by Patriots Daily Staff
Chris: Well, faithful PD readers, by this time you’ve evaluated a slew of mock drafts, so we figured it was our turn to put ourselves out there (with an appropriate New England bias, of course).
Let me begin by saying that the high level of talent in this year’s draft makes this mock a lot of fun. Pass rushers, receivers and running backs abound. I’d like to add that, if I really were in charge of the Patriots’ picks, I’d trade at least two toward 2011 because 13 of last year’s rookies remain on the roster.
Instead of bothering with specific numbers I just stuck to rounds. I figure there will be plenty of hopping around over the three-day draft, anyway. Enjoy, and if you have a different opinion of who the Pats should draft, feel free to engage in some lively debate in the comments section below.
Chris Warner: Jerry Hughes, OLB, TCU. Some talk about taking Brandon Graham here – and that might happen – but I like Hughes better as an all-around athlete. Lined up as a defensive end at TCU, but showed the ability to play on his feet. He can rush the passer or cover tight ends, giving the Patriots versatility at that spot. You’ll notice that I am NOT trading down from 22. Because that would be cruel to New England fans. (Pats front office, please take note.)
Greg Doyle: You have to like Hughes’ production and despite everything, he is still only 21 years old. So you are getting a young player, with upside and big college production. I do have a couple of concerns with him. First, I watched him closely vs. Boise State in his bowl game and thought he had a mediocre game at best. He also took a couple really dumb penalties including an after the whistle personal foul reminiscent of David Thomas versus the Colts in 2008. He also had some good moments of pressure against a hard to rush Boise team. Second, his great production came against mid-level college teams, not the elite. I just think it’s a bit of a gamble pick in the first round. He hasn’t played linebacker at all either. I see high boom or bust potential in him. I’d feel better about taking him in the second round.
My pick would be Jared Odrick. I see limited downside to him. Just a very productive, possibly slightly undersized but not significantly, hard working player who was productive against great competition. He’d slide into that 3-4 end spot and allow Mike Wright to be sort of a super sub at every spot on the line. I think worst case Odrick is a close to a decade solid starter. Best case is he’s a Pro Bowler. I don’t see a lot of risk in this pick, which is the main reason I’m favoring it now. As an alternative, Ryan Matthews at running back really intrigues me but it’s not as big a need for the Patriots right now as the defense is. If they could trade Maroney for a third, I might consider that direction.
Scott Benson: This year’s draft meme is clearly the defensive front seven, as it should be – unless the Pats get a lot better there in a hurry, they’ll continue to slide farther and farther away from another championship. Unfortunately, it’s not the only area in which they’ll need to quickly improve. Offensively, the Patriots have essentially reduced themselves to playing 3 (Brady, Moss and Welker) against 11 every week. So offensive skill players are also needed, and in a hurry, as they will likely be without Welker when they open the season. The good news (and isn’t some good news needed?) is they have 4 of the first 53 picks in what is regarded as a solid, even deep, draft. So to me, New England braintrust, the top priorities are these: 1) No avoidance. Give me players, not future picks. If you decide to trade back from 22 (and that may turn out to be in your best interest) it’s for picks you’ll make THIS YEAR. 2) No prototypes. I don’t give a shit what kind of ‘length’ you like. Shawn Crable has ‘length’, and he SUCKS. 3) No projects. Give me grown ups who have demonstrated productivity and consistency for a long period of time. Don’t give me Jason-Pierre Three Names and this ‘freak’ bullshit. Honestly.
Oh, I was supposed to pick a player there? Okay, I’ll take Graham. During Senior Bowl week, he looked like an eighth grader playing with sixth graders.
Chris: Cam Thomas, DL, North Carolina. I just love the whole 6-foot-4, 330-pound thing he’s got going for him. He’s tough to move and fast in a straight line (5.14 in the 40), making him an ideal backup nose and a strong candidate to anchor one side of the line at defensive end.
Greg: Thomas is definitely a player I like who really stood out at the Senior Bowl and the more you check him out you see what a good player he is, if not flashy. He isn’t going to be a big time pass rusher. But he is a guy who could play end or nose tackle that will be very stout against the run. I might go this direction if I did the Matthews thing in the first round, but with my pick being Odrick, I think I prefer Thaddeus Gibson who I see as a high upside guy with tons of talent, who came out after his junior year and has room to grow and has actually played the outside linebacker position. That is my pick at 44.
Scott: I got my linebacker earlier so now I’m looking to fill that vacant RDE spot, so my pick here is the Cal DL Tyson Alualu. Productivity, versatility, consistency, maturity.
Chris: Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale. Like the rest of us, Matt Light isn’t getting any younger. Also like the rest of us, Nick Kaczur made some mistakes last year. Veldheer has a Vollmer-like reach (6-foot-8), quick feet for his size (4.51-second 20-yard shuttle), and the strength to hold down the edge (32 bench press reps). In fact, a comparison to Vollmer’s pro day shows quite a few similarities. A former high school hoopster, Veldheer could put in some time as a blocking tight end, too.
Greg: I like your reasoning on Veldheer, but with Light, Vollmer, Kaczur and LeVoir still on the roster I just see this as too early. Perhaps if they were to trade Matt Light, who is headed into his last year under contract, this might be the move. Instead, I projected Kam Chancellor here who is a big safety. While safety also isn’t a big need with Meriweather, Chung, Sanders and McGowan still around, I would overlook that by saying I don’t think they see Sanders and McGowan as long-term answers. And I think they feel they are lacking a big, physical safety presence since Rodney Harrison retired. Chancellor is a very big safety, around 230 lbs., but with excellent speed and playmaking ability. He was also a leader of Virginia Tech’s defense. Finding a big safety who can hit, run, cover and make plays on the ball isn’t easy. I think Chancellor fits the bill of being Rodney’s replacement they’re right now lacking.
Scott: At this point, I’ve got to diversify my ridiculously limited offensive attack, so the pick here is BYU TE Dennis Pitta, whose athleticism, short area quickness and feel for the passing game gives him the chance to be an immediate contributor. I’m guessing this will be considered by some to be a reach, but keep in mind those people would have you address your tight end need with a freaking basketball player.
Chris: Ben Tate, RB, Auburn. Okay, okay, maybe this is early. But considering the Pats traded away their third- and fifth-round picks for Derrick Burgess’ garbage-time sacks (Who, me? Bitter?), this will be their last chance to pick up a big, fast back who has had success against the best defenses in college. Time to revamp the offensive backfield, starting with a steady presence who can hold up both physically and mentally for 16 games. Gaining over 1,300 yards vs. SEC defenses says a lot.
Greg: I like Tate a lot and I’m tempted to just agree with you. He is the best blocking running back in the draft and showed great running ability this season and in the Senior Bowl. He tested better than expected after the season as well before scouts. But I’m gonna stick with my defensive oriented first two days by projecting Alualu, the big defensive end from California. With two of the top 4 picks being 3-4 pure defensive ends, I think that would cure worries about that position and right now I have some. Ty Warren has slipped in recent years and battled quite a few injuries. Besides him, they only have the solid Wright established. Alualu, like Odrick, is a very hard working, tough, physical fighter of a player with good size and 3-4 end speed who’d really help solidify the position. I see both as Patriots-type players. Or at least the type of hard working players they were known for in their Super Bowl years.
Scott: Daniel Jeremiah of the outstanding Move the Sticks blog has been telling us for weeks that one of the most polished and pro-ready receivers in the draft is the Citadel’s Andre Roberts, so he’s my pick with #53. Like Pitta, he’s got the speed and quickness to go with the well-honed route tree, and the kind of character and maturity that has evidently been in short supply of late in Foxborough. Enough with leading these young players around by the nose. On the field, Roberts can also step into the punt returner role that Welker will almost assuredly vacate.
Chris: Scott, as you’ll see tomorrow, you’re not alone on the Roberts pick, though Greg and I would consider a second-rounder a bit high to pay for him.
No third rounders, dear readers, so we’ll see you in Part 2 with rounds four through seven…
I’m glad you guys drew this assignment from management. I’m all over the place. Hughes, Odrick, Graham – I’d be happy with any of those guys, plus Kindle.
Then I keep thinking that if Maurkice Pouncey is there, he’s a guy they might jump on, thinking they can get the DL/LB help in the second.
I think I see the four picks being DL/LB/TE/WR, not in any particular order. Or some combination there of (2 DL, 1 TE, 1 LB)
It seems clear that the front 7 is the priority, but if history is any indication, we really have no idea which way they’re going to go.
Pouncey would not surprise me at all Bruce. He’s played a lot of guard and he’ll probably be a Pro Bowl level player at either guard or center. Its not like wide receiver and cornerback. Usually guards and centers if they’re projected to be good turn out to be good. Little risk with a guy like Pouncey. If he’s there at 22, they’d probably have a hard time resisting taking him.
I bet the draft happens like this ….
Pats trade 22 to DAL or MIN for a 2010 2nd and 3rd. Later, they trade a 2nd to JAX for a 2nd and 3rd in 2011. They trade the DAL/MIN 2010 or Jax 2011 2nd for Greg Olson.
You guys know we can’t get through a draft without wild movement and trades! And to think it’s going to be spread out over even more days. Oy vey!
But if you trade 22, you gotta get back another 1. Maybe next year’s, but a 2 and 3 ain’t worth 22. Particularly Dallas’ or Minnesota’s. I could see them trading back from 22 to 26 or somewhere and picking up a 3rd. But that’s it. Or trading one of their 2nd’s for a 3rd this year and a 2nd next year. Something like that. But not 22.
The modern day Coliseum crowd’s entertainment of choice, mock drafters! Hail Bruce Allen – let loose the lions!
Rd1: Greg wins my vote for most reasoned choice, Odrick as a year one “super sub” behind the veterans while he learns technique and conditions with Coaches Woicik & Nash. Props to Scott’s opening monologue, much to agree with. Graham might be my choice if I were 100% sure NE is shifting emphasis to 40 fronts, (Nickel/Dime/long yardage packages were 50% of defensive snaps last year if Reiss’ numbers are correct). He is terrific going forward, but I have no idea what he is like playing in reverse. Hughes surprised me at the Combine with his fluidity in space, unfortunately Chris he is very raw and a major project – like Greg I watched Boise State sub in a freshman reserve Guard for the RT they lost in the last game of the season, the results of the game alone tell you who won the majority of the one-on-one battles.
Rd2a: This is a trade pick in my mind. Ranking the three choices; Alualu, Thomas, Gholston – er, Gibson. I think Thomas’ value is a little later in the early Third, while Gibson is a Day Three lad for me. If NE misses on Odrick Alualu’s value improves, otherwise I’m looking to fill that third round void. Should NE have to draft someone besides Alualu, OL Roger Saffold or OL Jon Asamoah or Scott’s 2b pick TE Dennis Pitta.
Rd2b: Scott easily wins my vote, Pitta is going to pressure defenses trying to defend Randy Moss and jack rabbits like Welker and Edelman. Pitta is a better blocker then he’s been given credit and Coaches Woicik & Nash will put another 10-15 lbs on that frame with no loss of quickness or speed. Veldheer and Chancellor are both desirable targets whom I think will be available later, Veldheer certainly doesn’t have the same resume as Vollmer to warrant taking him this much earlier in the second and I believe Chancellor is an enigma for many teams trying to decide how to use him.
Rd2c: Ben Tate does nothing for me, especially in the second round. I love Andre Roberts, if Mardy Gilyard is gone he’s the man. But if NE hasn’t addressed DE/OLB yet (which is likely), this is the time of the draft where I expect the next cluster of edge players; Koa Misi, Corey Wootton, Eric Norwood, Ricky Sapp, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, and Jason Worilds are all projected through this portion of the draft.
At any time in the first and second rounds I’d settle for a consolation pick of a Devin McCourty or a Kyle Wilson or a Chris Cook. You just can’t have too many good CBs.