NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Patriots were a few inches from gaining that precious fourth ring. It will take a good crop of youngsters in the 2012 NFL Draft to push them over the top in next year’s Super Bowl.
Here is our third version of what the Patriots might do come late April.
1st Round, Pick 17: Michael Brockers, DL, LSU (SCOUTING REPORT)
Many Patriots fans are shaking their heads right now. “Trade up? Are you crazy?”
Believe it or not, Bill Belichick has done it before and will do it again. He moved up for Chad Jackson, Daniel Graham, and Rob Gronkowski, all within the first 50 picks of the draft.
While only one of those players has had the impact that Belichick desired, I don’t see him shying away from grabbing a player that he feels can dynamically improve his team.
By sending the 31st and 48th (1020 points according to the trade value chart) to the Cincinnati Bengals for the 17th pick and a 5th round pick, the Patriots may be in position to draft a fantastic young 3-4 defensive end.
Michael Brockers, fresh off his own disappointing championship game defeat, is a prototypical five-technique end – which means he might not make it past pick 10, let alone pick 20. Measuring in at 6’6″ and over 305 pounds, with the frame to add a few more, the former LSU Tiger has the length and size to draw double teams and dominate his two gaps.
If he kicks inside in sub-packages, he has the power and first step to be a good pass-rusher as well. With a bit more polish, he could truly be the closest thing to Richard Seymour that we’ve seen in New England in a long time.
Three other potential trade-up targets are wide receivers. Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, and Kendall Wright might all be gone before we’re halfway through the 2012 NFL Draft. That said, if any of them start to slip – especially Blackmon or Wright – the Patriots might be tempted to grab an elite talent at a position that is aging rapidly.
However, if the speculated reunion of Brandon Lloyd and Josh McDaniels comes to fruition, receiver may once again become a secondary need for the Patriots front office.
Courtney Upshaw (DE/OLB, Alabama) and Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina) are two other players that have certainly drawn interest from Patriots scouts this off-season, but I don’t see either of these elite prospects falling into the range where the Patriots can go and get them.
CLICK ON PAGE 2 FOR THE REST OF ROUNDS 1 AND 2