6) Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Initially I was going to list UConn DT Kendall Reyes here, but I just can’t see Bill Belichick taking an interior defensive lineman in the first round who is under 300 lbs. I know Reyes is pretty close, but a point has been made in the last week or so that he actually played closer to 285 his junior season when he was his most productive, so I am not sure of the fit anymore. Worthy is an athletic interior penetrator who plays at close to 310 pounds.
I believe Worthy has been given kind of an unfair rap in the media and labeled a “loafer”, which is true to some degree, but certainly not to the level of Quinton Coples.
When Worthy is “on his game” he can be straight up dominate. He gets into the backfield with ease, can blow up plays and get after the QB. If the Patriots are looking for a DT who can bring interior pass rush and develop into and all around player it’s Worthy. Worthy doesn’t really project to 3-4 DE or NT, because of the way he likes to get up field so he’s not as versatile as some other defensive lineman. The Patriots rotate defensive fronts so often that they need these types of players and lacked them last season. Worthy in all likelihood will be there at the end of the first round when the Patriots pick.
7) Trumaine Johnson, CB/FS, Montana
Johnson is one of my favorite defensive back prospects in the entire draft. He is someone I hadn’t seen a lot of until after his season was over, but downloading some of his games I came away very impressed.
Johnson is a bigger cornerback who plays very well in man to man coverage. He also loves to come up to the line of scrimmage and play press coverage. Johnson has very good ball skills and on film you can see him continually locate and high point the football. Johnson’s name has also been brought up as a player that can move to free safety due to his ability to locate the ball, cover a lot of ground and play physical. I would always rather a player be given a shot at CB first, but Johnson definitely has the ability to play both positions.
One of the reasons I would be such a proponent of the Patriots selecting a CB like Johnson is because they need to find defensive backs who can play man to man coverage and need to bring in defenders who have better ball skills. Those were the two major weaknesses of the the Patriots secondary last year. Johnson would make a lot of sense at pick #48 because he won’t last much longer than that. Even though Johnson isn’t projected to go in the first round, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is a player the Patriots take a little bit higher than expected.
8. Bobby Wagner, LB Utah State / Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
I know I am cheating here a little bit by listing more than one player, but I am doing so to represent the Patriots need to draft a fast coverage type linebacker.
Lavonte David has visited the Patriots and Bobby Wagner’s name has been brought up as someone of interest. As I have said before taking either player would be a departure from the typical Patriot way of doing things. The Patriots need to get more athletic at the linebacker position and need to find players who can cover tight ends and slot WRs. Ninkovich, Spikes and Mayo are all big physical linebackers and all three can struggle in coverage at times.
David and Wagner are both undersized for what the Patriots usually look for but are athletic, fast and can cover. David is a throwback player, he is always around the football, has good instincts and can tackle and Wagner is one of the most underrated players in the draft, because I feel like he can play on every down and on all four special teams units. There aren’t many OLB prospects in this draft, especially the kind that the Patriots usually target. I think it’s time for the Patriots to change up the criteria a little bit when it comes to evaluating and drafting linebackers.
It’s a changing game and linebackers who can run and cover are more valuable than ever, it’s time for the Patriots to get a few. Both Wagner and David are projected to be drafted right around the 50th pick, so if the team wants one of them they will have to take them at 48.
9) Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida
If the Patriots select a corner back in the second round I believe Josh Robinson will be one of the most likely selections. Robinson might be the most athletic player in the entire draft and put on a show at the combine with speed and agility.
On the field, Robinson is a feisty and competitive corner. He really burst onto the scene with his performance against former Georgia WR AJ Green. Robinson challenged him, was in his face and was able to stick with Green throughout the game. Technically speaking, Robinson isn’t a finished product. He has been able to make up for a lot of mistakes with his athleticism and speed. Robinson has very good hips, very good change of direction, and the ability to run with any WR out there.
Those are all things that can’t be taught and are vital when projecting and selecting a CB. The Patriots like their corners, to be fast, fluid players and Robinson is certainly that. There is still some uncertainty to just how high Robinson could go. I would be pretty surprised if he made it out of the second round at this point so if the Patriots want him they will have to take him in the second round.
10) Brian Quick, WR, Appalachain State
The Patriots have added tremendous depth at the WR position in free agency, signing Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd. The team also resigned Deion Branch, restructured Chad Johnson’s contact and franchised Wes Welker. There figures to be a lot of competition for roster spots in training camp. Of the names mentioned only Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd would appear to be locks to be on the team. While the Patriots have a lot of different types of WR, they still don’t have the big, tall, fast vertical threat that can stretch the field.
By drafting Brian Quick the Pats would add that type of WR to what is already an interesting and eclectic mix. Quick may have as much potential as any receiver in the draft and that is including the first round guys. He is new to the game of football, so he is still learning. He has all the god given tools that can make a receiver great. He really does have great speed and if you watch him against Virginia Tech you can really get an appreciation for just how fast he really is. I believe if Quick went to a SEC school we would talking about him as a legitimate top 20 pick. There has been some rumors swirling around that the Patriots really like Quick a lot.
I think the late first round might be a little rich for him, considering he is projected to be available in the mid to late second. He is a player the Patriots could trade down for, or what until the end of the second round for.