Scout Sightings: Patriots Look At Defense

Patriots Scouts are out and about looking for talent again. Our insiders have verified New England is digging for talent in the East this week. Who are they looking at and why? Get inside to find out.

The New England Patriots were one of the teams with a 3-4 defense expected for the Middle Tennessee State, Louisville game last week. Both the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets were also interested in the prospects on the field.

Here is a list of the players worth scouting:

Middle Tennessee State: (offiical site)

MLB, Danny Carmichael, Junior
OLB, Ivon Hickmon, Senior

Linebacker is still a position of need for the Patriots and MTSU has the players to fit the bill. Charmichael is considered a rising star among college prospects. Though the Patriots already drafted a top interior linebacker in the 2008 NFL Draft when they traded down to acquire Jerod Mayo out of Tennessee.

Sylvester Croom, a former assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers (2001-03), offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions (1997-2000) and running backs coach for the Chargers (1992-96), Colts (1991) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-90) had positive things to say about the MTSU linebackers. After all Croom coached linebackers for nearly a decade at Alabama (1977-86), so he should have an idea of what it takes to be a good linebacker.

"I'm very impressed with Middle Tennessee's defense; they're very fast," Croom told the Daily News Journal. "Their kids play really hard, and they've got one talented middle linebacker in No. 44 (Carmichael).

"... He's impressive. He plays with great intensity, a whole lot of intensity every play. He runs around the field a lot. I'm impressed with how he runs to make plays."

Accolades for NTSU's linebackers didn't only come from the competition, it came from the team's coach.

"I've said it every game this year, I think Ivon Hickmon is playing at a very, very high level," MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. "... Ivon is fast and he's making a lot of plays in space. And Danny is really playing good football now."

Louisville had their own standout players.

Louisville: (official site)

DT, Earl Heyman, Senior
CB, Woodny Turenne, Senior
QB, Hunter Cantwell, Senior
FB, Brock Bolen, Senior
C, Eric Wood, Senior

Last season Louisville had QB Brian Brohm drafted in the second round (Packers), WR Harry Douglas in the third (Falcons), TE Gary Baridge in the fifth (Panthers), Tackle Breno Giacomini in the fifth (Packers) and WR Mario Urrutia in the seventh (Bengals). One player the Patriots kept an eye on was a player taken in the first round of the 2007 Draft, DL Amobi Okoye who ended up selected 10th overall by the Texans.

Though Louisville doesn't have any defensive players rated as top ten worthy for 2009, Turenne and Heyman possess interesting potential. Center Eric Wood is an All Big-East performer and has the potential ability to step into the lineup of a pro team as a rookie. He is among the 10 best centers in college according to multiple Draft rankings. FB Brock Bolen is also considered a top 10 (at his position) prospect. While the Patriots may already have their quarterbacks of the future in Matt Cassel and Kevin O'Connell, Hunter Cantwell is worthy of consideration. If the Patriots opt to part ways with one, or more, of their three current QBs when Brady returns, Cantwell is the type of player they might go for. He's big (6-4, 230), and has the ability to get the ball downfield. He's struggled lately, but heading into the season, Cantwell was supposed to be one of the top prospects available in 2009.

BLOG...Best Big East Week Ever - 10/22
Louisville Runs Over Middle Tennesse 42-23
Preview 2008 - Experts Roundtable
MTSU linebackers impress Croom, Stockstill

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