Patriots UDFAs: ILB Leonard, DE/LBs Nurse and Coulson in the Mix

The Patriots have continued to pick up undrafted free agents, with three more players now in the mix.

The first new rookie the Patriots picked up is inside linebacker Anthony Leonard.  Leonard stands at 6'1" and 255 lbs.  He started his senior season after moving in and out of the starting lineup his junior and sophomore seasons.  Leonard is a big-bodied thumper who could be used as a strong-side inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 system.  He runs a 4.8 second 40 yard dash, and takes on and sheds blocks with ease.  He opened some eyes at his Pro Day and I could see him competing for a practice squad spot.

In addition to Leonard, the Patriots also reportedly picked up two more project pass rushers.

The first, Ryan Coulson, is a 6'3", 245 lbs defensive end / pass rusher / long snapper out of Nevada.  Coulson originally played linebacker when he went to Nevada, so he already has experience at the position.  He moved to defensive end as a sophomore and he started every game as a senior, picking up 53 tackles and 3.5 sacks.  Although he doesn't have great size, he is tougher against the run that you would give him credit for.  He has a good first step as a pass rusher, but doesn't have a vast array of moves or skills to get to the quarterback.

The other pass rusher the Patriots picked up is Illinois' Clay Nurse.  The 6'2", 260 lbs pass rusher had a great junior campaign where he recorded five sacks in six starts.  He was expected to step into a major role his senior season, but failed to deliver, recording just 23 tackles and four sacks on the year.  He has a good first step as a pass rusher, and has the ability to turn the corner (although he lacks good straight line speed).

Both of these pass rushers are interesting players.  They, along with recent pickup Alex Silvestro and 6th round pick Markell Carter will all be competing for a spot on the Patriots roster.  I'm sure the Patriots hope that at least one of these guys proves to be worthy.  Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see the Patriots at least try to pick up a project pass rusher.

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