An Updated Overview of New England’s 2014 Draft Needs

Arkansas center Travis Swanson, a four-year SEC starter, is among the top prospects at his position in 2014. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

With the New England Patriots in the midst of what has been a decidedly underwhelming 2013 campaign preceded by a series of offseason losses and marred by poor offensive execution and a litany of defensive injuries, it’s time to take a look at some of the team’s biggest weaknesses and what options New England’s front office may have once the offseason begins.

CENTER:

The marked decline of center Ryan Wendell, who submitted an impressive 2012 season but has been exposed repeatedly in 2013 has been among the most disconcerting aspects of New England’s offensive performance this season. Wendell is set to become a free agent following the season, so upgrading at the position by bringing in a more sound pass protector, ideally with the type of size to anchor against the AFC East’s oversized defensive linemen, seems like a logical move, and one which Bill Belichick and New England’s war room have reportedly considered on a number of recent occasions, including in the first round of recent drafts (Eric Wood, Maurkice and Mike Pouncey.)

Unfortunately, the options available to the Patriots this offseason in both free agency and the NFL Draft relative to recent years are comparatively underwhelming, preventing the team from using their initial pick on a center. While the door should be left open for a potential second-or-third-day pick such as Arkansas standout Travis Swanson, who will enter the draft as a four-year starter and team captain with impressive size, this is a position which the Patriots may desire an improvement at more than they can realistically obtain one.

OFFENSIVE GUARD:

The team’s current starter at right guard, Dan Connolly, continues to regress and thus far has allowed two sacks and fourteen pressures, according to ProFootballFocus; it is becoming increasingly apparent that Connolly is being significantly overcompensated, so it should come as no surprise if he is released during the offseason. Prior to the season, it appeared as though former fifth-round pick Marcus Cannon was a candidate to succeed Connolly at the position, but he has seen the field for 148 snaps so far in 2013 and remains unconvincing.

Should the coaching staff decide that it’s time to move on, this is a position which could very well be targeted with an early pick in April’s draft, especially given the collection of offensive guards who could receive first-round consideration, a list which includes the likes of Baylor’s Cyril Richardson, Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson, and Stanford’s David Yankey, all players with the size and bulk to hold up against the oversized defensive tackles which have given the Patriots problems in recent years. It’s also possible that the team will target an offensive tackle for a potential conversion to guard, as they did back in 2005 by drafting Fresno State left tackle Logan Mankins; Notre Dame left tackle Zack Martin may fit the bill.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

Free-agent signing Tommy Kelly has outperformed most expectations this season, but he sutained a knee injury not long after Vince Wilfork tore his right Achilles, with the absences of both players highlighting New England’s complete lack of depth at the position, which is currently being manned by starters Joe Vellano and Chris Jones, a pair of rookies who have thus far struggled to meet Bill Belichick’s high standards for run defense. Kelly turns 33 in December, with Wilfork turning 32 a month before him, meaning the Patriots shouldn’t get complacent merely because their top two options will return next season; instead, it’s time to consider the long-term future at the position by drafting players who could realistically develop into effective starters.

Recent free agent signing Armond Armstead was viewed as a second-or-third-round talent based on his time in the Canadian Football League, but has spent the entire season on the Non-Football Injury list, obscuring his future prospects. It’s entirely possible that the team views him as one of their future starters, but at the least, a long-term replacement at nose tackle with the ability to two-gap would be ideal; in this year’s draft, possible fits include Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones. Keep in mind that Wilfork himself was drafted one year before he became the team’s primary starter.

STRONG SAFETY:

New England’s long-term future at strong safety is far from determined, as the team has used two high draft picks in recent years on the position, selecting Illinois’ Tavon Wilson in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft and opting for Rutgers’ Duron Harmon in the third round this past April. Both players were presumably seen as potential successors to incumbent Steve Gregory, who has revealed himself to be a consistently average starter with no major deficiencies but no major strengths, either. Adrian Wilson was also signed this past offseason, but struggled in preseason and eventually landed on injured reserve, the trajectory of his tenure with the organization resembling John Lynch’s much more than Rodney Harrison’s.

It’s possible that a player such as Harmon could eventually step into the starting lineup, but this is also a position which is difficult to conclusively categorize as having been sufficiently addressed. However, the draft’s shallow safety class may force the Patriots to wait another year for a shot at a top prospect, as Alabama’s Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is the only safety expected to be drafted in the first round. Later in the draft, Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner may be able to provide the Patriots with a versatile defensive option who doubles as an effective return man, something the team has lacked for years. New England’s front office may also prefer giving the starting role to a veteran if they feel confident in Harmon’s long-term viability but do not want to give him the starting role so soon.

TIGHT END:

New England’s passing offense thrived in recent years thanks in large part to the team’s pair of tight end options, inline “Y” tight end Rob Gronkowski and flex “F” tight end Aaron Hernandez. With Hernandez now facing a charge of murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, the Patriots have an opening for an “F” tight end in their lineup which no player thus far has been able to fill. Over 396 offensive snaps, Michael Hoomanawanui has been the team’s most visible tight end, but he lacks the athleticism to truly challenge defenses in the passing game. Undrafted free agent Zach Sudfeld didn’t work out, so this is an area where New England could add an additional player for a role which is effectively devoid of any realistic solutions.

However, the team’s approach also appears to have shifted to one which emphasizes more three-receiver sets, allowing the team to run formations featuring some combination of Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, and Kenbrell Thompkins, so it’s possible that the importance of this position has diminished as a result of the personnel overhaul which occurred last offseason. This year’s draft class is populated with more inline options, so the Patriots’ 2013 offensive philosophy may carry over into 2014 as well. There appears to be no chance that North Carolina junior Eric Ebron will last until New England’s pick, and Colt Lyerla, another superficially appealing option, recently left the team and was arrested for cocaine possession.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, New England Patriots, Team Needs

63 Responses to “An Updated Overview of New England’s 2014 Draft Needs”

  1. steve earle says:

    Speaking of Bill plugging the holes Just read we got Sopoaga from Eagles for 5th.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Yes sir Steve and Philly’s 6th round pick. Patriots 5th is going to be late in the 5th round, and Philly’s 6th will be mid-early 6th round, looks like a wash!!

      • steve earle says:

        I like it! Now if Kelly can return after the bye week I’ll feel much more comfortable.
        Russell, do you have any sites that might give some info on Blake Bortles? I can’t find much as yet.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Not alot on Bortles as yet, but …teamrankings.com , under NCAAF , “players” is intersting site for info, no tape.

        • steve earle says:

          Thanks Russell, I’ll check it out. I have been on Draftscout and they do have some videos on Bortles there. Also from his stats ( on another site, can’t remember off top of my head) but they look very good plus he has shown steady improvement during his time at UCF. This year so far I think it said 17 TD’s to 4 int’s. Quite respectable I’d think? And he keeps winning. I suspect he is going to rise up the boards pretty fast the way he’s going. Again thanks for the tip, going to look that up right now.

  2. Lee says:

    You know, this is what makes the Patriot’s Way what it is. Year-in and year-out, the Patriots have always had holes to feel on both sides of the ball. Yet, they find a way to fill the vacancies on their roster. Whether it be, Tom Brady for Drue Bledsoe, or Troy Brown playing receiver/db/punt returner you name it. As a Patriots fan, it never seems to amaze me that somehow they will get it done. I agree that there are holes, but they will get it done in the 2014 draft and through the free agent market!

    • steve earle says:

      Have to agree with you that BB and company are among the very best at plogging holes and getting the most out of what they have. One of the reasons why coach will be going into the HOF someday. Sometime I personally forget how well Bill does on many levels and get frustrated with his drafting because he misses oppertunitys therein. Next April I’m hoping we see him draft an impact DT, OC and a safty. I believe if he does those selections would give the entire team a huge boost. There will be others selected too, no doubt, but given the talent coming out it appears well within reason that high quality guys should be available in the top 3 rounds. Crossing my fingers.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Hi Steve, I think it is VERY unlikely Bill drafts an OC. An OG or OT yes sir, for sure if Tom is to remain upright. Bill has Braxston Cave on the P-squad a highly rated OC in last years draft.
        DT I think but not to high, a LB, a TE , and a CB. I think there will be some though of a QB as well, as I feel sure Bill carries 3 next year, if Mallett is not traded.

        • steve earle says:

          I know you feel Connelly is the problem but I feel it is more Windell. Either way the inside has to be improved. This summer they had Zusevies (high rated guy) plugged into RG before he was hurt. This is probably the answer there. Then draft Swenson or Stork in our 2nd rd and center is covered for the future. As for DT Wilfolk is getting up there and with the years come the injury risks more often. Kelly is no spring chicken either. Two rookies man the inside now that is our weakest position and we have yet to see or hear of Armstead so we just don’t know. A DT with our 1st would give some insurance which is imperative at the position as I see it. As for OT, Volmer will be ready for camp next summer and if Bill follows your advice and signs Frugle from Cinn PS that will address that. About Cave, I just don’t remember his name being on any of the high rated prospect lists I studied last year, maybe my advancing years byt I just dont, have to take your word on that. Still I believe Windell will be gone by next Sept. That leaves SS and QB. I like Ahmed Dixon from Baylor at SS (from what I read). QB to me is a can of worms but “experts” are saying several mid round prospects look good. Not touching that one. This is all just my perception but I think it’s valid.

        • Alex says:

          Interesting.
          No idea how Braxston is developing, but draftscout puts him at a projected 5-6th rounder, who ended up a UDFA. Maybe he turns out well, who knows. With Solder and Vollmer, we have two elite tackles, and Cannon and Svitek provide good depth. Mankins isn’t the player he was pre injury, Connolly is mediocre, and Wendell has regressed, so I’d hope we target interior lineman, and look for one high.
          I think Travis Swanson in the late second or early third would be a good pick to look to really secure the Centre position. Very athletic, and good size, should be a great fit for our scheme.

          Either way our practise squad having a lot of O-line and DTs, to me says that’s where our weaknesses are, and that’s what we’ll look to address.

          What positions would you expect us to target, and where?
          Assuming Talib stays, I’d say DT in the first/second. TE/OG/OC in the 2nd- 4th. The rest depending on value.
          Here’s my very early attempt at a Pats mock.
          1) Ra’Shede Hageman DT
          2) Kyle Fuller CB
          3) Travis Swanson OC
          4) Ryan Carrethers DT
          5) Trey Millard HB
          6) Spencer Long OG
          7) ? Crazy value dropping player, Colt Lyerla TE/OW

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          OK Alex, early but if I was drafting today, based on scouting availability listings as of today:
          1st- OG/T Zack Martin… 6’4″ 308, 5.10 40 yd
          2nd-QB A.J. McCarrons…6’3″ 214, 4.7 40yd
          3d – OG/C Mason Walters. 6’5″ 320, 5.18 40yd
          4th- DT/DE Brent Urban… 6’7″ 295, 4.98 40yd
          6th- LB Glenn Carson …… 6’2″ 235, 4.64 40yd
          6th- CB Louis Young………6′ 196 , 4.5 40yd
          7th- LB Tana Patrick……..6’2″ 240, 4.54 40 yd

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Hi Alex looked into CB Fuller looks like a good prospect, I’m Watching CB/S Kieth McGill Travis Swanson also looks good, I’m watching Bryan Stork.
          Try Millard is done for the year with a knee, and may miss the Conbine. OG, Long may miss the combine as well. TE Lyerla has been arested on drug charges.

        • Alex says:

          I don’t get to watch much college tape, but I do watch Bama’s games, and Fuller was great in the season opener. Seemed a natural cover guy, with size and speed. Like what Ras-I could have been. Swanson seems to be very athletic, but still a big guy, that should be able to hold up with NTs with some seasoning. I know about Millard and Long’s injuries, but felt the value was good.
          Millard is a FB/HB and could be the joker replacement to Hernandez, or Voldemort as I call him. He has a lot of versatility, and would be worth a late pick. As for Long, he seemed like a good guard prospect that would be available late, and be developed for 2016. And Lyerla’s issues are obvious big red flags, hence I put him into the 7th and the crazy value pick spot, where we took a chance on Dennard, and on Buchanan.
          I like Zach Martin as a Guard for us, and I’ll have a look at the rest of your guys.

  3. ralph says:

    It’s so frustrating that we draft a Safety every year and have nothing to show for it. Im still happy with the Pats player evaluations, I read an analysis of all the teams and how they draft and to my surprise; over the last 8 years the Pats have drafted the most Pro Bowlers in the entire League. So they can do a great job: Chandler Jones, Gronk, Hernandez, Solder, Vollmer, Vereen, Ridley, Dennard, (Hopefully Logan Ryan).

  4. cruelangelT says:

    Hi Matt, first time to comment but have been enjoying your wonderful pieces for a year or so.

    Speaking of the need of Y-TEs, I believe drafting Trey Millard (FB) of Oklahoma should be included in consideration.
    For other teams he is an “apositional” oversized FB, but for our O# which thrives for versatility and finding a mismatch, this kid is an ultimate Swiss army knife.
    He can lead block as a full back, he can run/catch as a H-back and he should be able to function decently as a TE after some training. (But as we said earlier, we may see less 2TE set which makes this facet less important)
    I also heard he is a very coachable, hard-working, and most importantly, intelligent player.

    While ASJ and Ebron’s stock skyrocketing with Amaro returning for school and Lyerla Hernandez-ing himself, Millard can still be available in the mid-round.
    Personally, I would love to see your scouting report on him (wink wink).

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      Interesting Trey Millard, shows great blocking skills, as well as good hands in the passing game. At 6’2″ 253 good size at TE, good call, good looking prospect. Plays in a good program as well.

    • patsfaninthedesert says:

      whats everyone’s thoughts on moving Mark Harrison to a TE. I think he is 6’3 230? Not a whole lot of weight needed to make that change and has real good speed. Was thinking this week that you can hold him out all year while be puts on weight, learns the playbook and gets done the techniques.

      • steve earle says:

        That’s been talked about recently and seems reasonable though looking at his frame he might be served better as an H-back rather then trying to put on 15 +/_ lbs which could effect his speed. As a H-back he could possably be intergrated into the offense this season in limited role. To make room a few options seem likely such as Bequette, Ebner, Washington come to mind. The only other option would be a fast trade but I have no idea who?

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          The only possible trade TE I see is Mychal Rivera from the Raiders, for a draft pick, (5th?)

  5. Marco says:

    I confident Ryan Mallet could be a great Patriots Qb but I doubt we ever See that because I just don’t See hik resigning with this team to be a backup

    • steve earle says:

      You may be right Marco but not knowing the inside dynamics between BB and Mallett who can be sure? It my be that Bill sees and has made it clear to him that he will be the starter when Brady is done much as the 9er’s did with Steve Young years ago. If that’s and understanding between them Mallett could very likely resign but for decent money of course. Not that I expect that to be the case, just thinking out loud.

  6. B.S.101 says:

    SN today has piece on Nfl qbs which suggests passing may be overrated because there are only a handful of elite qbs and the others try to force the passing game and at the saME TIME HAVE NO running game as in the past. Hence predictable mediocrity. One post by a guy named Ed Lewis explains the situation well. I will add to his words by saying GENERALLY the nfl is asemi criminal enterprise run and owned by cold robber barons who have a large percentage of thugs and criminals playing for them. The coaching staffs are often incompetent and follow the herd because they fear for their jobs and do not have the guts to change anything. Many coaches are not only stubborn but are too lazy to change their old playbooks. Checking the background of some of these nfl coaches shows a modest record and an old school buddy mentality. That may be why many good college coaches like Saban, Holtz and Spurrier had little success in NFL and returned to high success in college. Anyway the elite qb is rare and the average ones perpetuate mediocrity – Jax, Tampa, Browns, Bills. The answer is the mobile qb who can pass. This is happening with Griffin, Wilson etc. But there are still good mobile qbs out there like Young, Tebow and McCoy, who though are not very good passers would win more games and be an improvement for the fans over stiffs like Weeden, Gabbert, Ponder,Foles etc. etc. Yet the owners, coaches continue to zing the fans with the poor, unexciting prodect they INSIST on putting on the field. And the robber barons continue to rake in the dough. Screw the nfl and all its faults, I’ll always prefer the college game.

    • steve earle says:

      Robber Barons????? Geeze just a little tough on them I think. You do however make a couple of good points but you must admit that even those running qb’s ( the good ones) are not that pleantiful either. Also they have the same mixed results, take Vick and Tebow for instance. I agree coaches need to play to the strength of their players not try to fit square pegs into round holes. The NFL is constantly evolving right now it’s a “passing league” so defenses are being built to defend against that but I predict at some point those defenses will be so dedicated to stopping the passing game they will become vunerable to the run and offenses will again adapt so don’t give up hope for a more varied product. It would add a missing element to the game for sure.

  7. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    I think this is the year Bill looks at a QB, needing 2-3 years to be ready to replace Tom. I’m not sure Mallett is the future of the franchise. His contract ends after the 2014 season, so IF he’s the future franchise Patriot QB he will need to be signed to a 3-4 year deal for 10-12 mil. Malletts rookie deal was 4yr. 2.95 mil.
    If the patriots draft a QB this year, a contract for a late 1st round pick ,would be about, 4 yr. 5-6 mil. So given that Tom plays 2-3 more years, and stays healthy, Mallett would have been the Patriots back-up for 6years +.
    I have studied a lot of college QB’s, and the guy I like best, is A.J. McCarron 6’3″ 214. He fits the Patriot system the best, as it stands now. The big question is, can the Patriots get him with a 1st round pick late in the draft. As it stands now, I think yes, 2-3 QB’s seem to be rated higher on the draft board.
    The Browns, Jags, and Vikings will I think, look to draft a QB. Tampa, Buffalo, and the Jets got thier man last year. So moving up in the draft, does not appear to be helpful for the Patriots, unless they can leap frog these other QB needy teams.
    Would you trade QB Ryan Mallett and our 1st pick, to the Rams, for one of their 1st picks, and a 3d pick ??

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      And then bring QB-Mike Kafka back to finnish the year behind Tom.

    • steve earle says:

      I wonder if your not trading Mallett a little on the cheep side given the Rams situation? Giving our 1st may not be necessary as I think Mallett and a 2nd, depending on which Rams 1st you are thinking about.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        I was thinking about the Rams choice, as I think thier record will be worst than Washington(Rams other 1st) I think the Rams need players from the 1st round, that was my thinking. How about Mallett and our 1st ,and 2nd pick; for the Rams 1st, and 2nd pick, and a 3d next year (2015)

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          The Patriots will be picking between 26-32 1st round, the Rams choice will be about 10-14 1st round.

        • steve earle says:

          That might work for me getting that high up in the draft would provide Bill with lots of options. For instance with the 1#10 he could trade down several picks, as he loves to do, and still get a potential impact player plus that extra pick(s).
          I know your looking at a QB in “14″ particulary the kid from Ala but I have been impressed with Bortles from UCF. So far he has proved to be as advertized a week or so ago here on this site. I was impressed with his game vs Louieville. What is your impression of him?

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I have seen only limited tape on Bortles, his decision making, and “happy” feet, are a question, strong arm but often throws off his back foot. His Oline looks only fair, which rushes him, and plays a part in his “happy” feet I’m sure.
          I would want to watch more tape on him, but reminds me alittle of Mallett in college, and alittle of Ben Rosthlburger.

        • steve earle says:

          Watching Ala vs Tenn tonight and McCarron looks to be making all the throws. I’m a poor judge of QB’s and read post earlier saying McCarron a product of a system but looks pretty good tonight. At the same time watching Tenn DT McCuller and looks slow, doesn’t get much of push upfield, think I have to drop him down a couple of rounds. Huge man but size doesn’t seem to help much.

        • steve earle says:

          Oh, and agree we need to see more of Bortles.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I agree Steve, DT McCullars was handled well by the Bama line, not sure I like DT McCullar much. McCarrons throws were very sharp, I think he missed just one. Mid-long and Short Passes looked good.

    • Henry Carmen says:

      There are a few issues. 1. AJ McCarron is not worth a late first round pick. His value at this point is around a 4th-5th round pick. 2. AJ McCarron is not a guy you develop for a few years and then he is your starter, his potential probably is as a career backup/spot starter. You say you have watched film on him and he is your favorite, well i do not know what film your watching on him and what other quarterbacks you have or have not looked at, but he can attribute his personal success to the team around him. His potential is very low, compared to other guys in that mid round range that the patriots could take a shot on. 3. People have this idea that Mallet is worth like a 2nd or a 3rd round pick. The whole point was to take him in the 3rd, let him roast in the pre-season, then shop him for a pick (s) of better or equal value. Well he has not performed up to par, and he probably could yield a 5th at this point. MAYBE a 4th. If the Pats are going to take a qb, he has to be taken in the mid to late rounds, and is going to have to have potential. McCarron has none. Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Brett Smith, Jeff Matthews, Tom Savage, and Jimmy Garoppolo are players that come to mind.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Remember these comments; AS A.J.McCarron will be taken in the 2014 draft before the end of the second round.

      • Alex says:

        Crazy to say he has no potential.
        I don’t rate him as highly as Russell, despite being an Alabama fan, but he does strike me as a Brady type, where hard work and accuracy, could make him great.

        He is also ridiculous intangibles. When ever people knock him as a QB, or talk about numbers, or history, or anything positive or negative about him, he focuses on only two things. Just like Brady. Talking up his team mates, and only caring about winning.

        Yes he’s been surrounded with talent at Bama, but if he can continue to work hard and improve, then he could be a starter in the NFL.

    • Alex says:

      Hi Russell.
      I think this is a terrible idea, for one simple reason.
      Brady is under contract for another four years after this one, so it is too early to try and develop his replacement with such a high pick.
      Rather we should be trying to build the talent up around Brady, especially focussing on the trenches on both sides of the ball.

      That being said, spending a mid to late round pick on a QB would be wise, and I think McCarron is a guy that could be taken fairly early, or who could have a Barkley like slide. I do think he’d be a perfect edition to our QB room, to learn behind Tom. He seems to have the same winner and team first mentality that Tom does, and the drive to succeed. In fact, he seems quite like Brady was coming out of Michigan. Concerns over arm strength, not as mobile as his peers, winner from a big program etc.

      I’d be happy spending our third on him, and would consider that a great deal.

      Either this year or next year could be the time to try and start the trading back to the next year approach, to try and stockpile picks, so that in three or four years, we have the ammo to make a move to get the QB that BB wants to replace Brady.

      Too soon at the moment, that’s my only problem with your idea.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Hi Alex, you make some great points. I’m saying ,(as you did) McCarrons has what it takes to be an NFL QB. The intangables are important, and I’m not saying use the Patriots 1st pick to take him, tho they may have to, to get him. The scouting has him, a 4th round pick, which is way off, and I would not be surprised if he went in the 1st round tho I think the 2nd is VERY likely.
        You are right Tom is under contract until 2018, and It could be to soon to think about his replacement. So do we pay Mallett 10-12 mil. for 4 years as a back-up/ replacement? Or do the Patriots look at a replacement type QB now , for 4-5 mil. for 4years?
        The Patriots could look at QB’s in the latter rounds, but I feel the Patriots carry 3 QB’s next year for sure. I’ve studied alot of Tape on McCarrons and he has the most Pro style team around him as about any College team. My bet is McCarrons moves up the draft board, before the draft, as I think he is in the top 3 QB’s this year. It will be interesting to watch!!

        • Alex says:

          Personally I’d look to trade Mallett next off season once he’s allowed to sign a new contract (this would be key for any team drafting him as their next QB, to tie him down for some cheaper years). That of course depends on there being a taker, and the price being right. I don’t think Mallett has shown enough to create that value as things stand, so maybe we keep him and let his contract run out, and then see what offers he gets.
          I’d then look to draft a QB in the mid to late rounds depending on value, and bring in Tebow again and another guy for camp, and see what we have behind Brady.

          I wouldn’t be surprised to see McCarron go in the 2nd at all, he kinda seems like an Andy Dalton type prospect. Decent talent, good intangibles, high floor, but lower ceiling type guy. But I’d peg him in the third round for now, depending on future performance, and off season things like the Senior Bowl and the like.

          My concern is we have such a young team in a lot of spots, but with key veteran components, that the time is now to build a team to be a favourite for the next three years.

        • Alex says:

          PS: And therefore it is not the time to spend a high pick on a guy to sit behind Brady. Who won’t get a chance to start, barring injury, until we need to renew his contract.

        • steve earle says:

          Alex makes some good points about Mallett and drafting a QB high this year. As I’ve said a few time I’m a poor judge of QB’s and want to see how things unfold before making any guesses on that score. Still my gut is telling me that Millett will want to get an oppertunity to start for some team before Tom hangs them up so signing him may not be an option. He is signed through next season so a trade pre-draft seems the best stratagy. No idea what his value would be then when the pressure is off the teams now desperate during the season. Id hope to get a second but that’s a hope. But as Alex notes it may come down to putting some kind of tag on him and see what offeres he gets. Should be interesting and generate lots of descussion here.

  8. rmc says:

    I think the real issue is BB as GM, no matter who he peronnel director is, BB makes the picks. His constant reaching for players for value vs talent (Tavon wilson, ras-i dowling, among others) is starting to affect them on the field. Kam Chancellor and richard sherman on the seahawks were taken in 5th rd. If he is going to reach, then reach for someone who can play. Read the book, The War Room, he sometimes overrides the scouts on his picks. Look at the drafts where they had numerous 1,2, 3 round picks, that was the time to stock up, there are practically no players from those drafts left, if any. waste of draft picks and money. Until Bob Kraft realizes that he needs a legitimate GM, then this will be the status quo.

    • Alex says:

      Ras-I was not a reach on talent, he was a risk on injury history. He had all the talent to be a top 10 pick, but has showed a worrying lack of durability. I still agree with the philosophy of those picks, as when you draft at the end of each round, to get difference makers, sometimes you need to take a chance, like we did with Gronk, and with Dennard, and Hernandez.

      Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon do seem like reaches, but then so did Mankins and Vollmer, and they have worked out very well.

      Over the last three years, we have drafted as well as any team in the league, and I think from reading War Room, you see that BB realised he made a mistake going against his scouts. I’m happy with him having the final say, but hope that there are good evaluators around him that can make a clear case for why we should, or should not take someone, and so help challenge his thought processes.

      Anyone can be a stellar GM with hindsight, but it’s a lot harder without.

      • steve earle says:

        I agree with you Alex that taking some chances when we are picking near the bottom of every round is valid but only up to a point. Constantly trading down and out if the first round then again with the second round they got for it until our first pick is near the lower second round does not make sence to me. Doing that reduces our chances of picking impact players as the current roster shows. I also disagree with taking guys with injury historys such as Res-i. These guys are worse then no talent as they take up both roster spots and cap money and contribute nothing. Sure take a flyer on them in the 6-7 or FA but not above. Let some other sucker get stuck with them if they get taken before that. I have to think rmc’s thinking is much more like my own on this, not to say we are not sometimes surprised, though not often enough.

        • Alex says:

          Trading all depends on value available. More often than not when we trade down, the value is all much of a muchness as far as players available, and so it makes sense to trade down, to have more shots at getting a good player, and/or to accumulate more ammo for moving around.

          We’ve done a pretty good job of that on the main part.
          Trading down with the Saints in 2011, they got Ingram, and we picked up a guy they had evaluated as being the same talent in Ridley, later in the third round.
          This year, trading down with the Vikings, they got a high risk guy in Patterson, and we got three picks that turned into a high upside multi purpose LB (Collins), a slot/outside cover corner (Ryan) and a fast potential slot/deep receiver (Boyce). I’d say that is pretty good value.

        • Alex says:

          Oh and if you didn’t like the Ras-I pick, then what about Gronk?
          They were both guys taken with injury concerns. Sometimes it pans out, sometimes it doesn’t.

        • steve earle says:

          Yes Alex Riddley and Collins both were good picks Ryan and Boyce to a lesser extent show promise but none are differance makers. Not to say any one of them may have a breakthrough but I expect they will continue along the lines they are now on. As for Gronk he is the exception not the rule and I’m thrilled he’s back. Lets remember Gronk only had the one injury (to which I’m aware) while Res-i had an ongoing history back into high school as I recall. Bill’. . s tendency to discount injury prone players extends past the draft. Look at Amendola, years half over and Danny has had darn little impact so far. Yea he may come up big the rest of the way or might not but every snap he plays we have to hold our breath. Bill also tends to reach for players such as Travon Wilson and Ebner. These were questionable picks at any round so given the body of work it’s reasonable for fans to question and be critical of these moves. I do not believe anyone is calling for Bill head just asking that he improves his performance. Just my opinion.

        • Alex says:

          Ryan looks like he will be a difference maker at corner. He certainly has been this season, and the Dolphins game was a clear cut example. Boyce is wait and see, as are many draft picks, most of them take time to develop.

          There doesn’t tend to be a lot of difference makers selected in the late first round, it’s different to picking in the first half of the round, but there are some, and there are some available in later rounds as well. I think BB’s trades have been the best move most of the time, and stand up even with hindsight.

          Reaching for Ebner with a 6th rd pick is hardly egregious, and he’s been a solid ST contributor for us. As for guys like Wilson, and Harmon, they are just the most recent reaches. There was Mankins and Vollmer in the past, who were also considered big reaches. Both of those panned out very well. It’s early days for Harmon and Wilson, but Wilson hasn’t shown anything this season, but Harmon has looked promising.

          Of course it’s OK for fans to call out decisions, but most of the time it is over the top and done with a healthy dose of hindsight assistance. I’d argue that given our starting drafting position, BB has had the best drafts of any team when looking at the last four drafts. So given that body of work, I’d suggest he deserves more credit and leeway, and not less.

        • steve earle says:

          Your right Alex that most of our drafting complaints are from hindsight but how could it be otherwise? Every year since 1965/66 I’v made out a “wish list” if you will, trying to put prospects that I feel will reasonable be expected to be within the Pat’s range. It really is harder, as you note, with our picks being so far down the line, but still even when the name gets called so often I’m met with disapointment and espically when a very good player is passed on in favor of a trade down, and that prospect goes on to be a valued player for some other team, happens alot. Could I do better? No, but I still have a decent record without any of the insights available to the francise. Is it frustration talking? Sure it is but I’m not trying to be unfair just making obersavations, constructive criticism if you will.
          Ryan has been making plays and I have high hopes for him at CB though we all can remember McCourty’s rookie year when we thought he was a lock at the position. Don’t get me wrong, not knocking McCourty he’s a good safty but just waiting to see.

        • Alex says:

          Wow, that’s a long time you’ve been a fan and draftnik. Kudos.
          Hindsight will always be an issue, but that’s where putting your neck on the line before the event can help. E.G. Russell has made lots of tips on here for a long time, and he’ll happily repeat them, for better or worse. The thing is most people only remember their successes, and the teams failures. Yes no-one wanted us to take Tavon Wilson, but did anyone want us to take Mankins or Vollmer. Yes one may have wanted us to take this stud sleeper, who’s now a pro-bowler, but how many of one’s other sleepers never made a 53?
          I think for most of us, if you balance the whole thing, we’d have done a worse job on average.

          As for Ryan, you’re right our CBs haven’t always fared well their second season, although Dennard is still good, but hard to say a guy will never be a difference maker, when he is showing himself able to create turnovers, and cover guys well inside and out. Also, McCourty isn’t just a good safety, he’s an All-Pro calibre FS, best in the league with Earl Thomas.

    • Trevor M. says:

      Seriously, our GM is crazy! Perennial playoff berths and 5 Super Bowl appearances during our GMs tenure IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

      Lol.

      • steve earle says:

        Lol if you like but look at reality of the roster. We have holes at DT, safty, OC, OG, all of which could have been addressed with better drafting.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I agree if I had been drafting for the Patriots last year I would have taken LB Sio Moore, (faster than Collins better coverage guy) WR Markus Wheaton , OT/G Brian Winters, or Barlett Jones.
          Winters (starting for the Jets) would be starting at OG , Moore (starting for the Raiders) would give us a better coverage LB, and Wheaton (playing for the Steelers) a faster guy at WR.

        • steve earle says:

          Thank you Russell I agree completely. It has not been just this or last year but a pattern over the years. As for trading down I look at our 1st round picks more as high 2nds as far as talent usually goes and so on down through the 4th rd. After that what you can get 5 through 7 can often equate to priority free agents. I wouldn’t be at all afraid to use these picks as chips to trade up or forward to another year if a good player doesn’t slide down, such as Dennard did.

        • Alex says:

          So we have holes at four positions, unlike any other team in the league?
          Of course we could have drafted better. Everyone can. Everyone gets some guys who bust.
          We had a three year bad drafting spell from 2007-2009, that left us with precious little to show for it, given the resources spent.
          Since then though our drafting has been very good, comparable with any other team in the league.
          Knocking BB as a GM is both overdone and overblown. In reality he is very solid as a GM, as well as a coach. Saying all that, of course I’d rather he make less head scratching picks, but they have worked out plenty of times too.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      I disagree with rmc . The best value in the draft is 2nd-4th round. The cost of signing a 1st pick is always higher, and there are few sure things in the draft. If you are looking for a franchise type player, like DE Jones, LB Hightower maybe, but even these guys were drafted Mid-1st round. The Patriots being a better team always draft in the 26-32 slot, so a 1st round pick is more like an early 2nd rounder. So trading the pick make’s scense for better value picks in the Mid-2nd-3d round.
      This year however I wonder if it is not the year for BB to think about a type franchise player in the 1st round. I enjoy scouting college players, and have had very good success picking talent. Last before the draft I spoke about OT/G Brian Winters (now starting for the Jets) and OC/G Bartlett Jones, as well as LB Sio Moore , my first Patriot Pick, (now starting for the Raiders). My Point is, a scouts player evaluation does not always fit with a coaches intangables. Bill likes players HE See’s and talks to. Bill spent pre-draft time, going over film with Joe Vellano at his college campus. Then did not draft him , but signed him as a free agent. CB Logan Ryan, a SS Harmon were guys BB watched play together. I believe the Patriots 1st choice last year, LB Collins was more of a scouting, pick then a Bill choice.
      There is alot of great talent out there in the college ranks, But who can we get, and will they fit our system? An Olineman I like alot this year has been scouted as a 7th round pick? But I think he “fits” the Patriot system better than the top two guys, which will be gone early in the draft anyway. (Mason Walters OG/C Texas 6’5″ 325) Bill would need to send coach Scarnecchia to evaluate, Walters to make Bill see the Kid has potential, and draft him in the 4th to be sure to get him. So to say Bill does not listen to his scouts/coaches is hog wash.

  9. Rob says:

    At the top of the list should be a new offensive coordinator. McDaniels insistence on calling low percentage plays at inopportune times and not playing to the strengths of his players is frustrating.

    • acm says:

      yes, please. McDaniels is a liability that doesn’t seem to be garnering the necessary attention. He strikes me as one of those people who commit the same mistakes over and over again without ever learning from them. The have a “special” word for them, no pun intended.

  10. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Nice job Matthew , interesting info! I’m not sure about OC, I think Connolly/ Cannon have put more pressure on Wendell, and personly I liked Connolly better at OC than OG. IF Connolly reworks his contract, I think he stays on, time will tell. There is a nice draft class of Offensive linemen this year, with many interesting prospects. I like OG Mason Walters 6’5″ 325 4 year starter for Texas, who played OC in High school. Considered a late draft pick (7th round) I feel is more of a 4th round guy.
    I think TE IS an area the Patriots will get a prospect in this years draft. I like TE Ather Lynch 6’5″ 254 considered a 4th round pick, which could be alittle low. I do like Harrison’s possiblities at TE, as TD talks about.
    Strong Safty is a tough one, I think Gregory will be gone, as well as T. Wilson. Harmon looks the part, need’s more time, but the SS class in the draft is not great, Tre Boston maybe.
    Lastly I think BB drafts a LB for sure, as Spikes may not be back, and Fletcher is a Question. Tana Patrick maybe an interesting prospect, at 6’2″ 240, and runs a 4.54 40yd. listed as a 6-7th rounder.

  11. TD says:

    With all of the needs the pats have I’d hate to use an early pick on a 2nd tight end. Has there been any consideration of using Mark Harrison as the F tight end? I know he played WR at Rutgers, but a combination of factors presented themselves that could have made that a reasonable transition.

    The young tight ends brought in after the draft did not pan out, Dobson and Thomkins although inconsistent seem to have the potential to be the WR’s of the future, and Harrison has been out with a foot injury since after the draft so weight-lifting and adding some upper body size was in the cards. He was listed as 6’3″ 230(Hernandez was listed at 6’2″ 245 coming out of Florida) so he wouldn’t have too far to go. He seems like more of a long strider than shifty like hernandez, but could be equally as effective.

    I haven’t read anything about Harrison changing positions or how his rehab was going, but just curious about your thoughts. Is this role change likely or is the uncertainty at the WR position too great to take him out of that mix or is he just not cut out to be a tight end?






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