With the crowded situation the Patriots have at defensive end, most of us would think that the Patriots drafting a defensive end early would be a terrible idea. However, when looking at the DE depth chart, after Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Justin Francis, it is open season for whoever wants to claim the last 2 spots. The Patriots have Jake Bequette and Jermaine Cunningham under contract, but Cunningham has been a major disappointment after a promising rookie year, getting buried on the depth chart in Year 2, and then getting busted for PEDs in Year 3. In addition, Jake Bequette has not proved that he can earn consistent playing time at the NFL level either. In my opinion, the draft is not only for addressing needs, but also improving your team by adding young talent at a very low price.
Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB, Illinois
Arm length: 34"
Hand size: 9 7/8"
40: 4.71 (clocked in at 4.78 at the combine)
Bench reps: 22
Vertical Jump: 33"
Broad Jump: 9'5"
20-yd Short Shuttle: 4.44
3-cone: 6.91 (listed as a top performer)
Michael Buchanan 2011 Highlights (via GameTimePros)
Michael Buchanan - 2013 NFL Draft Profile (via Erick Ward)
Michael Buchanan vs Western Michigan 2012 (via JmpasqDraftjedi)
Michael Buchanan vs Penn State (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Michael Buchanan vs Ohio State (2012) (via Adrian Ahufinger)
Michael Buchanan vs LA Tech (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)
Michael Buchanan had a stellar year in 2011, getting 64 tackles (13.5 for a loss), 7.5 sacks and 1 PD, and was primed for a break out year in 2012. However, a fight with a teammate resulted in a broken jaw which forced him on an all-liquid diet. The result caused him to drop from 255 to 240 lbs and loss of strength heading into 2012. In 2012, the tackle and sack #s declined, but deflected more passes. His 2012 campaign finished with 57 tackles (7 for loss), 4.5 sacks, and 5 PDs (stats on player profile on Illinois athletics website). The thing I like the most about Buchanan is that he can play in any scheme. He could line up as a DE in 4-3 or OLB in 3-4 for starters, but will play in sub packages as both a DE and LB. Compared to most DEs, Buchanan can play very well in space, which would bode well for teams that run a 3-4 defense and are looking for an all-around OLB who can rush the passer, set the edge, and cover. The knock on him has been the lack of strength as a DE, since he played at 240 lbs in 2012 while weighing in at 247 on his pro day. In Year 1, I see Buchanan as purely a rotational guy at DE, playing maybe 20% of the snaps with a chance to become a starter in Year 2 should Ninkovich leave after the 2013 season. The Patriots recently visited Illinois on April 11th to work out potential draft prospects. Barring a sudden rise in the draft boards (currently rated as a 6-7 on CBS and a 4th on NFL Draft Scout), Buchanan should be there around the Patriots 2nd round pick.
Patriots Legend Comparison: Mike Vrabel, DE/OLB/ILB/TE, 2001-2008
Draft Grade: 2nd-3rd