This is my final, post Shrine and Senior Bowl projection, wish list, mock, etc.
First Round – Louis Nix DT, Notre Dame
After Wilfork went down the Patriots run defense was an area other teams easily exploited, until they signed Siliga. Rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano played admirably, but they aren’t the ideal starters, great subs and situational players, just not run stuffing starters. Louis Nix gets that push up the middle, he is a massive kid (345 lbs), that moves well for his size. And gets push up the middle even when double teamed. Siliga may be one answer for the next few years, but they will need more than him when it is time to move on from WIlfork and Kelly.
This is a very tough call for me to make, the biggest key to this pick, is where they stand on Wilfork before the draft. Has he been extended? Has he passed his physical with flying colors? Or is something going on, that makes them consider moving on next season without him? Another thing to consider is how happy they are with what they have seen in rookies (who were IR) Grissom and Armstead?
With two space eaters in the middle, the Patriots linebackers will be able to do their jobs, and the O-linemen will have to choose their poison between keeping the rush from coming up the middle, or from the edge (Jones, Ninko). Siliga, Wilfork and Nix next season would be the best trio of interior line run stuffers they have had since the ’03 or ’04 season.
Alternate – Trade Down/Out of the 1st
Second Round – Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE, Washington
ASJ is a bit raw and immature, but he has the most upside of any TE in the draft. He is a solid enough blocker that he can be used in both the pass and run, his size and catch radius present the type of mismatch for defenders that Gronk does, if he buckles down and learns the finer points of the position he will dominate.
Gronk and ASJ together could dominate, I have made the argument for years now, that if the offense was nearly unstoppable when Gronk and Hernandez were out there, imagine throwing a third TE into the mix, and attacking and mismatching Defenses that way. Of course, right now, they need to make sure that they have ONE good TE that can stress a Defense.
Alternate – Arthur Lynch TE, Goergia
Third Round - Chris Borland ILB, Wisconsin
Football savvy passionate player. Diagnoses correctly and is rarely fooled, showing good positioning and timing in coverage and in attacking the LOS. As I said elsewhere, the kid can ball Tedy Bruschi like, During the Senior Bowl he was calling out defensive adjustments, he was shedding blocks and making tackles. During the week leading up to the game he even snagged a couple interceptions. He's one of those guys that don't fit the mold (like Bruschi) but just knows how to make plays. Bye Bye Spikes, hello Borland.
Fourth Round – Crockett Gillmore TE, CSU
In December Gillmore was my late pick or UFA steal, after he lit up the Senior Bowl, the 4 th round is the latest they can hope to snag him (since they have no 5 th), they need to find a replacement for Hernandez, they might as well make sure they get him, and not gamble on someone being there later on in the draft. Gillmore can be thrown out wide, so he can serve well enough in the Flex role that they are lacking now.
Sixth Round – Jordan Tripp OLB, Montana
At 6’3 and close to 240 pounds he has the size the Patriots like from the position and plays with a great motor. At this point in the draft teams look for depth players and players they can develop, fits that mold. Either alternate has just as much, if not more, upside and flexibility. I would draft either of them as well.
Alternates – Telvin Smith or Boseko Lokumbo
Sixth Round - Tim Flanders RB Sam Houston State
Flanders is elusive and makes excellent use of the jump cut. He can turn the corner and is comfortable running between the tackles. I’d compare him to Danny Woodhead only a tad quicker and more athletic. A good back-up to Vereen, in the event he goes down during the season… as he often has.