Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel has taken over as the preeminent draft beat writer for the NFL. He speaks with scouts around the league to get their thoughts and rankings of the upcoming draft, and releases an annual anthology with their comments.
Every year, some laughable comment from an "anonymous scout" will hit the airwaves- from Cam Newton's fake smile, to this year's Eli Apple: "I worry about him [Apple] because of off-the-field issues," one scout said. "The kid has no life skills. At all. Can't cook. Just a baby."
Three of the Patriots top five draft picks received this "anonymous scout" treatment. 2nd round pick Cyrus Jones ranked 11th from the scouts and did not have any comments published, while 3rd round pick Vincent Valentine was left out, too.
Patriots OL Joe Thuney, N.C. State:
"He's becoming a teacher's pet because he worked out awesome and is on the rise," said one scout. "He played left tackle this year, which he is not. He's either an athletic guard or a center. He's been underweight his whole career and has played all over the line out of need. He needs to work on play strength but he's a really good bender, really nifty athlete. He was under the radar at the start of the year."
McGinn notes that Thuney has 33 starts all over the offensive line, including "23 at LT, eight at LG, one at RT and one at RG," and credited Thuney for "Highest Wonderlic (39) of the O-linemen." On the other hand, scouts noted his "short arms (32 ¼)."
The Patriots loved Thuney because of his versatility, and especially because of his workout. He has experience at both tackle and guard and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia ran him through drills at center. It seems that scouts think that he needs to add functional strength in order to succeed, and that makes sense. He carries weight like an offensive tackle- lighter, able to counter smaller pass rushers- instead of like an interior lineman- squatter, able to hold ground against defensive tackles.
"He has a lot of what [fellow prospect Nick Martin] has in terms of know-how and toughness," a third scout said. Martin is a center prospect out of Notre Dame that is considered a really tough player. Thuney will have to make up for his lack of strength with an increased level of feistiness.
Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State:
"He has a chance to be a starter," said one scout. "I think he's better than Teddy Bridgewater. He's bigger, got a better arm and better pocket presence, and is a great kid. People will want to work with him. He's got this huge lower body. Guys just have a hard time bringing him down. He's not a speed guy but he's not a slug."
Brissett was noted as being his team's MVP over the past two seasons, as well as his 90.9 NFL passer rating and his 12 rushing touchdowns. Another scout compared him to Daunte Culpepper because of his "strong arm with a compact motion; just really inconsistent."
"He doesn't play fast," a third scout said. "He's methodical. I don't know if he can carry a team on his back."
It would appear that Brissett is regarded as a high upside, low polish player, with another scout saying that Brissett is less ready than Chiefs 5th round pick Kevin Hogan.
The lack of speed and inconsistent play puts Brissett in clear juxtaposition with Jimmy Garoppolo, who was touted for his consistently lightning fast release of the football. Hopefully Brissett can become more comfortable over time and improve on his playing tempo.
Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia:
"The key will be the medical," said one scout about Mitchell's torn ACL from the 2013 season opener, "The knee is a concern. He's got talent. At his pro-day workout he worked out as a corner."
McGinn notes that Mitchell "was still having problems with the knee at the Senior Bowl." The venerable Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice also did a Senior Bowl photoseries of players with messed up fingers and Mitchell was included.
As for being a cornerback, McGinn notes that Mitchell "actually started three games there in '12."
"Steady eddie," another scout said. "Very bright kid. Great character kid. Been a good producer."
Patriots undrafted cornerback Jonathan Jones even gave Mitchell credit when asked at the combine about the best receiver he faced in 2015.
"With Malcolm Mitchell, he's an experienced guy," Jones said, via AL.com. "He's been around. He's been in the league a long time. He's been in the SEC a long time. Guys like that make it challenging. They know the ropes."
And that's basically the story with Mitchell. He's an extremely talented player, both on and off the field, and everyone loves him. It's just a matter of whether or not his knee can hold up to the rigors of the NFL.