NEPD Editor: James Christensen
Although the Patriots still have a long way to go in the 2012 NFL season, it looks like they will be picking closer to the end of the first round than the beginning.
Here is an early look at some of the players and positions that Bill Belichick and company could be targeting for the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Patriots have only five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft due to trades that have either been complete busts (Haynesworth, Ochocinco) or haven’t payed dividends yet (Talib).
Even so, the Patriots have shown the ability to move around and pick up selections at places where they can pick their type of players. Without further ado, here is one way the Patriots could go this April.
1st Round – Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Bill Belichick likes to collect left tackles that can play other positions. Jones has the ability to play all five OL positions but he will excel on the interior in the NFL.
The Patriots depth is suspect on the interior line and the starters aren’t getting any younger or healthier. Adding Jones to a left side of Nate Solder and Logan Mankins is a promising thought for the future of the Patriots offense.
While getting Jones’ teammate Chance Warmack would be phenomenal, he will probably be gone by the time the Patriots are on the clock – even though interior linemen tend to drop farther than most think (David Decastro).
Other options would be dynamic defensive linemen like Sheldon Richardson (DL, Missouri) and Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State), or defensive backs like Kenny Vaccaro (CB/S, Texas) and Tony Jefferson (SS, Oklahoma).
2nd Round – Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Many Patriots fans might be intrigued by another Marshall receiver (Troy Brown, Randy Moss) even though they might not have seen Dobson play. He has unreal hands and is an explosive outside receiver with phenomenal body control. Reminding you of Brandon Lloyd yet?
Dobson has been banged up a bit this year, but has first round talent. He isn’t a finished product yet, but he should be able to come in and contribute in certain packages as a rookie while allowing the Patriots to stretch the field vertically.
If receivers like Tavon Austin, Justin Hunter or Da’rick Rogers are still available somehow, they will certainly get long looks as well.
3rd Round – D.J. Swearinger, CB/S, South Carolina
Nary a year goes by without the Patriots taking a crack at a defensive back in the first four rounds of the draft. Sometimes they hit (Devin McCourty, Asante Samue) and sometimes they don’t (Terrence Wheatley, Darius Butler, and more).
If the Patriots pass on guys like Vaccaro or Jefferson earlier in the draft, Swearinger is guy that could come in and compete with the current Patriots safety group for a starting position.
I like his play close to the line of scrimmage, but he also has some versatility covering a deep half or third. If Pat Chung isn’t back next year, McCourty, Gregory, Swearinger and Wilson could make some noise.
7th Round – Jake McDonough, DL, Iowa State
McDonough will remind many Patriots fans of former Patriots player Mike Wright, who had to retire due to concussion issues. He is a gifted athlete with a big frame that plays with an incredible motor.
He isn’t going to be a pro-bowl player, but as a rotational defensive tackle that is asked to get after the quarterback and swat some passes, he could find a niche in the NFL.
7th Round – James Ferentz, OC, Iowa
Ferentz has some history with New England, as both his father Kirk and brother Brian have coached with Belichick. He is a technically sound, incredibly feisty center that has more heart and talent than he has size.
As a backup center or coach-in-waiting on the practice squad, Ferentz could bring some value to the Patriots with this late pick.