Penn State has a number of top tier Draft prospects working hard to improve their Draft position for the 2009 NFL Draft in April. With names like Aaron Maybin, Derrick Williams, Maurice Evans, A.Q. Shipley and Gerald Cadogan it's no wonder the rest of the draft prospects are feeling slightly underappreciated.
New England has been connected to Maybin throughout his Draft preparation process. From the Senior Bowl to the Combine and even on his Pro Day, Maybin's name is synonymous with New England through many of the top mock drafts, mostly because he fits the Patriots' Draft need so well. A talented defensive end that projects to an outside linebacker at the next level, Maybin has drawn interest from plenty of teams.
But what about Maybin's teammates? Are they on anyone's radar?
Wide Receiver Derrick Williams has drawn interest from a number of teams including New England, and for good reason. He was Penn State's all-purpose playmaker. Kick Returner, wide receiver, running back, you name it, Williams was the jack-of-all-trades for the Nittany Lions.
Williams doesn't play defense, and that's where the Patriots need the most help. One Internet report pegged Maybin and Williams' teammate, defensive lineman Josh Gaines, as having met with the Patriots. Gaines' agent Angelo Wright denied the report, but did confirm to Patriots Insider that Gaines has spoken with the Patriots. New England is one of a number of teams showing interest in the talented defender, but no visits or workouts had been arranged at the time.
With the need to backup Vince Wilfork and the other defensive linemen, adding Gaines to the roster could be considered a smart move. The 6-foot-1, 276-pound lineman was part of a dominating defense Penn State used to get to the Rose Bowl
Unlike Evans or Maybin, Gaines isn't considered a standout player by many Draft experts, but that doesn't mean he can't find a niche. Able to play tackle in a 4-3 or both tackle and end in a 3-4, Gaines had to adjust to the role of moving inside at Penn State.
"It was fun, but I had a great year this year," Gaines told the Press-Enterprise. "It was natural. I felt like I belonged there, almost. The only thing was adjusting to the run."
The former three-sport high school athlete knows competition and kinship go hand in hand. Coming from a family of 11, Gaines had plenty of competition at home. Maybe because of that environment Gaines was able to accept his role as a contributor playing behind former Penn State stand out Tamba Hali as a sophomore, and later sharing time with Evans and Maybin.
The co-defensive captain of the team in 2008, Gaines looks to use his performance at Penn State to land an invite to a camp somewhere.
"I'm definitely viewed as a tweener," Gaines said. "Whatever they want, I'll do."
Whatever they way him to do is precisely the kind of attitude to have if he's going to land a role in New England.
Pro Day Interview:
More on Gaines courtesy Go Penn State Football