NFL Draft 2012 positional breakdowns: Outside linebacker


NFL Draft 2012 positional breakdowns: Outside linebacker

Each weekday, from now until the week of the draft, we'll take a position-by-position look at the Patriots' draft needs and which players they may be looking at. Today: Outside linebackers

An OK group in which you have to mix in the ability to stand up and drop in coverage and the ability to go after the quarterback from the occasional three-point stance (personal boycott of "hand in the dirt" is underway). There isn't any can't-miss outside linebacker that's a layup for the top 10. Most of the players are projections with flaws either in experience or build.
New England asks for versatility from their outside linebackers and right now, the best guy at the position is Rob Ninkovich. Markell Carter, Jermaine Cunningham, Jeff Tarpinian and Trevor Scott are the others in the mix. The Patriots could really use that edge playmaker and maybe Scott, acquired from the Raiders, can turn into that. Cunningham is edging toward disappointment. The team is encouraged by Carter, though, so he's a player who bears watching. The Patriots have been tire-kicking on some of the edge prospects, though, so this could be an early target area.

Melvin Ingram, 6-1, 264, South Carolina
Could be listed at a variety of positions because he plays all over the place - defensive tackle, defensive end, inside linebacker and outside linebacker. Very athletic with a variety of moves and also a decent ability to set the edge as well. Has very short arms and, at 6-1, is not an ideal height for an edge guy. A top-15 pick at the least.

Andre Branch, 6-4, 259, Clemson
Long, fast, disruptive pass rusher who had 10 sacks in his final year at Clemson. Projects best as an outside linebacker in the pros. His sudden speed and length are going to make him an attractive prospect. He's a late first-round pick.

Courtney Upshaw, 6-2, 272, AlabamaA tremendously strong, high-tempo player who pursues and brings a thud when he hits. Great toughness and a player that will no doubt get a high recommendation from Nick Saban for his on-field demeanor and production. Not a quick, fluid player in coverage and is a little bit of a run-around player. Mid-to-late first round pick.

Whitney Mercilus, 6-4, 254, Illinois
Exploded with a 16-sack season in 2011 after being mostly a bit player for the Illini in his first two seasons. Decided to strike while the iron is hot and enter the draft and the notion he should have stuck around for more finishing is a prevalent one. Still, he's got great size and length and explodes off the ball. A pass rush specialist more than a drop-and-cover outside linebacker. Late-first to early-second round pick.
Shea McClellin, 6-3, 260, Boise State
Good size, technically sound with a ton of want-to. Can play up or down and exhibits the ability to smoothly drop into coverage when necessary. A safe pick except for the fact he didn't play against top competition in college. Second-round pick.
McClellin. Seems like the kind of try-hard player with versatility and attitude the Patriots usually have success with as opposed to a guy like Cunningham who - despite his skill - hasn't found a way to get into the mix.

Upshaw. The size and power are very attractive as is his dogged pursuit when plays are run away from him. Difficulty setting the edge and funneling backs inside was a real issue for the Patriots in 2011 and Upshaw is the best of this group at doing that.

Mercilus. Aside from a terrific name, he also is a moldable player given he's just scratching the surface of his talent.

C's Mickey sent to D-League


C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres


Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.


Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.


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