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freeland1787's Post Free Agency Mock Draft

freeland1787's Post Free Agency Mock Draft

Bill Belichick has some work to do.
Bill Belichick has some work to do.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Now that free agency is over and the Patriots took care of their needs at LB, TE, and Guard. The Patriots still have long terms (i.e. needed in 2017) needs at RB, WR, OT, and DT. It comes down to availability, which will determine what the Patriots do with their picks. They currently hold picks 60, 61, 91, 96, 196, 204, 208, 214, 221, 243, and 250. The Patriots need to pick at 96, 208, 214, and 221 since they are compensatory selections.

60. Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State: The Patriots do not have a viable starter at Right Tackle for the 2017 season and Left Tackle Nate Solder will be in a contract year. The Patriots still have Marcus Cannon, La'Adrian Waddle, and Cameron Fleming as backups going into camp, but none of them are long term solutions at the position. Haeg is a high upside play at the tackle position, but is more pro-ready than you'd think. Haeg can play both Power and Zone schemes, but needs time to get used to the NFL game and adds functional strength, which is the only weakness I saw on tape. I expect to see him get a lot of preseason work in 2016 and used as a swing backup before assuming the RT role after Sebastian Vollmer's contract expires.

61. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech: Dixon gives the Patriots both a rushing and receiving threat and would allow them to be more creative with their formations and play calls. Dixon runs routes like a WR and is very effective inside the tackles as a slashing type runner. The Patriots would likely have to adjust to a zone blocking scheme to maximize the effectiveness of Dixon's rushing ability, which shouldn't be too much of a problem now they have the athletes needed for it. Given how the Patriots RB corps looks right now, I would not be surprised if they punted the position into 2017 in terms of the draft with a stronger class coming up.

Also Considered: Ohio State WR Braxton Miller, Alabama CB Cyrus Jones, Illinois DL Jihad Ward

91. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia: After going with two small school prospects, I'm going with a player from a big time program. Mitchell only stands at 5'11 5/8", but plays much closer to his 6'3" wingspan. Mitchell comes out of a Pro Style offense at Georgia, which Belichick has tapped into before with David Andrews coming to the Patriots last year as an un-drafted free agent. Mitchell has excellent start-and-stop speed and runs routes very well, although you wouldn't believe it from his shuttle time of 4.34. He did register a 6.94 3-Cone, so there's something to hang your hat on. Mitchell probably doesn't crack the lineup in 2016, but can contribute on Special Teams in Year 1 while getting small amount of targets.

96. Willie Henry, DT, Michigan: There is a lot of untapped potential with Henry, who is one of the better pass rushing tackles in the draft. Henry has a lot of athleticism for the position and could rotate with Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown as an extra option as a 3-tech tackle. Henry has a strong burst at the snap and maneuvers very well down the line, which could create something interesting twists, stunts, and wrinkles in the defense. Henry has experience rushing from the edge as well, which could allow for the Patriots to create a unique speed package where the defensive line is essentially inverted (DTs playing outside, DEs playing inside) to create confusion for opposing offensive lines.

Also Considered: Alabama CB Cyrus Jones, Boston College S Justin Simmons, Southern Miss WR Mike Thomas, Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins, Colorado State CB DeAndre Elliott

196. Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central: It wouldn't surprise me if the Patriots went for another high upside CB from a small school after drafting Darryl Roberts from Marshall last year. Smith has solid measurables that could make him a future boundary corner with a 4.49 40, 4.09 shuttle, and 6.88 3-cone at 5'11" 189. Smith shows the ability to naturally mirror receivers, but the question of competition will be answered quickly in the first preseason. Smith should make for an interesting player at the bottom of the depth chart should he make the roster.

204. James Cowser, ED, Utah Southern: Cowser is an interesting small school guy that could wind up serving in the Rob Ninkovich role in the future. Cowser had solid marks at the combine in the 10-split (1.69) and 3-cone times (6.80). Cowser is equally as able to drop back as he is to rush, so the element of unpredictability plays into Belichick's hands. The Patriots don't have any immediate needs for edge rushers, but Cowser makes for an interesting project down the road.

208. Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn: Barber is another slashing type RB whose top traits are field vision and cutting ability. Barber could make for a draft steal if plugged into a zone blocking scheme like Alfred Morris in 2012. Barber shows the ability to be an effective receiver out of the backfield on wheel and flat routes and shows to be somewhat capable as a pass blocker against the blitz. In the Patriots RBBC, he would be exclusively an early down back then subbed out for Dion Lewis or Kenneth Dixon.

214. Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard: The Patriots TE attack will heavily feature Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, but they'll need a 3rd capable TE in case of injuries or if they want to use the 4 TE goal-line package that defenses can't stop. Braunecker is not as big as Gronk or Bennett, measuring at about 6'3" 250, but is more than capable as a blocker and is effective enough a receiver to also be able to play the F. The Patriots have another former 6th round TE who converted from QB in AJ Derby, but competition for the 3rd TE spot is always a good thing.

221. Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford: Cajuste makes for an interesting prospect given his 6.49 3-cone time at 6'4" 234. Given the Patriots ties to the Stanford program, it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Cajuste in a Patriots uniform this summer. Cajuste sounds like a developmental X receiver that will have to win with route running ability and not athleticism since he lacks deep-end speed. The two things that works for him is he came out of a very Pro Style offense and the QB play drastically improves from Kevin Hogan's long windup and weak arm to Tom Brady's compact delivery and bullet throws.

243. Keenan Reynolds, OW, Navy: Reynolds will be moving from QB to either a WR or RB in the NFL. Unlike Joe Cardona, there's a chance that Reynolds will have to serve his commission since he wouldn't be a lock to make the Patriots roster. I'm fine with that because the chances Reynolds would make the roster in 2016 is very low. In the Patriots system, he would likely turn into a receiving back that will line up as a WR at times. Reynolds have a good feel for running in the open field, so he could make it as a return man as well. The question with Reynolds is not if, but when the Patriots draft him just like with Cardona last year.

250. De'Vondre Campbell, LB, Minnesota: The Patriots don't have a heavy need at the LB position in 2016. The Patriots had previously worked out Campbell at Minnesota's Pro Day. Campbell is a bit on the smaller side at 6'4" 230, but he would have to make the team as a special teamer, but is buried behind Hightower, Collins, McClellin, and Freeny. The Patriots will likely bring in an un-drafted linebacker to increase the competition.

I don't think the Patriots will wind up picking at these spots when it comes to draft day, it depends on how the draft board falls. There is a good chance the Patriots trade at least one of, if not both, either 61 or 91 in the draft. The Patriots don't have a pick between 96 and 196 and I can't imagine the Patriots would be sitting pretty with that. They could package one of their three 6th round picks they can deal in order to move up in the draft. The mock draft is by no means a prediction of what will happen April 29-30 when the Patriots pick.