|NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw||03.22.12 at 7:43 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
Position: Outside linebacker
Weight: 265 pounds
Achievements: Coaches’ All-SEC first team (2011), AP All-America second team (2011), BCS national championship defensive MVP (2012)
What he brings: Upshaw was one of the standout talents on an Alabama defense that was among the nation’s leaders in scoring and total defense, a skill that was evidenced when the Crimson Tide shut out LSU in the BCS national championship game. He is a top-level pass rusher who seemingly always finds his way to pressure the quarterback. Upshaw has also been repeatedly praised for his defensive and pass rushing instincts that extends well beyond his natural talent and ability.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1
Notes: Upshaw’s college coach, Nick Saban, said that he believes Upshaw can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense as well as defensive end in other schemes. En route to winning the game’s defensive MVP award in a game in which Alabama didn’t allow LSU to cross midfield until the fourth quarter, Upshaw had a game-high seven tackles, including a sack, and spent much of the night in the LSU backfield.
He has also been routinely praised for having a keen ability to not only pressure opposing quarterbacks, but also in stopping screens, draws and reverses. Upshaw’s athleticism has also been noted as a strength. He participated in the NFL combine and had 22 reps with 225 pounds on the bench press, the only combine test in which he took part.
Video: Here’s Upshaw in his defensive MVP performance in the BCS national championship against LSU.
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