In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:
Player: Jabaal Sheard
Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-2, 7/8, 264 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: 13th at defensive end (scouting report)
Draft projection: Late first round/second round
Why he’s on our list: A team captain, Sheard is one of the draft's better pass rushers and fits the standard -- from a physical perspective -- for a Patriots 3-4 outside linebacker. Players that fit are hard to find, so when you have a chance to select one, it warrants strong consideration.
Recommended link: Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes on Sheard in an article with the headline "Imperfect Sheard the perfect leader for Pitt".
Key stat: Totaled 19 sacks over the last three seasons, nine of which came in 2010.
Workout stat: Ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, one of the fastest times for a player at his position.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Sheard could line up at end or outside linebacker. For the Patriots' 3-4 scheme, he would be a good fit at outside linebacker. Whilehe doesn't have elite first-step quickness or closing speed, he is a dynamic and relentless pass rusher who uses his hands well and keeps offensive tackles off balance with a variety of pass-rush moves. While not an elite athlete, he moves well enough to hold up in underneath zone coverage. He can get engulfed by offensive tackles when he lines up at end, but he has the size (264 pounds) and strength to hold his own against the run at outside linebacker. The Patriots would do well to get him with the 60th overall selection."