NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The Patriots entered day two of the draft with four selections and ended up using all of them. The first three picks were used on highly touted, well known prospects that should be able to help the Patriots immediately. Just when it looked like it was going to be a relatively “clean” and uneventful draft, Bill Belichick throws the curve ball at you.
Here are my thoughts on the Patriots draft up to this point.
– I absolutely love the Jamie Collins pick for the Patriots. I will never fault a team for taking an athletic freak that can rush the passer. Collins is a player that hasn’t been connected to the Patriots what-so-ever. Maybe it’s because he’s a bit more raw, maybe it’s because he was on an 0-12 Southern Miss team or maybe it’s because he is a bit underweight for the typical Patriots DE/LB prospect.
– Collins gives the Patriots a hybrid edge rusher that they have lacked the last few seasons. When trying to compare him to a former Patriot player, I think he could play a similar role to what Roosevelt Colvin did while he was in New England. One thing is clear, Collins is an explosive athlete. At the combine he posted the best broad jump/vertical jump combination of all the defensive linemen and one of the best regardless of position.
– It will be interesting to see how Collins is used early on. It’s likely he starts in sub-packages, rushing off the edge and making the Patriots front a bit more multiple. Collins is better playing on his feet, so look for him to be used off the line of scrimmage quite a bit. Collins was asked to drop into coverage at times showing some ability to play on all three downs.
– Bill Belichick personally worked out Jamie Collins in Hattiesburg, MS last month and it’s clear he liked what he saw. I have said all off-season that the Patriots have wanted to upgrade their pass rush and it’s no coincidence that their first pick was used on an athletic edge player. Collins adds some much needed speed and athleticism to the edge of the defense.
– The Patriots biggest need coming into the draft was well documented and everyone knew it was imperative for them to find a X receiver that can play right away. It appears they have done just that by drafting Marshall WR Aaron Dobson with their second selection in the second round. Dobson fits the bill as a big, fast, vertical receiver that can stretch the field and make plays on the ball. Out of all the receivers in this draft, Dobson may have the best ball skills. He makes some absolutely incredible, jaw-dropping catches. I was very impressed with his hands and his ability to beat coverage as the week went on at the Senior Bowl. Dobson showed off his vertical speed at his Pro Day running a 40 time between 4.37-4.40. Mike Mayock said on the NFL Network, that he “wowed” scouts in attendance. Yesterday, Aaron Wilson reported that the Patriots worked out Dobson late last week. We’re starting to see a trend develop where the Patriots work a player out late in the process and then take him.
– Dobson will get a chance to make an impact right away in the Patriots offense. He’s immediately vaulted to the top of the WR depth chart, because the Patriots don’t have another WR like him on the roster. The Patriots passed on a lot of other receivers to pick Dobson, so this pick will be judged his success on the field. They have to be right. One thing is clear this pick fits exactly what the Patriots needed and his ability to pick up the offense will likely dictate his early impact.
– With the Patriots filling their need for a X receiver, I still think we will see them select another receiver at some point on day three. It makes sense for them to pick a receiver that can play both outside the numbers as well as inside. Names to keep an eye on are Ryan Swope, Josh Boyce and Kenny Stills.
– As round three went on I was getting increasingly nervous about the Patriots ability to get a CB with their first pick. The board was quickly evaporating with the top tier CB coming off one after another. It looks as though the Patriots got lucky when Rutgers CB Logan Ryan fell into their laps at pick 82. If they were to miss out on Ryan there was a significant drop off in the talent level at corner. The only other CB left would have been Jordan Poyer and I’m not sure he would have been a target for them.
– Logan Ryan is another Rutgers boundary CB. He’s an aggressive and physical player that has no trouble coming up to the line to play the run. His instincts on film appear very good and he has no trouble locating and tracking the ball. Ryan should be able to make an impact this season in sub-packages, essentially acting as the Patriots #4 CB. With Talib, Dennard, Arrington and Ryan, it appears the Patriots are set at the corner position.
– I am really high on the first three selections. Each one fills an area of need with a player that has high upside and the potential to make an impact early. Everything for me will comedown to Aaron Dobson’s ability to adapt to the Patriots passing system. They need him to be an impact player this season and everything after that is just gravy. Jamie Collins is probably my favorite selection, just because it’s a player no one linked to the Patriots and offers and exciting skill set that isn’t on the roster.
– Just when it looked like everything was going smoothly, the Patriots throw a huge curveball selecting another Rutgers DB, this time Duron Harmon. Who?? Duron Harmon. It’s okay if you have never heard on him, most people haven’t. In fact both Networks were totally unprepared for him to be selected at any point in the draft. Harmon is a Safety that can play either Free or Strong, he was a two time All-Big East selection and known as a smart leader.
– Let’s just get this staight, I am not knocking Duron Harmon. He could turn out to be a very good NFL player and I really hope he does. But, you can not tell me that the Patriots scouts had this player this high on their draft boards. It’s a similar situation to last year where it smells as though Bill Belichick pushed override and picked the player he wanted. Harmon was regarded as a late round-UDFA player and the Patriots use a 3rd round pick on him. It’s obviously clear they have a different strategy than anyone else in the NFL. This is two years in a row, at seemingly the same position that the Patriots have gone way off the board to take a safety. I would be very interested in knowing their evaluation process of the position and how Harmon stacks up against the other safeties in the draft.
– I really think the Patriots had a solid day and had the opportunity to make it an even better day, by trading down from pick #91 or selecting another player. Only time will tell how Duron Harmon works out. That said, I can’t sell this one to the readers or myself. I just don’t get the pick and I probably never will.
– As we look ahead to tomorrow, it’s important to take context of the Patriots roster and where openings remain. Now that the Patriots have filled holes at WR, CB, OLB their needs chart changes. There are only a few spots on the roster where a rookie will be able to come in and make the roster next season. Those position in my opinion are WR (another one is needed), OG, DT and RB. These are the three positions where depth is still needed and roster spots remain available. Whenever the Patriots pick tomorrow, I expect it to be a player at one of those positions.
– Heading into tomorrow the Patriots own the 5th overall pick of day three, 102nd overall and then don’t pick again until pick 226. I’d look for them to move down slightly from 102 and pick up at least a 6th rounder in the process. There are still very good players available and I have no clue if the Patriots will pick them.
– Finally, just because the draft ends tomorrow afternoon, doesn’t mean it’s over. UDFA is going to be fast and furious this year, especially compared to last year. The Patriots roster stands at approximately 73 players, meaning they will have about 10-13 roster spots open for UDFA talent. Make sure you stay tuned to NEPD and follow me on twitter as we will be breaking ALL of the UDFA news. Over the last 3-4 years we have earned the reputation as the undisputed home of all the UDFA news and we definitely plan on continuing that this year.