Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who Dat? Draft Preview: Defensive Line

A key to the always unpredictable Patriot's draft plan is the value of the player at a given draft slot. Would that player be able to contribute to the team, and would that contribution be worth the money shelled out to him. With the #7 pick this year the Pats have a difficult decision, should they keep the pick and roll up the dump truck full of cash, or trade down for a better value. Many talking heads have said that the Patriots will trade down with their pick, and I believe last week I said the same thing. Well, I had a change of heart, I did the old John Kerry flip flop and I am going to proclaim that I think the Pats are going to keep the pick. The reason for this 180 turn? The unusual surplus of superstar talent at DE/DT. True we have a great starting four in Warren, Seymour, Wilfork, and Green, but like good pitching you can never have enough. Four of the following guys could all go #1, and if they are available you bet your ass Belichick will draft them.

1. Vernon Gholston -DE/LB- Ohio State. I will say this right now, if he is available the Patriots will draft him no questions asked. He is everything that Belichick looks for in a player. He is tough, football smart and can play all over the field. Belichick could line him up or throw in the Linebacking core. I hate people who do this, but I have heard him compared to Jason Taylor (but can't dance nearly as well). The Jets and Dolphins have been slobbering all over him, so he might not make it to #7.

2. Glenn Dorsey- DE- LSU- One of the quickest defensive ends in college football, he has all the makings of being a stud in the NFL (wow that sounds gay). Probably won't be around when pick #7 comes around, and could/probably will go #1. To use the Madden cliche, he is a high motor player, who is very quick off the ball, which is impressive since he had "Forrest Gump" leg braces as a 3 year old (RUN GLENN RUN!). Has won every award in college football for defensive players.

3. Chris Long- DE- Virginia- Son of Howie Long (you know the guy who starred in Broken Arrow and all of those radio shack commercials with Terri Hatcher). Last year he led all of college football with 14 sacks, and single handedly could take over a game with great instincts and his ability to read the offense. May never be an elite DE but still could be a solid to above average lineman. Lacks athleticism, again will probably go in the first 5 picks.

4. Sedrick Ellis- DT- USC- Not the biggest guy you could throw on the line (still 6'2 290), Ellis was a wrecking ball in the 2006 Rose Bowl, devouring both the run and Chad Henne . Is a fucking monster in terms of strength, setting the school record for bench press (510 lbs), which is about what I can put up. Even with his strength his technique leaves room to be desired and he could be gobbled up by larger O-Linemen.

5. Kentwan Balmer- DT- UNC. Yes UNC has a football team. Balmer might be the type of value that Belichick might look for if he can trade down in the draft. Great potential, versatile has been hurt in the past but if he can continue to develop he will be a dominant DT in the NFL. Can play both the 3-4 and 4-3 D's, and picks up defensive schemes rather quickly. Mel Kiper Jr. and his hair are both big fans of Balmer. Could turn into a Jonathan Sullivan (don't bother looking him up, he was a top 5 pick who sucked) or he could turn into a Mario Williams or Julius Peppers (both UNC grads as well).

I suck at predicting, gambling or anything resembling educated guessing. But if I could throw my two cents in, this is where I think Pioli and Belichick will use their draft pick (whether at #7 or lower). There is a lot of good talent available at DT/DE, and I think Belichick has shown that he will go for the best available player, not simply to fill a need. If the Patriots end up with any of these five guys, they could give the Pats even more depth on D.

Next Up: Offensive Linemen.

Photo Courtesy of the XFL