I fully expected the Patriots to move up to try and grab Robert Woods or Jamar Taylor. Of course, we can never figure out what is on Bill Belichick's mind (hello pick 91?), but the fact they didn't move at all should surprise almost everyone.
Instead, the Patriots sat in their spot and let the draft unfold in front of them. Let's see how they did.
2nd round, 53rd overall: Jamie Collins, OLB, Southern Miss - 6'3, 250 lbs, 4.59 40, 7.1 3 cone, 11'7 broad jump.
Collins is big. Collins is fast. Collins is explosive. Collins is a former safety who moved up to outside linebacker and is one of the best coverage linebackers in the draft. The Patriots entered the draft with Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont'a Hightower as their linebackers, with the oft-injured Dane Fletcher as depth. None of the Patriots linebackers would consider their coverage ability a strength, so Collins adds a new skill to the group. This past season he notched 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss and was the best player on his team.
Collins will most like add to the Patriots rotation on defense and could be used to help cover tight ends and running backs in the flat. He can scrape along the defensive end and is quite good at disengaging and shedding blockers to get to the ball carrier. He brings some versatility and plenty of upside to satisfy the coaching staff. Overall, he doesn't fit a dire need, but he absolutely fills a position that needed to be addressed (coverage linebacker). Great pick and great value.
Video to watch: Jamie Collins vs Nebraska
2nd round, 59th overall: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall - 6'3, 210 lbs, 4.37 40, 7.19 3 cone, 10'1 broad jump.
I won't lie, there are many other receivers that I like over Dobson, but he definitely fills a need better than those I like. The Patriots needed a big outside target and Dobson provides speed and size that they haven't had since Randy Moss. He has great hands and is very quarterback friendly, catching passes he has no business catching. He's fluid in-and-out of his breaks and is great in the open field.
He's a team player, willing to block down the field, and is a team leader. He allowed himself to be a decoy as a senior to allow other players to be open on the field, which hurt his numbers (although I'd argue he still should have produced a little more). Dobson is a strong player who seems keen on becoming better. While he may not have the pure upside of a Justin Hunter or a Da'Rick Rogers, or the production volume of Tavon Austin or Ryan Swope, Dobson combines the two into an interesting prospect for the Patriots. He fills their need at wide receiver perfectly.
Video to watch: Aaron Dobson vs West Virginia, UCF
3rd round, 83rd overall: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers - 5'11, 190 lbs, 4.53 40, 6.69 3 cone, 9'8 broad jump.
Rutgers. Yeah. Ryan was the heir to Devin McCourty in the Scarlet Knights' secondary and did an admirable job. He defended an astounding 30 passes over the past two seasons and will bring his nose for the ball to the Patriots secondary. He's a physical player, willing to mix it up in the running game and against big receivers. He'll be called for penalties here-and-there, but he can learn and adjust. While Ryan is not nearly the same athlete as McCourty, he could be more productive at corner with his instincts and with a great safety behind him and granting him more freedom to take risks (McCourty).
Ryan will start out as the fourth or fifth corner on the depth chart, behind Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington, while he competes with Ras-I Dowling and Marquise Cole. Ryan has fantastic talent and could look to replace Talib after the season. Additionally, his physical style could make him a perfect fit in the slot. At any note, Ryan provides much needed depth at a historically injury-maligned position.
Video to watch: Logan Ryan vs Arkansas
3rd round, 91st overall: Duron Harmon, S, Rutgers - 6'0, 195 lbs, 4.53 40, 7.02 3 cone, 10'5 broad jump.
Rutgers? Rutgers. Harmon is Belichick's annual head scratcher (following such picks as Jermaine Cunningham and Tavon Wilson) as Harmon wasn't even invited to the combine. This is surprising because Harmon comes with accolades of his own: 2x First Team All Big East, multiple All-Academic teams and scholarship awards. He's versatile, having playing centerfield cover one free safety (only safety back there), cover two free safety (deeper of the two safeties), cover two strong safety (shallower of the two safeties), in-the-box strong safety (in with the linebackers), and nickelback (slot corner). He brings the wood against the run and has the ability to go sideline to sideline.
Harmon is very much overdrafted, just like Wilson, but the talent level is there (I like Harmon more than Wilson). He flew under the radar and wasn't invited to post-season events, but watching games you can't help but notice him on the field. He's the versatile player that Belichick wants playing at safety (and he brings special teams value). His upside is the player we all saw Pat Chung flash from time to time. His downside is being Sergio Brown- a rotational safety with great special teams value. Risky pick, very much early, but the talent is there.
Video to watch: Duron Harmon vs Arkansas
Evaluating this draft, the Patriots definitely addressed some positions of need: coverage linebacker, a big wide receiver, and cornerback depth. Adding in Harmon will create some competition in an increasingly crowded field of Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson, and Adrian Wilson (we might have to say good bye to the Nate Ebner experience). The Patriots will most likely be lambasted for reaching on these picks (all were drafted well above their rankings on most media members draft boards), but these players fit needs and possess the leadership and thrist for improvement that Belichick needs in every Patriot.
Overall, the Patriots definitely filled the needs they had when the entered the draft and that counts for a lot. The Patriots have completely revamped their wide receiver position (and don't be surprised if they take another one at 102 tomorrow (5th pick of the day), with receivers like Quinton Patton, Ryan Swope, and Da'Rick Rogers still on the board, although I wouldn't begrudge them taking all world player Barrett Jones, who has taken a Marcus Cannon-like fall.
Still, everyone will feel differently about this draft until we see them on the field. What do you think?