Draft Needs: TE, LB, DL, OL, RB, WR
Round 1 (29) – Xavier Su’a-Flio, OG, UCLA –
With the departure of Dante Scarnecchia, I think the ability to patch together an OL with lots of nobodies is diminished. Su’a-Filo offers the ability to instantly upgrade the RG position and provide the Patriots with an heir to Logan Mankins as he begins to get very expensive toward the end of his contract. In addition to his on field prowess, Su’a-Filo is an exemplary off the field presence as the Patriots continue to rebuild their locker room.
Ultimately I believe the Patriots trade out of this pick. I think there will be top QBs sliding down the draft board and those in the top of the 2nd round will be chomping at the bit. That said, I am not going to get into projecting trades in this mock.
Alternate Picks- Ryan Shazier, LB, OSU, Kony Ealy, DE, Mizzou, Joel Bitonio, OT/OG, Nevada
Round 2 (62) – Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame – Tight end is extremely thin right now for the Patriots. As of right now, opening day could include a depth chart that looks like this: DJ Williams, Michael Hoomanwanui. That’s it. Quite the far cry from what the Patriots hoped they’d be opening the 2014 season with after signing their 2 young superstar TEs to big contracts a couple years ago.
Niklas would provide an instant big target presence at tight end in the Gronkowski type mold at 6’6”, 270lbs. Belichick has never been shy in selecting tight ends early in the NFL draft and this year will likely prove no different. There are several prototype in-line tight ends available early in this draft that could have an immediate impact.
Alternate Picks- Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington, Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington St, Jimmie Ward, SS, N. Illinois
Round 3 (93) – Christian Jones, ILB, Florida State – The current Patriots LB starting trio could prove to be one of the best in the NFL if Jarod Mayo returns soundly from injury and Jamie Collins continues his upward trajectory. Past the starters though, the Patriots lost both Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher to FA, leaving the team with no depth at the position.
Christian Jones is an athletically gifted player with solid versatility that could prove useful in the ever changing NE defensive fronts. He could slowly find his way into a 3rd down coverage role to get Hightower off the field in those situations.
Alternate Picks- Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State, CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa, Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Round 4 (130) – AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – It may not be likely that McCarron is available in the 4th round, but it seems like overall, many evaluators are not impressed with the QB class as a whole, this could cause the entire QB class to slide. If he is available here, I think he should be the pick. He may not turn into the starting QB the Patriots will need in a few years, but he would be a very serviceable backup to replace Mallett whenever he is no longer on the roster.
Alternate Picks- Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers, Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford, Telvin Smith, ILB, FSU
Round 4 (140) Comp Pick – Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – Blount is gone, Ridley is in the perpetual BB doghouse and Vereen is chillin’ with Gronkowski. Knowing all of that, the Patriots will likely be looking to draft at least one RB in 2014. Ka’Deem Carey has no flash about him, but he is a production machine. He would be well worth a 4th round selection and a chance to slowly rise up the depth chart.
Alternate Picks- Jordan Tripp, ILB, Montana, Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia, Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Round 6 (198) – Chris Watt, OG, Notre Dame – Watt is a solid OG prospect and could allow the Patriots to unload some expensive contracts if he has a good camp.
Round 7 (206) – Colt Lylera, TE, Oregon – This guy has all the talent in the world, but can’t seem to get his head on straight. After drafting to build a strong locker room, his abilities are too much to pass up, even after the Hernandez debacle.
Round 7 (244) – Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami – Because why not?