Each week leading up to April’s NFL Draft, New England native Steve Muench of ESPN’s Scouts Inc., will identify a player he thinks could be a good fit for the Patriots.
While plenty of attention will be given to the team’s top selection, 22nd overall, the plan is to also look deeper. Along those lines, Steve highlights a possible second-round target today as the Patriots have three second-round picks – Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds:
“He won’t stay at defensive end. He’s listed as 262 pounds but I don’t think he’ll weigh in close to that. He looks much lighter on film so he’s going to move to outside linebacker and I think he’s the perfect fit for a 3-4 team like the Patriots.
“When you are moving a defensive end to outside linebacker, one of the biggest concerns you have is how well the player will hold up in coverage. We already know Worilds can hold up in coverage because Virginia Tech frequently dropped him into underneath coverage. He looks very fluid for his size and very comfortable. If you look at the Miami/Virginia Tech film, it shows you he is more than capable than making that switch to outside linebacker.
“He doesn’t defend the run very well at defensive end because of his size. He gets engulfed, has a hard time locating the ball, and has a hard time getting off offensive tackle blocks. But he has the upper-body strength, the quick hands, and the toughness to set the edge working against tight ends when he lines up at outside linebacker. So he would be much tougher against the run at outside linebacker.
“He is not the most explosive pass rusher in this class, but he is one of the most versatile. It’s almost cliché now to say a guy is relentless, but this guy is truly relentless. Just watching that Miami game, they would use a back to try to help the offensive tackle. You saw him fighting through the tackle and back, just non-stop. He’s the same way in pursuit against the run. He never stops working when he’s on the field.
“The biggest concern teams might have with him is health. He’s had multiple shoulder surgeries. In 2008, the shoulder was popping in and out of the socket during games. So I think the combine is going to be a very big deal for him in terms of how he checks out physically. I think if he didn’t have the shoulder problems, he’d be a lock to go in the early second round. I think it will cause him to slip a bit, but as long as he checks out at the combine, I think he’ll be in the second round and is the type of player who can help a 3-4 team looking for an outside linebacker.”