NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Well, the first round of the 2015 NFL draft has come and gone. The round actually went really quick with a lot less fanfare than most of us were expecting. Leading up to last night, we had heard all the rumors about teams wanting to trade up or down and we were so sure the draft was going to hinge on who traded up for Marcus Mariota. As expected, there was a big run on offensive lineman, wide receivers and cornerbacks. We saw not one, but two runningbacks drafted after a two year hiatus from the first round. The biggest intrigue may have happened at the very end of the round when the Patriots opted out of a trade with the Texans because a big time player fell into their laps. Here are my thoughts on Malcom Brown and what we might see happen tonight.
By now, most of you have read several articles on the newest Patriot and to no one’s surprise they are all very positive, and for good reason. The mainstream draft experts had Brown ranked as high as 12th and I did not see him any lower than 20th. Rumors are leaking out that the Bear’s were considering taking Brown with the 7th pick and there are other reports that he was considered at several other spots throughout the teens and twenties. I for one did not think the Patriots would have a chance at getting him. I thought the lowest he would go was 23 to the Lions and when they traded down and passed on him again, I was shocked. The next logical spot was Indianapolis as he would have filled a huge need and fit their scheme well. When they passed, reality started to set in that Brown was a real possibility.
At this time, there were rumors flying that the Patriots had already traded out or had agreed to trade out with the Texans. Things have cleared up a little this morning and it sounds like a deal was in place but when Brown fell into the Patriots lap, they decided to take the player instead of the picks.
Now onto Brown. If you read my report from earlier this week, I had Brown ranked as my #8 overall player for the Patriots and had given him a first round grade. What I like about him is his combination of size and athleticism. He has a wide base that can anchor and hold up against the run, but he has the athleticism and burst to be disruptive from the interior line. He gives the Patriots the best of both worlds in that respect. Guys like Goldman, Garrett, and Hardison excel at one aspect but struggle with the other. Brown needs some work with his hand use and can play high at times, but he played a ton of snaps and he was productive as a pass rusher and a run defender. Brown should be able to come in and contribute right away and he has the work ethic to continue to improve his game. It is very similar to when the Patriots got Vince Wilfork all those years back and hopefully the Patriots have the same type of success with Brown as they did with Wilfork.
Now, as we move on to rounds 2 and 3 today, what could/should the Patriots do? I think the Patriots could be active today. I could see them trading up to target a specific player that they might have been considering last night when they were thinking of trading down. The positions that I think they should focus on are Guard, Corner, Running Back, or go best player available again. After looking over my big board here is what is left and who might be good options for the Patriots.
Round 2 Targets (number in parenthesis is my overall rank):
(4) Owamagbe Odighizuwa, DE: I think I have made it clear my love fest for Diggy and how I think he could be a great fit on this team. Need is not huge here so he may not be on the Patriots radar, but he is certainly on mine.
(6) T.J. Clemmings, OL: Another player I am bullish on. I think he could come in and be a great guard for the Patriots with the potential to move out to tackle if or when the need arises.
(9) Danielle Hunter, DE: A guy I am higher on than most and another player who is not a huge need, but he is a physical freak that may have his best years ahead of him. I see Chandler Jones with higher upside
(10) A.J. Cann, OG: Cann could come in right away and start at LG and be an upgrade from last year. Sneaky athletic with a good base and power.
(13) Landon Collins, SS: In the box safety with higher upside than Chung.
(15) Eric Rowe, CB/S: Rowe is an aggressive corner with good size. May not be a true #1 corner, but could be a similar player to Brandon Browner with better speed.
(21) Jake Fisher, OL: Another athletic offensive line who can play both guard and tackle.
(22) Jalen Collins, CB: Big, fast, and athletic corner. Lacks experience but size and potential are intriguing
(23) Quinten Rollins, CB: Another player with little experience but showed good fundamentals and instincts and like his potential.
(24) Benardrick McKinney, ILB: Intriguing size and speed for the position
(25) Nate Orchard, Edge: A pass rusher with good size and athleticism. He has some scheme versatility.
(26) Jalen Strong, WR: Could be the bigger WR to play on the outside. Good hands and body control with good timed speed.
Round 3 Targets:
(27) Justin Hardy, WR
(35) Jaquiski Tartt, SS
(36) Duke Johnson, RB
(37) Tevin Coleman, RB
(38) Ameer Abdullah, RB
(39) Ali Marpet, OG
(40) Preston Smith, DE
(41) Ronald Darby, CB
(42) P.J. Williams, CB
(43) Paul Dawson, LB
(44) Tre McBride, WR
(45) Kwon Alexander, LB
(48) Donovan Smith, OT
Needless to say, there is some good talent still on the board.