The third in a series looking at the Patriots' 2012 NFL Draft picks, and the roles they might play for the Patriots next year.
Name: Jake Bequette
Position: Defensive End / Outside Linebacker
Drafted: 3rd round, 90th overall
Overview: In college football most competitive conference, the SEC, Jake Bequette had a full and successful career with Arkansas, playing in 48 and starting 42 games over his four year career. His senior season, Bequette led the SEC in sacks with ten (including three in the Cotton Bowl), and was given First Team All-SEC honors. At 6'5" and 274 lbs, Bequette has the size of a run-stopping defensive end, but the agility space-awareness of a lighter defensive end, with the potential to transition to linebacker. Don't get me wrong - although Bequette has intriguing physical traits, he isn't an elite athlete or All-Pro skillset. However, he has a non-stop motor and relentless attitude. Those attributes are usually what best predict successful pro rushers.
Projected Role: If he can catch on quickly during training camp and the preseason, Jake Bequette should have the opportunity to contribute immediately for the Patriots in sub-packages from either the left or right defensive end spot. With Andre Carter currently unsigned, Bequette's main competition at pass rushing defensive end are fellow rookie Chandler Jones, free agent pick-up Trevor Scott, former second round pick Jermaine Cunningham, Alex Silvestro, Aaron Lavarias and UDFA Justin Francis. Looking at that group, there's no reason to think that Bequette couldn't be the number one or two option at the position in 2012 (although I do expect Carter back at some point). That being said, I don't realistically think we'll see Bequette as a starter until 2013 or 2014. Nonetheless, his quick first step and relentlessness as a pass rusher should allow him to contribute in a situational role immediately.
Projected Stats: 16 games played; 2 games started; 26 total tackles; 1 PD; 5.0 sacks
Bottom Line: Impact situational defensive end in 2012, with a chance to become a starter by 2013 or 2014