Patriots Draft Prospect: Darryl Tapp

Patriots' fans are already familiar with the tendency of Bill Belichick and his staff to acquire defensive ends and move them to the linebacker unit. In the 3-4 defense New England runs, linebackers who can rush and cover are at a premium. The hybrid types - as many have labeled them - tend to be on the lighter and faster side of defensive ends. The latest prospect out of the ACC is no exception. This number 55 would fit the Patriots mold quite nicely.

Darryl Tapp has been sneaking up the NFL Draft boards after an impressive Senior Bowl week that showed how his speed and nifty work with his hands could overcome his lack of height. His stature grew to the point that both 4-3 and 3-4 teams were courting him as the week progressed. It started with the New England Patriots asking him about possibly moving to outside linebacker and it wasn't long before other teams followed suit.

One of the nation's most explosive defensive players, Tapp led the Hokies with 10 sacks, 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 34 quarterback hurries.

Virginia Tech's Darryl Tapp (Photo/ Courtesy of David Knachel/Virginia Tech)

Although New England spoke with Tapp about shifting into the 3-4 alignment as a linebacker, the general feeling is that he could be a good pass-rushing defensive end due to his technique and tenacity.

The Patriots have a history of converting players who were ends in college to linebackers in their schemes. Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Tully Banta-Cain are just a few of the ones to make the successful transition.

Rosevelt Colvin will return to man one side of the Patriots defensive line, with the 34 year old Willie McGinest the other. McGinest is in the final year of his contract, and has stated he would like to rework his deal so he can finish his career in New England. His cap number, contract situation and his age may be enough to give the Patriots other ideas. With Tapp available, they could consider going with a younger player at the position.

To say that our experts who observed Tapp at the Senior Bowl practices in January were impressed would be quite the understatement. Here are some of their observations of his week of practice:

"Easily the most relentless player in Mobile. Tapp was wound tight and ready to explode off the line on every single play. At times he was wound a little too tight as he jumped offside multiple times every day. He came into the week having to prove his size was not a hindrance. It was not. His explosion off the edge was impressive, his pad level allowed him to push around bigger lineman, and his pass rush moves were multiple…"

(to read their entire week of practice evaluations on Tapp, go here (link) and scroll down to his box)

Our Denis Savage caught up with Tapp and talked to him about the Senior Bowl week and his preparations for the draft. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the link below.

Listen to Audio   (Windows Media Player required)

Related: Profile | Scouting Report | Top Ranked DEs | Senior Bowl: Wednesday Evening Buzz | Senior Bowl North Team Practice Reports |

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