Jerel Worthy’s Ability to Attack Quarterback Could Catch Patriots’ Eye in Draft

Jerel Worthy's Ability to Attack Quarterback Could Catch Patriots' Eye in DraftPatriots head coach Bill Belichick consistently looks to add depth on the interior of his defensive line, and this year's draft class has plenty of talent in that area.

If they're hoping to add someone with tons of power who can explode through the line and attack the quarterback, they might take a run at Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.

Worthy is the focus of the 17th installment of a 26-day series that will highlight draft prospects who could land with the Patriots at the end of April. Maybe the prospect fits perfectly in the range of their 27th and 31st picks. Maybe he's intriguing enough for them to make a rare move up the board. Or maybe it's a player who could be available in the mid-30s, causing the Patriots to, gasp, trade down.

Key Stats

The 6-foot-2, 308-pounder had 12 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, 102 tackles, five pass breakups and three blocked kicks in three seasons.

Why the Patriots Would Want Him

Worthy is extremely powerful and can get through the line with a nose for the quarterback. He plays the game with a level of violence, and that's an edge the Patriots covet in the trenches. New England has a good complement of players on the defensive line, but Worthy might be unique with his ability to attack the passer.

Why the Patriots Might Stay Away

There are concerns about Worthy's consistency and his inability to disengage from blocks. When he gets tied up, he doesn't always work hard to beat his man. Worthy also lacks lateral quickness, which hurts his chances to tackle shifty running backs. And Worthy's conditioning needs improvement.

Potential Impact in 2012

Worthy probably wouldn't beat out Kyle Love for the starting job next to Vince Wilfork, but the rookie would offer a nice change of pace for Love, who is more of a run-stuffing space eater. But Worthy would be an effective interior rusher as part of a deep rotation on the line.

Likelihood Worthy Is Available at No. 27

There's a decent chance Worthy is still there. He's definitely got the upside of a first-round pick, but teams might balk at Worthy's flaws and go in another direction. If the Patriots really want Worthy, their greatest competition might come from the Broncos (No. 25), who are in dire need of a boost at defensive tackle.

Each day in April, NESN.com will spotlight a player the Patriots could take with one of their first-round picks.

Monday: Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick

Wednesday: Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

Photo via Flickr/Mattradickal

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