Top Five Options On The Patriots Board

Who is on the Patriots Radar? We have confirmed over 70 players who have received interest, including many who visited Foxboro. Which ones make sense in the First round? Here's out top 5 most likely to still be on the board

OLB - Everette Brown, Florida State: Scouts' thoughts on Brown vary widely. Some think he's the best pass rusher in the draft. Others don't. Some think he's as good as Orakpo. Others don't even think he's a first-round talent. Some of that is the Florida State stigma, which the Packers know well with Jamal Reynolds. It doesn't help that Brown was listed at 6-foot-4 in college but is a shade less than 6-2. Nonetheless, he had big-time production with 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for losses last season. Superior quickness and strength. High-character and a desire to prove detractors wrong.

DE - Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State: More of a boom-bust proposition than the steady Jackson. At 6-5, 288, he's faster, stronger and more explosive than Jackson. Tallied 9.5 sacks and 22 tackles for losses as a senior defensive end in SJS's 4-3. But that production wasn't there his first three seasons, and he didn't always dominate against offensive tackles who have no chance of playing in the NFL.

OLB - Clay Matthews, USC: More varied thoughts, though not as extreme as on Brown. The one-time 169-pound walk-on wasn't even a starter until early in his senior season. Matthews (6-3, 240) blossomed with nine tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks. Dominated the predraft process, including the Senior Bowl, to send him up draft boards. Fast (4.67 40) and explosive (35.5-inch vertical), and football is in his genes with father Clay and uncle Bruce. Proven special-teams standout is huge bonus.

ILB - Rey Maualuga, USC: The 6-foot-2, 249-pound Maualuga personifies an inside linebacker. A big hitter who goes through blockers rather than runs around them. Compared to Ray Lewis by Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. Could play middle linebacker in a 4-3 but is a perfect fit as a strong-side inside linebacker in a 3-4. Consistent three-year starter with eight sacks and 18 tackles for loss in that span. About the only knock on him is he probably isn't athletic enough to stay on the field on passing downs.

CB - Darius Butler, Connecticut: Butler (5-10) is a talented cover man. While he lacks ideal height, he has long arms, can jump out of the building with a 43-inch vertical leap and tied for the fastest 40 among the corners at the Combine (4.46). He finished with 10 career interceptions but none last season, when teams didn't bother throwing at him. Standout at Senior Bowl. Adds juice with 23.5-yard average on kickoff returns last season. Met with the Packers at the Combine.

Scouting reports come from Bill Huber, writer Packer Report on the Scout.com network.


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