Up next in our series of team mock drafts is the New England Patriots. The Patriots are coming off a season where they went 14-2 in a rebuilding year, and on top of that have a multitude of picks in the first three rounds to futher augment their roster (once again the Raiders play a positive role for the Patriots by being their trading partner). On top of that they also hold the first pick in the second round, with an entire night to try and wheel and deal or decide on their pick…the rich get richer. Even though the Patriots were 14-2 last season they are not a team devoid of team needs.
1). RUSH OLB
I don’t always do this in order of most important need to least important but in the Patriots case it is pretty easy what their greatest need is, and it is a linebacker who can get after the passer. Maybe Jermain Cunningham can become that player, but he is not dripping with the same pass rushing abilities that a few of the many options the Patriots could puruse this off-season.
2) Wide Receiver
Even though Tom Brady can make Deon Grant look like a legetimate #1 in the league, the Patriots could use an upgrade of talent at the Wide Receiver position. They have a lot of players who run good short routes, but don’t have anyone who can open up and stretch the field (without giving up on other routes or refusing to participate when it’s not his turn). Brandon Tate has not turned into that guy.
3. Cornerback Depth
I might be in the minority here but I think they could still continue to add talent to their young CB corps. It’s not a primary need, but teams really should strive to be five solid deep at cornerback in this pass happy league to protect against injury and to run with a myriad of 4+ WR sets team use. They are good at starter, but depth I think could be upgraded.
4. Running back
This is not a necessity, but they could use a more well rounded running back instead of the two backs they employ now to do the job one running back could do most of the time. Again, it’s not a primary need, but consider the running backs on the depth chart after Woodhead and the LawFirm: Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk. The combined age of those three approaches 1,000. The Patriots should find a do everything back so they can cut bait with the three aging running backs and create more roster room.
People forget that Ty Warren will be back next season so it’s not a drastic need as it appeared to be this year, but they could use another DE to be a potential starter across from Warren and as well as add much needed depth.
I’m not convinced they have the heir apparent to Matt Light in the future, and while we’re speaking of heir apparents a future QB would be nice, though they have some young developmental QB there now. They have to decide when it’s time to bring in a serious young talent to be the future. (I don’t it’s this year, but it’s not forever away).
I’m not going to predict trades.
1st round pick 17th overall Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue
Ultimately I think the Patriots will take the best player available regardless of position in this upcoming draft…and why wouldn’t you? There is already a wealth of young talent on the roster (from a ton of picks last year), and they have 6 picks in the first three rounds. If a top player falls into their laps they should pounce on it, but based no our big board Kerrigan could be that player. Kerrigan had a heck of a Senior Bowl and a heck of a college football season. His huge production, great work ethic, and underrated athletic ability should make the Patriots feel comftorable about drafting Kerrigan at this point. I’m going to assume that Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, Mark Ingram, Akeem Ayers,the top OT are all gone. They choose Kerrigan over Justin Houston.
1st round pick 28 Anthony Castanzo, OT, Boston College
After, grabbing their biggest need with the first pick in the draft the Patriots opt for their future LT in Anthony Castanzo as opposed to taking the best remaining RB, Ryan Williams,or the best remaining WR (Titus Young) because Castanzo won’t make it back to them at the top of round two, but one of the other players very well could. Although, Castanzo is lighter than others, that doesn’t bother the Patriots as much because he fits their system well because he excels in pass protection and he won’t need to be molded to fit into the “Patriots way”.
2nd round pick 33 Corey Liguet, DT, Illinois
I don’t think that Liuget will go in the first round in the draft (because Paea and Clayborn will in my opinion instead), unless he has a good combine. Liuget does have the versatility to play at the point of attack in the 3-4 defense and would add depth along the Patriots defensive line and could eventually start at either end position, or even at Nose tackle at some point if he adds more strength and at this point is a decent value pick (I don’t love him, others do).
2nd round pick 60 Leonard Hankerson, WR, The U
I don’t know which talented player will end up here that should have been drafted higher, but let’s just say that Titus Young and Torrey Smith both WoW at the combine with their straight line speed and that they get drafted ahead of Leonard Hankerson who is a better player than Smith, for sure. Hankerson is a big bodied WR with enough speed to be a vertical threat and could really help out the Patriots WR corps and give Tom Brady a real target over 5-9. I think, again,the Pats are in a great position in this draft to simply add BPA with each of their picks with so many picks in the first three rounds and with so many young players already developing at positions on their roster.
3rd Round pick 74 overall Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
After addressing the offensive line, the pass rushing specialists, their Defensive line, and the WR position the Patriots find a gem with the well rounded Kendall Hunter. Hunter has better than expected built to his frame as he showed up well at the Senior Bowl and has very good speed. He also can catch the ball out of the backfield and was very productive at Oklahoma State. At this point here he is good value and would help out the Patriots running game as a more well rounded back than either Woodhead or Ben Jarvis-Green-Ellis. Plus by adding a all around RB the Pats can clear up some roster space by jettisoning their older RB on the rosters.
3rd Round 92nd overall Danny Watkins, Guard Baylor
I realize that people love Danny Watkins and that he has the talent of a borderline first round player in the N.F.L. draft, but he is still not worth a pick in the first two rounds. Watkins will be 27 years old at the Half-way point in next season. 27 years old! Who’s going to spend a 2nd round pick on a player that is going to be 27 years old before the end of the season? On top of that it is generally accepted that it takes 2-3 years for a player to reach his potential. By that time Watkins will be thirty years old, I see him dropping in this draft despite his talent and he falls into the Pats lap at the tail end of the third round, and if he doesn’t fall I’ll be shocked.
4th Round 124th overall Rashad Carmichael, CB, Virginia Tech
Carmichael has true N.F.L. ability, he just lacked consistency this past season. This is a very good cornerback class and because of that he will be drafted lower than he would be in a weaker cornerback class. It would not surprise me at all if he was very impressive at the cornerback. In any case the Pats get good value here with their fourth round back and add some more young talent to a very young and talented secondary.
5th Round 156th Overall Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh
This is really just a shot in the dark. The Patriots have so much young talent that if they don’t find players to fill niches they are not likely to keep their later round picks on their roster. Maybe the Patriots decide that with the release of Faulk, Taylor, and Morris because of the drafting of Kendall Hunter they can afford the roster spot now for a true fullback, especially one that is this talented. Hynoski will be the best player available at this juncture if he makes it into the fifth round which is possible because he’s a full back.
6th Round pick 184th overall Alex Wujciak, MLB, Maryland
Alex Wujciak has a chance to make the roster as a backup linebacker and special teams player. With the Patriots already addressing their major needs in this draft and getting excellent value, Wujciak is a depth and glue player to add to their team who could eventually start in the middle of the 3-4 defense for the Patriots. Wujciak has the “patriots attitude” and is a players fans could fall in love with.
This is my Patriots mock draft, which I’m sure will be off because the Patriots love to trade picks all over the place and will probably continue to add picks to the next draft until they are certain that they can only make one more run with Tom Brady and go all in on one draft.
I would imagine that Patriots fans would like this draft because they get very good value with a few players (Liuget, and Watkins) and good value for the rest of their picks and fill, what I consider all of their major needs.
Thoughts and comments?
Have a nice day, everyone.