rookBoston's Offseason Needs #6: Insurance at SS
Freddie Keiaho, ILB, San Diego State, 6-0, 228, 4.65: Keiaho, a former running back and kick returner for the Aztecs, had to wait for the incumbent starter, former Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Kirk Morrison to be drafted in the third round by the Oakland Raiders before finally getting the chance to play regularly. In fact, while acknowledged for his physicality and athleticism, as well as his big play ability (4 blocked kicks, 481 return yards), Keiaho entered this season with only 41 career tackles to his credit. This season, however, Keiaho simply led the Mountain West Conference with 113 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, two fumble recoveries, and another blocked kick. A tad undersized, but an impressive athlete, Keiaho now appears to have quietly moved among the top handful of inside linebackers.
A second site has him a bit faster in the 40 (numbers in front of names is the site owners ranking for them as ILBs:
11 --KEIAHO Freddie - SDSU 6-1.0...228...4.58 -------- 348.88 Damn good player, and never started prior to 05
It also lists two other LBs who intrigued me if your thinking STs/SS candidates.
39 --SCHLIMMELMANN Kevin - STANFORD 6-3.0...227...4.77 -------- 303.84 Safety in 02, Good Athlete and Football player, type of guy who can sneak up the draft
50 --CRAVEN Michael - STANFORD 6-0.0...214...4.56 -------- 295.51 RS-01 -Smaller, but real solid in all areas, hits, reads, covers, blitzs, off the Stanford Team
I don't consider SS a need with our present compliment of G.Scott, Sanders, and Ventrone backing up Rodney, plus I expect Stone and Hawkins to be re-signed to compete in TC. But if players such as these are undrafted, I'd consider inviting one or more in for tryouts.
Good point, Box.
When I was thinking about who might replace Rodney out of this class, I was looking for a rookie starter that has experience at the position. If we're willing to start the year with Wilson-Hawkins as the safety tandem, we could give a college LB an opportunity to learn the position.
Two players in this category that I like are LB Tim McGarigle (3rd round?) from Northwestern and Demeco Ryans (1st) from Alabama.
What do they have in common? They're both great, physical players who are good in open space, can cover a RB or TE in the secondary, sure tacklers, and undisputed leaders of their respective defensive units. And they're both about 10-15#s too light to play ILB for BB.
Tim was basically the sole bright spot on an overachiving (but mediocre) defense. He was by far the leading tackler in the Big 10, which is saying a lot considering that Hawk, Greenway, Hodge, Carpenter and Schlegel will all get picked ahead of him in the draft. He's a gritty player, sideline to sideline, and simply a solid, proven tackler with a lot of heart. He's a great fit for the Pats, from a character perspective.
And here's the clincher... all the Chicago Bears fans are talking about drafting him... and they should know what they have in him. This guy is already a local hero. Just a good footballer.
Trouble is, for his size (6'1 235#), he sounds like Don Davis who (as we all know) is one of BB's ST aces... and an emergency SS... but will only see the field at LB after all the rest of them, including Izzo, are sidelined.
Drafting Tim might be equivalent to drafting a ST specialist, specifically to replace Davis (who is due to retire). But if he has the speed and range to play SS he would be a very strong, physical force, who can play up on the LOS as a 3rd ILB-- Rodney-style-- or cover a deep half of the secondary. His 40 time will be the deciding factor for me. Does Tim have enough speed, is the question.
Ryans is 5#s lighter, and (probably) faster. He's a legitimate 1st round talent athletically... and that can compensate for a lot. As an elite prospect, the web has a lot more published info on him as a prospect.
One glowing report on Demeco:
And some interviews:
... seems like good, sound BB answers across the board. It's really hard to read a prospect's personality through the web, but he doesn't throw up any red flags at all.
Ironically, these guys are still may be TOO BIG to play SS for us, and TOO SMALL to play LB for us. Otherwise, I just love what I've seen and read. Leadership, integrity, team orientation, dedication, proven success in college... that's what makes BB draft picks so consistently successful. Both of these guys have those aspects in full measure.
Still searching for the perfect fit....
Here's what Couchscout had to say for them:
ILB ranking 5 --McGARIGLE Tom - NW 6- 1.0...236...4.72 -------- 364.53 Tough, Hustles, Playmaker, Fine Football player, does a bit of everything- Great Tackler
OLB ranking 4 --RYANS DeMeco - ALABAMA 6-1.2...232...4.66 -------- 393.54 Crisp player, Runs Well, finishs plays, NFL athlete
McGarigle's official bio - http://nusports.collegesports.com/sp...gle_tim00.html
He has 12 Passes Defensed, 5 each of the last two years; and 1 int each of the past three years. Looks like some coverage skills there.
I see DraftCountdown has Ryans running a 4.7 and describe his lack of speed as weakness. They also say he is "Is not a great natural athlete...could struggle when asked to drop into coverage as a pro." We'll have to wait for the Combine and pro-days to get another look at his progress.
McGarigle and Schimmelmann play in the Shrine game at 3 p.m. ESPN2 today.
Reportedly Patriots' Scouts were talking with this OLB at Shrine game practices:
OLB ranking 20 --ELLERSON Keith - Oregon State 6-2.0...224...4.61 -------- 347.28 JC -03, Go Reactions, Covers well
DraftCountdown had him at #14: Height: 6-2 | Weight: 227 | 40-Time: 4.55
OState official bio: http://www.osubeavers.com/ViewArticl...&Q_SEASON=2005
"...an intelligent player who is adept at stopping the run or covering receivers...Keith played quarterback, linebacker and safety during his prep career..."
Good review. This is what NFLDraftscout said about him:
look for outside backer LB Keith Ellison to go in the top three or four rounds because of his speed and game-breaking ability.
The fact that he has played safety before should allow him to be moved without too much trouble.
Watching the Aloha Bowl left me completely unimpressed with Ellison. Great speed? Bruce Gradkowski easily got around him on a scramble.
Back to the Future?
I would like to suggest two LBs who could solve the Pats SS needs.
Perhaps DeMeco Ryans LB, out of Alabama could convert to SS. He has everything BB/SP want a player from the neck up. He has the appropriate size too at 6 1 and 220#. I just don't know if he could athletically cover well enough.
The other is no longer a draftee.
Do you remember Tommy Polley, drafted by the Rams in '91 and hailed as a superb LB at 210# when they converted him from SS in college. I remember saying Tebucky Jones our Safety was bigger than two of their starting LBs. polley was one, and the other was a Ram MLB, Pats player now, Don Davis who HAS PLAYED SS for the Patriots, although he was no where near the coverage LB that Polley was/is.
I understand that Polley is no longer in favor as a LB so he could be gotten cheap. "Too Small". Time to convert him back to SS for the Patriots.
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