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Jordan Richards' and Geneo Grissom's Impact on the 2015 Roster

Where do the Patriots' 2015 day 2 picks fit on the roster?

Could Geneo Grissom be the next Mike Vrabel?
Could Geneo Grissom be the next Mike Vrabel?
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

To many, the Patriots had a terrible 2nd day of the draft because of a couple "reach" picks. We don't know if in the end those were truly reach picks because neither guy has played a snap in the NFL. Most people, including yours truly, had Jordan Richard and Geneo Grissom pegged on the 3rd Day of the Draft. Like Malcom Brown, I admit I didn't do enough research because I never expected the Patriots to pick them. That's in the past, so it's time to focus on the present/near future.

Richards is a player who immediately fits in with the Patriots' "Do Your Job" mantra. Richards was the smartest player on the field at Stanford, which has now become the new Belichick pipeline. His upside is limited due to a lack great athleticism and range. On the bright side, Richards registered Top 3 marks at the combine in 3-Cone (6.74) and the 60-Shuttle (11.38) for defensive backs. After considering all other combine numbers, it looks like Richards has excellent Change of Direction (CoD), but terrible straightline speed. Fortunately for the Patriots, they already have an All-Pro safety with near limitless range in the back end. It's unlikely we see Jordan Richards as a deep safety in Cover 1 or even Cover 2, but he could be a factor in the box and in the intermediate area (5-15 range) towards the middle of the field. Richards is such an intelligent football player, I don't think it will take long for him to master the Belichick playbook on defense.

In terms of roster impact, Richards pushes either Tavon Wilson or Nate Ebner towards the outside, looking in. Richards probably won't start over Chung unless Richards kills it in preseason or Chung struggles on defense. Chung signed a $8.4M extension with $2.4M guaranteed, so that likely keeps him on the roster for this year since the Patriots would have negative cap savings. Barring an injury, I expect Richards to be active every game in 2016 and be a core (4-unit) special teamer then eventually take over the 2nd safety spot by 2016. Richards' ability to diagnose plays quickly and get to the spot is something Bill Belichick must have valued over other safeties who are much more athletically gifted. On my preseason bucket list, I would love to see a McCourty and Richards pairing at safety in preseason just for fun. That gives BB two great football minds on the backend of the defense.

Geneo Grissom is a different story than Richards. By the 96th pick, the edge pass rush prospects in the draft were dwindling (big run of pass rushers in the 2nd round). All the guys I expected to go in the Top 100 were gone by the 85th pick in the draft. In terms of edge rushing prospects, I was looking for a guy who can provide depth at both DE and LB. Grissom fits the bill. In terms of size and athleticism, Grissom is very solid for an edge guy although it would be curious to see how Belichick plans to use him on defense. He is athletic enough to drop into coverage (PFF charted him dropping 156x), which would make him a better candidate for LB than DE. His natural fit would be as a 3-4 OLB, which allows for him to rush the passer and drop, but the Patriots don't do that very often anymore. In terms of pro comparisons, I'm going with former Patriots stud OLB Mike Vrabel.

Grissom probably caught Belichick's eye in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, when Oklahoma convincing defeated Alabama. QB Trevor Knight took all the headlines, but Grissom was a wrecking ball against the Alabama offense. Grissom likely makes the team since they don't cut 3rd round picks out of camp, but if the Patriots edge rushers and starting LBs are healthy, I don't expect him to be active for the game. However, injuries do strike so he needs to be ready to prepare to play. I see a scenario where the Patriots keep 6 LB on the roster since Grissom can also serve as depth at DE. On the depth chart, I have him behind the starting trio of Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, and Jamie Collins along with reserve LB Darius Fleming (a player of similar mold to Grissom). If the Patriots can find a use for Grissom on special teams, that could make the roster crunch at LB interesting.

So far in the draft, the Patriots have taken two players who can contribute in Week 1 with DT Malcom Brown and Jordan Richards. With the 3rd rd selection, the Patriots took a developmental piece in their Front 7 who won't see much action in Year 1, but could be important in Year 2. On the third day of the draft, I expect the Patriots to pick at least 1 IOL, RB, and WR. There are a lot of solid options remaining on the board. My preference would be Clemings at 101, Kenny Bell at 111, and Buck Allen at 131. Day 3 starts at Noon, and Belichick has 7 picks with 4 coming in the first 50 picks of Day 3. For the 4th round, Bill Belichick is in the Candy Store with an $100 allowance. I suggest you get the popcorn ready.