Lavonte David May Be Undersized, But Skills, Athleticism Promise Big Impact if Patriots Need Extra Help on Defense

Lavonte David May Be Undersized, But Skills, Athleticism Promise Big Impact if Patriots Need Extra Help on DefenseNebraska outside linebacker Lavonte David looks like one of the best pure football players in the 2012 draft class, but he's really undersized for his position, which means he'll be lucky to crack the first round.

The team that takes him probably won't regret it, so long as they've identified a purpose for him. David is a great example of how scouting departments view game tape against measurables.

David is the focus of the 11th 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-1, 233-pounder had 285 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 10 passes defended and two interceptions in the last two seasons.

Why the Patriots Would Want Him

David is a tackling machine with great instincts and clutch playmaking ability. He's also very strong in coverage, and the Patriots could use a boost in that area. Because of David's size, he really only projects as a 4-3 outside linebacker, so that would need to be the Patriots' defensive commitment going forward. Otherwise, he could play in sub sets on passing downs. David's athleticism should also make him a good special teams contributor.

Why the Patriots Might Stay Away

If the Patriots are reverting to a 3-4 defense and don't want to use a pick late in the first round or early in the second round on a sub player, they'll look in another direction.

Potential Impact in 2012

If the Patriots stay with the 4-3, David would have a great chance to start on the outside. Otherwise, he'd be a rotational player who would get his opportunities on passing downs.

Likelihood David Is Available at No. 27

It looks like a virtual certainty. If the Patriots want David, they may even be able to identify a point early in the second round where they can trade down and nab him.

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

Tuesday: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd

Thursday: Boston College inside linebacker Luke Kuechly

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 Twitter/@Braska_4

Patriots on Twitter

Yardbarker

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 183,909 other followers