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Building your draft board position by position - week 5: LB

Discussion in 'Patriots Draft Talk' started by Box_O_Rocks, Mar 22, 2007.

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  1. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Week Five brings us to the charming controversy of Linebackers. 'Nuff said.

    I need to catch up with CB, and I think patchick still owes us some interior linemen.
    Week One OC/OG: http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-...ad.php?t=51105
    Week Two DL: http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-...ad.php?t=51395
    Week Three OT: http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-...ad.php?t=51983
    Week Four CB: http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/showthread.php?t=52730

    Chatting with the Willis fans, I'm made aware of differing opinions on the actual size profile the Pats might use for their version of 3-4 linebackers. Keeping with my disagreeable stance on the subject, I continue looking at the Patriots' roster and drawing my conclusions from the players who have worked their way into the starting line-up:
    Tedy Bruschi 6'1' 247 - I personally believe he has been playing heavier the past two seasons since coming back from his stroke, it's slowed him and made it more difficult for his slippery style of block avoidance in close quarters.
    Ted Johnson 6'4" 253
    Junior Seau 6'3" 248
    Rosevelt Colvin 6'3" 250
    Mike Vrabel 6'4" 261
    Willie McGinest 6'5" 270
    Tully Banta-Cain 6'3" 250
    Eric Alexander 6'2" 240
    Chad Brown 6'2" 245
    Monty Beisel 6'3" 238
    Roman Phifer 6'2" 248
    Matt Chatham 6'4" 250
    Brian Cox 6'4" 250

    That roll call includes linebackers back to 2001 who have started. The least successful LB was also the smallest by weight. The next smallest has one start, reportedly earned for his coverage skills. Bruschi was listed at 245 on older rosters, Chad Brown struggled reportedly playing at that same weight in 2005. The lads just get bigger from there. The most successful LBs are listed in the 250 and up range and appear to be 6'3" or more by preference.

    Last year I used these criteria when looking for ILB:
    For last year's OLBs I used these criteria:
    This year I need to add I'm also looking for LBs with decent short area coverage skills.

    Willis' recent 40 times further highlight to me how he fits so much better in the Cover 2 speed system and would appear likely to struggle if plugged into a New England two-gap style system, despite meeting my minimum measurables. Harris of Michigan with his 4.6-ish speed looks to be a better fit, his weight distribution appears to have more lower body anchor for taking on OL. Both would need to be built up more for the 3-4 system (Vrabel was listed at 250 his first two years with the Pats), so perhaps Willis could be remade to fit, but his skinnier lower body seems tailor made for sideline-to-sideline coverage and thus less stout in the 3-4's gap responsibility battle, taking on the bigger boys to control your lanes. Still, this is "your" board, even Chad Nkang fans are welcome to list him at ILB if the spirit moves them. As always, have fun.
  2. sebman2112

    sebman2112 Rookie

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    Bruschi has been one of the most successful LB's on the entire roster, yet you say a LB has to be in the 6'3" 250 range to find success in NE's system? Bruschi is lucky to measure out at his listed 6'1" and he plays around 245-248lbs. I'm not saying hight isn't a good thing to have, but I think a lot of people who have never played MLB, or ILB overrate it. It is much more important to have a solid core, and low center of gravity, for taking on blocks, and RB's at the point of attack. I would rather have a somewhat shorter ILB with a big trunk and long arms, than a somewhat taller ILB with shorter arms, and maybe a smaller trunk.

    Oh, and Harris has shorter arms, and needs to work on his hand technique, so I can't see how he fits NE's defense better than Willis. I actually think Woodley fits NE's defense better than Harris. Also,go back and look at Harris again and tell me he has a more developed trunk than Willis, and tell me who has the smaller legs....

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2007
  3. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yep, you fixate on Bruschi who is the anamoly in the starting line-up. Tedy was a record holding sackmaster as a DL in college before the Pats took him in round 3. He was a STs stud who took a few years to transition to LB. When he is at his best he isn't squaring up against OL in the trenches, instead he slides off and around them to make the play (like that other small LB stud in Miami that people like to highlight when trying to discount prototypical size).

    Now Willis is a good MLB, he has good production and is probably the best MLB in this draft class, he played the Senior Bowl and ran the Combine at 242 before dropping 5 pounds to improve his 40 time in his Pro-day. He was listed at 6'2" 240 by Ole Miss, oddly enough, college rosters like to exaggerate the size of their players, and his 6'2 is barely over 6'1", but we'll take that 240 at face value for his playing weight this season. So Willis at 6'1" 237-242 is there at the lower end of my measurables, but that doesn't mean he's the best fit in the Patriots' system, as suggested by all the many top notch LBs in past drafts with similar measurables and followings selected by the Pats.

    The prototype ILB for the Pats 3-4 system is 6'2" - 6'4" and weighs roughly 250. Bruschi is the odd man out and not the standard. Willis, a 6'1" 237-242 kid who played in a Cover-2 system vs Harris, a 6'2" 243-245 kid who has actual experience in a 3-4, which is the easier projection? You'll also note I don't have either as my #1 ILB choice in this draft.

    I agree Woodly may be a good ILB, but that is a projection requiring a transition, even assuming he's a second round grade, he's a risky pick Day one if you're thinking ILB. I'm not sold on him as a Day one OLB either. Still, it's your board, I'll enjoy reading your list.
  4. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    We can stretch Willis.:rocker:
  5. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Dan Klecko says Hi!
  6. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    People forget how good Bruschi was in college, he had over 20 sacks his last year at Arizona. Also don't forget that Vrabel is the all time sack leader at Ohio State, these guys were very good college players not just scrubs.

    http://ohiostatebuckeyes.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/greats/osu-m-footbl-vrabel.html

    Back the board, it seems like we still have the age old dilemma College LBs do not match our prototypical size requirements, especially at ILB. With the need to get younger at LB and with a dominant DLine maybe this is the year we see a slightly undersized yet productive player (Pos., Beason).

    In 2004 after Pittsburgh stomped our brains in the regular season matchup, Bruschi was furious saying "Stopping the run is a mentality". Personally I think he plays at closer to 240 and don't think it is out of the question for a player to play WILB at a similar weight. Bruschi has been playing a lot at SILB (right hand side of the defense) and this does not fit his body type and diminishes his play making ability.

    Still the question remains, who will play SILB on early downs? position played by Seau last year and TJ before that.

    From the draft maybe Bradley or deOssie have the size but it is very few and far between. Good chance a vet Mitchell, Hartwell, etc. fill the role as a spot starter at SILB and a draft pick subs at WILB. It would great if we had a backup at both positions from the draft to help with future continuity.

    "Mike Vrabel, a two-time All-America selection, made his mark as one of the most tenacious and feared pass rushers in Ohio State history. He owns every OSU season and career sack record. In 1996, he set a single-season school record with 13 sacks for minus 101 yards. His 36 career sacks for minus 245 yards also are Buckeye standards. Vrabel also finished his career as OSU’s all-time career leader in tackles-for-loss with 66. In his junior and senior years, Vrabel was named the Big Ten Conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Year. He also was a three-time first team All-Big Ten selection. "
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2007
  7. PATRIOTS-80

    PATRIOTS-80 Rookie

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    Well, gotta list my favorite. :D

    Board

    ILB
    Stewart Bradley
    David Harris
    Anthony Waters
    Marvin Mitchell

    OLB
    Zak DeOssie
    LaMarr Woodley (if he slips to 3rd round)
    Quetin Moses (I think he will slip to the 3rd round)

    The DE to OLB projection are difficult to project, but I see BB spending a 3rd round/4th round pick on one maybe.
  8. midwestpatsfan

    midwestpatsfan Rookie

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    #95 Jersey

    So Box, who is your number 1 rated LB?
  9. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    My goodness, what a humbling post, the damage to my poor ego to realize you aren't breathlessly waiting to read each and everyone of my posts. I may need therapy! You sir are cruel, but on topic, I think the SLB from your neighboring Huskers is the best prospect for the move inside.
  10. midwestpatsfan

    midwestpatsfan Rookie

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    #95 Jersey


    I honestly didnt mean that to come off snobish, I really wanted to know because so far what I have read of yours you seem much more in tune with the draft thatn I am, and I am jeleous.
  11. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    From 2002 on they've drafted

    Jeremy Mincey Height: 6-3 Weight: 260

    Ryan Claridge Height: 6-1.5 Weight: 259

    Tully Banta-Cain Height: 6-3 Weight: 250

    Eric Alexander Height: 6-2 Weight: 240

    All of these were second day picks. Given the history I think it supports what BOR is saying. The rumor is we would have broken the trend and taken Vilma in the first round if he had been there but that didn't happen.

    Nobody from this draft who's a first rounder has that size plus the great speed to go with it. More and more I'm coming to the conclusion that others have that anybody we bring in to this system at LB is at least a two year project so I don't see them taking a LB before the second round.

    A player none of us have talked about as a possible 3-4 OLB

    Tim Crowder DE Texas 6-3 272lb

    40- 4.69
    20 shuttle- 4.32
    3-cone- 7.28

    Compared to a player a lot of people like.

    Anthony Spencer 6-2 261LB

    40- 4.7
    20 shuttle - 4.43
    3-cone - 7.14

    I'm not saying Crowder can make the jump but maybe we should in general be looking at bigger prospects with good agility.
  12. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Not to worry, my bad, I forgot that smilie which would have helped you identify the tongue in cheek nature of my response. ;)
  13. sebman2112

    sebman2112 Rookie

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    As I have stated before I am a Nebraska fan and have been since childhood, so I have probably watched Bradley more than most.

    I think he could make a very good 3-4 LB, and a good 3-4 ILB, but I also have some questions.

    Do you want Bradley as a 3-4 SILB who is more of a run stuffer/pass rusher, or do you want him to be more of an all around backer, who could replace Bruschi? If you want Bradley for the Ted Johnson role, Bradley would likely fit the bill, but I don't know if he could be much more than that. Bradley lacks ideal pass coverage ability, and doesn't have good top end speed, so he's going to find chasing RB's, and WR's 20 yards downfield a little tricky at the next level. He isn't really all that athletic either. truelly Bradley projects more as an OLB in the 3-4 defense, than an ILB because of these reasons. I would still draft him though.
  14. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Interesting, I was under the impression that he was a decent coverage LB for his size. He certainly showed good awareness during the Senior Bowl, manning up quickly on RBs and jamming TE's off the line. When he took WLB reps in the Senior Bowl he was moved out covering the slot WR in a three wide formation, he showed very good read/react skills filling holes against the run or dropping into coverage when I watched his Senior Bowl. I'm not going to try and pigeon hole him in the 3-4, I think he can be developed to play any of the four LB slots at need, the tertiary reason I rate him #1 (his size and read/react skills were what caught my eye to start), which one will prove to be his best is for BB to say.
  15. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I want him to play SILB, that is the biggest hole in the lineup and allows Buschi to return to WILB which he is far more natural and productive. If Bradley shows versatility to play WILB or even outside I consider it gravy. He is one of the only players in the draft the size and experience to play SILB.

    Question - Who do we get him? projected in the 60-75 range
  16. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    So here's the deal. I think Willis is our best option and the only player that I would trade up for. Measurables be damned he is a football player and will be able to thrive in the Patriots system.

    Now, if we can't get Willis, then Bradley is our next option. We don't have a 2nd ronder and if we can't trade down with #28, I say grab him at 28. "Reaches" are for draft gurus and media people to yap about after the draft. If he's becomes a TJ type ILB for us then he's worth #28.

    After Bradley, I'd look at Harris.
  17. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Too big of a risk to take at 28, he is not a sure thing. Experts and draftniks be damned but almost any objective ranking has 40-50 players ranked ahead of him. They would be better off with a solid S, CB or some help on OLine than to take flyer on an ILB at pick 28.

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2007
  18. PATSNUTme

    PATSNUTme Paranoid Homer Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    After further review, I'd take Poz ahead iof him.:cool:
  19. sebman2112

    sebman2112 Rookie

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    I don't see Bradley going in the second round. He is projected as more of a third/fourth rounder on the sites I frequent. He did have a somewhat bad knee injury that caused him to miss the last five games of the '05 season, so there are some durability concerns. That's probably why he wouldn't go in the second round.

    Right now it is looking like:
    3-4 ILB:

    Willis: Players as talented as Willis can adjust to different schemes much better, and usually faster than players of lessor talent. Plus I think he could gain another ten pounds and play at 252LBS, which would make him a force in the middle for years to come. Trust me if NE somehow drafts this guy you will fall in love with him. He is just that special. I wan't Willis to replace Bruschi at WILB.

    Woodley: people need to go back and watch more tape of this guy. He does have speed (for his size) and can cover better than people think, but that is not what I wan't him for. I want Woodley as a versatile Backer who plays both ILB, and OLB, and I want him mostly for his pass rush, hand work, mean streak, size (6'2" but he weighs 266lbs), he's always in on big plays, and stuffs the run. I wan't him at SILB.

    Bradley: Like Woodley Bradley has good pass rushing skills, hand work, and is stout against the run. Also like Woodley I don't really think Bradley will be great in coverage, but their coverage skills won't be a liability. I think Woodley is more Athletic, and a better pass rusher, which is why I rank him higher than Bradley. Both would be making the same positional jump from OLB to ILB, as well.

    Harris: very good recognition skills, good in coverage, is a solid tackler, and delivers the pop. Harris is also pretty good against the run, but he needs to work on his hand technique, angles, and pass rushing. Harris is a good pass rusher, but he still needs to work on it. David does make plays and forces fumbles, so he is an attractive option. Seems suited to WILB more than SILB, because he still needs to improve his hand technique, and can sometimes have problems with big O-Linemen.

    Bishop: Desmond has very good pursuit, and run stuffing ability. Bishop also plays mean, knocks people out, is a sound tackler, hard worker, and good leader. While he is a sure tackler sometimes he will take a bad angle which causes him to miss tackles. This is not frequent, but it is something he could work on. Desmond also lacks ideal coverage skills. He would make a good SILB, who is stout against the run, sometimes dropping into coverage, and sometimes rushing the passer.
  20. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Bradley may be just a 3rd-round talent, but he has supply and demand on his side this year. If you want a big LB, where else do you turn? (For that matter, Anthony Spencer wouldn't have been a 1st rounder last year either. No way he beats out Wimbley, Carpenter or Lawson.)
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