NEPD Editor: James Christensen
The Patriots got fantastic value on day one of the 2013 NFL Draft - picking up four picks from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the 29th pick.
Value is great, but if you don’t use it correctly, it ultimately becomes a waste.
What priorities do the Patriots have and how should Patriots maximize their value on day two of the 2013 NFL Draft?
Priority One: Wide Receiver
I’ve long advocated for a double dip at the receiver position. The Patriots took two tight ends in 2010 and two running backs in 2011, why not add another skill position pair in 2013?
Adding a receiver in each of the rounds on day two will blunt the risk of a receiver being unable to grasp the Patriots complex offensive system.
Using the fourth round pick (102nd overall) received from the Vikings, I see the Patriots moving up from the 52nd pick and grabbing their top receiver on the board. Possible options include Robert Woods, Markus Wheaton, Justin Hunter and Quinton Patton
If the Patriots want to target a first (or second) receiver with the 59th, 83rd or 91st picks, guys like Aaron Dobson, Ryan Swope, Da’Rick Rogers and Steadman Bailey would certainly be in play.
Priority Two: Pass Rush
This would have been priority one for me, but the signing of former USC standout and CFL star Armond Armstead gives me hope that the Patriots will be able to generate some interior pass rush to help out their defensive ends and blitzers.
According to Chris Price of WEEI, the Patriots have some interest in Michael Buchanan, who played the “Bandit” position (DE/OLB) for Illinois. He is inconsistent, but his best games (Illinois vs Northwester in 2011 for example) are something to behold.
Players like Jamie Collins (2nd round), Lerentee McCray (3rd-5th round) and Quanterus Smith (3rd-5th round) fit the edge rusher mold that the Patriots could be targeting.
Out of the three, Quanterus Smith (OLB/DE, Western Kentucky) is probably owns the best fundamentals, while Lerentee McCray (OLB/DE, Flordia) played the best competition (he beat Luke Joeckel badly).
Jamie Collins is a freak athlete that would look great in a Patriots uniform, but I think they would have to trade up to land him.
I see the Patriots letting the board come to them with pass-rushers. There are a lot of similarly graded prospects out there, no need to use up precious draft capital by moving up.
Alternatively, the Patriots could look to add some beef to the defensive line. Alabama DT Jesse Williams (2nd Round) and Georgia DT John Jenkins (2nd-3rd Round) have both been linked to the Patriots.
Priority Three: Improve Coverage
The Patriots can improve their pass coverage one of two ways: add a cornerback/safety or add a linebacker that can cover.
Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Dont’a Hightower played very well at the linebacker position last year, but coverage is not their bailiwick. Dane Fletcher has been slightly better, but he is coming back from injury and likely won’t have become any quicker.
If the Patriots feel good about their defensive backfield – which I think they might with Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib both in the fold – adding a sub-package linebacker might be the way to go.
Missouri LB Zaviar Gooden (3rd-5th Round) is the best option that I could see on day two or early on day three. He has a ton of speed and has been in contact with the Patriots throughout the draft process.
If the Patriots do want to add defensive backs, there is no shortage of talented prospects.
Boise State CB Jamar Taylor (2nd Round), Georgia CB/S Sanders Commings (2nd-3rd Round) and Fresno State SS Phillip Thomas (2nd-3rd Round) all have had contact with the Patriots. Each have the size and physicality that the Patriots need on defense.
Priority Four: Offensive Line Depth
The Patriots starting offensive line was very solid last year – when they were healthy. Backups like Marcus Cannon performed well when called upon, but after losing Donald Thomas to free agency, the Patriots need to add to their depth chart on the offensive line.
Alabama OG/C Barrett Jones (2nd-4th Round) and Colorado OG/OT David Bahktiari (2nd-4th Round) both figure to be within the Patriots crosshairs if available in the third round.
Markus Zusevics, signed as an undrafted free agent as tearing his pectoral at the combine last year, could also provide some help at both guard and tackle.
Priority Five: Future Planning
If the Patriots can get some future picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, they will be thankful come next April.
The 2014 NFL Draft is loaded at the top with Jadeveon Clowney, Marqise Lee and Teddy Bridgewater. If a team gives up a future first rounder (doubtful) for a 2nd round pick – I think you have to make the trade.
Trying to flip one of their third round selections for a second next year, however, seems quite likely if they don’t feel the value is right in the third round. I think that will be easier said than done, as teams seem to be holding onto 2014 picks at this point.