Scout Sightings: Patriots Back In ACC

Patriots Insider has confirmed another scout sighting for New England's college scouts. With the season winding down to a close, this is the last chance these scouts have to see the players from next year's Draft compete in a game. More top defenders, a couple of talented offensive playmakers and a potential replacement for Rodney Harrison?

Patriots Insider has confirmed that the New England Patriots were expected to attend Saturday's ACC matchup between Clemson and Virginia today. Scout.com NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber reports that The Patriots were one of five teams on the list for the game.

Here is a list of the players they will look at

Clemson:
Roster
Football News

OLB, Kavell Connor, Junior
DE, Ricky Sapp, Junior
DT, Dorell Scott, Senior
CB, Crezdon Butler, Junior
CB, Chris Chancellor, Junior
FS, Chris Clemons, Senior
SS, Mike Hamlin, Senior
QB, Cullen Harper, Senior
RB, James Davis, Senior
RB, C.J. Spiller, Junior
WR, Aaron Kelly, Senior
WR, Jacoby Ford, Junior
C, Thomas Austin, Junior

Michael Hamlin, top rated prospect
To Note: The 5-5 Clemson Tigers have the best passing offense and the best passing defense in the ACC. The pass defense has allowed just 163.5 yards per game (6th best in the nation).

The two safeties, Clemons and Hamlin are top 15 prospects at their position. Of the names on the list Hamlin, running back James Davis and receiver Aaron Kelly are projected as first day picks in the 2009 NFL Draft. Should junior running back CJ Spiller opt to come out in the Draft, he's also a highly rated prospect along with quarterback Cullen Harper who is a middle round projection.

How They Fit: The Patriots need defenders for the following season along with someone to shore up an aging and injury plagued offensive line. Center Thomas Austin is projected as a middle round pick as Clemson's best offensive line prospect. The Patriots have Dan Koppen under contract, and backup Russ Hochstein ready to fill in. hochstein will be free agent unless he's re-signed before March, so depth is a concern and the 6-foot-3, 315-pound blocker could provide that.

It's the team's safeties who draw the most attention here. The Patriots are in serious need of quality defensive backs. Although they selected Brandon Meriweather in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the injury to Rodney Harrison at this juncture will certainly require New England to search for his replacement, even with James Sanders taking over currently.

6-foot-4, 310-pound defensive tackle Dorrell Scott could provide the type of backup on the interior defensive line the Patriots desperately need behind Vince Wilfork. Although Mike Wright and Le Kevin Smith are listed as possible backups, an upgrade could be in order.

Draft History: DE Philip Merling (2nd, 2008), DE Gaines Adams (1st, 2007), Jets WR Chansi Stuckey (7th, 2007), CB Tye Hill -- whom the Patriots were highly interest in -- (1st, 2006), DL Trevor Price (1st, 1997) even Michael Dean Perry (2nd, 1988).

Patriot Alumni: No current Patriots played for Clemson. Past picks include: DB Jerome Henderson (2nd, 1991), LB Johnny Rembert (4th, 1983).

Virginia
Roster
Football News

OLB, Clint Sintim, Senior
MLB, Antonio Appleby, Senior
OLB, Jon Copper, Senior
DE, Alex Field, Senior
SS, Byron Glaspy, Senior
RB, Cedric Peerman, Senior
FB, Rashawn Jackson, Junior
WR, Kevin Ogletree, Junior
TE, John Phillips, Senior
OT, Eugene Monroe, Senior
OT, Will Barker, Junior

For More on Virginia, see this article on a previos Patriots scout sighting at a Virginia game.

To Note: Virginia has the second best passing attack in the ACC, managing 220.1 yards per game, second only behind Clemson in the Conference. Virginia leads the ACC with fewest sacks allowed with just 1.20 per game.

How They Fit: see previous analysis here

Draft History: Virginia has had some recent success with their players going high in the draft. Three players in the past three years were selected in the first round of draft: DE Chris Long (1st, 2008), OT Branden Albert (1st, 2008) and OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson (1st, 2006). Other notable names include Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller (1st, 2005), Houston QB Matt Schaub (3rd, 2004), Jets RB Thomas Jones (1st, 2000), current Jets LB James Farrior (1st, 1997) and the Barber brothers, RB Tiki (2nd, 1997) and dB Ronde (3rd, 1997).

Patriot Alumni: No current Patriots played for Virginia. Former Patriots draft picks include: RB Antwoine Womack (7th, 2002), dB Antuan Harris (6th, 2000) LB Chris Slade (2nd, 1993), RB Greg Taylor (12th, 1982),

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