Just to clear up the title of this post, I am going to be looking at potential draft prospects for Miami who come from New England schools - I didn't want you to think I was analyzing the Patriots' draft options.
New England's my home sweet home, so these are the schools that I get to see the most on television. Most of the schools can't stack up against the top programs, but a few players always find a way to produce in the NFL and it's important to look at everyone (also, I want to give some hometown love). So, here's a few prospects from New England colleges to look out for this weekend:
BC probably has the best prospects of the New England schools in the upcoming draft. Two guys that Miami could look at include G Josh Beekman and OT James Marten.
* G Josh Beekman - Beekman is probably one of the top-5 guards in the draft and should get selected on the first day. If BC is known for anything in the pros, it's producing solid offensive linemen and Beekman looks to continue in that mold. He has good size at 6'2", 315 pounds and excels at run-blocking. His technique is sound and he is not injury-prone. As for weaknesses, he lacks good speed and his pass-blocking needs improvement. Miami should definitely take a look at this guy with their late second-round or third-round pick.
* OT James Marten - this guy is in the top 6-8 offensive tackles in the draft, and he has tremendous size at 6'7" with the accompanying long arms that are so important for tackles. He also has experience playing at LG in college, so he would have the versatility to be moved around the line. He would probably have trouble at LT in the NFL since his footwork leaves something to be desired and he struggles if left on an island against a speedy pass-rusher, but he could contribute elsewhere along the line. My guess is that he gets picked on the first day, so Miami could look at him in the third round.
New England is also known for its Ivy League schools, and Brown's LB Zak DeOssie will likely be taken somewhere between rounds four to six. You may remember his father Steve who played in the NFL for the Jets and Patriots among others.
* LB Zak DeOssie - this guy has good speed for a linebacker, posting a 4.62 40-time, and he never gives up on a play. He's good in pass coverage, but would need to improve on stopping the run. In the NFL, I see this guy as a special teams ace and a backup who can play all the LB positions. He is also a long-snapper and that will most assuredly help him latch on and stick with a team. It's possible Miami takes a look at this guy if he's still around in the sixth-round, but don't be surprised to see the Pats take him - he's exactly the kind of player Belichick loves.
Central Connecticut St.
* RB Justise Hairston - this guy spent his first three years buried on the depth chart at Rutgers before transferring, so not a whole lot is known about what he can do. He's a strong and pounding runner who can pass-block, but he doesn't have top-end quickness. Since he's still a relatively unknown commodity I wouldn't expect him to be drafted any earlier than the seventh-round, but he has the potential to surprise someone.
* FB Deon Anderson - if Miami is still looking for a long-term answer at FB they could consider Anderson, who won't get picked until the sixth or seventh rounds, if at all. He's simply average as a blocker, but he has good hands. The major problem is that he has character issues that forced him to miss the 2005 season. I doubt Miami takes a chance on him - he just doesn't have enough of an upside to warrant taking a chance on him.
* SS Daren Stone - Stone is a big (6'3", 220 lbs) physical tackler who could make an impact on special teams. He's big enough that he could play LB in some schemes. He would probably be a liability in coverage since he lacks good speed. He also has some character concerns, but he could be worth a seventh-round pick or free agent signing as a project-player.
* WR David Ball - This is the guy who broke Jerry Rice's all-time NCAA TD reception record with 58. He was a high-jumper for the track team so he has good leaping ability. Unfortunately, he's just too slow (4.70/40) to break away from coverage in the NFL. He'll do anything asked of him including going over the middle and he has good hands, but I just don't see him converting his college production into NFL success. I expect him to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round or picked up as a free agent.
* CB/KR Corey Graham - Graham is a really smart player who excels in zone coverage. He struggles in man-coverage, and he needs to be more physical when coming up to stop the run. In college, he proved himself as a leader. He returned kicks and could make an impact on special teams. Corey could be an intriguing sleeper pick for Miami to look at in the seventh-round or as a free agent pickup.
Well, there you have it. Dolphins fans should definitely keep their eyes on the two BC offensive linemen as possible first day selections. Other than that, the New England schools offer a bevy of intriguing late-round/free agent sleeper picks and projects who could make some team happy.