Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Beyond the 1st round: Linebacker
By Mike Reiss
(Each day over the next week, ESPNBoston.com will focus on one position in the NFL draft and highlight a prospect in rounds 2-7 who might fit. With so much attention placed on the first round in mock drafts, “Beyond the first round” focuses on lesser-publicized options beyond the first 32 picks)
Second round: Sio Moore (Connecticut)
Played well in postseason games, and tested well at the combine, which seems to have him as a prospect on the rise. He might not have the prototypical size for a linebacker in the Patriots system at 6-foot-0 and 245 pounds, but his work in the slot and in space could appeal if the club is looking for more coverage skills out of the position. Good speed.
Third round: Kiko Alonso (Oregon)
One of the 30 prospects to take a pre-draft visit to Gillette Stadium, Alonso (6-3, 235) has shown a knack for making plays in pass coverage, specifically against tight ends. He was arrested for DUI in 2010 and was suspended in 2011.
Fourth round: Michael Mauti (Penn State)
Playing under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, the 6-foot-2, 243-pound Mauti was an emotional leader for the Nittany Lions. Known for his sound tackling, he played on the weak side in his final year but might have some versatility to line up at other spots. A history of knee surgeries could be a concern for teams.
Fifth round: John Simon (Ohio State)
At 6-foot-1 and 257 pounds, Simon was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year after totaling nine sacks. One of the questions for NFL teams will be what position he fits -- end or linebacker. The Pro Football Weekly draft preview noted he could potentially "be tried in the middle as a 'Tedy Bruschi' type conversion."
Sixth round: Zaviar Gooden (Missouri)
Stood out at the combine among linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.47), among other drills, which is the type of speed that could help on special teams (e.g. Gary Guyton as a rookie). Also could be of interest in more of a coverage-type role.
Seventh round: Cameron Lawrence (Mississippi State)
Highly productive in his two seasons as a starter on the weakside, the 6-foot-2, 239-pound Lawrence is known for his smarts and competitiveness. He falls into the category of coverage-type option who would have to make a mark on special teams.
(Round projections aided by Pro Football Weekly draft preview and ESPN's Scouts Inc.)