Now that the 2012 season is officially over, it is time to shine the focus on the potential offseason. With Free Agency starting on March 12, 2013 at 4pm EST and the draft April 23-25, you look at what the Patriots "need" in order to capture another title. Ultimately, the game football generally (99.9% since there is no 100% in real life) favors the teams that executes better for the duration of the game.
The top 5 positions that could use more depth on the Patriots include
2013 Patriots Mock Draft 1st (29)- NT John Jenkins (Alabama) 6'4" 359, 5.45 40-time, 33 1/8" arms, 9 1/2" hands (proj. rd 1-2) Jenkins won't offer much as a pass rushing DT, but cannot be overlooked as a first round pick. He fits more into the mold of the Ted Washington and Vince Wilfork type of DT who clog the middle of the line of scrimmage and almost always requires two offensive lineman to block. Jenkins has the athleticism to play in both a 3 and 4 man front as the nose, and could be the right replacement for perennial All-Pro Nose Vince Wilfork. A good showing in the Senior Bowl last week solified his status as a late first round pick and could be out of the Patriots range by April 23rd.
Latest analysis from NFL Draft Scout
1/23/13- 2013 Senior Bowl, Tuesday: The South's most consistently disruptive defensive lineman was also the biggest: Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins. The 6-4, 359-pound Jenkins is simply bigger, stronger and -- as shocking as it sounds -- quicker than virtually any other lineman on the field. His girth and long arms allow him to hold up well at the point of attack against double-teams, something he did with great effectiveness when playing inside or out as part of Georgia's three-man front. Jenkins is proving this week in Mobile, however, that he has the athleticism to also play well in a traditional four-man front, making him a potential top-20 prospect. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
And now to compare other options the Patriots could explore at pick #29 should Jenkins be off the board: DT Kawann Short, C Barrett Jones, CB Jordan Poyer, FS Bacarri Rambo, Slot WR Tavon Austin
2nd (59)- WR Da'Rick Rodgers (Tennessee Tech) 6'2" 206, 4.52 40-time (proj. rd 2-3) Da'Rick Rogers suffered a big fall in 2012, which started by getting kicked off of the University of Tennessee football team. While not a WR who would wow you with great speed, he can make contested catches on the outside. An Anquan Boldin type receiver is what the Patriots "need" more than a track athlete who can run a 4.40. Since the Patriots biggest weapons do their damage between the numbers, an outside WR who can catch the jump ball and back shoulder passes on the outside would provide a good change-up when the opponents flood the middle of the field.
Latest analysis from NFL Draft Scout
12/14/12 - Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers will bypass his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. The university announced Rogers' decision Wednesday. Rogers caught 61 passes for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns in his lone season at Tennessee Tech. The 6-foot-3 junior caught 18 passes for 303 yards in a 41-38 double-overtime loss to Southeast Missouri State to set school records in both categories. Rogers had 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns for Tennessee in 2011 to earn all-Southeastern Conference honors. He transferred to Tennessee Tech after Tennessee suspended him. Rogers said positive drug tests caused his suspension. - AP Sports
vs. Top Programs in NCAA (2011)
vs. Oregon (2012)
Other options to consider: SS Jonathan Cyprien, CB David Amerson, OLB John Simon, FS TJ McDonald
3rd (91)- SS Duke Williams (Nevada-Reno). 5'11" 200, 4.46 40-time (proj. rd 5-6) Duke Williams will be the overdraft pick that BB makes this year. Although Williams is listed as a "Strong Safety" he profiles more as a ranging type cover free safety than a in-the-box enforcer. His ability to cover a slot WR as well as his tremendous range in the backfield would be appealing traits to the Patriots. In a year where there isn't any top talent at this position headlined by Florida SS Matt Elam, the Patriots take a chance on a player who's team's defense was not very good, while the individual player excelled. It's entirely possible that BB shys away from the SS position because Tavon Wilson looks to be finding his own. Nonetheless, it's always a good idea to bring depth to the secondary, since it's almost assured a rash of injuries will strike the position again. After his performance in the Senior Bowl, which showed his abilities as a very versatile safety, his stock will be going up.
Latest NFL Draft Scout Analysis
01/02/13 - Three former Wolf Pack football players have been invited to work out at the NFL Combine next month. Duke Williams was a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection this season. He was second on the team with 106 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Khalid Wooten was a second team All-Conference selection as a punt returner. He made 53 tackles with 17 passes defended. He also had two interceptions and one defensive touchdown. Both Wooten and Williams will play in the East-West Shrine Game on January 19th.
12/15/13 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: SS Duke Williams is one of the Nevada defense's few playmakers. The senior has 100 tackles, including 5.5 for loss. He's forced three fumbles, recovered two more and has been credited with eight pass breakups. The Wolf Pack had just four interceptions and forced only 15 turnovers in 12 games. Arizona was prone to turnovers (the Wildcats had 25), so Williams should have some chances to make big plays. - The Sports Xchange
Duke Williams Highlights Video
Other options to consider: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, ILB Nico Johnson, OT David Quessenberry, OLB Sio Moore, WR Tavarres King
7th (TBD)- WR Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech) 6'3" 230, 4.47 40-time, 33 1/4" arms, 10 1/8" hands (proj. rd 7) This is the Patriots annual steal pick of the draft. Character issues and on field performances has caused this guy's stock to slip. Attitude issues such as lack of run blocking and apathy has led to him being benched by the coaches at Virginia Tech. When you look at this guy from a football standpoint- he has the right tools to be a successful WR. He has good speed that could be effective in the 20-40 yd range, big hands, and good sized arms. For every Megatron there is a Brandon Marshall (An underlooked guy with similar skills but smaller recognition), and this guy could be it.
Latest analysis from NFL Draft Scout
12/28/12 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Marcus Davis is the Hokies' most dangerous offensive weapon, but his inconsistency has hurt the team this season. Davis can stretch a field with his speed and athleticism, but his blocking has been spotty, which is why he has not started the last two games. Virginia Tech needs him at his best against the Scarlet Knights to ensure every element of its offense is clicking. If Davis isn't involved early and often, it could be a long day for the Hokies. - The Sports Xchange
STRENGTHS: Athletic-looking frame with prototypical length and thickness. Deceptively quick feet and suddenness to evade press at the line. Gets up to speed quickly from a stop. Displays hip flexibility to sink and burst on sharp routes. Quick, active hands at the line to shed the jam and release. Hands catcher who attacks the ball in the air. Locates the ball and adjusts his body to position for the catch. Good timing when asked to high-point the ball. Exhibits suddenness to break and separate on slants at full speed. Displays strong hands to secure high-velocity throws off his frame. Can break down in space after the catch, and make defenders miss.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks aggression and urgency when asked to run block. Isn't always as sharp as he's capable of being on his routes, and will round them off too frequently. Needs to fight for position better and display willingness to get physical with defenders when asked to compete for the ball in the air. Doesn't seem to always be on the same page with his QB - will break routes off or cut in the wrong direction. Occasional concentration lapses - will turn his head upfield before securing the ball and drop the easy one. Needs to become craftier at getting separation by utilizing hesitation, jab-step, etc. Chest-traps the ball too frequently despite possessing soft enough hands to routinely pluck. Doesn't seem to have a second gear to really pull away at the safety level.
COMPARES TO: Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets - Like Hill, Davis possesses some eye-popping measurables, and will probably rise up draft boards on his pre-draft workouts alone. A close look at game tape, however, shows a receiver who, although tremendously gifted, lacks fundamental consistency and tends to coast at times with his effort. He'll have to convince scouts that he's hungry to improve if he's to go any higher than the fifth round, despite having elite talent.
7th (TBD)- CB Branden Smith (Georgia) 5'10" 168, 4.43 40-time, 30 5/8" arms, 8 3/4" hand (proj rd. 7-FA) Smith provides a special teams CB who would first have to add weight to his 5'10" frame. He has good speed and would likely project as a slot CB as his ceiling. He would not be considered a lock to make the roster at all, and could spend his first year in the NFL on the Practice Squad. Right now he would be considered a project after floundering at Georgia after once being considered a top college recruit
CBS Overview (no NFL Draft Scout analysis available)
Smith was rated a five-star recruit and the No. 1 prospect in Georgia by Scout.com coming out of Atlanta's Washington high school. He was ranked No. 31 in the ESPN 150, and as a senior he caught 32 passes for 1,085 yards while also recording 50 tackles and returning three of 12 kickoffs he handled for touchdowns.
One of the Bulldogs' premier recruits, Smith appeared in 13 games as a true freshman. He recorded 14 tackles with a pair of pass breakups, while also earning the team's Newcomer of the Year award for his special teams play.
Smith started all nine games he appeared in during the 2010 season, recording 17 tackles, four pass break-ups, two interceptions and rushing six times for 46 yards.
He appeared in 14 games in 2011, making seven starts and recording 24 tackles to go with two more interceptions. He also had 13 carries, caught three passes and returned seven kickoffs and nine punts.
Smith continued to fly a bit under the radar as a senior. While he recorded a career-high in tackles, it was only 25. He broke up nine passes, but had no interceptions, forced fumbles or sacks.
Smith does need technique work, and you wonder what he's thinking at times, but from an athleticism standpoint, it's clear Smith has NFL ability.
CBS Strengths and Weaknesses
STRENGTHS: Doesn't look imposing, measuring in at just 5-foot-10 and 168 pounds, but he might have been the best athlete on the defensive squad at the Shrine Game. He has the speed to stay with receivers downfield and the explosive quickness to burst in any direction. Versatile athlete who has seen time in the backfield and as a return man.
WEAKNESSES: Smith does need technique work and makes questionable reads at times. Will have to answer questions about spring 2012 arrest for marijuana possession. Never emerged as a star at Georgia, with a career-high of 25 tackles in 2012, and doesn't general many game-changing plays.
Unfortunately Smith carries no highlights that could be found via a YouTube search
Grade the draft below and offer your critique of what could make it better for next time. If you select the troll option, then I pity you and the terrible team you are rooting for.