This will be the fourth and final draft board for the 2015 Draft. If you missed the first three rounds, here they are:
Here is the 4th round draft board from top to bottom.
|William & Mary
In the fourth round, the Patriots could go ahead and make their move for a rotational player. Options include a space eating defensive tackle, a 3-tech that can rotate behind Dominique Easley, OL depth, or a #3 WR. I can't envision the Patriots taking a RB on the third day of the draft, because they would have to beat out two of LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney or Jonas Gray to make a roster spot. With the Patriots likely carrying 5 RBs on the roster (two inside runners, two pass catchers, 1 special teamer), that's an uphill battle for a rookie to make. If the Patriots were to go RB in the 4th round, they have two solid options in Allen and Artis-Payne. Allen is an inside the tackles runner and Artis-Payne is closer to the pass catching mold than inside the tackles.
At the WR position, it's a horse race for the #4 WR, and likely final, spot on the 53-Man Roster. Aaron Dobson is trying to fend off Josh Boyce and Brandon Gibson for that last spot. Given that Boyce is the only player of the three that can contribute on special teams, the Patriots may opt to go younger and get a developmental option. That developmental option could include Austin Hill, Chris Conley, Tre McBride, or Geremy Davis. All four of them present size options at 6'1" or taller. Hill is very quick for a big man, sporting a shuttle time of 4.03 and a 3-cone of 6.65. In comparison, the Patriots quickest receiver Julian Edelman did a 6.62 3-cone. Conley is a player who at the minimum becomes a second Matthew Slater. His speed would be valuable on special teams, plus he's a smart and dedicated football player. Tre McBride comes from a small program, but he tested well at the combine. McBride ran 4.41 (1.51 10), 6.96 3-Cone, and posted a vertical of 38". Finally Geremy Davis is a name that's already been linked to the Patriots at the UConn Pro Day. He posted a 6.86 3-Cone, 36.5" vertical, and 10'4" broad jump. I would not be surprised if one of those four WRs ends up in New England after the draft.
For the interior offensive line, there are starter and depth options available. At guard, they could look at Max Garcia, Takoby Cofield, and Mitch Morse. Garcia is the most pro-ready of the three, having started at center and guard in college. Morse is a very athletic offensive lineman, posting top marks in almost every measurable and performing well in drills. There is a lot of work to do before he's ready to start at guard, but could be worth it for a team patient enough to develop him. The Patriots are one of those teams that can afford to wait on him if Cameron Fleming can play right guard, so they can move Wendell to left guard in 2015. The Patriots starting interior for Super Bowl 49 was two UDFAs and a 4th rd rookie, so you can find a starter this late in the draft.
The defensive tackle position will be grouped by 0-techs and 3-techs. My list of 0-techs are David Parry and Deon Simon. The other DL listed on the board are all 3-tech prospects. Walton, Davidson, and Nunez-Roches could develop into starters some time down the road, but they could be even more effective in rotation with Dominique Easley. In terms of DTs, the Patriots will likely carry 4 on their 46 active game day roster, with two 0-techs and two 3-techs. The Patriots already have the four DTs that fit the requirements, so whoever gets taken will see every limited time on the field unless injuries strike.
The four round brings plenty of options for the Patriots at linebacker. Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, and Jamie Collins round out the top three and will see almost all the snaps on defense. It's likely the Patriots will carry at least two guys who will play special teams and perhaps a 6th player who would likely be a healthy scratch this season. Behind the starting trio is 4th year linebacker Darius Fleming and Chris White, both of whom are major contributors in the special teams department. With the Patriots likely carrying two QBs instead of three, the extra roster spot may come down to a 6th linebacker. Potential LB picks include Ben Heeney, Jordan Hicks, or Bryce Hager. All three present a special teams option now and the potential to be a reserve linebacker for when Jerod Mayo becomes a cap casualty next offseason.
At the cornerback and safety position, the Patriots are fine in terms of late depth so the Patriots will likely take a special teams player (think Nate Ebner) over a cornerback prospect this late into the draft. With a CB corps of Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler, Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain and Alfonzo Dennard, getting snaps will be an issue for any rookie. If the Patriots do indeed take a CB this late into the draft, they might go for someone with more size and maybe not as much athleticism as Byron Jones, Eric Rowe, and Kevin Johnson. A type of guy they could go for is a guy who can jam, then turn and run (think Brandon Browner minus the penalties). At the safety position, Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner are impending free agents. In terms of re-signing, both players' chances are very high considering the Patriots are one of the few teams that actually value that type of skill set.
The Patriots have two picks in the fourth round, but I could see the Patriots moving the 101st pick as a piece to trade up should a player fall in the first two rounds of the draft. The only position I see the Patriots getting a starter or anyone who isn't facing an uphill battle to get on the 46 man roster is the interior offensive line. When we get much closer to the draft, I will finish the series of draft board posts with a horizontal draft board exclusively for players I believe would fit the Patriots from Rounds 1-7.