Patriots Draft: Beast In The Middle

The Patriots spent time huddled with a number of prospects during Senior Bowl week. The guys up front were the ones most visible. Then again, with a number of soon-to-be free agents on their roster, restocking the line isn't such a far-fetched idea. Get inside to see who New England thinks can help them solidify things in the middle.

TFY Draft Preview is reporting that the Patriots spent time meeting with Pittsburgh tackle Charles Spencer during Senior Bowl week.

Spencer, who weighs 335 pounds and stands 6'-5" tall, was a defensive tackle in high school and in college before switching to offensive guard before the 2004 season. He went on to earn second team All-Big East and was named Pittsburgh's most improved player on offense. Spencer displayed a significant athletic and blocking ability throughout his 2004 campaign, despite weighing in as "very flabby with minimal tone" earlier this week at the Senior Bowl.

In four days of practice, Spencer generated a vast amount of interest from teams around the NFL. After New England met with him last week, several other teams also inquired about the big fellow from Poughkeepsie, N.Y, including Chicago and Baltimore.

Spencer easily handled his opponents all week long in practice. The 23-year-old showed no shortcomings in strength, but there were questions regarding his lateral movement and punch. Those questions were appeased by Spencer's tight mechanics and hard-working attitude. According to the Senior Bowl North Team practice reports, Spencer was debatably the best offensive line prospect at certain times of the week.

When it was time for the Senior Bowl game, Spencer played just as well as he practiced. He and the rest of the offensive line helped the North put up 31 points. He was also a major player in North's rushing success (200 yards on 44 carries).


Pittsburgh's Charles Spencer (56) pulling on a sweep

While Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady was not sacked excessively this season (26 times), he could benefit from a little improvement along the offensive line. New England's tackle Tom Ashworth has been experiencing knee and back problems that could potentially leave him out of the lineup next year.

New England's younger backups have also been nothing extraordinary in their time in Foxborough. Rookie Nick Kaczur and fellow 2005 draft pick Logan Mankins both have been mediocre at best. The need for a stronger offensive line has become a top priority in New England, and this year's draft class has many suitors.

The biggest name on the circuit is the 6'-5", 295-pound offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson of Viriginia, who is ranked the number one offensive lineman by Scout.com. Marcus McNeill of Auburn is another star the Patriots have already been in contact with. He is a beast of 6'-7" and 337 pounds with a lot of potential. Will Allen (6'-6", 315 pounds) and Max Jean-Gilles (6-'4", 340 pounds) have also been heavily recruited around the NFL.

When it comes signing time, the Patriots will have a tough decision to make, but Charles Spencer may fit the bill. With his size, skill and worth ethic, Spencer could be a good fit in New England. But to become a Patriot, Spencer needs to do everything he can on and off the field to make himself stand out from his competitors on the market.


Related: Charles Spencer Profile :: More Stories :: Scouting Report

 


Patriots Insider Top Stories