BOSTON (CBS) – The NFL Scouting Combine is wrapping up out in Indianapolis, and the draft is just a few months away.
While the Patriots usually target defensive players, one area the Patriots may look to bolster in the first round is wide receiver. Should they go that route, who would be around when the Patriots get their turn with the 29th overall pick?
“One of our favorites is Markus Wheaton of Oregon State. Six-foot, 190 pound range – he’s a tough kid that runs really good routes. He’s probably going to be there (when the Patriots pick at the end of the first round),” said Shonka. “Another guy that is very explosive, though we were disappointed with his 40 time, is DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson. He’s a big receiver that plays fast… He’s in the 6-1, 215-pound neighborhood, and he gets that ball and gets up the field. He’s big-time explosive in and out of his cuts, as is Wheaton.”
The Patriots also need plenty of help in the secondary, and can use the draft to address that need.
One player Shonka says should be available in the later days of the draft is safety D.J. Swearinger out of South Carolina.
“(He’s a) very good football player, no question about it,” said Shonka. “He’s a good tackler on a defense full of good tacklers. He’s an instinctive football player… he will certainly be available in the third-round area.”
Another player getting a lot of attention is corner Tyrann Mathieu – better known as “The Honey Badger.” Failed drug tests and a marijuana arrest ended his career at LSU, but he attempted to rebuild his image last week in Indy. Shonka doesn’t think it will effect his draft status too much, and “The Honey Badger” could be available sometime on Day 2.
“I would be really surprised if he gets out of the bottom of the third round. The NFL is all about matchups, and people talk about corners and this and that; he’s not really an outside corner, but a slot guy,” Shonka said of Matheiu. “He’s got that natural ability to make plays. If a ball comes close he slaps it away.”
Mathieu could also help in the return game, somewhere the Patriots have needed help the last few seasons.
“Honey Badger brings a lot to the table as a return guy,” noted Shonka. “You can move him around and he’s a smart guy on the field. You question his decisions off the field at times, but he’s certainly a talented guy. We all know there’s a lot of guys in the NFL that have had a lot of worse problems than the Honey Badger.”