After months of studying the NFL draft, we'll start our list of "10 perfect Patriots," narrowing down the list of prospects to a select group that we feel would be ideal (and realistic) for the New England Patriots, while adding a few draft-related thoughts:
Player: Stephon Tuitt
School: Notre Dame
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-5 1/2, 304 pounds
Scouts Inc. position rank: 2nd-DE (scouting profile)
Draft projection: Late first round/early second round
Why he's on our list: Tuitt has rare physical traits (34 5/8 arm reach) that would fit what the Patriots have valued in the past. Furthermore, when a team plays multiple fronts like the Patriots do, a prospect such as Tuitt, who could provide an interior pass rush and play multiple techniques, figures to be appealing. He was one of the team's 30 in-house visits, which was likely tied to a stress fracture diagnosed at the combine.
A feel for the defensive end/defensive tackle class: Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said the team views the defensive line as one of the deeper classes in the draft, along with receiver and running back.
Recommended link: Andrew Owens of Blue & Gold Illustrated writes on Tuitt overcoming injury to produce in 2013.
Key stat: Totaled 21.5 career sacks in three seasons.
Workout stat: Even with a 34 5/8 arm length, he had 31 repetitions on the bench press.
Draft strategy: Tuitt might not be on the board at 29. If he is, he could be one player we could envision the Patriots potentially passing on a trade down because he's viewed as more valuable than the projected compensation. If Tuitt isn't picked in the first round, it's hard to imagine him lasting too far into the second round.