Minicamp Breakdown: Defense

PatriotsInsider.com scouted the players at New England's rookie minicamp last weekend. We bring you an inside look at how each defensive player fared over the two day event.

Analysis by Position

MINICAMP BREAKDOWN: DEFENSE

Defensive Linemen:
A small group of only two individuals. Both players have talent, although Brown has a better chance to crack the lineup. The weekend was full of individual drills, bag drills, and conditioning work. The group lined up with the backers and the defensive backs late in camp for play recognition.

Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson instructs Kareem Brown (95) and Zach West (69) during rookie minicamp May 12, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

Kareem Brown: No: (95): Pos: DL Ht: 6-4 Wt: 290 Acq: Draft 4th round -- Brown has the size and decent quickness in the drills we saw. Although most of Sat was spent watching the offense, we did catch a few bag drills with Brown getting instruction from Pepper Johnson. Too early to tell how his camp is going. The best way to evaluate a defensive lineman is when they go against other linemen. Because this is a minicamp, hitting was limited, and there were no one-vs-one offense-vs-defense type drills. Still, weighing in nearly 40 pounds less than he did last season, you have to come away impressed with Brown's determination to be in better shape as he reached camp. Brown told us after Saturday's practice that he feels shedding the weight allowed him to be quicker. When asked if it was a concern about holding up in the middle as a noseguard, Brown was quick to reply that he felt better at his current weight, and he didn't see any issue having shed his bulk.

Zach West: No: (69): Pos: DL Ht: 6-5 Wt: 295 Acq: UDFA -- West has the size (6-5, 295 lbs) to play takle or end. He reminds me of Mike Wright, a solid, interior lineman who could play a reserve role with the team if he does enough in camp to impress. While he was limited in 2005 after having fought injuries in college, West turned in a solid year at UTEP in 2006. 30 tackles (8 solo), 2 TFL (14 yards) and 2 sacks. West seemed more physical than Brown, but that's just up close. The true test comes in team drills.

 

Linebackers:
Easily the most scrutinized group. Belichick spent most of his time here during camp taking a decidedly hands-on approach.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick instructs three linebackers at Patriots minicamp: Bissinger (48), Lua (49) and Rogers (51) May 12, 2007 (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

 

Kyle Bissinger: No: (48): Ht: 6-3 Wt: 255 Acq: UDFA -- Moves well for a decent sized kid. (6-3, 255lbs). Seems more athletic than some of the other DE/OLB prospects to come through Foxborough previously. Not as big as McGinest or Vrabel, Bissinger reminds me more of a Tully Banta-Cain sized player. He looks to have a solid build where he could put on some extra weight if he's going to play the outside position. Intriguing prospect. Will be interesting to see him in full team camp.

Oscar Lua: No: (69): Ht: 6-1 Wt: 240 Acq: Draft 7th round -- On the slightly shorter side, only 6-1, 240, Lua looks to have a long way to go to build himself up physically to play the outside. Bissinger has a better physique, and seems more athletic, but Lua spent a lot of time next to Belichick listening to the personal instruction the head coach gave him. As Belichick stated in his press conference, he believes that some players prepare for the Combine and the testing drills while others prepare to play football. Some players have a long way to go to get into football shape, as he put it. Lua, knows it takes a lot of hard work to make it. For a guy who played alongside Lofa Tatupu and other great USC defenders, you would think Lua has an edge on the competition for a roster spot. It's too hard to tell at this point.

Justin Rogers: No: (51): Ht: 6-4 Wt: 250 Acq: Draft 6th round -- Always in the middle of things, yet not making any particularly exceptional moves to stand out. Ironically, his number 51 (Don Davis' old jersey) was whom I thought of when I saw him out there. He's built well, and moves well side to side. Not sure how fast he is though. His scouting report indicates he has the quickness to play on the other side of the line, something the Patriots desperately need from their linebackers. There's something about Rogers… something that gives you the impression the kid is willing to put in the work to make it happen.

Justin Warren: No: (47b): Ht: 6-3 Wt: 237 Acq: UDFA -- Stood around with what appeared to be an undisclosed injury. The two-time first team all Big 12 linebacker has the pedigree to play for the Pats as a reserve LB, but we really won't know much about him until we see him on the field. He did some time riding the stationary bike, but little else. He stood near Bill Belichick as the team went through defensive alignment drills. According to one scout we spoke with, Warren has the most upside of the bunch (of the rookie linebackers), but it will be up to him to show he still has the form he had in 05-06 when he was a two-time All Big-12.

 

Defensive Backs:
For a unit that needs serious help, Meriweather looks to be the only real first team player.

Patriots defensive backs make alignment adjustments during rookie minicamp drills on May 13, 2007. From left: Poland (43) Richardson (35), Meriweather (38) (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

 

Larry Anam: No: (41): Pos: DB Ht: 5-11 Wt: 197 Acq: UDFA - As a free agent, the BC product looked like he has the size and enough speed to challenge for the dime role. He's big enough to play safety, although he may be better suited for some corner work. Pretty quick on his feet, and has some vertical ability. Anam said all the right things during his interviews, but you know he has to believe it's a longshot to make the roster in such a crowded backfield. Still, he carried himself with confidence, and determination to make it. Words of wisdom 'They're going to play whomever plays the best"

Brandon Meriweather: No: (38): Pos: S Ht: 5-11 Wt: 195 Acq: Draft 1st round -- Quick, built well, looks like he has decent hands to defend the pass. Spent a good deal of time with the other backs just running agility drills, with backpeddling and change of direction. Too early to tell if he'll compete for a starting role, but the kid seems to be dialed in to what's going on. Probably his big school pedigree.

Mike Richardson: No: (35b): Pos: CB Ht: 5-11 Wt: 188 Acq: Draft 6th round -- Not sure where Richardson fits in the long-term plan. He's getting a decent look so far in camp. His Notre Dame pedigree and his draft status make it likely we'll see him through the summer.

Dennis Poland: No: (43b): Pos: S Ht: 6-1 Wt: 225 Acq: FA -- Tryout player who made the most of his camp. Hustled constantly, not bending over clutching at his shorts winded like some players. The kid has the build to be one of those Ray Ventrone hitters, but Poland (6-1, 225-pounds) is actually a bit bigger than Ventrone who was under 5-10. At first I thought Poland was a linebacker. It turned out he was a safety. Poland reminds you of the John Lynch type of player, without all the years of pro bowls.

 

MORE:
Minicamp Breakdown: Offense
Minicamp Photo Gallery 1
Patriots Coach Focused On Defense
Minicamp Interviews by John Ingoldsby


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