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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks 04.19.13 at 7:10 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Johnthan Banks (AP)

Johnthan Banks (right) won the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in the nation. (AP)

JOHNTHAN BANKS

Position: Cornerback

School: Mississippi State

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 185 pounds

Achievements: 2012 Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back), 2011 All-SEC second team (cornerback), 2009 All-SEC freshman team (safety)

What he brings: Entering the draft following a highly successful four-year tenure with the Bulldogs, Banks is a great press coverage corner who also boasts a strong skill set when it comes to stopping interior passing games. When it comes to blanketing a receiver within 10-15 yards of the line of scrimmage, Banks matches up with anyone else in the draft class. Beyond that, though, there are some blemishes.

The first thing that is apparent with Banks is his height and ball skills. With his frame, Banks could easily slide in at safety. In fact, he was recruited at the position and played there as a freshman with the Bulldogs. However, since switching to cornerback, he has shown great quickness when covering short-yardage routes, particularly when talking about a player his size. Additionally, Banks tallied a school-record 16 interceptions during his time at Mississippi State.

However, when it comes to the vertical passing game, Banks comes up a bit short. Unlike a lot of taller cornerbacks, such as FSU’s Xavier Rhodes, Banks is quick, not fast. This comes into play when he has to stick with a receiver in man coverage. At the combine, Banks ran a disappointing 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash. At his pro day, though, he recorded an improved time of 4.51-4.55. As with any player, the 40 does not write one’s NFL success in stone. However, it does nothing to help dispel pre-existing concerns over his inability to keep up receivers downfield. Although, when he is there, Banks plays the ball well, using his height and leaping ability against receivers to make a play on the pass.

The final issue with Banks is a odd one for a big cornerback: his ability to take down ball-carriers. Banks, who was often used with great effect as a blitzer, does a good job punishing players when coming straight down on them. However, Banks has a tendency to overpursue and get caught up in traffic against the run, and can let a runner go if they put a move on him.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: When it comes to cornerbacks who can provide press coverage, particularly in a Tampa 2 scheme, Banks presents a great value. Although, teams that want him to have a presence near the line of scrimmage will need him to bulk up and improve his tackling game.

In most cases, tall corners are tasked with lining up on the outside and using their press skills to their fullest extent. Banks, though, has exceptional versatility along the defensive backfield. In addition to his experience at safety, Banks’ ability to stick with receivers on short, quick routes makes him ideal for teams looking for a player to slide into the slot in nickel and dime formations. Should he end up adding to his frame and developing his skills in run support, Banks could become a dangerous defender in the box.

While it’s strange to see a receiver at 6-foot-2 (a la Dez Bryant) back receiving punts, it’s even more odd to see a defensive back doing so. Yet that’s exactly what Banks did in college as the team’s leading punt returner his senior year, averaging 10.5 yards per attempt.

Related articles: The Shutdown 50: Mississippi State DB Johnthan Banks

ESPN: Johnthan Banks gets Thorpe Award

Pro Football Talk: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks: I can cover Megatron

Video: Here’s a playlist of some of Banks’ performances against SEC competition, starting with a 2012 matchup against Tennessee and the Volunteers’ vaunted wide receivers:

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Tennessee Tech WR Da’Rick Rogers 04.16.13 at 7:09 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Da'Rick Rogers landed at Tennessee Tech after getting the boot from Tennessee. (AP)

Da’Rick Rogers spent one season at Tennessee Tech after getting the boot from Tennessee. (AP)

DA’RICK ROGERS

Position: Wide receiver

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 217 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC preseason first team, 2011 All-SEC first team (AP)

What he brings: A tall receiver with solid speed who often is too physical for defensive backs to even know what to do with, Rogers is a fantastic talent. Such skills have drawn comparisons to a player such as Terrell Owens from the likes of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.

However, like the player to whom he’s drawn some comparisons, Rogers is a major head case, a label he earned when he was arrested before his true freshman season even began and solidified when he was kicked off the team at Tennessee last August after his third failed drug test.

Rogers, who is one of three former Volunteers receivers we’re previewing before the draft, was set to be part of an unprecedented receiver corps his junior season before finding his way to FCS-level Tennessee Tech for a year. As opposed to deep threats Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter, Rogers was set to be the premiere interior threat in the passing game. Not only does he work the middle of the field well, using his body to secure the catch, he’s also a load once he gets moving with his strength and surprising quickness. On the outside, Rogers isn’t quite as explosive, but he won’t be abused in press coverage and will use his superior leaping ability to go up and get the ball.

Rogers tested extremely well at the combine, posting a 39.5-inch vertical leap (tied for best among receivers) and a respectable 4.51 in the 40-yard dash. The performance that was most telling for Pats fans, though, was his 6.71-second 3-cone drill (fourth best among receivers). Such a mark from a receiver known for his size and strength certainly will draw Bill Belichick’s attention.

In addition to his 3-cone time, Rogers’ ability to work through physical coverage and excel in the interior passing game may lend itself to the passing scheme that has been so successful for Tom Brady & Co. However, Rogers does need significant refinement in his route-running and effort levels, flaws that he would not get away with on any pro team, much less the Patriots.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: It’s never been a question of talent for Da’Rick Rogers (pronounced DAY-rick), who projects to transition well as a big, physical receiver in the NFL. Throughout the draft process, he’s crossed his t’s and dotted his i’s with the media. When asked about his character concerns, he was upfront and humble in his responses.

“Simple. I was immature,” Rogers said when asked why it didn’t work out at Tennessee. “I had to take full responsibility, look in the mirror at who I was and what I was doing wrong. I did those things when I went to Tennessee Tech, and it humbled me a lot. I play with an edge, and I had to learn to control that edge off the field also. I had to learn how to fix my flaws, and life got easier.”

At Tennessee Tech, Rogers was a paragon of discipline (in comparison, at least) passing all 10 drug tests he was subjected to while there. He also recorded 78 receptions for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns in his one season. But then again, that was expected. What wasn’t expected, though was his three receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown against then-No. 4 Oregon four days after joining the team.

We’ve heard this song many times before where the reformed athlete has sworn that he’s changed. In many cases, it has proven to be true. Last year’s best example, Janoris Jenkins out of North Alabama, had a great season in St. Louis. Even in New England, players like Aaron Hernandez and Randy Moss have excelled after failing drug tests or driving their coaches crazy on other teams. The real question, though, is whether Rogers will keep singing the same tune once he reaches the pros.

Related articles: SI.com Tyrann Mathieu, Da’Rick Rogers respond well to character questions

MassLive.com: Da’Rick Rogers could be draft’s greatest value for team willing to overlook failed drug tests

Knoxville News Sentinel: Back for pro day, ‘humbled’ Da’Rick Rogers says he wants to rebuild bridge to UT

Video: Here’s a collection of highlights from Rogers’ 2011 season against some tough SEC opponents, including Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu of LSU.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Tennessee WR Justin Hunter 04.11.13 at 7:12 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Justin Hunter (AP)

Justin Hunter has a great build and athletic ability for a receiver, but his inconsistency is a big concern. (AP)

JUSTIN HUNTER

Position: Wide receiver

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 196 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC second team, 2010 All-SEC freshman team

What he brings: At the very least, Justin Hunter looks the part.

After putting on 17 pounds of muscle, the former track star hit the combine at a solid 6-foot-4 and close to 200 pounds and running a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. Those numbers, when combined with nearly 40-inch vertical leap, are the sort of classic empirical numbers that could make a number of teams drool heading into the draft (I’m looking at you, Oakland).

While he is physical specimen, Hunter is more deep threat than receiver, much like his former teammate Cordarrelle Patterson. However, unlike his counterpart, Hunter doesn’t have the same explosiveness and game-breaking potential. The athletic ability certainly is there, but it simply doesn’t show up consistently enough for him to be a legitimate No. 1 threat. Hunter projects more like a Darius Heyward-Bey or Jacoby Jones, a deep threat who has yet to put together a full skill set. In terms of physical play, Hunter comes off as a bit flimsy on film, with a running style similar to Brandon Lloyd, which is by no means a compliment.

Let’s not get things mixed up. Hunter may be an incomplete player, but what he does have, he has in spades. In terms of getting past a defensive back and going up to get the ball, there will be few in the NFL that can do it better than him. All that’s keeping him from being a premier vertical threat is the challenges of beating press coverage, taking hits and dealing with a propensity for bad drops. That, and he needs to learn how to run NFL-level routes.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 or 2

Notes: Hunter is a fantastic talent who likely will make the fans of whatever team drafts him want to pull their hair out. As apt to drop a routine catch on an 8-yard curl as he is to make a leaping grab over a defender 30 yards downfield, Hunter’s lack of consistency remains his biggest knock. That and legitimate concerns over his durability.

Three games into his 2011 campaign, Hunter suffered a torn ACL, which kept him sidelined into the regular season of his junior year. While he showed that he’d completely recovered during his junior year, such a severe injury is sure to weigh on scouts as he moves through the draft process.

Still, Hunter bounced back with a great 2012 season, leading the team with 73 catches for 1,083 yards and nine receiving touchdowns. However, the speedster’s success in the NFL will rely mostly on how he adjusts mentally and technically. In jump ball situations, there likely will be few better. With scheme-heavy passing teams like the Patriots, Hunter isn’t likely to thrive early on. But given the right situation and coaching, Hunter could develop into a complete player.

In short: Hunter is a generally unremarkable receiver who likely will hold an athletic advantage over whoever covers him. You can’t coach tall and fast. And in the NFL, that sort of ability is rarely undervalued.

Related articles: Knoxville News Sentinel: Departure of Justin Hunter highlights Tennessee’s massive holes to fill at receiver in 2013

He’s back: Tennessee WR Justin Hunter making a spring impact

The Tennesseean: NFL doubts surround three Tennessee Vols

Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Hunter’s 2012 season.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan 04.06.13 at 7:36 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Dion Jordan missed most of the 2012 season with a torn labrum but still is expected to go by the middle of the first round. (AP)

Dion Jordan missed most of the 2012 season with a torn labrum but still is expected to go early in the first round. (AP)

DION JORDAN

Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker

School: Oregon

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 248 pounds

Achievements: 2011 All-Pac-12 first team (coaches)

What he brings: If NFL teams were simply looking for the best athletic specimen in the draft, Jordon would be this year’s top prospect. However, the former Duck has to prove that he can bulk up and add power to that athleticism skill in order to fully translate to the pro game. That being said, there are some that still believe he might be the top defensive player in this year’s crop of rookies.

Jordan has drawn a lot of comparisons to the top pass rush prospects in the past few years. Mike Mayock, for one, has referred to him as a “raw Aldon Smith.” However, Jordan is much more of an overall defender than pure pass-rusher. Unlike many players who are lumped in as 3-4 outside linebackers to get after the quarterback and drop back into a zone to keep offenses honest, Jordan has real coverage skills in space and was even tasked with man up against slot players while at Oregon. On the flip side, he’s still a ways away from being able to play consistently as a 4-3 defensive end if tasked to do so. However, treating Jordan like another Chandler Jones would be a waste of his skills in space, despite their similarities as long, flexible pass-rushers.

Jordan’s numbers during the season (10.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks) weren’t stellar, although that can easily be attributed to him playing since October with a torn labrum, for which he recently had surgery. However, the edge rusher went on to put up some great performances in the scouting process, running a 4.60 40 time and 7.02 3-cone drill at the combine while also adding nearly 25 pounds to his frame. That last part has played a large part in Jordan’s rise up draft boards, as scouts were tentative of how a 225-pound edge rusher would perform. Now, though, Jordan has shown he has the work ethic to bulk up in addition to maintaining his athleticism at a higher weight.

Don’t get confused by the former tight end recruit’s “athlete” label. Jordan can play. His pass-rushing ability is elite among prospects, combining incredible length, bend and technique to get past pass-blockers on top of an explosive first step (did we mention he was athletic?). When moving in space or in coverage, he can take on blockers, move sideline to sideline and take down ball-carriers with authority like any pure linebacker prospect. At the same time, he also can stick with skill position players in coverage that no other potential 4-3 end has any business covering. All of this comes with a set of elite outside pass-rush skills. He’s versatile and can do whatever you need of a outside linebacker/defensive end “tweener.” Just don’t ask him to eat up interior linemen on running downs.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 (through trade)

Notes: Earlier this week, any thought of Jordan ending up on the Patriots was nothing more than a pipe dream, considering Jordan’s status as a top-10 prospect and Bill Belichick’s reluctance to trade up more than a few picks in the draft, if he does so at all. However, with news emerging last week that Jordan would be visiting with the Patriots, there may be something there. Belichick is smart enough to know that Jordan won’t fall to No. 29, so he may have something in the works. Or not. He’s been known to do strange things before.

As mentioned earlier, Jordan is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered early in the season. While the rehab rendered him unable to perform at his pro day, Jordan’s stock is more or less intact at this point, and he didn’t really need to prove much else. Meanwhile, reports have placed the former Duck’s timetable to return at about the start of training camp, which should put teams looking to draft him more at ease.

Jordan’s main draw is his athleticism, as shown by the fact that his 40 time blew many other top prospects out of the water (yes, we’re talking to you, Manti Te’o). However, there are some concerns as to whether or not he can bulk up his frame to the level of Smith and Jones, who both weigh in at about 260 pounds. Jordan’s current weight of 248 pounds certainly will suffice for 3-4 defenses that want to make full use of his coverage skills and agility in space. But teams that would want him to become an elite pass-rush threat (i.e. the Patriots) would need him to add more to his frame if he were to slide in as a 4-3 end.

Related articles: Yahoo Sports: Perseverance leads Oregon’s Dion Jordan to brink of NFL after accident almost ended his dream

Pro Football Talk: Dion Jordan doesn’t miss playing offense

SB Nation: 2013 NFL Draft: Breaking down Dion Jordan’s strengths and weaknesses

Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Jordan’s 2012 season.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson 04.02.13 at 7:08 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Cordarrelle Patterson (AP)

Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson is considered by many to be the top wide receiver in this draft class. (AP)

CORDARRELLE PATTERSON

Position: Wide receiver

School: Tennessee

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 216 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-SEC first team, 2012 All-America first team (all-purpose player), 2012 All-SEC second team (return specialist), school-record 1,858 all-purpose yards in 2012

What he brings: In a draft class without a true top-10 prospect at any of the skill positions, Patterson is easily the one with the highest ceiling and raw physical toolbox. In addition to his school record 1,858 all-purpose yards, near-prototypical frame and the fact that he was the first player since 2008 to score a touchdown four different ways (receiving, rushing, punt return, kick return), Patterson has shone brightly in workouts, running a solid 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine.

The bright side: Patterson is big, is fast and will burn defenders downfield. Once he’s down there, he has the athleticism and strength to fight for position and can make the tough catches. Patterson also presents great value in his ability to return punts and kicks and is be a fiend in the open field once he gets the ball in his hands.

The downside: The Tennessee product will dazzle fans and embody the deep threat they’ve been clamoring for. However, he is by no means a possession receiver yet and has a long way to go in many areas of his game. With only one season at the FBS level under his belt, Patterson is still raw in terms of his route-running, blocking and ability to beat physical coverage, especially from some of the more elite defensive backs he’ll face in the pros. He’s a long way away from being a go-to guy.

Is he a deep threat? Yes. Is he Randy Moss? Nope. Still, Patterson may emerge as the most productive receiver from this draft class. That is if he can get past the initial growing pains.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1, likely through a trade

Notes: We call a lot of players in a given draft raw. But, if Cordarrelle Patterson was steak, even the biggest fan of a bloody cut of meat would send him back to the chef for some more time over the grill.

The former No. 1 junior college prospect in the country spent just one season with the Volunteers before turning pro, a move that acts as both a testament to his physical skill set and a Surgeon General’s warning to avoid raw meat — so to speak. Still, many experts, including NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, have Patterson as the top receiver in the draft.

When he first arrived at Knoxville, Patterson was expected to sit at third on a stacked depth chart at wide receiver. Although, that was before Da’Rick Rogers was dismissed from the team. After working his way into the lineup, Patterson emerged as a star whose physical gifts helped him overcome his shortcomings in technique. Often, the Vols would line him up off the line of scrimmage so as to avoid exposing him to more physical coverage (something the Patriots would have no trouble doing in their spread concept).

With Justin Hunter lined up on the other side of the field and Tyler Bray at quarterback — both are projected to be high draft picks — Patterson had a great situation in Tennessee. While that success may translate well should he end up in an offense that’s looking to just add a deep threat, Patterson may struggle if he’s expected to be The Guy with a lesser offense (i.e. the Jets).

Related articles: Chattanooga Times Free Press: Cordarrelle Patterson arrives to lofty expectations

Knoxville News Sentinel: John Adams: Cordarrelle Patterson will leave highlights, regrets behind

Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson says ‘instinct’ helps him makes plays

Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Patterson’s 2012 season.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: UCLA DE Datone Jones 03.28.13 at 7:04 am ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 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.

Datone Jones (AP)

Datone Jones is a versatile player on the defensive line. (AP)

DATONE JONES

Position: Defensive end

School: UCLA

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 283 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All Pac-12 second team, 2008 All-Pac-10 freshman team

What he brings: Jones is an intriguing prospect who falls under the “tweener” label for interior defensive linemen. With solid burst, hands and technique, the UCLA product is a great athlete who even made appearances at tight end for the Bruins.

Depending on how you look at it, Jones is fast and strong enough to play both tackle and end or too small and slow to excel at either position in a 4-3. Meanwhile, he’s perfect as a 5-technique in a 3-4. In the Patriots’ case, though, Jones would provide a versatile piece long their defensive front who could play off of a premiere nose tackle in Vince Wilfork and a budding pass-rusher in Chandler Jones.

Instead of the “hair on fire” defender that the defense just sends after the quarterback, Jones brings a more balanced game along the defensive line that presents a threat to disrupt a play regardless of formation is dialed up or where he’s placed along the line. Jones can be used to play at end on run downs and in the A-gap on passing downs, allowing the defense to place him in positions to succeed on a given play.

While the UCLA product can be utilized well in the right scheme, Jones isn’t the sort of plug-and-play defender who is going to lay the foundation of a dominant defense. Instead, he’s likely to be the piece that moves around the building blocks of a front seven unit to help the defense as a whole. In terms of pure ceiling, Jones has the potential to be a disrupter all along the defensive line like J.J. Watt (though maybe not that disruptive). Meanwhile, his floor would be more along the lines of former Patriot Jarvis Green, a complementary player who is a piece in a good defense.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Jones is a likely candidate to come off of the board at the end of the first round, where the better teams in the league may have higher values for him. Because he’s not a top-flight pass-rusher or run-stuffer that defenses can build around, he’s unlikely to go to a team that needs a huge boost. But for a team like the Texans, Vikings or 49ers looking to add a versatile chess piece to a scheme that’s already in place, Jones presents a very valuable target to help bolster a defense.

The Seahawks were heavy favorites to target Jones at No. 25 before shipping the pick off to Minnesota. However, each of the teams in the 23-28 range have been projected to be in the hunt for him, lowering the possibility that he falls to the Pats at No. 29.

Related articles: LA Times: UCLA’s Datone Jones smiles through sad times

ESPN: Datone Jones starts strong in rebound year

LA Times: UCLA’s Datone Jones loves inside job

Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Jones’ games against Rice and Nebraska in 2012.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu 03.27.13 at 12:18 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 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.

Tyrann Mathieu (AP)

Tyrann Mathieu showed good speed at the scouting combine, running a 4.50 40. (AP)

TYRANN MATHIEU

Position: Cornerback

School: LSU

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 186 pounds

Achievements: 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, 2011 Bednarik Trophy winner, 2011 Walter Camp Award finalist, 2011 All-America first team at cornerback and return specialist, 2010 FWAA Freshman All-America first team

What he brings: Oh, Tyrann, what are we going to do with you?

Here’s the thing about the former Heisman candidate from LSU: There’s no doubt he was a dominant college player. But, even before he was kicked off the team for repeated drug offenses, there were doubts about whether his skill set would translate to the next level.

The football player formerly known as “Honey Badger” is a great return man, is an excellent blitzer out of the secondary, hits like a much bigger defender and is an overall ball-hawk. However, he also is undersized, lacks elite top-end speed and doesn’t have as much experience matching up with tall, elite receivers on the outside. Combining that with the fact that he didn’t play football this past season, Mathieu’s draft stock certainly has its blemishes. That being said, he’s still an intriguing prospect.

Mathieu is not going to be a shutdown corner. That’s just not his game. Instead, he’s drawn comparisons to the Vikings’ undersized Antoine Winfield for his ability to play beyond his limited height. Also, with his ability to blitz, force fumbles and play all across the field, Mathieu’s upside could be similar to how Charles Woodson has looked at the end of his career, albeit with lesser outside cover skills. While Mathieu should, at the very least, manage within the right defensive scheme, he’s not going to be the guy teams leave out on an island with the opponent’s top receiving threat.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 3 or 4

Notes: The live performance that NFL scouts have seen from Mathieu in the last year was his performance at the NFL scouting combine. So, unlike most other prospects, his performance there bears a whole lot of weight.

First off, Mathieu’s 4.50 40 time helped dispel the idea that he doesn’t have the top-end speed to play at the NFL level. Second, he looked great in most of his on-field drills, according to scouts that spoke to the media. Third, Mathieu showed professionalism and remorse in his interactions with the media, passed a surprise 4 a.m. drug screening and apparently did well in interviews. That being said, he only tallied four reps on the bench press. While that isn’t good — at all — it isn’t a death sentence for his stock.

Throughout the process, the former LSU star has impressed a number of scouts and media members, with NFL Network’s Deion Sanders leading the bandwagon, calling him a “baller” after extended talks with him.

Mathieu’s status is somewhat comparable to what Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins went through during the pre-draft process last year en route to a stellar rookie season. Now, Jenkins was more of a prototypical No. 1 corner while Mathieu is projected to do a lot of work in the slot and closer to the box. Still, that won’t stop his confidence, as evidenced by his statement about whether or not he could play in that role.

“If I was to check somebody like Calvin Johnson, he’ll make his plays, but I’m going to get mine, too,” Mathieu said at the combine. “He’ll catch his five balls, but I’ll get my two turnovers, so we’ll be even.”

Related articles: USA Today: Tyrann Mathieu to sit out 2012 season and go through drug rehab

New York Times: Ex-Heisman Finalist Hoping for Fresh Start

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu working with Patrick Peterson prior to draft

CBS Sports: NFL Combine: Tyrann Mathieu helps stock in workouts

Video: Here’s a playlist of highlights for Mathieu’s 2011 season, starting with his game against Arkansas.

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