Versatility Helps Prospects Become Players

<P>The Patriots seem to enjoy turning former defensive linemen into linebackers or &quot;tweeners&quot; as they're referred to. With MLB Tedy Bruschi sidelined by the effects of a mild stroke, New England finds itself in need of locating another of those hybrid players.</P><P>It's well known that New England is searching for another versatile defender they can take as a value pick in the 2005 Draft. The unknown is the round the team will go after their man.</P>

Versatility Helps Prospects Become Players
One Iowa player enjoys the label of "versatility"
By Michael Lombardo

He is one of the most versatile defensive players in the upcoming draft. He started his career as a fullback before moving to defensive end and eventually defensive tackle. Back in high school, he played each of those positions as well, in addition to playing linebacker and even punter. With the dawn of his professional career on the horizon, it is finally time for that versatility to pay off. He has already visited with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys and will play anywhere in the NFL.

"Whatever a team needs me to do," former Iowa Hawkeye Jonathan Babineaux said. "Tackle, defensive end...It doesn't matter to me."

The idea of returning to linebacker has been brought up as well.

"I've had a few coaches tell me that they want to work me out at linebacker too," according to Babineaux.

Babineaux's size has his projected position varying by team, as he fits differently into each defensive system. He has the quickness and burst to excel as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense that utilizes the one-gap technique. In a 4-3 that relies on bigger linemen, he has the size and speed to hold up at end. In a 3-4, he could add 10 pounds and play end or drop 10 pounds and play linebacker.

When he first arrived at Iowa, he weighed 230 pounds. Last season, he played at about 276. This off-season, he has been putting on even more bulk.

"I've been doing a lot of speed training and a lot of weight training and a lot of eating," said Babineaux of his off-season regimen.

Now Babineaux is up to 286 lbs., and most NFL coaches are pretty satisfied with that weight for him. Some however, would like to see him add even more weight.

"Some do," responded Babineaux when asked if teams wanted to see him bigger. "Some want me to stay the same weight."

His ideal weight is not the only thing left to be determined. His draft status is still very much up in the air as well. While his versatility will help him make a football team, it may actually hurt his draft status. While his unique blend of size and athleticism allow him to play several positions, he does not have the ideal measurements for any one spot. Despite those concerns, he has not been sweating where he will be drafted.

"I'm not really paying attention to that," said Babineaux of his where he is expected to be selected in the draft.

While he may not be paying attention to his draft status, there is no doubt that general managers league wide are. Whichever team drafts him will get a high-energy player who can and will contribute in a number of ways no matter what position he plays. After all, that is what true versatility is all about.


Prospect Profile: Jonathan Babineaux :: Saturday NFL Combine LIVE Feed :: Iowa Pro Day


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