Evaluating the New England Patriots 2014 Draft
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida: 6’2″, 288lbs, 26 bench reps, no drills due to torn ACL.
Easley is the ultimate boom or bust pick, typically not really Belichick’s style. He could give us an interior pass rush, something we have not had for a very long time. At the beginning of the 2013 season, prior to injury, he was being mentioned in the same breath as Jadeveon Clowney as the best DT in the SEC. On the flip side, he could play 20 snaps the whole year or play his whole career with nagging injuries and never realize his potential.
Jimmy Garrapolo, QB, Eastern Illinois: 6’2″, 226lbs, 4.94 40 (Patriots QB speedster), 56 mph throw speed at combine
I wasn’t a fan of this, mostly because there were starters at positions of need available, mainly TE, via a trade up. I think all three, Amaro, Niklas and ASJ, had very good value in the second round. On the other hand, as a player and NFL prospect, I like Garrapolo, I like his size, touch on the football and supposed football intelligence. In my opinion, Mallett’s weakness, particularly in the Patriots offense, is he has very little feel on his throws. To put it in baseball terms, he has a ++ fastball but no ability to spot his change-up. It’s a 2016-2017-and-beyond pick, not a 2014 season pick, which may be the most frustrating part.
Bryan Stork, C, Florida State: 6’3″, 315lbs
I loved this pick, Wendell and Connolly are nothing more than backups, and always have been. On the offense, like Manning has always had receivers, Brady has always had a studly OL. I think this pick is huge and I expect he’ll be a starter in 2014 at some point. While he may come with many lingering injuries, he played through them the entire 2013 ‘Noles Championship campaign, earning himself the Rimington Trophy, as the nations top center. He has the smarts, toughness and size to make an immediate impact.
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford: 6’5″, 323 lbs
This pick could have a big impact in 2014 if Fleming can emerge as a viable OT backup. It would allow Cannon to move back inside to his more natural position. And if this is the case, it allows Connolly to be booted, along with Wendell, saving significant cap space. I recently read this Grantland article on Fleming; it sounds like the Pats spent a lot of time with him. He comes from a strong OL program at Stanford that has been churning out NFL talent.
Jon Halapio, OG, Florida: 6’4″, 323 lbs
Who knows if he turns into anything? He also has some large injuries lingering, but he’s a depth G pick and supposedly was by far the highest rated guy on the Patriots draft board for this pick. He is tough as hell, playing through a 80% pectoral tear all year long and although this may have been admirable, it could lead to problems for the Patriots down the road. In the sixth round, if nothing else, he is a cheap backup.
Zach Moore, DE, Concordia: 6’6″, 279 lbs, 4.79 40
Interesting story; comes from a rocky background in the Chicago area and turned into being a finalist for the Division II player of the year award in 2013. We will see if he can ever do anything. Pretty good measurables, but I am sure he dropped due to being extremely raw. Don’t expect to see much of him in 2014.
Jamea Thomas, S/CB, Georgia Tech: 5’9″, 192 lbs, 4.52 40
All I can say is thank god he didn’t take this guy in the third, because given the last couple of drafts, it feels like something he would have done. Interesting choice in the sixth though; look for him to likely replace a guy like Ebner as a core special teamer; if not, he’ll start on the practice squad.
Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan: 5’8″, 185 lbs, 4.45 40, 39.5″ vertical, 130″ broad jump (the boy has UPs!!)
Intriguing pick, he broke Braylon Edwards’ Michigan receiving record this past year. Don’t know much about him, but supposedly has a knack for finding soft spots in coverage and has real solid hands. He will also likely compete with Boyce for KR duties.
Overall, outside of QB, I thought every pick was a pick of need. Whether the picks fill the needs will be determined. Brady needed OL and we went big time there. Dave DeGuglielmo steps in as the new offensive line coach and has some of the biggest shoes in all of football to fill, but he now has the pieces there to play with.