Well, it is that time of year again. Training camp is about a week away and football is just over a month away. It has been awhile since I posted anything, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t working hard on next year’s draft class. Since shortly after the draft, I started working on my list of prospects for the 2016 draft. Right now, it is too early to predict where guys will get drafted and what positions the Patriots might look to target, so this list is not Patriots specific. My list is a mix of the top rated guys at their positions as well as some other guys that intrigue me from a Patriots perspective. Today I break down the Quarterbacks and Runningbacks and over the next week or so, I will do the remaining positions as well.
Over the last couple of months, I went back and read some of my old reports looking at ways I could improve upon them for this year. The first report I wrote was for Iowa Defensive Tackle Carl Davis. I noticed in the comments someone wrote something along the lines of “why are you doing a report on Davis, he is never going to fall to the Patriots and will probably be a top 10 pick.” Well, Davis ended up a late 3rd round pick. The reason I bring this up is not to call out the commenter, but to show how much can change from the beginning of the college football season until the NFL draft. Every prospect must be considered, especially early on. So lets take a look at some of the guys on offense that have caught my attention going into this college season. Player are loosely ranked but I have broken them down by seniors and underclassman I think have a good chance of declaring for next year’s draft.
QB’s: The Patriots may not be in the market for a QB, but we all have to face the truth that Tom Brady cannot play forever and his time in the NFL is much closer to the end than the beginning. There is a lot of hope that Jimmy G. will be the heir apparent to Brady and that the transition will be seamless. This doesn’t mean the Patriots won’t start giving a more serious look at some of these QB prospects. It might not be this draft class, but you just never know, if the right guy falls into their laps, the team may pull the trigger.
Conner Cook, Michigan St. (6’4″, 218 Lbs)
Cody Kessler, USC (6’1″, 210 Lbs)
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana (6’5″, 250 Lbs)
Dak Prescott, Miss. St. (6’2″, 230 Lbs)
Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky (6’3″, 209 Lbs)
Gunner Keil, Cincinnati (6’4″, 208 Lbs)
Carson Wentz, South Dakota St. (6’6″, 231 Lbs)
Cardale Jones, Ohio St. (6’5″, 250 Lbs)
Christian Hackenberg, Penn St. (6’4″, 234 Lbs)
Jared Goff, Cal. (6’4″, 210 Lbs)
Josh Dobbs, Tennessee (6’4″, 220 Lbs)
Wes Luntz, Illinois (6’4″, 215 Lbs)
Paxton Lynch, Kentucky (6’5″, 238 Lbs)
There is some potential with this QB class. Cook isn’t flashy from an athletic standpoint, but he has a good arm and reads a defense well. I am also intrigued to see what Sudfeld can do in Indiana now that he will be a focal point of the offense. Cardale Jones came out of nowhere at the end of last season and showed immense physical and athletic talent in a limited time. It will be interesting to see how he does when teams are better prepared for him. Hackenberg has good size and a rocket arm, but has to improve on the touch passes to be considered a high draft pick.
RB’s: This is a group I will keeping a close eye on this year as I think the Patriots could be in the market for a new Running Back when next year’s draft roles around. I have never been a big fan of Legarette Blount and the rest of the guys are unproven at this point. That may change over the course of the year and Running Back may not be as big of a need as it seems like it is right now. With the Patriots not having a first round pick next year, Running Back is a position you can still get one of the top talents because of the perceived devaluation of the position.
Devontae Booker, Utah (5’11”, 203 Lbs)
Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (6’0″, 205 Lbs)
Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech (5’10”, 212 Lbs)
Aaron Green, TCU (5’11”, 202 Lbs)
Jonathan Gray, Texas (5’11”, 215 Lbs)
Derrick Henry, Alabama (6’3″, 241 Lbs)
Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State (6’0″, 225 Lbs)
Kareem Hunt, Toledo (5’11”, 215 Lbs)
Tarean Folston, Notre Dame (5’9″, 209 Lbs)
Alex Collins, Arkansas (5’11”, 216 Lbs.)
James Conner, Pitt (6’2″, 250 Lbs)
Corey Clement, Wisconsin (5’11”, 217 Lbs)
Thomas Tyner, Oregon (5’11”, 215 Lbs)
Kelvin Taylor, Florida (5’10”, 214 Lbs)
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana Lafayette (5’11”, 208 Lbs)
Paul Perkins, UCLA(rSo.)(5’10”, 196 Lbs)
If you thought last year’s Running Back class was good, then you will be excited for the potential that this class has as well. There are a few Seniors that caught my attention last year, but this class could be outstanding if the underclassmen declare for the draft. Like a said above, this is a position that the Patriots could target in the 2nd round since there could be great talent and value. Kareem Hunt was a guy that caught my attention last year because Toledo played my Cyclones and he was having an outstanding start to the season. Unfortunately he got hurt a few weeks before and did not play. (I could have started that last sentence with Fortunately because without Hunt in the lineup, the Cyclones were able to squeak out a rare win.) Henry and Elliot are legit first round talents and while I am not as high on Booker as others, it is hard to argue with his production. If the Patriots end up looking at Running Back in next years draft, they should be able to get someone who can come in and compete right away.
Now, it is early in the season and I know from reading the comments last year that their are some very knowledgeable readers out there, so if there are any guys that I didn’t list that you feel I should put on my watch list, please put them in the comments or tweet them at me (@midwestpatsfan)and I will make sure to add them to my list.
Speaking of twitter, I need more followers, so if you find what I write interesting and have some friends who might like it too, please give me a follow.(Ughh, shameless plug, I feel dirty)