former basketball player, it did call attention to the young prospect. However, questions about whether or not he’ll eventually fill out his 6-6, 260 frame, as well as his raw technique, have led some to wonder if he’s better off playing tight end. Either way, he’s a late-round developmental project that could pay off.
Will Sutton – Stock Down
Like Donald, the 6’1 Will Sutton may already be facing an uphill battle because of his short size, but it’s his weight that has most scout concerns, checking in at the combine at 303 lbs. This was better than his weight at the Senior Bowl (which was closer to 320), but pairing that with his shorter arms has teams questioning his ability to win in the trenches. Sutton’s 40-time and drills didn’t raise his stock much either, and the Arizona State product may find himself unpicked by Day 3.
Jarvis Landry – Stock Down
Landry had himself a rough combine. The LSU product had the shortest broad jump, second lowest vertical, and slowest 40 of all receivers. At 5’11, 205, no one will ever mistake Landry for a big, bruising possession receiver who doesn’t need ace athleticism, meaning those numbers do mean something. However, his falling stock could benefit a team like the Patriots who would wait before taking a WR. is one of the most sure-handed receivers in this draft class, and has tremendous game IQ. Despite his lower ceiling, Landry is as hard-working and coachable as they come, and has excelled against top competition throughout college.
Martavis Bryant – Stock Up
I’ll be honest, I had zero idea who Martavis Bryant was before the combine. And after three years playing with Sammy Watkins, my guess is Bryant is kinda used to that. But, he was one of the top performers this past week: a 40 of 4.42 (better than Watkins), a 39-inch vertical, and a 10-foot-4 broad jump. As a receiver, Bryant is still raw as all hell, and had some drop-issues in his time at Clemson. But he is dripping with potential, and at 6-4, 211, has a terrific frame for a big-bodied, blazing fast receiver.
Michael Campanaro – Stock Up
The on-the-field numbers for the Wake Forest leader in career receptions have always been there. Now he has the combine measurables to back them up. The 5’9, 192 Campanaro had 20 bench reps (4th best amongst receivers), a 4.46 40 (14th), and a 39-inch vertical (6th). In a league going more towards the spread offense, Campanaro provides immediate value, as well as having solid skills as a returner. The Patriots seem to have a glut of slot receivers, especially if they bring back Julian Edelman (TJ Moe 4 MVP), making the need for Campanaro a lot lower than other teams’. But, he is the quintessential Belichickian player, and Campanaro does have some upside still.
Check back here for more Patriots articles, as well as a new Patriots Mock Draft next week!