With his stock slipping as of late, could Alabama DE/LB Courtney Upshaw be the Patriots' pick at 27?
Here is my third and final attempt at an all-Patriots seven round mock draft:
Round 1, Pick 27: Courtney Upshaw, OLB/DE, Alabama
Unless the Patriots make a move in a trade up for a player like Mark Barron, I think the team will select a front-seven player with the 27th pick. There's a few players that I think could be in play here: Courtney Upshaw, Shea McClellin, Nick Perry, Kendall Reyes, and Michael Brockers, to name a few. McClellin is a guy who has been rising up the boards at an amazing rate. I really love what I've seen from him - he's an explosive pass rusher, who is a bit finesse and can blitz from just about any spot. Yet, although I see him as a legitimate 1st round option for the Patriots, there has been a lot of talk recently that Alabama OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw could slip to this spot. If that were to happen, I couldn't imagine the Patriots passing on him. While Upshaw doesn't have the typical size or arm length of a Patriots 3-4 outside linebacker, he's got a lot of things going for him: He's a leader, he's a powerful pass rusher who can bend around the corner, he's one of the best edge-setters in the draft, and he is serviceable in coverage with good lateral agility. A week ago, it didn't look like the Patriots would have any chance at Upshaw. Now, it appears that could be a realistic possibility.
Round 1, Pick 31: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Conventional wisdom could have the Patriots going with another pass rusher, a 3-4 end, or a defensive back in this spot, but I think that if the Patriots keep this selection, they're not going to be conventional. Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe recently reported that the Patriots held a last minute private workout with Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright. While the Patriots have a bunch of faces at the wide receiver position, they do not really have any long term options. Currently, contracts for Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth, and Julian Edelman are all set to expire after the year. Chad Ochocinco, even if he makes the roster for 2012, probably won't be around in 2013. Past this season, the Patriots have unreal amounts of uncertainty at wide receiver. Therefore, I have them taking Kendall Wright at this spot with an eye on 2013. Wright followed up a disappointing 4.61 40 yard dash at the combine with a 4.42 at his Pro Day (with a 1.53 10 yard split). He's explosive, and plays even faster on tape. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of a young, more explosive Deion Branch with his ability to cut on a dime. He will have the versatility to line up on the outside or in the slot (or even in the backfield) for the Patriots.
Round 2, Pick 48: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
Heading into the draft, I rank the safety position a sliver behind the outside linebacker / defensive end position in terms of needs for the Patriots. With Mark Barron off the board, Harrison Smith is by far the best safety left at this class at this spot. Now, there's a legitimate chance that a team picks Smith before pick 48, so I think the Patriots will have to move up from this spot to get him (somewhere in the 38-40 range). But for the purpose of this mock, we'll slot him here. Smith is a natural leader at the safety spot. He's a leader, has great instincts and recognition, and is a force in the box. He has some work to do in coverage, but definitely has the awareness and athleticism to improve in that area. He would likely become a day one starter for the Patriots, and his selection would mean that Patrick Chung would probably slide over to free safety.
Final three picks after the jump!
Round 2, Pick 62: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
Super experienced, super intelligent, super productive. Lavonte David epitomizes being the "Patriot way" in every sense of the word. Although undersized, Lavonte possesses good athleticism and excellent fluidity/agility. He is one of the drafts best coverage linebackers, and is certainly a three down player. Inside linebacker isn't a position of need for the Patriots, but Lavonte David could play in a variety of roles for the team. He could be the team's #1 coverage linebacker on third downs, he could back-up Jerod Mayo as the WILB, and in 4-3 sets, could likely play any OLB spot, although he'd be best suited as a WLB. Bottom line: Lavonte David is a football player, and the Patriots would be lucky to nab a player of his ability in the second round.
Round 3, Pick 93: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati
Derek Wolfe is a guy that I've had my eye on for quite some time for the Patriots. Originally seen as a mid-to-late round draft pick, Wolfe has seen his stock skyrocket as of late. I think it will settle out in the late 3rd round range, where the Patriots happen to be picking. Wolfe could play a variety of roles with the Patriots, from a 3-4 RDE, to a 4-3 LDE, to an interior pass rusher in sub-packages.
Round 4, Pick 126: Ron Brooks, CB, LSU
In the pre-draft process, the Patriots spent a lot of time meeting with LSU cornerback Ron Brooks. I could easily see them taking him early in the third round, but I have him going to the Patriots with this pick. Brooks is very fluid and athletic, has average size, underrated cover skills and the only thing he really has going against him is that he was overshadowed at LSU by Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Matthieu. He could be developed to play in a variety of spots and roles for the Patriots defensive backfield.
What position should the Patriots draft first?
DE/OLB (165 votes)
DT/DE (40 votes)
Safety (23 votes)
CB (12 votes)
WR (3 votes)
RB (4 votes)
LB (3-4 ILB or 4-3 OLB) (10 votes)
257 total votes