New England Patriots Mock Draft 1.0
Early into the offseason, the New England Patriots made some important signings, as they added a pair of wide receivers and defensive backs to their roster. With those positions well stocked and the frenzy that is free agency almost over, it is time to predict the unpredictable Bill Belichick and look at the options that the Pats may look for in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Round 1, Pick 29: Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Stanford
Trent Murphy led the FBS in 2013 with 15 sacks. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Murphy does not seem to fit the description of a prototypical 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. With this being said, it is a good thing that the Patriots operate out of sub defenses up to 69 percent of the season, according to ESPNBoston.com. His intelligence and effort would make him a good fit for the Pats’ roster.
The Patriots almost never select a player who has motor issues in the first round. This is why Murphy would be an excellent first-round pick. He was a team captain and an outstanding teammate. He plays with a lot of effort and is a force that could energizes the rest of the defense. But contrary to many mock drafts, a player like Minnesota’s defensive lineman Ra’Sheed Hageman would not make sense as the Patriot's first selection. If he falls past a group of suspected suitors and is still on the board into the second round, then perhaps the Patriots might make a shift to target him. Additionally, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro would be another tempting pick if he is still available at 29.
Plot Twist: This may be a situation where the Patriots decide to trade back. They are a team that tends to move around the draft board. They could get Murphy early in the second round and likely gather another pick in the process. The second and third rounds are filled with players that would be a good fit in the Patriots’ locker room. (Several of them are listed as additional options.)
Round 2, Pick 62: Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame
The big defensive tackle out of Notre Dame, who is projected to be drafted in the first or second round, is seen as an excellent rotation player on the defensive line. Physically, he is a plug at 6-foot-5 and 304 pound and he has the potential to see the field early on if veteran Vince Wilfork leaves the team. Tuitt is disruptive against the run and the pass. With the possibility of some teams being high on Tuitt, the Pats may have to trade up to grab him. With him being such a good fit, they may not want to wait for him to fall into their lap.
Other fits include: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State; Troy Nicklas, TE, Notre Dame; Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State.
Round 3, Pick 93: Jeremy Deering, FS, Rutgers
It would not be a draft without the Pats selecting a player out of Rutgers. Deering played safety, running back, wide receiver, quarterback and kick returner. New England has made it clear that they like players that can play multiple positions like Deering. The free safety would fill their most glaring hole in their secondary at safety. If he does not show development, he could have an impact on special teams early on.
Other fits include: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa; Tre Mason, RB, Auburn; Marion Grice, RB/WR, Arizona State; Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Round 4, Pick 126: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
As seen in recent years, New England has a habit of taking two players at the same position in a draft. Veterans Tommy Kelly, 33, and Wilfork, 32, are hitting the back end of their careers. Bringing in two talented rookies and the 2013 undrafted free agent Armond Armstead – who has not played due to medical issues – should ignite a youth movement on the defensive line for years to come.
The two time Pac-12 defensive player of the year is a bit small (6-foot-0, 304 pounds) for the Patriots, but he can move to any position on the line. He plays best in the backfield as a penetrator, but his effort comes into question after having a tough senior year accounting for only four sacks, hence his falling to the fourth round. His career total of 20.5 speaks to his talent and potential. The Patriots can coach him up to be a very productive player.
Round 6, Pick 182: Russell Bodine, OL, North Carolina
Although he has the ability to play multiple positions, Bodine played mostly at center during his 27 starts at UNC. Where Marcus Cannon provides depth as a back-up for the guard and tackle positions, Bodine could do the same at center and guard. Belichick likes finding help on the offensive line deep in the draft and this selection will be no exception.
Round 6, Pick 190: Trey Burton, FB/TE/WR, Florida
The connection between the Florida Gators and the New England Patriots is not dead yet. Trey Burton has done everything that Florida asked of him, lining up anywhere on the field from quarterback to fullback. He resembles a slimmer Tim Tebow that has the ability to succeed at another position. The Patriots could mold him into the next Aaron Henandez, who was a fourth round pick.
Round 6, (Compensatory): David Fales, QB, San Jose State
Fales threw most of his interceptions in his team’s losses, but finished his career with a 6-touchdown victory over Fresno State. His footwork and solid college production make him a good project for the Patriots as they begin to groom a replacement for Tom Brady. He needs help with his decision-making and throwing mechanics if he wishes to be an NFL QB. With current back-up Ryan Mallett’s contract expiring next year and potential trade interest, Fales would have a chance to make the team.
Round 6, (Compensatory): Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
In the past, the Patriots gain interest in one player, only to find out that the school has multiple players that they are interested in. In the past, these school have been Florida and Rutgers. This year, it has the chance of being Notre Dame or Stanford.
Gaffney is a no-nonsense runner that can wear down a defense. As his time at Stanford went on, he became more productive and set the record for carries in a game with 45 in a win against Oregon. He could be the solution to Stevan Ridley’s fumbling issues and LeGarrette Blount’s questionable future in Foxboro.
Round 7, Pick 221: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
The Patriots have structure for their wide receivers’ contracts and the lack of depth at tight end indicates that it is no longer the focal point of the offense. But it is still a position that needs to be filled. It is known that Burton will be a project and that he may not be a productive blocker. Lynch (6-foot-5, 258 pounds) would be able to back-up the injury-prone Rob Gronkowski. Lynch is not a stellar athletically, but has the fundamentals required for the position.
In a perfect world, the draft finishes with the Patriots add depth and value. While it is not a perfect world, it is unknown what will happen on draft day. Belichick has his original rating system that falls outside the box. While we can expect the Patriots to move around the board, we should also prepare to expect the unexpected.