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NFL Draft 2011: Walk of the Elephants

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I have a question for you: Would you be willing to compromise lane recognition for a greater chance of a sack? Would you be willing to sacrifice some run defense if it meant the sack total would increase? Or would you rather have a player who can set the edge, stay in their lane, and also generate pressure on the quarterback? I know what I prefer, so here's an idea:

When you look at a lot of the prospects, you can clearly separate the 3-4 DE prospects into two groups: those that are above 290 lbs and those that are below 290 lbs. Patriots' 3-4 DEs need to be 300+ pounds and asking some players to add 20 pounds will have a large impact on their game. Therefore, I propose that the Patriots only look at the 290+ lbs players for the DE spot.

Yes, that eliminates Cam Jordan.

Read the rest after the jump!

But here is my proposition: Why not draft the most athletic guy under 290 pounds and change them? There are some very athletic players who would not really fit as a 3-4 DE (Allen Bailey) who could be better suited as a pass rushing OLB role. What if the Patriots took a guy like Bailey (whose stock has been dropping) in the middle rounds, ask him to lose 10 pounds to get down to 275, maybe 270, and have him play the athletic Willie McGinest role as an elephant.

The elephant role is basically an OLB who always starts with one hand on the ground (think of an elephant's trunk). Bailey has the athleticism to drop back into coverage and into the flats and Miami has become notorious recently for underpreparing their defensive linemen for the NFL. What if Bailey has a year with a real coach? He has the athleticism to become a star player, especially in the right system, and if the Patriots could take him in the third or fourth round, it would be a low cost, high return sort of opportunity.

When everyone has been talking about players like Cam Jordan playing the OLB spot for the Patriots, they've been talking about this sort of transformation. The Patriots shouldn't be limited to only the 260 lbs OLBs in the draft- they have the option to pick some of the heavier players. Looking at Bailey, Ballard and Jordan who have all run in the 4.7 range, those players have the speed to perform. Of course, I'll wait until more of the drills have been completed (three cone, etc) before making a final evaluation, but this course of action should have some serious consideration.

I'm not saying that this would be the only OLB drafted by the Patriots. I'm saying that this player should be drafted as a complement to the early first/second round draft pick.

What do you think?