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La'el Collins of LSU could be a Pat?

We kick off our series of 2015 draft roundtables with talented writers Ned Brady, Adam Bogdan, Liam Cunningham and Andrew Ludwig!

We'll be taking a look at one of the positions most believe is a significant need for the Super Bowl champion Patriots - Offensive Guard!


1. How high do you view the Pats need at Offensive Guard, and where do you see them addressing that need?



Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform)

This is their biggest need, without a doubt. With Connolly still a FA and Wendell going into the last year of his deal, the Patriots badly need to add a guard one way or another. Specifically they could use a mauling LG, where there is a tremendous void. While there may be internal options with Marcus Cannon or Cameron Fleming, neither naturally fit at LG and are better at tackle or as a sixth offensive linemen. While I don't see them going after a guard in the 1st round due to the positional value of a guard, I could see at the earliest a 2nd round pick. Ideally, one of their desired guards will slip to them at the end of the 3rd, where the value would be great.

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Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady)

There's no doubt in my mind that guard is the team's top overall need going into the draft. The Logan Mankins trade threatened to submarine the Patriots season early on, as the likes of Jordan Devey and Marcus Cannon struggled to fill the void on the interior. Things settled down once rookie Bryan Stork solidified the center spot, with veterans Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell calming things down on the interior. However, Connolly remains unsigned as a free agent, will be 33 when the season starts, has struggled to say healthy in recent years, and has been in the bottom 10 of most pass protection metrics at his position for three years running per PFF.

Wendell played surprisingly well out of position at center, but relying on him as a long-term solution could be risky as well given his career struggles in pass protection. Upgrading on the interior is a necessity, especially given that they'll face Ndamakong Suh, Marcel Dareus, Kyle Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon "Snacks" Harrison and Sheldon Richardson all twice a year in the AFC East.

There's also Tom Brady to consider, whose kryptonite has proven to be quick pressure up the middle. The presence of Dante Scarnecchia at seemingly every top guards pro day suggests the Patriots agree with my line of thinking, and it would be shocking if they don't address the position on draft day. However, I'd be surprised if it's in the first round, as the Patriots smartly refuse to let need influence them in overdrafting a prospect. Ultimately, I think Day 2 will prove to be a value sweet spot for them, with plenty of top prospects still available.


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Liam Cunningham (@LC_NEP)

I view the Patriots selecting an offensive lineman in the first round. Whether that is a tackle or a guard will really come down to their methods of talent evaluation that they apply in every draft. That being said, I view the interior line as a bigger need than the edges at this time.

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Andrew Ludwig (@aludwig25)

I view the need the need at guard extremely high, I think that they have the need two add two guards in the draft. The interior offensive line was a concern for the Patriots last season, if they can add two guards alongside Stork the offensive line will be solidified.




2. Who do you view as an ideal fit at Offensive Guard in the first round?


Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform)

I do not think there is an ideal fit at guard in the 1st round. If Cameron Erving slips, and the Patriots feel as if he could be versatile enough to serve as a guard and potentially a back up center, should Stork get injured, they could go there. But when it comes down to it, I don't see the value being right for the Patriots to take a guard at 32.

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Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady)

While I don't expect the team to use this pick on a guard just to fill the need, there are two prospects who would be worthy of a high pick if they fall to the Patriots range.

FSU's Cameron Erving stands out to me as an intriguing fit. An All ACC selection at left tackle during the Seminoles 2013 championship season, Erving made a seamless transition to center this year, playing well enough to convince most scouts his pro future is on the interior. His athleticism and length make him an ideal fit for the Patriots system, which calls for a lot of movement and second level blocking from it's linemen, and having the versatility to play all five line positions in a pinch will only help him. 

LSU's La'el Collins is another tackle convert who most scouts have projected inside at the next level. Collins isn't quite as athletic as Erving, but he's bigger and nastier in the run game. Either of these guys would be a godsend for the Pats line, but I suspect neither will remain on the board by the time the 32nd pick comes up.


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Liam Cunningham (@LC_NEP)

I'd like to see the team select AJ Cann of South Carolina. Cann, who is ranked as the top player at the position in this draft by many, stands at 6'3", 313 pounds, and is an excellent instinctual blocker. He also has 51 SEC starts over four years under his belt, so is clearly not lacking in the experience department. Prospects like Cann who have succeeded at the highest level in college are obviously inherently intriguing.

La'El Collins of LSU, if he is available, would also be a nice pick for the Patriots at 32, though he is not a pure guard.
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Andrew Ludwig (@aludwig25)

An ideal guard in the first round would be Brandon Scherff, but I don't think that there is any chance that he will fall to the Patriots. I don't think there is any guard worth taking in the first round outside of Scherff. The Patriots can wait for round two to fill their need at guard.

3. Should the Pats wait until Day 2 to address this need, who do you view as possible fits?


Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform)

Absolutely. The value of grabbing one of the first or second tier offensive guards in the 3rd round seems perfect. There are a few options that could all be available on the second day, specifically: Ali Marpet, AJ Cann, Laken Tomlinson, and Tre' Jackson. Any of those four would be ideal picks in the 3rd round, but Cann and Tomlinson I would consider in the 2nd round.
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Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady)

The Patriots heavy presence at FSU's Pro Day wasn't surprising, as both of the Seminoles starting guards will likely go on Day 2 of the draft. Tre' Jackson has received plenty of attention from the Pats in the build-up to the draft. He's a big, powerful player with plenty of experience in a pro-style offense. While mobility isn't his biggest strength, he was athletic enough to pull, reach and do all the things he'll be asked to do in New England's offense at FSU. Drafting him would inject some needed size and toughness to the interior, and the Pats would likely love the value if he slides to them at pick 64. 

His teammate, Josue Matias, isn't as big or powerful, but Matias has more athleticism and length and should be available a round later. The same can't be said for Hobart's Ali Marpet, who has shot up draft boards after excelling at the Senior Bowl and Combine. Marpet will be facing a steep step up in competition, but the small school product has held his own against every challenge thrown his way thus far and has a nice combination of athleticism, power and nastiness to his game. I'd be surprised if he lasts far in round 3, meaning the Pats might need to take him with their second round pick if they want him. 

Finally, Louisville's John Miller is a guy who could fit if the Pats chose to use one of their three picks in the end of the third/top of the fourth round range to bolster the depth chart. Miller isn't the most athletic guard, but like Jackson managed to get by in an offense that did call for plenty of pulling and second level blocking. He brings some nastiness and physicality to his game and has the versatility to play both guard spots, as Louisville had their guards switch sides throughout every game.

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Liam Cunningham (@LC_NEP)

Tre' Jackson of Florida State. The Patriots had the 6'3", 334 pound guard in for a visit this off-season, and the need at the position is somewhat glaring. This past season saw a consistent, unsettling shuffle at guard for the Patriots. Not until the interior line was solidified did the team really start to thrive.

The importance of the center/guard positions for this team cannot be understated, and Jackson seems like a great fit. Whether he is the best prospect at the position in this draft can certainly be debated, but one thing that makes him an extremely intriguing option is the continuity he would bring with his former teammate Brian Stork. Jackson was a three year starter for the Seminoles, and is considered a powerful run blocker with some conditioning issues.

It is also worth noting that Dante Scarnecchia, who has been heavily involved in the team's draft scouting this off-season, has a strong relationship with FSU line coach Rick Trickett. Josue Matias, a teammate of Jackson's, is another name to keep an eye on, as some experts view him as a better prospect than Jackson. I still think Tre' is a better fit, but don't be surprised if a hefty former Seminole is selected at 32.
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Andrew Ludwig (@aludwig25)

In Day 2, I would look at Laken Tomlinson, AJ Cann and Ali Marpet as possible fits for the Patriots at pick 64.

4. Give us a late round sleeper who could emerge as a surprise contributor in camp


Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform)

Despite his experience at OT, Jeremiah Poutasi could be a late round player that would add some serious size to the guard position. At 6'5", 335 lbs, he has the size to interior of the line. The Patriots had him in for a workout several weeks ago, showing they at the very least know of him and are intrigued.

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Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady)

I'm going with Arizona State's Jamil Douglas. Agile enough to kick out to left tackle his senior season for the Sun Devils, Douglas uses that athleticism to excel in the screen game. He's also adept at pulling and completing reach blocks at the second level, things which he'd be asked to do quite a bit in New England. His weakness is his play strength and on-field nastiness, both which need to improve if he's going to compete at the next level. A year or two in an NFL weight training program could do wonders for him. Still, his athletic upside could make him a nice value as a "stash and develop" type of pick in the later rounds of the draft.

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Liam Cunningham (@LC_NEP)

Adam Shead of Oklahoma (6'4", 338 lbs). He is projected to be selected in the 7th round or go as an undrafted free agent, but is a skilled player who I could see the team taking a flyer on as a project player.

Shead has a number of technical flaws in his game, but is known as a fierce blocker with an intense passion for the game, and was a first team all Big-12 player in 2014. If the Patriots select a guard late in the draft, he could be a potential fit.

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Andrew Ludwig (@aludwig25)

A potential late round sleeper for the Patriots at guard that could contribute in camp is Mark Glowinski from West Virginia University.

5. The Patriots have always been intrigued by players who fall down draft boards for reasons (typically either injury or off-the-field concerns) unrelated to on-field ability. Name an intriguing prospect that fits this bill at Offensive Guard.


Adam Bogdan (@PatriotsInform)

The guards of this draft class have been relatively healthy over their college careers, which is good news for teams looking to draft one. While Tre' Jackson hasn't struggled too much with injury in college outside of missing a game in 2013 due to an ankle injury, but in high school he tore his ACL. ACLs are always tricky, but considering it has been so long it is safe to assume it won't be a concern going forward.
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Ned Brady (@therealnedbrady)

Texas A&M's Jarvis Harrison has the talent to become a Pro Bowl caliber player at the next level. At 6'4" and 330 pounds, Harrison is an absolute monster of a man, and his basketball background has blessed him with rare foot speed for a man his size. 

While his frame screams "power scheme", Harrison was often at his most impressive when called on to pull and hit moving targets at the second level. That foot speed also translates to pass protection, where Harrison can use his size and length to control blockers. Despite his obvious physical talent, Harrison could fall into Day 3 thanks to concerns about his work ethic and dedication to the game. 

He missed two games as a senior due to conditioning concerns following offseason shoulder surgery, and maintaining a good playing weight was a constant issue for Harrison at Texas A&M. In typical Harrison fashion, he showed up late to the Aggies Pro Day claiming his wristwatch alarm didn't go off in time...and then flashed his physical talent with an impressive workout. I'd be surprised if the Patriots take him, as Belichick relishes players with obvious passion for the game. However, Harrison will likely slide to a point where he'll be undoubtedly one of the top talents left available, and he could prove to be a major steal if some team manages to get him focused.
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Liam Cunningham (@LC_NEP)

Miles Dieffenbach of Penn State. He missed a big chunk of the 2014 season due to injury, and suffered a torn ACL earlier in his collegiate career. His injuries have caused his stock to drop, and he did not participate in the Combine. He seems to be off most team's radars at this point and could be a player the Patriots take a chance on.

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Andrew Ludwig (@aludwig25)

Adam Shead from Oklahoma had significant injuries in college but was a four star prospect going into college. A potential for the Patriots.

Michael Saver 4/21/2015 12:27:00 PM Edit
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