First off, we need to understand that Bill Belichick is very tough to predict when it comes to drafts, we know this very well as Pats fans.
I do not believe in trading down (or up) in this draft. There is depth if we want to trade down, but I think we need to get first round talents if we want to improve our defense, enough of this quantity over quality crap Bill. Our most important focus should be on the defensive line. I've seen blog posts that highlight Julio Jones as someone who should be taken with the 17th overall pick, and i'm left asking myself if these people know anything football.....like the patriots offense was sooooo bad last year, they absolutely need to draft a WR with their first pick of the draft. There are so many things wrong with that assumption that I can't even list them all.
So here is what I think, with the 17th overall pick, we draft one of the mid first round talents at DE, such as Wisconsin's JJ Watt, who is a workhorse and gets to the ball non-stop, or Cameron Jordan from Cal, i'm not as high on Adrian Clayborn from Iowa, I think his stock will drop during the combine.
With the 28th Pick, we should select a Hybrid DE/ OLB such as Von Miller (if he's still there) OLB from Texas A&M. Some on this board have alluded to Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan as good pick in the late first round, but depending on his combine performance, it might be a reach. Keep in mind that Our pass rush is desperately in need as we were near the bottom of the league in sacks and QB pressures this year. I don't think our focus needs to be on RB or OL as much so early on. I know fans love to see the razzle dazzle associated with the offense, and that's what sells tickets but defense wins SuperBowls.
With the 33rd overall pick, we can focus on OL, maybe BC's Anthony Castonzo (if he's a available) or even Gabe Carimi, a great Talent from Wisconsin. I think his stock will rise during the combine and will be long gone before this pick. However, with the futures of both Matt Light and Logan Mankins in doubt, we absolutely need OL help this early on in the draft.
With the 60th pick in the draft, I think we start to focus more on the offense. if all else fails in free agency for a WR (Such as Chad OchoCinco), we might select someone like Leonard Hankerson, a big 6'3, 215 LB talent from Miami (FL). He is deceptively fast with great hands, and someone we would need to stretch the defense a little and move away from the dink passes of last season. However I am worried, this guy is a prototypical deep threat/Possession receiver. he has long arms, and leaping ability which allows him to get to the ball at the highest point. Which means that if he has a good combine, we might see him go in the late first round or early second round stages of the draft. Another Name to look at is Jonathon Baldwin from Pitt, who some have compared to Vincent Jackson in terms of size and speed.
With the 74th overall pick, which is in the third round, there is still some potential. We might select a RB this high such as Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray, or Ryan Williams from VT. Some Pats fans have been begging for Mark Ingram and have even suggested we trade up to get him. personally, I don't see Ingram in a Patriots uniform. Sure he is a big physical back, but that may be his downfall. Guys like that happen to spend a lot of time on the DL because of their running styles, and sadly, that is where I see Ingram. I don't see the point in drafting a guy in the first round who 2-3 years down the road could possibly be damaged goods. Besides, a lot of big boards having Miami taking him anyways.
To this point we still have 4 more picks in the draft (albeit we don't trade up or down).
- With the second third round pick, we might select another guy at DL, the draft is very deep this year
- With our fourth round pick, I think we look to depth at OL
- I'm thinking with our 5th round pick, we might look towards the secondary, maybe FS, who knows how long that eye-sore Meriweather will be around. Hell, we might even trade him during the draft while his stock is still high (he is Pro Bowler as hard as that is to believe). if we trade Meriweather for a solid 3rd or 4th rounder, we can pick up a nice talent at FS. We might have to rely on old veteran safety help next season, but they can't be as bad as Meriweather. Keep in mind that free agency is another way to go to add depth to this position.
- In the sixth round, i'm thinking we select a QB, someone to groom under Brady's tutelage. Ricky Stanzi from Iowa might be someone to look at. Also, the leadership skills of Christian Ponder might enable him draft worthy from a conditional pick POV. Guys like Andy Dalton from TCU or Ryan Mallett from Arkansas might be available based on their performance in the Senior Bowl as well as the combine. I would love to see Ryan Mallett as a young QB behind Brady though.
So that's my mock draft, tell me what you think.