This post continues a series on Gamecocks in this year's NFL Draft. Today we're talking about Patrick DiMarco.
Measurements: 6'1 / 240
Career Summary: Despite humble origins, DiMarco has made quite a name for himself at USC. He came to Columbia as a two-star recruit out of FL in 2007, certainly not the most heralded prospect in that class. However, he's since gone on to have a much more productive career than many of the "can't-miss" recruits from that year. He saw limited time in 2007, with his most notable play coming in the Kentucky game:
2008 saw him get more playing time at the FB position, and in 2009 he became a more integral part of the offense as a key receiver out of the backfield and an important blocker in the running game. Who can forget the key TD he scored against fourth-ranked Ole Miss that year? He reprised that role in 2010 and saw additional time as an h-back, and I dare say that he had a hand in many of Marcus Lattimore's best runs. He also deserves credit for the leadership role he played. He was team captain his final two years and often drew rave reviews from the coaching staff for his work ethic and locker-room leadership.
What the Scouts Like: After the Shrine Bowl, many scouts compared DiMarco's blocking abilities to those of offensive linemen, showing that us Carolina fans aren't the only ones who have noticed DiMarco's proficiency at opening running lanes and protecting the QB. DiMarco is also a dependable receiver who is willing to make tough catches in traffic. His versatility is also a plus, as he's played both fullback and TE / h-back and has shown a propensity for learning new roles his entire career.
What the Scouts Don't Like: DiMarco isn't fast enough to serve as a running threat out of the backfield, and despite his size and strength, he's never been particularly good at breaking tackles, which limits his effectiveness in the passing game, as well. Moreover, NFL teams are unlikely to use a high draft pick on a FB. DiMarco's versatility may make him somewhat more attractive than the average FB, but it's not like he's going to be considered a potential elite TE.
Are the Mocks Right?: DiMarco is projected to be taken in the fifth-to-seventh rounds or as an undrafted free agent. I'd say that's about right. DiMarco is a favorite among Carolina fans, and I've heard several people argue that he should be a high pick. Calm down, folks. While DiMarco had a memorable career here, and while I oftentimes thought he could have had a bigger one if, say, Stephen Garcia could have worked through his progressions better, it's not like DiMarco's impact was on par with what you expect from a high draft pick. He was simply a great FB, which is only going to get him so far with NFL scouts. That said, many teams still employ a FB in most formations, and such teams could certainly do a lot worse than DiMarco.