Patriots' Scouting Guide to the 2014 Senior Bowl
Instead of playing in the Super Bowl this year, their scouts will be looking for a special player or two in this year's Senior Bowl that could put the Patriots over the top.
Here are six players that Patriots scouts are sure to be watching intently down in Mobile, Ala.
Note: Players were included based on scheme fit, overall talent, positional need and projected draft position.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE, Iowa)
Seantrel and Zack Martin both stand out in team. Fiedorowicz is a better blocker than most OT in draft. Destroyed Marcus Smith #notredame— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) January 22, 2014
Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is often described as being a third offensive tackle on the field. While he doesn't have the same vertical game as Rob Gronkowski, Fiedorowicz is effective in the red zone and is adept at running intermediate routes.
Fiedorowicz projects as a "Y" tight end in New England's offense and is likely to be picked on Day 2 of the draft. With Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan both scheduled to become a free agent, tight end is a big need for the Patriots.
Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame)
Zack Martin is good, y'all. Fluid moving in his slide. Moves with hands loaded. Just a little short armed for conventional LT.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 22, 2014
Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin has a lot of things going for him. He has good feet, functional strength and the versatility to play multiple positions. As Matt Miller alluded to in the above tweet, his short arms are an issue, and they may warrant a move inside to guard.
If New England doesn't feel comfortable with either Dan Connolly or Marcus Cannon at right guard—or has concerns about the long-term health of Sebastian Vollmer—Martin could be in play in the first round of the draft. If Logan Mankins' cap number can't be fixed, Martin could take over at left guard as well.
Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt)
Vanderbilt wideout Jordan Matthews does everything right. He runs routes well, he catches with his hands, he gets off the line of scrimmage, and he is diligent in the film room.
Matthews would project as competition for Aaron Dobson at the "X" receiver position, although offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could certainly find a way to get them on the field at the same time.
It remains to be seen where Matthews will end up being drafted. If he runs well at the combine, he could easily be selected in the first round. If he tests poorly, it is conceivable that he could fall into the third round due to a deep receiver class.
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, Eastern Illinois)
Second-best quarterback in Mobile, by far, has been Jimmy Garoppolo. Spinning the ball, quick & compact release. Like him a lot.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 22, 2014
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has made the most of his chances at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, impressing at both events. His quick release helps him get the ball out early, and despite some issues with his accuracy on deep passes, his ball-placement is above average.
While Tom Brady isn't going anywhere, the Patriots could get some calls on backup quarterback Ryan Mallett during the draft. If Mallett is traded, New England will need to draft a backup. Garoppolo might have played himself out of their range, but if he is available on Day 2 of the draft, he could be a steal.
Kyle Van Noy (OLB, Brigham Young)
Kyle Van Noy playing well in team drills again. Haven't watched him much today, but filled with strength inside once, opened, ran w/TE another
— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 21, 2014
BYU outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy is a veritable Swiss Army knife. He can rush the passer, play the run, drop in zone and even play man against tight ends. At 6'3" and 245 pounds, those are impressive traits.
Van Noy projects as an outside linebacker in either the 3-4 or 4-3. With Bill Belichick's penchant for versatile defenders—especially those with a passion for the game—it wouldn't be out of the question to see Van Noy picked in the first round of the draft.
Weston Richburg (C, Colorado State)
Another strong day for CSU center Weston Richburg...Quick hands, quick feet and good balance. Blocked Donald and Hageman in 1-1 drills.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 22, 2014
Colorado State center Weston Richburg is not a household name, but his play at the Senior Bowl has turned many people into believers. He doesn't wow you in any one area, but he simply gets the job done with solid technique and deceptive athleticism.
With Ryan Wendell scheduled to become a free agent, the Patriots could be looking for a center in the draft. Richburg is the No. 1 center in the draft, as I noted on NEPatriotsDraft.com, and he will likely come off the board on Day 2 of the draft.