Let’s try this: since our fearless leader Rich Hill has already hit up Lamar Jackson’s fit (or lack thereof) with the Patriots - assuming Jackson would even still be on the board at the tail end of the first round that the Patriots have lived in for the past decade - this space will be devoted to the other 18 (!) players that Louisville showcased at their Pro Day on Thursday.
That’s no disrespect to Lamar, and I certainly don’t need Rich showing up at my doorstep with a baseball bat, it’s just - there’s almost 20 dudes that Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio saw at the Pro Day today! And some of them are very, very good!
So let’s roll with that, if that’s cool.
Like a lot of analysts, including us here at the Pulpit and Lamar Jackson himself have noted, Louisville runs a pro-style Ehrardt-Perkins offense (hmmm, this whole “don’t mention Lamar” thing isn’t off to a great start). That’s also good news for Louisville’s offensive players that the Patriots might be considering, given that New England’s recent drafting would suggest they’ll bump your grade up a notch f you come from a pro offense. You know, as opposed to drafting the latest kid that runs a 4.3 out of Oklahoma or whatever.
Getting back to that list of Louisville players we were talking about: they’ve got offense, they’ve got defense, and maybe even a special-teamer or two. Here’s an abbreviated rundown (as always, with measurables and projected draft round from NFL.com):
Jaire Alexander, cornerback, 5’11’’, 192 lbs (Rounds 1-2)
Geron Christian, offensive tackle, 6’5’’, 298 lbs (Rounds 3-4)
Trevon Young, edge defender, 6’4’’, 258 lbs (Rounds 6-7)
James Hearns, edge defender, 6’3’’, 239 lbs (Rounds 5-6)
Reggie Bonafon, running back/wide receiver, 6’3’’, 206 lbs (unknown)
Malik Williams, running back, 6’2’’, 221 lbs (unknown)
Stacy Thomas, linebacker, 6’1’’, 242 lbs (unknown)
Regarding the last guy on the list, Stacy Thomas got himself a nice shout-out from Pro Football Focus this past summer, earning kudos for both his coverage skills (did someone say “linebackers that can cover”??) and his run-stuffing abilities. PFF did ding him a bit for missing tackles, though, which won’t help any of you that get annoyed when Elandon Roberts does the same thing.
Meanwhile, back in the secondary, cornerback Jaire Alexander’s been mock-drafted by the Patriots in at least a couple of SB Nation’s drafts so far, and even though the Patriots tend to not overreact to a free agency loss by drafting a player just to fill that spot, a post-Jason-McCourty cornerback certainly makes all kinds of sense for New England. Bill Belichick historically hasn’t used too many first-round picks on defensive backs, but then again, until this time last year he’d never dropped $65,000,000 on a corner either. This is 2018, anything can happen. Right?
Then there’s that pair of pass-rushers, one of the (counting on my fingers) 22 positions in the NFL that you can never have too much depth at. Trevon Young has suffered some gnarly injuries, like a dislocated and fractured hip in 2015, but bounced back and ended his 2017 season with 62 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 5 pass breakups. Fellow edge defender James Hearns has some legit off-field concerns (like, say, getting shot in the elbow off campus last offseason), but still played well enough in 2017 to notch 43 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and 4 forced fumbles.
And if the Patriots feel like taking another offensive line project, Geron Christian’s a probable Day 2 pick that’s played both left and right tackle, although he made most of his hay at left tackle, which, you may have heard, is also a position the Patriots need to improve. Athletically, he’s gotten some props for his footwork and quickness as a former basketball player, even if he won’t put you in the ground as a run-blocker.
We’ll keep you posted on anywhere else the Patriots and Bill Belichick turn up to check out draft prospects - in the meantime, everybody enjoy your weekend.