This week we're checking back in with some 2011 NFL Draft Prospects that the New England Patriots have taken a look at during this season. Some have developed nicely, while others certainly have some work to do.
Iowa defender Adrian Clayborn (Scouting Report) was checked out by the Patriots while playing against Eastern Illinois earlier this year, but Patriots scouts will be newly impressed after his impressive outing against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Clayborn totaled 10 tackles from his defensive end position, including three tackles for loss and one sack. He also drew a holding penalty and an intentional grounding flag.
The Hawkeye senior has the power, explosiveness, and ferociousness that will remind you of a young Richard Seymour. Clayborn, however, gives up about 25 pounds to Big Sey, and noted Iowa S&C coach Chris Doyle might have him already at his maximum bulk.
The Patriots might be tempted to cheat a bit and install Clayborn at RDE, where his pass-rush will be a valuable asset and his lack of bulk might be masked.
The Patriots took a gander at Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea (Scouting Report) earlier this year, but since then he has really solidified his 1st-round draft status.
Paea is a great fit for the Patriots 3-4 DE position, specifically the LDE position filled by Ty Warren when healthy. He anchors very well against the run, while still being able to collapse the pocket with his strong bull rush.
The power and quickness that Belichick desires are all there, although Paea's 6'1" stature is a bit small.
Texas A&M defender Von Miller (Scouting Report) only brings one thing to the table, but when that one thing is elite pass rushing ability, it tends to get Patriot fans attention.
While Miller has been hobbled with an ankle injury in 2010, only playing in three partial games so far, the Patriots scouting department seems to be keeping tabs on him. That might have something to do with the 16.5 sacks he unleashed in 2009.
Elvis Dumervil is the most obvious comparison to Miller, for good and bad. Dumervil has had an incredible time rushing the passer in the NFL, but struggles against the run and setting the edge. Miller's speed, quickness, and rush moves will definitely give him a good chance to duplicate Dumervil's sack numbers.
Unfortunately, Miller's lack of strength and bulk will give him a good chance off duplicating the injured Bronco's struggles getting off run blocks.
Derek Sherrod, OT from Mississippi State, is a lineman that the Patriots have been taking a look at since summer practices.
Unlike the other prospects that we've mentioned today, we don't see Sherrod as a legitimate contender to be drafted by the Patriots, at least at offensive tackle.
Sherrod doesn't have the footwork or lateral quickness that Coach Belichick requires out of his tackles. His technique on the edge leaves a lot to be his desired, as his lack of a true kickstep really sticks out.
Perhaps a move to guard would be a possibility, but there are better options available for the Patriots.
Our last prospect this week is a defensive back that comes from a college that may give Patriots fans pause. While Terrence Wheatley has been a disappointment so far in New England, current Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith is no Wheatley.
Standing in at 6'2" and 205 pounds, Smith is an imposing force on the field. He is very physical at the line of scrimmage and in coverage, although we'd like to see him support the run a little better.
While making the comparison now would be a bit ridiculous, Smith has the potential to develop into a Ty Law-esque physical corner in the NFL.
James Christensen's scouting updates will appear here on PatriotsInsider.com throughout the year. James is the publisher of NEPatriotsDraft.com, an independent website dedicated to covering the NFL Draft and college prospects with professional potential.