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Tracking the Draft Prospects: Linebacker

Discussion in 'Wait, Who???' started by Super Nomario, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    Reiss is beating the drum pretty hard for the Pats to take Ohio State's Ryan Shazier in the first round, a move that makes zero sense to me. Shazier is an undersized (6'1" 237) LB with range who'd be a coverage option on sub downs and depth for an LB group that lost Spikes and Fletcher.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uCHkBCkT50
     
    I think they're going to have enough trouble getting snaps for the three LB they already have when healthy, to be honest.
     
    Some of the mocks have Jordan Tripp of Montana as a 4th-round possibility. He's also smaller (6'3" 234) guy, but Nolan Nawrocki describes him as having a "special-teams temperament," even having served as an emergency long-snapper. He excelled in the agility drills (best 20-yard shuttle, 4th-best 3-cone)
     
    http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/jordan-tripp?id=2543735
     
    Another guy who excelled in the agility drills was South Dakota's Tyler Starr, who recorded the best 3-cone despite being more the size player the Patriots draft at LB (6'4" 250). He's more of a project and might project more as a DE/OLB type than an off-the-line LB. I think he's considered more of a late-rounder.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azuNv-9yQsA
     
  2. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    I'd be hugely in favor of taking Shazier. One thing we need to consider, that Doug Kyed has also brought up as well, is that the Patriots may experiment with playing Collins as DE on some snaps. The more I think about, the more I think the Patriots are going to invest in a coverage-type linebacker. Shazier fits the bill and is a willing (in fact, fierce) tackler and would be a special teams standout right away.
     
    Right now, the depth behind the 3 starting LB is very weak. I don't think it means they have to take a LB early but if Shazier is there and the one of the better players available, I can easily see them taking him. I think it'd be a mistake to pass on a player like him because our starting 3 is solid. 
     
  3. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    The problem is that there's not even a starting 3 - 70% of the time last year, the Pats were in sub. The third LB is a situational player - a fourth LB is a special teamer only when everyone is healthy. The LB corps is young, too - Mayo's been around a while but is still just 28, and Collins and Hightower are in their second and third seasons, respectively.
     
    They need some depth, depending on what they think of Beauharnais / White / Davis, but as far as front-line talent it is literally the position of least need on the roster.
     
  4. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    I think that drafting top-line LB talent allows greater versatility in defense e.g. can run more 3-4, more blitzing from linebackers, maybe finally finding effective players at the "money" position etc. in addition to much-needed quality depth. I also disagree that it is the position of least front-line need (I rate QB, CB, OT as less needy). My personal opinion is that they should absolutely go into the draft preparing to take a really good player in round 1 even if that player is at LB.
     
    Whether Shazier is a good fit or not can be questioned. My view is that he'd be a tremendous player. He's tremendously explosive and athletic, a hard-hitter, can move around in coverage and is scheme diverse. I'd love to take him but I'd also be fine with taking another LB at that spot too.
     
  5. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

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    6,181
    I would be horrified with an LB in the first given our needs and potential of so many fits on the d or o lines. This would be like buying a luxury car before repairing your foundation.
     
  6. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    Zero sense? Shazier would free up Collins and Hightower to take DE snaps which we desperately need.

    Is 237 undersized? I would guess that's about average for a 4-3 OLB.
     
    Link?
     
  7. mpx42

    mpx42 lurker

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    2,684
    67%, per Mike Reiss.
     
     
    http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4756733/snaps-defensive-breakdown-for-2013
     
  8. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    Thanks. I was hoping for more in depth break down than that though.
     
  9. mpx42

    mpx42 lurker

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    Yeah, I couldn't find a better breakdown - PFF and the like don't really offer one by team like that, just by player. ESPN Boston did have little tidbit posted after 6 weeks into the season:
     
     
    http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4751374/pats-in-sub-defense-69-percent-of-time
     
    That's a pretty decent snapshot of how often they play in sub defense, but doesn't break down the particular defenses between 4-2-5 and 3-3-5, etc.
     
  10. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    The definition of the "money" position that I'm aware of is a sixth defensive back playing a LB role in a dime defense. So Shazier wouldn't be playing money, he'd just be playing linebacker.
     
    I think adding another off-the-line LB makes the front seven(/six) less versatile, not more. You can't play four LB off-the-line, especially in sub, so now Collins (and/or Hightower) has to play on the edge so Shazier and Mayo can play off. You hurt the versatility of your versatile players by locking them into a framework where they're forced into certain roles.
     
    The nickel defense today looks something like:
    (DLINE) Jones / Wilfork / Kelly / Ninkovich - (LB) Mayo / Collins - where does Shazier fit in? There's already no room for Hightower. You can bench Kelly or Wilfork, shift Jones inside, move Collins up to DE, and put Shazier in at the other LB spot, but does that improve things? It's also not an everydown option, as Jones doesn't have the bulk to play DT regularly.
     
    Well, I certainly don't think they should take a crappy player in round 1. But if Shazier or another (non-pass-rushing) LB is far-and-away the best player on their board, I think they should trade back.
     
    As for position of least need, my view is not just for 2014. Mallett's gone after next year, and Brady's getting older. Revis and Browner may not be around in 2015. Both starting OT have injury question marks. But LB is settled with young players locked up for a while. From the standpoint of the next 2-3 years, it's the position of least front-line need on that team. And that's my issue - I'd be fine with awkward or imperfect fits for a season, but Mayo, Hightower, and Collins are settled for a while.
     
    And to be clear: my issue is with fit, not with Shazier himself.
     
    Take DE snaps occasionally, fine (though I have some doubts, particularly about Hightower). But unless it's an every-down thing, I don't see how you get enough snaps for everybody. I 100% agree DE depth is a major issue; I just don't think this is a good solution to that problem.
     
    Another way of looking at this: the Pats played 1304 snaps on defense last year (per PFF, including playoffs). LB (Hightower, Spikes, Collins, Mayo, Fletcher, White, Beauharnais) totaled 2781. That's 2.13 LB per play. This doesn't count situations where Jones and/or Ninkovich played LB.
     
  11. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks for the detailed response SN. I really enjoy reading your analysis and opinions on this board. I still disagree with you on this though. I think one of the strengths Shazier brings is that he can cover in sub so they can play the extra linebacker. My point with the "money" position is that it exists as a DB/linebacker hybrid position which I think they can experiment with a player like Shazier. Saban said in his video that they teach linebackers to play the money as well. So I guess it's a matter of semantics.
     
    The reason I think Shazier/other athletic linebacker makes the front more versatile is that the Patriots can have Collins and/or Hightower shift in DE spots at times - something they both did in college. So to me, just looking at LB snaps from last year won't tell the whole story because I see the defense evolving to more multiple front looks if everyone is healthy.
     
  12. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    To be clear: it's not an extra linebacker. They're already in nickel, the "sam" linebacker having been replaced with the "star" (slot corner). So they're already down one LB from base. Playing Shazier means they don't play a 6th DB, but they rarely played dime anyway.
     
    Can you describe the kind of multiple front looks you envision in terms of personnel on the field and where they're lining up? Because as I've explained, when I try to run through the possibilities, they make little sense to me.
     
  13. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    On passing downs, I can see something like
     
    Nink-Armstead/Kelly-Jones-Collins
    Mayo-Shazier
    Revis-Arrington-Browner
    Harmon-McCourty
     
    Or Hightower rotating snaps with Nink on other downs
     
  14. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    This is a fine setup for a few snaps a game. I have two issues with it:
    1) with no Wilfork or Hightower and Jones playing inside, it's very weak against the run, so it's not an option except in obvious passing situations
    2) You sort of take advantage of Collins versatility to play DE, but you aren't using it to create confusion. By putting him on the line, he becomes just a DE.
     
    Compare to a lineup of:
     
    Nink - Kelly/Armstead - Wilfork - Jones
    Mayo - Collins
     
    This is an everydown lineup, solid against the run, but you can also throw a bunch of different looks in the pass rush, with Collins' ability to blitz and Ninkovich's ability to drop into coverage. You drop Nink to LB and play Collins up on the line to sow confusion. For a lighter look (akin to yours above), you can sub in Hightower for one of the DTs, and he provides similar rush / pass flexibility:
    Nink - Armstead/Kelly - Jones - Hightower
    Mayo - Collins
     
    This accomplishes a lot of the same goals as your lineup above, while a) being more versatile, and b) not requiring use of a first-round draft pick.
     
    Shazier doesn't allow for more versatility. The front already has versatility, because it has versatile guys like Collins, Ninkovich, and Hightower. Shazier takes away from your versatility, because he's a small LB who locks everyone else into "bigger" roles. What would help versatility is adding a 4-3DT/3-4DE hybrid type like Tuitt or Hageman.
     
  15. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    I see your points but again disagree with the overall assessment that it makes the defense less versatile. He can be eased into a role like Collins was last year and is excellent injury insurance. He also potentially could be the Patriots best coverage linebacker.
     
    Again, I'm not saying it's preferable to taking an excellent 4-3DT/3-4DE hybrid type. But I think it depends on the quality of player you have there. Hageman, in my opinion, is very raw and not worth a first round pick.
     
    I'm overall disagreeing with your notion that selecting Shazier makes zero sense.
     
  16. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    With Collins there was Spikes in the last year of his contract opening up a spot a year later. With the current LB crew there aren't any openings until 2016 at the earliest, and probably not until 2017. Getting Shazier in the lineup will involve injuries or playing guys out of position in the meantime. If Mayo was 32 and in the last year of his contract, I'd feel differently.
     
    As for Shazier's coverage abilities, maybe he would be the team's best coverage 'backer. But Mayo is pretty good, and Collins looked terrific covering TE in the playoffs last year. Is upgrading from them to Shazier's potential upside worth a first-rounder? I have a hard time seeing that.
     
     
  17. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    Well, my view on the DE class is probably less optimistic than yours. I think there's one good DE in the entire class. Now with free agency over and the draft (IMO) not being an option, maybe Collins and Hightower need to do it more than occasionally. Hell, Shazier might be a good DE prospect relative to the other options. Also unless he's blitzing I find Hightower pretty useless in pass defense.

    I wouldn't have thought of this. Nicely done, SN.

    Is he though, or is this just something people say? To me he's mostly a run plugger.
     
  18. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    I'm not a scout and don't follow college that closely, so you may be right about the DEs. But even if you are, using a first-round pick so you can shift a couple LBs to DE for a few snaps a game seems like a convoluted solution to this problem. If there aren't any good high-pick options at DE, I'd rather them upgrade DE depth on the cheap (with a later pick or a vet like Will Smith) and spend the first on OL or something.
     
    How good do we think Collins and Hightower are in conventional DE roles? They used Buchanan and Carter over them last year (and in Hightower's case, JAGs like Justin Francis, Jermaine Cunningham, and Trevor Scott the year before). There's a big difference between blitzing from LB and rushing from DE, and I'm not sure they have the arsenal of pass-rushing moves to get us really excited about the prospect of seeing them at DE more. I think getting them at LB behind 3-man fronts where they might get a matchup on a RB or TE rather than an OL is a better use for their blitzing abilities than lining them up against an OT.
     
    I did typo the total LB count (should be 2781, not 1781), but the 2.13 ratio is correct.
     
    I think he's good at both. There was a discussion on this a while ago and KFP pointed out some plays. PFF is all over the place on him. The staff certainly seems to have a high opinion of his coverage abilities, at any rate - he almost never comes off the field.
     
  19. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    There are people who think Collins' best role is as a 4-3 rush DE.
     
    Doug Kyed:
     
     
    Mike Mayock (before the draft):
    Yes, we all thought he did well later in the season in coverage. But the staff could still be convinced his best role is as a pass rushing DE.
     
  20. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    I and a lot of other people thought that would be his role coming out, but the Patriots gave no indication they agreed. They spent the season grooming him as an off-the-ball LB and giving sub rushing snaps to Buchanan and later, Carter. Collins rushed the passer on just 34 of his 302 snaps last year per PFF (52 / 441 including playoffs), and my recollection is those were predominantly more typical LB blitzes rather than him lining up on the line of scrimmage and going against an OT.
     
    Even if the Pats want to do this more, there are other dominoes that need to fall into place - a DE either has to come off or kick inside, and those options limit how much they can do this. They also don't need Shazier to play Collins at DE; they can play Hightower or Ninkovich at LB. That's not as strong in coverage as with Shazier, but I also don't see first-round value in upgrading here.
     
    In a vacuum, Shazier might be the best player available at 29, but he's a solution in search of a problem for this particular team.
     
  21. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    I agree with you to some extent but how much of this was because of the need at LB with Mayo injured and then Spikes banged up? The difference between Hightower or Ninkovich in coverage vs Shazier is huge in my opinion. Shazier is a guy with 4.4 speed and 6.9 3-cone shuttle. We're not just talking covering RBs in the flat here - we're talking about the possibility to run down the field covering RBs, TEs and even slot receivers. I've seen enough of Hightower to know that'd spell trouble for the Patriots.
     
  22. RedOctober3829

    RedOctober3829 Member SoSH Member

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    I think the only LB they'd bring in is a 6th-7th round guy who would be a special teamer ala Tracy White or Dane Fletcher.
     
  23. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Very little, I would say. Collins wasn't playing much when Mayo was healthy, and Mayo's injury didn't result in an uptick for Collins. There were two weeks in the middle of the season where Mayo was on IR and Collins played 4 snaps total - they didn't really need Collins at LB until Spikes went on IR, and that wasn't until the playoffs.
     
    Sure, Shazier's a better cover player than Hightower, but for reasons already explained I don't see the Pats doing this enough to justify using a first-round pick on the upgrade.
     
    To be clear, is it your position that LB is a need for the Patriots (aside from depth with the departures of Spikes / Fletcher)? Or do you just think Shazier's such a good player that he's worth taking even if not an ideal fit, and let the pieces fall where they may?
     
  24. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    Thanks for the info SN. I know you keep track of the snaps much more than I do so I appreciate the insight.
     
    My position is that I think the Patriots need to primarily, improve their pass rush, and secondarily, improve their coverage abilities on third-downs without being extremely vulnerable to the run.
     
    The optimal way to get this may just be to get a quality DE/DT who has pass rush skills and leave Collins in coverage. However, I look at the DE/DT class and at 29, I don't see anyone standing out at that position. If Ealy is there, then maybe. Or if the Pats love Tuitt.
     
    But, I think a very viable option is to take a player like Shazier, who I think is a tremendous player, and move some of the chess-pieces around to improve pass rush and coverage. I'm not particularly worried about an immediate fit either because I don't really expect any player we take at 29 to play a lot of meaningful snaps early so I'd be fine with taking Shazier, having him play special teams and some passing downs and then working him into a bigger role like they did with Collins.
     
  25. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    I'm OK with no immediate fit as well. My issue with taking a LB like Shazier that high is that I think it's a poor fit 2-3 years out. In Collins' case, Spikes' impending FA meant there was an opportunity to work him into a bigger role. I don't see that opportunity with the age / contract status of the current LB crew. All the fit concerns I've described are multi-year problems; I wouldn't mind if they were just 2014.
     
    If as you (and Phragle) say there's no value among pass rushers at 29, I'd rather see them go a different direction - trade back, or address a need on the offensive side of the ball.
     
  26. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    It wouldn't be a few snaps. It would be 100-200 each. There is a massive need for a third DE/additional DE snaps.
     
     
    I'm not sure Smith has any more left in the tank than Carter.
     
     
    I think Collins would be an excellent pass rusher, and Hightower would be an excellent run stopper. Film of them at DE isn't hard to find, they both played it in college.
     
     
    He's valuable because he's a great communicator, play caller, and leader, but he's already been passed by a rookie college DE in pass coverage ability. He can handle some TEs, but not pass-catching RBs or slot WRs. I think he's a MLB. His skill set plays down as a coverage LB.
     
     
    This is devils advocate right? The dominos falling is a good thing. Getting Jones and Nink a blow and/or finding more inside snaps for Jones is ideal. That's exactly why we need a 3rd DE so badly. A tired defense is a bad defense.
     
    And they do need another LB to do that. Nink can't be used there because A. he's not getting the rest he needs, and B. he's not the the type of LB you want in nickel defenses. I don't even think he's a LB anymore. He's bigger than he used to be. And Hightower is a 1-down LB right now. He can't be on the field much in passing situations.
     
    You can make a better pass defense with Shazier than you can without him
     
    DL: Nink, DT, Jones, Collins
    LB: Shazier, Mayo
     
    If you put Smith, Carter, or Bucanan in at DE, or Hightower in at LB it's worse, not better.
     
  27. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    100 snaps over 16 games is 6 per game, which I'd call a few.
     
    And we're still talking about how many total snaps for a new LB - 500 max? Compare to drafting an everydown OL, who will play 1000+. 
     
    College, yes, but the Pats haven't used them in that way in the pros despite trotting out JAGs like Carter (and the year before, Scott and Francis).
     
    I disagree, but I guess if you see both Mayo and Hightower as 2-down LBs than Shazier makes sense. I don't think Belichick sees them that way, however.
     
    Sure. But that lineup is too light to use except in obvious passing situations. I don't see them running it frequently enough to make it worth a first-round pick to upgrade it.
     
  28. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    Well I didn't know you meant per game. It could be more anyway. Nink and Jones have to play less.
     
    Maybe BB doesn't see it this way, but a line with Cannon and Mankins at guard and Connolly at center would be fine with me, and I've been leading the way on hate for the interior O line.
     
    So far. Many felt predraft that Collins wasn't ready for DE duty as a rookie. Who knows about 2014. I compared him to Cameron Wake who entered the league 245 pounds and is now 260 pounds.
     
    What do you disagree with? Also I didn't say that about Mayo. I just don't think he's a OLB. One could say the same about Hightower. Mayo is a 3-down LB, Hightower isn't.
     
    It's the same type of front-6 Seattle started and used to dominate the Broncos.
     
  29. Dogman2

    Dogman2 Yukon Cornelius Dope

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    My thoughts too.  Jordan Tripp in the 7th round would be a nice pick.
     
  30. Eck'sSneakyCheese

    Eck'sSneakyCheese Member SoSH Member

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    I'd agree that another body at LB may be more important than initially thought. There is literally zero depth at that position. There's Mayo, Hightower, Collins and... who? Beauharnais? If they get another DE Nink could be moved to OLB but other than that who's there? The more I think about it the more I see the Pats possibly going LB early. Shazier would be a nice addition to the crew they already have. A coverage LB is something they've been missing for years now.
     
  31. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    It's not just about 2014. You've still got 32-year-old Connolly in the last year of his contract next to 32-year-old Mankins, and the only depth behind them Wendell and a bunch of UDFAs.
     
    I guess this is possible, but it would be weird to me to draft a guy who'd most recently played DE in college, spend the whole year grooming him to play off-the-line LB, then have him bulk up and move to DE the following season. Is there any precedent for this kind of career path?
     
    FWIW, PFF was always lukewarm on Mayo as an ILB and graded him much higher in 2012 when he switched to WILL. As for Mayo's coverage abilities, he sometimes struggles with the C.J. Spillers of the world, but pretty much everyone does. He's not one of the elite cover LBs, but I think he's solidly above-average.
     
    Three LB is not zero depth ... on most plays (67% of the time last year) you only play two. I agree they need to add another guy, but I think LB depth is less a problem than DE depth, OL depth, TE depth, and RB depth.
     
  32. Eck'sSneakyCheese

    Eck'sSneakyCheese Member SoSH Member

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    My eyeballs saw more than 2 LB's per play lay last year. I think you're vastly underestimating the importance of another LB. I see it as DE, OL, LB, TE, RB.
     
  33. Phragle

    Phragle wild card bitches SoSH Member

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    You're right it's not just about '14, but you have to take a starter in the first round, or at least someone that will see rotational snaps. If ^ that ^ is the offensive line or not I'm still probably taking Tuitt and adding O line depth later.
     
     
    What makes you say he's being groomed? That makes it sound weird. I think he was just too light for DE, but not LB. BB likes his edge guys at least 255-260 pounds. Out of college he was also poor against the run so he had some work to do on top of being too light. Also I don't want him to be DE, I just want some DE snaps. 
     
     
    I don't put any stock in that, and even if I did he could have simply developed. He happened to move to OLB as he reached his prime. And who's to say if those rating increases came when he was actually playing WLB? Doesn't mean a thing to me. If you describe him qualitatively you're describing a good 3-down MLB.
     
    Usually the more they play in sub packages the less it matters (because the are no MLBs or OLBs), but that's not the case if he's next to Hightower. Mayo should be the worst in coverage and the least athletic LB on the field in the nickel defense - like he would be with Collins or Shazier, but not with Hightower. Well unless it's a nickel that needs to be more run defense based, like vs the Niners or Panthers. Not all nickels are created equally.
     
    Two or less you mean. 67% sub package, not 67% nickel.
     
  34. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    2.13 (see above), so sometimes more than 2, but on average just over 2.
     
    I'm all for another LB, I'm just against using a first on it. As for your rankings, you might be right on TE, depending on Gronk's health, but I think you're selling the RB need short. Depth is shallow for 2014, and Vereen and Ridley are both in the last year of their contracts. Contrast with the long-term picture at LB, where all of Hightower / Collins / Mayo are under control for a while.
     
    I think that's a reasonable approach. Cannon is a mystery at RG; they seem kind of reluctant to use him there, but maybe there's just been unfortunate timing with injuries. I won't have a problem if they take an OL in the first round at plug him at RG, but I won't have a problem if they go your way either and try to find a C a little later.
     
    I think Collins was a project at LB or DE. Early in the year they didn't seem comfortable playing him anywhere (just 134 snaps the first 12 weeks), but by the end of the year he was an every-down LB (304 snaps the last 6). That tells me he made big strides in whatever they needed him to work on as a LB. They may have also been teaching him DE techniques behind the scenes, but that didn't translate into seeing the field in that role.
     
    It depends on who the TE is, too - obviously if it's a "move" TE, Hightower's a bad matchup, but he's fine against a more traditional blocker-type in a situation where the other team can run or pass. Probably even preferred, since he's better built to take on blocks than a smaller guy like Shazier.
     
    Technically true, but the Patriots don't play much dime.
     
  35. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    Doug Kyed of NESN weighs in on Shazier in his mailbag:
     
     
  36. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    Reiss did, too, but Reiss writes about Shazier every day it seems like.
     
  37. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    It's interesting how hard Reiss is beating that drum. I can't remember the last time he did this for a player in the draft - Sheard maybe?
     
    Interesting that Kyed thinks he and BB are on the same page about Shazier. Makes me wonder if there's some inside info that BB likes Shazier and that Kyed and Reiss are building off it.
     
    BTW, in McShay's mock draft, he has Shazier falling to #43: link (behind paywall)
     
  38. RedOctober3829

    RedOctober3829 Member SoSH Member

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    Well there is the tried and true Urban Meyer connection there AND Mike Vrabel was his position coach in 2011 before moving over to the D-line last season.
     
  39. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    He was a big Markus Wheaton fan last year, too. As for Kyed / Reiss, it could be an echo chamber where they're reading each other and building off it. But it could be one or more of the scouts really like Shazier and is talking to them.
     
    From Reiss' chat yesterday, it sounds like he just loves Shazier and isn't really considering fit:
    I have a lot of respect for Reiss as a reporter, but I don't think he's given much thought to how the pieces work together here. I think there's also a "well they lost Spikes and Fletcher" element to the thinking, without considering that they already mostly addressed those needs by using high picks on Collins and Hightower in advance.
     
  40. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    16,204
     
    The other factor is that coverage LB is a position that is relatively cheap/easy to fill through free agency or in the later rounds of the draft.  To take an LB who doesn't rush the passer in the first round in today's game, you really have to believe that he's a three down player with a chance to be very special.  There's a reason that a player like Arthur Brown, a pretty good comp for Shazier from last year's draft, fell to #56 overall or that guys like Bobby Wagner, Zach Brown, and Lavonte David were taken in that territory in 2012.
     
    I've given up trying to predict what BB will do in the draft but I don't really see the logic of taking Shazier in the first round.
     
  41. triniSox

    triniSox Member SoSH Member

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    I think Reiss and Kyed are both considering they used high picks on Hightower and Collins. They probably just feel despite that, Shazier helps the team the most at 29. I don't peg either journalist as overly reactionary. 
     
  42. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    Maybe not reactionary, but Reiss said this in a recent mailbag:
     
     
    I don't know what he's talking about with his "all the packages" statement - I'd guess the Pats subbed in their front seven less than any other team in the NFL last year (partially due to injury) and they don't sub much in the linebacking corps. This is where Reiss' limitations as an analyst show up - he doesn't think he understands X's and O's well enough to do the legwork and figure out the possible combinations and whether they make sense and just says "coaches would no doubt find the right fit." From everything I know about the Pats' draft strategy, this isn't how they approach the draft.
     
    Kyed's stance seems more like Phragle's - if you think Hightower is just a situational player and Collins is a legit DE, Shazier makes sense, but I question both those suppositions.
     
  43. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    Jordan Zumwalt from UCLA sounds really Patriots-y:
     
    Josh Norris ‏@JoshNorris  18h
    Zumwalt is one astute LB. Explained OL tells pre-snap. One example was Zona's LT. Would always be a run if forearm rested on his right thigh
     
    At 6'4" 235, he probably needs to add weight, but his 6.99 3-cone was one of the better scores for ILB. And his NFL.com profile is like a checklist of attributes the Pats look for:
    "Very good football intelligence -- lines up teammates and makes adjustments. Versatile and has played all linebacker positions and contributed as a fullback in short-yardage situations."
    "High-energy overachiever with a special-teams temperament. Stands out most for his competitiveness, effort, versatility and swagger."
     
    I've seen him mostly projected in the 4th-5thish round range. He seems like a good fit for the Fletcher role - contributing on special teams and being a versatile backup.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcQjO-ZpiG0
     
  44. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    When they've had the depth in the past they've really being willing to mix up which LBs play game to game.  Ted Johnson would get all the snaps in a rush-heavy game, and then play almost no snaps while Phifer got all the snaps in a passing heavy game.  Early in the season sometimes the Nickel was spikes and mayo--other games it was Mayo and Hightower. Fletcher took all Hightower's snaps against Denver and then rarely played again.
     
    BB mixes and matches at LB when he has the players. 
     
  45. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

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    11,898
    The trend in recent seasons has been to substitute less with the linebackers (leaving aside injury). It's not clear to me whether that's by necessity as you're suggesting - they don't have the depth to substitute much anymore - or by design - when you have limited players like Johnson / Guyton / Spikes or old players like Phifer / Seau / Bruschi towards the end, you have to substitute more. Given the amount of resources they've spent on the LB position in recent years, I'd imagine they'd want these guys on the field as much as possible.
     
    A few other factors that might contribute to less substitution in recent times: the green communication dot was instituted in 2008 - it's been worn by Mayo, so that's a reason he should be on the field 100% of the time; increase in no-huddle offenses (can't substitute as much and therefore need more versatile players as opposed to subbing more with specialists); change from primarily 3-4 (where the OLBs rush a lot and have to be subbed out more) to primarily 4-3 (where the LBs don't rush as much); rise of 1-back offenses, so you only need 2 LB on the field most of the time (and can therefore get breathers for players without needing a ton of depth).
     
  46. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    11,182
     
    I essentially agree with you with one difference: I think they'll more or less stick with the LBers they have because those guys are pretty good, not because they've spent high picks in the past.  If Hightower/Mayo/Collins aren't there (especially in coverage) I don't think BB would have qualms about bringing someone else in--and he at least contemplated the idea when they brought Wesley Woodyard in during free agency.
     
  47. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,898
    You're right, of course - the draft status doesn't matter once they're on the team. What I should have said was that it wouldn't make sense to invest what they've invested in the LBs with the intent that some of them would be reduced to situational players. So if that's what it's come to, it means that some of these guys have failed to live up to expectations.
     
    The Woodyard thing gives me pause that I could be wrong on this, but the Pats didn't end up signing him and as far as I'm aware haven't visited with any other LBs. It's possible that they were trying to sell him on a role as a situational linebacker / special teamer / key backup and part of what landed him in Tennessee was that the Titans saw him as an everydown guy. The money undoubtedly helped as well, but then again his contract wasn't that bad if a team sees him as a 800+ snap player.
     
  48. Stitch01

    Stitch01 Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    18,155
    FWIW (maybe not much) Jerry Thornton says Shazier is off the Pats board.
     

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