Patriots Draft: Finding Diamonds In The Rough

Utah State's John Chick

Pro Days are over and the Draft is here. Teams have their boards set with the intention to take one of the players already on their list. The question is, what about the guys who are not as well known? John Chick is one of those players. A defensive end in college, Chick projects as an outside linebacker in the pros. His career was enough to get the Cowboys, Chiefs and Patriots interested in him.

Defensive end John Chick was the focus of scouts at Utah State's first Pro Day in early March, although his teammate offensive tackle Donald Penn may disagree. After not being invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Chick worked out with Penn and their fellow former Aggies, in front of 23 teams. The workout, a couple of personal interviews and some Q&A's later, Chick was done, or at least he thought he was.

After the drills and the testing, the New England Patriots' scout put Chick through some linebacker work so NFL personnel in attendance could get a better look at how well the 6-foot-4, 265-pound defender moved.

Chick, who played defensive end for the Aggies, moved to outside linebacker his junior season when the coaching staff switched to a 3-4 base defense. While he prefers to play as a defensive lineman, he felt that just being on the field is the most important part.

"I love coming off the edge as a defensive end," Chick said in a phone interview. "As an outside linebacker in the defense we played here, I got to do the same thing. I also enjoyed the experience of having to drop back occasionally and making plays in the secondary."

Teams are looking at moving Chick from his normal 4-3 position at end to a possible outside backer in a 3-4 defense because of his athletic ability. Having won the Aggie Iron, an award given by the team for the player who has displayed the most dedication in the weight room, Chick believes that he has the physical tools to play either position at the next level. His coaches agree, they awarded him the team's Golden Helmet Award for top hitter, and named him the team's top linebacker in one season he played the position.

"I'll play anywhere," he said. "I enjoyed playing linebacker, you get to make some bigger hits it seems like. In our scheme, sometimes I was dropping back, sometimes I was coming, and it's fun to play in games like that."

The Patriots are one of a number of teams that view Chick as a possible solution on the outside. Although he may come from an unheralded program in the WAC, Chick can play. He was ranked fifth in the NCAA in sacks per game at 1.14 and ninth in the country in tackles for loss with 1.73. His 12.5 sacks were the second most in WAC history and his 19 tackles for loss, tied for fourth in conference history.

Those are the type of numbers that open eyes. So did the numbers Chick turned in at his Pro Day where he bench pressed 225-pounds 30 times and ran the forty in 4.59.

"For the Draft it's kind of out of my control," Chick said. "I had the season I had hoped for [in 2005] and I got better. My numbers speak for themselves, and I've got to keep working to get in shape. I'm just trying to get in the best football shape I can now so whatever football team comes calling, I can be ready to play for them."

When teams showed up at Utah State, it had a lot to do with their desire to see more of Penn in action. Many teams were not aware that Chick had the type of athleticism or the size until they saw him in person. His official bio even has him listed at 248-pounds, a weight Chick says he hasn't seen in a long time.

"The numbers they had on me before my Pro Day were actually numbers from before my sophomore season, Chick said of his bio stats. "They had me at 240-pounds, and outside linebacker. I've been a lot heavier than [240] for over a year now. A lot of guys came up here expecting some skinny guy, so when I weighed in and tested the way that I did, I think it shocked some of them.

The Wyoming native hopes to hear his name called on Draft Day, but he won't worry about it. He knows teams will find him if they're interested. Chick and his wife will be at home with their newborn baby Camryn and a number of family members awaiting the call to hop on a plane.

"We're just going to hang out with the baby here," Chick said. "We'll have a barbecue."

Barbecues on Draft day are a popular choice among players hoping to hear their name called. Chick is expected to be a second day selection. If it's by the Patriots, he would likely start on special teams and compete at for playing time with Tully Banta-Cain at OLB as he strives to make the final roster.

The Patriots are well known for finding diamonds in the rough; John Chick just may be their next diamond.

 

Chick is a humble hard working kid hoping for a shot to show he has what it takes. Find out what caused him to switch to linebacker, his Draft preparations, the teams he's talked to and more in this exclusive Insiders Article.

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