NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa
The national holiday that is the NFL Draft is just around the corner. If you’re anything like me, you have looked at 4,291 mock drafts, 782 big boards and filled out some countless mock drafts on your own. Not because you are actually thinking that is how the real draft will go, as we know it takes just one trade to throw a whole entire mock draft off.
It’s kind of like the movie Jack Frost. Snow dad is better than no dad. Truly, fake NFL drafts are better than no NFL drafts. Rest easy fans, the real deal is around the corner.
My fellow NEPD Staff Writer Mike Gerken posted an excellent piece with an excel file attached that I encourage all of our readers to use while following all 7 rounds of the draft.
This piece is going to be a simple 1-32 Patriots specific Big Board – meaning 1-32 in order of the guys I view as the best fit/value in New England.
1) Leonard Williams – DT – Southern California
Let’s be honest, any team in the league would love to have Leonard Williams. He will cause disruption from day 1 and should be taken in the first 3-4 picks of the draft.
2) Todd Gurley – RB – Georgia
Not the biggest need on the team, but Gurley is just that special of a talent. I probably would have him #1 if not for his injury. From what I have seen and heard Gurley looks like he’s healthy, which should lead to an immediate impact. In all my years of watching college football, I truly believe he is the best back I have ever had the pleasure of watching.
3) Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
Shelton absolutly tore up the Senior Bowl as I expect him to run through opposing offensive lines next year. He would have to slide into the low teens for the Patriots to really consider moving up for Shelton, which most likely won’t happen. He would start from day 1 and make Patriots’ fans forget about the Wilfork departure in a hurry.
4) Dante Fowler Jr. – OLB – Florida
Deep Florida roots in New England, and would make an ideal fit to the squad next year. At Florida he lined up at both DE positions as well as DT and OLB. Fowler Jr. in my eyes is the second best pure pass rusher in the draft.
5) Cameron Erving – OG, C – Florida State
Scheme fit speaking – Erving may be the best possible player to be selected. Already has a great relationship with Patriots’ 4th round pick last season Bryan Stork, and would likely start along side him at OG from the get-go. Highly inteligent and versitle, Patriots’ fans should jump for joy if Erving is indeed the pick.
6) Randy Gregory – DE – Nebraska
Probably projects as a OLB at the next level, but I think could play both if he bulked up a bit. Gregory for what my eyes tell me is the #1 pure pass rusher in the draft, but some off the field concerns has me slide Fowler Jr. ahead of him. A potential draft day slide for Gregory could be very interesting to watch for Patriots’ fans.
7) Marcus Peters – CB – Washington
His off the field concerns are no joke, but his on the field performance may make him worth the risk. A physical in your face corner, Peters is the most talented cornerback in the draft and if the Patriots view him as a guy they could handle, would be a steal. Peters would be the Patriots #1 cornerback next year, and would probably be in my top 3 if he wasn’t carrying so much baggage.
8) Kevin White – WR – West Virginia
I have been back and forth on White and Cooper for a while, but my final decision is White. At 6’3 215 he would give the Patriots a taller big body guy with great ball skills with freakish athletic talent. He would make a certain #12 very happy next year.
9) Amari Cooper – WR – Alabama
Cooper does everything exceptionally well. He tends to drop some easy passes here and there, but that is really the only negative thing you see on film. My only question is how much of the 2014 stats (115 catches, 1,656 yards) is due to Lane Kiffin and the system? He was moved around exceptionally well during his time at Alabama, and I only worry what would happen if he got stuck somewhere like say…Oakland. Then again, he could be a star two years from now and we will all look like bafoons for wondering why his stats were so good.
10) Malcom Brown – DT – Texas
Brown is phenomenal off the line of scrimmage and shows great awareness to get in the passing lanes. Not your typical DT, as Brown is consistently in the backfield making plays. He is a real good candidate for a Patriots draft selection.
11) Kevin Johnson – CB – Wake Forest
Johnson has a great combination of length, athleticism and ball skills. I worry about him as he is a little light, but he is enough of a willing tackler which would compel me to take a chance on him. He is just a solid coverage guy – something the Patriots will need next season.
12) Eli Harold – OLB – Virginia
I know, I have him ahead of some much bigger names. That’s fine. Harold screams Jamie Collins to me on film, and that is why I love him. 6’3, 250 lbs and legitimate 4.6 speed. He is a freak athlete that can line up all over the field. He needs to polish up some things, so I wouldn’t expect a major contribution immediately. However I think pairing Harold with Collins would be a phenomenal combination for years to come, and worth a first round pick.
13) Vic Beasley – Clemson – OLB
Anyone can see how explosive he is out of his stance. He has great speed rush skills and can surprise people with a bull rush here and there. I question him as a top 5 pick because of his inability to play against the run. If you can’t play the run and you aren’t dominate at pass rushing while drafted in the top 5, you are essentially Dion Jordan which is no bueno. I think he will ultimately be over drafted, somewhere in the top 7.
14) Brandon Scherff – OT – Iowa
One of the most solid picks in the draft. Wouldn’t fill an immediate need, at all really, but he has legitimate All-Pro ability and he just belongs on this board. Top 2017 draft prospect Derek Barnett from Tennessee got the better of him at the Taxslayer.com Bowl, but other than that I didn’t watch too many bad snaps from Scherff. Solid, solid prospect.
15) DeVante Parker – WR – Louisville
Parker has the ideal size/speed/strength combination you are looking for in a potential WR1. He would have the ability to stretch the field and is a solid route runner. Parker needs to get the ball in his hands more for his skill set, and I hope he is better utilized in the NFL as he could be a superstar.
16) Nelson Agholor – WR – Southern California
Agholor – truly – would be a dream come true for Patriots fans. He is an absolute perfect fit for New England, and would fit in beautifully with JoJo Lafell and Julian Edelman. Has the speed to take the top off the defense, runs excellent routes, is great before and after the catch and I believe he has the mental capacity to handle the Patriots system as he ran a variety of pro-style schemes during his time at USC. I think he would be the receiver to take a chance on at the end of the first round.
17) Shane Ray – DE – Missouri
The recent citation has me concerned, but Ray is one of the 5-7 best athletes in this draft. He is explosive off the line and has a variety of pass rush techniques to consistently get to the quarterback. He seems to play with a never ending motor. If he slides down the draft board, there at least has to be some conversations about Ray in the war room.
18) Alvin Bud Dupree – DE – Kentucky
Bud Dupree is a great athlete who was asked to do a variety of things at Kentucky. I believe, however, he is going to get severely over drafted. Really struggles to break away from blockers once engaged, and I think truly relied on his overall talent to get by too often in college which led to some struggles. I worry his transition to the NFL may be much bigger than most expect.
19) Byron Jones – CB – Uconn
Freakish athlete that turned a lot of heads at the combine. Good change of direction ability and is more often than not great in college. He has good enough ball skills, and is a willing tackler. My main concern with Jones is his lack of NFL competition. Jones would likely be asked to play right away, which is a huge jump from the American conference. Overall though, I believe his athletic talent is enough to buy Jones some time to figure out the NFL.
20) Owamagbe ‘Owa’ Odighizuwa – DE – UCLA
Owa is a highly possibly draft pick for the Patriots. He wasn’t asked to be an enforcing pass rusher all that much at UCLA, yet when he got the opportunity he didn’t disappoint. Shows a versatile skill set proving worth both inside and outside. Owa would be a real nice fit for New England.
21) Arik Armstead – DE – Oregon
6’7 and nearly 300 pounds, Armstead is a great athlete for his size. Doesn’t have great get-off after the snap and often lacks ideal form. If he can get coached up though, Armstead could be special. For goodness sakes he was asked to drop into coverage often at Oregon and proved his worth. Freakish athlete who could just be scratching the surface.
22) Eddie Goldman – DT – Florida State
A lot of DT’s on the board so far for good reason. It is un-Patriot like to draft the same position in the 1st round in back to back years, but it would make sense here. Goldman is a massive individual with good agility for his size. He is great at run support, and does a nice job of anchoring his position on the line allowing others to make plays.
23) Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State
In my eyes, Smith is the best deep threat in the draft. What do the Patriots need at receiver right now. Exactly. When Smith finally got his hands on a quarterback capable of throwing the long ball like Cardale Jones, Smith thrived and proved to be un-coverable in the Big 10 Title, Sugar Bowl and National Championship. A little bit of an underrated guy here, and what would be an ideal fit.
24) Benardrick McKinney – ILB – Mississippi State
McKinney is a versatile guy who would be a dream for Bill Belichick. He was an ILB for MSU, however often rushed off both the edges with supreme athleticism. Good at taking on blockers and making the play. Is he Jamie Collins in coverage? No. He isn’t Brandon Spikes either though. I think he could become a star.
25) Shaq Thompson – OLB / S / RB / Whatever you feel the need for – Washington
Looks like a safety, plays like a linebacker. I think he wouldn’t be a good fit for a lot of teams, but New England certainly wouldn’t be in that category. I think Belichick would find Thompson a great role and the former UW star would thrive in New England in a hybrid like role.
26) Melvin Gordon – RB – Wisconsin
I know. I have Gurley at 2, and Gordon at 26. It isn’t that I hate Gordon, I just love the overall depth of this RB class and view Gurley as a special, in his own stratosphere, kind of player. Gordon obviously had unreal numbers last year with good balance, speed and power through his runs. I have questions about his abilities when he isn’t running behind a phenomenal offensive line however. If he fell all the way to 32 he might be worth it in my eyes, but that won’t happen. Carry on.
27) Laken Tomlinson – OG – Duke
Could be the smartest player in the draft, and probably at worst the second best guard behind Erving. Tomlinson would be able to play right away in New England, and would help solidify the interior offensive line for many years to come next to Stork.
28) Landon Collins – SS – Alabama
I don’t know if it would be right away, but Collins would eventually be the every down SS next to Devin McCourty if he panned out. He isn’t great in coverage, but as far as an in the box safety goes Collins is as solid as a rock. He would be a great compliment to the All-Pro and newly resigned Devin McCourty.
29) Eric Rowe – CB – Utah
Physical corner with good enough athleticism to make him a productive pro in my opinion at the CB position, as there has been a lot of talk of Rowe moving to safety. He has good ball skills and doesn’t tend to lose his guy in coverage. And oh by the way, he is an animal on special teams. Rowe may not get people out of their seats at #32, but he would be a solid pick.
30) Trae Waynes – CB – Michigan State
As you can tell with my Patriots specific board, I’m not a member of the Trae Waynes top 10 fan club. He surely looks the part, and is a player who is confident in man coverage and has shown the ability to help out in the run game. At 32 Waynes would be a nice little pick, but he could end up going in the top 10. I just think he will get bullied by bigger, faster receivers at the next level as he struggled with those guys in college – which in this day and age are on just about every team.
31) Eric Kendricks – ILB – UCLA
As far as I can see in this draft, people either love Kendricks or they hate him. Put me in the former. He’s small for the position, sure. But he is aggressive, explosive, and smart coming down the line. Great agility which will allow some scheme flexibility. He is outstanding in coverage for his position. Kendricks could go in the top 20 or not hear his name called until the 3rd round. We will see.
32) Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – Oklahoma (Missouri)
As you all know if you have read my articles this offseason, I am a fan of DGB. His overall athleticism is through the roof, and could be an absolute superstar at the next level. My concerns with DGB are like most – strictly off the field. That remains to be seen I suppose. But if we are talking purely on the field, DGB would be a top 15 pick easily. 6’5, 240 lbs with 4.5 speed. My goodness. Add the ball skills and leaping ability – wowza. He struggles in route running and should be a better blocker. If we are forgetting about off the field concerns, he is a poor mans Calvin Johnson or a real solid comparison to a Julio Jones. I don’t need to remind you how high those guys were drafted.
Just missed the cut
D.J. Humphries (OT, FLA) A.J. Cann (OG, USC) Ronald Darby (CB, FSU) Quinten Rollins (CB, Miami OH), Jordan Phillips (DT, OU) T.J. Clemmings (OT, Pitt) Andrus Peat (OT, Stanford) Ereck Flowers (OT, UM) Jaelen Strong (WR, ASU) Phillip Dorsett (WR, UM) Stephone Anthony (ILB, Clemson) Danielle Hunter (DE, LSU) D’Joun Smith (CB, FAU)
Tags: 2015 NFL Draft, Amari Cooper, Benardrick McKinney, Byron Jones, Cameron Erving, Danny Shelton, Dante Fowler Jr., Devante Parker, Devin Smith, Eddie Goldman, Eli Harold, Eric Rowe, Kevin Johnson, Kevin White, Landon Collins, Leonard Williams, Malcom Brown, Marcus Peters, Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots, NFL Draft, Randy Gregory, Todd Gurley