Thoughts on the NFL Draft and Patriots Free Agency

You can stop the talk right now. Brandon Browner isn’t moving to Safety.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

This past week was one of the most exciting periods for the New England Patriots and their fans especially in terms of player acquisition. Unlike most years where the Patriots let the market come to them, Coach Belichick attacked the free agent market with a sense of urgency and landed real impact players. The free agent transactions have a real effect on the Patriots draft needs and their strategy entering the draft. Even though free agency is only week old, it’s time to breakdown the moves already made and look ahead to what’s next for the Patriots.

1) Where Things Stand: Prior to the start of free agency the three biggest needs on the Patriots roster were Defensive Tackle, Tight End, and Pass Rusher. Now that the initial rush of free agency is over and the smoke has cleared those three positions remain the most likely areas to be targeted early in the draft. It is still possible the Patriots add veteran depth at those positions before the draft, but the quality of player left on the market, leaves a lot to be desired. If they intend to upgrade these positions for 2014 it will almost certainly come during the first two days of the draft.

It’s now a near certainity that the Patriots won’t be selecting a cornerback in the 2014 draft. If you look at the depth chart from top to bottom the Patriots will field a unit of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington in week five. The team really likes 2nd year man Justin Green who spent most of the season on the practice squad, but got into some limited game action. Even if the Patriots like one of the corners on the board when they draft, there simply isn’t a roster spot for that player unless they move on from one of their current corners. Any CB added to the roster before the summer will be undrafted free agents and camp bodies.

2) Undrafted Free Agents: Digressing for a moment. Last year the Patriots were aggressive in their pursuit of undrafted free agents after the draft and it paid off. They received incredible production from players such as Joe Vellano, Kenbrell Thompkins, Ryan Allen, and Josh Kline throughout the season. If you look at the roster and do the math, I expect them to once again be active immediately following the draft. As of today the roster stands at 62 players, the maximum number of players allowed during the off-season and camp is 90. NFL teams generally like to approach that number during the summer so they can run a full camp, have competition at all positions, and keep the starters reps down. Currently, the Patriots are 28 players under that roster limit right now. Subtract the Patriots seven draft picks and at most two compensatory selections and there are still 19 players under the limit. Those spots won’t all be filled by veteran free agents. Look for them to sign between 15-17 UDFA immediately after the draft and take that same aggressive, targeted approach that worked in 2013.

3) Overlooked and Secondary Draft Needs: If the Patriots activity early in free agency is any indication, then expect the Patriots to target linebacker depth, especially one that can cover, and the interior offensive line at some point during the draft. Among the first players contacted during free agency were Former Broncos LB Wesley Woodyard, Center Phil Costa, and OG Shelley Smith. None of the players signed in New England, but it was a sign that those are areas they are looking to add to for 2014.

Linebacker is an area to watch. The majority of people don’t believe it’s a draft priority because they have three quality starters and used their first pick in 2013 draft on a linebacker. But, when the depth of the position is examined, it’s clear they aren’t done here. Depth and speed is still necessary at the position and with the subpackage becoming more and more important, I wonder if the Patriots look to add another speedy, subpackage LB early in the draft. With that in mind a name to watch could be Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier. He’s in a similar mold as Jamie Collins, as both are athletic and physical freaks. We’ve already seen the Patriots dramatically upgrade the backend of the defense, which will improve the pass rush. By adding another speedy LB like Shazier coverage and speed at the position immediately goes for a weakness to a strength. Not to mention the pass rush will be upgraded by default.

4) Inactivity at Defensive Tackle: I have to say I am a little surprised the Patriots haven’t been more active on the defensive tackle front to this point. However, when you look at the free agent market at this position there really wasn’t a lot of impact available. At this point the Vince Wilfork situation looms large. I believe all along that he was finished in New England, but my thinking and understanding of the situation has changed. I’ve changed my tune and now believe he will be back in New England on a deal that works for both parties.

If Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are back, along with the three youngsters (whom Bill Belichick is high on), then it’s not so difficult to see why the Patriots haven’t been more active. There is no doubt they need more size and another run stuffing presence in the middle, no doubt they need depth for Vince Wilfork. That player doesn’t exsist on the free agent market and will come in the draft. I still contend that Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III is perhaps the most likely Patriots first round selection, regardless of positions. The fit, the connections, and the talent of the player are just fit perfectly with the needs of the team.

5) Brandon Browner is a Corner not a Safety:Let’s stop all the talk right now about Brandon Browner and moving to safety. Read my lips: IT IS NOT HAPPENING. With the emergence of Kam Chancellor and the imapct he had on the Super Bowl it seems like strong safety is now the “en vogue” position of the 2014 off-season. A few years ago the position was dying away with more combo and coverage safies playing the position. Now fans and media all want a “big, physical, hard-hitting safety”. So when the uninformed media and fan-base look up Brandon Browner on his wikipedia page and see 6’4″ 221 lbs, they immediately peg him as a strong safety without ever putting a shred of tape on to verify their claim. This talk is nothing new to Browner, he faced the same questions in 2005 when he came out of Oregon State and it’s part of the reason he went undrafted. No one believes a 6’4″ 220 pound man can play CB in the NFL. Browner can.

Browner’s definitive strength is his ability to play press coverage. He loves to get his hands on receivers and disrupts route timing consistently. He looks smooth when playing press-bail technique and carries his coverage downfield while staying tight to his man. Browner is adept at reading the QB and locating the football. He drives on routes hard and uses his length to break up a number of passes. His physicality at the line and down the field wears receivers out and he’s big enough that a QB has to be very precise when targeting the receiver.

His weaknesses are straight line vertical speed and lateral quickness. He isn’t as comfortable playing in space and can allow separation out of breaks, especially on lateral breaking routes. Moving him to safety takes away all his strengths and puts him in a position where he’s not at his best. That is not soemthing Bill Belichick is known to do.

6) Draft Strategy: Now that there is some clarity on the Patirots needs. Here is my proposed draft strategy for the Patriots based on my current beliefs regarding position depth, rankings, and where players will come off the board.

Round One: In the first round I believe it’s beneficial for the Patriots to be aggressive in their pursuit of defensive linemen and Tight Ends. They need to come out of this round with an upgrade at one of those posiitons. As I’ve mentioned before the most likely names to be mentioned are Louis Nix III, Stephon Tuitt, and Kony Ealy. All three would fill big needs and provide depth at key posiitons. If they don’t go defensive line, they need to go Tight End. The top four TE will come off the board fast. Once the first once goes, look for a run on the others. If they miss out on the top four guys, there’s a good chance we don’t see the two-TE offense next season. Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are the most likely names to be considered at the end of round one. If the top two TE are gone and Nix is off the board I’m all for drafting another LB like Ryan Shazier to build depth and speed in the subpackage defense. Belichick has shown in the past, he’s more than willing to use a first round pick at any of these positions.

Round Two: This is where ultimately the Patriots will get their Tight End. They may have to trade up to secure Seferian-Jenkins or Troy Niklas, but it needs to be done. If they select a Tight End in round one then look for pass rush or defensive line to be a target here. Don’t sleep on Safety if one of the top guys falls a little further than anticipated.

Round Three: The Patriots haven’t had much success in the third round of the draft. Based on my strategy the Patriots come out of the first two rounds with a DT and a TE. That will enable them to target the best available pass rusher or linebacker in this round. Among the names likely available to them here will be Scott Crichton, Marcus Smith, and Jackson Jeffcoat. Smith is a name to watch. He’s athletic, versatile, and can rush the passer. I heard the Patriots sent a contingent down to Louisville last week to privately work some players out prior to the Pro Day.

Rounds Four through Seven: If the draft goes as I laid out above, through three rounds the Patriots will have a DT, TE, and DE/OLB. That means the three top needs on day three of the draft will be OG/OC, LB, and SS. A pass catching running back that can play on third down will be target as well. Luckily for the Patriots there is good depth at SS and RB deep into the draft.

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46 Responses to “Thoughts on the NFL Draft and Patriots Free Agency”

  1. philip boisjoly says:

    what about the fact is we don’t have that many needs to compliment our talent level, we should take a 2015 1st and the best offered with a necessary 2nd and whatever else we can get. this sets us up for the power we commanded with having two 1st rd picks to wheel and deal for high quality draft replacements for so many years!

  2. ronny schmengi says:

    the patriots getting derelle revis is a great move letz go super bowl patriots

  3. qwerty says:

    In regards to Browner not a Safety, Browner said he had discussions with Patriots on him playing Safety. I would guess he would be a hybrid chess piece in secondary. They would use him in different way depending on the situation.

  4. YodasLlama says:

    Patriots Seven Round Mock Draft with Trades!

    I do not usually project trades but I decided this time to do it for fun. Keep in mind that I always factor in who may be availbale with the Patriots picks and I try to factor in Bills logic of value > need. I also award the Patriots two compensatory picks. A 6th Rounder for Chung and a 7th for Woodhead.

    Trade One: New England trades its First Round Pick to Washington for Washington’s 2nd, 3rd, and 6th round picks. (Washington may want a top tier WR and I can see Snyder making a big move again to justify his drafting of Griffen, plus Snyder is an idiot)
    Trade Two: New England trades Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans for the Texans 3rd Round pick. (Houston will still draft a QB but I think O’Brien may want to use its first couple of picks on other positions. Mallett would be a low risk-high reward contract year rental that he is familiar with)

    Hope you enjoy!

    Round 2 (WASH). Ryan Shazier LB Ohio State
    At the top of the second round New England can go a bunch of directions with this pick and while LB is not a needed position it may end up being a intelligent draft selection. New England lost Spikes and Fletcher to free agency and all they have backing up the top three are Beauharnius and White. Collins may see a lot of time at DE this season and drafting Shazier would give New England positional versatility and a talented athletic linebacker to complete the rotation.

    Round 2. David Yankey OG/T Stanford
    New England needs some more talent on the interior of the offensive line. Yankey played LT his senior year and has the size and athleticism to play tackle if necessary in the NFL but he projects better as a guard and would be a perfect complement to Mankins inside. Drafting Yankey would allow New England to slide Connolly over to Center and upgrade that position as well.

    Round 3(HOU). Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
    I pray that Gronkowski stays healthy and is a Patriot for a very long time but if he continues to have his seasons cut short it may be worth it to pull the plug and release him. Regardless if Gronkowski stays or not having a clone to spell him and give Brady two beasts at TE to throw too would open this offense up significantly.

    Round 3(WASH). Kareem Martin DE North Carolina
    New England has back to back picks to start the third round and they draft more for value rather than need with its second pick. Martin was a slow riser in college and really did not produce until his senior year, however he has tons of potential and would be a perfect complement to Ninkovich and Jones at DE.

    Round 3. Daniel McCullers DT Tennessee
    McCullers is sadly Wilforks replacement. I am upset that Wilfork is playing hardball with a team that does not loose at hardball and if he does not restructure his contract, expect him to not be a Patriot next season. McCullers is a massive defensive tackle who is more athletic than given credit for.

    Round 4. Billy Turner G/OT North Dakota State
    Another pick to beef up the offensive line. Turner is a natural fit at Guard but could play tackle if necessary. Drafting Turner would allow New England to rotate their guards more frequently with Yankey, Cannon and Mankins. Turner and/or Yankey could also replace Solder if he does not resign after next season.

    Round 6(WASH). Bryan Stork C Florida State
    I know three offensive linemen. However New England will need them this season. Stork was well respected in his locker room and had a fantastic offensive line coach at Florida State. Drafting Stork would allow New England to shave off some more cap room by releasing Connolly and possibly signing Wendell to a vet minimum contract.

    Round 6(PHI). TJ Jones WR Notre Dame
    Jones falls to the sixth round because of his lack of top of the line speed and that slot receivers are plentiful in the NFL. Bill likes slot guys, especially slot guys with a little bit of size as Jones is 6’0″. He could play outside if necessary and was a team captain at Notre Dame. Brian Kelly loves Jones and his recommendation could have Jones drafted by New England. Worst case scenario he is a rotational player in the offense.

    Round 6. De’Anthony Thomas RB/WR/KR Oregon
    The later rounds is when New England starts drafting value over need and Thomas would bring a lot of value to New England. A small faster running back who may be nothing more than a talented kick returner but could be utilized out of the backfield on passing downs with Vereen and that would be terrifying for opposing defenses.

    Round 6(COMP). Marqueston Huff FS/SS Wyoming
    Huff is extremely fast running an unofficial 4.36 at the combine. He may be nothing more than a backup safety but he has the potential to be a valuable contributor at the backend of New Englands defense. McCourty and Harmon/A. Wilson have both safety slots locked down but having talented depth in the secondary is never a bad thing.

    Round 7. Bennett Jackson CB Notre Dame
    Jackson is athletic but he has severe form issues that would need to be addressed if he wants to make it in the NFL. However he would not be asked to contribute right away as New England has a pretty stocked cornerback cabinet. However Revis may be a year rental and while Jackson would not be his replacement, having talented depth in the secondary is never a bad thing.

    Round 7(COMP). Isaiah Crowell RB Alabama State
    Another character concern player that may end up being a steal if he keeps his act together in the NFL. Crowell has tried to piece his life back together after being released from the University of Georgia after his arrest and would be a great reclamation project for the Patriots. He has second round talent and would be worth a seventh round pick, even if he is nothing more than a backup in the NFL.

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      Didn’t recognize many of the names on this list. However, McCullers is not the best DT available in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. I don’t think he is the type of DT we need. He may be nice paired with a D-Tackle with a better nose for creating interior pressure. Consider Kelcy Quarles who amassed nearly double digit sacks. I recognize that much of that production was inflated because he benefited by playing with Clowney. However, the reports on McCullers is that he is big and can occupy lanes, but he has done little else.

      • YodasLlama says:

        Ill look into Quarles! Thanks for the feedback.

        The reason why I chose McCullers is because he is a space eater and thats what we really need as a starting Nose Guard. Armstead and Jones are more than capable of rotating as the pass rushing defensive tackle next to McCullers/Kelly/Silga.

        • steve earle says:

          We are several years from a base 3-4 so the need for a nose guard like McCullers doesn’t really exist for the Pat’s. Wolfolk was able to adapt becaus he was an exceptional athlete which McCullers is not. There are far better options in the draft.

    • Brian Benzio says:

      This mock is different than what I am used to seeing but i see the logic in almost all of your picks. I am not a huge fan of drafting Shazier with the first pick in the second round but I see why it would be logical from a positional and depth standpoint. Especially if Collins plays a lot at DE this season or if they run more 3-4 formations.

      However I love all three offensive line picks. Since New England has not bolstered the OL in free agency drafting three talented versatile offensive linemen would be smart even if they keep Connolly who should be a backup and resign Wendell.

      I like your creativity though. Too bad the actual draft will probably be very different.

    • jim r says:

      The CROW yessir

  5. Daniel R. Martin says:

    Post got buried before I could get feedback. Sorry for repost.

    ***First is traded for a 2,3 & 4.

    2 – Troy Niklas TE

    2 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Gabe Jackson OG

    3 – Chris Boreland ILB

    3 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Kelcy Quarles DT

    4 – Brandon Coleman WR OR Will Clarke DE

    4 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Craig Loston SS

    6 – Dri Archer RB/WR/PR/KR OR Ryan Carrethers DT

    6 — Colt Lyerla TE

    C6 – Seantrell Henderson OT

    7 – Boseko Lokombo OLB

    C7 – Spencer Long OG

    I have attempted to select players that I believe could potentially have a great impact for us on the field, at positions of need. I have also attempted to avoid overreaching for players that I like, placing them where I believe our team can realistically select them. I have also pared my draft down from my previous mock in an effort to have more relaistic expectations. For example, as much as we’d all like Texas to surrender their 33rd overall pick for Ryan Mallet, that simply isn’t going to happen. I don’t see us being able to trade Wilfork or Aemdola because other teams will be reticent to overpay them just as we are. As always, I appreciate any and all comments. I have reasons for selecting every player on this list.

  6. AM says:

    My real hope is that Aaron Donald somehow slips down to #29, but it looks like that is a longshot at best. Presuming he’s out of play, one best case scenario would be:

    #29: Kony Ealy, DE
    #62: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE
    #93: Weston Richburg, C
    #126: Caraun Reid, DT
    #182: Michael Sam, DE
    #190: Xavier Grimble, TE
    #221: Ryan Groy, OG

    • J H TARBORO says:

      AM, I’m hoping Donald will be there at #29 also. Donald was projected to go to Dallas but they just signed DT Henry Melton. I have a strong feeling Michael Sam will become a Patriot.

  7. J H TARBORO says:

    L.Blount to meet with the Steelers.

    • ronny schmengi says:

      i dont need the patriots to get rid of L.Blount he is a good part of the patriots

  8. bags says:

    I have us dealing Mallett to Houston for #65, that’s probably dead, and a few more trades which are to abstruse to go into now:

    I think we need a can’t miss player at #29. To me that’s Calvin Pryor. I see Cannon starting at RG, and our prior swing T walking, along with the many injuries to Vollmer and Solder perhaps packing up and leaving in the not to distant future we need a T that could actually start a handful of games THIS year IMO.

    BB pretty much invented two pass catching TE craze, much like he popularized the 3-4 and drove the draft and FA cost of top talent into the stratosphere. This TE class is not that special and has one can’t miss guy who will be long gone by #29. I suggest LaFell will be more productive then Amaro, and might be a better blocker. Time for BB to get a 3rd blocking TE, add a red zone WR in the draft, and let other teams over spend to find the next AH in this draft – and he’s not there – not even close.

    #29: SS: Calvin Pryor (“Seattle style” hard hitting nasty player, should fit like a glove)
    ~51: OT: Antonio Richardson (very strong, grades out as a classic run blocker on day 1, needs coaching to improve passing game – likely RT) Moses is another possibility here
    #65: DT: Kelcy Quarles (can play 5 tech DE, already good enough to be a rotation player at DT, needs coaching to be a starter, in most draft years he’s in the late 20’s or 30’s)
    #93: Weston Richburg (he’s dropping over concerns of schedule and not being nasty enough. Instant starter with perhaps a renegotiated Connolly as back up.
    #126: LB: Christian Jones (physically ready, back-up quality this year, potential starter down the road.
    ~168: TE: A.C. Leonard or WR: Latimer another red zone guy at a reasonable slot in the draft that can still make the roster. Leonard is a project won’t do much this year, Latimer has a bit better shot, but will be way down the depth chart.
    #182: QB Smith (needs 3 years to figure it out – and he’ll have it)
    ~210: RB: Rajion Neal (good hands/blocking; big guy but light on his feet – probably already better then Bolden. Could be a good KR/PR, and fill in if we don’t make FA moves.

    • Alex (freemanator) says:

      Cannon has always looked far better at RT than at Guard. I’d rather take a guy who we’d envisage being a Guard in the NFL in the second, than smush Cannon in there, and draft a 3rd string Tackle.

  9. Dan Sullivan says:

    Patriot Predictions
    Free Agents
    Thomas DeCoud S Falcons
    Terrence Cody NT Ravens
    Fred Davis TE Redskins

    1 Trade for 2 and 3.
    2 Stephon Tuitt DL ND
    2 Jack Mewhort OT Ohio State
    3 Brandon Thomas G Clemson
    3 James Gayle DE Virginia Tech
    4 DeMarcus Lawrence OLB Boise State
    6 Evan Swindall C Ole Miss.
    6 Jamal Merrill OLB Rutgers
    7 Asante Cleveland TE Miami

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      As a Georgia native I cheer for the Falcons whenever they aren’t playing the Pats. I can promise you that most everyone down here was glad to be rid of DeCoud and the Pats definitely don’t want or need his services.

      As evidenced by last years trade, we should be able to get more for our first round selection than just a 2 and a 3.

      Interior Lineman are of greater need than Tackles. Consider OG Gabe Jackson in the second.

  10. Duncan says:

    I have to ask the question, where will they address the offensive line depth? It’s a deep crop early at O-line, and TE goes deep into the 3rd-4th rounds it seems. They’ve also been taking a hard look at RB Ben Malena from Texas A & M, I can’t imagine they’d use anything higher than a 5th on him. I would take a flyer on Colt Lyerla. I love this guy. He graded out above Ebron but his off the field issues have taken him off most people’s draft board. He is a low risk, high reward guy who could step in at the cost of a 6th round pick. I think they will address offensive line early in the draft since it’s so top heavy, then look to add another receiver like Bryant from Clemson in the later rounds. The DT/DE crop is deep and packed with pass rushers. I think if we know anything about the patriots draft strategy, look for them to surprise us….take everything you know and throw it out the window. In drafts this deep, the patriots tend to trade UP not down.

  11. J H TARBORO says: reports that Auburn’s DE Dee Ford is scheduled for a visit with the Pats and Tampa.

  12. steve earle says:

    It looks to me in many of the mocks I see that the auther has a player or players that they consider a “must”. There is really no such thing. For example if someone says we have to draft X player because he is the best player at his position in ten years, look out. Maybe that player is but if you draft the 3rd, 4th, or 5th best player at the position who can do the job as well then all you really achieve is bragging rights which does not necessarly translate into overall team strength and to get that once in ten years player a team has to give up extra draft picks to do it. It’s a one step forward two steps back approach. Yes draft guys that can make impacts and contributions but make your draft the strongest overall that you can. jmo.

  13. colton d says:

    i like ealy DE mizzou in the first with daquan jones DT Penn state in the second and niklas TE Notre dame in the 3rd. 4th i like christian kirksey LB Iowa. 5th i like Marcus martin C USC 6th colt lyeria 7th BA RB. sign a veteran Safety but i believe patriots will play alot of single high safety with revis browner ryan and dennard. also resign leggarette blount. we need another rb possibly kadeem carey Arizona or jeremy hill LSU. would love archer somewhere

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      I’m thinking Niklas has to much potential to still be on the board in the third round, especially where the Pats are slated to pick.

  14. Pete H. says:

    As much as I’d like to see a tight end in the second round, with the plethora of wide receivers on the roster, I could see a second round pick on a center or guard as potentially more impactful on the offense. Connolly is okay at center or guard (not an impact guy though), but may even be cut for salary relief, Cannon is not really proven as a starter at guard and is needed as your top tackle reserve, and I don’t think you want Kline, Cave, or Barker to slot in as anything but reserves. Even if Connolly takes a pay cut and you can sign another decent lineman as a stopgap, the line would benefit from an infusion of talent on the interior to compete this year and be an impact lineman for the remainder of Brady’s career and potentially beyond as the next QB comes in. You can still get really quality interior linemen in the second round, and there seems to perhaps be more depth this year than in previous years.

    • steve earle says:

      I think your on the right track re: TE and OC and if Bill trades down as I expect and we have 2 2nds and 2 3rds both could be filled. 2a A TE 2b An OC. My reasoning is with a mid/high 2nd one of the best TE’s should be available and with the low 2nd one of the top OC’s should be available. We then have 2 3rds and a 4th to go after DL, LB, & SS. Diong this addresses 5 positions of need leaving the bottom of the draft and udfa to look for developmental and sp t players.

    • Daniel R. Martin says:

      You may be right Pete. But some of the WR’s on the current roster will most assuredly be cut. Furthermore, none of the receivers on our roster look to be nearly capable of replicating the level of offensive production the team received from the duo of Gronk and Hernandez. Two TE set was popularized by the Pats and is the current trending wave of NFL offensive schemes for a reason. Furthermore, while elevating our line from a very good and solid unit to an elite one would benefit the team as a whole, if we continue to field almost entirely a sub 6′-00″ receiver corps in the absence of the oft injured Gronkowski, our redzone productivity will continue to suffer despite the collective caliber of our O-Line unit.

      • Pete H. says:

        Hey man, if they can get a guy in the second that will match Hernandez’s production without the off-field nightmares, I don’t think anyone would argue. The problem is if you don’t get that level of talent, which you probably won’t, you’re looking at a second option tight end that may not add more production than someone like LaFell. I see Dobson, Edelman, Amendola, LaFell, Slater, and probably Boyce as locks, with Thompkins perhaps competing for a 7th roster spot. The first 4 guys on the list project to be solid 2nd or 3rd option receivers, so you’ll probably want to see 3 of them on the field more often than not. Again, if they can get that guy, great, but I think the dropoff from a second round TE to one of our 3 slot guys is less than the dropoff between a second round guard or center and Connolly or whoever you’re plugging in along the front line.

        • DRM says:

          Excepting the fact that neither Edelman, Amendola or Boyce can seem to stay healthy, especially at the same time, those three receivers create a redundancy at the slot position. Dobson has also already demonstrated a proness to injury. Well, as much as a player can in a single season anyway. Projections for LaFell have been a solid number three receiver with the athleticism and potential to be a number two guy.

          Hernandez was a fourth round selection I believe, and Gronk was a second round draft pick if I’m not mistaken. I believe Hernandez’s conduct concerns and Gronks’ back issues pushed them both down the draft boards. With Amaro and ASJ sliding out of round one consideration due to a lackluster combine performance, and with a player combining the raw talent and obvious size, speed and overall athelticism of Troy Niklas sitting there in round number two, I can’t say I share your pessemism that a Hernandez caliber TE won’t be available to us. Colt Lyerla has more talent and potential at that so-called “joker” role than all of them and he probably won’t go before the 6th round.

          As evidenced by my mock draft, I am a proponent of our team trading out of the first and aquiring a 2,3 &4. If I had my drehters we would draft Troy Niklas and OG Gabe Jackson with the two second round selections.

        • steve earle says:

          I have to agree with DRM’s reasoning on the WR/TE debate. ASJ, Amaro, Niklas all look to be heading for the 2nd rd. All three have the added ability to block in-line to help the run game something a WR can not do. Given the height weight advantage these TE’s have also makes them far more effective red zone targets then most WR’s who will be available to us where we are picking at #29 or after. As for the “joker, flex” or whatever they may be called TE’s there are several available who could be as effective or more effective then Hernandiz was further down the draft so fret not about that.

  15. J H TARBORO says:

    I still believe we should trade our 1st pick and accumulate picks but if we don’t and looking at other teams needs, some players that we don’t expect to be in range might be there, i’m quite sure we have a plan of attack in place. I go back to last years draft, 1 QB off the board in the 1st round and things got a little crazy.
    Also beware of the smokescreens, it’s that time of year.

  16. LouBaz says:

    Great work Mike. I’ve been a loyal reader of this site for a few years but have never commented until now. With all the excitement from the past week, it has kicked the enthusiasm for the draft into another gear which was already high as I’ve become quite obsessed with football year round.

    After reading this piece, I have to say, I’m thrilled someone else is high on Shazier. IMO his skill set and physical ability is exactly the chess piece BB needs. With his speed(4.3’s), range, nose for the football, tackling and hit power he could be the perfect player for that SS/LB hybrid role Bill has been trying to find for years. Outside the obvious top 10-15 picks or so, he’s my favorite player in this draft with Brandin Cooks a close 2nd. Kalil Mack is the only LB I think is worthy of going before him.

    I don’t watch any college football except for when I research for the draft and pull up game tape on players. I have no favorite schools so I’m not biased towards any one. Over the years I’ve prided myself in seeing potential in players and to me that kid is going to be a household name for years to come. (as long as he lands with the right team of course).

  17. Joe Blake says:

    Great post. The Patriots have a lot of holes to fill. DT, DE, and a TE taken in the first three rounds is on target. How to tap a quality LB and O-Linemen in rounds 4-7 plus UFA is a big variable. We are overdue for some luck in that regard. The FA pool has dwindled. I don’t think there is much left, so we’ll probably extend Vince W. Training camp cuts may produce some much needed depth. One step at a time. Looks like Mallett stays, I don’t hold much hope for a trade. My guess at this point is Nix in round one; maybe Tuitt (I’m still not sold on the existing D-line due to age and observing last year’s inability to put pressure on the QB) from ND drops as well as the TE, Niklas due to their injuries…an all Notre Dame draft in rounds 1-3.

  18. Dylan says:

    Its always hard to predict what the Patriots are going to do but I think you can safely say no CB or WR in this draft. There simply isn’t the roster space at either position unless a talent really falls and the value is just to good to pass up on, which would mean someone already on the team would have to get cut. It already looks like it will be a real battle for the final WR spots, personally I hope Boyce and Thompkins can both make the team but that may be unrealistic.

    With that said, the most glaring needs in the draft are DT, TE, and interior O-Line. DE, LB, and Safety are also needs but more so for depth. Also, people shouldn’t sleep on QB or RB because Mallet, Ridley, and Vereen are all FA next year.

    First round I think targets should be Louis Nix, Hegeman, or Jernigan at DT, Tuit or Elay at DE, Sua Filo at G, or Shazier/ Mosley at LB.

    Trading back to the early second may make more sense depending on whose left by the time pick 29 rolls around and if they think they can get the same players they want in the early second.

    My Mock draft has the Pats trading pick 29 for mid 2nd and 3rd round picks. The pats then trade both of their 3rd round picks to get back into the mid/late 2nd round. This leaves them with picks 44,56, and 61 in the second round.

    44. Sua-Filo G
    56. DaQuan Jones DT
    61. Troy Niklas TE

    Alternate picks if Sua-Filo is gone…

    44. Sefrain-Jenkins
    56. DaQuan Jones
    61. Travis Swanson

    I know Sua-Filo may be a stretch at 44, but I also feel like they could get him a bit later than 29.

    • steve earle says:

      I don’t know about Sua-Flo that early because I’ve read a couple of scout reports that say that although he’s a great run blocker he isn’t as good a pass blocker espically against speed rushers. If thats true he could be a liability for the Pat’s as we are still a pass dominated offense. Also given the sheer depth on the offensive line in this draft and the lack of it in other needs positions like TE a later OL pick can provide near equal value at the position makiong for an overall stronger draft. Third why in the world would we trade down #29 for extra picks then trade two #3’s to move back up when in this draft is so deep that equal values can be had from mid 2nd rd down through high 4th rd. Not the best use of resourcses imo.

  19. Daniel R. Martin says:

    ***First is traded for a 2,3 & 4.

    2 – Troy Niklas TE

    2 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Gabe Jackson OG

    3 – Chris Boreland ILB

    3 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Kelcy Quarles DT

    4 – Brandon Coleman WR OR Will Clarke DE

    4 (Received for 1st Rd pick) – Craig Loston SS

    6 – Dri Archer RB/WR/PR/KR OR Ryan Carrethers DT

    6 — Colt Lyerla TE

    C6 – Seantrell Henderson OT

    7 – Boseko Lokombo OLB

    C7 – Spencer Long OG

    I have attempted to select players that I believe could potentially have a great impact for us on the field, at positions of need. I have also attempted to avoid overreaching for players that I like, placing them where I believe our team can realistically select them. I have also pared my draft down from my previous mock in an effort to have more relaistic expectations. For example, as much as we’d all like Texas to surrender their 33rd overall pick for Ryan Mallet, that simply isn’t going to happen. I don’t see us being able to trade Wilfork or Aemdola because other teams will be reticent to overpay them just as we are. As always, I appreciate any and all comments. I have reasons for selecting every player on this list.

  20. J H TARBORO says:

    1. DT Louis Nix Notre Dame
    2. TE Troy Niklas Notre Dame
    3. DE/OLB Adrian Hubbard Alabama
    4. SS Deone Buchanan Washington St.
    6. OC/G Russell Bodine NC
    6. DT Zach Kerr Delaware
    6. Comp LB Max Bullough Mich St.
    7. WR Jeremy Gallon Michigan
    7. OLB Chaz Sutton SCAR

    • STEVE G says:


    • Ryan says:

      I think Bucannon in the 4th is a pipe dream and Hubbard in the 3rd is a bit of a reach. I would switch the two because Hubbard could fall but I don’t think Bucannon will.

      • acm says:

        agree and not too crazy about Hubbard, tbh. This being said, bar any pre-draft arrests and such, Bucannon is highly unlikely to fall even to late 3rd. Would be shocked if he fell out of the top 60-70 players; think he’d go 45-60 range.

    • cc says:

      Wendell, Mallet and “hopefully” gronk = what now?

      • steve earle says:

        I don’t follow what are you trying to convey about these three?

        • cc says:

          Was part of a reply to a posted draft proposal… I’d like too see these 3 traded. It pertained too what difference would their previous draft proposal would lok like “IF”…. These three were traded as I believe they should be…… also, did I hear correctly that Danta Scar is no longer W/the Pats?!?!? that would suck for our O-line IMO. And I think Brandon LaFell may work out well as a TE fill in…..
          & i think the Pats should kerp threir collective eye’s on jamison-The FSU ROOKIE QB.
          I think we should dip Mlet to the Cardinals, the Browns, the Vikings, Jacksonville, and\or even the Bears adding Wendell….who sucks IMO, and YUP….MR.INJURY HYPE….GRONK.
          A real (C), and mad needed Dt/Dl personel……..

  21. Michael says:

    I like the draft strategy. I could see them taking a hard look at Xavier Su’a-Filo as well at the end of the first.
    It is likely they could have their choice of Nix III, Tuitt, Ealy, Seferian-Jenkins and Amaro at the end of the first. If that’s the case, then this is definitely the year to move back a few spots into round 2 to pick up an extra pick which they could then use to help them move up with their second-rounder to nab one of the four TEs.

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