Richard Hill's New England Patriots 2010 NFL Mock Draft

With tomorrow being the draft, I've decided to create my own New England Patriots 7 round mock draft. Enjoy!

1st Round

a) Jerry Hughes, Texas Christian – OLB

Other pick: Sergio Kindle, Texas OLB

I believe that Jerry Hughes has the potential to be a greater OLB than Sergio Kindle at the NFL level. While Kindle may be more NFL ready for the position, I believe that Hughes has the passion to surpass Kindle by the end of their rookie seasons. Hughes is only 1 inch shorter (6’3 vs 6’2) but weighs more, is a stronger player, is more athletic and has a higher motor. I think that Hughes will immediately step into the vacancy that Derrick Burgess left and will see playing time immediately. I don’t expect Hughes to drop back into coverage much, but he has displayed the ability to drop back when needed.

I go for an OLB at this position over Jared Odrick because the lack of a private workout or team visit has me concerned that the Patriots won’t be looking to grab Odrick.

More picks after the jump!

2nd Round

a) Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech – RB

Other pick: Damian Williams, USC WR

The recent addition of Torry Holt has made me flip my pick from Williams to Dwyer. Dwyer is the perfect committee back and has oodles of non-injured college experience to back up his stats. While some may point to his background in an option offense as to why he’s succeeded at the college level. While that may be true about his running to the outside, he has still run well and powerfully between the tackles. Despite his poor hands at some workouts, being a running back in an option offense means that he has at least some minimal experience catching the ball out of the backfield. Dwyer may not have caught anything this past season, but his performance in 2008 shows the explosive potential he has- and his sustained performance in 2009, despite opposing offenses stacking against him, shows that his success was no fluke.

I go with Dwyer over Williams because the age of our running back core needs to decrease and the recent (and semi-ironic) addition of the seasoned Holt to the wide receiver core makes me push our running backs as a higher need. Expect to grab a project wide receiver later in the draft, but I’ll assume that the team is happy with Moss, Edelman, Tate, Holt and maybe one FA pick-up.

b) Tyson Alualu, Cal – DE

Other pick: Ricky Sapp, Clemson OLB

California’s Tyson Alualu is the #1 ranked 3-4 DE with proven college experience. He is a high character guy who has started since his sophomore year. He’s a family man with proven ability. While he may be a little short (6’3) and a little small (295), he seems to know his role well and do what’s asked of him. While he won’t be getting many sacks, he can collapse the pocket and allow linebackers to make plays around him. He can stuff the run, which is very important, and he can help be a leader for our young team.

I choose Alualu over Sapp because I think that Sapp has a similar play set as Jerry Hughes. The way the rest of this draft pans out, I don’t think we need two identical players this early in the draft.

c) Brandon Spikes, Florida – ILB

Other picks: Sean Lee, Penn State ILB; Anthony McCoy, USC TE; Jamar Cheney, Miss State ILB; Torrell Troup, UCF DE/DT;

Florida’s Brandon Spikes is the perfect compliment to play next to Jerod Mayo for the next half decade. While Spikes’ stock has plummeted as of late, he has the best inside linebacker instincts of anyone in the draft. He performs on the field, where it matters, and is a high effort player. There are some questions about his character (eye-gouging incident), but he has taken responsibility for his actions and even penalized himself more than the school (he was suspended for one half of a game; he took himself out of the whole game to not be a distraction). Spikes’ playset is much better than any of the other ILBs in the draft, despite the recent love for PennState’s Sean Lee. Lee is too light to play ILB in the Patriots 3-4. MissState’s Jamar Cheney is Gary Guyton 2.0 and we don’t need another one of those on the team. Spikes attacks the line to stop plays before they happen, while the other players are more reaction based and stop plays after they happen. Spikes would be excellent value.

I go against TE because the Patriots haven’t shown much interest in the top trio of TEs who have all been heavily injured at some point this past season. I go against Anthony McCoy because I think Spikes has greater value at this pick than McCoy. I go against UCF’s Torrell Troup because I think he has more value as a 4-3 DT than a 3-4 DE. Also, with Alualu as a previous pick, we don’t need another defensive lineman this early.

I think that Spikes is a better player than both Guyton and McKenzie. Mayo is a play stopper. Guyton and McKenzie are post-play stoppers. Spikes is a play stopper. We need players who have a nose for a play and who can end before it happens.

4th Round

a) Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Washington – OLB

Other picks: Marcus Easley, UConn WR; Emmanuel Sanders, SMU WR; Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt CB;

Washington’s Te’o-Nesheim is projected to be one of the best pass rushing OLBs in the whole draft. He is the fastest, most athletic and most explosive DE/OLB prospect in the draft and, if his Washington team wasn’t so terrible, he’d be a consensus second round pick. At 6’4, 263lbs with a 4.71 40 time, Te’o has perfect size for our defense and has the explosion to make noise in opposing backfields. He can stop the run and he can pressure the quarterback. I wouldn’t be surprised if we traded up to assure our drafting of him.

I went with Te’o over the other players because I believe that we aren’t looking for players who would provide depth- we want players who could push for starting time at this point in the draft. I think that Easley is more of a project player, Sanders is Tate 2.0 and Lewis would be fighting Wilhite for #4 on our depth chart. I see us going with a player with a better chance of seeing the field and who is also projected to be a better player down the road.

6th Round

a) Scott Long, Louisville – WR

Other pick: Charles Scott, LSU RB

Scott Long is my WR project pick. At 6’2, 215 lbs, Long has the size to be a #1 or #2 receiver in the league down the road. While I don’t see him getting much playing time, I can definitely see him being a star on the practice squad and making the team next season. He has great ball control and the Patriots seem to like him.

I go with Long over LSU’s Charles Scott because of the Dwyer pick in the 2nd round. I don’t see us having two new RBs on the team this upcoming year.

b) Chris McCoy, Mid.TennesseeState – OLB

Other pick: Stephen Williams, Toledo WR; Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green WR

6’3, 261 lbs, 4.7 40 time. He’s another one of the OLBs with perfect Patriots size. McCoy has displayed the ability to drop back into coverage and I believe he could fill the Vrabel role on our defense. While he’s a clear project, he has the upside and potential to be a success on our LB starved defense. Don’t expect him to have the impact that Te’o or Hughes will have, but look for him to fight Pierre Woods for special teams’ time.

The Scott Long pick makes me grab McCoy over Williams or Barnes.

7th Round

a) Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State – QB

Other pick: Jim Cordle, Ohio State C

Zac Robinson is one of the most underrated prospects in the draft and has shown his skill in the post-season bowl and combine circuit. While he may not be a #1 QB as a rookie, or even as a sophomore, look for Robinson to push Hoyer for the #2 spot and maybe even be used as trade bait down the road. The Patriots love competition at positions and Robinson would be great value at this point in the draft, even though he doesn’t fill an immediate need.

I go with Robinson over Cordle because I think that Robinson has a greater upside and that Cordle would have less of a shot making the team. We already have great interior line depth and Cordle wouldn’t have a roster spot.

b) Scott Sicko, New Hampshire – TE

Other pick: None.

Sicko has flown up draft boards as of late after the Patriots began showing interest in him. He’s a hometown boy who could immediately contribute on offense and special teams. He also has a fantastic name. At 6’4, 251 lbs, Sicko could do well by adding 10 or so pounds to his frame, but he has great size for his position. He’s a solid blocker and an excellent receiver. Look for him to learn from Alge Crumpler how to be an NFL player and from offensive line coach Dante Scarneccia on how to be a great NFL blocker.

There should be no other pick. Sicko is a perfect fit for the Patriots.

c) Adrian Tracy, William & Mary – OLB

Other pick: Mike McLaughlin, Boston College ILB

Another OLB? Yeah. Adrian Tracy is 6’3, 250 lbs with a 4.7 40 times. Sense a trend? Tracy has shown the ability to drop back into coverage meaning that he’ll be fighting 6th round pick Chris McCoy for a roster spot. On a team that needs the best LBs possible, this competition is a great thing. With 62.5 career tackles for losses, there’s a great possibility that Tracy could see some actual playing time as a rookie.

I go with Tracy over McLaughlin because I don’t see us grabbing two ILBs with our current ILB depth of Mayo, Guyton, McKenzie and the 2nd rounder Brandon Spikes.

d) Sherrick McManis, Northwestern – CB

Other pick: Robert McClain, UConn CB

I have a hard time believing that the Patriots wouldn’t even look at the CB position this whole draft with the recent acquisitions in the AFC East. Sherrick McManis is a corner who has a nose for the ball and, if it’s thrown his direction, will either intercept it or break it up. He would immediately fight Wilhite for the #4 cornerback position and, with time, could eventually be a fantastic nickel corner.

While McClain has ties to the Patriots via Darius Butler, I look for the Patriots to grab the more proven player with a higher ceiling.

e) Zoltan Mesko, Michigan - P

Other pick: Brent Bowden, Virginia Tech P

While most teams stay away from drafting punters, the Patriots have never shied away from grabbing a special teamer they think would fit (K Stephen Gostkowski, LS Jake Ingram) and the team views special teams just as importantly as the rest of the facets of the game. Michigan’s Zoltan Mesko is one of the best punters in this draft and would be an immediate starter, should he beat out (and he should) the newly acquired former Aussie rules football punter David King. Mesko is a great player and should contribute immediately.

Brent Bowden is another potential pick, but I believe that Mesko is a better player. Two inches taller and 30 lbs heavier makes Mesko a stronger, more durable punter who can have greater hang time.

 

Why the OLBs?

Some may question why I’m selecting so many linebackers in this draft. To you, I say look at the roster. How many LBs do you trust as a full time starter?

For me?

Jerod Mayo.

That’s it.

We have Gary Guyton, who I would prefer as the nickel backer. We have Tyrone McKenzie, who is coming off an injury and is unproven. We have Tully Banta-Cain, who recorded half of his 10 sacks against the Buffalo Bills. We have Adalius Thomas (yeah right), Pierre Woods (do you trust him?), Shawn Crable (I don’t trust him), Rob Ninkovich (not a starter) and the newly acquired Marques Murrell (special teams player).

I trust exactly 0 of our outside linebackers. I trust 1 of our inside linebackers.

Go back to the 2004 Super Bowl roster. Look at those linebackers. What do you notice? Willie McGinest. Rosevelt Colvin. Ted Johnson. Roman Phifer. Tedy Bruschi. Mike Vrabel. Hell, even Larry Izzo. That’s a crew of 7 linebackers (8 with Izzo) that I would pit against our current LB core any day.

Our linebacking core needs an injection of talent. We have 2 players coming off injuries (McKenzie and Crable), 3 players who should be only special teamers (Murrell, Woods, Ninkovich), 2 players who should only be in back-up roles (Banta-Cain and Guyton) and 1 starter. I’m not even going to count Thomas.

We need three players who can step up and into a starting role. Hughes and Spikes are two players. That leaves the players on the current roster, the other OLB draft picks and any additional FA pick up to fight for the last OLB slot.

That’s my argument for selecting 4 OLBers in the draft. Maybe 3 make the team. At least 2 will be immediate upgrades. Maybe one of the late rounders are surprisingly talented. We have 12 picks and I doubt all of them have a chance of making the roster- why not overdraft in the position that needs the greatest help?

 

Why not some other positions?

The Patriots have spent the off-season and last year’s draft upgrading the defensive line position, which is why I don’t believe we’ll heavily invest in extra defensive ends. I don’t believe that we’ll draft too many tight ends, despite our obvious need, due to the quantity of quality TEs that will be cut during pre-season. I don’t think the Patriots will find the heir to one of the tackle positions due to a lack on interest in college tackle prospects.

 

Summary

Offensive: 4

Defensive: 7

Special Teams: 1

 

QB: 1 (Robinson)

RB: 1 (Dwyer)

WR: 1 (Long)

TE: 1 (Sicko)

DE: 1 (Alualu)

OLB: 4 (Hughes, Te’o-Nesheim, McCoy, Tracy)

ILB: 1 (Spikes)

CB: 1 (McManis)

P: 1 (Mesko)

 

5 Immediate Starters (Hughes, Dwyer, Alualu, Spikes, Mesko)

2 Immediate Back-Ups (Te’o-Nesheim, Sicko)

3 Push for Roster Spot (McCoy, Tracy, McManis)

2 Immediate Practice Squad Projects (Long, Robinson)

 

Thoughts?

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