Patriots

Prototypical Patriots: Basham's effort, power would fit on the edge

Prototypical Patriots: Basham's effort, power would fit on the edge

The Patriots made a high-profile addition to their stable of edge defenders when they traded a second-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for Kony Ealy and a third-rounder, but there is still some work to be done in terms of bolstering that spot on their roster. 

PHIL PERRY'S PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS DRAFT PREVIEW

After losing Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long to free-agency, the Patriots have three experienced players ready to shoulder some of the edge load in Ealy, Rob Ninkovich and Trey Flowers. While immediate help would be beneficial, long-term help appears to be imperative with both Ninkovich and Ealy going into contract years. Flowers is locked up through 2018. 

By all accounts, this is a particularly deep draft when it comes to pass-rushers, and even if the Patriots don't pick until the third round at No. 72 overall, they could have a talented piece land in their lap. Below are a few of the names we're keeping an eye on as potential Patriots targets because of their size, athleticism and college production against both the run and the pass.

We're now at the midway point with our Prototypical Patriots series, as this is our sixth. To see the others we've pegged as good fits in New England thus far, head here for boundary cornershere for slot cornershere for linebackershere for safeties, and here for defensive tackles.

Derek Barnett, Tennessee, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds: It came as some surprise when earlier this month Pro Football Talk reported that Barnett had worked out privately for the Patriots. The reason? He's one of the most productive sack artists in the history of the SEC, and many are predicting that he will be selected in the top half of the first round. Should the Patriots land a pick on Day 1 of the draft, Barnett seems like their kind of guy based on his instincts, his uncanny ability to get to quarterbacks and his strength against the run. Physically -- though not in the same class as projected No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett -- Barnett stacks up somewhat similarly to Sheard (6-3, 265). Barnett's arms (32 inches) are shorter than Sheard's (33.5), but they have the same size hands (10 inches) and tested similarly at their respective combines. Barnett had the better broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Sheard had the better 40-yard dash time, vertical leap and 10-yard split.

Jordan Willis, Kansas State, 6-foot-4, 255 pounds: One of the most physically impressive edge players in this year's draft class, he had the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds) of all front-seven players at this year's combine, the second-best vertical (39 inches), the fourth-best three-cone (6.85 seconds) and the 10th-best broad jump (125 inches). He has the motor and the ideal arm length to be able to hold the edge, and he was the second-most productive edge player in college football last season, per Pro Football Focus (80 total pressures). His athletic traits and impressive senior season could get a team to bite at the bottom of the first round.

Tarell Basham, Ohio, 6-foot-4, 269 pounds: Should the Patriots find Basham is available at No. 72, they'll have an opportunity to bolster their rotation on the edge with a player who resembles Ealy in many respects. Both check in at 6-foot-4 and about 270 pounds. Both have 34-inch arms. Both tested similarly at their respective combines in the 20-yard shuttle and the jumps. Basham is not yet a polished pass-rusher, but he's a max-effort guy who earned himself Defensive Player of the Year honors in the MAC. When given an opportunity to play better competition -- against Tennessee during the season and then at the Senior Bowl -- his explosive power to get into the backfield and set a strong edge continued to stand out. The Patriots recently had Basham in for a visit, and Bill Belichick worked him out at Ohio University earlier in the pre-draft process.

Deatrich Wise, Arkansas, 6-foot-5, 274 pounds: If the Patriots are looking for a longer player on the edge for the foreseeable future, they could do a lot worse than Wise. His height, weight, arm length (almost 36 inches) and hand size (10.5 inches) all stack up well with Chandler Jones (6-5, 266, 35.5-inch arms, 9.75-inch hands) when he was coming out of Syracuse in 2012. Jones may have had the edge athletically -- he ran a 4.87-second 40 compared to Wise's 4.92, and he jumped 35 inches comparied to Wise's 33 -- but like Jones, Wise seems to understand how to use his long levers. Not a full-time player in either of the last two seasons, Wise was still very productive when on the field, recording 15 sacks, 23 hits and 44 hurries in 227 pass-rushing snaps over the course of the last two seasons, per PFF. It's worth wondering why he didn't see the field more often for coach Bret Bielema.

Ryan Anderson, Alabama, 6-foot-2, 253 pounds: An under-the-radar player on Nick Saban's star-studded defense, Anderson may be undersized, but in many respects he seems to fit the mold of what the Patriots often like in their edge defenders. He has strong hands that help him handle tight ends and tackles in the running game, he's relentless as a pass-rusher, he has experience dropping into coverage, and he has a nose for the football (five forced fumbled in 2015 and 2016). Plus, coming from 'Bama program, he would understand the demands of a professionally-run organization. Anderson doesn't quite stack up to what the Patriots normally want to see in their draftees athletically. He ran an adequate 4.78-second 40 at the combine but jumped just 28.5 inches at his pro day, which was about four inches fewer than Sheard, six inches fewer than Ninkovich and 10 inches fewer than Flowers. Still, his experience under Saban, his advanced technique and his football IQ could make him an intriguing fit in the draft's middle rounds.

Prototypical Patriots: Ward, Alexander check every box at corner

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USA TODAY Sports Photos

Prototypical Patriots: Ward, Alexander check every box at corner

For the Patriots, cornerback falls into the category of positions they could address . . . but don't have to. Trading for Jason McCourty earlier this offseason gave Bill Belichick some proven depth at the position with Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones already on the roster. And if Cyrus Jones can bounce back from injury to give the Patriots anything defensively, that would be a plus. 

Still, you can never have too many corners. And there are a handful in this draft class who fit the Patriots profile. When it comes to cover men Belichick has drafted highly in the past, there are certain physical traits he's after: You should be at least 5-foot-10 and weigh at least 183 pounds; you should run at least a 4.5 (though Logan Ryan and Darius Butler were outliers there); you should clock at least a 6.75-second three-cone (though, again, Butler was slow there); you should have a 4.21-second short-shuttle or better; you should jump at least 33 inches in the vertical and 116 inches in the broad. 

If you're a good tackler, if you can play inside and out, if you can play man and zone, if you have clean footwork? Those improve your chances of being taken by the Patriots even more. 

PROTOTYPICAL PATRIOTS - Previously in the series:

Let's get to some of the prospects in this class who hit most, if not all of those requirements . . . 

 

PROTOTYPES IN RANGE

DENZEL WARD, OHIO STATE, 5-11, 183

Speed to burn (4.32-second 40), explosive athleticism (134-inch broad jump), and experience under both Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano? Ward is undersized by some standards, but the Patriots have no issue with taking sub 6-foot corners. They'd have to trade up to draft Ward, but he might be worth it depending on how far he falls. 

JAIRE ALEXANDER, LOUISVILLE, 5-10, 196

Alexander hasn't received nearly as much as his college teammate Lamar Jackson in terms of being a good fit for the Patriots, but he's one of the best fits in the draft class for New England -- regardless of position. An injury last season may bump him down draft boards, but the Patriots could view any type of slide as a chance to pounce on the aggressive, confident, and extremely quick (4.38-second 40, 6.71 three-cone, 3.98 short shuttle) cover man.

JOSH JACKSON, IOWA, 6-0, 196 

Another coaching connection here for Bill Belichick. Jackson had an incredibly productive year under Kirk Ferentz as a pass-breakup machine. He doesn't meet every athletic marker the Patriots like (4.56 40, 6.86 three-cone), but they might make an exception in order to acquire a player with good size and arguably the best ball skills in the class. He may not make it to No. 23.

MIKE HUGHES, CENTRAL FLORIDA, 5-10, 189

Hughes didn't necessarily nail the 40 (4.53 seconds), but he checks just about every other box the Patriots have drafted in the top-100 before at this position. Is he a late first-rounder? An early second-rounder? He's tough, but he'll need to take to the coaching he gets at the next level in order to refine his game. 

ISAIAH OLIVER, COLORADO, 6-0, 201

Another corner with projectable traits, Oliver has rare length (33.5-inch arms) and size to play press-man on the outside. A decathlete during his freshman season at Colorado, he was named a first-team all-conference corner last season even though his year was shortened due to a leg injury. Oliver also has some punt-return experience. 

DUKE DAWSON, FLORIDA, 5-11, 197

Dawson has experience playing in the slot, which the Patriots will like, and he's accustomed to seeing some of the best competition in the country. He has the size the Patriots like from their "star" corners, and he tested well (4.49-second 40). He reportedly made a visit to the Patriots during the pre-draft process and could warrant a Day 2 selection, though his shuttle (4.39 seconds) and three-cone (7.02 seconds) from his pro day were not great. 

IMPERFECT BUT INTRIGUING

ALABAMA CORNERS

Both Anthony Averett and Tony Brown could end up piquing Bill Belichick's interest in this draft. They meet the size requirements of Patriots corners, and they obviously come from the most well-respected college program at One Patriot Place. Athletically, they miss the mark in a couple of areas, but maybe Belichick is willing to look past that. Averett's vertical (31.5 inches), three-cone (6.93 seconds) and short shuttle (4.4 seconds) don't quite meet the standards of top-tier Patriots cornerback picks of the past. Brown's vert (31.5) and three-cone (6.78) are also a shade below the ideal marks in New England. 

DONTE JACKSON, LSU, 5-10, 178

One of the fastest players in this year's draft class, Jackson is a little light compared to other Patriots corners Belichick has drafted early. In all likelihood, there's another team out there who would be OK with selecting Jackson before the Patriots are. 

MJ STEWART, UNC, 5-11, 200 

Stewart can cover and play the run. He can play zone or man, inside or outside. Sounds like a Patriot, right? And he may be. But he doesn't hit many of the athletic measures set by other top-tier Patriots draft picks (4.54-second 40, 6.9-second three-cone, 4.28-second short shuttle). His explosiveness is solid, though (35-inch vert, 118-inch broad).

HOLTON HILL, TEXAS, 6-2, 196

Physically, Hill has just about everything a team could want in a boundary corner. (Though, from a Patriots perspective, his vertical jump and three-cone marks were a little underwhelming.) But there are questions about his maturity that will knock him way down draft boards. He could become a roll-of-the-dice, high-upside pick late in the draft if he's still available on Day 3. 

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Mayo questions Gronk/Belichick relationship after meeting includes agent

Mayo questions Gronk/Belichick relationship after meeting includes agent

On the latest "Quick Slants The Podcast", Jerod Mayo and Phil Perry discuss Rob Gronkowski bringing agent Drew Rosenhaus to his meeting with Bill Belichick this week.

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE