In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:
Player: Mike Pouncey
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-5, 303 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 1 at center/guard (scouting report)
Draft projection: First round
Why he’s on our list: A team captain, he combines good size with athleticism, and plays a position in which the Patriots figure to be targeting at some point in the draft. If he struggles snapping at center, he would still be a factor at guard.
Key stat: Started 45 games at Florida.
Workout stat: Timed at 5.12 in the 40-yard dash, which reflects his athleticism.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Pouncey is a three-year starter who lined up at guard for two seasons and then moved to center, where he excelled after some shotgun-snapping hiccups early in the season. He is a tough run blocker with more than enough power to drive most defensive tackles off the ball and can battle bigger defensive tackles like Alabama's Marcell Dareus to a stalemate when he plays with sound technique. One of his bigger weaknesses is he can give too much ground in pass protection at times, but he gets set quickly and he shuffles his feet well enough to stay in front of defenders once locked. It would be unfair to expect Mike to make the same kind of impact that Maurkice, his twin brother with the Steelers, did last season. He's not quite as powerful or balanced at the point of attack. However, I think he quickly competes and wins a starting job, whether it's at guard or center. He's a bit of a reach at 17 for me, but there is a good chance that he's gone by 28, so they may make another draft-day trade to get him at the slot that makes the most sense for them value-wise."