Takeaways from Thursday’s Conference Call with ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. shared his thoughts on the NFL draft and free agency in a conference call Thursday. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

With college pro days underway, free agency in full swing, and the 2014 NFL draft under two months away, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. shared his insight on a media conference call Thursday morning.

Kiper, who has been part of ESPN’s draft coverage since 1984, offered a different perspective on the prospects and the organizations set to cross paths at Radio City Music Hall this May. And with the League Year changing along with the personnel plans of each organization, there was no shortage of discussion.

Here are some of Kiper’s draft thoughts on the prospects and the potential interests around the league.

On the 3-4 defensive ends: “I think when you look at 3-4 defensive ends, the most intriguing would be Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame. He figures to be more of a late-first than a mid-first, but he certainly would somebody that would fit [the Pittsburgh Steelers’] scheme. Kareem Martin from North Carolina would be another that would certainly fit in very effectively. Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota really has a lot of scheme versatility; he can pretty much play anywhere. Dominique Easley coming off the injury from Florida, and a kid that’s very underrated, Canadian kid named Brent Urban who played at Virginia in the ACC. He’s a perfect 3-4 end and he would probably be an early to-mid second-round pick. So if you don’t get one in the first, a guy like Brent Urban from Virginia in the second would make sense for a 3-4 team looking for a defensive end.”

On South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney: “He’s in that one-to-three range. You could see him at Houston; you could see him to the second spot – not to St. Louis – via a trade possibility there. You’d think Atlanta could certainly use him, and some other teams looking to move up could certainly look at Jadeveon Clowney if he didn’t go one to two. Jacksonville at three would be a nice spot for him. So I don’t think he gets past three; he’s in that one-to-three range.”

On LSU running back Jeremy Hill: “Hill I think is a guy that when you watch him on tape and you watch his games, he’s impressive. His workouts obviously aren’t going to wow you from a speed standpoint. But, to me, he’s one of those backs – what I always do, wherever they’re rated, they always go two rounds later because very few teams need running backs. Three teams, and maybe after free agency it might be down to two. So, you’re looking at a second-tier need area. That’s why always good running backs that should be twos or threes go four, five, six. And that’s basically the case with Hill. His talent indicates he should be a second-round pick; his performance indicates second round. You probably think fourth, fifth round based on the way running backs drop.”

On LSU wideout Odell Beckham Jr.: “I think Beckham still ends up in the first round. There’s several teams that could use him. You think about teams right here after free agency that still have needs at wide receiver, that would end up being Kansas City at 23, Cleveland from that Indy pick at 26, and teams picking in the late first round. I think Beckham could go as early as even the Jets at 18, even though the Jets added Decker, they could still look for another receiver. I think he goes in the 18 to 32.”

On Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson going No. 1: “I think he has a chance, but I don’t see it happening for this reason: I think he will be graded out at the No. 1 player on certain team’s boards. And for Houston, they have Duane Brown, so you have your left tackle – I’m not somebody that says, okay, because you have the left tackle and you have a great player there, put him at right tackle. I think their need on defense overrides that. I think they go with Khalil Mack or Clowney. If you look at Robinson, I think he would be a great fit in St. Louis, so that would be a great opportunity for him there. If some trades occur and he gets pushed down a little bit, then all of a sudden, Atlanta would love to have him at six. I just can’t see him dropping that far because if he starts dropping, teams will trade up to get him.”

On Auburn running back Tre Mason: “He caught the ball. When you look at this particular year production-wise, he should be a two. Well he should, based on production and ability, be a two. When you think back to the second, third round, I compared him to Ray Rice coming out of Rutgers. But I’m thinking for him the same thing we talked about for hill, a little bit earlier maybe. I’d say third- fourth-round for Mason.”

On Auburn edge player Dee Ford: “Dee Ford I have in the first round. I have Ford as a combo guy, more of a 3-4 outside linebacker, going to New Orleans. I think San Diego at 25 or New Orleans at 27 would be spots for Ford.”

On Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans: “He fits perfectly in today’s NFL. I have him at 10 to Detroit. They added Golden Tate; that’s not something I think prevents them from taking Evans. I would say he would be a trade-up possibility for St. Louis at 13.”

On Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel: “You could put him at three; you could put him at four; you could put him at five; you could put him at eight. I put him at eight to Minnesota. I doesn’t like Houston, right now, will go that route. He’s fluid anywhere between the third pick and the eighth pick.”

On power backs in the third- to fifth-round range: “There’s going to be a lot of them because of the nature of the position. It’s going to allow for a lot of good players to slide through the cracks. Lorenzo Taliaferro from Coastal Carolina is a big back with a lot of ability. I think he’s a kid of Day 3 of the draft there’s going to definitely be interest in him … You look at a true running back like Andre Williams of Boston College, I think he’s going to go third or fourth round. Ka’Deem Carey, even though he didn’t run well, from Arizona certainly is going to figure, I think, somewhere on Day 3 … Antonio Andrews didn’t run well out of Western Kentucky, which you didn’t expect him to, but he’s a good football player. You could probably get him as a late-rounder or undrafted free agent. And of course the top big back is Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State, who I think is going to be the first running back taken, and I think goes somewhere mid-second round, early to mid-second round.”

On the rise of smaller defensive tackles: “I think it’s a combination of the ability these players have and the way teams now want pass-rushers; they want disruptive players that can get in the backfield. The stay-at-home types of the ‘80s and ‘90s are going to drop a lot further than they normally would have. The guys that are the one-gap penetrators, the three-techniques are the guys that are going to go very high.”

On smaller penetrators impacting larger defensive tackles like Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III: “Louis Nix III, a true nose tackle, his stock has dropped a little bit from a mid-first to maybe an early to mid-second … It’s not a run game anymore; it’s a pass game. So everything now is about getting after the quarterback. And the guys that can do it the best, led by Aaron Donald, are the ones that are going to go the highest.”

On Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy: “He’s a borderline first. I’ve spoken to a lot of teams and that’s basically the consensus on him. I thought about Denver and of course Denver signed Ware, and Ware moved Ealy out of there. If you think he can play on his feet, and I don’t necessarily see the movement skills to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, but some do feel he could be that. Then you would think he could be in play as high as Philadelphia at 22.”

On Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence: “True pass-rusher. I think he goes in that third-, fourth-round area.”

On late-round defensive ends: “James Gayle from Virginia Tech certainly fits the mold of what you would be looking for. Larry Webster, certainly has got to put on weight, out of Bloomsburg could be an interesting late-round pick as well. Ethan Westbrooks of West Texas A&M is another one.”

On Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman: “He’s a physical talent. He didn’t put up the numbers you would have expected, and he didn’t dominate and take over games the way you would have expected. I think in terms of Coleman, he’s more of that day-three type pick … If you push the right buttons and maximize his ability, he could be a factor.”

On Ole Miss wideout Donte Moncrief: “Donte Moncrief is an enigma for this reason: He’s an incredible talent; big, athletic, fast, you would have thought he would have been able to dominate some of those college corners. I watched him and I kept waiting for it because I had a high grade on him at the beginning of the year. I anticipated when I came out with that top-25 board in August, he would be a top-10 to top-15 pick, possible. He didn’t materialize into that … He’s one of those guys, you didn’t see him perform to the level of his talent on a week-to-week basis … With that in mind, he’s probably going to be an early to mid-second round pick.”

On drafting pass-rushers later: “Pass-rushers drop. Look at Greg Hardy, where he went. Look at Jared Allen. Look at all the top picks. Look at Michael Bennett, went undrafted. People say, ‘well you’ve got to get pass-rushers early’ – no you don’t. Robert Mathis was a fifth-round pick. Hardy was a sixth. Bennett went undrafted out of Texas A&M. Jared Allen was a fourth-round pick. Everson Griffen, just got big money from Minnesota, was a fourth-round pick. You can find pass-rushers. They tend to drop a lot further than they should. You scout well, you can find those guys.”

On the Patriots’ draft interests after Round 1: “In terms of the needs of the Patriots heading into the draft, and obviously you think about a tight end, you think about a defensive tackle, a wide receiver and an offensive lineman. I think a guy as a tight end that could be intriguing: I thought Jace Amaro from Texas Tech at one point would be a first; he’s probably more of a two-three. Troy Niklas from Notre Dame is more of a two. Some later-round guys: A.C. Leonard from Tennessee State – formerly of Florida – is a day-three guy. Marcel Jensen from Fresno State, Colt Lyerla has had some issues off the field at Oregon; he’s a day-three pick who at one point in time looked like a second-round pick. Jake Murphy from Utah is another kid at that spot. There’s going to be some defensive tackles that are intriguing on Day 3 of the draft. Some of those guys would be Khyri Thornton from Southern Miss, DaQuan Jones from Penn State, Ego Ferguson from LSU. There’s going to be some day-three defensive tackles that have ability.”

On the tiers of offensive guard prospects: “I think none go in the first. I think David Yankey from Stanford goes in the second. Brandon Thomas, former offensive tackle at Clemson projects inside; he’s a guy that’s climbed up the board probably a couple rounds since the end of the season. Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State, Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA, Joel Bitonio is a kid who can play tackle or guard … Trai Turner from LSU has moved up into the third-round mix. Some mid-round guys: Jon Halapio from Florida, Kadeem Edwards from Tennessee State; Cyril Richardson has dropped from Baylor down to the fourth-round mix – at one point looked like a second-rounder. Ryan Groy is a versatile kid out of Wisconsin, a program that’s send a lot of linemen to the NFL.”

On Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin: “I think Martin, because he has the ability to be a left tackle, guard, right tackle, could be in play at 15 for Pittsburgh; he certainly could be in play for maybe at 19 for Miami and on down the line … I think his versatility, his durability – this guy didn’t get hurt – he can play multiple positions, he’s got a great attitude, he’s technically sound … For me, I think he’s worthy of being the 19th pick, Zack Martin is.”


98 Responses to “Takeaways from Thursday’s Conference Call with ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr.”

  1. Bobthebuilder says:

    Not that I agree with “GMs” point

  2. GM-In-Training says:

    Red Zone, Red Zone, Red Zone.
    How are the Pats going to reliably score in the red zone next year?
    They’ve 4 slot receivers for moving the chains (Edelman, Amondola, LaFell, Boyce).
    They’ve got 4 taller outside WR (Dobson 6’3″, LaFell 6’2″, Harrison 6’3″, Thompkins 6’0″).
    But…in the red zone, outside speed doesn’t have room to work and the slot inside space is crowded…so you need a really tall, really strong guy for reliable TD catches.
    Behind Gronk we have…, Anyone? Bueller?

    At the Combine, the Tight Ends at least 6’5″ with arms at least 33″ were:
    CJ Fiedorowicz 4.76 40dash, 7.1 3-cone, 25 reps bench press
    Marcel Jensen 4.85 40dash, 7.38 3-cone, 24 reps (bonus points for 34.874″ arms)
    Jace Amaro 4.74 40dash, 7.42 3-cone, 28 reps bench press
    Jordan Najvar 4.94 40dash, 7.14 3-cone, 18 reps bench press (arms only 32.25″)
    Troy Niklas ?? 40dash, ?? 3-cone, 27 reps bench press (bonus for arms 34.125″)
    A. Sefarian Jenkins ?? 40dash, ?? 3-cone, 27 reps bench press

    So, we’re waiting for some pro-day numbers on a few, and I have no idea who Bill Belichick sees the most potential in, but today, CJ Fiedorowicz seems to have the best combination of blocking (based on reports of his game film), catching and raw athleticism (based on his combine numbers) of any TE under consideration. I would love to see the Pats play with 2 Y TE, especially as the league goes to more 3 CB sets.

    • acm says:

      So, you are saying the Pats need a TE? Interesting, never thought of that … and certainly no one else here for that matter, either, be it posters or writers/editors.
      I guess it’s back to the drawing board for me as far as mocks are concerned. Guess, should have gone to a school for GMs, after all.

      • Bobthebuilder says:

        How do we not need a tight end? There are no decent receiving tight ends behind Gronk, who is injury prone.

      • GM-In-Training says:


        Sheesh. I’ve seen lots of mock drafts that mention TE, but most of them want to wait until the end of the 2nd round. I’m essentially asserting that once CJ Fiedorowicz is gone at the top of the 2nd, the Pats have waited too long.

        • acm says:

          as things stand now, most likely there would be only one TE to go in the 1st round – Ebron. Amaro would have to absolutely light the Texas Tech pro-day on fire to earse his sub-par showing at combine and potentially change that. IIRC, there hasn’t been more than 1 TE picked in the 1st round for like 10-15 years now. So, I find it very hard to believe that CJF, the consensus 5th TE in the class, would be gone in top 2nd.
          CJF is indeed a good fit for the Pats but he is not exactly a once-in-a-generation player either – he is a very solid, but also unspectacular player with a high floor but a not too high a ceiling either.

          I think it may be time to consider switching schools ’cause this one ain’t working out so well.

        • GM-In-Training says:

          Well, consider that hardly any TE are being picked up in Free Agency. CB, especially tall ones, are getting top dollar. Seahawks have convinced everybody in today’s NFL it’s all about the secondary. It’s a deep draft class for CB, too. So, how many teams are going to think two moves ahead and go for TE that can create mismatches? Y TE can play 3 downs plus special teams, so the ones that can block and catch will go earlier. Most of the NFL.com summaries on TE over 6’5″ were unimpressed with their hands, and most had slower 3-cone…so, premium mismatch guys are scarce and that suggests they’re gone by pick #50.

      • steve earle says:

        Holy smoke acm my sides are hurting from cracking up over your reply’s to the GM. I think he needs a little more training. For GM’s benifit let me say, not one TE in this draft approaches Gronks dominate skills. There are like 5 TE’s that are good, 3 that project a good fit with the Pats and imo not one of those will go in the 1st. Bet you a coffee and donut.

        • GM-In-Training says:

          @ Steve,

          So, who are your three TE that are good and a fit for the Patriots?

        • Daniel R. Martin says:

          If Eric Ebron is still around at #29, which I dare sill WILL NOT happen, the Pats would be dumb to pass on him.

          I think Ebron and even Niklas could develop to the level of Hernandez. I think ASJ could be very good in many of the same ways Gronk is great.

          I think that Lyerla could represent the greatest value in the entire draft.

        • steve earle says:

          @ GM, About the three TE Fits for Pats. The way I look at it they are Amaro, ASJ and CJ Fiedorowicz. All three are Y TE’s who can block and are real receiving threats down the seams and in the red zones. Niklas can block but his receiving has not been a proven skill. The Flex TE’s are more big receivers, more one demension and fall more into the want catagory then the need. I know others view things differently but this is the way I see it.

  3. Dan Sullivan says:

    Good Luck to Franklin Pierce Ravens in tonight Division 2 Tournament.
    I would very muck like to hear a Kenny Britt signing today he could be special with Brady.
    Additional Free Agents For Patriots.
    Bruce Campbell OT Panthers
    Alex Carrington DL Bills
    Antonio Johnson DT Titans
    Brian DeLaPuenta C Saints

    1 Gabe Jackson G Mississippi State
    2 Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
    3 Kareem Martin DE NC
    4 Daniel McCullers DL Tennessee
    6 Michael Flaco TE New Haven
    6 Preston Brown ILB Louisville
    7 Kaleb Ramsey DL Boston College

    Stay aggressive BB and Staff!

  4. Pete H. says:

    Anyone else a little bewildered by the LaFell signing? We already have 2 slot receivers getting paid. Unless Bill sees something in the guy that he wasn’t able to do with the Panthers, he seems a bit redundant – the deal Hakeem Nicks signed seems like it would have been more attractive – less money, plus a guy who plays primarily outside, where you need more depth, plus only one year, so you have roster space to draft someone if they fall and cash to devote to resigning Revis, Solder, Vereen and any others next year, plus you’d have a guy who would be likely to help you out with a compensatory pick in the future after playing out his prove-it contract. Playing with Brady and a relatively unproven and injury-prone receiving corps would have likely been an attractive place for Nicks to get numbers and prove his value on a one-year deal as well. Is this a sign that Amendola will be released? It doesn’t really make sense from a cap perspective – any savings are so small that you won’t be able to use them to get a better player than Amendola, so you might as well see if he can rebound, similar to how Edelman did this past season.

    • steve earle says:

      Looks to me as LaFell’s 6-2 210 size had something to do with his signing. Guys have been crying for a bigger WR, here he is. The Nick’s train left the building for what ever reason BB didn’t seem interested. Now Amendola, his come back (?) likely would mean Edelman gets injured. (lets hope not) Your probably right that he sticks for another year unless traded, not to likely given his cap number. Releasing him would only be to free up a roster spot not for savings, (could happen?).

    • acm says:

      Lafell isn’t a slot guy but a pretty universal big-bodied WR who can also play in the slot. He is very much a Hakeem Nicks type of player and would play opposite Dobson or instead of him, if AD is injured.
      I like the signing as Lafell and Nicks were my top choices for an experienced WR in free agency but guess Nicks didn’t tickle BB’s fancy with the injuries and other concerns. Imo, Lafell is quite likely seen as a player who has the talent to improve his production as part of a high-powered passing offense, which he lacked while in Carolina. That, as well as Steve Smith’s presence, may well have limited him in showing his full potential and ability.

  5. Bill Vermont says:

    Now that the first week of free agency is in the books, and the Pats have been active and winners, There’s got to be a lot of happy campers out there. I couldn’t imagine it going much better. they kept Edelman and got LaFell, so WR is not now a position of need. They got the best CB in NFL and a big hard hitter in Revis and Browner, so there is no pressure to draft a CB.

    1) Ryan Shazier. If Kony Ealey or Hageman were still there, I’d probably take one, but my 1st choice would be Ryan Shazier

    • Bill Vermont says:

      Can’t even finish my own thoughts. Shazier can play SS in NFL, and with Mayo, Hightower and Collins, they could really really control the underneath area, which has been the biggest problem of Pats for the last 3-4 years.

      2) Troy Niklas, ASJ, or best C available. The 2 TE’s might be gone , but Niklas is a pr4oject as a pass catcher so he might be available despite his talent. Marcus Martin, Swanson, or Richburg should be available at 61

      3) This is where I’d be looking for DE ( assuming we drafted Shazier at #1 instead of Ealey)
      Demarcus Lawrence, Will Clark, Marcus Smith. They’d all be good picks here

      4) If we don’t have a TE yet, then CJF from Iowa. If he’s gone , d take Arthur Lynch. If we did draft a TE at #2, then the same 3 C might be available still. there are a lot of OG / tackle converts that would be prime here also

      Later picks are pretty much about planning and opportunisticity ( that a word? ) But we’d have a great chance to draft a developmental CB like a walt Aiken , who is good sized, very fast , but crude and needs some NFL coaching. We now have time with this team. A big DT/NT like Kerr from Delaware, or Khyri Thornton ( SO MIss), or Calvin Barnett from OK State.

    • steve earle says:

      Shazier can play SS in NFL? How do we know that? I’m a little concerned when we draft someone in the 1st who has to transition to another position. Not saying one way or the other he can or can’t, just concerned. I’d rather Hagaman then Ealy who is not great against the run I read in draft scout. Plus a DE would have to beat out Nink or Jones to start. rather have a potential starter drafted in 1st rd.

  6. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriots are doing amazing the secondary is going to be very strong.Edelman and LaFell
    with possible Britt who can do that Hernandez roll for the Pats. the Patriots have
    always been willing to take a chance and I think Britt being thrown to by Tom Brady could work greatly.
    Free Agents
    Corey Wooten DE Bears
    Pat Sims NT Raiders
    Pat Angerer ILB Colts
    Kyle Cook C Bengals

    1 Cyril Richardson G Baylor
    2 Troy Niklas TE ND
    3 Jerick McKinnon RB Georgia Southern
    4 Dominque Easley DL Florida
    6 DeAndre Coleman DL California
    6 Jordan Zumwalt ILB UCLA
    7 Morgan Breslin OLB USC

    • steve earle says:

      Your kidding, right Dan? Richardson at #29? After the all star games he’s being projected 3rd-4th rounds and McKinnon a 7th or udfa in 3rd? Maybe time to rethink this mock?

  7. acm says:

    Pats are believed to have signed WR Brandon LaFell on a 3 year, 11 mil contract.
    WR Kenny Britt still expected to visit on Sunday.

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      Burning the midnight lamp ACM?

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      I am really hoping for a Kenny Britt signing. I guess the Lafell signing renders that scenario unlikely?

      What are your thoughts on the Edelman / Browners signings? Free agency in general?

      • acm says:

        Britt shouldn’t cost much with little to no guaranteed money, I’d think. So, wouldn’t be surprised if they signed him too and kick his tires in training camp and see what shakes out thee. Injuries happen, can’t have just 5-6 Wr for camp.

      • steve earle says:

        Edelman’s break out year deserves a chance at another this year and I think the money is wisely invested. If he has another good year and stays healthy we will benifit greatly. Browner has some baggage but he’s a prototype big CB and fits BB’s press coverage to a T. With Revis and Browner starting we now have as good a set of CB’s as there is in the league. Dennard and Ryan as contributers Bill has the option of looking at Arrington’s $4 mil cap hit and decide if he’s worth it or maybe restructur him if acm is right that bill values/likes him so much that he has to keep him. (Me, I think $4 mil is a little much for slot coverage.) All in all I like these signings.

  8. J H TARBORO says:

    1. DT Aaron Donald Pitt – other considerations(Nix,Hageman, or Dee Ford)
    2. OC/OG Weston Richburg Colorado St.
    3. TE Troy Niklas Notre Dame
    4. RB/WR/KR Dri Archer Kent St.
    6. OLB/DE Chaz Sutton South Carolina
    6. DT Zach Kerr Delaware
    6. (comp) WR Jeff Janis Saginaw Valley
    7. CB Phillip Gaines Rice 7.RB Tyler Gaffney Stanford

    Mallett trade if possible to Texans#33 or Vikings#40- QB AJ McCarron Alabama
    more with UDFA- Very deep!

    • acm says:

      Is that something you’d like to see happen or think the Pats would do?

      • J H TARBORO says:

        A little of both, but i have 4 different combinations, it a lot tougher this year with this much talent. Honestly, i like WR Martavis Bryant, RB Andre Williams (if Blount leaves) TE Colt Lyerla in the 6th rd. but i know most people would like to see a TE early. Because of CB signings, i took Mcgill and Baptise off the list.

        • acm says:

          tbh, I am not sure some of those players would fit what the Pats would likely look for at least not at that “price” (Donald and Archer, in particular) while others I think are likely to be gone where you pick them. I think your best bet to get all those players above would look more like:

          Donald, Niklas, Richburg, P.Gaines, Janis, Kerr, Archer (or Archer, Kerr), and Sutton in the 7th.

          free agency isn’t over yet but while I can see them get a split-end Wr or a vet TE (the former Texans players and D. Clark) or a vet pass-rusher (Smith, Clemons, Spencer) or a RB (Blount), I don’t think they can improve much on OL, SS and Run-defence (a run-stuffer should Wilfork leave). This is why I doubt they would go for a DT of the type of Donald (Nix and Daquan Jones seem more likely). As for SS, they seem to be trying to recreate what Seattle’s done with their secondary, so while I expect that Browner would take snaps at SAF too, I think the one week spot left at the back is SS, which makes me think they go for in the draft (Harmon is a FS and T. Wilson is well, T. Wilson). Now there is always the outside chance A Wilson comes back and makes a difference but how do you gamble on that if you’ve already invested so much in the secondary?

          As for Archer, well, you know my take on that – late round at best, better chance if he goes UDFA.

        • J H TARBORO says:

          We play a 3-4 4-3 hybrid on defense, why wouldn’t Donald fit? Kerr is the run stuffing DT 6’2 330
          WR Jeff Janis ran 4.3 4.35 at the combine at 6’2 215 and caght everything at Michigan pro day.
          It’s a passing league correct? Archer in space, who would catch him? oh yeah! Brady is throwing the ball!
          Phillip Gaines, if you watched the combine is the biggest sleeper!
          Weston Richburg is a center, who would be great at guard.
          Niklas a good blocker/pass catcher
          Tyler Gaffney ran a lot faster than most scouts thought and he’s durable, and athletic.

        • acm says:

          The Pats run a 4-3 most of the time and if they go in 3-4 it’s by dropping one of teh DEs (Ninko mostly). Donald is too small for a 4-3 DT and especially a bad fit for a unit that needs to improve in stopping the run above all. With his athleticism, he would be a far better fit for a full time 3-4 D not a D that may play 3-4 once in a while. And all that at the price of a 1st round? Let’s be realistic here.
          Kerr is a developmental player, maybe he becomes a starter a couple of years down the road, maybe not. Is that really the best medicine for a DL that needs to improve in stopping the run? I like Kerr and like him a lot but to start the season with your hopes of an improved run D hinging on a 7th round pick is … well, poor planning.

          On Richburg – I like the player but he is an OC, not a OG at least his OG play is a year or two away from starter level at NFL. The Pats right now need a starter at OG more so than OC because Connolly is a better OC than an OG. So while Richburg is a good OC, he is not a good enough OG to start now in the NFL and thus not a perfect fit for the Pats’ immediate needs at OL.

          Not sure what your point is on Janis, Gaines, Gaffney, Niklas. I like them all and if anything I moved them up the draft order because I thought you had them placed unrealistically late. Gaines used to be a sleeper, not any more. Same for Janis.

          On Archer, we can go back and forth till tomorrow. In the end of the day he is no Tavon Austin but another youtube legend like Mcguffie (already got cut); he is nothing but a special teamer right now and doesn’t have a well defined role as a starter in the NFL. You just don’t draft a player like that any earlier than 6-7th round. And the Pats take such players as FA/UDFA (McGuffie and that other kid, forgot his name) namely so they don’t have to spend a draft pick on them.
          You like the player and wanna mock him in the 4th, that’s perfectly fine but shouldn’t expect that to reflect the Pats’ likely evaluation of him.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      Donald is clearly the best DT in draft regaurdless of his size. The others we can disagree on, who would you like since you have such strong opinions! ACM.

      • acm says:

        as I said, the only players in that mock I don’t see as good fits are Donald, Archer and to an extent Richburg.

        Donald is NOT the best Dt in the draft for there is no such thing to begin with. He is the most athletic player among the DTs but “best” cannot be used in such a general sense … “best” can describe a fit for a given system/scheme. So, while DOnald may be the best fit for some teams out there, I just don’t think the Pats are among those, especially considering he’d likely require a very high pick. All in all, I am not saying Donald is a bad player, I just think he is a bad fit with the Pats.

        Across the D line for the Pats, as good fits, given current needs, I see D. Jones and Tuitt in the 2nd round.
        Then players Cauraun Reid (would be an improvement over Chris Jones I think) in the 4th and Zack Kerr in 6/7th, but that would be mostly to develop them down the line; back ups at first, not likely to be ready to immediately contribute in too big a way.

  9. J H TARBORO says:

    Happy to see Edelman back, 105 catches was a lot of production but for only 1WR. This year will come down to coaching and Brady’s comfort with his other receivers (Boyce,Dobson,Thompkins, and Harrison) this is were our biggest threats will be, not with Edelman and Amendola. I really don’t want to see Brady just throwing to Gronk and Edelman only or we will be back to were we started again.

  10. acm says:

    Rapaport is saying the Pats and Edelman have agreed to a contract (per source).

  11. Dan Sullivan says:

    Great Revis and Browner. Edelman should sign soon. Vince maybe moving on.
    Free Agents for Pat Sriots
    Robert Ayers DE Broncos
    Austin Spitler LB Dolphins
    Antonio Johnson DL Titans
    John Jerry G Dolphins
    Fred Davis TE Redskins
    LeRod Stephens Howling RB Pittsburgh

    1 Ra’Shede Hageman DL Minnesota
    2 Travis Swanson C Arkansas
    3 CJ Fiedorowicz TE Iowa
    4 Shayne Skov LB Stanford
    6 Chris Burnette G Georgia
    6 Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley
    7 Charles Leno OT Boise St.

    Stay Aggressive Patriots and great wok so far.

    • steve earle says:

      I like this mock much better then the one above Dan my only question is Skov in the 4th rd. The kid is another Spikes, a run stuffer, not very good pass defender who we saw chasing TE’s and RB’s down field all last year.

  12. HD Paulie says:

    Let Big Vince walk, cut Connely and use the savings to sign Jared Allen and Brandon LaFell. Trade down in 1st and with 2 2nd rounders grab best available DT, Easley Tuitt,Sutton etc and best available TE AJS, Niklas, or Amaro. 2 3rd rounders, best available big WR Moncrief, Bryant etc. Then best available C, Swanson, Richburg, Marcus Martin or best available OG, Gabe Jackson, Dakota Dozier, Bitonio etc. 4th round, if we take a C with 3rd round then best available OG. If we take OG in 3rd then best available C. Players I would love to see us get somehow would be LB Kyle Van Noy LB Telvin Smith, S Dion Buchanan or Brock Vereen, Pass rushers Jackson Jeffcoat and Aaron Lynch. Would love to see speedy RB Dri Archer (6th or 7th) as return man and offensive gadget player.

    • steve earle says:

      I think your approach sounds good but isn’t very effective in making for the strongest over all draft. Limiting the highest 2nd round choice to a DT and the lower 2nd to a TE and so forth doesn’t appeal to me because that DT may not be the best player value on the board. For instance taking Easley high is not good. He has had two serious knee injuries already, and who knows if Tuitt or Sutton will be around. Plus Sutton is more a 3rd rd guy imo. But my point is, locking in on any position for each round can exclude a better player still on the board. just my opinion.

  13. Daniel R. Martin says:

    How much would Julius Peppers cost? I say cut or hopefully trade Wilfork and sign Julius Peppers to a 2 year deal. He may be long in the tooth but he is still putting up Chandler Jones type sack numbers. 6′-7 athletic quick. Could be a good fit.

    • acm says:

      well, you just got your answer – Peppers signed a 3 year deal, worth 30 mil max with the Packers. Very much along the lines of the Ware deal, it seems.
      So much for championship discount from aging, over the hill almost running on empty pass rushers these days. The win-now desperation mode can sure make common sense its victim. Good luck getting J. Allen to sign for anything less than that.

      Guess, at this point, the only realistic options I can think of for a half-decent, veteran pass-rusher in free agency are Will Smith, Cris Clemons and Anthony Spencer … all of whom are returning, or fresh off, serious injuries.

      • steve earle says:

        Right, pass rushers, even those long in the tooth guys, are the big hot items these days. It my be that resigning Carter will be as pratical a fix outside the draft that Bill can mannage this year? Frankley I have no brilliant or otherwise ideas for this.

      • Pete H. says:

        Makes the 2-year deal that John Abraham got last year look pretty good right now… wish we would’ve nabbed him last year!

  14. Daniel R. Martin says:

    My mock is looking better and better in light of these off season acquisitions, I must say. I am pleased with the addition of Reevis, especially because the deal was structured in such a way as to allow for the salary cap hit to be spread somewhat to next season. I didn’t know much about browner prior to today. However, now that I realize he is 6′-4″ 225 iBls. and hits like a wrecking ball, I must say he is precisely what we’ve been looking far. I hope A. Wilson can start back laying wood on opposing receivers. The addition of Craig Loston would fit nicely within this secondary corps.

    I agree with ACM that perhaps it is time to move out of the mold of utilizing big bodied run stuffers at D-Tackle in lieu of agile, aggressive pass rushing specialists. Just think about what the combination of speed, size, athleticism and coverage ability the addition of Jamie Collins promises to infuse into our overall defense.

    • steve earle says:

      Acm has advocated for more pass rushing DT’s but my concern is that it wouldn’t take long for OC’s to adapt and begin running the ball down our throats and using play action passing to attack us. These more athletic DT’s would have to be up to the task of run stuffing in the 4th quarters, not all of them would be to my mind. Defenses like offenses must have reasonable balances or they risk being vunerable.

      • acm says:

        it’s being done by quite a few teams already with success. The idea is not to compromise the run D by using small DT only but rather that they don’t use overly big NTs in the DT role of a 4-3 front 7. Wilfork worked there till now due to his being very athletic for his size but players like that are not easy to find and he is unlikely to be back at being himself.
        So, it’s all about using big but athletic DTs for run-stuffing but not quite as big as a NT would be. examples would be Red Bryant, Haloti Ngata, Linval Joseph, etc – they give you more push on the pocket yet are good in plugging the run. That’s why I said in another thread that if there was one player I regretted losing the most in FA that was L. Joseph.

        A player like that in the draft, of that size at least, is Daquan Jones. Not sure if he has the technique to give you that push trhu the middle yet but guess they’d have to hope he can develop quickly, if they were to draft him.

        • steve earle says:

          Yes, that I agree with. I think that brings us back to Nix III, Hagaman, Tuitt to my thinking but I have serious doubts they will last to 29 which is why i mocked DaQ Jones as a high 3rd rd most recently, figering a trade down is probable. Your point about Donald reflects my thinking which I based my thread about the smaller DT types on. Actually we again seem to be thinking very much alike.

  15. acm says:

    nice pick up by the Pats, Browner was exactly the type of player their secondary lacked with all those 5’10” players there. The contract is a bit more expensive than I expected it would be, but would depend on the guaranteed money and how it’s structured.
    If they can stay healthy this year, I think it’s safe to say the Pats finally have a proper secondary and then some.

    • steve earle says:

      CB position looking real good. I’d still llike a good SS from somewhere. I’m now wondering how this mighy effect Arrington our weak link?

      • acm says:

        at this point, I don’t think there is a good enough SS in free agency to warrant investing more money in the secondary. My guess is, they see what they have in Adrian Wilson and take a player in the draft. Maybe Wilson still has some gas left in the tank and looked slow last pre-season due to playing with an injury … guy can hope.
        Either way, somehow doubt they leave the SS to Tavon Wilson or Harmon – have already invested way too much in recreating the LOB at Foxboro to wimp out on the SS position, imo.

        Also, probably they are planning to play a lot of press-men in the secondary, for that to work at it’s best, they need to improve the pass-rush. Best guess would be one vet DE on a championship discount in free agency and then a pick or two in the draft (expect Demarcus lawrence and Aaron Lynch to be best value picks in that area, imo).

        Then there is of course OL, WR, TE and even RB to take care of. And DL might need reinforcement depending on Wilforks’ situation. Personally, I hope they move away from overly big, fat guys in the middle.

        All in all, lots is left to be done to make the team SB ready.

        • steve earle says:

          One SS FA who is under the radar ( unless he’s been signed while I was out) is Wright from Chicago. Not someone who would make us forget Rodney Harrison but a solid upgrade from what we have.

      • acm says:

        I think BB values Arrington way too much (in the slot and special teams, as well as emergency outside CB, as bad as he is there) to be looking to get rid of him even with the 4 mil salary/year.
        Plus Dennard has had a steady run of niggling injuries lately, so you need KA in there.

        • steve earle says:

          Bill is very pragmatic so liking or not wouldn’t be the key here. Now with two pro bowl starters at CB and Dennard ( even with nicks and bumps) and Ryan ( showing real promase) how much money does he alot to the position? He may like to keep Arrington but a mid or low round draft prospect at much less money as an emergency/ ST player makes lots more sense then $4 mil on Arrington imo.

        • acm says:

          didn’t say “likes”, steve, but “values” – that’s part of BB being pragmatic in keeping Arrington, for now.
          I have also considered trading him for say a 4th if a player like EJ Gaines or even Terrance Brooks (unlikely) is still on board and save cap space. At this point, however, I think KA’s value to the team in bill’s eyes is too high for that and then there is Dennard’s situation and niggling injuries and the unknowns surrounding Ryan’s 2nd year development or play in the slot.

  16. steve earle says:

    Confermed by 2 sites Browner signed. WOW!!!! Revis and Browner WOW WOW!!!!
    Can’t say much else!

  17. Russell says:

    Brandon Browner signs with Patriots , 3yrs. $17 mil , of max value.

  18. JMC says:

    Patriots: Lafeel and Dobson- would be a good team of receivers, in type- to A PLAY ACTION BASED OFFENSE- With the QB under Center for at least 50% of the snaps-

    • JMC says:

      Hoping for interior OL and a TE in the draft in the Stanford Model- or Best player available- Tavon is a player to watch- Can he tackle TEs over the middle? Can he play 3rd down like a nickel specializing in TEs and the middle? The S from Rutgers, H-something, is good-fast- but a FS not a SS.

      • steve earle says:

        If it’s Travon Wilson your asking about,, NO!

        • JMC says:

          Yes that’s the kid- 2nd round draft pick out of Illinois- unproven Safety in the third year of his contract (if I remembered that…..).

      • JMC says:

        It’s supposed to be a deep draft for WRs- Its been said that there are going to be some NFL quality WRs that are not going to get drafted-

        • acm says:

          problem with drafting a rookie WR is that these players usually need 1-2 years to develop before they become true difference-makers at the NFL level. So, even they spent a high pick on a WR the production they’d likely get out of that next year would be on the low end of things.

        • steve earle says:

          amc is right on the mark with his view of Wr’s in the draft. I would expect we would be much better served to put our hopes on last years rookies, Dobson, Thompkins, Boyce, and Harrison, rather then go high pick(s) this year at WR. I’d be betting that as deep as WR is in this draft some good talent will be around even into the udfa area.

        • steve earle says:

          Now that LaFell has been signed and Britt is on the radar the question of which way Bill is going draft wise has been answered. That doesn’t exclude udfa.

      • Ken W says:

        Duron Harmon would be the safety that they would go with if Wilson has nothing left.

        Duron Harmon – 37% of snaps last year
        Tavon Wilson – 1.5% of snaps last year

        I think they have given up on Tavon.

  19. Daniel R. Martin says:

    We got Browner!

  20. J H TARBORO says:

    The Pats aren’t going to release Vince Wilfolk without being compensated via trade.

  21. J H TARBORO says:

    I believe the Pats are looking for trade partners for Vince Wilfolk, they won’t cut him and recieve no compensation, at least not yet.

    • GM-In-Training says:

      So, a trade partner has to be willing to take the chance on Vince Wilfork’s 2014 salary plus offer up some conditional draft picks depending on playing time, starting, snap percentages, post-season team achievements, accolades such as pro-bowl. What range of 2015 and/or 2016 conditional picks might be appropriate?

      • Russell says:

        I would send Wilfork and the Patriots 2nd #62 , to Cleveland for thier 2nd, #35

        • acm says:

          why would Cleveland of all teams need a hobbled, ultra-expensive, aging Wilfork? They have two very good NT already in Rubin and Taylor.

          There are two ways this goes down – VW is cut or he cools off, comes back to his senses and restructures.

          Or if you fancy a 3rd way but that one requires the Raiders being even stupider and more desperate than they likely are – package Wilfork and the injured Amendola and trade them for a 3rd/4th/5th rounder or whatever, in a move that’s more about clearing cap room and reloading than getting a valuable pick. MCKenzie was told by Davis he had to win this year, so maybe Pats can take advantage of that. nother issue is McKenzie won’t have to even fake the physical with both DA and VW to say they failed it. So, in all likelihood, we are back to the previous two options.

        • steve earle says:

          I like acm’s idea of packing VW and Amendola together but trade with Wash not Cleve.

        • acm says:

          wouldn’t go as far as calling it an idea, it was little more than desperate shot in the dark.

        • steve earle says:

          Another thought, lets throw Arrington into the deal too.

        • steve earle says:

          That’s okay amc, sometimes shots in the dark spark ideas. Sometimes they just shoot blanks too, but what the heck.

      • jim r says:

        that is a big salary hit for somebody coming off an injury

  22. Dan Sullivan says:

    Big Vince will cool down and restructure with Pats that’s best for both sides.
    Free Agents
    Paul McQuistan G Seattle
    Owen Daniels TE Texans
    Emmanuel Sanders WR Pittsburgh
    Miles Austin WR Dallas
    Julius Peppers DE Bears
    Nate Allen S Eagles

    1 Tim Jernigan DT Florida State
    2 Austin Seferian Jenkins TE Washington
    3 Donte Moncreif WR Mississippi
    4 James Gayle DE Virginia Tech
    6 Shamar Stephen DL Connecticut
    6Austin Wentworth OL Fresno State
    7 Tevin Reese WR Baylor

  23. Joe Blake says:

    Draft: DT, TE, OL in that order. 1,2,3. Secondary looks fixed via FA with Revis and Browner signed. WR , DE & Cover LB on hit list as well, either via FA or Draft. Brady back up can wait: post June 1 and training camp cuts as Mallett will be gone via trade for draft pick. Later picks: focus on OL.

    • steve earle says:

      Yea but Browner isn’t signed— yet— and may never be. It was said they were close but that only counts in horse shoes. He’s off to Washington today where they have lots of money and no first round choice so make of that what you will.

  24. jared hose says:

    (Patriots) Obviously with the possibility of vince wilforks departure you would think the only way the patriots wouldnt draft a DT would be if they got some incredible value at 29, i could see them going after Ealy who ran a good three cone drill, playing ealy opposite chandler jones wouldnt be a bad pass rush, but their first round selection will most likely be timmy jernigan or rashede hageman the second round would most likely be an offensive lineman, the third being a tightend, idk im not mel kiper and no one can read the mind of bill belichick all you can do is sit back and guess and enjoy the show on may 8th

  25. J H TARBORO says:

    WR (slot) Jeremy Gallon Michigan and Large WR Martavis Bryant Clemson

  26. GM-In-Training says:

    If you’re the Pats, what do you draft first?
    Wilfork’s replacement?
    Gronkowski’s backup?
    A red-zone (tall, great leaper like Mike Evans) wideout?
    Strong safety?

    I think you can get a mismatch move tightend in the 4th round.

    • J H TARBORO says:

      IMO a DT, a CB to sit behind Revis, TE, a RB (Ridley and Vereen contracts are up next year) or LB.

      • Pete H. says:

        CB is an interesting option as a top target for the Pats. I think if they go CB in the first couple of rounds, you’re looking at saying goodbye to Revis next year. If they’re hoping to keep him long-term, not sure it makes sense to go CB high with 4 solid contributors under contract at the position and other holes emerging (TE, G, C, 3rd DE, 4th LB, SS, WR).

    • Matt says:

      In the first round the Pats should draft a DT Nix or Donald would be good. The Pats can draft a good TE in the second like Niklas. And then go on from there.

      • steve earle says:

        Really think Nix III or Donald will fall to #29? I’m guessing not. I expect Bill trades down and out of 1st for a high/mid 2nd and 3rd. jmo.

        • Matt says:

          No I think the Pats might move up. Wilfork is gone and they will need a good replacement for him. And either Nix or Donald lined up next to Kelly would be good.

        • steve earle says:

          @ Matt, Thinking it over but can’t see a trade up. First Bill has and is investing alot of cap money in FA this year. (darn good job of it too.) Second Bill likes to aquire picks not give them up. Third, He still has lots of upgrades to make, DT, DE, SS, OG, OC, he could address all of these if he trades the #29 for additional 2nd and 3rd giving him 5 picks from 2nd to 4th rd. Then flyers on guys in 6th and 7th rds.

    • Pete H. says:

      Out of those, DT seems like the strongest candidate. If you can land a #1 receiver you feel comfortable with, maybe Marqise Lee or someone who falls, and your top DT prospects are off the board, I’d say go for it. But most likely one of Donald, Jernigan, Nix, or Tuitt (not sure if I want Hageman in the first) will be available, and with Wilfork probably cut and Kelly done after this season, you could use an impact starter on the interior of the line.

    • steve earle says:

      Who or what position is drafted first will be determined not by who we want but how the draft unfolds. If the better DT’s are gone you do not grab one just to take a DT. That goes for any other position, need or not. We are drafting #29 after all and it’s the overall strengthof your draft that will decide the success or failure of your team. I’ve been reluctant to put out a mock for two or three weeks waiting for the chips to fall but will throw one out just as an example now.
      I’m betting no DT’s are worthy when we come up at 29 so we trade down for a 2nd and a 3rd.
      2#35-45 ASJ TE Washington – injured will slide into 2nd rd
      2#61 Travis Swanson OC Ark – Cannon moves into ROG & Windell moves on.
      3a DaQuan Jones DT Penn St – Good value, not Nix III, but good DT
      3b Christian Jones ILB/OLB Fla ST – Fast athletic adds depth and flexability.
      4. Ahmad Dixion SS Baylor – Hybred LB/SS renforces backfield and LB’s
      5 traded
      6a Aaron Murray QB Geo. – coming off injury, littly undersized, slides.
      6b Matt Patchan OT BC – LT at BC move to swing OT – development.
      6 comp? Spencer Long OG NEB – coming off inj – was high rated
      7a Larry Webester DE Blom’brg. – green but with great upside
      7comp? Jerick McKinnon RB Geo So – Option QB with prolific running numbers 0

  27. Jim Rice says:

    Nobody cares about this clown

  28. Pete H. says:

    As for DEs mentioned in this article, I could see Tuitt taken in the 1st to be a 4-3 DT, Demarcus Lawrence as an emerging target for the Pats in the 3rd round as a pass-rusher, and I could see Webster being a target in the 7th as a probable practice squadder with upside.

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