2013 Patriots Mid-season Draft and Rookie Review

Brady Dobson

Aaron Dobson and Tom Brady are starting to develop some rapport. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

It’s hard to believe that the 2013 NFL season is more than half-way over. The playoff picture is taking shape and teams are looking forward towards the 2014 NFL Draft. In terms of the 2013 rookie class it’s still early in their careers, but that hasn’t stopped fans from labeling players “busts” or “steals”.

With the Patriots coming off their bye week, it is the perfect time to review the Patriots 2013 NFL Draft class, evaluate how the rookies have performed to date, and look ahead to what each player could bring in future seasons.

1st Round: The Patriots traded their first round selection #29 overall for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th round pick. At the time a lot of Patriot fans were unhappy that they passed on the opportunity to select Tennesse WR Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson has been one of the best kickoff returners in the NFL as a rookie, but hasn’t done much as a receiver.

When it was all said and done, the Patriots turned the 29th pick into Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Josh Boyce and essentially Michael Buchanan (they traded the Minnesota 7th round pick for LeGarrette Blount, but the extra pick allowed them to pick Buchanan). Only time will tell for sure how the trade works out, but I like the early returns.

2nd Round (52): Jamie Collins, LB, Southern Mississippi

Draft Day Analysis: Collins was considered one of the best defensive athletes in the draft, but was very raw as a football player. There were questions about what position he could play in the NFL, but most assumed his best fit was as a pass rusher. Collins draft stock was rather fluid and most draft expects expected him to be drafted between the late 2nd round and the end of the 3rd round.

Midseason Review: To this point, Collins hasn’t made much of an impact on the defense. The Patriots drafted him and decided to make him a full-time linebacker, meaning Collins has had to learn a new position with a lot of responsibilities. Collins’ athleticism has flashed in coverage, most notably in the final minutes of the Falcons game, but he has played only 94 defensive snaps to this point. He has looked over-matched trying to set the edge in the run game and is still learning the coverage schemes.

Collins’ biggest contributions have come on special teams, playing on the majority of the units and was recognized by PFF as one of the better special teams LB this season.

Long Term Impact: Like many early Patriot draft selections, this pick was made with next season in mind. Brandon Spikes becomes an unrestricted free agent and there is a good chance he will not return to Foxboro. The Patriots needed to get better pass coverage from their linebackers and the only way to do that was to get faster and more athletic. In 2014 Brandon Spikes leaves and Jamie Collins becomes a full-time starter at one of the LB spots. While his impact this year will be limited, his long term potential is among the highest in this draft class.

2nd Round (59): Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall

Draft Day Analysis: Everyone knew the Patriots were going to select a wide receiver and they decided to tab Aaron Dobson first. Dobson was projected to go around this area of the draft and was considered one of the best “X” receiver prospects in the draft. Dobson was hailed for his solid hands, ball skills, ability to make tough catches. He was coming off a pro day in which he ran a sub 4.4 forty and turned heads with his size/speed combination.

Midseason Review: Dobson started off a bit slow in minicamp and early in the summer, allowing UDFA Kenbrell Thompkins to beat him out for a starting job. As the season has gone on Dobson has not only caught Thompkins, he’s passed him on the depth chart, and I don’t see him turning back. Dobson is turning into a significant contributor on offense.

Each week he’s becoming more comfortable in the system, is making better route adjustments, and is getting open with increasing ease. Tom Brady has started to go to Dobson more on 3rd down and now trusts him in big situations. The back shoulder throw last week vs. Pittsburgh was a thing of beauty and something we haven’t seen around here in a long time. Dobson is becoming the “vertical threat” that this passing attack has severely lacked the past three seasons. Dobson still drops too many catchable passes, but based on the develop and impact so far, he looks like one of the best WR ever drafted by Bill Belichick.

Long Term Impact: If Dobson continues on his development curve there is no doubt he can become the Patriots #1 WR of the future. This off-season will be huge for Dobson, as it will allow him to work on his hands, further integrate himself into the passing game, and build a better rapport with Tom Brady. It’s still early, but this one looks like a cornerstone player of the future.

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10 Responses to “2013 Patriots Mid-season Draft and Rookie Review”

  1. Barry says:

    This article is spot on. BB has an abysmal drafting record in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Not just last year but really since 2006. Anyone forget that Ras-I Dowling was the 33rd player taken in 2011. BB throws caution to the wind and dumps high draft picks like they are loaded with arsenic. You want to really get sick? Take a look at who the Pats passed up to take stiffs like Dowling, Wilson and Harmon. Go back even further and you will find that they chose Shawn Crable over Navarro Bowman! To be sure BB has excelled in 1st round picks in the past five years and in the late rounds and with UFA. There is absolutely no justification for the Dowling, Wilson and Harmon picks other than BB’s unquenchable thirst to always be the “smartest guy in the room”

  2. Jackbenimble999 says:

    I still remain frustrated by the Wilson pick. Since the Pats had a lot of high picks that year, I was following the draft fairly closely. When Wilson was selected, the fact that I hadn’t even heard of him told me that this player could’ve been had much later. Not *all* the draftniks are idiots, Bill. It was later claimed that he visited a few teams, but who cares? They could’ve gotten him as 7th or a free agent. Pretty much the same can be said for Harmon, but at least he’s showing signs of being a reasonable player.

    I’m pretty concerned about Collins. Certainly, I would take Spikes over him – he can stuff the run like anything. Fletcher is beating out Collins for the coverage LB role if I’m understanding the situation correctly, and that doesn’t bode well, although I do like Fletcher a lot.

    Otoh, you have to love how Dobson is progressing. It was cool that when he broke free for the long TD catch against Pittburgh, that when he turned back for the ball, he looked *up*, not back at Brady. He knew that if the ball was coming his way, Brady would already have thrown it. That’s a sure sign he’s getting on the same wavelength as Brady.

    Btw, did anyone see there was recently an article on coldhardfootballfacts.com called “Wes Welker: The Biggest Impact Pass Catcher in NFL History”. Now that BB’s not busting his balls, he’s not dropping passes any more either, I suppose. I think it was Manning, but maybe Brady, who said he (Welker) thinks like a quarterback. Why would you let a guy like that go? He gave the Pats a chance to resign him, too, even after the Broncos mad their offer – they could’ve had both him and Amendola, why not. Anyway, I just had to vent about that.

  3. prioris says:

    Thompson seems to have been under more pressure by the opposing teams being doubled covered at times. As games went on, the switched that pressure to Edelson. Thompson has shown that he can be a play maker also. He has done a decent job. There is talent ahead of him.

  4. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    The intangables, are always a part of Bill’s drafting a player. I know Bill went to the Maryland Campus and sat down and watched tape, and talked with Joe Vellano, yet Bill did not draft him? He grabbed him as a free agent, but why not pick him in the 7th round?
    Nate Ebner had great intangables, but had limited time in the Ohio State Football program, yet he was drafted 5th or 6th I believe. Surely he would have been available as a free agent.
    Travon Wilson was a 2nd round pick, after TWO great 1st round picks. There must have been MANY players on the Patriots draft board, by only the second round, so this one is the hardeast to understand.
    Not all of your drafted players work out, thats for sure, and I know Bill puts alot of stock in a players intangables, and I agree to a point, your team is a family group, but there are other opitions. I don;t see, Beauharnais,(7th) Travon Wilson, (2nd) or Bequette (4th) being on next years 53 man roster.
    Look at the quality of undrafted guys on IR from last year; OT Elvis Fisher, DT Cory Grisson, WR Mark Harrison, WR T.J. Moe. Then there is the P-squad; S Kanorris Davis, OG Josh Kline, C Braxston Cave, DT A.J.Francis, and CB Justin Green. Thats a good group of Talent, and not everbody can be drafted, yet, EVERY team in the NFL has some UDFA talent on thier team.
    I think every draft pick is valued in differant ways by differant teams, and some scouts see more or less in prospects than others. There have been many busts in the NFL draft in past years, and there have been some great players picked, so its not a science for sure.

  5. steve earle says:

    Really good article with realistic brakedowns on each player. The bust of the rookie class was TE Sudfield. In camp he looked like Gronk jr but when the regular season began he fell off the face of football. What the heck happened?

  6. tonn says:

    seriously, stop rationalising the harmon pick. just like t.wilson a year back, the pick cannot be considered anything other than stupid seeing what other players were available at that junction. the hoodie thought he saw something that others didn`t and took a flyer on some no-name player. how has that worked out so far? it didn`t. two consecutive top 100 picks for backup safeties? no thanks.

    • Henry Carmen says:

      I dont know about you, but I would rather have Harmon back there over Wilson. And in this injury situation, It would have been Tavon Wilson who got the call. And that means Nate Ebner is a step closer to being anything other than a special teams player. Makes me gag thinking about it. Was not a great pick, but besides that 1 3rd and 30 play he has done everything you could expect. You never know how a player is gonna develop in a certain teams system, so looking back at the draft and wishing we took certain players is a dangerous practice. If Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Browns, and didn’t get the coaching and time develop that he got in Green Bay, do you think he would be the same Rodgers we see today?

      • tonn says:

        i see your point, but we`re talking odds here. yes the odds that rodgers would have stunk it up would have been higher in cleveland, but you gotta figure talent and work ethic would afford a player good odds to play at a pretty high level, no matter where they play.

        back to the pats. i never said that wilson and harmon suck beyond words. they played acceptably when called upon, but i was refering to the fact that NE missed out on some good players by picking them, especially picking so soon in the draft. when i`m thinking top 100 pick, i`m thinking impact – and let`s face it, those two haven`t made big waves yet. they will be given every chance to do so and i pray they do, but in light of the fact that players drafted later in the same class as them have already begun paying dividends to their respective teams, it`s kinda hard to say the picks were judiciously used. but…you know..hindsight, 20/20, yadda yadda..

        • @itstrevorbaby says:

          I understand the frustrating. I feel it too especially with Tavon Wilson.

          However, I have read reports that the Patriots tried to trade some of those picks where they took Wilson and Harmon but no one was biting. I think someone better then Wilson could have been picked in the 2nd but that’s the draft.

          Belichick continues to put this team in very good position to succeed and win it all. I just hope in 2014 he drafts 1 of the top 3 DTs (Hageman, Nix III, or that other guy lol).

  7. @itstrevorbaby says:

    Good stuff, Mike. Always providing excellent analysis and insight on the Patriots.

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