Editors Note: Here is a little bit of belated insight on Marcus Forston, a UDFA defensive tackle out of the University of Miami (FL). The Patriots signed Forston on April 28 to a rookie free agent contract. -Jared S.
The New England Patriots beefed up their pass rush on defense with the addition of Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower in the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft and Jake Bequette in the fifth. But they didn't stop just because the draft was over, as they signed defensive tackle Marcus Forston out of the University of Miami of Florida as an UDFA.
Forston (6'3, 300 pounds), possess the biggest frame of any of the rookie pass rushers that the team has added this offseason. In college, he played primarily in Miami's 4-3 defense as a defensive tackle. He has been praised for his snap awareness and a solid first step, but can get wild with his technique.
Taking the Patriots have had success with defensive tackles from Miami (Vince Wilfork), Forston could be one of the players to watch come training camp. However, if he's gonna be anywhere near as explosive as Big Vince, he's gonna need some coaching and the motivation to play (something he's had trouble with in the past). Here is a more in depth scouting report, via the National Football Post:
At 6-3, 300-pounds he possesses a thick, compact frame with natural girth and power through his lower half. He's a fluid kid with natural flexibility when asked to coil up into his stance, exhibits good snap awareness and routinely is one of the first linemen moving off the football. Forston exhibits a "plus" first step off the ball and can keep his pad level down on his initial six-inch step. He extends his arms well in both the run and pass game, displaying good length and good hand placement on contact. He also showcases the ability to be violent with his hands when looking to disengage and can control blocks because of his natural power/hand placement. He does a nice job using an opposing blockers momentum against him in the run game, quickly sidestepping on contact and using a compact rip to disengage and close on the play. Forston also showcases some natural suddenness as a pass rusher when slipping defenders as he keeps his hands active, extends his arms well and can make his way up the field.
Forston is a "plus" athlete in pursuit. He exhibits impressive range off his frame and when asked to stunt and loop toward the outside he can run the corner well, maintain balance and quickly eat up space.
However, despite showcasing the ability to bend and initially keep his pad level down on his first step. Forston has a tendency to consistently get upright off the football in both the run and pass game. This takes away from his balance when looking to disengage, his ability to anchor on contact and his overall push as a pass rusher. You can tell he's a "plus" athlete for the position, but he needs to do a better job playing lower in all areas of the game. Too often he's overwhelmed on contact inside when trying to anchor vs. the run as he allows defenders to get under his pad level and he doesn't have the base needed to maintain balance, hold the point and shed. The same imperfections show up in the pass game where he doesn't generate the kind of "pop" on contact his physical skill set says he should because of his higher pad level. Now, even when he does get upright he can still slowly overwhelm his blocker, but he gets held up laterally too often when trying to slip/shed and simply doesn't play up to his talents consistently enough.
He also can have a tough time finding the football and will overrun the play inside, but that could have some to do with his lack of considerable experience. He gets a bit wild armed as a pass rusher as well when trying to slip blocks on contact, but again that's a technique thing that with some coaching and hard work can be improved on quickly. Nevertheless, the biggest concern I have with Forston revolves around his health. He's missed significant time during both the 2009 (ankle) and 2011 season (knee) because of injuries and his medical report will likely be the key in determining just how high he goes.