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With the draft just hours away, here’s a quick preview of a few players we may hear called at the No. 7 pick tomorrow by the Patriots.
Vernon Gholston – DE/LB, Ohio State – 6’4″, 264
Why take him? The Patriots would be hard pressed not to select Gholston if he is available at No. 7. This draft is wacky as this talented DE hybrid could go as high as No. 2 or fall near the bottom of the top 10. His upside? Tremendous. His size? Freakish. Athleticism? Well, he was the only player in college football to get a sack off No. 1 pick Jake Long. Gholston had 22.5 sacks in his career at OSU, including 14 in his final season as a Buckeye. Many call him the next Shawne Merriman as he could play outside linebacker in the pros. The only question on him is that sometimes he disappears in games, but in a defense where he wouldn’t be the center of attention for the opposing offense, Gholston would provide more speed off the edge and give the Patriots another hybrid player who may eventually replace Richard Seymour, who didn’t look like himself in 2007.
Keith Rivers – LB, USC – 6’2″, 241
Why take him? Rivers has killer speed and athleticism for a guy his size. He has the speed and stamina to run sideline to sideline and make big hits. Many say he has good football instincts and a very good work ethic. The knock on Rivers is that he could become more effective in the trenches if he gains strength and needs to learn more about open field tackling. Rivers is an elite prospect but it may not be the right place to take him if you are the Patriots.
Sedrick Ellis – DT, USC – 6’0″, 305
Why take him? Ellis may be a little on the small side, but very quick and very powerful. Ellis can get off the blocks quick and shed defenders at will. He also has good instincts and seems like he can play forever without tiring. The question with him is the fact that he’s a little undersized and it’s tough to see how he fits into the Patriots scheme. Vince Wilfork is one of the most valuable players on the team and Ellis probably doesn’t have the physical set to play DE.
Leodis McKelvin – CB, Troy St – 5’10”, 190
Why take him? The Patriots are thin and getting older at the cornerback position and could use a playmaker who can play from day one. McKelvin is widely recognized as the top corner in this draft and would give the Patriots another weapon to add the arsenal which lost Asante Samuel and Randall Gay. McKelvin possesses good size, speed and he’s a very good tackler. He has good return skills and is a play maker. However, he’s not so much of a ball hawk as he only pulled in four interceptions in his career for Troy and did it against mediocre competition at times. He is a good prospect but it seems unlikely the Pats will shell out $15 some-odd million bucks for an unproven guy.
What’s going to happen? The 2008 draft is so unpredictable that it’s tough to find two mock drafts with the same Top 10. As for the Patriots, it seems as though everything depends on BC quarterback Matt Ryan and Arkansas halfback Darren McFadden. If either of those two players are available at 7, look for the Patriots to trade out of the pick. There are many teams who would be interested in moving up a few spots to select one of the two and the Patriots would like to trade down to pick up additional selections.
The more I study the Patriots needs and the sacrifice they would have to make financially, I think if Gholston is available, they make the pick, but otherwise they should and will trade down. Most of the players I mentioned above are great prospects, but most could be hit or miss, which is a big risk to take considering the amount of guaranteed money they’ll have to shell out. They will most likely trade down to the low teens and select Keith Rivers. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!