Draft: For the Patriots Versatility is Key

It's no surprise when our insiders caught up with this versatile Draft prospect that he's on the Patriots radar. A short conversation tells you all you need to know. See what he thinks about his potential and what he offers New England as a possible Draft selection.

One of the most dynamic players in this year’s draft is University of Cincinnati defensive end Connor Barwin. Barwin measures in at 6’4”, 253 lbs. and is perhaps the most versatile player in the draft. During Senior Bowl week, Barwin played not only defensive end, but also tight end, where he showed impressive hands.

“He was brought here as a tight end, so he will play both ways,” Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said of Barwin. “We call him three-way, in honor of his Cincinnati ties. He was also playing special teams too so we’ll call him three-way. He’ll have an opportunity to play in the game on defense some and he’ll also play some tight end. He chose to come here and show his versatility like that, which is good. It’s great for the teams to see, and he had a good time today, getting to put his hand on the ground again and get after the quarterback and chase the football.”

Barwin is a very physical player, who will not shy away from contact anywhere on the football field. As a defensive end, he’s developed a great spin move which he learned in just one year of playing defense. He’s showed good hands and runs good routes while playing tight end. Throw in some special teams, and Barwin is a throwback player from the days of ironman football.

“I’m happy about it (slash),”Barwin said. “It’s an opportunity for me to show I can play both positions because like Coach Lewis said I think teams have different ideas for me. Some teams like me at DE, some at TE, some at OLB, to have the opportunity to play both at this level is a good opportunity for me.”

In his only season of playing defense, Barwin recorded 49 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 11 sacks, six passes defensed, seven quarterback hurries, and he even blocked three kicks. Veteran numbers from a novice at the position. Barwin spoke about practicing at each position during Senior Bowl week.

“It wasn’t’ that difficult, playing D-line is not like some of the other positions on defense such as secondary and linebacker is not as complicated,” Barwin explained. “You have your gap and you stay in your gap. The transitions the first couple of days playing TE was a little harder because I played DE all season. Playing TE is a little more technical as far as steps and everything so that was a little more of an adjustment. Playing DE because I played it this whole season was a little more natural than playing TE.”

Barwin deflects a pass from Matt Grothe USF (AP Photo)

The obvious question is what would Connor’s position of choice be?

“Every NFL team is asking me what position is in my heart and honestly for me it’s about playing more plays and making more plays,” Barwin explained. “If I know I can play more plays playing TE for a certain team, I’m going to want to play TE. If I know I’m going to be a backup TE and I’m going to have a chance to fight for a starting job at DE, I’d rather play DE. Whatever happens, whatever team I get drafted by will have an idea of what position they’d like me to play and that’s what I’ll embrace and that’s what I will play.”

Barwin’s Senior Bowl coach Marvin Lewis from the Cincinnati Bengals shed some light on Barwin’s situation.

“It may be split,” Lewis said. “There may be some teams that see him as a tight end prospect, and maybe some teams see him as a defensive end or outside linebacker prospect because I think defensively, he can do well there as well. The key thing is that he’s on a team, you want to stay on a team. Versatility is a good thing, and guys like that can learn and understand and that’s an advantage we have there this week.”

Despite playing just one season at defensive end, Barwin is the seventh-ranked prospect at his position in April’s draft, and with the his pro day pending, Barwin is projected to be a second to third round pick.

The Patriots have met with Barwin, and continue to show interest in players with his type of versatility. Labeled as the next "Mike Vrabel", New England could use the talented Cincinnati player. Considering Vrabel was traded to the Chiefs as part of a package deal with Matt Cassel for a second round pick, New England could use that pick (34th overall), or one of thie later second round picks (they have 3) to nab Barwin before some of the other teams enamored with his skills select him.

Barwin's pro day is set for March 19th.

Barwin Profile Page
Draft prospect / visitor list

Draft Talk

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Patriots Insider Top Stories