After doing the Top 10 individual fits for the Patriots, I will now reveal by each round how my board is per round. This board will feature prospects I gave a first round grade after re-evaluating prospects. Even though this says first round, it is possible the number of listed prospects does not add up to 32. The factors I've considered for the ranking include positional upside, athletic talent, and readiness for the pro game. In addition to that projection, I also consider adding red flags that will negatively count towards the player. Who I have slated #1 and any other rankings is not an indication of which pick that player should go. I have Alvin Dupree ranked ahead of Jameis Winston, but that doesn't mean a QB-needy team like the Buccaneers should pass on Winston for Dupree.
|2||Leonard Williams||DL||Southern California|
|4||Jameis Winston||QB||Florida State|
|8||Dante Fowler Jr.||ED||Florida|
|10||Kevin White||WR||West Virginia|
|14||Ronald Darby||CB||Florida State|
|16||Cameron Erving||C||Florida State|
|17||Trae Waynes||CB||Michigan State|
|18||Eddie Goldman||DL||Florida State|
ED=Edge Defender (4-3 DE/3-4 OLB/4-3 SLB)
DL=Interior Defensive Lineman (4-3 DT/3-4 DE/3-4 NT)
This year, I'm very bearish on the first round and the Patriots' chances of landing a potential 4-down player. If there is a run on DTs and/or CBs, the Patriots probably trade out of the first round and possibly into next year. I believe this is a thin class at defensive tackle while being solid at guard and cornerback. This draft has a lot of depth players (i.e. CB3, WR3), but not necessarily many top tier talents. There are some freak talents in the draft, noted by Bud Dupree and Byron Jones both hitting the 1st round.
This is a year I would rather see the Patriots trade up for an impact player that falls in the draft (Shelton, Scherff, Dupree) or trade their first round pick into next year's draft. 2015 Draft is horrible at the Patriots 2016 needs (OT, ED), but has enough talent to easily satisfy the Patriots Left Guard need (there are a lot of OTs that are OG convert prospects). Below is a chart that shows the extra value for guards/centers, defensive tackles, and cornerbacks.
Career EV from interior linemen generally exceeds the average player. Outside top 90 is fairly flat. pic.twitter.com/sfkB0u9Vbs— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) March 29, 2015
In the draft, the Patriots can afford to wait on an interior offensive lineman until Day 2 while the DT class is much trickier to wait out. From the top, the Patriots should not worry about trading up to get Scherff or Collins unless the slip past the 16th pick (which I think is very unlikely).
At the end of the 1st round they can look at Oregon's Jake Fisher or Florida State's Cameron Erving. Neither guy is worth trading up for in the Patriots situation with a handful of solid IOL prospects on the second day. Possible options then would be Takoby Cofield from Duke, Mark Glowinski from West Virginia, John Miller from Louisville, and Arie Kouandijo from Alabama.
On the other side of the ball, it's likely Shelton and possibly Goldman are gone in the top 20 in the draft before the Patriots even consider trading up. After him there is Carl Davis on the first round board. There are some solid Day 2 prospects in the draft at the position in Michael Bennett (6'2" 293), Grady Jarrett (6'1" 304), and Xavier Cooper (6'3" 293), but the Patriots should not take those guys higher than 64 if possible.
After those three, the Patriots should wait until the 4th round before picking up a DT. Even though DT is a considerable need, the Patriots are not in dire shape to draft one this year. If they don't draft a DT, they have Sealver Siliga, Dominique Easley, Alan Branch, and Chris Jones. While none of these guys have the big name like Big Vince did, that is a solid group the Patriots can use in a rotation.
Then comes addressing the CB position. In this draft, I believe the Patriots should not trade up for a CB and only take one if one falls to them (Jones) with the 32nd pick. I honestly think Trae Waynes is overrated because he showed that he's a track star. He's a linear athlete who did not post great marks at the 3-cone or shuttle relative to other freak athletes. Ronald Darby is a player who has played multiple coverages and is a mirror player with average ball skills. Darby tested very well at the combine with a 4.38 40 and 6.94 3-cone.
After Darby comes Byron Jones, who redefined the phrase "Freak Athlete" by posting a World Record 12'3" Broad Jump at the NFL combine in addition to jumping 44.5" while running a 3.94 shuttle and 6.78 3-cone. Jones is very raw at the position after moving down from safety in 2013, but offers a lot of upside. In the Patriots case, they can afford to develop him without Jones needing the pressure to perform like with Malcolm Butler in 2014. Jones' freak measurables makes him an ideal core special teams candidate his rookie year.
Behind Jones is Kevin Johnson, Marcus Peters, Eric Rowe and PJ Williams (all 4 on my 2nd rd board). All four of them like to get physical with the WR and get the first hit in, but lack the recovery speed to compensate if they run into a receiver who can beat the jam and create separation. Eric Rowe is probably the most enigmatic player at the position, since he played 3 years of safety before moving to CB in 2014 due to the loss of Keith McGill to the draft. Rowe has the athletic tools to play CB at the NFL level, but like Jones needs a lot of seasoning before being ready for Prime Time.