It's that time. Next week I'll be starting my draft prospect reviews so I wanted to put out a mock draft before I do more intensive research on some lesser known prospects. For now, this is who I like from what I know- maybe we'll see this change over the course of the next month! Without further ado, here's my 2011 Patriots Mock Draft.
6th Round. David Carter, 6'5, 298 lbs, DT/DE, UCLA. Carter is a player in the mold of Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick. He has a big body who can hold the point against double teams in order to stop the run, just like Brace. He's also able to push his way into the backfield like Deaderick. Carter would be a long shot to make the roster, but he could definitely spend a season on the practice squad before he moves up next season as a depth player. He has some upside, but he could also fall off the face of the earth. In the 6th round, he provides solid value as a player who has a chance of making the roster and making an impact.
5th Round. Brandon Fusco, 6'4, 306 lbs, C, Slippery Rock. Fusco is one of the many centers with a mid/late round grade, but I believe that he has the most upside. He was a four year starter, a two year team captain, and was voted first team all-conference three seasons in a row. Yes, he's from a small conference and in a division with lesser talent, but coaches still feared him. He has a great resume and is extremely durable (hasn't missed a game). He is a great run blocker and a great pass blocker, but his technique could use some work in the Dante Scarneccia School. He's a 5th round center who could start in a season or two.
4th Round. Jaiquawn Jarrett, 6'0, 196 lbs, FS, Temple. Jarrett is another player from a small school, but he's faced some top competition. He's been a starter since mid-way through his true freshman year and is a team leader and playbook + game film worm. He's a smart player who takes good angles (which is a skill that could benefit our secondary), he's helpful against the run, and he's more than capable in coverage. He can be an immediate special teams performer and could be a starter in the secondary in the following season. He needs to get stronger in order to face NFL competition, so a year in the system would be perfect. Jarrett has a lot of talent and New England would be a great place for him to play his career.
92. Buster Skrine, 5'10, 186 lbs, CB, Chattanooga. The rise of Devin McCourty and the return of Leigh Bodden mean that the Patriots should be fine on the outside with their cornerbacks. However, the Patriots were unhappy with the play of Darius Butler as the slot corner and Jonathan Wilhite was injured. As a result, the Patriots put SS Pat Chung as the slot defensive back and he struggled big time. Skrine is a smaller player who is perfect for the nickel CB role. He's extremely fast and has a tremendous 3 cone time (#1 in this year's draft), which makes him perfect for the slot. He's been a starter since the end of his freshman year, a two-time first team all-conference player, and a team captain. He adds value as a special teams player and can push Kyle Arrington for time as the nickelback.
74. Clint Boling, 6'5, 308 lbs, OT/OG, Georgia. Boling is another four year starter, but he did it at one of the most prestigious collegiate programs in the country. He can play both tackle and guard and should provide valuable depth in both positions, but I see him sliding in at one of the guard slots. He has the skill set of an effective guard since he can pull block as well as get into the second level. He's received all-SEC in all four years as an offensive lineman and finished his senior year as first team All-SEC. He had a solid senior week and fits into the second tier of guards in the draft (with Benjamin Ijalana, Rodney Hudson, John Moffitt, and Steve Schilling).
60. Jordan Todman, 5'9, 203 lbs, RB, UConn. Todman is my favorite running back as a result of my research. He fits a need and he's a top prospect- what more do you want? He can run the ball extremely well and he can catch it out of the backfield. I think he is the perfect complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the stable due to his speed and versatility. While he needs to improve his pass blocking, he's a powerful runner with a strong frame who can learn how to block with some teaching. He's patient, without dancing, and he has great vision to make his own yards. He's a great prospect and would greatly help the Patriots' running game.
33. Martez Wilson, 6'4, 250 lbs, ILB/OLB, Illinois. Wilson is the Patriots' project as both an inside and outside linebacker. He's the type of player where he has the ability to try and become an elite 3-4 OLB and, if that doesn't work out, he can still become an elite 3-4 ILB. Win/win. He has excellent speed, strength, pass rushing skills and coverage skills. He has a frame that can add a few pounds, which is exactly what he'll do as an OLB. If he bulks up to 255-260, he'd be the ideal OLB for the Patriots. He has a solid head on his shoulders and appears willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. While he may never be a stout run defender like Jermaine Cunningham, Wilson has the speed where he can get around defenders, instead of trying to go through them.
28. Muhammad Wilkerson, 6'4, 315 lbs, DE, Temple. The second Temple player, but Belichick has no problem dipping twice in the same well, as long as the players are worth the draft pick. While he may not have as high a motor as J.J. Watt, or as rich of a bloodline as Cameron Heyward, Wilkerson is one of the few prospects entering the draft with NFL ready size- and he has the speed and strength to capitalize. I believe that Wilkerson and Wilson complement each other as draft picks as Wilkerson can and will absorb double teams and will open lanes for Wilson to attack the backfield. Wilkerson was a team captain and he improved every year and should continue his upward trajectory. He's a run stuffing defensive lineman and he also has a knack for reaching the quarterback. Wilkerson appears to be the most ready to step on the field as a 5 technique in the Patriots' system.
17. Gabe Carimi, 6'7, 314 lbs, OT, Wisconsin. Carimi may not have the athleticism of Nate Solder, or the pedigree of Anthony Castonzo coming out of O-Line University, but he does seem like the perfect fit for the Patriots. He has the ability to play four positions on the offensive line (both tackle positions and both guard spots), but he could be a starter at tackle from Week 1. He is a dominating run blocker and can get downfield. He's extremely capable as a pass blocker and rarely gets beat by speed rushers (unlike Castonzo, who struggles) and is strong enough to handle bull rushers. Carimi is a four year starter at left tackle, with numerous All-Conference, All-American, and All-Academic awards under his belt, as well as the Outland Trophy as the best lineman in the country. I believe that Carimi is the perfect combination of best player available and best player of need.
There's my draft! What do you think?