Patriots 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Championship Weekend

Matt Elam Florida Safety

Will there be another Florida connection this year with strong safety Matt Elam? (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

As the Patriots ready themselves to take on the Baltimore Ravens this weekend in the AFC Championship game, here is a mid-week diversion to tide you over.

Here is my current projection on how the Patriots will tackle the 2013 NFL Draft.

1st Round

In my last Patriots Mock Draft, I had the Patriots trading back and I’m going to continue that theme in this draft. With a lot of depth at positions that the Patriots could conceivably upgrade, it is smart to start accumulating draft picks again.

For example, at the defensive tackle position there are a host of prospects that should be around in the 25-50 range: Jesse Williams, Sylvester Williams and Kawann Short just to name a few. If the Patriots have those guys graded out in a similar range and all of them are still available, trading down makes sense.

In this projection, I have the Patriots sending their first and seventh round picks for picks in the middle of the second, third and sixth rounds.

2nd Round (via Trade)

Two years ago it was Shane Vereen. Last year it was Chandler Jones. This year Kawann Short (DT, Purdue) is the guy who seems to be the right fit at the right time for the Patriots.

With the release of former second round pick Ron Brace, the Patriots have an opening in the defensive line rotation. Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick have each played admirably alongside Vince Wilfork, but adding another disruptive interior presence could make Wilfork even better.

Short improved a lot as a senior for the Boilermakers, adding a more consistent motor to go with his penchant for making splash plays. If he were able to give the Patriots 30-35 snaps per game as a rookie, I think that would be a success.

2nd Round (Own Pick)

The Patriots interior offensive line has been in flux since Dan Koppen went down with an injury last year. With his subsequent release, injuries to Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly, and the retirement of Brian Waters, Offensive Line coach Dante Scarnecchia has certainly earned his pay this year keeping Tom Brady healthy and the running lanes open.

While the Patriots have found a good group inside with Mankins, Ryan Wendell and Connolly, if the Patriots feel like they can upgrade inside, they will.

Travis Frederick (OC/OG, Wisconsin) has played both center and guard at a high level for the Wisconsin Badgers. He excels blocking on the second level, moving much better than you’d expect for a 6’4” / 325 pound player.

He has the blend of strength, power, speed and agility that will allow him to operate in the Patriots diverse offensive sets. If Frederick is there late in the second round, he should be very tempting to the Patriots offensive staff – although I suspect he will creep closer to the first round as the draft process continues.

3rd Round (via Trade)

After a rough start to the year, the Patriots defensive backfield has really started to play up to their capabilities. However, that has had a lot to do with the addition of Aqib Talib and the position change of Devin McCourty from cornerback to safety.

If Patrick Chung isn’t re-signed this off-season, the Patriots would seem to be lacking in safety depth. McCourty and Steve Gregory seem to be the odds-on favorites to return as starters next year. Tavon Wilson has had flashes of brilliance this year, but after that is only rookie Nate Ebner.

Adding a strong safety like Matt Elam (SS, Florida) that can play as a third safety and be a big-time contributor on special teams seems like a Belichick type of move – the Florida connection certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Elam isn’t a fluid cover guy, but he supports the run with a vengeance and will create some turnovers. Put in a position to hide his weaknesses, I think Elam could make a nice impact as a potential Chung replacement.

3rd Round (own pick)

Only having five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft will really hamper the trademark flexibility Belichick operates with during the draft. I see the Patriots shipping this pick for a fifth round selection this year and a third rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft. Having ammunition in that loaded draft is going to come in handy.

5th Round (via Trade)

The Patriots have shown that they can do very interesting things with college quarterbacks – just look at Julian Edelman. MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minnesota) is my pick here for two very different reasons.

First of all, he is as dynamic with the ball in his hand as nearly anyone in college football not wearing an Oregon uniform. He has a big frame, is very smart and has the work ethic that is needed to make the conversion full time to become an NFL “Joker” – a combination WR/TE/HB position. In the Patriots offense, I’m sure they will find a way to create mis-matches with him.

Secondly, and this is a bit out there, but Gray might join Mallett as a potential heir to Brady’s throne as starting quarterback for the Patriots.

Brady has stated that he’d like to play into his 40’s, so this might be a bit premature, but you can never have too many options at quarterback – especially if Belichick were to retire as well. Having both Gray – who can throw a decent ball when he is given the opportunity – and Mallett would give the Patriots more options in pursuing head coaches. New England could have a guy in place that could run both Chip Kelly’s offense as well as Josh McDaniels’.

6th Round (Via Trade)

Quanterus Smith (DE/OLB, Western Kentucky), also known as “Q”, tore his ACL earlier this year, but not until posting some very impressive numbers. He totaled 12.5 sacks in just ten games, including three against Alabama.

At 6’5” and 250, Smith looks like an ideal sub-package rusher that could possibly fit in as a 3-4 OLB given some time to develop.

We had Smith as a fringe top-100 prospect before his injury, so this could be a great value late in the draft.

7th Round (Own Pick)

It seems that over the last few years, it just wouldn’t seem like a Patriots draft if they didn’t sign a slot receiver. Julian Edelman and Jeremy Ebert are just two of the latest guys to be brought in to work with the master: Wes Welker.

Connor Vernon (WR, Duke) hasn’t got a lot of national attention – playing football at Duke will do that to you – but he has an NFL-ready skill set and was very productive. He finished his career as the all-time receiving leader in the ACC.

At 6’1” and 200 pounds, Vernon is a little bigger than Welker, but the sharp, precise routes and ability to separate underneath are quite familiar. His mid 4.5 speed isn’t a huge concern as his short area quickness is top-notch.

If either Edelman or Welker doesn’t get re-signed for some reason, slot receiver could be a priority.

Overview

Adding some talented and versatile prospects that have the ability to contribute within the next two years is just what the Patriots need. They don’t need quantity, they need targeted quality for some specific roles.

How would you change things for the Patriots 2013 NFL Draft?

Tags: 2013 NFL Draft, Kawann Short, Matt Elam, Patriots Mock Draft, Travis Frederick

17 Responses to “Patriots 2013 NFL Mock Draft: Championship Weekend”

  1. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Another sleeper CB, Patriot scouts have watched is Demetrius McCray, 6 1″ 185 runs a 4.4 40 from App. State . This guy is a great cover guy, tackles well, second on the team in tackles, forces/plays the run very well. Small school guy, who has an invite to the NFL Combine.

  2. JMayo_51 says:

    For a surprise pick in late first / early second round, keep an eye on UCon’s CB Blindi Wreh-Wilson. He is a tall corner (6-0) with top speed (4.42 40) who can play zone and man coverages — something Belichick thought he got when he picked Ras-I Dowling 33rd overall.
    3-cone drill will be key for Wreh-Wilson to determine if he fits the height-weight-speed mold for Patriots’ DBs. He is definitely someone I’ll keep a radar on

  3. td says:

    One thing for sure, whatever we think about the draft, BB will do something completely different. All here will object and complain and ask for his head and the players will be key players/backups:
    e.g.
    McCourty
    Solder
    Jones
    etc
    etc.
    In the meantime teams trading with us (Dallas, Denver, Oak) will take problems such as Dez Bryant, Tebow, Ingram, et al.

  4. Alex says:

    Not a huge fan.
    I am happy with trading back with the first pick, if there isn’t anyone worthy of the pick left at that point. But I’d likewise be happy with a small jump up, to grab a player they think will be a difference maker. I think adding Ezekiel Ansah, would strengthen our pass rush, as he could join the DE rotation with Chandler and Nink, and move inside on passing situations. If not him, think Dion Jordan would be intriguing as an OLB given his height athleticism and pass covering skills, as well as the ability to rush the passer.
    I think we should target one of these pass rushing freaks early, maybe Margus Hunt otherwise, and then look to add a quality DT as well, and then look for 1 or 2 receivers, and a DB.
    I think we are fine for interior O-line with Thomas and McDonald as quality back ups, and we don’t know how Zuse will turn out, and I would rather look for a developmental tackle prospect like Menelik Watson or Terron Armstead.

    • td says:

      The Offense has a bunch of key guys that are FA’s next year:
      Welker
      Vollmer
      Edelman
      Thomas
      Hooman
      Branch
      Stallworth
      Woodhead

      Defense also with:
      Talib
      Arrington
      Chung
      Fletcher

      We are going to need a bunch of new blood on offense, especially at WR.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        I think Pats sign ;Edelman, Vollmer ,Woodhead, and offer Welker a contract, he could leave for more money. OG Richard? OG Miller P-Squad ?
        On D, they sign ; Talib, Cole, and Fletcher, and offer Arrington a contract. DE Scott? LB White (starting 11th year)?

      • Alex says:

        We definitely have serious needs on offense, and until we resign free agents it will be hard to predict what will happen.
        My feeling is we will keep Vollmer, Edelman, Thomas, Hooman and bring Branch and Stallworth back to camp for cheap.
        What will happen with Welker and Woodhead is hard to say. I think we will keep them if the price is right, but I could see that not being the case.
        On defense I think we bring back Arrington and Fletcher, and Talib and Chung would depend on the price being right.

        The key free agents are Welker, Vollmer and Talib. They are top class first string players, and if they go, they will need replacing, and replacing with early picks. I am optimistic and think we will only lose Welker (big loss, but wont be able to make the money work).

        I don’t think that we need to draft a WR high, even if Welker leaves, given the receiving options we have in Gronk, Hernandez and Lloyd. We do need youth at the position, and so depending on the value I would be happy taking a WR late in the 2nd or in the 3rd, and maybe even another late round pick. We could also sign a cheap free agent to bolster the WR core.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I agree with most, but feel the Pats draft a WR in the 4th-5th if they get some choices in a trade. WR Conner Vernon looks like the best value, maybe even a 6th, Ryan Swope 4th. Combine will give important info, but as for now, I see Pats tradeing the 1st pick to Dallas or Bears, for 2nd,4th and 4th next year. I have them drafting;
          2nd pick via trade DE/LB John Simon
          2nd pick Pats SS/LB Devonte Holloman
          3d pick Pats OG/T Matt Summers-Gravin
          4th pick via trade WRRyan Swope, or WR Conner Vernon
          7th tampa trade CB Demetrius McCray
          7th Pats OT/TE Reid Fragel

    • mjp says:

      Matt Elam as a 3rd rounder? Who’s mock draft is this, Manti Te’o's? In the real world Elam will go at least one round sooner than that, cmon man!

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      I think Thomas and McDonald are good back-ups,.. BUT I believe the Pats are looking to draft a future starter at OG. Mankins will be starting his 9th year and Connolly is starting his 8th year. OG/TCannon is playing better at OG, then OT and OT Markus Zusevics looks to be an improving player, with a high up side! OG/OT Brain Winters or OG Alvin Bailey looks like future starers.
      The Pats NEED detph at LB behind, Mayo, spikes, hightower. Ninkovich is starting his 8th year. DE/LB John Simon fills the bill! On tape he looks just like Nink, stronger at the point of attack, and good rusher with a high motor!
      Lastly I think the Pats draft Devonte Holloman to play S. At 6’2″ 238 runs a 4.6 40, big wing span , good tackler, and reads plays well !
      Drafting a WR, (Vernon,Patton or Swope) and CB late rounds.
      Pats have Myron Pryor on reserve, Forston on P-Squad,at DT ,so I think DT will be a draft area next year.

  5. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I think the Pats use the later part of the Draft (4th on via trade’s and two 7th’s ) to add, SOME players like, WR and a CB and they like:
    WR Ryan Swope
    WR Conner Vernon
    Other WR’s ? Quinton Patton, Aaron Dobson( if Available)
    CB Darius Slay
    CB Kenny Okora
    CB Ron Sweeting
    CB Brandon McGee

  6. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I to think the Pats trade back, an after studying hours of tape and Patriot scouting reports, they like, player’s WHO will/could be available to them.
    DE/LB John Simon
    OG Brain Winters or OG Alvin Bailey
    S/LB DeVonte Hollomam
    Any of which could be 2nd-3d guys. History shows the Pats get the players they want, and use the rest of the draft for “hopeful players” and future draft picks.
    So I think they trade thier 1st pick with Dallas or the Bears, for a 2nd,4th, and 4th and/or 5th next year.

  7. Jim R says:

    Depth,Depth,Depth. That is the way to go

  8. McTash says:

    What appened to the 2nd round pick you had them trading for?

    I like your choices of Short and an interior OL and WR’s later.

  9. acm says:

    I also expect the Pats to trade down the 1st draft pick, in view of the limited # of picks this year but would like to see them actually accumulate a pick or two this year in a trade for picks in 2014. Why? Because Brady isn’t gonna be around forever and the team needs to develop as much talent as possible for the immediate future. Even trade Mallet if the opportunity is there and BB doesn’t see him as TB 2.0 because his trade value will only diminish from now on. I think after some tinkering, the team could end up with a higher 2nd and 3rd round pick on top of what their own, while keeping the 1st round one. Would like to see the Pats’ own 3rd round pick traded for several later picks this year or what you suggested. There are some players this year that have talent but have also had off-field issues, which would drop them in the draft similarly to Dennard last year – T. mathieu (if Arrington leaves), a physical safety like Ray Armstrong, etc.

    Regarding the players mentioned, I just don’t see S. Williams and even K. Short making it past the top 30 picks, while Elam may well end up being one of the top 2 safeties off the board either in late 1st or early 2nd round. Would sure be nice to have these guys but don’t see them last as deep in the draft as suggested.

    In the end of the day, what type of players they go for in the draft would depend on who they lose and acquire in free agency.

  10. Phil says:

    I like this draft. I like Kawann Short. He has been consistently productive and provides a nice interior pass rushing boost that sorely lacks that. Travis Frederick is a good pick because well i guess you can never have enough linemen. I am a big fan of Elam. I think he can cover better than what he is given credit for and I agree that if he is put in a position that hides his weaknesses he will succeed. The Marquies Gray pick is interesting. I haven’t heard of him but sounds like a jack of all trades that the Patriots love. Quanternus Smith would help a pass rush that still needs some help/depth. And heck why not a slot receiver at the end?

    I would maybe like to see Micah Hyde. Phenomenal player. And I know Bill likes Iowa players. Better in zone than in man. And if Dennard is better in man than in zone I don’t see how it would work but maybe put Hyde at FS? I also like Tank Carradine. I think he is very underrated and can be an annual double digit sack producer in the league.

    • Nick says:

      Hyde looks like he could be a decent FS. Could be a good mid round pickup. But I hope they do not trade down or up. Not worth it. Use the 2nd pick on Margus Hunt, he can play DT or DE well, Use 1st on Tavon Austin, as the pats obviously need a receiver who can make the tough catch.






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