Draft Rankings – Defensive Front Seven

Cameron Jordan (#97) comes in at #2 in my defensive line rankings. Picture via "Monica's Dad" on flickr

With regards to the defensive front seven (the D-line and linebackers) I’m going to look at the prospects from a Patriots perspective, identifying my top players for each position in the Patriots’ defensive system, as not all players are fits. Any notable players that don’t fit I’ll include at the end.

Potential Defensive Linemen

  1. Marcell Dareus – Alabama
    Dareus has experience playing in a 3-4 system at Alabama, at 319 lbs has the size the Pats look for. He’d fit as a DE in the Patriots’ system, but the problem is he’s likely to go in the top 3-5 picks.
  2. Cameron Jordan – California
    Another DE prospect, a little lighter at 287 lbs but very strong and a good penetrator. The Pats need their D-linemen to occupy blocks and stuff the run, so he might have to bulk up. Should be a top half of the 1st round guy, a possibility for the Pats at #17 but won’t last to 28.
  3. Cameron Heyward – Ohio State
    DE in the Patriots’ system. Like Jordan he’s under 300 lbs but he looks like a great 3-4 DE prospect to me. Dominant at the line. Might even last til #28 too.
  4. Muhammad Wilkerson – Temple
    Another DE. Has the size the Pats like (6-4, 315 lbs) and is also athletic and dynamic. Stock has been all over the place but might last to #28 and I’d love that pick.
  5. J.J. Watt – Wisconsin
    Yet another player that projects as a 3-4 DE although he played 4-3 end some at Wisconsin. Had a great  combine and his stock has been soaring up. Probably only a possibility at #17 and I’d rather have Jordan or wait til 28 for Wilkerson or Heyward.
  6. Phil Taylor – Baylor
    Athletic nose tackle that looks nothing like  the 340 lbs he is on tape. Could even play all 3 spots on the line. One year wonder. 2nd round pick.
  7. Stephen Paea – Oregon State
    Undersized NT, might bulk up or switch to DE. Might even be better suited to the 4-3 but could be a fit. Only 6-1, 303 lbs which is another problem.
  8. Marvin Austin – North Carolina
    Character issues and played 4-3 DT in college, but is over 300 lbs and could switch to 3-4 DE if you think he’s mis-cast as a “me first” kinda guy.
  9. Christian Ballard – Iowa
    A 4-3 DT/DE tweener that could become a 3-4 DE. Only 283 lbs but 6-4 and has had a visit with the Pats.
  10. Kenrick Ellis – Hampton
    Nose tackle who fits the uniform at 6-5, 346 lbs. Played against a lower level of competition and doesn’t have great numbers but how much of that is due to the position?
Best of the rest – D-line
  • Nick Fairley – Auburn could be a top 5 pick, despite concerns about his work ethic. Only fits as a penetrating 4-3 DT though.
  • Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson has been plummeting down draft boards due to a knee injury but was considered a top 5 talent. Strictly a 4-3 DE, I think.
  • Corey Liuget – Illinois should go mid-late 1st, but is a 4-3 DT.
  • Adrian Clayborn – Iowa is another 4-3 DE with injury concerns.
Potential Outside Linebackers
  1. Von Miller – Texas A&M
    All around might be the best defensive player in the draft. It’s him or Patrick Peterson. Prototype edge rusher with great closing speed. Problem? He’ll be a top 3 pick.
  2. Robert Quinn – North Carolina
    Although a 4-3 DE in college, Quinn fits the prototype for a Patriots OLB with his 6-4, 265 lb frame and plays faster than his 4.7 at the combine. Questions about whether he’s strictly a pass rusher not a rounded linebacker. You’d have to be sure you can fit him in, and then trade up to get him.
  3. Aldon Smith – Missouri
    One year of production but huge upside. Had 14.5 sacks in 18 games. A raw talent but could be devastating at OLB, or he could be a bust. I’d take the risk at #17 because I think he’s great. 
  4. Ryan Kerrigan – Purdue
    Another 4-3 DE that could play OLB in a 3-4 in the NFL. Incredible motor and great production. Very hard working. Sounds like a Patriot in terms of personality, has the frame to hold up on the edge, but sometimes looks a little stiff when dropping into coverage. A legit shout for #17. 
  5. Akeem Ayers – UCLA
    A rounded 3-4 OLB but not elite in any particular area. Is better in coverage than the DE conversion types and has some legitimate pass rush ability. If you miss out on a top guy at #17 I’d see if Ayers slips to #28.
  6. Jabaal Sheard – Pittsburgh
    A 4-3 DE/3-4 OLB tweener that can pressure the passer. Quick off the line but can struggle strength-wise and might not stand up so well against the run. 
  7. Brooks Reed – Arizona
    Did well later in the process with good showings at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Fast and athletic but requires some development.
  8. Justin Houston – Georgia
    Pretty stiff in coverage and pursuit otherwise would be a better prospect, much higher on the rankings. I wouldn’t touch him in the top 50.
  9. Sam Acho – Texas
    Intelligent and hard working but somewhat lacking in pass rush ability. If you want to take 2 OLBs he’d be a decent 2nd pick.
  10. Jeremy Beal – Oklahoma
    Another hard worker I wouldn’t mind taking if the elite pass rusher was already taken. Mid-to-late round pick. 
As for inside ‘backers, it’s lucky the Patriots don’t have a real need for this position. I’d say it’s a real possibility that they take a mid-round or late-round guy and two names that spring to mind are Casey Matthews from Oregon and Mark Herzlich from Boston College.
The positional breakdowns will conclude next with the secondary and then I’ll have a mock draft and some potential Patriots targets before the draft kicks off on Thursday night. Don’t forget to follow @FlyingElvisBlog and @RoryWalker on twitter!

Draft Rankings – Offensive Line

Despite only playing RT at USC, Tyron Smith (#70) is a top LT prospect that could go early in the 1st round of the draft. Image via "Neon Tommy" on flickr

Time’s ticking down to the NFL Draft now and there’s still a lot of positions to cover so I’m just going to post the rankings of all the tackles and interior guys here. My general thoughts on the O-line class is that there’s not a top-5 type tackle but a lot of talented guys that deserve 1st and 2nd round picks.

Offensive Tackles

  1. Tyron Smith – USC
  2. Anthony Castonzo – Boston College
  3. Gabe Carimi – Wisconsin
  4. Nate Solder – Colorado
  5. Derek Sherrod – Mississippi State
  6. James Carpenter – Alabama
  7. Orlando Franklin – Miami (Fla.)
  8. Marcus Gilbert – Florida
  9. Ben Ijalana – Villanova
  10. Marcus Cannon – TCU
Offensive Guards and Centres

  1. Mike Pouncey – Florida
  2. Danny Watkins – Baylor
  3. Clint Boling – Georgia
  4. John Moffitt – Wisconsin
  5. Stefen Wisniewski – Penn State
  6. Rodney Hudson – Florida State
  7. Will Rackley – Lehigh (Pa.)
  8. Brandon Fusco – Slippery Rock (Pa.)
  9. David Arkin – Missouri State
  10. Zach Hurd – Conneticut

Draft Rankings – Tight End

Can Notre Dames Kyle Rudolph be the next Rob Gronkowski? Hes the top TE in a poor draft class

This year’s TE class is pretty poor, especially when compared to last year’s class which produced Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez for the Patriots, as well as Tony Moeaki, Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Gresham who were also successful as rookies. I also doubt the Patriots will be in the market for a top TE considering they drafted Gronkowski and Hernandez in the 2nd and 4th rounds last year, but here’s my top 5 from this weak TE class:

  1. Kyle Rudolph – Notre Dame
    Rudolph is the consensus #1 TE in the draft and is often compared to Rob Gronkowski, mainly because that’s a rookie TE that set the benchmark and has similar size, and both missed a year due to injury before entering the draft. He falls short of Gronkowski on sheer power and athleticism but he’s a good prospect. I doubt Rudolph will be as good as Gronkowski was, who set an NFL rookie record with 10 TD receptions, but if TE was my top need going into the draft, he’d be my selection. Projection – 2nd round.
  2. Virgil Green – Nevada
    Physical prototype for the position. Great size, strength and speed. Also regarded as a hard worker and while Nevada mostly used his athleticism to make him a receiving TE,  he can do some blocking too. Pretty good hands and if he can build some more upper body strength for blocking he could develop into a great player. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
  3. Lance Kendricks – Wisconsin
    Aaron Hernandez-style H-back guy.  Athletic, good catcher, can stretch the field and runs fluid routes. The kind of guy you’d find a place for in your offense if you wanted too, because he could line up in the backfield, as a traditional TE or out wide. Just don’t ask him to block too much. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
  4. Jordan Cameron – USC
    Compares nicely to Jimmy Graham. A raw athlete with that basketball background  that NFL teams love in a TE, and flashed when given limited opportunities at USC. Might not be as good as Jimmy Graham was as a rookie, but has some unique physical tools – speed, strength, explosiveness – that you could work with and mold into a real weapon. Projection – 3rd – 4th round.
  5. Luke Stocker – Tennessee
    More of the stereotype for the position like Rudolph.  Not really the potent, athletic offensive weapon that the previous 3 could be, but he’s pretty solid, blocks well but doesn’t get the same level of production as a receiver, possibly due to a lack of route running ability and separation. Struggled at the Combine in drills. Projection – 3rd-4th round.
Don’t forget you can follow Flying Elvis on twitter for links to new posts @flyingelvisblog or you can follow me personally @RoryWalker 

Draft Rankings – Wide Receiver

AJ Green (Georgia #8) is the best WR in the draft, but the Patriots would have to trade up significantly to get him. Image via "Tennessee Journalist" on flickr.

Wide receiver is a position in this draft where there is a clear 1st tier that consists of two players, AJ Green and Julio Jones. Similar to the situation with Peterson and Amukamara which I’ll discuss when I get to the cornerbacks. I do think this position is a very deep one and there’s a lot of potential Patriots here. Wide receiver isn’t an urgent need in my opinion for NE but I think it’s one that needs to be addressed, possibly in the 2nd or 3rd round.

  1. AJ Green – Georgia
    For me, Green is the clear top prospect at WR, and he’s up there with Patrick Peterson, the corner from LSU, as the top guys in the whole draft.  In some people’s opinion, the gap between Green and Julio Jones has been closing over the course of the pre-draft process due to Jones’ great workout at the Combine. AJ Green is a real deep threat, and to me compares well to Larry Fitzgerald. Catches almost everything that comes his way, he has excellent size and runs with a fluidity and long stride that might remind you of Randy Moss. If I needed a number 1 receiver, there’s no-one I’d love to get more than Green. Projection – Top 5 pick.
  2. Julio Jones – Alabama
    If Green is Randy Moss,  Jones is Terrell Owens. Lots of ability after the catch, he runs with good strength and quickness and doesn’t shy away from contact. Physical freak who dominated the position at the combine and ran surprisingly fast as well. Played injured at times and that needs to be looked at. Handled himself okay but not great against Patrick Peterson, the draft’s top CB talent. Projection – Top 10-15 pick.
  3. Randall Cobb – Kentucky
    Cobb does it all. Caught passes and runs well after the catch, ran the wildcat as a lefty QB, returned kicks and was a team captain. He even held for kicks, not that that’s important. Very good athletically, but with an average frame he’s not a number 1 deep threat receiver but could be an excellent number 2 or even a slot guy with his agility and ability with the ball in his hands. Will need to improve his route running and strength but I think he looks like a Patriot. Projection – 2nd round.
  4. Leonard Hankerson – Miami (Fla.)
    Hankerson had me pleasantly surprised  at the combine with his 40 time and, while you don’t want to put too much stock in that, it made me feel a bit better about him as a player and I already really liked him. Not an elite deep threat or a shifty slot player, he’s more a number 2 or possession number 1 receiver. Anquan Boldin is a reasonable projection for what he might become. Projection – 2nd round.
  5. Titus Young – Boise State
    Players like DeSean Jackson have shown that  you don’t necessarily have to be as tall as Randy Moss to be a deep threat, and that pure speed and explosiveness can get you those deep passes. Titus Young is one such player that can do that. Agile, fast and fluid, he can be a deep threat or a flat-out huge mismatch against linebackers in the slot if you want. Also adds value in the return game. Projection – 2nd round.
  6. Torrey Smith – Maryland
    I was worried when I watched Smith’s tape that he didn’t run many NFL routes. I also saw a couple of times where he seemed to give up. If I was going to draft Smith I’d be worried about his mental attributes. However, physically I love the way he plays. Great acceleration and fantastic production as a receiver and a returner, and by all reports seems to have good character. Whether he’s competitive enough remains to be seen. Small hands. Projection – 2nd round.
  7. Greg Little – North Carolina
    The obvious knock on  Little is that he was one of the UNC players that was suspended for the 2010 season for taking “improper gifts” from an agent. On the field, he looks the part with great size, athleticism and speed. Makes some really great catches and makes them look easy at times. He lacks elite speed but he might drop down boards because of the suspension and that makes him great value. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
  8. Jerrel Jernigan – Troy
    A senior with great production at Troy, 5-9 Jernigan projects as a slot receiver at the next level. His athleticism also translates to the return game and while he is a little short he has good enough agility, vision and quickness to make people miss once the ball is in his hands. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
  9. Greg Salas – Hawaii
    Despite questions about whether he can fun a full NFL route tree because all his production was from the slot and he had freedom to improvise, I think Salas can be an good receiver in the NFL. Adjusts well to the ball and catches with his hands, rather than letting it into his body. Has a 2nd gear once the ball is in his hands. Projection – 3rd round.
  10. Edmund Gates – Abilene Christian
    A raw talent at a smaller school, there are a few knocks on Gates before we even get to the tape. On tape though, you have to like what you see from Gates. Great speed, hands catching, fluid routes. Flat out beat people for speed often, but is that due to the lower level of competition? Maybe, but he legitimately runs a 4.36. Projection – 3rd-4th round.

Draft Rankings – Running Backs

Mark Ingram is widely regarded as the top back in the 2011 NFL Draft but I prefer Virginia Tech's Ryan Williams (above). Picture via "VTCarter" on flickr

Following on from the QB rankings, here are my top running backs in the 2011 NFL Draft.

  1. Ryan Williams – Virginia Tech
    Rated as a 2nd-3rd round pick I think he’d be a perfect fit for the Patriots because I would look to take a running back in the late 2nd and then in the 5th or 6th round to make that committee with Green-Ellis, Woodhead and maybe Faulk.  Really aggressive runner who finishes his runs and hits the gap with explosiveness. Translation – the anti-Maroney and that would make a lot of Pats fans happy to see. As always with that style of runner, however, long-term injury concerns are there but I think all RBs have a short shelf life so just draft the guy! Projection – 2nd round.
  2. Mark Ingram – Alabama
    Lacks elite speed, elite strength or great skills as a pass catcher. Sometimes gets away with things in college that he wouldn’t in the NFL, but other than that looks the part. Very rarely fumbles, very rarely fails to maximize the inside runs. If BenJarvus Green-Ellis can run for 1,000 yards in NE then I don’t doubt Ingram could, but do you want  to take that guy in the mid-to-late 1st round? I wouldn’t. Projection – 1st round.
  3. Mikel Leshoure – Illinois
    Leshoure is not Rashard Mendenhall, but he has a lot of things about him I like. Keeps his feet moving, short steps, shifty and reads blocks. The negative is that whenever I watch videos of him the blocking is terrific and while it might be a positive that he can follow blocks and cut off of them well, you rarely see him just hit a small hole and burst through to the 2nd level. I like Leshoure but not sure he’s worth the pick at #28 because he has some Maroney-ness to him. Projection – late 1st, early 2nd round.
  4. Daniel Thomas – Kansas State
    Runs very upright and takes a lot of hits. Might fumble a lot. However, he is very athletic, has the measurables and shows good agility and gets to the outside well. Fluid runner and very productive. Projection – another 2nd-3rd round guy that is in that spot I said I’d look at.
  5. DeMarco Murray – Oklahoma
    Looks like a Patriot. Has lots of receptions from the backfield and split out wide, returned kicks and ran inside and outside. He’s done it all and has that versatility that Belichick and co. love so much. The only problem for me is that he’s in that same 2nd-3rd round range due to his speed and quickness and might not be durable enough at the next level. Same kind of worries I had about Dexter McCluster but I loved him. Projection – 2nd-3rd round.
  6. Kendall Hunter – Oklahoma State
    I like his willingness to block and his strong build which is important in protecting Brady from the blitz. Excellent production at OSU and showed great strength and balance when running inside. Projection – 3rd round.
  7. Jordan Todman – UConn
    Todman is yet another guy projected to be somewhere in that 2nd tier of running backs behind Ingram and Leshoure. 2nd-3rd sure seems to be the sweet spot in this RB class. Todman has great speed and quickness as well as ability in the return game and as a blocker. Has a lot of the versatility we think about for a Pats pick. My knock on him is that he’s pretty average in a lot of areas. Physically he could do with bulking up, which might help him break more tackles and offer more as an inside banger. Projection – 3rd round.
  8. Shane Vereen – California
    Vereen was almost a backup when Cal had Jahvid Best before he was drafted by the Lions and yet still had surprising production.  Once Best was drafted he averaged over 5 yards a carry and over 9 yards per reception as a team captain and also returned kicks well. He lacks that explosiveness and burst that some of the other backs in this draft have but also has taken fewer beatings owing to the time sharing snaps with Best. He’s projected to be suited to a zone blocking team and although the Pats have varied blocking attacks, they are predominantly zone. Projection – 4th round.
  9. Dion Lewis – Pittsburgh
    I like Lewis’ quickness in a small area. Seems to shake out of things well and get some production from a dead-end play which is handy in a running back. Pitt also has a pro-style O which is a nice bonus when looking at a projection but he’s lacking in top-end speed and size and struggles as a blocker. Useful scat back maybe. Projection – 4th-5th round.
  10. Johnny White – North Carolina
    White is a guy I’d look at as a committee guy if I’d already drafted someone in the 2nd or 3rd round. Aggressive runner which good bulk and quick feet, he also has experience on special teams which will help him make the roster and be that 4th or 5th guy on the depth chart. I like White a lot. Projection – 5th round.

For the record, there are a lot of backs I like in this draft and picking 10 was tricky. Closer to the draft I’ll be posting my potential Patriots targets like I did last year, and you might find a lot of backs on that list. Sneak preview – why not take a flyer on a guy like Noel Devine – lucky to be listed at 5-8 and 180 lbs, he’s that elusive, undersized runner that’s so exciting to watch in college, yet projects as a 7th round pick for the NFL Draft. As defenses figured him out, his production dropped from year to year in college at West Virginia, but that wasn’t helped by a toe injury (a tough injury for a RB). If used as a bit-part guy I think he could make one or two plays that could really shift a game in your favour. If the Pats acquire a late 7th round pick or he goes undrafted, consider him on my wish list.

Draft Rankings – Quarterback

Blaine Gabbert (Missouri Tigers #11) is my favourite QB in the 2011 NFL Draft. Picture via "vagabond by nature" on flickr.

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been working on my rankings for the prospects at each position in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. I’ll be posting my rankings of the top prospects over the coming days and weeks, and I’ll kick it off today with my top quarterbacks. For all of these lists this is how I would stack my board if I were a coach or GM in the NFL, running a system similar to that of the Patriots but there are some players I like that don’t fit in NE. I’ll note where applicable if the player is not suitable for the Pats. So, the quarterbacks:

  1. Blaine Gabbert – Missouri
    For me it’s Gabbert and then the rest in this class, and I’m not even fully sold on him either. This isn’t a great quarterback class but since Andrew Luck decided to stay in school, Gabbert is clearly the no. 1 guy in my opinion. He has an NFL-calibre skill set – good arm, mobile, good accuracy in the pocket or on the run. If I were the Carolina Panthers and I couldn’t shop the #1 pick – Gabbert’s my guy. Projection – Top 3.
  2. Jake Locker – Washington
    Locker or maybe Ryan Mallett will likely be the third QB taken in the draft, but for reasons I’ll explain later, I prefer Locker to Cam Newton, who will probably be the second signal caller off the board. Even more so than Gabbert, Locker fits the athletic needs for the position. The fact that Locker is no. 2 on this list, however, reflects the class more than the player. I wouldn’t touch Locker until the late 1st-early 2nd round range, maybe a team like Seattle who needs a QB but has a veteran in place. Locker has an element of boom-or-bust about him. With a baseball career as a backup for him, you need to have the belief that you can improve his accuracy and get his full focus on football. A shot at a starting job might do that for him. Projection – 1st round.
  3. Cam Newton, Auburn
    Newton has huge potential. The best athlete at the position, but with many question marks over his ability to translate to the NFL, he’s this year’s Tim Tebow. When you compare him to Tebow however, he matches up very favourably in the physical sense. Faster, a more elusive runner, a better throwing motion. Tebow was a proven leader and an absolute winner in college, and Newton doesn’t have that track record, but still a very good one. He’s won the Heisman and led his team to the National Championship as well after all. Huge boom-or-bust but someone will take the risk in the top 10. Projection – Top 10 but I wouldn’t take him.
  4. Ryan Mallett – Arkansas
    Part 3 in my boom-or-bust quarterbacks and the last one I can see possibly going in the 1st round is Arkansas’ Mallett. At 6-7, 247 lbs he has a big arm and can make any throw you ask of him. The downside? Needs to take a big step into his throws to fire that cannon-arm and is not mobile in the pocket. Doesn’t have the accuracy or ability to play a West Coast style, needs to be in a vertical passing system and lacks maturity. However, in the right system behind a good O-line that gives him a good pocket most plays, he could be a top class QB if he sets his mind to it. Projection – late 1st, early 2nd round.
  5. Christian Ponder – Florida State
    I like Ponder and if the Patriots want to take a QB in the 3rd round range as they did with Kevin O’Connell, Ponder might fit the bill (and hopefully be more successful).  Has the intangibles – strong character and leadership, makes good reads (most of the time) and really sells the play action (one of Tom Brady’s many strengths). The negatives are an elbow injury, and the occasional horrible decision. He intrigues me as a developmental prospect. Projection – 3rd round.
  6. Ricky Stanzi – Iowa
    Stanzi is a pro-style QB and, like Ponder, would be a guy I’d look at if I were the Patriots in the 3rd round. He also has the intangibles, the leadership, and has drawn comparisons to Tom Brady. Has a poor Senior Bowl but has shown up in the 4th quarter early in his career and is a real competitor – has played hurt. Projection – 3rd Round.
  7. Andy Dalton – TCU
    Dalton has a lot of fans, both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have raved about him on the ESPN: First Draft podcast, for example, but he’s physically limited in my eyes. All his physical attributes could be described as “average”. One thing I do like about him is the widespread perception that he improved dramatically every year during college. Makes him a perfect candidate to groom behind a sure starter, but he’ll probably be over-drafted following all this hype. Projection – 2nd-3rd round, but I’d take him in the 4th.
  8. Pat Devlin – Delaware
    Occasionally compared to Joe Flacco, which is ridiculous, but he is a very intelligent signal caller and led his team to a title. Good short accuracy but questionable down-field throws would suggest he’d excel in a dink-and-dunk offense, but needs plenty of grooming on a practice squad or as a 3rd QB. Projection – 6th round.
  9. Colin Kaepernick – Nevada
    Has a lot of physical tools but is being well over-hyped as a result. Athleticism is one thing but he also lacks bulk up top and worked in a simple system with few NFL-style plays. Projection – 2nd-3rd round but I wouldn’t touch him til much later.
  10. Greg McElroy – Alabama
    Leader, winner, but played with a good supporting cast on a strong team. Alabama is one of those Patriots’ pipeline schools because of the Nick Saban connection but lacks arm strength and other physical tools. I like him as a Brian Hoyer type camp competition guy that could be a backup. Projection – 6th round.

Well there’s my top 10 QBs for the draft, overall a weak group up top with some intriguing guys in the mid-to-late rounds. Next up – running backs.

Pats sign Stroud

Marcus Stroud during his time as a Buffalo Bills player

Earlier today, ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots had signed defensive lineman Marcus Stroud to a two year deal. The Bills cut Stroud roughly a month ago after he failed a physical. From what I’ve heard it was no surprise, as Stroud had been disappointing for the Bills during their transition to the 3-4 defense. That makes it a somewhat surprising move for the Pats, who also play the 3-4 and at 32, Stroud is no spring chicken.

Where the move does seem to make sense for the Pats is as an insurance policy for some of the unknown commodities on that D-line. Mike Wright had a serious concussion in 2010 that kept him out for two months, Gerard Warren is a free agent, Ron Brace has underperformed and Brandon Deaderick was suspended by the team for a short period at the end of last season. I see the D-line as Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and A.N. Other at this point. Stroud is mainly a run-stuffing kinda guy, kinda stiff and not much of a pass rusher at all, but if some of these other guys are gone, maybe Stroud will have a role to play in the rotation at D-line. Belichick does like to use a lot of guys there. I also suspect the deal is at or close to the veteran minimum, so there’s little to lose from taking a look at Stroud during training camp.