NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
This is Mike Loyko’s first official Patriots only mock draft. An in depth look at each Patriot selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. What will they be looking for and who will they be targeting?
This is my first version of a weekly update. I will change the Patriots picks as new information comes forth, as free agents are signed and as players help and hurt their stock. It is hard enough projecting the proper players to the picks, so I do not and will never project trades.
We all know the Patriots will be active and probably will make a ton of trades, however for the sake of this article and my sanity I will not project any. This year the Patriots currently don’t own any picks after the 4th round. I will however add one player to rounds 5-7 because I can’t fathom a scenario where Bill Belichick goes 3 full rounds without a draft pick.
Round 1 (27)- Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
A lot gets made of the Patriots refusal to draft pass rushers and that is entirely true. However this year if the Patriots are able to resign Andre Carter and Mark Anderson pass rusher won’t be the biggest need on defense. The Patriots have struggled to replace Richard Seymour ever since they traded him to Oakland and have sorely missed having stability at that position.
Bill Belichick is willing to spend 1st round picks on defense linemen and Cox is someone who fits the Patriots prototype. With the Patriots likely to switch back to a 3-4 defense getting a long-term solution at DE will be vital.
Cox has the frame to hold up as a 5-tech and actually can stand to add 10-15 pounds. The Patriots like their DEs to be about 310 pounds and Cox surely has the frame to put on the weight without effecting his game.
Cox is a tremendous athlete for his size he can attack gaps and get into the backfield. He has a very good motor which helps him make a lot of plays. He exploded onto the college football scene this year winning multiple SEC Defensive player of the week honors. Cox would help sure up the front seven not only in the run game, but is athletic enough that he can collapse the pocket and get to the QB.
Round 1 (31)- Mark Barron, S, Alabama
This is such a cliche pick since everyone has the Patriots taking him or another Alabama defender with this pick. The truth is, at the end of the first round the best players available will likely be one of the Alabama defenders and if Barron is there at 31 he’s too good to pass up regardless of injury.
The Patriots safeties were awful last year, especially coverage wise. They really lacked leadership and consistancy at the position and have since Rodney Harrison retired. Barron is more of an in the box, “come up and hit you in the mouth” safety, but I feel like he can be interchangeable.
He was one of the leaders on the Alabama defense and has a very solid understaning of the game. Barron will miss the combine and likely the whole pre-draft process due to double hernia surgery so he won’t get anther chance to help his stock this offseason. While it likely won’t hurt his stock in theory, it’s out of sight out of mind, which could make Barron slip to the Patriots at 31.
The Belichick-Saban relationship when it comes to the draft is overblown, but this could be one instance where his access to the Alabama program will come in handy. There is such a drop off after Barron, that if the Patriots want to fix this position in the draft they have to do it early on.