2014 TE Prospects: Analyzing Athleticism

Eric Ebron is the consensus #1 TE prospect, but he’s joined by a few others in the discussion for the “Best Athlete” at the position (Photo: US Presswire)

By Marc Sluis, Staff Writer

The tight end position has endured a paradigm shift in recent years evolving from an athletically limited, run blocking specialist to a hybrid receiver with the separation skills of a wide out and the size of a tight end. With Rob Gronkowski being unreliable in terms of staying healthy the Pats could very well decide to supplement his elite skill set with someone who would complement as well as fill in for the man we call Gronk.

The NFL Scouting Combine developed as a central location for evaluators to convene and, well, evaluate future NFL talent. There are multiple drills, tests, medical checks and grueling interviews designed to analyze everything about a prospect and whether or not he’s worth the million dollar investment.

Ask those in the know and they’ll tell you the medical checks are the most crucial. Just take how Cyrus Kouandjio’s stock has taken such a bit hit after several team doctors failed his medical check (complications from a knee surgery). That being said most of us aren’t doctors and most of us would rather watch prospects run and jump as its much more entertaining. Unless of course you’re a House junkie I guess.

But how exactly do we judge a prospect’s potential based on the information we gather at the combine? To be honest a lot of what’s televised and reported is for show. I mean does an offensive lineman ever run 40 yards in a straight line? However, it does give you a picture of his overall athleticism, movement skills and coordination. In fact the combine is built to do just that: gauge athleticism. There is a clear distinction between athleticism and skill. Skill refers to the acquired or learned abilities you can actively practice, improve and eventually master. An example of a football skill would be for a running back to carry the ball high and tight, an offensive lineman to execute a proper cut block or for a quarterback to master a seven step drop. All those skills are vital to being successful at the NFL level, but to be elite it requires talent.

Talent is the inherent raw ability to jump higher and run faster than the competition. Although yes its possible to “learn” to run faster through technique and practice, but everyone is limited by their genes. And you certainly can’t learn to be taller. So, let’s focus on the main aspect the combine helps to evaluate. Talent. Every position needs a different type of athleticism. Height is great, especially for receivers who need to attack the ball at its highest point, but interior offensive linemen lose leverage at anything over 6’5 or so.

The following is my attempt at being creative. I took the most athletic prospects at each position and used the intensity of the color green to map each prospects level of talent at each attribute or measurement. The darker the green the better or more elite a prospect is in terms of that particular trait. Height and weight are listed first and then what I consider to be the most important trait next. Notice how the 40 is one of the last indicator for the offensive line.

The list is predominantly based on pure measureables and combine results with what is seen on tape as a lesser component. It tries to find not the best overall athlete but who has the best set of physical traits to play the tight end position.

 

PlayerHtWtALHS4020 YSHBroad JVert3 ConeBench
Colt Lyerla603724232 ¾10 ¼4.61DNP10.739DNP15
AC Leonard6023252339 ¼4.5DNP10.734DNP20
Troy Niklas606427034 1/810DNP7.579.5324.5527
Eric Ebron604325033 ¼104.6DNP1032DNP24
Marcel Jenson605625934 7/89 7/84.857.389.6354.624
Jace Amaro60532653494.747.429.8334.328
CJ Fiedorowicz60542653310 ¼4.767.19.731.54.2625
 
 
 
Colt Lyerla, Oregon
Size: B
Explosiveness: A+
Speed: A
Agility: B+
Overall: A
 
Lyerla has clear first round talent, but sever off field red flags that will push his stock to the mid to late round range. Some teams will even take him off their boards completely. My opinion matters little but I’d be awfully cautious with someone who is a threat to be taken off the field not for his play but decision making between games. Athletically speaking he’s special and a prototype “F” tight end who acts as a gloried wide receiver split outside, in the slot and even in the backfield.
 
His vertical and broad jumps demonstrate the lower body explosion to get up for the ball in the red zone, but its his speed and toughness that make him a weapon in the middle of the field. While not the strongest at the position (his 15 reps will scare teams) he is tough to bring down after the catch and has the speed to run away from linebackers and even safeties.
 
AC Leonard, Tennessee St.
Size: B-
Explosiveness: A-
Speed: A+
Agility: B
Overall: A-
 
The other talented tight end prospect with major character issues doesn’t get the buzz Lyerla does but the situations are relatively similar. Leonard was booted off the Florida Gators (officially a mutual decision) and received a second chance in the form of Ohio Valley Conference football.
 
At that level he looked out of place at times using great speed, long arms and the skill set of a receiver to overmatch defenders. Leonard was never considered a prospect the caliber of Lyerla but does offer a hybrid receiver option to teams willing to overlook or come to terms with what he reportedly did to his girlfriend.
 
 
Troy Niklas, Notre Dame
Size: A+
Explosiveness: B
Speed: B
Agility: B
Overall: A-
 
On paper Niklas is the ideal tight end prospect. 6’6 270 lb with big hands, long arms and a well proportioned frame are what you’d use to create the ultimate tight end in Madden. On the field he’s not too shabby either if untested. He’s widely considered the best blocking prospect along with CJ Fiedorowicz but offers far greater potential than CJF both as a blocker but more so as a pass catcher. He looked natural running routes but there isn’t the body of work as a receiver that’d you would see with guys like Ebron, Amaro or even Seferian-Jenkins.
 
Finding a true two way tight end is something so difficult most teams give up and keep two distinctly different players on the roster. One to primarily block and anther to be a pass catcher. Then again, you can take a dual threat like Gronk and pair him with just about anyone to create a dynamic duo. The fact that the Pats have such a rare commodity would suggest a speedier, hybrid type would fit better next to Gronk. However, Gronkowski has struggled to stay healthy and adding a tremendous blocking prospect who can also get open and abuse defenders in the red zone to play WITH Gronk would be tough to pass up.
 
 
Eric Ebron, North Carolina
Size: B+
Explosiveness: A-
Speed: A
Agility: A-
Overall: A-
 
Ebron is hardly a tight end, although nowadays that hardly matters and can even be a complement. The Tar Heel actually has some decent functional strength and might have more upside as a blocker than some people think. His top ten overall status is build entirely on his athletic ability and prowess as a pass catcher.
 
He might be undersized as a tight end but split out wide his 6’4 250 lb body will be a flagrant mismatch against any corner or safety and his 4.60 speed will be no match for linebackers. That skill set would seem to complement the Pats current cast on offense but there is no chance he’s a Patriots unless a deal is done. His vertical was much less impressive than expected but he shows much better explosion and leaping ability on tape and that is a much more important piece of data.
 
 
Marcel Jenson, Fresno St.
Size: A+
Explosiveness: B+
Speed: B-
Agility: B
Overall: B+
 
A tight end is a mismatch either because of his size or athleticism. Jenson is the prior but does show some sleeper athletic ability with a 35 inch vertical. Height and arm length are certainly elite for the former Fresno St. Bulldog and his big hands (a tad less than 10”) unite to build a red zone monster in the making.
 
In Tim DeRuyter’s quick spread attack Jenson had very little opportunity to be the possession style receiver teams that draft him will mold him into. As evidenced by his average 20 yard shuttle and 3 cone drill results he is not the quickest or fastest guy in a straight line or changing directions smoothly. But he does have some linear explosion and gives his quarterback plenty of room for error as his catch radius is as high as anyone.
 
 
Jace Amaro, Texas A&M
Size: B+
Explosiveness: B+
Speed: B+
Agility: B
Overall: B+
 
Amaro is a better player than he showed in Indy and by all accounts he improved upon his results at his Pro Day. I do like that he measured the at the same size as Fiedorowicz when Amaro’s size was not considered a plus.
 
He also confirmed his lanky frame you see on tape with 34 inch arms but his 9” hands are a red flag. Teams will surely question whether or not he’ll be able to squeeze the ball when contested but his game is more of a receiver running in space and exploiting any team foolish enough to match up a linebacker on him. His agility results were average but tape tells a different story. I’ve mocked Amaro to New England a few times, but that is not a pick I’d chose again.
 
 
CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa
Size: B+
Explosiveness: B
Speed: B
Agility: B+
Overall: B
 
CJ Fiedorowicz is not known for his athleticism so his combine results were a little surprising. CFJ is known for his run blocking and would allow teams to employ an almost extinct species: the in-line blocking tight end. Not that he’ll ever be a major receiving threat but he has big strong hands and underrated foot quickness and agility. 

Tags: 2014 TE prospects, AC Leonard, Colt Lyerla, Eric Ebron, Marcel Jenson

67 Responses to “2014 TE Prospects: Analyzing Athleticism”

  1. Victor Kiams ghost says:

    I think Kelvin Benjamin would be a possibility for the first round pick (if they don’t trade out). He would become the move tightend to replace prisoner 85550329. A much larger version probably a better blocker and would be the toughest matchup for opposing defenses. Bill loves versatility in his players. If he is gone then another large body like Brandon Coleman would be a possibility in a later round. Very similar to Benjamin with a lot similar measurables as far as speed and strength…plus he’s from Rutgers and we can’t pass up on that connection. Would love to see the Pats draft Xavier Sua-Filo(spelling?) to help the interior o-line. Then our next pick would be an athletic Lb. A later round Dt/De maybe Ben Gardener out of Stanford. Then a Safety and later a Rb and lastly a development project Qb……who knows what Bill will do but hey I can speculate just like anyone else.

  2. Christian says:

    I think ASJ hands down has the most potential of the big four. He’s got the size to be a good blocker and strength to be a very good blocker, he’s way faster than Troy Niklas who runs about a 4.8. In fact his 4.6 speed is comparable to Gronk’s. Also his hands are the best of the TE group hands down. Now I would not spend a 1st round pick on him, but 2nd round if he’s there I wouldn’t complain if we got him. My favorite TE though is Niklas, but he is still very raw which concerns me. It’s both a good thing and a bad thing.

    He still has a ton of room to grow as a receiver and probably will get better, but my question is how much better? He struggled to make contested catches over the middle, will he fix that in the pros or will it plague him throughout his career. Will he only just marginally improve at the next level as a receiver or will he top out his potential? Will he have trouble getting open his marginal speed?

    Those are a lot of question you have to ask before you spend a 2nd rounder on him. So ASJ is probably the more sure prospect at TE than Niklas. I still like Niklas for his potential as a receiver and his already developed blocking skills, but again it’s hard to take a guy just off potential over the guy who’s the more finished product, and probably has a higher ceiling.

    • Thank you Christian, you made the point about Niklas that I have been unable to get across. Yes potential but how much? Again fans have fallen in love with potential rather then production.

  3. Pete H. says:

    If Bill really likes Louis Nix, might it make sense for him to release Wilfork before the draft? That might allow some NT-needy team to grab Wilfork, reducing the attractiveness of Nix and increasing the chances of him falling. Would this have any impact on the decision-making, or would the signing of Wilfork not affect a team’s desire to draft Nix?

    • trent says:

      This seems very unlikely Pete, for a couple reasons:

      (1) BB already knows that he will need to find a long-term replacement for Vince soon (not necessarily this year) regardless of whether or not Vince stays on the team.

      (2) BB is very much about NOT revealing information about what the team might do in the draft. Releasing Vince lets every other know that if they also like Nix, they likely have to jump ahead of the Patriots pick to get him. BB does not want other teams to know that.

      (3) There is no guarantee Vince goes to another team in need of a NT that is picking ahead of NE. For example, you could be suggesting that SD, a team with an obvious need at NT, signs Vince upon being released, and thus don’t need a NT. Well what if someone like HOU signs Vince? So now BB is eyeing Nix and SD still ends up picking him ahead of NE. Now what? Well, BB doesn’t like putting himself in that situation either. Therefore releasing a player ahead of time while looking forward to picking someone in the draft is a strategy that contains lots of uncertainty (aka risk). BB understands that, so this wouldn’t seem to be a strategy he would target.

      That being said, Vince may very well be released before the draft, and that’s the way it goes. So point (2) may be an unavoidable side-effect of the release. But Vince’s release won’t happen simply because BB is targeting someone in the draft.

      • Pete H. says:

        Thanks for the feedback. I’m with you that this wouldn’t be the only reason to release Wilfork; rather, I’m suggesting that if Wilfork will be released anyways, instead of waiting to do it to dry up his market and perhaps push his pricetag down, might the Patriots be better served by letting him go now and potentially benefiting in the draft? No guarantee – San Diego could sign Wilfork and draft Nix, for example, but even if Nix is taken, there are other DTs to grab and a number of fallback options already on the roster. Nix is probably the best option to duplicate Wilfork’s skillset, but they don’t necessarily need a prototypical nose tackle to run the 4-3 – they probably want someone to hold up against the run, but they can always plug in Siliga if they need that body type in a particular situation. In other words, even if they don’t get Nix, they could release Wilfork, so it’s not necessarily increasing risk to release him ahead of time.

        • qwerty says:

          Wilfork staying. 3M guaranteed. 8M for year.

          Loise Nix injury makes him too high risk to draft except later rounds.

  4. Ryan says:

    Something to take note of is the fact that Belicheck has been pursuing WRs in Free Agency but for TEs he has only resigned Hoomanawanui. This makes me think that he intends to use a single-TE offense next year, as I believe he would’ve added some veteran depth if he wanted more. So, I think that it is very unlikely that we see Belicheck go after one of the consensus top-4 TEs. I could see a pick coming later, perhaps in the fourth round or after consisting of someone like Lyerla, Leonard, Fiedorowicz or Joe Don Duncan, but I think that with the stable of WRs he is assembling they will be using more wideouts than tight ends in the passing game next year.

    • Pete H. says:

      Right on Ryan. If a TE falls to him, he’ll snatch him up, and I could see him taking a flyer on a guy like Dustin Keller, but Bill doesn’t seem to be going into this season counting on 2 TE sets to be the primary offensive set. If he thought he needed that, he probably would have gone after Scott Chandler instead of Brandon LaFell.

    • Funny I think it reflects just the oppisit. He cleared the table of the run of the mill TE’s and plans to restock and upgrade. Have to wait to see who’s right. Exciting isn’t it!!

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        I was thinking the same thing as Steve. Conflating the value of Scott Chandler, who was probably valued higher in the free agency period of this season due largely to the dearth of available TE talent, to the skill set ASJ or Niklas will likely walk into the league with will lead to just such an erroneous assumption.

        And who besides LaFell ( a consensus #3 receiver) have we added to our team? Did we get Desean Jackson and I missed it? I hope you are right about Bill grabbing Lyerla in the later rounds. i hope that you are quite wrong about him sleeping on the TE’s with high upside that likely will fall to us in the second round.

        • Ryan says:

          I don’t think that those high-upside TEs will fall to us I’m the 2nd as there are a number of teams without TEs drafting a bit before us. I think we would need an earlier 2nd to grab ASJ or maybe even Niklas. I just see them flying off the board and I see Belicheck refusing to sacrifice the rest of the draft for these guys, which I understand because they all have questions.

        • Pete H. says:

          Again, certainly possible a good TE falls to the Pats, but consider last season – the position Bill really needed to draft was WR. He grabbed one in the second round, but Dobson was considered at the time more of a reach than someone who fell. Dobson was okay in his rookie season and is a guy I’d expect to grow into a solid starter, but betting on rookies, besides perhaps ones that have clear cut first round starting ability (these guys are usually gone after the first 20 picks or so), to make big impacts in their first seasons usually is unrealistic. If Bill is putting himself in a situation where he HAS TO HAVE one of the top 4 tight ends, he will HAVE TO overdraft them in order to be sure he gets them. Again, if one falls to a reasonable level of availability, I don’t think Bill will not draft them because he was planning for more 1 TE sets, but based on the current team construction, with 4 receivers (I’d put Edelman, Amendola, LaFell, and Dobson in this category) that are legitiamate starting caliber wideouts (even if none is a #1) with only 1 starting caliber tight end (I’d consider Hooman a backup player), Bill has so far built a roster that will be strongest in 3-WR sets. Counting on a player who falls to the end of the second round to be a primary starter on offense is pretty risky, so I don’t think Bill is counting on it to happen. Recall that even Gronk and Hernandez were not full time players in their rookie seasons, even if they were productive, and both were big-time overachievers. Looking at this draft, I just don’t see it.

        • This is a great exchange of ideas, the major reason I go to this site, thanks all. How the draft unfolds is always a question until it happens. I’ve been saying right along that I believe Bill will trade out of the 1st ( his history is a strong indecator) because the draft is so deep. Next year will be a poor draft so it’s stock up time for Bill. Expect a 2nd and 3rd for#29.
          Yes to Ryan one of the top 4 TE’s will require a high 2nd. (All scenarios are if’s and maybes) but this is my best guess. so my quick 4 rd mock:

          2a TE ASj, Amaro, Niklas
          2b OC Swanson, Richberg
          3a Def front DaQuan Jonec DT, Christian Jones ILB/OLB
          3b SS Loston, Dixon
          4 DE pick your favorite, will still be a bunch pass rush spec.

      • Ryan says:

        Yes, I suppose it could go either way. He does have three tight ends still on the roster but the offense is in need of a weapon so tight end will always be in play for that reason. I just feel like Belicheck has already made up his mind at this position, and I’m guessing that he is going to believe in Gronk for one more year.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          After three consecutive deep post season runs ended with Gronk either on the sideline, playing hurt and at half speed or altogether inactive, I find the prospect of trusting in Gronk rather scary indeed.

      • @ Ryan, You could be right about the TE’s flying off the board, or it could be the DT/DE’s or even the CB’s who knows? Not me, and guessing not you either. So what are the teams looking for a top TE? 1) Atlanta– Most critical need is OT or DE 2) Tampa Bay — Most critical needs are DE or OT 3) Green Bay — also need CB and LB 4) NE Patriots.
        If all three of the listed take a TE we still have one of top 4 on the board when we pick. Can we say that about DT or DE? We don’t need a top OT or a CB. I don’t think it likely all three of those other teams will take a TE therefore it is likely more then just one of the top 4 will be around and if the number goes up to 3 that increases the chances one at least will be available in mid/high 2nd if BB trades down. Just a mater of percentages and Bill likes to play the percentages.

  5. yoab says:

    Like shazier with 1st pick , unless one of the top dt’s slide ie jerrigan , nix , donald , hagerman . Please trade mallet for a low second . Try to move up with 2nd pick for a top te ie amaro , jenkins . like easley of fl st de 6’2 280 with other 2nd pick . with 3rd top center remaing , hope they scout this piece center well , hes in front of bradey , and needs to be good and intelligent .

    • Shazer is a small ILB, can he cover top TE’s or RB’s out of the backfield? WE have our 3 starters already. This sounds like a case of falling in love with a player even if he doesn’t fit a need. You shouldn’t do that with your top choice when your team has several holes to fill. It’s a case of one step forward two steps back.

  6. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions. Let De Sean Jackson go to Jets.
    Free Agents
    Jason Avent WR Eagles
    Robert Ayers DE Broncos
    Major Wright S Bears

    Draft
    1 Trade for 2,3 and 6.
    2 Jace Amaro TE Texas Tech
    2 Ego Ferguson DT LSU
    3 Marcus Martin C USC
    3 Jeremiah Attaochu OLB Georgia Tech
    4 Jackson Jeffcoat DE Texas
    6 Chris Burnette G Georgia
    6 Charles Sims RB West Virginia
    6 Caraon Reid DT Princeton
    7 Hakeem Smith S Louisville

    • acm says:

      as far as I am concerned, I think this is much better in terms of positions filled and type of player at said positions. There is finally the pattern of purpose in your mock.
      Main issue that I can see left is some players are not very likely to be there where you pick them – Attaochu and jeffcote would be a stretch in late 3rd and late 4th, respectively, but not impossible. Bigger issue in that regard would be with Sims and Reid still on the board in the 6th, though.

    • Okay, another one. acm has it right though. One FA you pick up might just work, Major Wright SS Chi. Guy is way under the radar had a bad year in 13 they say (78 tackles & 22 asst.) if thats bad? Don’t know what got him in trouble but he had 3 good years before last year. Surely worth a shot. Low risk high reward FA.

  7. Ken W says:

    The TE position is an obvious need and I think the Pats will draft one or maybe two. It is determining where they will draft one.

    Ebron will be gone in the middle of the first

    1st: Pats have a chance at Amero and ASJ, different styles but both could help the pats offense.

    2nd: Niklas & Fiedorowicz, prototypical big bodied, good blocking TE’s. Great red zone targets.

    3rd/4th: Arther Lynch, A.C. Leonard, Jake Murphy, Jabob Pedersen, Marcel Jenson

    5th & beyond: Colt Lyeria, Crockette Gillmore, Jordan Najvar

    I think you have to get one of the top 5 guys if you want someone who could make an impact this year. Then if you want to take a stab at one of the later rounds guys see if you find anything. Depending on who is there at 29 as far as DL, S, or OL will affect if they take a TE in the first or second, but hopefully they get one of the top 5 guys.

    • Really good breakdown Ken W and I totally agree with it. Besause ASJ was rehabing and didn’t work out at the combine he could slip into the upper 2nd rd imo. Either way though I too think the Pat’s will double dip at TE one early, 1st or 2nd rds, then another later, 6th or below though the way Bill works his drafts we could aquire a 5th along the way so a 5th isn’t out of the question. Lots of guys are looking at Lyerla or AC Leonard down in that area, could be. So nice work on your post.

    • GM-In-Training says:

      Good breakdown. Very useful way to assess the decision-making path.

    • acm says:

      Of the 3rd/4th round group, I think only A. Lynch of that bunch has a chance of going off the board before the 5th (more in the 4th round than 3rd). Gilmore may have played himself into 4th-5th consideration but the rest are probably relatively safe bets to still be around by the time the 150th pick rolls by either due to lack of speed/agility (Jensen, Pedersen), off-field issues (Leonard, Lyerla) or average production and low ceiling (Jake Murphy). It’s worth noting that Murphy will be 25 yo rookie this season and that doesn’t bode well for someone who is still pretty raw in just about every aspect of the TE position. He is a solid player, who’s great at nothing but decent at pretty much everything; his ceiling and age however will likely keeping him out of the top 5 rounds.

      I doubt any TE outside of Ebron would be given a 1st round grade by the Pats this year. Gronk’s inability to stay healthy may force their hand to get another Y TE, who’d play alongside him when healthy and replace him otherwise. That would automatically mean ASJ and Amaro are out of contention as they just aren’t the blocking type.
      As for other positions to be filled with that 29th pick, I think there aren’t any SAF that are likely to fall there worthy of a 1st round pick – there is a bit of a gap between Dix and Pryor on one hand and the next best prospects at the SAF position in Ward and Bucannon.
      So, for me, the obvious choices at 29 would fall to OL, DL and at this point, LB with possible options being Van Noy and dare I say it, Shazier. Mosley had a great pro-day and I think it’s safe to say erased any possibility of him falling outside of the top 20 picks.

      • Ken W says:

        As far as ASJ and Amero I think they would look to trade back into the early 2nd and get one of them but if there aren’t any trade partners then I could see them pulling the trigger, if some of the other guys at DL & OL were off the board.

        • acm says:

          in a “backs-against-the wall” situation, which is unlikely, I can see Amaro going at 29. imo, however, both Amaro and especially ASJ have played themselves out of being “can’t miss” players for the Pats, at this point. Actually, when it comes to ASJ, with all the character questions and his physical issues lately, I have a hard time seeing the Pats pick him any earlier than late 2nd.
          Their eval on Amaro would depend heavily on how they see Gronk – as someone they can rely on being physically healthy or not. Even if they see Amaro as a real option, however I think it would take at least 5-6 and more players being gone and no trade partners available to take him at 29 and even early 2nd.

          Amaro is obviously a talented player but isn’t a special talent and then there is the question of how suitable of a scheme fit he is. It’s these two aspects of him as a prospect combined, not separately, that make me say the above.

      • Pete H. says:

        Right on ACM, O-Line and D-Line seem like the most likely 1st round targets. I agree that tight end could be a target but that there just don’t seem to be any fits likely to be available at that position. I had thought WR was also a possibility, but with all of the WR signings, it would take someone really dropping to make that happen. With plenty of good O-linemen throughout the draft, I still think D-line is where the pick has the best chance of going, if it is actually used. My best guesses as to who Bill takes would be Nix or Tuitt, with Tuitt more likely to still be available.

  8. J H TARBORO says:

    Guys, in case you didn’t see it, NEPD has the 2014 draft contacts list on this site. See the players who have been contacted or who have been worked out already.

    • acm says:

      yeah, I’ve been following those but they don’t really mean much when it comes to particular players. Rarely give you much info even regarding the positions the Pats may be looking to draft as by the time draft day rolls by, they’d have had contact with players from virtually every position out there.

    • Ken W says:

      I believe the last few years Pats have drafted players they had late contact with, about a day or two before the draft. Wonder if that trend will continue.

      • acm says:

        the problem is these lists are unlikely to be full or completely correct either. It’s not like the Pats openly provide this information, after all. Most of it is from secret, “twitter” sources, if you know what I mean.

  9. Ken W says:

    Is it just me or does CJ Fiedorowicz remind anyone of Heath Miller. A solid TE that can block and catch. Not the quickest or fastest or most athletic but gets the job done. Just feels like a player BB would like.

  10. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions

    Free Agents
    Brian De La Puenta C Saints
    Pat Sims DT Raiders
    Parys Haralson LB Saints
    Ryan Clark S Pittsburgh

    Draft
    1 Trade for 2nd and 3rd round picks.
    2 Marcus Smith OLB Louisville
    2 Cyrus Kouandjio OT Alabama
    3 Jon Halapio G Florida
    3 Marcel Jensen TE Fresno St.
    4 Dominque Easley DT Florida
    6 Jacob Pedersen TE Wisconsin
    6 James Wilder Jr. RB Florida St.
    7 Khairi Fortt ILB California

    • Lol, Another one Dan? Have to give you credit for effort, pretty soon you will have covered ever realistic possabilitys and some pretty unrealistic ones as well. So really, what’s up?

      • Dan Sullivan says:

        It’s just a hobby I enjoy the draft, free agency and of course I am a big Patriots fan.
        I do really study the draft and free agency quit a bit. I find this web site with very
        intelligent fans. Take Care.

    • Bill Vermont says:

      I like James Wilder.

  11. trent says:

    blake annen is a last-day option to keep an eye on. Word was that he had a good pro day and the pats showed interest. 6’4″ 250 and a solid blocker. Not much receiving production in school, but a lot of athletic upside.

    I think it would be great to pick up one of the top 4 TEs, then get someone like annen on the last day as a 4th TE to try to develop into the move TE role.

    • Good thinking trent, will keep an eye on your guy too. ASJ not in this eval. because he couldn’t perform at the combine due to injury. Makes for the question will this effect his draft stock, if yes how much?

    • Bill Vermont says:

      What about the kid from Florida, Trey Burton. He ran fast and has shown versatility in playing multiple positions.

      If ASJ does not get to strut his stuff, this could push CJF up, as he would be looked at as a safer pick. If he goes earlier in 3rd, that makes him a 2nd if Pats want him. That may be a stretch for a blocking TE that may catch 30-40 balls /year

      • Well I don’t think ASJ will drop like a rock or anything. May go from the 29 to 39 range down to the 40 t0 50 range for example, then again it may not effect his stock at all, never can tell with these things. Either way it shouldn’t effect CJF unless someone panics. The scouting reports are in and the big boards are set no matter what you read now. All that will effect them is if some kid does something outragious or brakes a leg or something.

  12. Marc says:

    Here is my 2 cents worth:-Free Agents: Shaun Phillips-DE Kenny Britt-WR Travelle Wharton-G RESIGN:-LaGarrett Blount Will Svitek-T Re-STRUCTURE:-Dan Connolly

    DRAFT

    ROUND-1-PICK#29:-Ryan Shazier -Linebacker/Safety-Ohio State
    Shazier is fast athletic May be a bit small for LB can transits ion to SS to complete the secondary rebuild.

    ROUND-2-PICK#62:-DeMarcus Lawrence-Defensive End-Bosie State
    Pats get who will hopefully be their pass rusher of the future.

    ROUND-3-PICK#93:-CJ Fiedorowicz-Tight End-Iowa
    They get their TE to pair with Gronk a big physical TE red zone threat and a good blocker.

    ROUND-4-PICK#126:-Christian Kirksey-Linebacker-Iowa
    Pats get their coverage LB good tackler smart player good character guy as we’ll.

    ROUND-6-PICK#182:-Ryan Carrethers-Defensive Tackle-Arkansas State
    Pats get their BIG Defensive Tackle run stopper 2 down/goalie player

    ROUND-6-PICK#190:-Jerick McKinnon:-Running Back-Georgia Southern
    Pats get another pass catching RB to pair with Vereen,versatile player,fast.

    ROUND-6-COMP:-Spencer Long-Guard-Nebraska
    Pats get a guy who could possibly be a Mankins replacement in a year or 2,
    ACL injury hurt draft status but has top talent could be a steal.

    ROUND-7-PICK#221:-Colt Lyera-Tight End-Oregon
    Athletic TE could be another steal off field issues drops him to the 7th round,
    Pats get their MOVE TE

    ROUND-7-COMP:-Connor Shaw-Quarterback-South Carolina
    I think Pats take a QB with Mallett in the last year of his contract,Shaw is undersized but can throw and run not a bad pick up in the 7th round.

    Thoughts???……changes?? …..just like to see what others think of my thought process.

    • jim r says:

      I like it, nice job

    • acm says:

      pretty good mock/plan. Only two players I don’t particularly like for the Pats there – NT Carathers and Connor Shaw. The former is too nonathletic, imo, yes he is big but can see him have trouble staying on the field for more than 20-30 snaps, if that. His weight would have been great on a body 6’3″-6’4″ tall but he is barely 6’1″ and more fatty than muscular/strong. DT/NT Zack Kerr would be a better pick in that range of the draft, imo.
      Personally, I think the best fit for the Pats’ needs at DT would be Daquan Jones (6’4″ 320-325lbs) as he combines run stuffing abilities with interior pass-rush. He reminds me a lot of what players like Red Bryant, Linval Joseph and even Haloti Ngata are doing in the NFL. Unfortunately his stock has bee rising lately and I think he hardly drops out of the top 55 players at this point. So, some wheeling and dealing (trading back from #29, a Mallett trade, etc.) would be necessary to land the guy).
      QB Shaw just doesn’t have the look and measurement of a BB type QB – height, arm length and hand size are smaller than average and these are big no-nos imo. I do think that they’d take on another QB, with or without Mallett staying, but don’t think Shaw would be that guy.

      Other than that, I like the rest of the players just not too sure about the order of drafting at certain positions necessarily reflects the most pressing needs. E.g. you don’t take a TE in free agency at the same time you draft CJF in late 3rd when he may well be gone by then. Also, you take two LB in the first 4 picks, which I am not sure would be the best allocation of resources so to speak. As much as I’d love to see them draft Shazier, there should probably be higher priorities to take care of with that 29th pick if it’s not traded (OL, DE, DT).
      Regarding Shazier playing at SS, I think he’s bulked up beyond that point now and is very close to being at the prototypical size of today’s starting LB in the NFL at 6’1″ and just shy of 240 lbs. LB Telvn Smith would be a better fit for this SS/hybridLB role, imo.

      DE Lawrence I like very much as I think adding a speed-rusher would complement nicely the pass-rushing corps of the Pats. However, with Phillips already on the team, I think Lawrence drops in priority and 2nd round may a bit too rich for him anyway. I have a hard time narrowing down his draft range, so to speak – I see him go anywhere from late-ish 2nd to mid 4th, tbh. Yes, he has attitude and a good deal of potential but not without his shortcomings too, imo. Off all the DE/OLB tweeners in this draft (Mack, M.Smith, Attaochu, Lawrence, etc) he seems to be the least suitable fit for OLB/LB position, which would make him a situational pass rusher in the NFL at his size. That has usually led to many very good players drop in the past (Mathis, Avril, etc) or even go undrafted (C. Clemons). Thus, while I think Lawrence should definitely be in the conversation for a Pats pick (assuming they decide to think outside their own box DE-wise), I think that late 3rd round pick is where you start looking at him.

    • I like about half this mock Marc. What I am weary of is: Shaizer, great collage LB but I don’t like taking a guy in the 1st rd that has to transition to another position. : Don’t like Currethers or Shaw, not much value there and poor fits imo. : I love McKinnon as a player but he is rising fast so a 6th may be to late. But earlier ? do we really need another RB higher?

    • Bill Vermont says:

      Thats a real good draft, but a little heavy in the LB area, and I worry about DeMarcus Lawrence being the ultimate tweener; a little too slow for LB and too lean for DE.

      McKinnon looks like a good pick as Steve Earle mentioned, and may not be there at rd6. But there should be more than few who replace Vereen if need be. Tyler Gaffney doesn’t get much love, but he’s big and fast from a premier conference

      I like Shazier as a top pick. I can’t imagine why he couldn’t play SS, but he ‘s still a great OLB. They say he can’t cover for a extended time. Well, nobody can

  13. Daniel R. Martin says:

    ***First is traded for a 2,3 & 4.

    2 – Troy Niklas TE

    2 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Gabe Jackson OG

    3 – Chris Boreland ILB

    3 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Kelcy Quarles DT

    4 – Brandon Coleman WR OR Will Clarke DE

    4 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Craig Loston SS

    6 – Dri Archer RB/WR/PR/KR OR Ryan Carrethers DT

    6 — Colt Lyerla TE

    C6 – Seantrell Henderson OT

    7 – Boseko Lokombo OLB

    C7 – Spencer Long OG

    I have attempted to select players that I believe could potentially have a great impact for us on the field, at positions of need. I have also attempted to avoid overreaching for players that I like, placing them where I believe our team can realistically select them. I have also pared my draft down from my previous mock in an effort to have more realistic expectations. For example, as much as we’d all like Texas to surrender their 33rd overall pick for Ryan Mallet, that simply isn’t going to happen. I don’t see us being able to trade Wilfork or Aemdola because other teams will be reticent to overpay them just as we are. As always, I appreciate any and all comments. I have reasons for selecting every player on this list.

    • Wish I felt as strongly as you and others do about Niklas as out TE. Haven’t seen enough to be sure. Could be great or just average.
      Suggest alternate to Borland ILB— Christian Jones Fla ST, can play ilb or olb, fast can cover will go about the same place (3rd)
      Archer is way small, yea fast, but!!!
      Lyerla RED flags and fireworks.
      Suggest Long be taken with 6a

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Thanks Steve. I was hoping to get the opinions of both you and ACM on this mock. I have refined my draft but not overhauled it in such a way as to suggest I am noncomital concerning my appraisals of team needs and player values.

        I believe Niklas has great size, speed and athleticism, and feel as though his potential as a receiver is only just being tapped. I do think he has roo for improvement with his hands and route tree, but I think he has the greater upside as a receiver than ASJ, Amaro and CJF. He also has the size and skillset to be as good a blocker as CJF. Ebron represnts tremendous value because he is more of a mammoth wideout than a TE. Niklas has better blocking and should be a great value in the late second. Although, to your point, I think he did labor in the shaddow of Tyler Eifert for some time.

        I will watch some film on the ILB you suggested. But, have you watched any highlight film on Borland? he would be a top 15 pick if he wasn’t so undersized. I believe he may well have the biggest heart and best motor in this entre draft class. Borland was one of the players on this years “athletic freaks” list as well. I think he has superior coverage skills, great sideline to sideline speed and is relentless in pursuit. Guy has a nose for the ball and is an absolute hitter.

        Would you suggest Ryan Carrethers in the 6th over dri archer? how about DE Will Clarke over WR Brandon Coleman in the 4th?

        Concerning Lyerla, I think the team simply has to take him. While there are options in the first two rounds to select a good companion piece for Gronk at the TE position, and indeed a replacement when he gets injured again, those players possess a similar skill set. No other TE in this draft can as adequately replicate Aaron Hernandez’s production in the so-called “joker” role. Colt Lyerla could well be the greatest value in this draft if no one takes a flyer on him earlier than projected. If the guy doesn’t shape up we can ship him out without much loss. Tom Brady ithstanding, it is a rare exception that elite starter talent is found in the 6th-7th rounds anyway, right? It’s the best of high reward low risk scenarios.

        You told me about Long and i really like that pick. He is currently projected to go in the 7th and is coming off of a serious injury. Do yo think he will go earlier?

        • Try to give you some feed back on your questions to me. You could be exactly right about Niklas, I’m just not sure that’s why I’m looking at ASJ and Amaro before him.
          On Lyerla, if BB takes him with a 6th or 7th okay but I see a high risk high reward atleast from a PR point of view but as you say low risk as far as draft. But Hernandz perception due more to how he was use then his abilitys. Lyerla, AC leonard I think could have like production.
          Borland, yes I’ve seen his highlights, I like him. He is an INside LB though could he play OLB and cover TE’s and backs? don’t know? So do you sit Hightower? Christian Jones ILB/OLB (flexable) Doesn’t have to start can be a sub pkg guy or could start at any of 3 LB positions if injury. Can cover TE’s and backs. Can rush passer. Just think he gives you more for the bucks. JMO, If Jones was gone in 3rd I’d go for Borland in a beat.
          I’d take Long at 6a even if he had to red shirt a year, just to be sure we get him, I think he will be that good.

        • Sorry Dan I forgot to remark on the Coleman -Clarke question. I’d say Clarke because I do expect Bill will take one of the big TE’s early and likely anothe flex TE later whick kind of makes Coleman redundant. That and Clark has shown he has good potential to improve though he isn’t the greatest athleate but would provide solid depth.

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          I agree Steve. I’m going to replace Coleman with Clarke, hoping that the TE position is heavily emphasized throughout the draft.

          I haven’t looked at Jones yet, but I definitely will. Concerning Borland and sitting Hightower, I was thinking that the fan base was colelctively unimpressed with Hightower’s production at the ILB spot. I wouldn’t advocate benching him for Borland, I would suggest utilizing Borland in special packages. I had also heard mention of kicking Hightower to DE. Someone posted on here that defensive end was his natural position.

          How about Dri Archer vs DT Ryan Carrethers?

        • Alex (freemanator) says:

          Agree with you on Christian Jones Steve. A good pick who offers great versatility and developmental upside, after being shifted around a lot at FSU. We don’t need a starter at LB, as we already have three of them, but a depth and developmental guy would be great. And he can play all three positions, and has ability in run defense, coverage and pass rush, so he’d be a great add.

          I’d also rather ASJ over Niklas, as I think he offers Gronk like athleticism on a similar frame, whereas Niklas looks slower and stiffer.

          ASJ can then fill Gronk’s role if he’s injured, or can duplicate it with them both on the field, or he can take the joker role, and line up all over the formation. Have you and Dan seen Greg Peshek’s draft series, they’ve been really good.

        • @ Dan, Yes someone did suggest Hightower to DE, that would be me. acm, I think says the Tower doesn’t have a quick enough 1st step for that switch, I disagree but —. If that were the plan, and I knew it, that would change everything about my thinking. Shazier or Borland would be in and DE Clark out. Funny how things can change depending —-.

    • Alex (freemanator) says:

      Interesting mock Dan. The trade back is that really done with Denver or Seattle, as that is how the pick order makes it look. And that would be weird.

      My main takeway is the lack of a Centre, which I think is a position we could do with, and need more than a 4th string tackle and 3rd string Guard, so I’d have one of the Guard picks a Centre, maybe Marcus Martin over Gabe Jackson.

      Also not a huge fan of Quarles, but he’d be a reasonable pick at that spot.

  14. YodasLlama says:

    Patriots Seven Round Mock Draft with Trades!

    I do not usually project trades but I decided this time to do it for fun. Keep in mind that I always factor in who may be availbale with the Patriots picks and I try to factor in Bills logic of value > need. I also award the Patriots two compensatory picks. A 6th Rounder for Chung and a 7th for Woodhead.

    Trade One: New England trades its First Round Pick to Washington for Washington’s 2nd, 3rd, and 6th round picks. (Washington may want a top tier WR and I can see Snyder making a big move again to justify his drafting of Griffen, plus Snyder is an idiot)
    Trade Two: New England trades Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans for the Texans 3rd Round pick. (Houston will still draft a QB but I think O’Brien may want to use its first couple of picks on other positions. Mallett would be a low risk-high reward contract year rental that he is familiar with)

    Hope you enjoy!

    Round 2 (WASH). Ryan Shazier LB Ohio State
    At the top of the second round New England can go a bunch of directions with this pick and while LB is not a needed position it may end up being a intelligent draft selection. New England lost Spikes and Fletcher to free agency and all they have backing up the top three are Beauharnius and White. Collins may see a lot of time at DE this season and drafting Shazier would give New England positional versatility and a talented athletic linebacker to complete the rotation.

    Round 2. David Yankey OG/T Stanford
    New England needs some more talent on the interior of the offensive line. Yankey played LT his senior year and has the size and athleticism to play tackle if necessary in the NFL but he projects better as a guard and would be a perfect complement to Mankins inside. Drafting Yankey would allow New England to slide Connolly over to Center and upgrade that position as well.

    Round 3(HOU). Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
    I pray that Gronkowski stays healthy and is a Patriot for a very long time but if he continues to have his seasons cut short it may be worth it to pull the plug and release him. Regardless if Gronkowski stays or not having a clone to spell him and give Brady two beasts at TE to throw too would open this offense up significantly.

    Round 3(WASH). Kareem Martin DE North Carolina
    New England has back to back picks to start the third round and they draft more for value rather than need with its second pick. Martin was a slow riser in college and really did not produce until his senior year, however he has tons of potential and would be a perfect complement to Ninkovich and Jones at DE.

    Round 3. Daniel McCullers DT Tennessee
    McCullers is sadly Wilforks replacement. I am upset that Wilfork is playing hardball with a team that does not loose at hardball and if he does not restructure his contract, expect him to not be a Patriot next season. McCullers is a massive defensive tackle who is more athletic than given credit for.

    Round 4. Billy Turner G/OT North Dakota State
    Another pick to beef up the offensive line. Turner is a natural fit at Guard but could play tackle if necessary. Drafting Turner would allow New England to rotate their guards more frequently with Yankey, Cannon and Mankins. Turner and/or Yankey could also replace Solder if he does not resign after next season.

    Round 6(WASH). Bryan Stork C Florida State
    I know three offensive linemen. However New England will need them this season. Stork was well respected in his locker room and had a fantastic offensive line coach at Florida State. Drafting Stork would allow New England to shave off some more cap room by releasing Connolly and possibly signing Wendell to a vet minimum contract.

    Round 6(PHI). TJ Jones WR Notre Dame
    Jones falls to the sixth round because of his lack of top of the line speed and that slot receivers are plentiful in the NFL. Bill likes slot guys, especially slot guys with a little bit of size as Jones is 6’0″. He could play outside if necessary and was a team captain at Notre Dame. Brian Kelly loves Jones and his recommendation could have Jones drafted by New England. Worst case scenario he is a rotational player in the offense.

    Round 6. De’Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR Oregon
    The later rounds is when New England starts drafting value over need and Thomas would bring a lot of value to New England. A small faster running back who may be nothing more than a talented kick returner but could be utilized out of the backfield on passing downs with Vereen and that would be terrifying for opposing defenses.

    Round 6(COMP). Marqueston Huff FS/SS Wyoming
    Huff is extremely fast running an unofficial 4.36 at the combine. He may be nothing more than a backup safety but he has the potential to be a valuable contributor at the backend of New Englands defense. McCourty and Harmon/A. Wilson have both safety slots locked down but having talented depth in the secondary is never a bad thing.

    Round 7. Bennett Jackson CB Notre Dame
    Jackson is athletic but he has severe form issues that would need to be addressed if he wants to make it in the NFL. However he would not be asked to contribute right away as New England has a pretty stocked cornerback cabinet. However Revis may be a year rental and while Jackson would not be his replacement, having talented depth in the secondary is never a bad thing.

    Round 7(COMP). Isaiah Crowell RB Alabama State
    Another character concern player that may end up being a steal if he keeps his act together in the NFL. Crowell has tried to piece his life back together after being released from the University of Georgia after his arrest and would be a great reclamation project for the Patriots. He has second round talent and would be worth a seventh round pick, even if he is nothing more than a backup in the NFL.

    • Matt says:

      Wasn’t Woodhead cut by the Pats? I still think it was a huge mistake on the Pats part.

    • acm says:

      Not a fan, tbh. That trade with WAS is simply unrealistic, imo, especially the way you justify it in a very deep WR class. The Skins would be moving about 5 spots at the expense of a very valuable early 3rd rounder. I doubt there are any geniuses in that FO but still – trades like that are made with taking a Qb in mind and that’s not what the Skins need at this point. This trade is at best a pipe-dream, imo.
      That Mallett trade sounds more realistic, depending on what value Houston puts on him and if they fall in love with a QB to take at #1 or not. No way, however, do I see them draft a QB in the 1st or 2nd round ans still trade for Mallett. Not with Ryan Fitzpatrick already there.

      Anyways, I just don’t particularly like the players you take in the early 4 rounds, except for Shazier and Niklas. Turner is a good player but not sure he drops to late 4th even if it’s not completely out of the question. After that it gets better in the late rounds.

    • Jmo but an ILB our 1st pick not so good an idea. To many other needs to fill.






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