There always seems to be that one guy who a variety of analysts link to a particular team for the majority of the pre-draft process.
Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt has taken that role with the Patriots. Obviously, it remains to be seen if the Pats' interest matches that of the national analysts, but there is definitely some reason to be intrigued. New England could use a boost at defensive end, and Watt could be the guy to add a charge to that defensive front.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pounder had 11.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss in two seasons at Wisconsin.
Why the Patriots Would Want Him
Watt might be further away from his peak than most first-rounders. He started his collegiate career as a tight end at Central Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin, sitting out a year and eventually converting to defensive end in time for the 2009 season. And while he has played as a 4-3 defensive end, he is viewed as a natural fit as a 3-4 end, too. Watt's work ethic, motor and consistent hustle have yielded rave reviews.
Why the Patriots Might Stay Away
Since there are so many talented defensive linemen in the draft, the Patriots might be able to hold off until late in the first round, which would take Watt out of the picture. There doesn't appear to be much to dislike about Watt.
Potential Impact in 2011
Watt would compete for a starting spot at defensive end and could line up alongside Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren. At the very least, Watt would join a rotation at end with Mike Wright, Ron Brace and Marcus Stroud.
What The Locals Are Saying
Watt gave up his scholarship, delivered pizzas and attended community college for a shot in the dark at Wisconsin.
Where Can the Patriots Expect to Draft Watt?
Watt will be off the board somewhere in the middle of the first round in the 11-20 range. There appears to be a pretty good chance he is available when the Patriots are on the clock at No. 17, but there is no way they can wait to take him at No. 28.
Every day through April 28, NESN.com will spotlight one player the Patriots could draft with one of their first three picks.
Friday, April 1: California defensive end Cameron Jordan
Saturday, April 2: North Carolina defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Quinn
Sunday, April 3: Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward
Monday, April 4: Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones
Tuesday, April 5: Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara
Wednesday, April 6: Alabama running back Mark Ingram
Thursday, April 7: Boston College tackle Anthony Castonzo
Friday, April 8: Florida interior lineman Mike Pouncey
Saturday, April 9: Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi
Sunday: April 10: Georgia defensive end/outside linebacker Justin Houston
Monday, April 11: Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers
Wednesday, April 13: UCLA outside linebacker Akeem Ayers
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