by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Drafting on Day Two seems like a version of that arcade game where you have to use a mechanical claw to grab a stuffed animal: You can get in position to get what you want, only to have something go wrong at the last minute. Also, even when you acquire your target, it might fail to live up to expectations. (There’s my analogy for the day. You’re welcome.)
Early Day Two (Picks 65 through 118): Looking at the PD Day Two board (PDF below), these picks signify New England’s chances to ensure depth at any position valued as a Day One priority. Should Mike Mickens, Jarron Gilbert or Rashad Johnson fall to the third, watch the Pats snap up one of them. Each projects as an eventual starter in the Patriots system.
Despite the lack of immediate need, Cornelius Ingram and Pat White gain value for their future potential.
Riser: Arizona’s Mike Thomas. Run fast. Catch ball. Return kicks. Repeat.
Sleeper: Linebacker Jason Williams got some ink after his don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-my-40 pro day, but news about the Leatherneck (yes, that’s Western Illinois’s mascot) has died down since then.
Don’t Overlook: He’s gotten lost in the dust kicked up by Day One bandwagons, but part of me feels partial to Paul Kruger, especially after his Q&A with PD. Biased or no, you’ve got to love a 6-4, 260-pound guy whom Sporting News compares to Mike Vrabel. Kruger has played every position in the front seven, even tackle.
Mid Day Two (Picks 119 through 191): We get into a more balanced mix of defense and offense in this range. Hard to figure where to put injured players like Brandon Tate and Josh Mauga (I’m avoiding commenting on Tate’s positive marijuana test, even though part of me finds it hilarious) and where to slot the small-schoolers vs. the big-timers.
This part of the draft displays the conflict between Patriots need and overall draft rating. Perhaps Stephen McGee shouldn’t be this high (speaking of high, what about that Tate fella? Ba-da-boom!), but if they want him, they’ll need to pick him here. Some might rank Tony Fiammetta lower; still, with Heath Evans’ absence, his value as a blocking fullback/special teamer scoots him up the board.
Riser: Even after his Utes went undefeated, it took Brice McCain running a 4.33 40 and a 3.99 20-yard shuttle to get attention. Tons of value with this cornerback pick.
Sleeper: Virginia’s John Phillips had 48 receptions in 2008. If Bill Belichick resists an early tight end pick, he could get a productive guy here.
Don’t Overlook: Offensive lineman Joel Bell out of lil’ Furman. He’s light for his height (6-7, 315) and fast (5.11 40), making him an ideal apprentice for the New England O-line.
Late Day Two (Picks 192-256): Some surprise value could reside in this area, although with 11 total picks available, the Patriots will have to monitor their rookie intake on Sunday morning and consider trading these toward the future. The top three in this column (Curtis Taylor, Don Carey, Sammie Stroughter) have the potential to step in right away on special teams while contributing on offense or defense over time.
These picks also contain the real sleepers. Anyone who had Tom Brady here and pegged him as an NFL starter nine years ago deserves some praise (but mostly scorn, because that person is lying).
Risers: With a solid combine and good week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Carey has a lot of NFL eyes on him. Michigan State’s Brandon Long earns a mention here after his pro day, when the 6-2, 253-pound outside linebacker conversion project ran a 4.61 40 and put up 32 bench reps.
Sleeper: After Coach Belichick attended UConn’s pro day, most onlookers discussed the top picks, including pass-rusher Cody Brown. Well, Julius Williams is bigger (252 pounds vs. 244 for Brown), faster (4.62 40 vs. 4.74) and stronger (36 bench reps vs. 26). Not to say that better testing ensures a better player, but wouldn’t you take a hard look at this guy in the sixth round?
Don’t Overlook: As one of my favorite PD Q&A subjects, this is my last chance to promote receiver Dudley Guice, and I’m taking it. The Northwestern State (La.) product ran a 4.40 40 and jumped 41 inches at his pro day.
Well, after scouring scouting reports, combine numbers and pro days, PD has put up, so now we must shut up.
Until we comment on the draft, of course.
Chris Warner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org