Late-Round Prospects: OLB

Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College

Herzlich was considered to be among the nation’s top LB prospects in 2008 before bone cancer derailed his 2009 season. Though he seemed to be a step slower in his return to the field in 2010, he still showed excellent instincts and could easily develop into a solid starter if he does not have any further health setbacks.

K.J. Wright, OLB, Mississippi

Wright has average athelticism, but he has a solid frame at 6’3″ and 245 pounds. He would likely need to add some muscle to be a three-down player. He has four years of experience as a starter and contributed on special teams. He would be a bit of a project, but he could provide depth with at least a little upside.

Thomas Keiser, OLB, Stanford

Keiser is a bit unpolished and would likely need a year or two to reach the point where he wouldn’t be a liability as a starter. However, he has the elite size and athleticism that the Patriots covet (6’5″, 244). He also is adept at rushing the passer, racking up 19.5 sacks in 27 games as a starter (plus 11 as a reserve).

Ross Homan, OLB, Ohio State

While their arch-rival in Happy Valley is known as Linebacker U, Ohio State has produced a number of productive linebackers in the NFL as well. Homan is a good tackler and is excellent against the run. He has been the unsung hero of Ohio State’s defense, and he could end up being an excellent value late in the draft.

Doug Hogue, OLB, Syracuse

Much like Keiser, Hogue would need to add a little bit of bulk. He shows excellent hustle and could be an important asset on special teams. He is still raw, but has enough upside for the Patriots to gamble late in the draft.

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