Initial Top-Five Positional Rankings (Matthew Jones)

Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans is averaging 22.9 yards per catch as a redshirt sophomore. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

After continuing the investigation into this year’s 2014 NFL Draft player pool, it’s time to take a look at the top-five prospects at each position, with the draft now less than six months away.

QUARTERBACK:

1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville*

2. Marcus Mariota, Oregon**

3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M**

4. Brett Hundley, UCLA**

5. Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Notes: Bridgewater is facing some serious competition from the more explosive Mariota as of late, but the latter’s minor accuracy hiccups and lack of late-game passing experience keep him slightly behind the Louisville passer at this point. Manziel’s psychological and character evaluations may impact his stock, but he’s easily one of the top three passers in the class on tape. Hundley gets the slight edge over Boyd because of his higher ceiling, although he has encountered concerning problems when attempting to go beyond his first read. Two straight disappointing performances don’t help his cause.

RUNNING BACK:

1. Bishop Sankey, Washington*

2. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor*

3. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin**

4. De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon**

5. Charles Sims, West Virginia

Notes: Sankey finishes atop the rankings here because his running is slightly more decisive, and his production more consistent, than Seastrunk, another potential starting option at the pro level with a knack for making big plays. Gordon is averaging 9.5 yards per attempt so far on the season, a dynamic option with significantly more size than De’Anthony Thomas, who projects as more of a specialized option. Charles Sims’ decision to leave Houston for West Virginia creates some character concerns, but his power and explosiveness are undeniable.

WIDE RECEIVER:

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson*

2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M**

3. Marqise Lee, Southern California*

4. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt

5. Allen Robinson, Penn St.*

Notes: Marqise Lee was projected as a lock to go high in the first round, but he was quickly usurped by Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, a pair of bigger, stronger options who are the only two receivers that should have secured a first-round draft slot by now. Jordan Matthews, the physical, 6’3” Vanderbilt receiver, is on pace to top his 94-1,323-8 line from last season, while Allen Robinson is set to do the same. Those two, along with Lee, are in the first-or-second-round range, with a fairly comfortable lead over their nearest competition at the position.

TIGHT END:

1. Eric Ebron, North Carolina*

2. Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington*

4. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa

5. Arthur Lynch, Georgia

Notes: Eric Ebron, a tight end with incredible athleticism, could ultimately end up being selected within the first ten picks. Beyond that, none of the other tight ends are too likely to go in the first round, although there’s a chance for both Amaro and Seferian-Jenkins, two big-yet-versatile options. Fiedorowicz is really the only other player projected to go high, but he projects as more of a reliable inline option. Colt Lyerla began the season as my second-ranked tight end, but he will have trouble being drafted after quitting Oregon’s team and being arrested for possession of cocaine.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE:

1. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M

2. Taylor Lewan, Michigan

3. Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama*

4. Cameron Erving, Florida St.*

5. Antonio Richardson, Tennessee*

Notes: Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan have seemingly secured top-ten draft positions at this point, while Cyrus Kouandjio also appears likely for the first round, following in D.J. Fluker’s footsteps. Cameron Erving should go fourth as a lanky, athletic tackle with considerable upside as a blindside protector. Antonio Richardson’s outing against Jadeveon Clowney last week exacerbated lingering concerns about his ability to man the left tackle position in the NFL.

OFFENSIVE GUARD:

1. Zack Martin, Notre Dame

2. David Yankey, Stanford*

3. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi St.

4. Cyril Richardson, Baylor

5. Anthony Steen, Alabama

Notes: Zack Martin plays left tackle for the Irish, but his build is probably better suited to guard at the next level, a position he’s somewhat overqualified for. Yankey played left tackle for the Cardinal last season, but he’s been forced into left guard duty this year. Behind him is Gabe Jackson, a massive, athletic guard with an SEC pedigree. Cyril Richardson is one of the biggest linemen in the class, but his awareness in pass protection led to a fourth-place ranking. Anthony Steen is a reliable option, but may lack the measurable to earn a second-round draft pick.

CENTER:

1. Travis Swanson, Arkansas

2. Weston Richburg, Colorado St.

3. Tyler Larsen, Utah St.

4. Bryan Stork, Florida St.

5. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

Notes: This is a position where the first four players are somewhat interchangeable. Swanson may have the edge owing to his size and SEC experience, but Richburg has also impressed against major programs. All of these players, with the exception of Ikard, could be drafted as high as the fourth round, with the Oklahoma pivot probably projecting as more of a fifth-or-sixth-round pick.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:

1. Louis Nix, Notre Dame*

2. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota

3. DaQuan Jones, Penn St.

4. Timmy Jernigan, Florida St.*

5. Anthony Johnson, Louisiana St.*

Notes: Louis Nix is the centerpiece of this year’s defensive tackle class, a nimble nose tackle with the ability to fit into either an even or an odd front. However, the other defensive tackles in the top five also have a shot at the first round, with Hageman and Jones getting a slight edge over Jernigan and Johnson because they could realistically project into a variety of defensive schemes, whereas the latter two are a little bit more limited, preferably playing three-technique in a 4-3 defense.

DEFENSIVE END:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina*

2. Vic Beasley, Clemson*

3. Ed Stinson, Alabama

4. Scott Crichton, Oregon St.

5. Kareem Martin, North Carolina

Notes: Jadeveon Clowney obviously ranks atop this list as a lock to be selected within the top-five picks. Other than that, the only defensive end who possesses a realistic shot at going in the first round is probably Clemson’s Vic Beasley, an undersized rusher who is tied for the league lead in sacks thus far with ten. The next three ends could be drafted in any order, whether you value production (Crichton), versatility (Stinson), or raw physical tools (Martin.)

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:

1. Anthony Barr, UCLA

2. Khalil Mack, Buffalo

3. Kyle Van Noy, Brigham Young

4. Ryan Shazier, Ohio St.*

5. Adrian Hubbard, Alabama*

Notes: Anthony Barr has been such a disruptive rusher over the past two seasons that he could potentially be drafted ahead of even Jadeveon Clowney. His presence has somewhat obscured the outstanding four years of productive starting experience Khalil Mack has, a rusher who somewhat resembles Bruce Irvin. Van Noy is another productive rusher, but doesn’t possess ideal bulk for a 3-4 outside linebacker, while Ryan Shazier is an athletic player whose instincts need considerable work.

INSIDE LINEBACKER:

1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama

2. Christian Jones, Florida St.

3. Max Bullough, Michigan St.

4. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky*

5. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut*

Notes: Mosley can play almost anywhere aside from a rush linebacker position. He’s easily the top conventional linebacker in the class. Christian Jones is second, as an athletic player who is well-suited to the current game. Max Bullough ranks third, someone who is a bigger, more physical player, but who also possesses surprising movement skills. Jackson is your traditional thumper, while Smallwood is a slightly-undersized tackling machine.

CORNERBACK:

1. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon*

2. Bradley Roby, Ohio St.*

3. Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida*

4. Jason Verrett, Texas Christian

5. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.

Notes: Bradley Roby’s inconsistent performances in 2013 have dropped him behind Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, although the Ohio State defender possesses the higher upside of the two and is more naturally suited to man coverage. Purifoy’s physical tools create the impression that, with a focus on defense, he could be a quality starter, while Verrett rounds out the top four, a group which could all go in the first round. Dennard is competing with the likes of Kyle Fuller and Marcus Roberson for draft positioning.

SAFETY:

1. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama*

2. Curtis Lofton, Louisiana St.

3. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida St.

4. Antone Exum, Virginia Tech

5. Deone Bucannon, Washington St.

Notes: This is a particularly poor class of safeties. Clinton-Dix is really the only possibility for the first round, but no one should confuse him with a prospect of Mark Barron’s caliber. The next two players are in close competition, with Lofton as a physical, reliable strong safety and Joyner as more of an undersized hybrid cornerback/free safety with return ability. Exum plays cornerback at Virginia Tech, but could be drafted a safety. He is a first-or-second-round talent recovering from microfracture surgery.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Positional Rankings

33 Responses to “Initial Top-Five Positional Rankings (Matthew Jones)”

  1. trent says:

    I understand everyone’s desire in these comments to draft another LB to cover TE/RB. I agree that improving that matchup will be huge for getting the D off the field. But that was why jamie collins was drafted. I know he has not been the answer so far, but he is the 4th LB and it has been nine games! You can’t just give up on your first pick of the draft last year and draft another LB after one year. He needs more time to develop obviously, but give him a shot. Its time to spend some draft capital on the trenches.

    • I fully agree with you there Trent, rookies can take awhile to get up to speed and Collins hasn’t had alot of playing time to get game experance. One of the things I’m concerned about is Hightower just isn’t a 3 down LB ( always chaising TE’s & RB’s). Think he could be a 3 down DE though. Another thing is our lack of a 3 down MLB. Both spikes and to a lasser extent Hightower are greatly limited in coverage for those thinking Hightower can take Spikes place if he leaves. That’s a tough one because as things are we give up run defense if we try a cover guy and cover for run def. We really need inside help on the def line before next season ( too late this year) so that a better cover LB can play the middle for us. I’ve pretty much given up on Armstead this year so we got what we got.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        If spike leaves next year I see, Hightower, Mayo and Collins the LB’s. Hightower comes off and a lighter , quicker guy to man-up comes in. If we play zone Hightower is OK, but a faster guy would be a wise move.
        I only see three guys with size, and speed in the draft that have experince, Van Noy 6’3″ 235, 4.68 -40, Christian Jones 6’3″ 232, 4.56 -40 and a sleeper in Jordan Tripp (smaller school, Big Sky) 6’3″ 243 4.67 -40.
        If Bill goes for a run stopper LB like Spikes; Shayne Skov is the guy 6’3″ 245 4.86 -40
        I have a hard time seeing the Patriots paying any more than 8 mil. a year to Talib, and I think other teams will offer more. So if he’s gone: Logan Ryan steps up, we draft, Fuller 6 200 4.45 40 and get latter in the draft Keith McGill CB/S 6’3″ 207 4.49 40.

      • trent says:

        I see Hightower in the middle next year. I know he is not much better in coverage compared to Spikes. But you either (1) keep your base D with Hightower, Mayo and Collins–in which case you rely on Collins and Mayo to cover TE/RB’s, and use Hightower as a zone read in the middle and blitz–which I thought he was great at in college from the middle, or (2) you go to nickel or dime and take him off the field and use mayo as the Mike. Simple as that IMO.

        • Alex says:

          Exactly well put. Spikes won’t be back, unless it is very cheap. We’ve already got loads invested in the LB corps in terms of draft capital. Now we need to match that on the beef in front of them. Vince and Kelly are getting/got old, and we don’t know what they’ll be like after their injuries.
          While Jones and Vellano have done a decent job, they are really more quality depth, than true contender starter quality. We could do with at least one guy in the first and second, and maybe a guy in the mid rounds as well. I’d like Hageman in the first, as a do it all disrupter, and then Ryan Carrethers in the 4th, as the big run plugger.

          Then we need to improve the interior of the O-line to better protect Brady, and probably add another TE to give us more versatility and options, while still giving our WRs time to grow and develop in the system.

          All this assumes we keep Talib, or at least a good veteran FA at CB, and lose Spikes, but keep Fletcher at LB.

    • acm says:

      I wouldn’t equate hoping for a new LB to cover guys in the middle to giving up on Collins. JC right now is simply being asked to do things that seems to me aren’t natural to him and may well never excel at. The reality is that we don’t really know he was drafted to cover RB/TE … it seems to me BB got him because of his freakish athleticism for a player his size, who was so raw that BB saw the opportunity to experiment with him and teach him play several positions at once … and the reason why he’s playing that RB/TE cover role right now is because there isn’t anyone else on the roster better suited to it with Mayo gone for the season … i.e. just because Collins is being played in that role NOW, doesn’t necessarily make it his role of strength. For me personally, his physical talents are best suited to the OLB/speed-rusher role, which he played in his last year(s) of college football. The WMB or SMB are roles he was far less familiar with and he was considered a raw talent to begin with … so, I’d say right now BB is more experimenting with him and trying to fill a void of biggest need than being absolutely certain that MLB is Collin’s best role at the NFL.

      Also, Collins attracted attention with his athleticism at the combine. The MLB role requires however great instincts and understanding of the game. Considering how raw and unpolished Collins came out of college, it’s fair to say that there isn’t much certainty on whether he possesses them or not. Again, he had never really played MLB steadily even at the college level. So, best guess would be his ideal position at the NFL level is yet to be determined and may well turn out to be that of covering RB and TE.
      With Spikes quite possibly gone next off season, if there is the chance to add a missing piece on the board skillset-wise, why not take it? Imagine how much better this D would be with a player of the range and ability of L. David or K. Alonso or N. Bowman … does that mean Collins is automatically scrapped for good? I wouldn’t say so especially when you consider the Pats’ need for a Ninkovich back-up/replacement and a speed-rusher, as well. Some teams like the Seahawks have their entire DE core consisting of smaller-sized but more athletic players … I am sure the Pats could use one of those on their roster too for the sake of balancing it out.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        I agree Collins would be a better fit in Nick.’s spot.

      • Alex says:

        I think he was drafted for his athleticism, and the versatility that should be able to provide.

        He’s potentially an ideal fit at WOLB, with a mandate to drop in coverage, or rush the passer.

  2. trent says:

    Someone I have not seen on this site or other sites for that matter–Brandon Scherff, redshirt junior OT from Iowa. 6’5” 315 and strong. Has the Ferentz connection, too. Anyone else looked into him? I have been following him and he seems to be under the radar, and finally this past week some people are taking notice (I think Kiper added him to his watch list–even though I hate Kiper, and CBS wrote an article on him too).

    We need some long-term replacements at guard. Could we draft someone like Scherff, or David Yankey (who has moved to LG already obviously) or La’el Collins LSU and mold them into our LG of the future? I think Scherff would be a fantastic fit. Similar to how we drafted Mankins out of nowhere and converted him to an all-pro guard.

    Curious if anyone agrees with me here.

    • acm says:

      yep, I do. Unfortunately, as you yourself said, he’s attracting attention already and is probably moving up boards as we speak. Agree that he would make a better OG than T for the Pats.

      Couple of other players who are playing at T in college but would probably attract attention as OG at the NFL level – Austin Wentworth (Fresno State) and Billy Turner North Dakota STate).

      Other OG prospects, besides Zach Martin (going high probably), I am looking at Ryan Groy (Wisconsin) and, before getting injured, Spencer Long (Nebraska).
      Russell’s pretty high on Mason Walters (Texas) and I think he he has a good eye for players, who’d fit the Patriot way ;)

    • Russel Easterbrooks says:

      Yes Trent, Bill may look at an OT type player to move to OG. I think the Patriots thinking was to move Markus Zuesevis from OT to OG this Pre-season before he got hurt. There are some very good college players in the draft this year. I like OG Mason Walter (Texas) alot and OT Austin Wentworth, Zac Martin OT looks good also.
      The only thing I would say is I think Bill would like a player that started 30-34 games, giving them more experince. I think Bill feels the same way about the CB position, guys with 30+ starts at the college level.
      Who do you think the Patriots sould draft in the 1st round? I like LB Klye Van Noy.

      • trent says:

        Not a fan of drafting a LB at this point–otherwise what was the point of drafting Jamie Collins last year? A see NE re-signing Dane Fletcher for cheap and using Fletch and Collins to replace Spikes as the 3rd LB–I think Fletcher is underrated and would fill in nicely if Collins does not develop.

        If I were Bill, I would be targeting DT, OG or TE in the first round. I love Louis Nix III as a perfect replacement for Big Vince long-term, but his knee tendinitis scares me a little bit. His offseason surgery is probably going to cause him to fall quite a bit. I like the Penn State connection with Daquan Jones, too, not sure if he makes it into the first round though.

        Can’t go wrong with drafting any of the three top TE’s, Ebron/Amaro/ASJ, if available. OG might be something to wait on until the second round in my opinion, there is a lot of OL talent in this draft. But maybe Bill sees his next Logan Mankins and goes for him earlier than that. I think Scherff could be that guy.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Like your thinking Trent. Big questions are do the Patriots resign LB Spikes? and CB Talib? If BOTH are gone; then Bill drafts a CB 1st (Fuller) and a LB 2nd (Skov). My thoughts on a LB are; Bill does not have a guy who can stay with a RB/TE in the passing game. Van Noy, or C. Jones can fill that void,IF WE COULD GET THEM, and add a level of quickness in the zone. Van Noy is a 1st rounder, and C.Jones Early second. Danzel Perryman is interesting, but a Jr. Skov is a Spike’s like LB, not much in coverage, runs a 4.8+ 40yd.BUT VERY good in the run game and looks like an early 3d round pick.
          Not sure I care much for Nix, Hagerman, as I think Bill looks later in the draft for a DT/E type: Zac Kerr? Josh Mauro ?
          TE is an area of need , but not sure who will be available to the Patriots, Arthur Lynch maybe, (3d round) the best blocker in the class, and maybe underdevloped in the passing game. But I think the 3d round is were bill grabs an Olineman (Austin Wentworth) tho Scherff looks very good if available.
          4th round I think the Patriots grab QB Jeff Mathews

        • trent says:

          In my scenario, I have Talib on the books for $8M next season, and letting Spikes and either Wendell or Connolly go. Cap space is extremely tight in the next two years, but Talib is worth it IMO. From there, I see the Patriots main needs at TE/OG/DT.

          If Talib walks, to DC for example for a bigger payday, I get it. I understand that there is a good chance he doesn’t stay. But if he leaves, that $8M can be used on one or two of the other needs and then we can spend a first round pick on CB. Not a bad strategy because the CB depth towards the front of the draft is strong. I just think it will take our secondary back a step from where it is now, and I like where it is now.

          There are seven CB’s right now that look like solid choices IMO. Fuller is a good pick. I like aaron colvin also, out of Oklahoma. Curious to see where those two end up on draft boards come April.

        • Alex says:

          Keeping Talib for £8m would be great, but very unlikely to happen. He’s going to have a shot to get paid, and will probably be looking to be the 2nd highest paid CB, and for $11m or so. He may well take less to stay with the Pats, and on a contender, but not sure it would be that much less.

    • Russell Easterbrooks says:

      I agree Trent I think that Bill would move an OT to OG. The only thing I would say, is Bill likes guy’s with college experince at the Oline and CB positions. Maybe 30-36 games started. I don’t know much about Scherff, will need to check out his tape. Right now I like OG Mason Walters, OT Austin Wentworth, and OT Zac Martin. Another interesting guy to look at is OT/TE Bryce Quigley 6’5″ 300 who runs a 5.07 40yd.

  3. mjp says:

    What about the kid from Stanford, Trent Murphy, seems like a pretty disruptive player.

  4. Henry Carmen says:

    You missed on the best running back in the class, Marion Grice from ASU. And you missed on the best pass rusher besides JC in college football, Michael Sam. Both would look nice in a pats uniform, especially Michael Sam. Now i shall look into my crystal ball

    Big vince will hang up his cleats, That is of course before we move to the three-four with Chandler and Chris Jones at DE, Rashede Hageman at DT…Sure Aaron Donald will get his rookie snaps as well. Sam and Nink at OLB, Mayo and Donta on the inside. Then we have got Talib and Alfonzo on the outside, with Logan in the slot. Devin and Duron will be a good combo on the back end.

  5. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Nice article Matthew. I see maybe #3 Patriots on your list !
    OLB -Kyle Van Noy
    S/CB- Antone Exum
    OC – Bryan Stork
    Whats your thoughts on DE Stephon Tuitt, OLB Jordon Tripp and S Hakeem Smith?

    • Hi Russell. I like these players you have listed here but I must say I would still prefer Bill take a good young DT at the top of the Pat.s draft whether the first rd or a high 2nd from a trade down. I see two maybe three guys I like at this point that could be available to him. Anthony Johnson, LSU DaQuan Jones, Penn St and Timmy Jernigan, Fla St. What are your thoughts on these three? As per a LB the guy I Like is Christian Jones, Fla St. Nothing against Van Noy, just think Jones brings more. Stork would be a great pick for us.
      Lots of talent on that Fla St team this year and no, I’m not a special fan of that team, just happens.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Hay Steve, the more I look into the Patriots the less I see them taking a DT early. I have watched a ton of tape the last week and it’s still early but I like DT Zac Kerr 6’2″330 from a smaller school (Delaware) in say the 4th round. If you remember last year I liked Joe Vellano as a late draft pick.
        I feel the Patriots use two picks on he Oline this year, as Mankins is going into his 10th year, Connolly his 9th year, and Wendell will be a free agent. If Tom is to remain upright they need to shore-up the middle of the Oline. They seem to have plans for Markus Zusevics, (IR) and like OT Elvis Fisher (IR) OG Chris Baker and OG/C Josh Kline. I like OG/C Mason Walters , in say the 3d round, and OT/TE Bryce Quigley in the 7th.
        Lastly This is the year the Patriots take a QB some where in the draft, I like McCarrons, but don’t see the Pats getting him, maybe QB Jeff Mattews in the 6th round? Many folks have the Patriots taking OG Gabe Jackson 1st

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        This week My penciled in draft has changed from last week, some what
        1st- LB Kyle Van Noy
        2nd- CB/S Tre Boston
        3d- OG/C Mason Walters
        4th- DT Zac Kerr
        6th- RB Rajion Neal
        6th- QB Jeff Mattews
        7th- OT/TE Bryce Quigley

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        Sorry Steve I did not answer your question. I think DT Jonhnson will go middle of the 1st (Dallas?) and DT D. Jones before the Patriots pick. I don’t know much on Jernigan. Jones is a good ILB also gone middle of the 1st round, Shayne Skov is very good but runs a 4.7 40. Both of my Olineman in my mock run 4.98- 40yds at 324 lbs, and 310, Skov is 245 lbs.

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          I think the Patriots could take Christian Jones 1st, if Van Noy is gone. But I think Jones goes before Van Noy. Early to tell!

        • Very close to what I’m thinking too, though if one of the DT’s on my short list don’t slide down to our spot then pretty sure Bill trades down for that high 2nd and possably a 4th or something. I do agree we target inside O-line this year for just the reasons you say. Earlier you mentioned Stork, on of Mathews group of OC’s. I like all top 4 of his and see one in the late 2nd or 3rd. As for OG Walters, not sure or sold on him above 5th. I know you like him but watched him on TV last weekend and nothing jumped out at me. Have to view some tape. Be surprised if Bill goes OG in the 1st, but? Ahmad Dixion ss fits better then Tre Boston fs to Pat’s needs though I like Boston too. Best I can do this early:
          2a. Jace Amaro TE Tex Tech.
          2b. Travis Swanson OC Ark.
          3. Ahmad Dixion SS Baylor
          4a. Blake Bartles QB UCF
          4b. Will Sutton DT Arz St.
          After this things get to difficult to estimate. My best early guess.

      • acm says:

        I think Russel tends to over-expect/-anticipate BB’s tendency to go for a given player earlier than other teams are likely to … something I noticed last year too. Lots of value lost there with Walters in the 3rd and Kerr in 4th. Not saying these players aren’t on BB’s radar but they are hardly unique in their skillset and are likely to go a lot later than that. BB does have his own ways of looking at value but his occasional overdrafting a player here and there shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, I think.

        Regrading the two Joneses – the LB Christian and the DT Daqaun – I think they are both mid to late 2nd rounders, at this point. Honestly don’t see C. Jones going anywhere near the first round let alone mid 1st. That’s Mosley territory and Jones isn’t that caliber of player. IMO van Noy goes in late 1st, more likely early-ish 2nd – but I say a good 15-20 picks before C. Jones (using my crystal ball here :) ).

        LBs I think the Pats seriously consider – Smallwood, Skov (earlier rounds) and Carson (late in the draft). van Noy may go earlier than the Pats would be willing to go for a LB, imo, which is why I don’t have serious expectations about him.
        CBs I think they may seriously consider – Kyle Fuller, Darqueze Dennard, Ladarius Gunter and Brandon Dixon (late in the draft).

        Regarding Safety – I also think Ahmad Dixon over Boston … actually, not a fan of Tre Boston, tbh.

        Think any 1st and 2nd round picks would be spent on DTs (Hageman, D. Jones), TEs – Sever-Jenkins, Amaro (with Ebron likely long gone by then) – or OL-man (Zack Martin). On the OC, I agree with the article – those first 3-4 guys are pretty equal in skillset, so no need to go too early for an OC just to secure Swanson. Personally, I think Larsen or Stork would last till the 4th.

        Depending on how WR Harrison is coming along, I wouldn’t exclude going with WR Mike Evans in the 1st (if he is still there) or say WR Brandon Coleman (go Rutgers :) ) in 2-3 rounds. These are two big yet athletic WRs, who can serve a double purpose as athletic TEs too not unlike Jimmy Graham for the Saints. That way BB gets a big WR and an agile TE with a single pick.
        I had a similar guess of an idea last year with the Pats possibly going for Tyler Eifert in the first but never got to see it tested with the bengals getting him first.

        • YES! very good reasoning there acm. Hope your on the mark. What would really excite me is for Hageman to be Bill’s pick in the first though I just don’t see him lasting that far. I’d really like to get one of the top 3-4 OC’s a little early, case of over caution here, late 2nd just to sooth my nerves. If one of the Jones boys falls into our laps that would make me very happy also. Christian espically intrests me becaus of his excellent speed. Looks like a LB who can cover big TE’s or most backs. Thinking Bill could move Hightower to DE and still have a really strong LB contingent. (Always considered Hightower a naterial DE anyway). The DE position rotation would be always fresh giving offenses fits. I knoe both these scenarios can’t unfold but if even one did that would suit me.

        • acm says:

          One never knows what might happen by the time the draft rolls by, which is why I prefer to wait till after the combine but as you see it’s tough to resist :) .

          Regarding C. Jones, I like the player – even mocked him as the 2nd round pick in an earlier article here, for kicks – but have two issues with the Pats going for him:

          1) In my estimation he is not worth a late 1st rounder but at the same time won’t be around for the late 2nd round pick either. Even with trading back and picking up an early-to-mid 2nd rounder, I think that pick would be better spent on a DL than a LB like C. Jones.

          2) he is not your typical 3-down backer either, which is what the Pats badly need, imo … so badly that I see that shortcoming as a main reason to why I don’t see them win the SB till they fix this (along with the SAF position).

          Anyways, C. Jones is more of a 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 OLB, imo (and it’s the latter the Pats need). Sure, he could stay with the TE but a 3-down backer isn’t good for just that but also instrumental in running edge-to-edge and staying with RBs on check-downs/dump-off plays … and I am not that sure C. Jones is well suited for that role. So, I see drafting him as overloading the LB core with yet another LB that isn’t a 3-down player (like Hightower and Spikes – they have their positives but aren’t universal LBs).
          I agree with you on Hightower to an extent although I think he would be great as a plug-in for the Spikes-role on the team but not play alongside Spikes as they have similar skillsets and do not complement each other but rather emphasize each other’s shortcomings even more.

          Last year’s draft class was loaded with 3-down backers – 3 I liked were Brown, Alonso and Moore. All 3 are likely to have excellent NFL careers. The Pats got neither and went instead with Collins, who was a good pick but is being unfortunately used in the wrong position, imo. The guy is an OLB/Speed-rusher not the second coming of Mayo.

          This year, apart from the Mosleys and van Noys and Sheziers and what nots likely to go early in the draft, I see only Smallwood (UConn) as the closest thing to a sure-thing as a 3-down NFL backer, although I am not as high on him as on those guys from the 2013 draft above. Skov and Carson are also interesting options but not without their shortcomings to become full-fledged 3-down backers at the NFL level.

          Just my 2 cents anyway.

          P.S. Was so hoping the Pats could use the desperation of the Bucs and master out a trade for Lavonte David. Oh, well, a guy can dream :)

        • Russell Easterbrooks says:

          Great comment guy’s, and I think I do tend to look at players that fit the Patriots system, and draft them as wanted, not as projected, to a point. I feel Bill looks at it this way as well, to a point.
          I think tradeing the Patriots first choice, gives the Team better value inthe draft, tho I’m feeling it won’t happen this year, and the Patriots take a franchise type player. Last year I felt the Patriots should have drafted OG/T Brain Winters for the future of the Oline. Winter’s was listed as a 3-4 pick last year. The Jets took him in the 2d, before the Patriots choices and he’s a starter for them. I also liked Barrett Jones OG/C who now plays for the Rams.
          This year I like OG/C from Texas Mason Walters, and/or Fresno OT/G Austin Wentworth, both 3d rounders, imo.
          I also feel very strong the Patriots take a QB somewhere in the draft, I like McCarron but don’t believe the Patriots can get him. Maybe QB Jeff Matthews 6th ?
          I think a CB/S maybe the 1st pick this year, last I had a LB (Sio Moore), tho Bill would rather draft a LB I think. (Van Noy) Many mocks have Bill taking Gabe Jackson OG with the 1st pick, not sure about that tho.
          My Mock draft is still early, But I also like CB/S Antone Exum, maybe better than Boston, BUT not a 1st pick.
          Interesting thoughts guys, value your opinions.

        • Russell and acm both of you guys make great points. This looks to be a tough draft class for the Pat’s if the current trends of the mocks hold up. Appears deep in O-line, good, but a big drop off on the DT’s after the top 3 guys, imo. Plenty of LB’s but as acm points out with C. Jones not necessarly what the Pats need. The CB’s look fairly deep but saftys a little low and SS very few. Bill may be forced to take another TE or WR not for need but for value alone. Also seen a couple mocks giving us a RB early. As for QB that depends on if Mallett is traded or resigned. We have seen so little of him it’s impossable for fans to get any sense of his potential. The combine will be critical more then ever to get a handel on things. Still fun to talk about it.

        • acm says:

          Another player I can see as a good option for a 3-down backer is Denzel Perryman (Miami), if he declares for the draft, that is.
          He is smaller/more compact and more explosive of a LB than Smallwood.

        • Hey acm you spotted a good one in Denzel Perryman. Been watching his highlights and love the way he tackles. Hits and wraps-up plus takes good angles in pursuit. He would be a great fit for us. Teddy B. wasn’t all that tall either.






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