Patriots First Round NFL Draft Options

UPDATE

* After trading down to 52, six players from original first round predictions are still available: FS Jonathan Cyprien, WR Justin Hunter, DL, Jesse Williams, WR Robert Woods, WR Terrence Williams & CB Jamar Taylor. *

*Patriots have 19 selections before they are on the clock, but could use extra picks from Vikings to move up and take a player early in the second round *

In about three hours the New England Patriots will be on the clock. Even though head coach Bill Belichick and the war room actually traded up last year, drafting defensive impact players Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, there is a sense of a return to normalcy this season as the Pats will likely be up to their old tricks, trading down to accrue more selections, especially this season as their normal glut of selections is quite bare by Patriots standards.

However, lets surmise that New England actually stays put at No. 29. They will have several players to choose as the board is currently laid out and a player or two that could slide to the Pats and force them to pull the trigger on a player as opposed to a deal that would get them a future first or second round pick or extra second or third (and don’t count out another late round sixth or seventh for good measure).

It’s obvious that the Patriots have a need at wide receiver but adding depth at the cornerback, defensive line, linebacker, safety and offensive live spots is also prevalent.

If New England stays put (which we all know is highly unlikely) here is a list of players that could be joining the Patriots in just over 200 minutes.

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WR – Cordarelle Patterson – Tennessee

  • The perfect match of need and talent late in the first round. If he’s there, Patriots will definitely have to look at it, but there have been questions about his ability to grasp a complex playbook after a low wonderlic score.

CB – Xavier Rhodes – Florida State

  • Rhodes would need a big slide to reach the Pats, but New England would definitely pull the trigger if he was still there.

DL – Datone Jones – UCLA

  • A big body that fills a need in depth on the line.

CB – Desmond Trufant – Washington

  • The likely pick at corner should the Patriots stand pat and choose to go with secondary selection.

FS – Jonathan Cyprien – FIU

  • Another player that is not expected to be available at 29, but an immediate impact player in the secondary.

WR – Justin Huner – Tennesse

  • The player opposite Cordarelle Patterson, but a good player in his own right and the possible pick if the Patriots decide they need a wide receiver.

FS – Matt Elam – Florida

  • There have been plenty of knocks on Elam through the draft process, which means he’ll be available, but likely still there in the early second round as well.

DT – Jesse Williams – Alabama

  • An imposing force on the front line that would be an intriguing combo with Vince Wilfork. Could be the pick for the Pats.

WR – Robert Woods – USC

  • After the departures of Welker & Lloyd, the Patriots have been linked to just about every available wide receiver.

WR – Terrance Williams – Baylor

  • See! Williams took a back seat to Josh Gordon last year and lost Griffin this season but is still a solid player.

CB – Jamar Taylor – Boise State

  • Again, may be gone by 29 just like Rhodes & Cyprien, but would be a welcome addition to the secondary corps.

CB – DJ Hayden – Houston

  • I just said Taylor would be gone, and there is no chance Hayden is still there when the Pats pick… but hey, crazier things have happened.

WR – DeAndre Hopkins – Clemson

  • St. Louis was linked to Hopkins in the early going after losing Amendola, but buzz has cooled as of late. Could slip to Pats.

DE – Bjoern Werner – Patriots

  • The thought of this guy and Ninkovich on the ends with Chandler Jones running people down from all angles is scary. Might not be a bad idea for the Patriots to look at.
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2013 New England Patriots Mock Draft

Now that I’ve completed my 1st round mock (https://ntcf.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/2013-nfl-mock-draft-version-1-0-by-the-better-looking-mel-kiper/), it’s time to take a look at the 2013 NFL Draft from a New England Patriots perspective.  Unlike most years, the Pats are not loaded with 12 or 13 selections.  They have 5 picks (two 7th round selections) in this draft, and need to hit on almost all of them.  I’ve already mocked the Patriots’ 1st round pick in my entire 1st round mock, so I’ll start there and then move through the rest of their selections.  Let’s do it…

1st Round: #29 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson

For a team drafting this low in the 1st round, it always seems that the Patriots have so many needs and so many directions that they could go in.  After the release of Brandon Lloyd, the Pats have a big need at wide receiver.  With Alfonzo Dennard’s unknown future, the Pats have a big need at cornerback.  Vollmer has been resigned, so their needs on the offensive line are diminished, but they could use some improved depth.  On the defensive line, they could use another rush guy on the outside (i.e. John Abraham) and another big body up the middle.  I’m projecting a wide receiver here for the Pats, but who the hell knows.  Their track record with selecting wideouts isn’t very good (i.e. Chad Jackson, Taylor Price, Brandon Tate).  DeAndre Hopkins is the best route runner and has the best hands of the remaining wideouts.  Sounds like a Pats guy to me…

2nd Round: #59 – Tyrann Mathieu, CB LSU

Controversial isn’t necessarily the Patriot Way on draft day, however I think that Mathieu’s talent forces teams looking for cornerback help in the 2nd and 3rd round to consider selecting him.  Let’s not forget, the Patriots have taken on controversial players before (i.e. Randy Moss, Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth).  More recently, guys like Ryan Mallett and Alfonzo Dennard were draft picks that had “character” questions surrounding them.  From all reports, Mathieu has impressed NFL teams throughout the interview process, and impressed at the combine considering he was out of football for a year (4.50 40-yard dash, 4.14 shuttle, 34 inch vertical).  In my opinion, taking a risk on Mathieu at the end of the second round it a worthwhile endeavor for the Patriots.

3rd Round: #91 – John Simon, DE/OLB Ohio State

John Simon came to Ohio State from high school as a 280-pound nose tackle, transitioned to a defensive end, and now is looking to impress scouts enough to be considered a 4-3 DE of a 3-4 OLB.  Simon has been dealing with shoulder issues this offseason, so he hasn’t been able to display his strength.  However, at his pro-day Simon displayed great athleticism for a guy his size (6’2”, 260 lbs), posting a 4.68 40-yard dash, 7.10 seconds in the three-cone drill, and a 34 inch vertical jump.  Simon isn’t necessarily ideal Patriot size for a 3-4 OLB (they usually like guys 6’4”+), however Simon benefitted from the tutelage of Mike Vrabel over the last couple of seasons (Vrabel is the defensive line coach for the Buckeyes) and has the makeup the Pats look for.

7th Round: #226 (TB) – Joe Kruger, DE Utah

Joe Kruger, younger brother of former Ravens and now Cleveland Browns OLB Paul Kruger, isn’t as highly touted as his brother was coming out of school.  With that being said, Kruger has good size and can be viewed as a “potential” type of pick if he is able to fill out his frame and continue to develop strength.  Kruger’s combine measures were 6’6”, 270 lbs, and he posted a 4.83 40-yard dash, 34’ vertical jump, and 7.17 3-cone drill.  Kruger has good athleticism for his size, but I’m projecting him as a 3-4 defensive end for the Pats.

7th Round: #235 – Jasper Collins, WR Mount Union

Collins was the only Division III invite to the 2013 East-West Shrine Game, and deservedly so.  Throughout the 2012 season, Collins amassed 92 catches for 1,694 yards and 22 touchdowns.  Collins is looking to be the next Mount Union wide receiver to produce in the NFL, following in the footsteps of Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts.  At 5’10”, 180 lbs, Collins’ size is similar to a slot receiver.  However, Collins also has good speed (4.47 40-yard dash), decent strength (12 reps on the bench), good explosiveness (34.5” vertical jump), and good quickness (6.85 3-cone drill).  This late in the draft, Collins is a great pick simply based on potential.

Randy Moss Reaction

What did anyone expect?  Honestly, is this really as shocking as most are making it out to be?  Randy Moss has a new team, that is not as big of a deal as people would like to believe.  Compare it to the Celtics.  Randy Moss was brought to New England with a window of time to get it done (win a championship), and the Patriots came within minutes of reaching that goal.  The next year in 2008 they came in as a favorite to go to the Super Bowl again, then Brady went down in week 1, and although a considerable effort was made by Cassel, 2 years were gone.  Last year the Patriots could not win a game on the road and for that matter could not get it done when they were given a home game in the playoffs, being trampled by Baltimore.  This year was questionable with the contract situations coming into the season.  Everyone expected Brady to get his money, which I still say is well deserved, but based on the numbers Moss has put up this season he must have been looking at Logan Mankins sitting in the midst of his contract dispute knowing that the Patriots were not going to give him the money he wanted.  If I were a betting man I would have to place money on the idea that not only did Randy want this, but unlike his post game interview in week 1, he went quietly to Belichick instead of airing it to the media.  Speaking of the coach, another “Classic Belichick” move done here, trading a 4th round pick to acquire Moss and now dealing him for a 3rd round pick, with rumors, only rumors, of trying to make a move towards Vincent Jackson.  Of course do not be surprised if Bill fields a winning team this year with or without replacing Moss.  From Minnesota, to Oakland, to New England and now back to Minnesota…if Randy Moss is not happy then he is not going to perform.  He may go down as one of, if not the greatest deep threat in the history of the game, but when he is talked about by football historians, his achievements will always be followed with a line somewhere in the realm of, “Buutttt, his attitude was absolutely shitty,” or maybe even, “Those things he did were great, but he started the DIVA phase of wide receivers.”

Rule of the Brady Dynasty

The Patriots, without question, are the team of the decade in the NFL, with a strong case to be made in all sports.  Three Super Bowls in four years and playoff appearances in 7 out of 10 years in a decade, including being one half away from a 5th Super Bowl appearance that would have concluded in domination of the Rex Grossman Bears, solidify that title.

The problem for the Patriots lies in that title alone.  “Team of the decade” is the decade that has already come and gone.  The Patriots dominated this time period, and although the Indianapolis Colts acheived slightly more wins than the Patriots, the Pats won those 3 Super Bowls and constantly beat teams that were deemed “unbeatable” in shocking or convincing fashion.  Based on numbers, the Patriots have earned this, but what is commonly overlooked is how the Patriots have done it.  Those 3 titles are the finishing argument in this case, but the driving argument is that the Patriots have dominated the NFL with a system, installed by Belichick, that has made sure every player on the team has a role and if that player is called upon to perform his job he is expected to do so whether he is 1st, 2nd, or 3rd string.  Rarely do you see a team move players in and out so frequently while still winning at the pace of this team.  This winning and “never say die” attitude has carried them through each year of this decade giving Patriot fans something they have never had – a feeling that every year their team can go out and win it all.

Yet, all good things must come to an end.  Dynasties throughout history have come and gone.  Some have ruled for hundreds of years, others for decades, and it appears as if the Patriots have just had their decade of rule.  In no way should this be interpreted as saying the team led by Tom Brady will never obtain another Super Bowl title because as long as No. 12 is throwing the football for you, you have a chance.  This is more of a reflection that we as fans of this team can no longer take ANYTHING for granted, first and foremost a playoff berth. 

The AFC East is making jumps and strides in terms of toughest divisions in the NFL.  The Dolphins are doing what no one thought possible by successfully carrying out the Wildcat against tough run defense teams, while at the same time having acquired what I see as the QB of the future there in Chad Henne, having already beaten the Patriots with good support from his arm this year, AND adding a rejuvenated Rickly Williams to a franchise guy in Ronnie Brown.  As much as it pains me to say it, the Jets behind Sanchez and the overpowering defense carried over from the Ravens employed by Rex Ryan, with additional focus on a rookie shut down corner, are going to be around for the long run because they are supplied with youth and the key veterans that are necessary for a team to win.  Finally, the Bills…umm…might have a new coach?…anyway…

What does this all mean?  It simply means that yes, the dynastic domination the Patriots have employed for the better part of ten years is finally coming to an end.  Watching yesterday as they were totally dismantled and taken out of the game, quickly going down 2 scores in 5 minutes, had me sitting there thinking it was the year 2000 as opposed to 2010, watching what I will call Brady’s “Bledsoe” interception.  The Patriots will be contenders for the division title for years to come, assuming Belichick stays and Tom Brady receives an assumed contract extention before it expires at the end of next season and not to forget an extention or completely new contract for the big man who controls the middle Vince Wilfork, but for the short-term and possibly the long-term we can never again assume the Patriots will start a season as the frontrunner for the Super Bowl.