NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
With the draft one week away I do my best to predict how the Patriots draft will unfold and how the players signed in free agency and any further free agent signings fit into the 53 man roster.
1st Round (27) - Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
Jones is a player who has quickly risen up draft boards. I am under the impression that he has been valued much higher by NFL teams throughout the process than by the media. On the field, Jones is a big, long, powerful edge player. He isn’t the speed rusher that many Patriot fans may want, but Jones can still get after the passer.
He wins with power, leverage and motor. Jones’ best attribute is his long arms (35.5″), he is able to knock down a lot of passes at the line and is able to get his arms into opposing lineman. Jones shows good ability in the run game and does a good job of locating the ball and coming down the line of scrimmage to make plays. Jones has a terrific motor and which ever team picks him is not going to have to worry about his compete level.
At 6’5″ 266 pounds Jones has the body type that Bill Belichick likes to have on the edge of the defense. He would likely be utilized in a hybrid role similar to how Willie McGinest was utilized. By drafting Jones, the Patriots would add tremendous size and length to the front seven.
1st Round (31) – Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
The Patriots opt to further address the edge of the defense with Shea McClellin. While Chandler Jones projects more as a down lineman, McClellin will be an OLB in the Patriots system. McClellin is a smart, athletic and coachable pass rusher.
McClellin is the type of player Bill Belichick loves, he can play multiple positions in multiple schemes. He was even asked to play MLB at the Senior Bowl and earned rave reviews from the coaching staff about how quickly he picked everything up. McClellin is another maximum effort player, who always is playing hard and fast.
By adding the powerful Jones to the fast and athletic McClellin the Patriots will have greatly improved their pass rush and the talent on the edge of their defense.
2nd Round (48) - Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana
The Patriots start to address their secondary problems with a big athletic cornerback. Johnson might not be as well known as some of the other top DBs in the draft because he played for division 1-AA Montana, but Johnson can play.
Watching him on film the one thing that stands out most is his ball skills. Johnson tracks and locates the ball well in the air. He can also go up and get the ball when it’s in the air. Johnson exhibits solid man to man coverage skills which should make him very attractive to the Patriots. The Patriots struggled badly last year when in man to man coverage, continually giving up big plays to opposing receivers. I believe it’s going to be very important for the team to draft some defensive backs who excel in man coverage and have solid ball skills.
With Johnson’s size, range and ability to play physical, he has the potential to play the free safety position, which should make him all the more attractive to Bill Belichick.