With the Draft fast approaching, it's time to start looking at some potential players for the Patriots. I'm going to put profiles of 2 players a day- one offense, one defensive- and gain a better understanding of the players in the draft.
Just looking at this past season's tackle performance, it's clear that the Patriots must address their tackle need as soon as possible- who knows how long into the season Matt Light will last and Nick Kaczur is no starter. Indiana's Rodger Saffold is a second round quality tackle who could be a first round talent any other year. He began starting halfway through his freshman year and has started ever since. He has the experience and the results to be worthy of an early selection. However, he's not wide enough to play LT and may get beaten by faster players around the corner. He can handle the stronger defensive linemen, which makes him a prime RT candidate. Saffold has the ability to bookend the offensive line with Sebastian Vollmer for years to come. However, there are questions of whether his size would make him able to play tackle in the NFL- and the Patriots already has a former tackle-turned guard in George Bussey, who was drafted last year. Is it worth risking another pick?
His measurements and some quotes after the jump.
Height: 6-5. Weight: 313.
Projected 40 Time: 5.13.
Combine 40 Time: 5.22.
Benchx225: 27. Arm: 33 5/8.
03/26/2010 - TOP RATED NFL DRAFT SCOUT OFFENSIVE TACKLES: Rodger Saffold, Indiana, 6-5, 316, 2: Despite being a solid starter at left tackle since his freshman year, Saffold didn't get a lot of attention from scouts until he became a surprise standout during East-West Shrine Game workouts. He was impressive against active, spinning pass rushers and showed great strength as a drive blocker. He continued to impress NFL teams with a great workout at the combine and followed up by showing excellent agility in his pro day drills. Before that, it seems the most attention he received was unwanted ??? seven penalties in his senior season. He was bothered by back and knee injuries in 2008, missing two games. But according to coaching statistics, Saffold allowed three sacks and one pressure in his final 440 college pass plays. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com/CBS Sports/USA TODAY
01/20/2010 - EAST-WEST SHRINE RISERS: OT Roger Saffold, Indiana: It's hard to argue anyone but Saffold was the best player on the field this week. He was strong, moved his feet well in pass protection and when drive-blocking gave good effort through the end of plays, and was mobile enough to hit targets at the second level. Some scouts will project him inside, but it appears the 3.5-year starter at left tackle should at least get a chance to prove he can handle those responsibilities. A third-round selection seems likely for Saffold at this point in the process. - Chad Reuter, The Sports Xchange, NFLDraftScout.com
Saffold is a good collegiate lineman who started at left tackle for three consecutive years at Indiana. He lacks the massive stature that teams are looking for in a left tackle and may be lacking a step in quickness to play on the left side but should be able to find a home on the right side or even inside at guard. He has above-average initial quickness and does a good job of getting a fit with his hands to control and steer opponents on by the hole or pocket. He understands blocking angles and does a good job of recognizing stunts and twists up front and keeps his head on a swivel when in pass pro. While he doesn't really jump off the screen at you, the end result is that he consistently gets the job done and often makes it look pretty easy.
Saffold was a team captain this past season and anchored a line that allowed just 16 sacks on the year which was second in the Big 10 and 28th in the nation. His freshman and sophomore years, Saffold had decent seasons but his junior year suffered injuries to his back and his knee. Being that he did suffer the injuries, he still managed to persevere the following year and have an excellent season summing up a exceptional college career.
I expect that Saffold will start as either a right tackle or guard somewhere in the NFL even though he played at the left tackle position for three years. His frame is not as wide as the prototypical left tackle. For the NFL, he seems to be a perfect fit at the right tackle position. However, It's uncertain if he'll ever be able to play left tackle at the pro level.
Verdict: Saffold is absolutely worth a mid-late 2nd round pick. He could be a phenomenal tackle to play opposite of Vollmer for years to come. If you question his arm length, they're 3/8ths longer than Vollmer and 1/8th longer than Baltimore's Michael Oher. He has the potential to do well and has done extremely well where it counts- on the field. We need help due to how quickly Light is fading and because Kaczur is no longer a starting caliber tackle. And even if Saffold doesn't work out as a tackle, he could be the long term replacement for Stephen Neal. Saffold would be a great second round selection.