Lucky Seven: Taking a look at how some possible fits for Patriots did at combine
|02.25.14 at 4:28 pm ET|
Earlier this month, we presented a list of seven players for Patriots fans to keep an eye on at the combine. With the combine now in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at how each one of them did, as well as how it all relates to New England:
Tight end Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: Amaro, regarded as one of the best tight end prospects in the draft, checked in at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds. His arm length was 34 inches and his hand size was nine inches. He finished with a 4.74 in the 40, 28 reps in the bench press (in the top five at his position), and 118 inches in the broad jump. Amaro appeared to be a little sloppy in the pass catching drills, but there appeared to be no reason why he wouldn’t be a solid first-rounder as the pre-draft process kicks into high gear.
While it’s questionable whether or not he’d last until No. 29 — when the Patriots are on the board — he still met with New England while in Indianapolis:
“It was good — they broke my tape down. They look like they like me a lot. They said I fit their system very well so I guess we’ll see how it goes,” he said when asked about his meeting with the Patriots. “I think that starting [with] maybe one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game would be a great start for me, especially in a system like that. Yeah, I’ve taken notice of teams like that. I think that would be an ideal place for me.”
Tight end Eric Ebron, North Carolina: The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Ebron ran a 4.6 40, the second highest among tight ends (behind the 4.50 of Tennessee State’s A.C. Leonard). He tweaked his hamstring and was unable to participate in the pass-catching drills, but still managed 10 feet in the broad jump (tied for third among TEs), as well as 24 reps on the bench (tied for sixth among TEs). He doesn’t lack for confidence, but that should bear itself when the draft rolls around in May, as he’s expected to be the first tight end picked, at least as it stands right now. That means it would be a stretch for him to last until New England’s first pick at No. 29.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa: Fiedorowicz checked in at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, and will likely be a second-day pick come May. (It’s debatable because of Oregon’s Colt Lyerla, a talented prospect who has had some off-field issues that could take him off New England’s draft board, regardless of his numbers.) Regardless, Fiedorowicz was consistently with the combine leaders at his position across the board, as he posted a 7.1 in the 3-cone (best among TEs) and 4.26 in the 20-yard shuttle (best among TEs). In addition, he had 25 reps in the bench press (fifth-best) and a 4.76 in the 40 (sixth best) and 110 inches in the broad jump (sixth-best).
Fiedorowicz has some New England connections: one, Iowa’s offensive line coach the past two seasons was Brian Ferentz, who spent the previous season as the Patriots tight end coach, working with both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. And two, D.J. Hernandez – the brother of ex-Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez‘ was a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes last year.
He was asked about watching Gronkowski while in college.
“I was watching him on film. I always used to watch him in games, but when you see it break down as film it’s even more impressive,” Fiedorowicz said. “He plays hard every down, every play. He finishes guys. He uses his body in the passing game. He’s just an impressive guy. It’s the way he plays the game.”
Offensive lineman Zack Martin, Notre Dame: Martin was 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds. He wasn’t overwhelming — he was 14th among offensive linemen in the vertical jump (28 inches) and 11th in the bench press (29 reps). He also had a broad jump of 106 inches, a 3-cone time of 7.65 and a 4.59 in the 20-yard shuttle. But pedigree and versatility indicate that while he might not be a first-round pick, he’s probably not too far off, at least at this point. If the Patriots would be interested, they’d probably have to take him at No. 29.
Defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota: Hageman was one of several versatile defensive lineman who worked out in Indy, a group that included Timmy Jernigan and Aaron Donald. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder posted a 35.5 in the vertical jump (seventh-best among defensive linemen) and had 32 reps on the bench (ninth-best among the defensive linemen). He’s known for his high level of athleticism — he bulldozed an offensive lineman onto his back during one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl — as well as the fact he played several spots along the defensive line over the course of his career.
“It’s 32 teams – it’s a lot to take in,” he said when asked specifically about New England’s defense against the rest of the league. “I’m pretty sure they run either a 3-4 or a 4-3. I’m capable of playing both positions. Just the fact if I had the chance to play for New England, I’d be ready.”
Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska: Jean-Baptiste could be the beneficiary of the Richard Sherman Effect — at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, he’s the biggest corner in the draft, and if teams are trying to replicate the Seattle defensive blueprint, Jean-Baptiste would allow them to super-size their secondary. Considered a second-day prospect, on Tuesday he led all defensive backs with a vertical jump of 41 1/2 inches, and his broad jump of 10-feet-8 inches was tied for third at his position. It appears unlikely that the Patriots would be in the market for a cornerback, particularly through the first two days of the draft. But it will be interesting to see if Jean-Baptiste’s draft stock rises simply because of the success of the Seattle secondary of if his rise is tied to his good work at the combine and Pro Day.
Defensive lineman Louis Nix III, Notre Dame: Nix had an eventful combine. He got off one of the best lines of the combine when he was asked about his recent weight loss, saying that dropping more than 20 pounds made him “feel sexier.” He checked in at 6-foot-2 and 331 pounds, and ran a 5.42 in the 40. (He struggled to stick the landing on the broad jump, falling backwards.) Despite the drop in weight, he’s still considered a space eater of Wilforkian proportions, someone who is able to work consistently as a run stopper at either defensive tackle spot. With the Patriots having to thinking about the post Vince era sooner rather than later, it would be ideal to see him drop into the twenties, as his size and versatility might allow some Wilfork comparisons. But we had Nix going to the Steelers with the 15th overall pick in our first mock draft, and his performance in Indy did nothing to dissuade us from moving him off that spot.