Heading into the NFL draft, Tom E. Curran and Mary Paoletti will look at some of the prospects that could be targets for the Patriots. Today's player: Mohamed Sanu.
The Skinny: Ridiculously productive at Rutgers where he set Big East records for career receptions (210) and single-season receptions (115 in 2011). At 6-foot-2, 211 pounds, he's got good size and has shown adaptability in the passing game with the ability to run a lot of different routes well and be creative at setting up defenders. Enjoys the physical part of the game - blocking, working inside - and has multi-dimensional skills as both a return man on special teams and as a Wildcat quarterback.Gotta Have Him: This kid reeks to high heaven of David Givens-ness. Givens, a seventh-round pick from Notre Dame in 2002 who turned into a brilliant receiver over the next few seasons, was 6-1, 217 coming into the league with a 4.56 40 at the Combine. He had a great build and the potential to get better physically and mentally and he did once he got in the program. Sanu is a more finished version of Givens at 6-2, 211 and - while his 4.66 40 at the Combine concerned people - he's said to be football fast and is such a technician he makes up for the heartbeat of speed he may be lacking in a straight-line sprint. The Patriots have four targets filling roles for Tom Brady. Wes Welker is the slot; Brandon Lloyd is the downfield X-receiver; Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are the versatile tight ends running in the flats and down the seams, Deion Branch is working the sidelines. That would be the role for Sanu the same way it was for Givens. The deep out, the back line drag in the end zone - key spots for a smart, physical player like Sanu who can replace Branch. Plus, he returns punts. And he comes from the Belichick-approved Greg Schiano program at Rutgers.
Don't Need Him: Well, he fumbled seven times in college. And if he runs a 4.66, he better play "football fast" because if he doesn't, there's not going to be much separation between he and his defender when the ball arrives. He also is going to be a top 75 pick in all likelihood and the Patriots don't necessarily have a yawning need at wide receiver right now relative to some other spots on the field.
Forecast: The 23-year-old junior was seen as a borderline first-rounder until the NFL Combine. But the rise of some other wideouts with better measurables but far less production (Stephen Hill) may drive Sanu down the board. The later it goes, the more likely it is he joins the Patriots. Bill Belichick's said in the past, the second round is a place for gambles. Sanu isn't really that. He doesn't have a ridiculously high NFL ceiling. But the chance of him becoming a total bust is unlikely as well. If he's on the board at 62, the Patriots would be getting a steal.
Patriots Draftability: 7
There was Terry Rozier, delivering dizzying crossover dribbles that set up open jumpers, soon followed by defenders he then beat to the rim for easy scores.
“I felt like I was in college a little bit,” Rozier told reporters Wednesday night.
The second-year guard is a long way from his days at Louisville, but make no mistake about it.
His basketball education is ongoing, but on Wednesday it was Rozier and rookie Jaylen Brown teaching the Orlando Magic a lesson as Boston pulled away for a 117-87 victory.
Playing without Isaiah Thomas (right groin), Rozier came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points.
And Brown, whose hustle and above-the-rim play energized the Celtics most of the night, had 13 points which included a powerful, poster-worthy dunk over an unsuspecting Nikola Vucevic.
"I didn't expect to dunk, nor did I expect him to jump," Brown told reporters after the game. "When it happened, I was just as surprised as everyone else."
The Celtics (13-9) were pleased with the victory which included contributions from several players.
But there was added pleasure for the veteran Celtics in watching their youthful teammates step up and play well.
“It’s hard as a young player to come in and find yourself on a team,” Boston’s Al Horford told reporters after the win. “And those guys are really hard workers. As the season goes on, they’ll become more comfortable with what we’re trying to do.”
We have seen Brown put in positions where he was given an opportunity to make a major impact.
His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston lost 128-122 to the Cavs, but Brown had a career-high 19 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Brown said when he’s on the floor with Rozier, the two have a very specific agenda.
“Me and Terry get in, we talk to each other and say, ‘we gotta run,’” Brown said. “That’s our focus; we’re young. We try to get up and down the floor. It makes the game easier for us.”
The Celtics' second unit has been in a constant state of change most of this season due to the number of injuries sustained by the preferred starting five.
So getting more consistent play from the team’s youngsters like Rozier and Brown is huge for this team going forward especially if they will be without Thomas for multiple games which is a possibility.
“It was a great opportunity; they seized it,” Horford said. “Moving forward, if they play like they did tonight; defense first, confident, I feel like there will be plenty of more opportunities to show what they have.”
WASHINGTON - Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 after blowing a three-goal lead Wednesday night.
Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.
After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3.
Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.
Boston outshot Washington 34-20. The Capitals have won two straight following a three-game losing skid.