New England Patriots 2013 NFL Draft Review by: “The Better Looking Mel Kiper”

Since the 2013 NFL Draft concluded last Saturday, the New England Patriots have faced a mass of scrutiny regarding their draft philosophy, player selections, navigation of the draft board, etc.  Considering that I am in the middle of final exam week, and when I study I always have talk radio going in the background, I figured it’s about time that I weigh in and drop a little knowledge on the NTCF Faithful.  Let’s do it…

Draft Philosophy:

-I’m not a Belichick worshipper.  I don’t think that every move he makes is uncriticizable.  You can ask my usual draft day crew, I wasn’t high on Jermaine Cunningham.  I ripped them for the Tavon Wilson pick.  Seeing Terrence Wheatley go in the 2nd round made my blood boil.  I blasted the Patriots for their draft day misses, particularly between 2006 – 2009.  With that said, the Patriots have a philosophy, and they stick to it.  For every Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson, there is a Matthew Slater and a Julian Edelman.  For every Ron Brace and Darius Butler, there is a Brandon Deaderick and a Marcus Cannon.  Whether or not you like what the Pats do, they are one of the better drafting teams in the NFL.

-This season, the biggest criticisms that I am hearing about the Patriots draft is that they traded out of the 1st round, they selected Aaron Dobson, and they picked Duron Harmon way too high.  Let’s examine these moves a little more closely.

-Bill Belichick said in a press conference following the draft that, if the opportunity presented itself, the Patriots would have moved out of the first round last Wednesday.  That tells me one thing, they saw no scenario where a player they wanted was going to be available at 29.  They didn’t think they could find an impact player that filled a need at the spot they were supposed to pick in the 1st round.  So, they went ahead a made what I consider to be the best trade in the draft.  The Patriots received a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round pick from the Vikings in exchange for their 1st round pick.  When you consider that the Cowboys exchanged 1st round picks with the 49ers (moving from 18 – 31) and only received a 3rd round pick in addition, it looks like the Pats made a great move.  The Patriots saw that they had needs to fill, didn’t see a player that they believed was worth 29th pick value, and instead amassed 4 picks.  I have absolutely no problem with that move.

-Aaron Dobson makes sense.  He isn’t a burner.  He didn’t produce exceptional numbers at Marshall.  He has small hands.  I get it, he has flaws.  But, here’s what I know.  Dobson is a very bright kid that has the physical tools to succeed at the NFL level and the drive and will to get the job done.  This isn’t a Taylor Price burner that has a questionable mental makeup.  This isn’t a Chad Jackson burner that has a questionable mental makeup.  This isn’t a Brandon Tate burner that has a questionable mental makeup.  DO YOU SEE THE THEME?  They believe Dobson can learn their offense and produce.  I love the pick!

-So Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and all the other draft gurus had Duron Harmon as a 7th round pick in the draft.  Who cares?  Logan Mankins was supposed to be a 3rd rounder, Kiper said it was a reach when the Pats plucked him at pick #32 in the 2005 draft.  Several pro bowls later, Belichick won that one!  Chandler Jones was labeled as a “developmental prospect” by McShay and Kiper.  A season after being arguably the Pats’ most effective pass rusher, Belichick wins again!  Sebastian Vollmer wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine.  The Pats took him in the 2nd round, got crushed by Kiper and company, and the dude winds up being a Pro Bowl tackle.  Belichick wins once again!  The moral of the story is to have faith in a guy that makes a living WINNING NFL football games, not guys that make a living talking about NFL football having never played.

-Now, let’s get into the picks…

Round 2 (#52 Overall) – Jamie Collins, OLB Southern Mississippi

Collins is an intriguing selection for the Pats, considering the talent and draft picks already invested at the linebacker position.  There is confusion surrounding Collins’ position.  Is he a 3-4 OLB, 3-4 ILB, nickel linebacker, or a primary rusher?  Here’s my thought.  The kid started his career at Southern Miss playing safety before moving to linebacker.  He has the feet and quickness to cover tight ends, running backs, and even slot receivers over short distances.  I think the Pats utilize him in a Jerod Mayo type roll, meaning he will primarily play the middle (Brandon Spikes’ contract is up after next season) but has the flexibility to shift outside and rush.  He will begin working mainly in the nickel package, to utilize his coverage skills, but with some seasoning could look to replace Brandon Spikes when he leaves in free agency.

Round 2 (#59 Overall) – Aaron Dobson, WR Marshall

As I mentioned previously, I love this pick.  Aaron Dobson has great size (6’3”, 210 pounds), decent speed (40 yard dash in the 4.4 range), and he is an exceptional route runner.  His production at Marshall wasn’t great, but thankfully you don’t succeed or fail in the NFL based on your college production.  Dobson will slide right in to the starting X receiver position on opening day.

Round 3 (#83 Overall) – Logan Ryan, CB Rutgers

The biggest benefit to Ryan’s game is his aggressiveness in the running game.  Logan has decent size (5’11”, 191 pounds) and good strength for his position (14 reps on the bench).  Ryan doesn’t have great speed (4.56 40 yard dash), but his speed is good enough that he can play slot receivers, and his strength will be a huge asset in knocking inside receivers off of their routes.  Ryan fits well into the Pats scheme at corner.  I expect Ryan to challenge Ras-I Dowling for the 4th corner spot.

Round 3 (#91 Overall) – Duron Harmon, SS Rutgers

Devon McCourty speaks very highly about Duron Harmon, especially regarding his work ethic and competitiveness.  Harmon is ready to learn from McCourty for the 2nd time in his life.  Harmon roomed with McCourty as a freshman at Rutgers, and has stated several times that Devin tried to teach him everything possible.  Only a couple of hours after Harmon was drafted by the Patriots, McCourty reach out to him and invited him up to Foxboro to start going through the playbook.  Harmon is supposedly a great locker room guy and has the versatility to play safety, but also drop down and cover slot receivers.  Harmon’s main competition is Stephen Gregory for a roster spot.

Round 4 (#102 Overall) – Josh Boyce, WR TCU

We can be sure about one thing regarding Josh Boyce, he is a physical freak.  At 5’11”, 206 pounds, Boyce ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and put up 22 reps on the bench, both top tier marks for wide receivers at the combine.  Boyce has the capability of playing on the outside and the inside, and could provide some great depth for the Patriots at receiver.  Boyce had great success at TCU with Andy Dalton tossing him the ball, however he struggled this past year due to inconsistent quarterback play and a foot injury.

Round 7 (#226 Overall) – Michael Buchanon, DE/OLB Illinois

Michael Buchanon was expected to pick up where Whitney Mercilius left off for Illinois this past season, however is never really worked out that way.  Heading into this past season, some had Buchanon projected as highly as a 1st round pick.  An offseason bar fight, leading to an all-liquid diet and a loss of 20 pounds, and a not-so-amazing 2012 campaign all caused Buchanon to drop to the Pats in the 7th round.  Buchanon needs to get stronger, but he has the talent to stick and could develop into a nice piece for the Pats.

Round 7 (#235 Overall) – Steve Beauharnais, LB Rutgers

There is no better way to describe Beauharnais that simply as an inside linebacker.  He has a nose for the ball.  Athletically, Beauharnais isn’t going to wow anyone.  He doesn’t have great size for the position.  But, Steve knows how to play middle linebacker and it shows on film.  Beauharnais needs to work on his technique and strength, but he is a willing and able special teamer, and could land a roster spot if he shows some improvement this offseason.

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