|A playmaker for the Patriots. (Luis Sinco/MCT)|
The Patriots have positioned themselves in good position to come away with a plethora of players, or in position to trade up and acquire players capable of starting come September. Currently, the Patriots hold nine picks in this year's draft. Here is the list:
1st Round - 32nd Overall
2nd Round - 64th Overall
3rd Round - 96th Overall
3rd Round - 97th Overall*
4th Round - 101st Overall
4th Round - 131st Overall
6th Round - 177th Overall
7th Round - 219th Overall
7th Round - 253rd Overall*
*Compensatory Pick - cannot be traded away
It would be remiss of me to not say that I fully expect there to be a trade or two early on in this draft for the Patriots. Whether it is for picks or players, day two of the draft should be the most exciting day to watch for Patriots fans.
Without being able to predict any trades, I will stick to the Patriots current picks. Last week I took a look at potential options if the Patriots were looking to trade up, given Nick Caserio's comments regarding the draft. A more likely scenario I envision is a trade down from 32, in an attempt to trade up afterwards, to obtain two picks between 33 and 56. The depth of talent in that range presents several players that could have been 1st rounders, but fell for some reason or another.
Like all mock drafts, I will select one player per pick, but I will also have several other options that could be just as viable at that pick. Hope you enjoy.
1st Round - 32nd OverallThe Pick:
USC WR Nelson Agholor - It took me less than five minutes of watching his game film to fall in love with him. He may not have the pure size and muscle to dominate as a true #1 WR, but he has the speed, quickness, hands, and route running ability to do a variety of roles on the Patriots offense. His struggles against press can be eliminated by putting him in motion or playing him off the line of scrimmage. His route running can develop into elite status with coaching and veteran advice from Edelman and Brady. He isn't an Amari Cooper or Kevin White, but he isn't that far off from that tier of receivers. When the season starts, Edelman will be 29, Amendola will be 29, and LaFell will be 28. All in their prime, but none of them young. The Patriots need an influx of youth at the WR position. If he is able to grasp the offense, he could complete the receiving corps with a full complement of weaponary for Brady.
Washington LB Shaq Thompson - Despite his small size, if he would commit to becoming a box safety or hybrid safety/linebacker, he could become a special player. A Tyrann Mathieu-like player, he could be used as a Swiss Army knife for Belichick to be used all over the field.
UConn CB Byron Jones - A great player on and off the field. His size and athleticism make him a rare breed at the corner position. With more coaching and a scheme to allow him to play off man coverage, he could become a #1 CB. My fear is that he won't be available by this spot, and that is why I have him down here.
FSU DT Eddie Goldman - One of the few defensive tackles that the Patriots could consider worthy of value at 32. He has the strength and size to be a force against the run, and someone able to command two blockers on passing downs. The Patriots have been paying close attention to him and his FSU teammates over the course of the offseason.
Mississippi St. LB Benardrick McKinney - Arguably the top ILB prospect in the draft, which is an area the Patriots lack depth in. Should Mayo or Hightower not be able to return by the start of the season, they will need a LB to step up and play day one. McKinney could be that player.
2nd Round - 64th OverallThe Pick:
Duke OG Laken Tomlinson - One of my favorite players in the draft due to his intelligence, elite pass protection skills, and good fundamentals. I watched four games on him and didn't see him commit a single penalty. He hasn't allowed a sack in the last two years. Could become the RG of the future for the Patriots.
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman - Outside of Todd Gurley, Coleman is one of my favorite RBs in the draft. An explosive athlete with the ability to make plays in the run and pass game. May not be an ideal between the tackles runner, but he could be what the Patriots wanted Vereen to be as a complete three down back. Would be an excellent complement to LeGarrette Blount.
Clemson DT Grady Jarrett - Probably will be the best remaining DT on the board at this pick. His ability to get after the QB is impressive. Would fit well into a 4-3 defensive to be paired alongside the likes of Sealver Siliga or Alan Branch.
FSU DL Mario Edwards Jr. - Some consider him a 1st round pick, but he has been dealing with questions in regards to his weight loss and effort into his offseason training. The Patriots could see him as a project that could eventually become a DE to give Ninkovich some rest.
South Carolina OG AJ Cann - AJ Cann could come in and start at LG for the Patriots, but the reason why I don't have him going to the Patriots is the fact that he will likely not last long in the 2nd round. He has all the tools to be the mauler on the left side of the line to replace that mentality left over from Logan Mankins.
3rd Round - 96th OverallThe Pick:
FSU OG Tre' Jackson - The Patriots would be remiss to pass up on Jackson if he is available at this spot. With Tomlinson stepping in at RG, Jackson would complete the line by filling in at the LG position. His size and strength makes him a force in the run game. The Patriots have put a lot of effort into scouting him, and seem to value his natural physical ability. His technique could use some coaching, but the Patriots have been great in the past at turning raw talent into quality players.
Hobart OL Ali Marpet - Should the Patriots miss out on Tomlinson, Cann, and Jackson, Marpet is the best remaining guard and could very well provide the Patriots with a project. His game is full of flaws, which he was able to get away with due to his imposing strength and speed in Division III. In the NFL, he won't be able to do that, and will need good coaching in order to become the player the Patriots would want him to be.
3rd Round - 97th OverallThe Pick:
Auburn DT Gabe Wright - After passing on a defensive tackle in the first two rounds, grabbing Wright at the end of the 3rd would be a steal. His main issues revolve around technique, which can be addressed by Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia. His combination of size, strength, and speed make him a three down defensive tackle. Would complete a rotation at DT that the Patriots should feel fairly confident with.
Mississippi St CB Senquez Golson - Golson is undersized, but his ability to find and get after the ball is what separates him from other CBs. A similar player to Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, he is both quick and fast enough to compete with the top speed WRs in the NFL. Shouldn't be used in press man, but could excel against smaller WRs in off man coverage.
4th Round - 101st OverallThe Pick:
Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu - News broke last week that Ifo's knee was hurt worse than what most had thought. Some teams allegedly have him off their boards or as an undrafted player. If that is true, Ifo could be available in the 6th round or maybe even the 7th. That said, this is the time of the year where the lies and smoke screens are at their most common. The latest reports out of Eugene claim he is well on his way to being healed and is on pace to be ready for the start of the season. His quickness and ability to blanket WRs would make him an elite slot CB, able to cover top flight, smaller WRs in the NFL.
South Carolina RB Mike Davis - Out of all the RBs, the Patriots have been more invested in learning about Davis than any other. The words I would use to describe Davis are "complete, but not flashy". He can run between the tackles, can catch passes out of the backfield, and can block if needed. He doesn't excel in any one area though, and his speed leaves something to be desired, but he could play on any down for the Patriots.
Kansas St. WR Tyler Lockett - One of the smallest, yet quickest WRs in the draft. His build and route running ability seems to fit the Patriots mold for their slot WRs. Also can return kicks and punts to lessen the need for Edelman to risk himself back there.
Duke WR Jamison Crowder - Comparable to Lockett in terms of how they play the game. Biggest downside to Crowder is his size (5'8" 185 lbs). His hands lack the size to be a natural catcher, but Brady will be able to put passes into his body and allow him to work his magic after the catch.
4th Round - 131st OverallThe Pick:
Maryland WR Stefon Diggs - As Mike Loyko once said, this is the WR the Patriots had hoped Josh Boyce would turn into. At 6' 200 lbs, he would already be the third biggest WR on the Patriots. His strength is his route running and his natural hands. Despite his slower than usual 3 Cone Drill (7.03s), he displays the natural ability to break down on his routes and make clean cuts. His hands, paired with his route running, could make him a great fit in New England's offense.
Central Arkansas Dezmin Lewis - Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compared Dezmin Lewis to Martavis Bryant, and it is hard to not agree with that. If not for his small school status, he would be getting a lot more recognition by the scouting community. At 6'4" he displays good speed and quickness to pair with good hands. The Patriots have done their homework on him, and the fit would give the Pats a sizeable target for Brady.
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy - After a solid combine effort, scouts and analysts have been quiet on Hardy. His 3 Cone Drill time (6.63s) makes him a prototypical Patriots WR. An effort player, he may not be the fastest or the strongest, but he does what he is asked to do and can make catches when he needs to. Won't blow by players, but will pick up first downs with his route running and quickess.
6th Round - 177th OverallThe Pick:
Michigan St. RB Jeremy Langford - Few players have had a more diverse projection as to where they will go as Jeremy Langford. He could very well go in the 3rd round, or he could be available here. A playmaking RB would be able to compete with James White and Travaris Cadet for use as a 3rd down back. Fits the Patriots mold of a running back that is able to pass block or split out and play WR.
Utah OL Jeremiah Poutasi - If the Patriots strike out at guard in the first few rounds, a possible project would be Poutasi. A former LT, his struggles in pass pro would be minimized by moving him inside, where his athleticism would allow him to become a potential starting worthy LG.
Cincinnati LB Jeff Luc - A power inside linebacker who can be a force against the run. Excels as an A-gap blitzer. A liability in the pass game due to stiffness in hips and below average speed. Would be able to contribute on special teams at the very least.
Penn St. TE Jesse James - With the signing of Scott Chandler, the TE position seems a tad crowded with Gronk, Hooman, Tim Wright, and Chandler. I think Hooman's time in New England is at an end. Despite his few catches in the playoffs, his performance suffered last year. His run blocking was pathetic to say the least. James presents another large target for Brady who can perform functionally as a blocking tight end.
Florida C Max Garcia - Belichick loves his Florida players, and Garcia has the versatility to play guard or center. A team captain and a powerful force on and off the field, Garcia would fit in immediately. May go earlier, but his issues with flexibility, quickness, and inconsistent technique could make him slide to this pick.
7th Round - 219th OverallThe Pick:
Southern Connecticut State University DT Carlif Taylor - A large body from a small school. Taylor possesses the speed and strength to make plays in both the run and pass game. This year's Zach Moore, Belichick finds a diamond in the rough who could make his way onto the roster. Would shore up depth at the DT position and would be an upgrade over the likes of Joe Vellano and Chris Jones.
Arkansas TE AJ Derby - A quarterback turned tight end, Derby displays the physical traits to become a functional TE in the NFL. With coaching, he could easily be making plays at the next level from an H-back type role. He has the highest upside of the remaining TEs at this spot in the draft.
7th Round - 253rd OverallThe Pick:
Texas Southern CB Tray Walker - One project I hope the Patriots invest into. A tall and lengthy corner at 6'2", though he doesn't have the build to play press man at his current weight (180 lbs). His speed and quickness allow him to be utilized as an off man corner who could develop into a true contributor on defense. Has natural ball skills with seven career interceptions over three years.
Maryland WR Deon Long - Teammate of Stefon Diggs, Long is older than the average draftee (will be 24 years old in the summer). Coming out of a junior college, Long has overcome a broken tibia and fibula two years ago. Speed, quickness, and strength show he has the ability to be a complete WR, but he needs work on his fundamentals and his maturity.
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