The New England Patriots are in draft mode and they're in a pretty good position with regards to volume of draft picks. While the team doesn't have a first round draft pick, and won't get it back, New England remains one of four teams to own four top 100 picks.
As the Patriots continue to meet with draft prospects, and the count is well over 50 meetings at this point, we can start to see trends and perhaps even take an educated guess on which positions the Patriots consider to be "of need" and when the team thinks they can address them in the draft.
The Patriots own the 60th, 61st, 91st, and 96th picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, and need a running back, wide receiver, offensive tackle, defensive tackle, and cornerback.
I am of the camp that the Patriots can sign running back LeGarrette Blount, and will pick a late round rusher to compete and camp and serve on the practice squad. I believe the other four positions can be addressed with the team's first four draft picks.
Here are some prospects that fit the Patriots based upon confirmed team workouts and meetings.
WR: Ohio State's Michael Thomas, Rutgers' Leonte Carroo, South Carolina's Pharoh Cooper, Tulsa's Keyarris Garrett
OT: Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark, Lousiana State's Jerald Hawkins, North Dakota State's Joe Haeg, Stanford's Kyle Murphy
DT: Mississippi State's Chris Jones, Illinois' Jihad Ward, Texas' Hassan Ridgeway (note: we are assuming both Florida's Jonathan Bullard and Penn State's Austin Johnson are off the board)
CB: Mississippi State's Will Redmond, Baylor's Xavien Howard, Alabama's Cyrus Jones, Georgia Tech's D.J. White
So we can mix and match with these players to come up with our ideal day two of the NFL Draft. Here's mine:
60th: Rutgers WR Leonte Carroo; Anything better than a Rutgers prospect? Carroo carried the entire offense and was one of the most important receivers in the country last season. He doesn't possess prototypical #1 receiver size at 6'0, 210 lbs, but he's explosive, he runs the route tree, and he can play on the outside. He was projected to have been a first round pick except he was suspended for assault at the beginning of the season (the charges were dropped and he was reinstated).
61st: Alabama CB Cyrus Jones; Perhaps an Alabama prospect can rival one from Rutgers. Jones is 5'10, 200 lbs with a 4.49 40 yard dash and a blazing 6.71 three cone. He can play inside and out at cornerback, and offers value as a returner on special teams. Jones was originally a wide receiver so he has a nose for the football and his upside is tremendous. Like Carroo, Jones had legal trouble of his own prior to the 2015 season, but police found that Jones was trying to "deescalate the situation" and the charges were dropped.
91st: North Dakota State OT Joe Haeg; If the Patriots want a developmental tackle, Haeg has tremendous upside. The 6'6, 305 lbs tackle was All American the past two seasons and was a four year starter. He played two seasons at right tackle and two at left tackle, but could use some time to adjust to the NFL speed before being thrust into a starting role. All the pieces are there.
96th: Texas DT Hassan Ridgeway; Why not pair up 2015 1st round pick Malcom Brown with his old trenchmate? Ridgeway is a 6'3, 305 lbs beast with an insane 32-inch vertical and 9'5 broad jump. His 5.02 40 and 1.71 10-yard split are also outstanding. He's a two-year starter with experience in both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts. He presents plenty of upside and could benefit, like Haeg, from a year in the Patriots system before becoming a larger factor in the team's rotation.