Solder was the selection at #17, and #28 was dealt away for some picks, both in this draft and next year’s draft. Now that round 1 is in the books, I’m going to take a look at who the Pats might look to draft throughout rounds 2-7. I am not predicting trades, so I’m sticking with the selections that the Pats have as of Friday morning.
2nd Round – #33 (CAR) – Jabaal Sheard, DE/OLB Pittsburgh
Sheard’s talent was exposed after star defensive end Greg Romeus went down with an injury. Sheard turned in a great season, earning Big East defensive player of the year honors. He combines rare strength for a defensive end with enough speed to beat NFL caliber offensive lineman. With the ability to set the edge against the run, Sheard has drawn comparisons to Patriot great Willie McGinest. Although I doubt the Pats will keep this pick, if they stick around Sheard may be the selection.
2nd Round – #56 (NWO) – Ryan Williams, RB Virginia Tech
Aside from Mark Ingram, there have been arguments made that Ryan Williams could be the second most talented back in this draft. After a great freshman year at Virginia Tech, the former lock first round pick had a shaky sophomore campaign, which is why he is available in round 2. Williams provides a good combination of strength and speed. Although he needs some work in the pass game and picking up blitzers, he won’t be forced into full duty with the BJGE and Woodhead still around. With some coaching, Ryan Williams could be the back of the future in New England.
2nd Round – #60 – Allen Bailey, DE Miami
Allen Bailey was also once considered a first round prospect, but a sub par senior season has Bailey still available late in round 2. Bailey has drawn comparisons to Warren Sapp with his athletic ability, but at 6’3, 290 lbs Bailey could add some more bulk and be a solid 3-4 defensive end. Bailey is a bit weak against the run, but he has pass rushing ability uncharacteristic of a guy his size.
3rd Round – #74 (MIN) – Greg Little, WR UNC
Greg Little is an athletic freak. He has the size of a tight end and the speed of a wideout. Concerns about Little’s health and inconsistent play have him sliding down draft boards. Although it is unlikely that Little falls this far, if he is here the Pats need to take him. Little is a similar player to Brandon Tate with a bit more physicality involved with his game.
3rd Round – #92 – Mark Herzlich, OLB Boston College
Arguably my favorite player in the draft, in my mind Mark Herzlich will not look right in any other uniform than a Patriots uniform. Herzlich was once a top 5 prospect, but his battle with cancer set him back big time and he is still getting back some of the speed and strength that he lost. If Herzlich is around in round 3, he would be one of the best picks in the draft.
4th Round – #125 – Stephen Schilling, OG Michigan
Schilling was a four year starter at Michigan that is an athletic and strong interior offensive lineman. Although he is not an overly impressive player, Schilling’s consistency is one of his most intriguing traits. Schilling is a mauling run blocker with serviceable pass blocking skills. He can be a solid back-up lineman and could turn into a starter with some seasoning.
5th Round – #159 – Zane Taylor, C Utah
Zane Taylor isn’t the fastest lineman in the draft by any stretch of the imagination, but after throwing up 41 reps at 225 pounds, the guy is clearly very strong. Taylor is arguably a top five center in the draft, and with Dan Koppen aging, the Patriots could use to add some depth at center.
6th Round – #193 (NWO) – Greg McElroy, QB Alabama
Greg McElroy may be the smartest quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft. McElroy’s arm isn’t very strong. He is decently accurate. McElroy will be one of the first guys in the building and one of the last guys out of the building in the NFL. Nick Saban will certainly give rave reviews to coach Belichick about his former starting quarterback.