Patriots Feeling Good, Or Not, After Draft
Now that the 2013 NFL draft has come and gone, it’s time to look at which Patriot players feel good with the addition of their new rookie teammates, and which players feel their roster spot is now jeopardy.
Despite losing his go-to receiver and best friend in Wes Welker this offseason, the Patriots have not left the cupboard bare. After signing Danny Amendola early in free agency, the Patriots drafted two receivers, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, early in the draft. Both players add youth and speed to a new-look receiving corps.
Tight End Group
With Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez coming off surgeries, Jake Ballard still recovering from a torn ACL, and Daniel Fells having one of the worst seasons in his career, it wouldn’t have been a major shock if a TE had been added in the draft. However, after eight selections, the Patriots didn’t take one, which means this group, especially Gronkowski and Hernandez, should take a collective sigh of relief. Fells may not be out of the woods yet and could be cut by the end of training camp.
Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly
With their age and high salaries, it had been speculated the Patriots would look into cheaper, younger options at the guard position. While Marcus Cannon could still move inside and challenge Dan Connolly for a starting job, the fact that no offensive lineman was drafted can be a vote of confidence for the aging duo.
Besides the fact three of his old teammates from Rutgers got drafted by the Patriots, the high pick on CB Logan Ryan probably means McCourty’s stay at safety will be permanent. Ryan adds more depth at CB and allows McCourty to serve as a possible emergency fifth or sixth corner. With a full-time switch, look for McCourty to have a solid year.
On the flip side, Logan Ryan’s selection probably means Dowling will have to either be a star contributor on special teams or somehow find his way into a starting role opposite Aqib Talib. Considering Dowling can’t stay healthy, bank on neither happening, and Dowling being served his walking papers. Another high draft pick has been wasted on a cornerback.
Bolden surprised many when he made the 53-man roster last season after being an undrafted rookie free-agent. He surprised even more people when he had a breakout performance at Buffalo in September. Bolden’s career took a sharp downward turn after missing a lot of time due to injury and serving a four-game suspension due to performance enhancing drugs. Now, with the trade for LeGarrette Blount, Bolden is on the hot seat and could be looking for a new team this fall.
Gregory may be the odd man out in a surprisingly deep safety group. The signing of Adrian Wilson was the first indicator his job could be on the line. Now, with the drafting of Duron Harmon in the third round, it seems inevitable that Gregory will be let go. With Harmon, Nate Ebner, and Tavon Wilson all contributing heavily on special teams, Gregory will have to somehow remain a starter to make the team. If he can’t, Belichick and company will probably view his $2.183 million cap-hit as too rich.
Though technically not drafted, the Patriots did add Ryan Allen, an undrafted free agent, to the team. Mesko is entering the last year of his deal, and Allen represents the first time the Patriots have brought in a punter to compete with Mesko. Allen won the Ray Guy Award — given annually to the pest punter in college football — the last two seasons. Though Mesko most likely will keep his job this season, Allen is possibly being groomed as his replacement.