I'm going to prefix this by saying I've never done this before, so go easy on me. I watch my fair share of college football but I'm by no means an expert. This draft is based on guys I've actually watched (barely, in some cases) but I've done a little reading on them too.
I think we can all agree New England has a couple of glaring needs, namely G/C and TE. I happen to think the value on those positions comes in rounds 2-3, so I'm going to propose a trade down (impossible to predict, but just some wishful thinking on my part). After those two spots, I feel we also have needs at DT, DE, CB and LB and I'll explain why I feel that with each pick.
I 'd also like to state that these picks are based upon the resigning of Edelman, Talib and Blount.
New England trades their first round selection to Arizona for their second, third and fifth round picks (maybe a QB they like slides this far, I haven't exactly thought this through just yet).
Rd. 2, pick 20 - New England selects Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE (Wash)
I really, really wanted to go Dee Ford here. I'd written out my explanation and convinced myself it was happening. I just can't see him being around at this pick after his performance at the senior bowl. All hope is not lost, however. We trade back and manage to pick up possibly the most complete tight end in the draft. At 6-6, 276, he is a monster. He doesn't move as fluidly or quickly as Ebron or Amaro, but he has safe hands, runs great routes and blocks extremely well. He could be a safety blanket in the passing game and a terrific red zone target.
Rd. 2, pick 30 - New England selects Gabe Jackson, OG (Miss. St.)
With there being no consensus top guard in this years draft, this is a bit of a guess. I could also see this pick being any one of Richardson/Yankey/Martin. Jackson is a big man at 6-4, 340. Coming out of Miss. he's blocked against some of the higher-rated DTs in the country and performed well. He perhaps isn't as quick as you'd like, but he blocks very well in the run game and is no slouch in pass protection. He may be asked to lose a few pounds, but he's an incredibly strong man so that might not make too much of a difference.
Rd. 3, pick 20 - New England selects Marcus Smith, DE (Louisville)
I think a lot of people will disagree with this pick, but not for the same reason I disagree with it. You might not think we need a defensive end whereas I think he might not be around here. Smith is listed at 6-4, 258 meaning he's got the size for a prototypical bookend. He shows good, however inconsistent, first step quickness and uses speed and finesse to get to the QB. He can line up on the end, at linebacker and his speed even allows him to drop into coverage competently. Effective, but inconsistent, in the run game.
Rd. 3, pick 29 - New England selects Kelsey Quarles, DT (South Carolina)
Could've gone one of many ways here. I expect a lot of good defensive tackles to be left on the board here but I went with a smaller, more penetrative guy. At 6-4 and just shy of 300lbs, Quarles isn't your Vince-Wilford-type space eater, but I think next to a healthy Vince, he could be devastating. 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and sacks in 7 different games in 2013 represent constant up-the-middle pressure which NE lacked last year. He leaves a little to be desired in the run game, but with Wilfork taking double teams, he could get to work.
Rd 4, pick 20 - New England selects Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB (Nebraska)
Personal fetish taking over here. A 6-3, 215 corner who runs in the mid 4.5s. Really broke out at the senior bowl. Shows physicality at the line of scrimmage and can run with receivers through routes thanks to long strides. Not the most fluid motion when starting/stopping, but makes up for it with good closing speed. Former receiver, you'd hope the ball skills are there. If he's not around, Keith McGill from Utah is built almost identically but is a bit more of a project for the later rounds.
Rd 5, pick 20 - New England selects Crockett Gilmore, TE (Colorado St.)
Another guys whose stock rose at the senior bowl with 6 catches for 51 yards and a score. 6-6, around 250lbs, runs a relatively slow 4.8 but has great size and good hands. Showed vastly improved blocking in the run game this season. Nice red zone target. Not sure he lasts this long, but there are a plethora of other similar options.
Rd. 6, pick 22 - New England selects Gabe Ikard, C (Oklahoma)
Had a hard time deciding between Ikard and Richburg as the C I wanted to draft, but I chose Ikard as I feel Richburg will be off the board before round 5 (I wouldn't be surprised to see us take him with the fourth round pick acquired from AZ). Ikard is extremely athletic at 6-3 and around 300 lbs, though that comes at the expense of some strength. He picks great angles for blocks and gets into the second level extremely well, but the lack of strength shows up when he takes bad angles for blocks as he can be overpowered. Extremely smart.
Rd. 6, pick 30 - New England selects L'Damian Washington, WR (Missouri)
Another rookie pass catcher, I know, but he brings something none of the others do: size and speed combination. At 6-4, 205 whilst running a 4.4, he has measurables you can't teach. Long strider who builds up speed quickly. Raw route runner but has nice hands and body control. Constant big play threat.
Rd. 7 pick 29 - New England selects Tyler Starr, OLB (South Dakota)
6-4, 250lb linebacker with the same hairstyle as Clay Matthews. 27 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in his college career so we know he hits hard. Also had an INT and 4 pass break ups last year. Runs in the 4.8s, could he be the guy to match up with tight ends in the passing game?
Obviously this draft is massively dependent upon the trade, but I personally don't see any extreme value in keeping that first round selection; the end-of-the-first-rounders at positions of need just aren't head and shoulders above the rest. I'm not sure all of these guys will be available at the slots I selected them, this is just something I'd like to see and don't think is completely unreasonable.