In each of the 10 days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify one player who projects as a solid fit for the Patriots at various points of the draft. Read all of the profiles.
Player: Corey Wootton
Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker
Listed height/weight: 6-foot-6, 270 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 5 at defensive end (scouting report)
Draft projection: Second round/Third round
Why he’s on our list: Size, versatility and production. Wootton is impressive from a physical standpoint and could be a 3-4 end (he’d need to bulk up) or project as an outside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4 scheme. The Patriots often say they want players who view football as important to their lives and Wootton fits the bill in that regard as well.
Recommended link: Dave Curtis of the Sporting News catches up with Wooton in Q&A form about how he’s handled the pre-draft process and where he stands after his Pro Day. Wootton’s biography on Northwestern’s official Web site has more on his career.
Key stat: Had 10 sacks as a junior, but was held to four last season as he was coming back from an ACL injury.
Workout stat: Totaled just 20 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press at the combine.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Wootton is a difficult prospect to evaluate and the reason is he tore the ACL in his right knee during the 2008 Alamo Bowl. While he played in 13 games last year and regained some of the burst he showed before the injury, he still didn’t look as explosive on film and there are no guarantees he ever will. He also turned in an average 40-yard time (low 4.9s), for a defensive end prospect, at his Pro Day. So even though he has some experience dropping and he is athletic enough to hold his own in underneath zone coverage on occasion, I don’t think he’s a great fit at outside linebacker in a base 3-4 front. Could he play 5-technique for the Patriots? He’s got the frame, long arms and enough upper body strength to develop into an effective 5-technique but I don’t think he is a great fit for New England. He weighed in at just 270 pounds at the combine, which is 20 pounds lighter than the lightest defensive linemen on the Patriots’ roster right now. Keeping all of that in mind, Wootton’s best fit is at power end in a base 4-3 front.”