The Patriots went for an edge rusher at 53rd overall and selected DE/OLB Jermaine Cunningham from Florida. Cunningham did not work out at the Combine or Florida’s Pro Day due to a shoulder injury but Bill Belichick’s good friends with Urban Meyer, so he must have gotten all of the information he needed. Mike Mayock on NFL Network commented that Cunningham is a more disruptive player than his counterpart Carlos Dunlap, who went 54 to the Bengals, even though Dunlap got more of the hype. Cunningham projects as an OLB in the 3-4 and has good size at 6’3″ and 266 pounds. Here’s the NFL Draft Tracker’s synopsis on Cunningham:
“Cunningham was the Gators’ most disruptive defender in 2009 and has great initial quickness and agility to make plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t have outstanding speed but is athletic enough to be a versatile defender as an outside linebacker or end at the next level. He is still developing his pass rush package but has the natural ability to be effective in the NFL. He lacks the bulk to be an effective take-on defender but is a high-motor player that should contribute on special teams and sub packages in his rookie season.”
Cunningham, though not clocked, has good speed and can run down backs moving away from him and has the range to drop into coverage. He’s going to have to make a position change so this is a bit of a projection but let’s hope he follows in Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinest, and Tully Banta-Cain’s footsteps, who all made the successful transition from DE to OLB.