Scott Crichton Among Classic Defensive Fits For Patriots In 2014 NFL Draft

Scott CrichtonBill Belichick and the New England Patriots are predictably unpredictable when it comes to the NFL draft.

The Patriots definitely seem to follow a pattern when drafting players based on measurables, but certain picks always seem to come out of nowhere (especially at safety). Trying to dissect Belichick’s drafting strategy can be a fruitless endeavor, but it’s worth an attempt.

With the help of the highly addictive website MockDraftable.com (seriously, feel free to waste the rest of your day clicking through every single player listed), which compares players based on measurables by a percentage, NESN.com has picked three players at each defensive position whom the Patriots might target.

Check out the best defensive fits for the Patriots in the 2014 NFL draft.

DEFENSIVE END

Scott Crichton, Oregon State
6-foot-3, 273 pounds

Compares to: Jarvis Green (89.2 percent), Justin Francis (86.8 percent)

Projected round: Second

Combine highlights: Didn’t shine in any one drill but had good agility for his size.

Fit: The Patriots are always looking for players this size who can play defensive end and defensive tackle. He could help boost the pass rush from the edge or interior.

Kareem Martin, UNC
6-foot-6, 272 pounds

Compares to: Chandler Jones (73.4 percent), Michael Johnson (73.6 percent)

Projected round: Third

Combine highlights: His 10-foot-9 broad jump and 1.53-second 10-yard split were elite for a defensive end.

Fit: Martin looks like the prototypical Patriots edge player. New England had strong interest in Michael Johnson last season. Martin is Johnson’s clone based on his measurables.

James Gayle, Virginia Tech
6-foot-4, 259 pounds

Compares to: Adalius Thomas (78.9 percent)

Projected round: Fifth

Combine highlights: He shined in explosion drills with a 37-inch vertical leap and 10-foot-2 broad jump.

Fit: Gayle could be a late-round boost to the pass rush. The Patriots lacked depth at defensive end last year.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
6-foot-6, 304 pounds

Compares to: Richard Seymour

Projected round: First-second

Combine highlights: A fractured foot kept him out of combine drills.

Fit: Tuitt and Seymour both didn’t participate in the combine, but they’re similar in size. Belichick likely will look at every Notre Dame product since he’s buddies with Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly.

DaQuan Jones, Penn State
6-foot-4, 322 pounds

Compares to: Ron Brace (79.8 percent)

Projected round: Second-third

Combine highlights: Jones wasn’t a workout warrior as a projected nose tackle.

Fit: Brace was a second-round bust, but the Patriots could try to draft another nose tackle to potentially take over for Vince Wilfork.

Shamar Stephen, UConn
6-foot-5, 309 pounds

Compares to: Ty Warren (89.2 percent)

Projected round: Sixth

Combine highlights: His 30.5-inch vertical leap was impressive for a defensive tackle.

Fit: If the Patriots are looking to switch to a 3-4, Stephen could be a prototypical five-technique defensive end fit.

LINEBACKER

Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA
6-foot-4, 235 pounds

Compares to: Chris White (77.6 percent)

Projected round: Third-fourth

Combine highlights: His 1.59-second 10-yard split and 6.99-second three-cone were among the top at his position.

Fit: If Dane Fletcher walks in free agency, the Patriots will need to find better depth at linebacker. Zumwalt also could be a quality special teamer because of his athleticism.

Howard Jones, Shepherd
6-foot-2, 235 pounds

Compares to: Jamie Collins (72.2 percent), Mark Anderson (74.5 percent)

Projected round: Sixth

Combine highlights: Jones flashed elite speed (4.60-second 40-yard dash) and explosion (10-foot-4 broad jump), but he’s so undersized at defensive end that he’ll need to pack on bulk or switch positions.

Fit: Jones would be a project, but his athleticism could be worth it.

Avery Williamson, Kentucky
6-foot-1, 246 pounds

Compares to: Jerod Mayo (76 percent)

Projected round: Seventh

Combine highlights: Williamson showed off great speed (4.66-second 40-yard dash), agility (4.07-second short shuttle) and explosion (10-foot broad jump).

Fit: Williamson would offer the Patriots an immediate contributor on special teams, and he has the upside to be linebacker depth.

CORNERBACK

Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
6-foot, 190 pounds

Compares to: Devin McCourty (80.2 percent)

Projected round: Second

Combine highlights: Had one of the best 40-yard dash times of the combine at 4.40 seconds.

Fit: Fuller didn’t look to be the smoothest cornerback at the combine, but he played smart at Virginia Tech.

Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
6-foot-1, 198 pounds

Compares to: Aqib Talib (76.9 percent)

Projected round: Second-third

Combine highlights: He hit the right mark with a sub-7-second three-cone. He also broad-jumped an incredible 11-foot-1.

Fit: The Patriots have been trending bigger at cornerback lately. Desir could be overdrafted because of his size, however.

Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame
6-foot, 195 pounds

Compares to: Eugene Wilson (85.8 percent)

Projected round: Fifth-sixth

Combine highlights: Jackson performed well in every drill but shined with a 10-foot-8 broad jump and 4.00-second short shuttle.

Fit: Another Notre Dame prospect, Jackson would offer depth at cornerback.

SAFETY

Jaylen Watkins, Florida
5-foot-11, 194 pounds

Compares to: Ras-I Dowling (85.3 percent)

Projected round: Third-fourth

Combine highlights: Watkins had a top five 40-yard dash among cornerbacks (4.41 seconds), but that mark would be elite if he was moved permanently to safety.

Fit: The brother of top wide receiver prospect Sammy Watkins played safety as a senior at Florida after starting his career as a cornerback. He could be drafted in the mold of a Eugene Wilson or Tavon Wilson, who could potentially play both positions.

Terrence Brooks, Florida State
5-foot-11, 198 pounds

Compares to: Brandon Meriweather (72.9 percent)

Projected round: Third-fourth

Combine highlights: Has rare 4.41-second speed for a safety.

Fit: Brooks offers similar measurables to Meriweather but likely without all the headaches.

Tre Boston, UNC
6-foot, 204 pounds

Compares to: Duron Harmon (71.1 percent)

Projected round: Seventh

Combine highlights: His 4.53-second 40-yard dash was above average for a strong safety.

Fit: Boston has similar measurables to both Harmon and Tavon Wilson, which can only mean one thing: He’ll be drafted by the Patriots three rounds too early.

Click here for the Patriots’ offensive fits >>

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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