2013 Patriots Mid-season Draft and Rookie Review

Undrafted Free Agents

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati

Midseason Review: Thompkins has exceeded all expectations for an UDFA. Coming off a strange college career and being thrust  into one of the most complex passing systems in the NFL, Thompkins started off the summer with a bang, immediately becoming the talk of camp and probably creating unrealistic expectations.

Thompkins made a big impact the first half of the season scoring two big TDs vs. the Buccaneers and catching the game winning touchdown in the last seconds against the Saints. Thompkins’ momentum has started to evaporate as his skills have plateaued a little bit. He’s lost his starting job to Aaron Dobson and recently was made inactive against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There’s no doubt he’s had great moments, but it’s tough to overlook his mistakes. He’s dropped a ton of catchable balls, runs sloppy routes, and gets out-muscled at the top of his route/catch point. His habit of leaving his feet and diving unnecessarily makes for awkward timing between himself and Tom Brady. How he bounces back in the second half will likely determine how we remember his rookie season.

Long Term Impact: There is no denying that Thompkins has NFL ability, but I don’t think he’s the type of player many expected coming out of training camp. In my opinion, Thompkins has the ceiling of a #4 receiver in the NFL and provides nice depth this season. It’s not out of the question that the Patriots will look to upgrade this position further in the off-season and Thompkins could find himself in a battle for a roster spot next summer.

Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech

Midseason Review: Allen outperformed incumbent Zoltan Mesko during training camp and earned himself a 53 man roster spot. He’s proven that his training camp performance was no fluke. Through 10 weeks Allen ranks 8th in the NFL in punting average (46.4). While there have been a few poor punts mixed in, all the results suggest he is one of the better young punters in the NFL.

Long Term Impact: Allen’s performance so far suggests that he could be the Patriots punter for a long time to come. I don’t think there is any doubt that the right decision was made on cut-down day. Allen has an incredible leg and once he learns some of the finer points of NFL punting, he will be even better.

Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland

Midseason Review: The Patriots would be absolutely lost on the defensive line without Joe Vellano and fellow rookie Chris Jones. Vellano wasn’t even given a signing bonus to sign with the Patriots and entered training camp as a long shot to even make the practice squad. Safe to say he has outperformed all expectations. Vellano wins with effort, strength and hustle, just like he did at Maryland. He’s a tackling machine for a defensive tackle and a real playmaker.

He always finds a way to the football, even if sometimes it’s too far downfield. He finds ways to get off blocks and chase the ball, but can penetrate and get into the backfield as well. Vellano’s performance thus far has turned heads around the league and has GMs wondering why they didn’t take a chance on him. Without a doubt one of the best rookies on the team, logging major snaps, at a position of need.

Long Term Impact: Vellano’s ceiling is a bit limited due to his lack of athleticism, but he refuses to be outworked. He is the epitome of a blue collar football player and leaves it all out on the field. He has the type of character and work ethic to keep him around Foxboro for a long time. While Vellano is playing starter minutes right now, he’s probably best suited for a rotational role when everyone’s healthy. He’s a keeper.

Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green (Drafted in 6th Round by Houston Texans)

Midseason Review: Potentially the steal of the off-season. Jones was not only released by the Houston Texans, the team that drafted him, he was released by the Buccaneers a week after claiming him off waivers. Jones has proven to be an integral member of the defense and provides some much needed pass rush from the interior. Through week 10 he leads all rookies in sacks with 5.0 and that total could have been higher. Jones combines with Joe Vellano to form an unheralded DT tandem that has literally held the Patriots defense together at a time of need. The impact he’s made with no training camp, off-season, and only 2 weeks to learn the system is remarkable.

Long Term Impact: Because of his ability to rush the passer Chris Jones has even more long term potential than Joe Vellano. He’s been a perfect fit on the Patriots defensive line, showing versatility to move around and play major snaps without much knowledge of the system. Similar to Joe Vellano with his ability to make plays behind and at the line of scrimmage. The way he handled the “FG push” after the Jets game showed the class and mental toughness in a very tough spot for a rookie. I foresee Chris Jones staying in New England for quite sometime and being a key contributor for years to come. Needs to get better at the point of attack and needs fight off blocks quicker. He can get overwhelmed and driven out of the hole. Not great against the double team. At this point in the season he has to be considered the steal of the Patriots draft/UDFA class.

Other Rookies

Chris Barker, Josh Kline, Kanorris Davis, AJ Francis:

None of these players impact the team enough to properly evaluate their current and future value accurately.

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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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