Draft: Patriots Could Use This Big Ten Lineman

<p>Linemen grow on trees, or at least that's the type of value the Patriots appear to place on them. With a roster full of low-round draft selections, and street free-agents, the Patriots have managed to win the Superbowl 3 out of the last 4 tries. In order to compete over the long haul, New England will need to restock their line with a promising young player who has experience from a big college program. This Big Ten prospect is just that.</p>

Big Ten linemen become NFL fixtures
By Denis Savage

Some of scouting is about competition. Teams want to know that you played against the best and held your own. The Big Ten has perennially been near the top of the list and Jonathan Clinkscale got his money's worth from the talented defenders.

A 6-foot-2, 315-pound guard who has dabbled at center, Jonathan Clinkscale earned a reputation as a tough-nosed player who plays Wisconsin football – in your face and excellent at generating push in the running game.

That, however, has made scouts question whether he is formidable in pass blocking.

Clinkscale admits he is better in the running game but he warns that isn’t all he is good for.

“I think my pass-blocking has improved a lot over the years,” said Clinkscale. “In high school, we didn’t pass the ball at all. That’s kind of why they came out here to get me for Wisconsin. Just working with Coach Hupert and just putting in the extra time, working on my technique, I think it’s helped me out over the years.”

But he is known for his agility in the running game. He is fleet of foot and can get around the edge to open up holes by crushing linebackers.

He disappointed during the Combine but bounced back to have a very good Pro Day, improving on all of his numbers and doing well in positional drills.

One knock on Clinkscale, which came up with his two different workouts, is consistency. He is seen as someone who can dominate at times but is also prone to mental lapses. It is the difference between a first-day pick and a second-day pick.

According to Clinkscale, he says he has to be ready for whatever comes his way and the Combine and Pro Day were just the beginning.

“When you play football, you have to perform when called on,” said Clinkscale. “It really doesn’t matter that you have to do extra little things because, in the NFL, it’s a real violent game, and you have to be ready when called. You never know what might happen. If you’re a backup, one rolled ankle will get you into the game. You have to be ready.”

With experience at guard and center, his versatility bodes well for the future. He doesn’t know which position NFL teams favor for him and views it as a bonus.

“They’re not really telling me exactly what they want me as, but they just like to know that I have the versatility, just in case someone gets hurt, to go in at either the guard position or the center position,” he said. “I think it helps me out that I played a little bit of both here at Wisconsin. It helps my chances of getting picked up. If you can do more things, they can’t get rid of you.”

The Chicago Bears, in the middle of Big Ten country, brought in Clinkscale for a visit and think he can be a difference maker in the NFL for the next 10 years, according to a team source.

Other teams feel the same way, but Clinkscale declined to go through naming them. Whether they all feel as strongly as the Bears do will be decided in two weeks.

“I think I bring some toughness, athleticism, quickness in pulling, getting to the second level to finish guys, a mean streak that comes from loving to play physically, and nothing else matters.”

Strong words. If he can back it up with his play, someone will be getting a steal on draft day.

Related: Prospect Profile: Jonathan Clinkscale :: Wisconsin pro day notebook :: 2005 OL Draft Rankings

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