Speed kills, and the New England Patriots needs more of it.
That has been a common theme surrounding the Patriots all week. The Patriots defense, which started the season strong, showed i’s age and lack of speed late in the season allowing more than 30 points per game following their week 14 bye week. Adding more athleticism to the linebacker room seems like a priority for the team.
Following the news from NFL Insider Ian Rappaport that J.C. Jackson is likely headed to free agency, and the blazing speed that the wide receiver class displayed yesterday, the Patriots will have plenty of directions they could go with their first selection in April’s draft. The need at linebacker has remained constant, and the team’s combine interviews have shown they are ready to address it.
The linebackers met with the media Friday to discuss their weeks before hitting the field in Indianapolis for workouts tomorrow. Highlighting the list of backers to meet with the Patriots was Christian Harris from Alabama.
The Alabama to New England connection is strong, and Harris could be the latest to join that trend. Pending tomorrow’s measurements, he is listed as 6-2, 232 on Alabama’s website. The connection between the two programs is clear, and Harris’ 221 career tackles and 10 sacks could make him a valuable addition in both run support and as a pass rusher.
Another ridiculously athletic offensive line class. Interested to see who the sixth-round pick Scar finds for the #Patriots will be this year. Deep group.
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) March 5, 2022
He met with New England this week to watch film with a couple of scouts. Utah’s Devin Lloyd, Wyoming’s Chad Muma, Texas A&M’s Aaron Hansford, and Georgia’s Quay Walker are amongst the linebackers who said they have met with the Patriots this week. CLNS insider Evan Lazar has Walker as New England’s second round pick in his first mock draft.
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The Patriots do not necessarily have a pressing need for interior offensive line help. If the team does not plan to re-sign impending free agent Ted Karras, Boston College’s Zion Johnson and Alec Linstrom are potential replacements.
Johnson will likely play in an interior role at the next level after playing guard and tackle for the Eagles. He even received reps at center during this year’s senior bowl.
Johnson, a 2021 AP first-team All-American, wasted no time wowing scouts when workouts began Friday morning, putting up 32 reps on the bench press to lead all offensive linemen. Jamaree Salyer from Georgia, and Chattanooga’s Cole Strange, finished second in the drill with 31 reps.
The 6-3, 312 pound lineman is projected as the 27th overall pick by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Kiper has offensive linemen selections projected in the first round, and a prospect of Johnson’s pedigree could be a great value pick in an extremely deep class.
Linstrom, a 6-3, 296-pound center started three seasons for the Eagles at the Heights and is likely a second or third day selection in the draft. He grew up a Patriots fan and could be another interior option for New England. As of Thursday morning, he had not yet met with the team. Linstrom recorded 25 reps on the bench and ran a 5.18 40-yard dash Friday.