Clemson linebacker Ricky Sapp has practically been begging teams to realize his right knee has fully recovered from ACL surgery, but the doubts still remain. So the pass rusher extraordinaire from Death Valley understands that his draft stock is in flux, which means the Patriots can give him a look when they're picking at No. 22.
The 6-foot-4, 252-pounder finished his career with 17 1/2 sacks, 16 quarterback pressures and 38 tackles for loss. While playing on a bum right wheel during his senior season, Sapp had five sacks and 14 tackles for loss.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Sapp would be a more natural fit as an outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 system, but he could probably fill in at defensive end if need be. Sapp is big, but it looks like he could still add some more size and strength. He might be a little more of a project than some of the other pass rushers in this draft, but he has the potential to reach an elite level in a few years.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
Sapp tore the ACL in his right knee as a junior, and he has told reporters he played at 60 percent last season, which is a scary thought considering how dominant he looked against SEC competition. However, there are concerns about Sapp's recovery from that knee injury, despite his good showing at the combine. The Patriots obviously need help in the pass-rushing department, but they could pass on Sapp if there are more intriguing options available at No. 22.
Potential Impact in 2010
He would certainly be serviceable and could be an asset to the Patriots' limited pass rush, but Sapp would probably be used in a rotation with other outside linebackers. There's nothing terribly wrong with that, especially if he shows the potential to improve down the line, but that might not be enough of an answer for the Patriots in 2010.
What the Locals Are Saying
Here is a look at Sapp's rise through South Carolina ball.
Likelihood Sapp Is Available at No. 22
The sky is blue. The ground is hard. Jack Bauer kills terrorists. And Sapp will be on the board at No. 22.
NESN.com will spotlight players the Patriots could take with their first-round pick.
April 12: Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham
April 13: Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap
April 14: Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant
April 15: Michigan defensive end/linebacker defensive end Brandon Graham
April 16: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller
April 17: Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle
April 18: Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews
April 20: Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey