NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones
It’s draft day, which means that it’s time to take a quick look at what the Patriots may be doing on draft day; read on for a look at New England’s selections, the top decision-makers in their war room, and profiles of possible draft and trade targets, then be sure to check back throughout the draft for additional NEPD content.
You can watch all the picks live on either ESPN or NFL Network. Previews start early this afternoon, but the actual picks won’t be made until about 8:00pm eastern.
We’ll be with you every step of the way here at NEPatriotsDraft.com and on Twitter – promise that we won’t tip any picks before they happen.
7.226. (from Chicago through Tampa Bay)
Potential first-round trade options:
Potential first-day draft targets:
DE Cornellius Carradine, Florida St.
Although he appears unlikely to last until New England’s first-round draft pick, Cornellius Carradine is a prospect to keep an eye on, as he would provide an ideal bookend to 2012 first-round pick Chandler Jones. At 6’4” and 276 pounds, with 34 ¾” arms, Carradine is one of the most physically imposing pass rushers in the class; Carradine recorded 36 tackles (eight for loss) and 5.5 sacks with the Seminoles as a rotational player in 2011 before recording 80 tackles (thirteen for loss) and eleven sacks in 2012 before tearing his ACL in the regular season finale.
CB Jamar Taylor, Boise St.
Jamar Taylor could very well be New England’s selection if he lasts until #29, although that seems unlikely considering the amount of interest he’s receiving from teams such as Atlanta and Denver in the same draft range. A team captain with plenty of experience, Taylor also possesses the physical tools New England looks for in the position; he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and posted impressive numbers in the three-cone drill (6.82 seconds), shuttle (4.06 seconds), and bench press (22 reps) as well.
CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
My selection for New England in my final 2013 mock draft, Trufant, like Taylor, is an experienced, confident cornerback who projects as a pro starter. He is slightly bigger than Taylor, with similar speed (4.38 seconds) and a superior time in the shuttle drill (3.85 seconds.) Trufant’s brothers Marcus and Isaiah are current NFL players, which should make Trufant’s bloodlines appealing as well. Like Taylor, Trufant has a realistic shot at being off the board by the time New England picks.
Potential second-day draft targets:
WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Patton was a two-year starter for the Bulldogs, catching 78-1,202-11 (15.4) with the team in 2011 and increasing his production to 104-1,392-13 (13.4) in 2012. At 6’0” and 204 pounds, he has the size to play outside, and his intriguing speed (4.48), agility (6.91), and explosiveness (4.01) should earn him a spot in the mid-to-late second round. Patton is quick out of his breaks and is equally impressive as a deep threat and at tracking the ball. He could project as either a split end or flanker.
WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon St.
Wheaton’s draft stock is volatile; he could be selected at any point between the late first round and the late second round due to the depth of the wide receiver class. He would not be a reach for New England in the first round, but they may be able to land him at some point in the second round as well. If drafted, Wheaton would provide a deep threat who could play both inside and outside, as well as contribute on reverses and as a punt returner. His size (5’11”, 189 pounds) and strength (20 reps) have been underrated throughout the process.
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut
An extremely intelligent player who reportedly scored a 33 on the Wonderlic, Wreh-Wilson seems like a perfect match for New England’s organization. Head coach Bill Belichick was in attendance at Connecticut’s pro day to see Wreh-Wilson post a 40-yard dash time in the 4.3 second range, a substantial improvement over his 4.5-second time at the Combine. Wreh-Wilson also has impressive size (6’1”, 195), agility (6.97), and explosiveness (4.12); he can play either man or zone coverage and is active in run support as well.
Potential third-day draft targets:
WR Mark Harrison, Rutgers
Harrison wasn’t incredibly productive at Rutgers, catching just 44 passes for 583 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, but represents an interesting late-round investment if available. New England has looked into Harrison already, who possesses an incredible combination of size (6’3”, 231 pounds), length (35” arms), speed (4.37), and leaping ability (38.5” vertical jump.) His problems with drops and lack of polish could cause him to slide to the sixth or seventh round on draft day.
DT Kapron Lewis-Moore, Notre Dame
New England is deep at defensive tackle, but they could still opt to bring in additional competition in the form of a player such as Notre Dame’s Kapron Lewis-Moore, who played five-technique defensive end for the Irish but could also potentially play the three-technique tackle spot in an even alignment. He has intriguing size at 6’4” and 298 pounds, and recorded six sacks and nine hurries last season. Lewis-Moore currently has a torn ACL, so the Patriots may be able to place him on the PUP list to begin the season.
CB Micah Hyde, Iowa
Micah Hyde has been projected as both a zone-coverage cornerback and a free safety during the pre-draft process, versatility which could appeal to Bill Belichick. In New England, Hyde would likely serve as a reserve cornerback on the outside who could prevent Devin McCourty from having to slide back to the position in case of injury. Hyde’s size (6’0”, 197 pounds), speed (4.52 seconds), and agility (6.78 in the three-cone drill) have been underrated during the draft process. He projects as a fifth or sixth-round choice.
New England’s draft-day decision-makers:
Head Coach Bill Belichick
As New England’s head coach and decision-maker, Bill Belichick is easily the most influential voice in the war room. Belichick likes to target seniors and team captains with all-conference accolades from major programs; his decisions are also heavily influenced by size and movement skills, in particular the three-cone drill. Under Belichick, the Patriots have targeted a disproportionately high volume of tight ends, offensive linemen, interior defensive linemen, and defensive backs.
Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio
Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio, is probably the second-most influential member of New England’s war room. He has occupied that position within the organization since 2008, although he has been with New England in some capacity since 2001. A former collegiate quarterback, Patriots area scout, and wide receivers coach, Caserio is well-versed in every aspect of football.
Director of College Scouting Jon Robinson
Jon Robinson became New England’s Director of College Scouting in 2009 after serving as an area scout, regional scout, and Assistant Director of College Scouting from 2002-2008. He comes from a mathematical background and oversees New England’s college scouting program, meaning he will have a valuable level of familiarity with potential draft targets.
Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels holds some sway over New England’s decision making, as he will be responsible for integrating any offensive players drafted into the organization. In two seasons as Denver Broncos head coach, McDaniels was responsible for a number of draft-day misfires including Knowshon Moreno (first round, 2009), Alphonso Smith (second round, 2009), Darcel McBath (second round, 2009), and Richard Quinn (second round, 2009), although he was also responsible for drafting star wide receivers Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker in 2010.