The draft is upon us and we must now look to the charts to see whether our team's management is either the smartest thing ever, or are totally dooming the franchise to destruction.
You know, the normal post-draft feelings.
I've taken it upon myself to write up a first round mock drat and, wow, there's plenty of activity. There are a bunch of teams that have similar needs (top 10 teams need linemen, 15-20 all need safeties, 20-25 all need cornerbacks), which means that there will be a lot of jockeying for position to get the player each team needs.
Additionally, there are a few teams that need quarterbacks in the early second (Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Buffalo, New York Jets, Arizona), which would usually mean trading up into the late first to get their guy- which the Patriots would historically take advantage of.
Of course, the Jaguars are the first pick of the second round (33) and are content with waiting to see if Ryan Nassib is available to take. Then there's Arizona, who have been linked to Mike Glennon. That means that if a team is going to trade up to the late first, it will most likely be for Matt Barkely- and it would most likely be the Bills or the Jets, two unlikely trading partners for the Patriots.
Then again, there's Philadelphia, with a Chip Kelly scheme that's so different from other QB needy teams that, if they don't grab Geno Smith in the beginning, they could try to make a move for E.J. Manuel- if they don't think he'll fall to them at 35.
Point is- don't bank on the Patriots trading down because the demand just might not be there.
I mentioned that there are teams with similar needs that are bunched together; there are also players of similar ranks bunched together. When playing the first round, you need to be aware that there are going to be runs at positions. In 2010, there was a patch of cornerbacks, with five being selected in a span of 14 picks (Devin McCourty included). In 2011, there was a group of five tackles taken in a span of 16 picks (Nate Solder included).
This year, expect the run to be back at the cornerback position in the 20s as Minnesota and Indianapolis both need corners, while the Falcons have already expressed a desire to move up for a corner.
What does this have to do with the Patriots? If they want a corner, they'll most likely be at the end of the cornerback run and would have to move up. Or, if they don't want to take part, a CB needy team might be a more likely trading partner than a QB needy team.
I fully expect the Patriots to take part in the wide receiver run in the second round, but for tonight, watch for the Patriots to stand by the sidelines and take a player who is a middle-first round talent, that just happens to fall as teams scramble to take (and overdraft) on the cornerback position.
1. KC: Eric Fisher, OT - General consensus is that the Chiefs are going with the top tackle in the draft (either Fisher and Joeckel) and all the insiders have Fisher going first. While Joeckel might be a little more polished, Fisher has higher upside and seems like a perfect fit.
2. JAX->DET: Luke Joeckel, OT - The Lions need a tackle badly and the Jaguars are holding the key to one of the top two players in the draft: and they don't need him. The Lions hop over the Eagles and outbid the Cardinals to get the player they need.
3. OAK->CLE: Barkevious Mingo, OLB - The Raiders are in desperate need of additional picks and the Browns have their eyes on an elite pass rusher for their franchise. Oakland knows their player will still be available down the line, but the Browns need to make a move to ensure they get their pass rusher.
4. PHI: Lane Johnson, OT - The Eagles take the last of the top tackles as Chip Kelly tries to get all the necessary pieces for his offense. Johnson is a great fit and will bolster the line- and hopefully keep Michael Vick healthy.
5. DET->JAX: Dion Jordan, DE - The Jaguars were able to trade down and still get their guy, a general win for the franchise and new leadership. Jordan is an elite player who fits perfectly into their defense.
6. CLE->OAK: Sharrif Floyd, DT - Like Jacksonville, the Raiders are able to gain another draft pick, while still getting their guy. Floyd can help anchor their defensive line as the team remodels and rebuilds.
7. AZ: Jonathan Cooper, OG - Cooper is regarded as the more athletic guard and the one with more upside (and is apparently the apple of Arizona's eye). Look for the Cardinals to bolster their offensive line and provide more protection for Carson Palmer.
8. BUF->SD: D.J. Fluker, OT - The Bills are looking to trade down as they don't have a pressing need for the top players on the board (and have other things in mind). The Chargers want to leapfrog up the board to get Fluker, a tackle who can step in on day one and greatly improve their offensive line.
9. NYJ: Tavon Austin, WR - The Jets start rebuilding by getting the best offensive weapon in the draft. Mark Sanchez didn't have any weapons to play with last season and Austin should provide an immediate boost.
10. TEN: Ezekiel Ansah, DE - The Titans need to improve their defensive line and this year's post-season super hero Ziggy Ansah can hopefully make an impact. He has a ton of upside, but isn't very proven on the field; that said, Ansah can take the Titan's defense to the next level.
11. SD->BUF: Geno Smith, QB - There he is. The Bills are able to get another mid-round pick and get their franchise quarterback in one swoop. Pairing Smith with Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller (and maybe a second round receiver) can transform the Bills offense into one that can start to compete right away.
12. MIA->SF: Sheldon Richardson, DT - The 49ers have a ton of ammo and they need help on the defensive line. Of course they're going to move up and take the lineman with the most upside in the entire draft. Richardson can help usher in the defensive line of San Fran's future.
13. NYJ->STL: Kenny Vaccaro, S - The Jets are looking to trade down and the Rams need a safety. The Saints are on the hunt for one, so waiting their turn might not be the best idea. St. Louis knows they have extra picks if they wish to recuperate whatever they give up to grab Vaccaro as they outbid the Cowboys- and he's definitely worth it.
14. CAR: Star Lotulelei, DT - The Panthers would love this pick as Star can open up lanes for Luke Kuechly to make tackles all day, every day. He would provide additional support in the middle and be the lineman they've needed.
15. NO: Jarvis Jones, OLB - The Saints are desperate for help on defense and Jones is the most successful pass rusher in the draft. He was used as a pass rusher and the Saints should be able to unleash him on defense.
16. STL->NYJ: Dee Milliner, CB - The Jets continue their successful draft by trading down to get another pick and still nabbing their man. Milliner can step in on day one and will form a formidable trio with Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson.
17. PIT->NYG: Chance Warmack, OG - The Giants can risk such a great prospect going to their rivals in Texas and they need a lineman of their own. They make an aggressive move to hop over the Cowboys and get one of the best players in the entire draft.
18. DAL: Bjeorn Werner, DE - The Cowboys missed out on both Vaccaro and Warmack, but there's still plenty of talent left over. Werner can provide additional pass rush as the Cowboys try to reload on defense.
19. NYG->PIT: Jonathan Cyprien, S - The Steelers need a safety and Cyprien is one of the best in the draft. He'll provide additional depth as the Steelers' current safeties Ryan Clark (33) and Troy Polamalu (32) start gearing up for their last rides.
20. CHI: Tyler Eifert, TE - The Bears need to give Jay Cutler some additional weapons on offense to make some noise and a post-season push, and the best tight end in the draft might fill that ticket. Eifert's from the mid-west so he'll be a fan favorite and he'll quickly develop into one of Cutler's favorites.
21. CIN: Matt Elam, S - The Bengals will bum out that the Steelers took Cyprien, but Elam is a fine second choice. Elam moves all around the field on defense and can make plays at every level. He brings the hammer and would fit perfectly into the Bengals defense.
22. STL->ATL - Jamar Taylor, CB: The Falcons want to take advantage of all the talent at cornerback that is still on the board and the Rams are willing traders. Taylor is one of the best corners in the draft and can help the Falcons pair with Asante Samuel and take on some of the fearsome offenses in the NFC.
23. MIN - D.J. Hayden, CB: The Vikings have two picks in this round and fall at a perfect spot. They also need a corner and they'll take a swing at Hayden, a clear talent, but injury question mark. Hayden can help the Vikings as they try to become stronger on defense.
24. IND - Xavier Rhodes, CB: Rhodes is a great fit for the Colts. They, too, need to solidify their secondary and Rhodes can group with Vontae Davis and Darius Butler to provide a physical and savvy secondary on an up-and-coming team.
25. MIN->MIA: Desmond Trufant, CB - The Dolphins pull up the rear of this cornerback run as they trade back up in the first to snag Trufant. They've made noise to grab Brent Grimes in free agency, but their current top corners (Grimes and Richard Marshall) both missed the majority of last season due to costly injuries. Trufant can bring some longevity and health to the defense.
26. GB: Sylvester Williams, DT - The Packers need to add some beef to their defensive line and Williams has fallen enough to be a great pick. Williams can provide pressure and can provide some value as the Packers reload on defense.
27. HOU: Justin Hunter, WR - This wasn't a difficult pick. The Texans clearly need help on offense as Andre Johnson can't put the team on his back every single week (false: he can, but why should he have to?). Hunter is a number one receiver who can pair with Johnson to give Schaub the best one-two punch at receiver this side of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
28. DEN: Tank Carradine, DE - The Broncos need to get over their loss of Elvis Dumervil and bringing in Tank Carradine would definitely alleviate some of their worries. Carradine can be a force on defense and help bolster the defensive line.
29. NE->PHI: E.J. Manuel, QB - Oh, you read this whole thing and you come to this? Yeah. I think the Eagles will make the aggressive move to get their quarterback of the future and that involves coming to the back-end of the first round. New England sees plenty of value in later rounds and will gladly move back. If the Eagles come a-knockin' with a third round pick and a 2014 first round pick, would you say no?
30. ATL->STL: DeAndre Hopkins, WR - The Rams need another receiver on offense and have taken a liking to Hopkins. He's a savvy target on the outside who can help Sam Bradford and keep the offense on pace with the rest of the league.
31. SF->MIA->MIN: Manti Te'o, ILB - This position gets flipped twice and ends with the Vikings taking Te'o to solidify their linebacker corps. Te'o is a solid talent when he's not playing by himself against the Crimson Tide and should help the defensive on day one.
32. BAL: Arthur Brown, ILB - It's time for a new era in Baltimore and it starts with Brown. The best linebacker in the country, his lack of size will drop him behind Te'o- but his production should keep pace. Brown is a strong player who can step in and uphold the level of tenacity we've all associated with the Ravens defense.
Disappointed? Don't fret. The Patriots have plenty of opportunities to get their guys. Trade winds for Ryan Mallett have resurfaced and the Patriots could gain additional draft picks. Fact is, the way the draft board fell, Hunter is off the board and there are no defensive tackles of real value at that point. They could go for Cordarelle Patterson, Robert Woods, or Keenan Allen, but they could do well by waiting for the board to shake out in the second round instead of panicking and overdrafting in the first
What do you think of this mock? What do you see happening?