NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Patriots don’t have a playoff game this weekend, due to their win over the Miami Dolphins and the Texans late season collapse.
Here is a Patriots 2013 NFL Mock draft for your perusal during the wildcard playoff weekend.
The Patriots have a long history of accumulating draft picks. They cashed in a lot of those draft picks trading up to draft Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, along with prying Aqib Talib from the Bucs.
Therefore, I’d expect Bill Belichick to explore every opportunity to start stocking up future draft picks. With the safety and wide receiver positions both very deep, New England should be able to find some talent later on in the draft.
Trading what should be a very late first round selection and a 7th round choice for a future 1st rounder and a mid-2nd round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft seems like the move to make.
If the Patriots do make a selection here, I’d expect them to target a defensive lineman.
With the pick that they receive in the trade, the Patriots need to fill an impending hole in their secondary. Pat Chung might be re-signed, but I expect him to at least have the opportunity to test the market in free agency.
Phillip Thomas (FS/SS, Fresno State) is the guy that could have a huge impact for New England. He can play both safety positions and has a knack – like many Patriots – for finding a way to create a turnover when needed.
Thomas has one flaw, his open-field tackling, that needs taken care of. If he can refine his technique, he needs to sink his hips a little more to aid his lateral explosiveness, he could be the best safety in this class. Right now I’d give that honor to either Kenny Vaccaro or Tony Jefferson, both of whom will probably be gone come day two of the 2013 NFL Draft.
If Thomas is off the board here, Florida safety Matt Elam, whose game is a bit like Chung’s, could certainly be a target here as well. Offensive and defensive linemen could also be looked at here.
I’ll have the Patriots trade down again with their own pick in the 2nd round, picking up 3rd and 4th round selections in return.
Having such a gap between scheduled picks (3rd to 7th round) is very “un-Belichickian.” The Patriots seem to have a certain number of players that they like at different spots in the draft. Not having picks available where they see value would be a cardinal sin.
Other than Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots do not have a single receiver under contract, unless you count special teams maven Matthew Slater. I expect the Patriots to try and re-sign Wes Welker, but you never know what can happen. The Patriots could always franchise him again this offseason, but the cap hit is starting to become prohibitive. Julian Edelman would also be an option if the Patriots feel he can stay healthy – he played very well when able to in 2012.
Belichick doesn’t have a great track record selecting wideouts (Chad Jackson, Taylor Price, Bethel Johnson, etc..), but I’m sure that won’t stop him from trusting his organization’s evaluation and trying again.
If his stock hasn’t risen too much after the NFL Combine, Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State) would be an ideal pickup for the Patriots as day two of the draft draws to a close.
He reminds me at times of a young Deion Branch with a bit more speed – slick routes, good hands, good body control and the savvy to find the hole in the defense.
We all know how much Tom Brady trusts his buddy Branch – if he could develop some similar chemistry with Wheaton, that would add an additional threat to the already potent Patriots offense.
With guys like Dane Fletcher, Jake Ballard and Ras-I Dowling coming off of IR next year, competition is already going to be stiff for rookies. I’ll have the Patriots trade this pick for a future 2nd-round pick. This would leave the Patriots with two first round and two second round picks again – right where they like to be.
Next year’s draft class is absolutely loaded with impact prospects like Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina), Marqise Lee (WR, USC), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington) and Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville) just to name a few. Continuing to add ammunition for the 2014 NFL Draft is a very good strategy.
If they luck out and get a top three pick via trade, they will be able to trade it for a king’s ransom or add a dynamic athlete. Even if they don’t, they might have enough ammunition to trade up and draft one without mortgaging their future.
The Patriots have had luck finding serviceable defensive linemen (Mike Wright, Brandon Deaderick… ) on the third day of the draft and I don’t think this April will be any different. Kapron Lewis-Moore (DL, Notre Dame) is a versatile lineman with a strong motor, good hands and some football smarts that should be available on Saturday.
Lewis-Moore projects as a 3-4 DE that can hold the point of attack and keep linebackers clean. He can shift inside in a 4-3 scheme, able to play either the 1-gap or 2-gap side when the Patriots split the field.
He isn’t going to fill up the stat sheet, but he will be a solid cog in a defense that plays multiple fronts.
The Patriots have hit with some seventh round picks as of late, including Julian Edelman, Brandon Deaderick and Alfonzo Dennard. Nik Embernate (OG, San Diego State) is not a household name, but he did get the best of potential first round pick Ezekiel Ansah when they played in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Give offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia some fresh players in the late rounds and from the UDFA ranks each year and see what he can do with them. They all get better and some transform into great contributors.
In this mock draft the Patriots came away with a talented safety, youthful receiver, versatile defensive lineman and a developmental blocker. All while adding two high picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.
What would you do at this point in the draft process?