Patriots Draft Shots: Just Getting Started!

According to team President Jonathan Kraft, the New England Patriots off-season is just warming up.

"I don't think the offseason is over," the Patriots president said Thursday morning on WEEI Sports Radio 850's "Dennis and Callahan" show. "We had a number of people on our team who were priorities, and we’ve taken care of them, which I think leads us to believe we’re in a better place."

Locking up players in key positions definitely puts the team in a better place, but there are still some empty holes on the team that we'll have to fix via the draft or after the draft when other veteran players get cut.

"We always felt that this draft would be a huge draft," [Kraft] said, recognizing that more players than usual have entered the draft because of the league's unsettled labor situation. Kraft added, "I think between June and the start of the season, you will probably see significantly more players getting released with veteran-type experience than you have in the past."

I agree. But who are the Patriots looking at in the draft? More after the Jump.

According to a great list by the Boston Globe, the following players have been looked at by the Patriots:

QBs:

Florida QB Tim Tebow
Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
Applachian State QB/WR Armanti Edwards

These quarterbacks are all projects. Tebow isn't given a position, but he wants to be a QB. He'll be a early-mid pick. Robinson and Pike will be mid round picks. Edwards will be a late round pick, position the likes of Julian Edelman. However, I don't see us grabbing Edwards because we DO have Edelman. Pike will probably be taken before Robinson, but I think Robinson has a better shot of being selected by us as a project behind Hoyer- a 6th or 7th round pick to see if he works out.

RBs:

Buffalo RB James Starks

Another late round prospect, Starks is a BIG player at 6-2, 214 lbs. He can be taken in the 6th or 7th, which means he's a great player to pick up with our numerous late picks- and perhaps he'll find a niche on our team.

WRs:

Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard
Citadel WR Andre Roberts
SMU WR Emmauel Sanders

Gilyard is an early round prospect, Roberts is an early-mid rounder and Sanders is a late round prospect- all three of which enjoyed great success in college, but at different conference levels of competition. On a team looking for a player to emerge as a #3, all three players can potentially fill that position.

FBs:

BYU BYU FB Manase Tonga

5-11, 245 lbs. Big boy. Big blocker. Late round pick who could be grabbed to see if he'll work out on our offense.

TEs:

Florida TE Aaron Hernandez
Iowa TE Tony Moeaki
BYU TE Dennis Pitta

Hernandez is a 2nd round prospect, Pitta is a mid-round pick and Moeaki is a mid-late round pick. Moeaki may actually be the best fit because he can block- but he's injury prone. We need a TE, so if the value is good, expect us to grab one of these players.

DLs:

LSU DE Al Woods
Georgia NT Jeff Owens
Kentucky DE Corey Peters

After the success of Myron Pryor, Peters is another prospect from Kentucky. All three players are projected to be late round selections and I'd expect us to grab at least one of them at the end of the draft. All are big boys (6-2ish, 310ish range) and fit the 3-4 DE position well.

ILBs:

Indiana ILB Matt Mayberry

Mayberry is another late round potential pick that's worth looking at for LB depth.

OLBs:

Ohio State OLB Thaddeus Gibson
Texas OLB Sergio Kindle
Clemson OLB Ricky Sapp

These players are all early prospects to be taken in the first two rounds. In a position of greatest need, the fact that we're interviewing these players shows that Belichick knows what he wants from his OLBs and he's going to get them. Gibson is the smallest at 6-2, 242 lbs and the other two are 6-3+ and 250ish lbs. That's Belichick's prototype and the fact that these are the players we're looking at shows that we're probably not going to deviate from Hoodie's ideal.

CBs:

Maryland CB Nolan Carroll
Northwestern CB Sherrick McManis

These CBs are also late rounders (7th-undrafted) who are large. 5-11, around 200 lbs, it appears we're looking for larger size in our secondary.

Ss:

Virginia Tech S Kam Chancellor
Texas S Earl Thomas

Thomas is a first round pick and Chancellor is a late rounder. Complete opposites, Thomas is 5-11, 200 while Chancellor is 6-3, 230. We already have exceptional safety depth, but if a draft day trade happens (Sanders?) we could look to grab one of these players. I expect the Thomas visit to more to set up the Patriots draft board instead of actual interest- safety is one of our lowest positions of need.

Ps:

Michigan P Zoltan Mesko

With Hanson perhaps on the way out, Mesko could be a 6th or 7th round selection to fill the position for years to come.

So what do these visits mean? It looks as if we're looking at players for the end of the draft. Players who are regarded as top prospects have been looked at their entire careers so teams already have a good idea of who these players are and whether or not they'd fit. The players the Patriots are looking at are draft bubble players who may not be well known. These interviews and workouts give the Patriots a heads up on players no other teams will have- a great strategy if info on the top players are already well known. Expect a handful of these players listed to be selected with our absurd 7 sixth or seventh round picks.

The great thing about 6th and 7th round picks is that none of them are expected to be great. If we managed to grab 4-5 players who can contribute, it will be viewed as an overwhelming success. Let's hope it is.

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