NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The 2012 NFL Scouting combine is right around the corner. Before we start thinking about 40-times, wingspan and 3-cone times, here is one version of how the 2012 NFL Draft might go down for the Patriots.
1st Round (27)
Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State (Scouting Report)
As Mike Loyko stated in his very in-depth post describing Patriots needs, the Patriots are missing a penetrating force at the 3-4 defensive end position. Brandon Deaderick was a decent complement to Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love, but certainly was not a dynamic presence.
Fletcher Cox brings the size, length and sudden athleticism that the Patriots desperately need. He can play the 4-3 DT position while also stepping outside as a prototypical 3-4 five technique defensive end.
If Michael Brockers (DL, LSU) falls to within range of the Patriots he might also get a look here. He doesn’t have the pass-rush skills that Cox does at this point of his career, but his potential is off the charts.
Even though the free agent market is loaded with talent at receiver (Stevie Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd…), if one of the top four draft prospects at receiver fall, the Patriots could pull the trigger here. Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Floyd all have the ability to be special.
Prospects with premium edge-rushing potential like Nick Perry (DE, USC), Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama) and Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama) may all be off the board here. They would certainly all get a long look if they fall to #27 on draft day.
1st Round (31)
It has been New England’s modus operandi the last few years to trade down near the end of the first round for a future first round selection and a second round pick in the current draft.
If the rest of the NFL finally starts wising up, the Patriot might have a harder time finding a good value from a team looking to trade up. I’m projecting the Chicago Bears, who could really use both a top-notch OL and WR, to trade their second round selections in 2012 (50) and 2013, plus a fifth round pick in 2013 for the Patriots 31st pick.
Dropping 19 selections in order to add an additional selection in 2013, a draft where they are very light on picks due to Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, as well as a late round pick in 2012 sounds like a Patriots type of move.
If trading down doesn’t work out, expect the Patriots to take the best player available – regardless of position. Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall), Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina) and Jared Crick (DL, Nebraska) are all possibilities.
Click on page 2 for the second round and beyond.