NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Well, I am back. I was hoping to get this out much earlier but the never ending non story that is DeflateGate disrupted everything with the announcement that Brady’s 4 game suspension was upheld. After that, we had the start of camp, so I figured I would wait until today when there really was no Patriots news. Today I will list the guys I will be keeping an eye on at both Tight End and Wide Receiver.
Bill Belichick has a special place in his heart for the Tight End position. Year in and year out it seems the Patriots draft at least one Tight End. It is a position that an offensive coordinator can use to create mismatches and the Patriots love to do just that. The team is blessed to have arguably the best Tight end in the game right now and if he continues to play like he does, he might be the best ever. They also brought in Scott Chandler who is another big bodied pass catcher that should put up good numbers in this offense. The Patriots just drafted AJ Derby who is an athletic player with an intriguing skill set that needs time to develop. The rest of the group are role players.
Pharaoh Brown, Oregon (6’6″, 250 Lbs) Coming off a serious injury that almost cost him his leg, Brown may not even play. Huge frame and incredible athleticism, it will be intriguing to see what he is able to do this year.
Nick Vannett, Ohio State (6’6″, 260 Lbs)
Jay Rome, Georgia (6’6″, 249 Lbs)
Kyle Carter, Penn State (6’3″, 245 Lbs)
Steven Scheu, Vanderbilt (6’5″, 245 Lbs)
Darion Griswold, Arkansas St. (6’5″, 264 Lbs)
Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky (6’6″, 250 Lbs)
LaQuan McGowan, Baylor (6’7″, 410 Lbs) That is not a typo
Jerell Adams, South Carolina (6’6″, 231 Lbs)
Bryce Williams, East Carolina (6’6″, 258 Lbs)\
Jake McGee, Florida (6’6″, 243 Lbs)
O.J. Howard, Alabama (6’6″, 247 Lbs)
Hunter Henry, Arkansas (6’6″, 255 Lbs)
Evan Engram, Ole Miss (6’3″, 220 Lbs)
Johnny Mundt, Oregon (6’4″, 252 Lbs)
This Tight End class is pretty weak when you look at the Senior prospects. The class could be helped out if some of the talented underclassmen declare for the draft this year. Even with the potential early entries, the class will not be considered strong. There are some guys who do intrigue me and with Belichick’s fondness for the position, there is a good posibility that the Patriots will add a Tight End at some point in the draft.
This is a position that is hard to put a finger on from a Patriot’s perspective. For the last few years draftniks have been mocking a Wide Receiver to the Patriots and some have even thought it would be early. The last two year’s, the Wide Receiver draft class has been considered one of the strongest positions in the draft and yet the Patriots did not draft a single receiver in either one of those drafts. Brady makes the passing game look very good, but the Patriots do have talented players at the position. Edelman, LaFell, and Amendola are a solid starting group and there is still some hope for former second round pick Aaron Dobson. Guys like Tyms and Gibson could also fight for a roster spot. I would have thought with all the talent in the last couple of drafts that the Patriots would have brought in at least one to try and develop. Maybe this is the draft that they decide to do that.
Duke Williams, Auburn (6’2″, 216 Lbs)
Josh Doctson, TCU (6’2″, 195 Lbs)
Tajae Sharp, UMASS (6’3″, 200 Lbs)
Leonte Caroo, Rutgers (6’0″, 205 Lbs)
Sterling Shephard, Oklahoma (5’10”, 195 Lbs)
Mekale McKay, Cincinnatti (6’5″, 195 Lbs)
Nelson Spruce, Colorado (6’1″, 195 Lbs)
D.J. Foster, Arizona State (5’11”, 195 Lbs.)
Quinshad Davis, UNC (6’4″, 205 Lbs)
Jamal Robinson, Louisiana Lafayette (6’4″, 205 Lbs)
Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (6’1″, 192 Lbs)
Alonzo Russell, Toledo (6’4″, 205 Lbs)
Tyler Boyd, Pitt (6’2″, 190 Lbs)
LaQuan Tredwell, Ole Miss (6’2″, 229 Lbs)
Travin Dural, LSU (6’2″, 192 Lbs)
MarQuez North, Tennessee (6’4″, 221 Lbs)
Corey Robinson, Notre Dame (6’5″, 205 Lbs)
Demarcus Robinson, Florida (6’1″, 205 Lbs)
Mike Williams, Clemson (6’3″, 205 Lbs)
Rashard Higgins, Colorado St (6’2″, 188 Lbs)
Cayleb Jones, Arizona (6’3″, 215 Lbs)
Michael Thomas, Ohio State (6’3″, 212 Lbs)
D’Vario Montgomery, Iowa State (6’6″, 213 Lbs)
Will Fuller, Notre Dame (6’0″, 188 Lbs)
Corey Davis, Western Michigan (6’3″, 205 Lbs)
De’Runnya Wilson, Miss. St. (6’5″, 215 Lbs)
As you can see, there is a lot of names on this list. The position should be strong again especially if a majority of the underclassman come out, which I suspect they will. One thing that caught my eye is the size of the group. There are a lot of tall receivers in this draft class which may or may not be a good thing when it comes to the Patriots. With the way college systems run their offenses these days, I think we will continue to see eye popping numbers from the Wide Receiver group going forward. It will be interesting to see how well these recent classes that have been considered strong will do in the NFL, but the early returns seem promising and at some point the Patriots will have to jump in and grab one of these guys.
As I mentioned in my last post, if there are any players at these positions that you feel I missed or that you are high on, please let me know. I want to make sure I can get the most comprehensive list out there. Also, follow me on twitter @midwestpatsfan and tell your other draft/Patriots friends to do so as well. My number of followers is embarrassing low.