1. Second round, 52nd overall: Jamie Collins, DE/OLB, Southern Miss
I would not have been surprised one bit had Jamie Collins been selected in the first round of the draft. When everything fell apart at Southern Miss last year, Collins was the one who really stepped up his game. He finished last season with 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and four forced fumbles, an I think the Patriots got one of the top pass rushers in the draft. The reports indicate he will be used as an OLB for them, and I think that’s a good fit. This is a guy with good size and excellent all-around athletic ability and speed. I think what Rob Ninkovich does for the Patriots, this guy can do better. They used to be primarily a 3-4 team, but they’ve moved to a lot more 4-3 looks and I think you can get creative using this guy. For what the Patriots do on defense, there probably aren’t many better fits than Jamie Collins, who is scheme diverse.
2. Second round, 59th overall: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Going into the draft, I think the Patriots’ biggest need was at receiver. They let go of Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, and picked up Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins. If you’re asking me, Amendola can’t be counted on to stay healthy, and Jenkins might not make it out of camp. He is currently projected as a starter. I think when you add Dobson to the fray, you are getting a big receiver who has big play ability. He is famous for making one of the sickest catches in football history (YouTube that one) and he could have easily come out after his junior season. This is a solid spot for him and with his vertical speed (4.37) he can be an impact player for Tom Brady right away.
3. Third round, 83rd overall: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
Solid corner prospect with good size at 5’11” 191 pounds who can jam receivers at the line with his physicality. I think that area of his game is his biggest strength, though he’s not the greatest athlete compared to some of the other corners in this draft. I think he’s a guy with good length and toughness who can provide the Patriots some depth and competition on the outside. One thing you can’t deny about this guy is that he just has a knack for making plays. He was a two-time All-Big East selection and earned All-American honors last year with 94 tackles and four interceptions, as well as 18 passes defensed.
4. Third round, 91st overall: Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers
I had to do a lot of digging on Harmon when the Patriots picked him, but you can bet the Patriots did their work. They have always been fans of the Rutgers program, especially since Bill Belichick’s son went/played there. This guy was an All-Big East performer last year with 49 tackles, seven passes broken up, an interception, and a fumble recovered for a touchdown. He’s got solid size and really good athletic ability, and should be able to help this team out immediately on special teams and figure into the safety rotation.
5. Fourth round, 102nd overall: Josh Boyce, WR, TCU
This is an explosive athlete who somewhat surprisingly came out early after his junior season, but not when you consider the circumstances. He lost star quarterback Casey Pachall, who decided to figure things out in his personal life before returning to the football field midway through the season. Boyce has incredible speed at 4.34 in the 40, explosive athletic ability, and he worked his way up being a two-star recruit out of high school. I think the Patriots are getting a hard worker who has a ton of talent and has only scratched the surface of his potential.
6. Seventh round, 226th overall: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois
Buchanan is a guy that I had rated as a fourth round pick, and a high one at that, so I think obviously the Patriots got really good value here. He’s definitely not as good as last year’s stud Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, who led the nation in sacks, but there were a lot of people who figured he would carry the torch this season. He was a 2nd team All Big Ten performer, but he only had 4.5 sacks. I think at his size, length, and athletic ability, he provides the Patriots with a guy who can develop into a solid pass rusher. Really good upside pick here for them.
7. Seventh round, 235th overall: Steve Beauharnais, LB, Rutgers
This pick screams Patriots to me. This is the third player from Rutgers the Patriots have selected in this draft, and may be the most experienced. Beauharnais took over a starting role at linebacker with three games left of his freshman season, and never looked back from there. He has a ton of experience and can give the Patriots some depth, special teams options, or a developmental guy for their special teams.
The Patriots traded out of the first round entirely, but they still got one of my favorite pass rushing prospects. I think the jury is still definitely out on whether or not the receivers they picked can fill some big shoes, but their play will certainly be upgraded with the presence of Tom Brady. I think this was a very solid draft for the Patriots, but definitely a “wait and see” class if there ever was one.