Everyone knows the common theme of Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots being the best at finding under-appreciated stars throughout college football.
Whether it is J.C. Jackson, Malcolm Butler, Gunner Olszewski and (hopefully) Cole Strange, the Patriots have a knack at finding solid contributors through the world of collegiate football.
Well, they are already getting a head start on the 2023 NFL Draft and the incoming prospects.
According to a source, the Patriots have expressed interest in Texas senior linebacker Jett Bush.
Bush, who joined the Longhorns program as a preferred walk-on, is now on scholarship and is a key member of this Texas team, which recently competed with No. 1 ranked Alabama down to the final whistle.
The Longhorns have sent two players to the Patriots organization this past season, as WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey was signed to the active roster this past week, joining fellow Texas alum Brenden Schooler.
Schooler played on the defensive side of the ball with Bush, who has played in 33 games in Austin. Bush also has one career sack and one forced fumble to his name.
The current linebackers in the Patriots locker room are set to go through some changes after this season, as Raekwon McMillan, Jahlani Tavai and Mack Wilson Sr. are all set to face free agency come March.
On the field, the Patriots are planning to compete against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but behind closed doors, the front office and scouting department has been working hard to bring in the next crop of New England talent.
In his short career, Thibodaux has been a dominant player off the edge. Thibodaux has long arms that help him quickly get to the opposing offensive linemen and win the leverage battle. He also has an extremely fast get-off, within the tier of Brian Burns. Presently, Thibodaux is expected to be the best EDGE prospect in the draft and a top 4-10 pick.
George Karlaftis (Purdue) 6’4 275
Karlaftis is one of the strongest prospects in the draft this year. His only move is a bull rush but it is very effective. Thus far Karlaftis has not shown much bend. With his level of athleticism, he is likely going to be mostly a Calais Campbell type of prospect where teams mostly play him at 3-tech but can move him inside and out. Overall he will be best suited as a 3-4 DE.
Zach Harrison (Ohio State) 6’6 269
Harrison has not produced much just yet but he has elite athleticism and body frame. Harrison is expected to be the next great EDGE rusher to be developed by Larry Johnson and Ohio State. He has long arms and has the strength to bull rush from the outside or inside as a 3-tech. He has clocked in at 4.47 40 yard dash and you can see the explosiveness on tape.
Drake Jackson (USC) 6’4 255
Jackson brings great size, explosion, agility, and versatility to the table. He has an amazing wingspan that should help him greatly to win the leverage battle in the NFL. Jackson is the type of defensive linemen that you can play in any system and should be able to play inside or out effectively. Furthermore, He is a fluid enough athlete to drop in zone coverage and not cause problems. This April you can expect Drake Jackson to be in contention for a high draft pick.
Aiden Hutchinson (Michigan) 6’6 269
Hutchinson is a freak athlete off the EDGE and has a lot of promise to be an elite edge rusher. Due to injuries, Hutchinson was not able to make any type of impact last season and decided to return to Michigan. As long as Hutchinson is healthy he should be expected to be an impact player. He has shown great hand technique already and explosiveness already. Also already an established run-stopper, hence he should already be able to come in as a three-down edge rusher.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Washington) 6’3 280
Even though will not be playing this year because of a ruptured Achilles, he will still be in contention for a top draft spot because of his 2020 season. Tupuola-Fetui is a really fluid mover for such a big man. He is great at using the dip and rip move. Tupuola-Fetui has a great leveraging ability and a strong initial punch. With what we have witnessed from Tupuola-Fetui already he should be a first-round prospect. No doubt, Tupuola-Fetui will be a three-down player.
Brenton Cox (Florida) 6’3 250
Cox is another former five-star recruit but has not totally lived up to his billing yet. He does have athleticism and great size. He is not an amazing run stopper but he is good enough to be a three-down player. Cox also has a plethora of moves but favors a spin move. This year he should be able to show polish in his technique and ability. In conclusion, Cox Should have himself in the conversation for a first-round pick.
Nolan Smith (Georgia) 6’3 235
Smith has a great frame and agility so far. He will certainly need to gain 10 to 15 pounds to be a three-down player in the NFL. Nevertheless, Smith is best suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker. For now, he just wins with get-off or is stuck. This season he will need to gain that mass, show a rush plan, and some type of specialty move. Overall he has potential but has not shown enough flashes to put him higher than a day 3 pick at this point.
Adam Anderson (Georgia) 6’5 230
Anderson is an amazing pass rusher, but he lacks any showing of being able to stop the run. He could definitely be drafted as a rotational pass rusher. Anderson needs to show in this upcoming season that he can be a three-down player.
Ali Gaye (LSU) 6’6 250
Gaye is a JUCO transfer that was an impressive pass rusher last year in the jump to SEC. He had a great start to the season but eventually, his production fell off as the season went on. He did not show much in the way of being a run stopper but with his athletic traits, he should be able to improve in that aspect.
Nik Bonitto (Oklahoma) 6’3 240
Bonitto is one of the edge rushers that has a smaller frame and on the field, he looks like a linebacker. He will need to add size to become a consistent contributor in the NFL. However, Bonito shows the ability to be a highly productive speed rusher. Due to his lack of weight, he lacks any type of power moves. In essence, Bonitto will come into the NFL at least a productive pass rusher.
Xavier Thomas (Clemson) 6’2 270
Thomas is a five-star player that came in and made an immediate impact as a true freshman. He has all the athletic traits to be a dominant outside and inside threat, but did not make the jump his sophomore in a full-time starter role. Then, he was injured for his junior year. Thomas is expected to redeem himself this year with a breakout season as the guy on Clemson’s defensive line.
Kingsley Enagbare (South Carolina) 6’4 270
Enagbare is a monster of a man. He has a really initial strong punch but does not have a plan of attack afterward. He has really fluent movements for a man his size. Enagbare has also shown the versatility and strength to play on the outside and inside. Although you do not want him doing it often, Enagbare has shown the ability to drop in coverage well. He also has shown an extremely high motor; no matter where the ball is heading you will see him chasing the ball.
Myjai Sanders (Cincinnati) 6’5 258
Sanders has the prototypical size and length scouts are searching for. He is definitely the best EDGE rusher that the group of 4 conferences will offer this year. For now, Enagbare does not show much technique and just wins off his size and athleticism. He did get a chance to play against Georgia in the peach bowl, and he looked great in that outing. He will absolutely need to improve his hand placement and move repertoire to be a top draft pick, but he is at a great point in his development so far.