NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
We all know the team needs, but I don’t think anyone’s going to pretend it’s easy to predict how the Patriots are going to draft.
One thing is guaranteed coming away from a Patriots draft, no one’s going to be 100% happy or content with the outcome. In this mock, I have the Patriots keeping all of their picks. It may not be likely, but it’s far less likely to correctly project every move the Patriots make on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Without further ado, here’s how I see the Patriots draft going down later this week.
27. Nick Perry, OLB/DE, USC (Scouting Report)
Every Patriots fan in New England knows the need exists for improved pass rush on this 2012 team. I would argue that the team was an interior pass rusher (after Haynesworth was released and Wright and Pryor got hurt) away from having a very good pass rush last year, but Mark Anderson is gone and Andre Carter is recovering from injury and still unsigned.
Trevor Scott is a start, but a big upside guy like Nick Perry could really solidify the defense. Perry is a big, freakishly athletic player who ran his 40 at 4.64 at 6-3 271 pounds. His 1.56 10 yard split is a Patriots prototypical time… for a running back.
The Patriots brought Perry in for a visit to Foxboro and whether you think that’s 100% smokescreen or not, they thought enough of him to want to take a closer look. Perry fits the mold of the typical Patriots edge rusher, whether that’s Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham or going as far back as Willie McGinest.
Another interesting thing to look into with Perry is that he’s nearly the exact same size that Jarvis Green was when the Patriots drafted him. I’m not saying that Perry is going to evolve into a 5-tech rusher, but it’s been done before.
31. Trumaine Johnson, CB/FS, Montana (Scouting Report)
In 2003, the Patriots drafted Eugene Wilson, a cornerback out of Illinois with the 36th pick in the draft and converted him to safety. It’s been done before and it could happen with a first round pick with Johnson.
The Patriots typically have their own mindset of what they look for in a defensive back, and usually it means more speed than what Johnson offers, but if the plan is to move him to safety, it could be a fit.
Johnson lacks top end speed and his man coverage suffers from it, but he does show great instincts, he’s good in an off zone and he has great ball skills, all of which should lend himself well as a centerfield option next to Patrick Chung playing inside the box.
48. Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin (Scouting Report)
Matt Light retired, Brian Waters is on the last year of his deal (and is supposedly contemplating retirement), Sebastian Vollmer has back injury concerns, you never know what you’re getting out of a second year Nate Solder (hello Devin McCourty), Logan Mankins is coming off ACL surgery, Roberty Gallery was terrible the last two years and Marcus Cannon is not without his own concerns.
What does that mean? The Patriots offensive line is anything but a sure thing entering the 2012 season. With Vollmer’s back injuries, it may be best to consider Cannon a tackle for the time being. Between the Patriots use of a lineman as a third TE/OL and filling in for Vollmer, Cannon will more than make value out of his 5th round selection as a reserve blocker.
Zeitler is a smart player who could also become the future center for the Patriots. He has great technique, elite size, great footwork and is a great run blocker. He has some injury concerns and some issues in mirroring as a pass blocker, but as a future starting center/guard, he could be a great value with this pick.
Through twelve years of drafting for the Patriots, Bill Belichick has taken 19 offensive linemen. He’s only skipped the position three years, 2002, 2004 and 2008.
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Tags: Mock Draft