|Clark has the potential to develop into a starting left tackle at the next level|
Nothing summed up the "On to..." mantra quite as effectively as Monday's photograph of Bill Belichick, less than 24 hours removed from a crushing AFC Championship game defeat, taking in the sights of the Senior Bowl. The Patriots coach didn't have a chance to attend last year, as he was busy
Unsurprisingly given the way the season just ended, Bill and the Pats have shown an early interest in this year's offensive tackle crop. Yesterday alone saw them meet with two intriguing prospects, each of whom could be available when the Pats first pick (60th overall) comes up.
New England Patriots sent a lot of time with Joe Haeg/OT/NDSU this morning. Haeg was a standout during North practice this afternoon.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 27, 2016
One of this year's best small school prospects, Haeg was a four-year starter at North Dakota State, earning All America honors in the process. At 6'6" and 307 pounds, he has good size and length for the position, along with the athleticism and footwork to mirror in protection. Patriots fans hoping for a swing tackle to replace Marcus Cannon will be happy to hear that he has extensive experience playing on both sides of the line: he started from 2012-2013 at right tackle before switching to the blindside for his junior and senior seasons to replace Dolphins third round pick Billy Turner.
Clark turned heads at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, measuring at 6'5" and 312 pounds with seemingly endless 36" arms. Combine those eye-popping measurables with top-notch athleticism and it's easy to see why he has certain scouts drooling over his upside. Clark simply excelled at Texas Tech, earning Freshman All American honors in 2012 as a guard before switching to left tackle, where he was All Big 12 first team each of the past two seasons. His experience in the Texas Tech spread has meant plenty of exposure to pass protection and the hurry up, but he'll have to prove he can handle a far more diverse playbook. He lacks experience in the running game and could use some work on his technique, flaws that came to light in a troubling performance against LSU in his team's bowl game.
While the tackle prospects particularly caught my eye, they weren't the only ones the Pats were sniffing around yesterday:
#Patriots must have met with #LSU DB Jalen Mills for 45-minutes. Had him identifying pre-snap looks on an iPad.— RosterWatch (@RosterWatch) January 25, 2016
#Patriots also just wrapped up with #TCU RB Aaron Green. We've always said he looks like a Patriots-type, chess-piece receiving back on film— RosterWatch (@RosterWatch) January 25, 2016
Patriots also grabbed Kevin Hogan/QB/Stanford for a sit down tonight. Type of athletic quarterback prospect they like to develop.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 27, 2016
Of those names, Hogan will bring the most recognition due to his being Stanford's starting quarterback. Concerns about Hogan's upside and arm target make him unlikely to be more than a late round flier (he hasn't impressed scouts so far during Senior Bowl practices). Meanwhile, Green isn't the type of power back some fans have been clamoring for, but he has explosive speed and "make-you-miss" cutting ability in space along with a well-developed skillset as a pass catcher out of the backfield. He's projected as a mid-round (probably Day 3) pick.
Finally Mills was a four-year mainstay of the Tigers defense, first as a true freshman nickel corner before converting to safety as a sophomore. His elite athleticism and coverage ability from the safety position should make him an attractive prospect to many in today's pass happy NFL, although he'll need to improve his play against the run. He could hear his name called as early as the second round.