NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With the free agent frenzy settling down and the dust beginning to settle, the draft needs of the Patriots are becoming more clear. This is the first post free agency Patriots mock draft.
With the Patriots addressing almost all of their needs on the offensive side of the ball and added depth to already strong positions, they appear close to set on that side of the ball. On defense the team added three quality veteran players who should contribute next year, but there a more holes to fill. With that being said, I expect the Patriots to be active on the defensive side of the ball on day one and two of the draft.
Round 1 Pick 27 (via N.O.) – Devon Still, DE/DT Penn State
The Patriots have brought in a number of players along the defensive line during free agency and have signed just one player there so far, signaling to me they are looking to improve the position. At #27 it’s unlikely the Patriots will be able to get one of the top 3 DT on the board, however getting Still here would add a big, strong play maker to an aging line.
I was really impressed with Devon Still’s body at the combine, he has extremely think shoulders and long arms. While he played mainly 4-3 DT at Penn State, Still has the ideal combination of size, strength and length to play 5-Tech in the Patriots 3-4. He also has the ability to kick inside and provide interior pass rush, which is something they have been trying to address in free agency.
Round 1 Pick 31 – Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn
Alot of people might not understand this pick, however, if there is one position I can see the Patriots double dipping at in this year’s draft it’s DL. Elite DL come off the board early and there is a drop off after Reyes.
If you look at the Patriots defensive depth chart, it’s tough to get excited about the talent on the DL. They have Vince Wilfork who played over 80% of the snaps last season and they have to decrease his work load. They have Jonathan Fanane who was just signed to be a Mike Wright type player. Ron Brace has been a bust and hasn’t provided anything, Myron Pryor can’t stay healthy, Brandon Deaderick is best suited for a reserve role and Kyle Love is a solid, but unspectacular player.
If we have learned one thing in the past few years, it’s that you build your defensive line through the draft. Between 2001-2004 the Patriots used three first round picks on defensive lineman and created one of the strongest lines in the league. So, while on draft day this will be a move that has causes people to scratch their heads over, it is something Bill Belichick has to consider. Reyes like Still can play all across the DL. I like him inside as a 3-Tech and a potential back up to Vince Wilfork at NT. He can penetrate, get into the backfield and gets off the ball as good as anyone.
By drafting two stud DL it will allow the Patriots to turn their attention to the secondary in round two, where the value of the position is in this draft.
Round 2 Pick 48 (via Oak) – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
McClellin is a prototypical Patriots OLB. He measures in at 6’3″ 266 lbs, so he fits the size requirement. He has played with his hand in the ground and standing up, which is imperative for a Patriots OLB. McClellin is ultra versatile, with the ability to play DE, OLB and even ILB. McClellin is just a pure football player. He gives it all he has on every play and his passion for the game is evident on the field. His leadership and emotion rubs off on his teammates.
McClellin is also one of the best edge rushers in this year’s draft. He has proved throughout the post season that he is more athletic than people thought, by posting a 4.62 forty he erased any doubt about his speed. The Patriots have lost Mark Anderson in free agency and McClellin would be a natural replacement. There isn’t much McClellin can’t do. He has pretty good coverage ability, but obviously has to work on his drops and reads to be an every down player.
When I talk to agents, scouts and other players the words used to describe McClellin are coachable, versatile, a leader and athletic. That sounds like a Patriot to me.