There comes a time in every franchise's existence where they must ask themselves, "Where do we want to go?" Teams can either follow trends and build their team like Seattle or San Francisco or Denver. However, late adoption rarely leads to success.
The teams that win are the ones that innovate and I believe that it's time for the Patriots to break away from the new norms.
Bill Belichick is used to this. He's always been a trend setter. He brought back the 3-4 defense. He glamorized the slot receiver. He brought the two tight end attack into existence. He chipped and chipped and chipped away at the value of running backs until no one wanted to take the top talent in the first round. He traded down in the draft before it because the "cool" thing to do.
And he wears a hooded sweatshirt better than anyone in the business.
But that's in the past. The Patriots have been overtaken by the Seahawks "Kumbaya" attitude. The wave of mobile quarterbacks. The smash mouth defenses.
Belichick has to adapt, adjust, and eliminate the rest of the league. And it starts with the draft.
Luckily we have the technology to determine the feasibility of reloading teams through the draft. Fanspeak offers an easy to use Mock Draft simulator where you can test your skills as a GM and try and come out with the best draft class you can manage.
I believe I have done that. I believe this is the best draft class in history. I believe I solved football.
First Pick, First Round, 29th Overall: Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
I know some of you may be surprised by this pick. ASJ has a fractured foot and could possible fall into the early second. I'm not going to take chances. After TE Jace Amaro went to the Jets at 18th overall, and Eric Ebron went to the Chiefs at 23rd overall, I couldn't risk missing out on one of the elite tight end prospects in this class.
While ASJ doesn't feature the athleticism you would hope to see, it's likely linked to the additional 20 pounds of weight he featured in his final season. He shed that weight for the combine and, if it weren't for the foot, he was poised to dazzle the scouts. If he can be quicker than he was in the 2013 season, he should be the crown jewel tight end of this draft class. He can block and he can catch and he fits perfectly across from Rob Gronkowski.
He takes Michael Hoomanawanui's spot on the team.
Second Pick, Second Round, 62nd Overall: Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas
We understand how important the tight end position is to the offense and if any player will emerge as Gronk 2.0, it will be Niklas. Gronk is a health concern and ASJ has his fair share of injuries to watch out for. Drafting Niklas not only provides insurance for Gronk and ASJ, but also provides a player with possibly the most upside out of all the tight ends.
He's the best blocker in the class and he can fit in as a day one TE3 who is featured inline on blocking downs.
He takes Matthew Mulligan's spot on the team.
Third Pick, Third Round, 93rd Overall: Colorado State TE Crockett Gillmore
Hear me out before you disagree with this selection. If Niklas is the most Gronk-like, Gillmore could be the next Jason Witten. He's an underrated blocker with strong hands and the ability to flex outside. Gillmore is a hidden star in this draft and the Patriots just can't let him pass to a different team.
Gillmore is a day one starter as a fullback and provides additional blocking and flexibility.
He takes D.J. Williams' spot on the team.
Fourth Pick, Fourth Round, 126th Overall: University of Southern California TE Xavier Grimble
Grimble is the first true blocker the Patriots will have at tight end. Every team needs a tight end who can knock the teeth out of the opposition and Grimble now joins Gronk, ASJ, Niklas, and Gillmore as players who are up for that task. Grimble is a raw prospect with regards to catching the ball, but get him open in the flat and he's the most athletic of the group. He runs like a gazelle and can be moved anywhere inside the box.
He provides special teams value on the coverage unit and can be the guy you wonder why Tom Brady's throwing a wheel route in his direction.
He takes James Develin's spot on the team.
Fifth Pick, Sixth Round, 182nd Overall: Utah TE Jake Murphy
Murphy is one of my favorite players in the draft and I need to have him in the Patriots uniform. He's the chess piece they want, a movable blocker and receiver with the quickness to do damage down the field. He reminds me a bit of Dustin Keller, and you know how much Belichick wants to acquire players who have damaged him in the past.
Murphy is a developmental project who might not see the field much as a rookie, but his upside is undeniable and he can take the big step as a sophomore and be a weapon for Brady in his final seasons. He'll be a special teamer in year one.
He takes Tavon Wilson's spot on the team.
Sixth Pick, Sixth Round, 190th Overall: California TE Richard Rodgers
Rodgers is extremely unpolished, but was used as a large wide receiver this past season. He's one of the scariest players with the ball in his hand and he immediately steps in as an outside threat that the Patriots have been looking for. He can pair with Aaron Dobson on the outside, while providing greater versatility as a blocker on rushing downs, as well as moving in to play fullback. He could probably tote the rock as a halfback if called upon.
It's for this reason, he allows the Patriots to move on from LeGarrette Blount. Rodgers can be the new short yardage back. The Goal Line back. The Closer. The Brush-You-Off-My-Shoulder back. Running behind Gronk, ASJ, Niklas, Gillmore, Grimble, and Murphy there is no way that Rodgers will be stopped.
He takes Blount's vacated spot on the team.
Seventh Pick, Seventh Round, 221st Overall: Fresno State TE Marcel Jensen
Some might look at Colt Lyerla (who has zero chance of playing in New England). Or A.C. Leonard (same thing). Or Ted Bolser, or Rob Blanchflower, or Gator Hoskins, or Chris Coyle, or any of the many remaining tight end prospects. I go with Jensen.
He's big. He's athletic. He's fluid in the open field. He's flying under the radar. He's a steal in the seventh. He's the perfect complement to Grimble in the sense that Grimble needs to work on his receiving and Jensen must work on his blocking. Together they can combine into an elite tight end.
We all joke about how we need to find a way to heal Gronk or find a new hip for Aqib Talib, but we're close to this technology. I was watching a documentary on the ability to combine the talents and skills of two individuals into one body. This is where Belichick's genius comes into play.
No other team is willing to push the limits of what's considered possible on the field. Pete Carroll may find a way into his players' hearts. He invests in the total betterment of his players because a stronger mind will lead to stronger players.
Belichick doesn't have time for that. He will obtain his stronger players by forcing his weaker players to become one. Marcevier Jenble is the project.
He is the future.
This draft marks the new age for football. Belichick will emerge as the diabolically evil mad scientist he had always been portrayed to be.
There will be no Ryan Wendell or Dan Connolly in this future. The line will consist of Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, and the bastardized evolution of Austoy Seferian-Niklas.
Crockett Gillmore can be the tight end. Marcevier Jenble the TE2. Jake Murphy, the fullback. Richard Rodgers the chess piece.
Some of you believe this is a dream scenario. Belichick will follow through and make this a nightmare for the rest of the league.
Sorry guys, I lost it for a bit. I was using the mock draft tool and wondered how the class would be if they just went TE after TE after TE. What are some other bizarre scenarios you can come up with?