Five Rutgers players who could get the call from Patriots this weekend
|05.06.14 at 4:44 pm ET|
The Piscataway-to-Foxboro pipeline has provided plenty of support for the Patriots over the last few seasons. With that in mind, here are five Scarlet Knights who should be on the radar of every New England fan this weekend, either as a potential draft pick or an undrafted free agent:
1. Wide receiver Brandon Coleman: Receiver isn’t expected to be an overwhelming area of need for New England, but the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver finished his collegiate career at Rutgers with 20 touchdowns, tied for first in school history. In 39 career games (27 starts) at wide receiver, he had 94 receptions for 1,808 yards, and averaged 19.2 yards per reception in his career.
Coleman, who said in February he’s already had the chance to pick the brains of several of his former classmates who play for the Patriots, has an advocate in Devin McCourty, who singled Coleman out as the “most interesting” of Rutgers’ pro prospects this spring.
“He’s probably the most interesting (one),” McCourty said of Coleman. ‘The thing I loved about him is his work ethic. I remember one summer, I went back there and we were just doing 1-on-1s and 7-on-7s with those guys and he was going each time. If one of the NFL guys got up there, he would go just to get the work. I’m happy for him, getting a chance to live out his dream.”
2. Free safety Jeremy Deering: A defensive back in name only, Deering has the sort of positional versatility they crave around Foxboro. Over the course of his college career, he’s lined up as a wildcat quarterback, wide receiver, running back, defensive back and kick returner. However, it appears the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has gotten the bulk of his reps at safety as a collegian — he had 39 tackles and a pick this season with the Scarlet Knights. He’ll have to show expanded special teams value to stick in the NFL, but his versatility should certainly count for something.
3. Offensive lineman Antwan Lowery: The 6-foot-3, 329-pound Lowery lost his starting guard job shortly before the start of his senior season at Rutgers and has occasionally struggled with weight issues, but he still has an impressive resume. He was First-Team All-Big East as a junior, and invited to the East-West Shrine Game as a senior. It’s worth noting that he does have some versatility, as he was initially a defensive lineman at the start of his college career before flipping around to the other side of the ball.
4. Defensive end/outside linebacker Jamil Merrell: A preseason foot injury put a damper on his 2013 season, but when he was healthy, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was a force for the Scarlet Knights. A first-year starter in 2012, he had 5.5 sacks to lead Rutgers. (The Patriots could also target his brother, Jamal, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound edge defender who had 38 tackles, two interceptions, and two blocked kicks in 2014.)
5. Quarterback Tom Savage: Strictly speaking, he’s not an official Rutgers product — he started with the Scarlet Knights as a freshman before transferring and eventually ending up at Pitt — but for our purposes, we’ll include him here. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder started 10 games as a freshman at Rutgers and earned freshman All-American honors by completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. A hand injury knocked him out of the starting lineup the following year, and he ended up transferring to Arizona and then Pitt, where he finished up this last season with the Panthers. Described as a “wild card” by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Mayock says Savage is “a big, strong kid (who) can throw.”
“He’s kicked around everywhere, he’s been to a bunch of different colleges. But I finally got to see him this year stabilized in an offensive system for a year,” Mayock said. “He’s a big, strong kid. I saw him throw the football in eighth grade. Him and my son played on the same All’Star Team in eighth grade and I was like, ‘Wow, this kid for an eighth grader can really rip it.’ Watching him this year, he’s still a little bit all over the place. He has some accuracy issues at times, but he can really push the football down the field and he hasn’t been in an offense long enough to really learn. So I think he’s got some upside.”