NEPD Editor: James Christensen
One week from today, the 2013 NFL Draft will be in full swing. Here is one scenario of how things could play out for the New England Patriots next week.
Round One: Pick 29
Robert Woods, WR, USC (SCOUTING REPORT)
The Patriots have needs on both sides of the football, but none sticks out bigger than the dearth of depth at the wide receiver position. Julian Edelman is the only player that has caught a pass from Tom Brady on the receiver depth chart.
Danny Amendola has a chance to have a Welker-esque impact on the Patriots offense, but free-agent acquisitions Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins are complementary pieces.
Robert Woods brings the savvy, hands, body control, football IQ, and athleticism needed to thrive in the Patriots offense. Woods most likely won’t be around when the Patriots make their assigned second round selection, so this might be their only chance at landing him.
Clemson’s Deandre Hopkins is another potential selection here, but I’m guessing that we won’t be available. Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter is a boom/bust player that Belichick could also gamble on in the late first round.
If the Patriots choose to add to their defense, defensive line and defensive back are two positions that should have some talent available in the latter parts of the first round. Alabama DT Jesse Williams, Purdue DT Kawann Short, Boise State CB Jamar Taylor and Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks are all names that have been linked to the Patriots.
Trading down to acquire more picks is also a distinct possibility – especially with teams anticipated to trade back into the first round to pick quarterbacks. However, I ultimately see the Patriots making a pick here.
Round Two: Pick 43 (acquired via projected trade)
Kawann Short, DL, Purdue (SCOUTING REPORT)
It is no secret that the Tampa Bay Bucs aren’t enamored with their current quarterback Josh Freeman. Greg Schiano and Bill Belichick’s friendship and working relationsship (see Aqib Talib trade) is also not being held under wraps. Could these two come together and work something out that is beneficial for both teams? I think they can.
In exchange for Ryan Mallett and a 7th round pick, the Buccaneers send the 43rd overall pick and a 5th round selection to New England. Tampa Bay gets the quarterback competition it needs, while the Patriots get paid off on their investment in Mallett and add to their meager amount of 2013 selections.
Adding Short to the likes of Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick would give the Patriots more of a penetrating presence that can make some splash plays in the backfield. Combined with newly acquired Armond Armstead, they could have some success getting after the quarterback up the middle – making it harder for teams to block Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich or any other edge rushers that the Patriots trot out there.
Short isn’t a guy that can play the amount of snaps that Vince Wilfork does at this point in his career. His motor has improved, but it is still a work in progress. If you plan on having him be part of a rotation – keeping everybody fresh in the process – I think you can get 35-40 quality snaps out of Short per game.
With the plethora of options at receiver and defensive back projected to still be available at the end of the second round, I can imagine the Patriots waiting on those positions and adding to their defensive front seven with Short here.
Round Two: Pick 59
Traded to San Francisco for a 3rd and 4th round selection
The Patriots and San Francisco 49ers have been trading partners multiple times before and this year a trade seems beneficial for both parties. San Francisco has 14 picks but few open roster spots. The Patriots have only and a handful of picks.
I see the 49ers trading their 3rd round selection (#74 from Carolina) and 4th round selection (#128) in exchange for the 59th pick.
Round Three: Pick 74 (acquired via projected trade)
Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall (SCOUTING REPORT)
The Patriots have successfully “double dipped” before at skill positions. Hernandez and Gronkowski. Ridley and Vereen. Will it be wide receivers this year?
Aaron Dobson is a big receiver with unreal hands. He doesn’t have elite speed – despite his 4.4 combine time – but he is still a vertical threat with his ability to separate at the top of his route, track the ball, adjust, and make the circus catch.
Giving Tom Brady this many toys isn’t going to make AFC defenses very happy.
If the Patriots wait to add another target for Tom Brady, a late round option that I like is Minnesota QB/WR/TE MarQueis Gray. I think he could be an excellent “Joker” in the future.
Round Three: Pick 91
Traded for a future 3rd and 7th round selection
Although you probably hear this every year, the 2014 NFL Draft is going to be one that is absolutely loaded. Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Jake Matthews and Marqise Lee are just a few of the top prospects in 2014.
Having extra draft ammunition in that draft is going to be key to landing an impact player.
Round Four: Pick 128 (acquired via projected trade)
Zaviar Gooden, LB, Missouri
The Patriots linebacking corps, although stout against the run and effective on the blitz, have been exploited in coverage for too long.
Gooden is an undersized nickel linebacker that has the speed to develop into a good coverage option for the Patriots down the road. He is fluid in his movements and has the ability to stick with tight ends and slot receivers on Sunday.
With a fourth round pick, adding someone that can contribute on special teams as well as play in sub-packages on day one is a great pickup.
Round Five: Pick 147 (acquired via projected trade)
Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa (SCOUTING REPORT)
Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Ras-I Dowling and Devin McCourty – if needed – as outside corners. Kyle Arrington inside. McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory and Nate Ebner as your safeties.
That list of defensive backs doesn’t scare me. I don’t think the Patriots need to target a cornerback early. Add in another young cornerback like Hyde to compete with Dowling and whichever veteran backup is signed and I think you have a good mix.
Hyde is also a guy that will contribute on special teams. He has experience at gunner, punt returner and on kickoffs.
Sean Renfree, QB, Duke
After trading Ryan Mallett earlier in this draft scenario, the Patriots need to add another quarterback prospect to groom. Renfree might be the perfect guy for that job.
Due to a shoulder injury, Renfree is going to be picked a round or two lower than he should be. He has above average pocket presence, decent size and enough touch and accuracy to have a successful career in the NFL.
Think of this pick as an investment that may pay off in a couple of years – a la Matt Cassel.