In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:
Player: Brooks Reed
Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-2 4/8, 263 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: 10th (scouting report)
Draft projection: Late first round/second round
Why he’s on our list: A team captain, he is one of the better pass rushers in the draft and described as a hard worker who takes a passionate approach to the game.
Key stat: In 34 starts over the last three seasons, totaled 15 sacks and 20 tackles for a loss.
Workout stat: Had the fastest 10-yard split time (1.54) of any defensive lineman at the 2011 combine.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: "At 6-foot-2 4/8 and 263 pounds, Reed lined up at defensive end at Arizona and he could develop into an effective right end for a four-man front or move to outside linebacker in a base three-man front. His biggest weakness at defensive end is that he can get engulfed by offensive tackles when he doesn't win with quickness and teams run at him. The biggest concern about him transitioning to outside linebacker is that he lacks elite athletic ability and his experience playing in space is limited. However, he projects as a first-round pick because he has the burst, active/violent hands, balance, and closing speed to get after the quarterback regardless of where he lines up. New England missed on an opportunity to get an edge rusher when it passed on OLB Clay Matthews in 2009, trading the pick (26th overall). That's not to say that Reed will make the same kind of impact as Matthews has in his first two seasons. Few do, and remember that Matthews played linebacker at Southern Cal, so he hit the ground running. But does have the same kind of upside as a pass rusher. Landing him could prove tricky as New England may have to pull the trigger at 17 to get him. While we gave him a late first-round grade, boards obviously differ. His stock has been rising since the combine and a team that rates him higher could take him before 28."