Predicting The Unpredictable: New England Patriots Mock Draft 2.0
After all the speculations, the mock drafts, and the analysis surrounding the NFL Combine and each players’ pro day, the 2014 NFL Draft is finally upon us.. This evening, around 8 o'clock, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce the beginning of the draft and teams will finally have to commit to a prospect. It is highly probable that the Houston Texans will select phenomenal defensive end Jadeveon Clowney out of the University of South Carolina with the first pick of the draft. But after that, nothing is certain.
The Patriots have the 29th overall pick in this year's draft. However, head coach Bill Belichick has a tendency of trading up or down in the past to get the player that he wants. In the first round, New England will probably go with Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III. As veteran Vince Wilfork is getting older, the Pats are going to need an imposing presence in the middle of the defensive line. Nix weighs 331 pounds and has good lateral quickness for a man his size. He also possesses good rushing moves and has the necessary awareness to track plays. Despite his strength, Nix had trouble against double teams during his time at Notre Dame. He has the potential to eventually replace Wilfork.
In the second round, the Patriots will likely go for a tight end. Rob Gronkowski is productive when he is healthy, but is hard for the Pats to rely on him for a full season. Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas seems like a good match because of his physicality and pass-catching ability. He does not "wow" anyone with his athleticism, but his play on the field makes up for it. Niklas, the nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, was used in a variety of roles in the Notre Dame offense, which demonstrates his versatility, a quality that Bill Belichick and Co. seem to enjoy in their players.
The Patriots next selection comes at pick 93. A possibility here is Dion Bailey, a free safety out of the University of Southern California. This 6-foot, 201 pound safety is very versatile, as he also has experience at outside linebacker. The ex-Trojan has excellent awareness that he uses unselfishly to take out blockers so his teammates can make plays. However, due to his small stature, Bailey could get pushed around in the NFL. However, Belichick focuses on intelligence and will take Bailey in the third round.
With the 130th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Patriots will select Anthony Johnson, the defensive tackle from Louisiana State University. Johnson is a physical specimen with a quick burst who puts a lot of effort into each play. He is still raw at this point, but the New England defensive staff will have time to work with him.
New England has gained a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth round. With this pick, the Pats will add some depth on the offensive line by selecting another player from LSU. This time it will be offensive guard Trai Turner, who was a major force in the running game during his time in college. He also has a quick first step to add to his upside. He still needs to be polished in the passing game but he could be a starter if the coaching staff is willing to work with him.
Due to the many influential factors, predicting draft picks is a hard task for anyone to do. Of course, while the first few picks are each year are usually obvious, this year's draft is unpredictable after the first pick. And just like any draft, most people will learn that getting a perfect mock draft is just as hard as getting a perfect NCAA March Madness Bracket. A lot of fans see the draft as the welcoming of a savior that will bring the team to the promise land, but as previous drafts show, drafting the good players is half of the process; developing them in the team’s system is the other half. This is why Patriot fans should not worry too much about who the Patriots draft, as the ‟Hoodie” and his assistants have excelled in developing players in the past.