10 possible Patriots: Cam Heyward

In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:

Player: Cameron Heyward

School: Ohio State

Position: Defensive end

Listed height/weight: 6-foot-4 5/8, 294 pounds

Scouts Inc. rank: 10th (scouting report)

Draft projection: First round

Why he’s on our list: After trading Richard Seymour in 2009, the Patriots have had several players line up at right defensive end over the last two seasons, although no long-term option has emerged. From this view, Heyward and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson are two of the top candidates in this year's draft to fill that void.

Recommended link: Les Carpenter of Yahoo! Sports writes on Heyward, the son of the late New Orleans running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward.

Key stat: Started 46 games over the last four seasons.

Workout stat: Underwent Tommy John surgery (left elbow) and did not participate in most drills at the combine; had Pro Day on March 30 to show teams his progress.

Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: "At 294 pounds, Heyward could line up at defensive tackle in a four-man front or defensive end in a three-man front. His greatest strength is his ability to defend the run. He can sink his hips and anchor against double teams when teams run at him. While we didn't get to see him bench at the combine, he shows above-average upper-body strength on film, and he has longer arms for a defensive end prospect, so he can lock out blockers and locate the ball. He's not a top-tier pass-rush prospect. His lack of ideal athletic ability limits his upside in that area. However, he is a tenacious power rusher with active hands, so he can pressure the quarterback on occasion. Heyward's elbow injury, which required Tommy John surgery, doesn't appear to be a long-term concern at this point and he is a fringe first-round talent. It would not surprise me to see him come off the board late in the first round, whether it's the Patriots at 28 or the Jets at 30. If New England does draft him, it could line him up at end in base 3-4 fronts and kick him inside when they go to a four-man front."