2015 NFL Draft: Patriots Awards Show

NEPD Editor: James Christensen

After seven rounds and a grueling undrafted free agent signing period, the New England Patriots rookie class has finally taken shape. With eleven draft picks and five undrafted rookies, there will be plenty of competition in training camp this year. Only the strong will survive.

Here are some of the best, worst and interesting picks of the weekend.

Best Player Selected: DL Malcom Brown

Brown is going to wreak havoc at either the 1-tech or 3-tech spot on the defensive line. Unlike Dominique Easley last year, Brown is healthy and ready to go through the offseason program. This should allow him to hit the ground running come training camp.

If Brown is able to draw some attention inside, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard are poised to have enormous years on the edge. With the deep rotation along the front seven, the Patriots should have fresh rushers all year long.

Best Value:

As long as Tre Jackson can stay healthy, the trio of Jackson, Trey Flowers and Shaq Mason make for an incredible haul in the fourth round. Flowers is an eventual Rob Ninkovich replacement, while Jackson and Mason have the ability to compete for a starting spot on the interior offensive line.

Mason was one of the best run-blockers in the college game, while Jackson was center Bryan Stork’s teammate on a National Championship squad. Mason could see time as a 6th offensive line—Cam Fleming’s role last year—in power running situations.

Most Upside: TE AJ Derby

Patriots fans have seen what you can do with an over-powered tight end. When you dictate the matchups, defenses are constantly playing catchup. If Derby can develop his route-running and become a functional blocker, he and Gronkowski will dominate the league.

In the meantime, he will have to fight for playing time—and perhaps a roster spot—with Tim Wright and Michael Hoomanawanui. Scott Chandler should have the upper hand on the No. 2 tight end spot.

Head-scratcher: DB Jordan Richards

I admittedly studied Richards only tangentially, while looking at his more talented teammates. Belichick’s affinity for smart, coachable players won out over speed and physicality. Having another coach on the field is great, but if he can’t get off the sidelines, that is a problem. Richards will certainly develop under Matt Patricia and company, but it remains to be seen if he can get his athleticism up to NFL standards.

In my mind, I’m going to say that Tre Jackson was a 2nd-round pick and Richards was a 4th-rounder and everything will make sense.

Most Intriguing: LB Geneo Grissom

Grissom is a man without a position. His athleticism, however, is undeniable. I think you could eventually see Grissom—the former defensive lineman—turn into a middle linebacker, like Tedy Bruschi and Dont’a Hightower before him.

His skills as a tight end are also tough to argue with. Belichick described his workout at TE as the best they saw this year. So, a defensive lineman turned linebacker with tight end skills… Mike Vrabel anyone?

Darkhorse: WR Devin Gardner

Gardner will be draw myriad—perhaps unfair—comparisons to Julian Edelman over the next few months. Gardner was a quarterback that never had a chance at Michigan. Poor coaching, poor roster management. Gardner deserves some blame as well—he never really developed in the passing game—but this move to receiver seemed pre-ordained.

Gardner’s best bet would be to learn from Edelman as part of the practice squad and try to be in position to contribute a year or two down the line.

Your turn — who do you have winning these awards?

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17 Responses to “2015 NFL Draft: Patriots Awards Show”

  1. fgpbls says:

    When we look back on this draft only one question will be asked, “Why did BB select Jordan Richards when A.J. Cann was still on the board?”

    • MM-II says:

      Why did BB wait until #111 to take Tre Jackson when all the experts said Jackson should have been gone by #64?

      • Jeff M says:

        More appropriate question is why you guys (or anyone else for that matter) would think Bill would draft a OG in the 2nd round? Guys who played OT in college and can play G is different but Bill has never taken a guy who played solely on the interior OL anywhere before the 4th round.

        Hence why I literally laughed out loud when people were mocking Laken Tomlinson to the Pats at 32. It was a guarantee from the beginning that that would NEVER happen. Bill took Tre Jackson EXACTLY where he planned and always has.

  2. Out west says:

    We aren’t suppose to pick out of need but Bill said it himself the Navy guy pick was out of “need”.So 5 years from now when he gets out we know we have a need. Bill just picked him so he get’s so hero’s welcome at Midshipman central. Sometimes Bill needs a handler like Parcells did.

  3. Brian says:

    To me there were more than a couple of head scratcher picks. Jordan Richards with the 64th being the obvious one. However I called BB taking a prospect we didn’t know in he 2nd.

    On top of that selecting a long snapper in the 5th who may have service time ahead of him. And then like Russell mentioned, the AJ derby pick who I think will be in tough to grab a roster spot but does offer good potential.

    If I had it my way we would have taken Owa Odighizuwa in the 2nd and TJ Clemmings in he 4th. However it’s possible Bill figures we already have one DE with hip issues, why take another.

    I do really like the Mathew Wells pick and the selection of Malcom Brown. Hoping Wells can give us that hybrid LB/safety that can make up for Browners departure in covering TE’s.

    Over all a decent draft which I’ll reserve judgement on for the time being.

  4. Russell says:

    It’s still early to see how these prospects, turn out. I like Gardners chances to make the roster.For me Derby was the only head scratcher, not sure were he fits. This could mean TE Wright has not progressed the way BB hoped. BB ran an Olineman in as a blocking TE, alot more last year, which will likely continue. Derby maybe looked at as a full back, (255lbs) with a miss match, out of the backfield on running plays, to catch passes.

    • Kevan says:

      To me Richards was the only head scratcher. Derby has obvious potential and actually thought he could get a look at FB as well. He needs some work for sure but I really like his upside for being a late round pick, even if he is a bit raw. Hooman offers very little outside of blocking which the pats could easily compensate for.

  5. Ryan says:

    My Draft Grades:
    Overall- B+. Days 1 and 2 balanced themselves out and turned out some good results, while Day 3 was very good overall. Another very good to great draft for the Patriots. Definite questions surrounding some picks, definite answers coming from others.
    Day 1- A+
    1. Malcom Brown- A+. Brown was the best player available at a position of need. He was supposed to be gone 15 picks earlier but lingered. The decision to select him was perfect.
    Day 2- C
    2. Jordan Richards- D. Richards doesn’t deserve an F but I don’t think he merits a C as a second-round pick. I think of him as average value for our pick at the end of the fourth round, so two rounds earlier than that means this is a reach.
    3. Trade with Browns- B. This was a great trade in terms of trade-back value, but I don’t think that we needed more picks this year with a strong roster and less need for developmental players due to a win-now mentality.
    4. Geneo Grissom- C. This pick is unimpressive because Grissom is a project. However, wasn’t a bad time to pick him and he could play multiple defensive positions. Kind of an average pick.
    Day 3- B+
    5. Trey Flowers- B+. Flowers is strong value here and provides valuable D-line depth. We opted not to go for a guard here, which confuses me, but we took two with our next two picks to correct that.
    6. Tre Jackson- A. Physical concerns mean that Jackson is never an A+, but he represents amazing value here at a position of definite need.
    7. Shaq Mason- B. A second pick on the offensive line is good but not as good as the first. Still, Mason is average value here and provides backup depth at a position in need of it.
    8. Trade with Packers- D. Despite the value of the pick that we got from this trade, I don’t like it at all. We went way back in a round with good players for one more pick at the end. Once again, I thought this was a year to trade up.
    9. Joe Cardona- D-. Picking a long snapper is a bit of a stretch despite his skill at the position. When you factor in the possibility of him serving before playing, this pick isn’t so great.
    10. Matthew Wells- C+. We need backup linebackers, this guy is quick and he played on a great defense. He’s also blind in one eye, so I can’t quite give him a B- here because it has to affect his play on some level. Also, he was the second ‘backer drafted, so the need wasn’t as great here.
    11. A.J. Derby- C-. We needed another tight end but preferably a blocker. Derby is better as a receiver so this pick is a bit questionable, though his potential does seem pretty high.
    12. Darryl Roberts- A+. Amazing that he lasted this long and thus great value at a position of need. This pick was everything it should’ve been.
    13. Xzavier Dickson- B-. Very good value once again, but the third linebacker selected and we can only keep so many. Still a good pick, but a wide receiver or running back was more in demand.

    • JackT says:

      Good evaluation, Ryan. Hope Roberts has the smarts to match his film and pro days numbers. I liked Grissom’s interview. He hesitated in the first half but it soon became clear why. He’d already been instructed on what not to say. He’s an intriguing pick.

      There are a couple of guys who played multiple positions on both sides of the LOS. Gardner. the undrafted Michigan 6′ 3-4″ QB who sees himself as a better wideout because of his previous experience under center, knowing what Brady will expect of him, not that he will, but at least he’s in tune with the flexibility that will be required of the position, and he’s got brains, height and speed. Kid threw for over 500 yds in one game and he has the same agent as Edelman, LOL. That will give the team another back up QB at least for a couple of months. It’s going to be a fun team to watch develop.

    • acm says:

      Pretty much agree with all grades, Ryan. I’d probably slow down on CB Roberts a bit – excellent value for where they got him but not without his shortcomings – grade of (A-), for me.
      Think LB Wells deserves a bit more love than you are giving him – great production and versatility from a truly under-the-radar player. B or B+ for me.

      As for AJ Derby, I agree with the underwhelming grade – think people are getting a bit ahead of themselves on TE Derby. IMO, he faces an uphill battle to displace Hooman or TE Wright from the 53-men roster let alone potentially “dominate the league” with Gronk, as JC says. For me, Aj Derby is a practice squad player at this point in time; anything more than that would be gravy.

  6. matty says:

    Looks to me like Chung and Hoomanawanui are likely cut. Guys like Bucannan and ebner will get cut too.
    Chung is our worst starter; give the new guy a chance.

    • MM-II says:

      Chung was invaluable last year in run-D after Mayo went down (again) and really a positive in underneath coverage.

      Counting Ebner as a ST-specialist only, the addition of Richards gives the Pats four guys competing for 3 or 4 safety spots alongside McCourty. Since Harmon, last year, seemed to be the best of the bunch at backing up McCourty in the deep coverage role, that leaves Richards maybe competing mostly with Chung and Tavon Wilson for the “starter” and reserve spots in the “up-safety” role.

      And, of course this doesn’t include whatever roles that “hybrid LB” Matt Wells (6016/222#) or the two new UDFA safeties, Jimmy Jean (6017/202#) and Brandon King (6020/217#) may develop into. Nor does the above include whatever 2014 holdovers Cam Gordon (6021/236#, and a former safety) and Eric Martin (6006/237#) may have to offer.

      As far as Derby (6036/255#) goes, he’s not a blocker at all and trying to break into an offense where even the WRs need to be good blockers in order to get playing time (see: Aaron Dobson). Tim Wright (6030/219#) wasn’t much of a blocker last year, either, which is likely why he didn’t see as many snaps as Amendola. Meanwhile, Hooman (6035/264#) is a more than adequate blocker and can catch well enough when necessary. Unless Derby becomes a much better blocker before the end of Camp than Wright has been, I’d guess that Hooman’s job is pretty safe.

      • Kevan says:

        Derby played TE for one year so obviously his blocking will need work, but his ceiling is so much higher than hooman’s I think there’s defenitely a chance he becomes expendable. With Chandler being ok at blocking, Devlin taking snaps in that blocker role, and a 3rd T a possibility Derby has a shot for sure.

  7. Yohy says:

    Never thought Grissom could be MLB. That is an intriguing idea. What are long term plans for Jerod Mayo? Right now he is the weak side LB. I would have preferred any one of the OLB available over the Richards kid. But time will tell. At least there was some attention paid to DE in the draft and free agency. It’s funny that the Pats are improving the pass rush in a year when the secondary has all the question marks

    • MM-II says:

      Intriguing, yes. But both HT (6022/265#) and Collins (at times) have held down the middle and the QB-like play-calling/coordination duties that go with that pretty well.

      Both Flowers and Grissom are about the same size as HT (Flowers is nearly identical at 6021/266#) and, aside from 40-times, both posted better workout numbers than HT. Between Flowers and Grissom, Flowers appears to be the better (and more aware) run-defender, though not as productive in pass-rush.

      Maybe what this highlights is that BB seems to view the defensive scheme (offensive scheme, too, to some degree) more in terms of roles than strictly positionally and also sees those roles as being distributed across, and shared by, various positions – and changing situationally. So, “fit” and versatility maybe comes down to how many roles a guy can match up with well.

      With that approach, BB and MP have more freedom to mix-and-match players and more flexibility in adjusting to injury. And DE vs. OLB vs. ILB may not be as distinct as they once seemed to be.

  8. Kevan says:

    Dark horse- Darryl Roberts. With numbers like that hopefully the pats can groom him up. I don’t dislike the pats last pick but I was really hoping BB took WR tyrell Williams who had some size to go along with good measurables as well. Overall a classic BB draft that will probably look better in a couple years.

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