posted at 4/11/2009 11:43 AM EDT
This is a must pick for the Pats. Watched tape on him and heard him interviewed on Sirius NFL and he is the perfect replacement for Vrabel. Bill loves versatility, and this player is versatile and has the perfect Patriot additude and intellegence.
Re: Connor Barwin
posted at 4/11/2009 1:07 PM EDT
Yeah, people talk about him being raw, but that's what people must have said last year when he was switched to defense for the first time.
How did he perform? He only led the Big East in sacks, knocked down 8 passes, and blocked three kicks.
Think about how much he had to learn in that one off-season, playing on the opposite side of the ball for the first time.
Now he's considered raw again, this time because he hasn't played OLB in a 3-4. Whatever reading and reacting he needs to learn, I'm not worried about it. His straight-line and lateral quickness are elite for the position, so even if he does initially hesitate a bit, his ability to recover is top notch.
And I don't think he will be slow to read and react, at least after the first game or two. He played Big East basketball, where he learned to read, react and rotate defensively against incredibly quick athletes.
He also played Tight End for 3 years, so he knows many of the tricks much better than every other DE convert prospect, including Orakpo, Brown, Maybin, and English, and I'd bet he's better in coverage than Sintim after a game or two, because he is a superior athlete.
Barwin also has four years of being a special teams star, which undoubtedly helped him transition to defense last year.
But if learning and adapting is a skill, Barwin has proven he is excellent at it. Just like they say learning a second foreign language is much easier than learning your first foreign language, the same principle undoubtedly applies to football.
And given Barwin's video game athleticism, passion for the game, and strong interest in playing linebacker, I think we'll look back on these "raw" concerns and chuckle.
That being said, I also think Michael Johnson is going to really excel in the NFL. He wasn't allowed to rush the passer non-stop the way Brown was at Florida State, and MJ had and a sack artist helping him from the other side. He also faced a ton of double teams.
MJ's situation reminds me a bit of Rudy Gay when he was coming out of college. Everybody was saying that he could have played better because he was so physically talented, and he was labeled soft and lacking heart. He was punished where inferior athletes putting up the same numbers would have been rewarded. As a result, Gay was drafted behind Adam Morrison, Sheldon Williams, and Randy Foye. Was anybody shocked when Gay quickly out-performed them all? No. Just like nobody will be surprised when Johnson outperforms comparable prospects.
That all being said, I can't decide whether I like Barwin or Johnson better, but I'd take either over Cushing, Sintim, English, or Mathews. Hopefully one of the two will be there at 34, and a top prospect at another position falls to 23.
Re: Connor Barwin
posted at 4/11/2009 1:40 PM EDT
I believe the Pat's have the players they could use at OLB atleast to rush the passer. I don't know if Shawn Crable , Vince Redd or Pierre Woods would be long term solutions to their needs but I think with all the picks the Pats have this year they can afford to take an athlete who is "raw" and spend this year trying to develop him. The problem is, the Pats system requires guys that have some brains also. That way they can stay on the field almost all the time. Set the edge to redirect running plays, drop back in coverage during passing downs etc. Some guys are just not smart enough or athletic enough to both.
Re: Connor Barwin
posted at 4/11/2009 1:41 PM EDT
Interestingly enough, Barwin has worked out as a TE for us, not an OLB. I'd laugh if we drafted him only to play offense and special teams.
Great player, though. I look forward to following his NFL career.