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Potential 4th Round Targets

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Patriots have 5 picks in the 101-147 range. How will they use them?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Day Two is over and the Patriots are now re-assessing their draft board. While most fans won't like Belichick's Day Two picks, the Patriots are poised to make a splash in the 4th round. Carrying the 101st, 111th, and 131st pick, the Patriots can still get quality players who can serve as depth options. While most of the high upside starters are already selected, Belichick has cranked out a few gems on the 3rd day of the draft. With only the Tennessee Titans picking ahead of the Patriots with the 100th pick of the draft, the Patriots will likely end up with whoever is on the top of their board.

Some needs to be addressed include:

  • Left Guard- I believe the Patriots will try out Cameron Fleming at right guard. You can chalk up 2014 failures due to lack of experience inside and with an offseason to train for it now, the 2nd year player may gain a starting job. Wendell is the safety net at all 3 IOL spots and can start there. However, he is an impending FA and the Patriots need to find someone who can step in at LG for 2015 and possibly 2016.
  • WR- Whoever the Patriots pick doesn't have to play this year, but with Danny Amendola likely a cap casualty next offseason the Patriots need to have a readily available option. Signing a stop-gap FA isn't a solid idea because he'd be just as behind on the learning curve as a rookie. Instead, the Patriots should have a guy learn the playbook, play in spurts, and can contribute on Special Teams. There are some solid WR options still available for the team to look at for the 4th round, which is where I expected the team to draft a WR from the get-go.
  • Inside the Tackles RB- Yes the Patriots have a lot of bodies at the position, but the reality is behind LeGarrette Blount, the team is thin in depth. I am curious to see Tyler Gaffney in the offense, but the team could find a potential option to replace Blount after the season. Jonas Gray looked good in small spurts, albeit against poor run defenses (Highest two rushing games came against Indy and Chicago, which accounted for 70% of his rushing total for 2014). We never saw any consistency for Gray and it looked like the team didn't want to deal with him by the end of the season. If the Patriots do draft a RB in the 4th round, it's likely Gray or Gaffney are packing their bags and playing elsewhere.
  • Cornerback- The high ceiling guys were gone by the end of the 2nd round, but that doesn't mean the Patriots don't give up on looking for a camp body or a player to stash on IR (Ifo Ekpre-Olumu). It seems as though the team is going with what's already on the roster right now into camp. I see the team only carrying 5 CBs and dressing 4, so right now they basically only need camp bodies for preseason games. Unless they take Ekpre-Olumu and stash him on IR in Year 1.
  • Defensive Tackle- Yes the Patriots did draft Malcom Brown in the first round, but with only 8 DT on the roster, the Patriots could be looking at adding another body to the mix. There are still a couple DT picks available on the board, and the Patriots could be looking at getting depth at the 3-tech position. Top names are available on the board, but I realistically don't expect the Patriots to pick another DT until the 5th round.
So which players are best suited to fill those needs?
  • IOL: TJ Clemmings- Clemmings is a player who dropped because of knee concerns and could be great value for the team with the 101st pick. With the Titans picking an OT at 34, it's unlikely they double dip at the position. The Patriots already have Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer on the outside with Marcus Cannon and Cameron Fleming as depth options. The team could plug in Clemmings at left guard on Day 1 and take advantage of his ability to pull and block at the 2nd level. Clemmings is proficient in both blocking schemes, which could interest the Patriots. Clemmings also factors in at RT over the long term for when the team decides to cut ties with Vollmer.
  • WR: Kenny Bell- Bell brings good size, speed, and change of direction skills to the lineup. Despite those measurables, Bell doesn't bring as much upside as the receivers picked ahead of him do. Bell can contribute as the 4th WR (whenever they actually need that) and on Special Teams because of his speed. At worst, I see him as another Brian Tyms type, but could have a better ceiling than the current Patriots WR. Bell never really stood out on tape, but was the main guy on 3rd downs the last two seasons for Nebraska after Ameer Abdullah.
  • RB: Buck Allen- Allen isn't the fastest RB in the draft, but has an explosive burst and solid cutting ability. I watched the Arizona vs. USC game at Arizona Stadium last season and Allen broke off two TD runs larger than 50 yards (Arizona run defense was meh in 2014) in the first half. His 10'1" broad jump and 1.58 10-split are curious measurables to consider as a potential inside the tackles RB. He also has the size and change of direction ability to be an effective receiver. He's not going to be Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, or Kevin Faulk when it comes to catching the ball, but he's a more effective receiver than LeGarrette Blount who is more of a last ditch effort to avoid a negative play.
  • CB: Ifo Ekpre-Olumu- I would not be surprised if Belichick picks for the future and stashes IEO in Year 1. He had a solid career at Oregon (he succeeded in getting me to break my TV in 2012, but also got ran over in my favorite Nick Wilson highlight of 2014) and was considered to be a high pick until a knee injury (ACL tear) ended his season. I always considered him to be a solid 2nd rd CB who would thrive in the slot, and the Patriots don't have much CB depth in 2016 and beyond. The Patriots are willing to stash players they like on IR for a year, so this move isn't unprecedented.
  • DT: Michael Bennett- Bennett was a leader and team captain on the Ohio State defense and a natural fit for the 3-tech position. He comes a bit undersized at 6'2" 293, but does feature 33" arms to keep blockers off him. A lot of people were expecting Bennett to go in the 2nd round of the draft this year, but the Lions opted to pick Abdullah at 54 and Bennett fell out of the 3rd round due to injuries. The Patriots drafted two team captains with their top 2 picks, but I don't think that will have much bearing on who they pick next. Bennett is recovering from a hamstring injury suffered at his pro day. I'm pretty confident he can beat out Chris Jones for the final DT spot.
Other options:
  • WR Chris Conley, Georgia- Belichick loves his AMC WRs
  • WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland- Injuries slowed his development, but is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands
  • DT Grady Jarrett, Clemson- Pass rushing DT who is a bit undersized, which caused him to fall in the draft
  • NT David Parry, Stanford- Patriots were heavily interested in him in draft process (unless it was to get info on Jordan Richards)
  • DT Joey Mbu, Houston- Favorite Position is Slot Receiver. Long armed DT who can 2-gap
  • OG Tre Jackson, Florida State- Fell out of the 3rd round due to knee concerns, linked to Patriots all pre-draft process
  • OG Josue Matias, Florida State- Good feet, but doesn't generate a lot of power at the PoA.
  • RB David Cobb, Minnesota- Lack of speed and CoD dropped him to Day 3. Explosive runner inside the tackles and is a solid pass blocker and receiver
  • RB Mike Davis, South Carolina- Similar story to Cobb. Slightly better athlete