48th Pick (Via Oakland)
George Iloka, FS, Boise State (Scouting Notes)
If there is one thing that nearly all Patriots fans can agree on, it is that the safety play has been pretty poor this season. Outside of Pat Chung and the late-season cameo by Devin McCourty, the Patriots were starting undrafted rookies and special teams players.
If Chung can stay healthy, the strong safety position should be solid for the forseeable future. While the responsibilities of the Patriots safeties often overlap, a free safety adept at coverage would be a great addition for the Patriots.
Iloka, a former cornerback, has the size, length, and range to contribute in zone coverage. He also has shown the ability to cover tight ends and receivers in man.
If the safety move by McCourty is something that the Patriots see continuing in the future, a cornerback could be the pick here as well. That said, adding depth at the safety position would still go a long way for the 2012 NFL season.
Ben Jones, OC, Georgia (Scouting Notes)
Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, and Nick McDonald all took snaps for the Patriots at the center position in 2011. The Patriots offense didn’t seem to miss a beat.
Does that mean that the center position can be disregarded? On the contrary, I see the Patriots adding to the depth at the position, especially with Koppen a free agent in 2012.
Jones has the size (6’3″/315) to hold up against 3-4 nose tackles in the AFC East, while having enough experience (48 starts) to handle the Patriots line calls.
He gets into his blocks quickly after the snap and is athletic enough to handle all sorts of pulls and screens. He doesn’t have a huge punch, but has improved his power over the course of his career. He should have a lot of skills that OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia can work with.
If the Patriots are content with their current stable of centers, or plan on bringing Koppen back, they should have a lot of options at the bottom of the 2nd round. Trading back, or targeting a receiver/pass rusher could be a possibility.
Click on page 3 for the rest of the draft.