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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard 04.02.12 at 8:27 am ET
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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.

Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard hurt his stock when he struggled during a practice for the Senior Bowl, although he claimed he was dealing with a hip injury. (AP)

ALFONZO DENNARD

Position: Cornerback

School: Nebraska

Height: 5-foot-10

Weight: 205 pounds

Achievements: All-Big Ten first team (2011), Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year (2011), Sporting News Preseason second-team All-America (2011), ESPN All-Big 12 first team (2010), Coaches and AP All-Big 12 second team (2010)

What he brings: Dennard shows great quickness and agility, which allows him to close in on passes and excel in all types of coverage. He is very aggressive, but sometimes that is to a fault, as he has a history of jumping on play fakes and therefore falls behind in his coverage. He displays strong physicality in his coverage and knows how to make a play on the ball without drawing a pass interference call. He obviously lacks height and only had four interceptions in his collegiate career. He sometimes gambles a bit on plays and has a strange backpedal, but overall he does a good job of staying with the receiver and recognizes routes well. Dennard has a bit of a temper that he needs to learn to channel in a more productive manner, as he was ejected from the Capital One Bowl for a fight with South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2

Notes: Dennard had 31 total tackles and broke up six passes in the 2011 season. He has 91 career tackles, four career interceptions and four career quarterback hurries. Dennard hurt his draft status a bit by his play in the Senior Bowl practice, when he struggled to turn and run to catch up with receivers. He pulled out of the Senior Bowl with a hip flexor injury, so it was unclear if his struggles were injury-related or an actual issue against more elite competition. Dennard does have a history of injuries, as he missed time with a shoulder injury in 2009, a concussion in 2010, and a pulled muscle in his right leg 2011.

Recent Articles:

Senior Bowl Monday practice: Tough day for Alfonzo Dennard

Alfonzo Dennard vital to Nebraska Cornhuskers success

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard relying on Redskins S Gomes

Video: Here’s a package of highlights of Dennard.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Clemson DT Brandon Thompson 04.01.12 at 6:12 pm ET
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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.

Brandon Thompson is one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in the draft. (AP)

BRANDON THOMPSON

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Clemson

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 310 pounds

Achievements: All-ACC second team (2011)

What he brings: Generally regarded as the top defensive tackle in the 2012 draft, Thompson is heralded for his burst off the snap and his good lateral agility that helps him chase down the quarterback. He is a strong anchor for the defensive line but doesn’t have the bulk to stand up well against a double-team. He needs to learn to use his hands effectively, but his strength and ability to move quickly on the rush make him an effective player. Thompson could play as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 system or as a defensive end in a 3-4 formation. He is an evolving player and started to blossom in the second half of his junior season, making 43 of his 56 tackles on the season in Clemson’s final seven games.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Thompson was nicknamed “Yams” because of his huge thighs that can clog rushing lanes. He won the 2010 Strength Training Award among Clemson defensive tackles and has a 450-pound bench press. Thompson finished fourth on the Tigers with 77 tackles and tied for the team lead in quarterback hurries with 18. He was third on the team with 2.5 sacks.

Recent articles:

Brandon Thompson interview

Mike Tanier’s Senior Bowl Report: Wednesday’s South Team Practice

College Football 2011: Brandon Thompson wants to be next in NFL pipeline

Video: Here’s Thompson against Boston College.

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NFL Draft Potential Patriots: USC DE Nick Perry 03.31.12 at 12:08 pm ET
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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.

Nick Perry (left) might be moved from defensive end to linebacker in the NFL. (AP)

NICK PERRY

Position: Defensive end

School: USC

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 250 pounds

Achievements: All-Pac 12 first team (2011)

What he brings: Perry is an agile pass rusher who impressed in the Pac-12 with a league-leading 9.5 sacks in the 2011 season. His is a player who is aggressive on every snap and has a no-quit mentality, an attitude sure to please Bill Belichick. Perry also has the potential to be converted from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 linebacker, but his inexperience at that position means he may need some time to adjust before becoming an effective player. Perry does not have the size expected out of his position, but he makes up for that with his quick step and ability to read and react swiftly to shifting players and changing plays.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Perry can be inconsistent at times, looking like a sure first-rounder in some games and a second- or third-rounder in others. For example, Perry had 10 tackles and a sack in an Oct. 1 win over Arizona but just two assists and no sacks in a Sept. 17 win over Syracuse. In addition to leading the league in sacks, Perry led the team in forced fumbles (3) and recorded one fumble recovery. He finished fifth on the Trojans with 54 tackles in the 2011 season.

Recent articles:

USC defensive end Nick Perry to enter NFL draft

Nick Perry has plenty to consider

Video: Here’s Perry against Washington.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Montana CB Trumaine Johnson 03.30.12 at 8:53 am ET
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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.

Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson has been hounded by off-field issues. (AP)

TRUMAINE JOHNSON

Position: Cornerback

School: Montana

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 205 pounds

Achievements: AFCA FCS All-America (2010, 2011), AP first-team All-America (2010, 2011), Walter Camp Football Foundation FCS All-America (2010, 2011).

What he brings: Johnson has good size for a cornerback and has a reputation as a playmaker with good speed. He has shown strength in preventing yards after the catch and stopping the run. He would be a good player to develop in the Patriots’ shallow secondary, but he needs work when it comes to reacting better and faster in zone coverage, as scouts agree that Johnson struggles to change directions fast enough to break up passes or catch up to his man. Johnson can be a multidimensional player, as he returned kickoffs in 2010.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 1-2

Notes: Johnson finished the 2011 season tied for third on the team in solo tackles (35) and sixth in total tackles (54). He registered two interceptions in his senior season to finish his collegiate career with 15 interceptions.

Johnson has a track record of discipline problems, as he missed nine games in 2008-09 in part due to a suspension related to an alleged fight outside a fraternity house. In October 2011, Johnson was tased and arrested after allegedly attempting to resist arrest at a party. He was charged with obstructing a peace officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He pleaded no contest to those charges as part of a plea deal.

Recent articles:

WEEI.com at the Combine: Trumaine Johnson could be Patriots kind of cornerback

2 Griz football players plead no contest to disorderly conduct

Former Grizzlies prepare for NFL

Video: Here’s Johnson against Central Arkansas on Dec. 3.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Georgia CB Brandon Boykin 03.29.12 at 3:31 pm ET
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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.

Georgia's Brandon Boykin was one of college football's most versatile players, starting at cornerback, returning kicks and even playing some snaps on offense. (AP)

BRANDON BOYKIN

Position: Cornerback

School: Georgia

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 182 pounds

Achievements: All-SEC second team by Phil Steele and SEC coaches, Paul Hornung Award

What he brings: Boykin is a quick cornerback with superior athletic ability. He has been lauded for having great reaction speed and a tremendous physique, and he brings value as a return man. Scouts have noted Boykin’s strong football character and professionalism.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 2-4partly depending on his recovery from broken leg (see below)

Notes: In 14 games last season Boykin had 55 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He also scored a rushing and receiving touchdown while playing offense. Boykin’s versatility doesn’t end there. He is Georgia’s all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 2,663. This total is second in SEC history, and he is the only player ever in the conference’s history with three 100-yard plays of any kind.

During a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, where many felt he improved his draft status, Boykin suffered a broken leg. He missed Georgia’s pro day on March 5 but scheduled an individual workout for April 9.

Video: Here is Boykin’s punt return for a touchdown in the Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu at 8:25 am ET
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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.

Mohamed Sanu departs Rutgers as one of the most accomplished receivers in Big East history. (AP)

MOHAMED SANU

Position: Wide receiver

School: Rutgers

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 215 pounds

Achievements: Sports Illustrated All-America honorable mention (2011), Phil Steele fourth-team All-America (2011), All-Big East first team (2011), Maxwell Club Tri-State Player of the Year (2011), Homer Hazel Trophy Rutgers team MVP (2011)

What he brings: Sanu leaves Rutgers as one of the best wide receivers in both school and Big East history. He is a proven big-play threat, averaging 10.8 yards per reception over his career, and has a good mixture of size, strength, and open-field running skills. Sanu has reliable hands, and his long arms help him extend his catch radius beyond that of an average receiver. After the catch, Sanu is very capable of breaking through tackles and stiff-arming away from defenders. The only concerns about Sanu are his straight-line speed and the fact that he only has one season of exceptional production. If the Patriots decide to make a move away from Wes Welker, Sanu could be a good replacement.

Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1

Notes: Sanu recorded 100 or more receiving yards in seven games this past season. He set program and Big East records with his 115 catches in 2011, and is both the school and conference record-holder for career receptions (210). His 1,206 yards this past season marks the third-most productive total in program history, and his seven receiving touchdowns were a team best. Sanu also recorded the longest run in Rutgers history (91 yards). In high school, Sanu was deemed ineligible to play football as a senior because he turned 19 years old before the season began, but instead of leaving to play in prep school, he stayed to practice and help the coaches.

Recent articles:

Mohamed Sanu to enter NFL Draft, closing storied Rutgers career:

Settled in at Rutgers, Sanu breaks records:

Video: Here are some of Sanu’s top highlights.

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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Texas LB Keenan Robinson 03.28.12 at 2:16 pm ET
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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.

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson, here breaking up a pass against BYU on Sept. 10, has seen his draft stock drop. (AP)

KEENAN ROBINSON

Position: Inside linebacker

School: Texas

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 242 pounds

Achievements: Coaches All-Big XII second team (2011), AP All-Big XII second team (2010), Butkus Award semifinalist (2010, 2011), 2011 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP

What he brings: A pure 4-3 linebacking prospect, the speedy Robinson projects as more of a quick, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Jerod Mayo as opposed to a downhill, Brandon Spikes-type run stuffer. Robinson’s greatest asset is his speed, a talent that some teams project can be better utilized on the outside of a 4-3, allowing him to better roam in space. Robinson was underutilized as a blitzer while playing middle linebacker at Texas, leaving his capability as a pass rusher largely enigmatic should he move to the outside.

Robinson has a reputation for hitting with a vengeance and does a good job of bringing down ballcarriers. However, scouts have slammed his ability to fight through blocks and attack the line of scrimmage, claiming that he tends to go around blocks rather than through them. When he does go inside, Robinson is known to get swallowed up when taking on larger blockers. Despite the holes in his game, Robinson is universally identified as a high-character player and leader with solid game tape, which may be enough to outweigh the issues raised by draft experts.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 3-4

Notes: Robinson came into the 2011 college season as one of the top inside linebackers in the draft, but he has fallen drastically as scouts continue to pick apart his game. In one of his early drafts last year, ESPN’s Todd McShay had Robinson going No. 23 overall. Now, though, Robinson’s stock has drifted toward the middle rounds.

The speed-reliant prospect’s performance at the combine was hit-and-miss. Robinson’s 4.79-second 40-yard dash ranked 23rd out of 29 linebackers, which could raise eyebrows when talking about a player who has such high-end game speed. Meanwhile, Robinson’s 27 reps on the bench press was in the top five at the combine for his position.

Related articles:

The Daily Texan: Keenan Robinson displaying his versatility

Endzone Report: Q&A with Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson

Stateman.com: Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho give Longhorns twice as much punch at linebacker

Video: Here’s a package of Robinson’s highlights from his final game at Texas: the 2011 Holiday Bowl against Cal. Robinson recorded nine tackles in a 21-10 victory.

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