I've been thinking that the Patriots need a linebacker but the truth is that a lot of college linebackers don't project well to the Patriots system. What has been their usual MO then? That has been converting college Defensive Ends to Linebacker. So let's examine a relatively unexplored position, DE.
Gaines Adam 6-4 258 4.64 40, Clemson
A freakish athlete who likely won't get out of the top 10.
Has the height/size we look for at linebacker.
Jamaal Anderson 6-5, 288, 4.75 40, Arkansas
A huge guy, more of a true Defensive End. Could be a valuable backup or might overtake Marquise Hill on the depth chart. (I know how hard is that right?)
Adam Carriker 6-6, 296, 4.90 40, Nebraska
His best fit is projected to be a 3-4 defensive end which surprise is also a great fit for the Patriots defense. Not a conversion candidate at that size and speed. Talented athlete who would be relegated to backup duty on the current Pats. I like the talent but wouldn't know how to get him into the lineup.
Jarvis Moss 6-6, 250, 4.70 40, Florida
Great size/speed ratio. Excellent conversion prospect. However I am concerned of reports that he is too skinny and a liability vs the run.
Victor Abiamiri 6-4, 267, 4.8 40, Notre Dame
Described as an excellent athelete with long arms. Long arms always help with swatting down balls and might help keep linemen off him at the next level. Also described as an excellent pass rusher which fits in with what Pats want from the position. I like reports that he is supposed to be smart, hardworking, and has great intangibles. Could be a prime candidate for conversion.
Charles Johnson, 6-2, 270, 4.87 40, Georgia
A little short but great bulk and long arms. Also reportedly sheds blocks well which is a prequisite for a Pats linebacker. Supposedly has good array of pass rush moves but lacks that special burst to stand out. That probably knocks him down a round or two.
Anthony Spencer, 6-2 261, 4.73 40, Purdue
Described as an excellent athlete with great playing speed. A little short but has enough bulk to play linebacker for the Pats as a conversion project. I am concerned with reports that he has trouble shedding blocks. But he is another good pass rusher that can get after the QB.
Quentin Moses 6-5, 261, 4.85 40, Georgia
Described as a natural pass rusher. Has excellent height and size to become an OLB conversion. Reportedly has a quick burst which is more valuable than straight line speed for getting after the QB. Concerned with reports that he might be a liability versus the run and doesn't get much push. Needs to work on strength.
Lamarr Woodley, 6-1 266, 4.79 40, Michigan
Good athlete and big hitter. A little short but has the bulk to play linebacker in the Pats system. Has experience at both linebacker and defensive end so his versatility might make him an easier conversion. Good pass rusher that is described as a sound technician with a good work ethic. Described as a tweener but might be a "good tweener" for the Pats.
Of the defensive ends we haven't talked a lot about I think Abiamari sounds like the most intriguing conversion prospect. He has the ideal Patriot OLB size, combined with long arms, decent speed, excellent athleticism, smarts, and a strong work ethic. He can also bring down the QB, which is always a plus and could earn him some specialized pass rushing appearances even in his rookie year. I could see him as the pick at 28 or after a possible trade down to the early second round. Lamarr Woodley and Spencer also look like pretty good conversion projects with sufficient bulk to play linebacker for the Pats although they are both a tad short at 6-2 and 6-1 respectively. I like Gaines for obvious reasons but I doubt he drops down to the Pats picks.