The New England Patriots have spent this offseason adding former 1st round picks that needed a change of scenery. Edge defender Chris Long was too expensive for the Rams, running back Donald Brown was stuffed in the back of the Chargers depth chart, and linebacker Shea McClellin needed stability after three coaching changes in his first four seasons.
The Patriots obtained 2013, 7th overall pick guard Jonathan Cooper in a trade with the Cardinals. Cooper needs a different coaching style to achieve his potential and Dante Scarnecchia hopes to be the man for the job.
These 2013 players still have a year on their base contract before a team has to pick up their 5th year option, allowing for a one-season test period before making a large financial commitment. That got me thinking: what other former first round picks could be fits for the Patriots at varying point in the upcoming season?
Here's a list of some 2013 prospects that could interest Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio.
2013, 6th overall, Browns edge defender Barkevious Mingo. Similar to Jabaal Sheard, Mingo has been playing out of position with a Browns team that lacks an identity. Mingo is on to his third head coach in Hue Jackson, after playing with Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine. Pettine comes from the Rex Ryan tree and forced Mingo to play outside linebacker instead of allowing him to play defensive end. Mingo could be an interesting fit in New England for a cheap price.
Mingo collected 5 sacks as a rookie before Pettine's defense neutered his ability and he notched only two sacks over the past two years.
2013, 8th overall, Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin. The Patriots love players that produce and Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will find a way to get them into the offense. Ausin collected 900 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns last season in the terrible Rams offense. He picked up over 400 yards rushing and receiving. He can play slot, he can attack the deep half of the field, and he can help out of the backfield.
The Rams expressed an interest in keeping Austin, but that could be coach speak. Austin is sure to see value spike with the increased importance of kick returns.
2013, 9th overall, Jets cornerback Dee Milliner. Milliner is the Jets' far more expensive take on Ras-I Dowling. Milliner is an outside corner with plenty of potential, but he just can't find a way to stay on the field. He has played in 8 games over the past two seasons (25% of the game).
When head coach Todd Bowles was asked about his hopes for Milliner in 2016, Bowles replied, "I've never seen him healthy, so I don't know." Perhaps Milliner would be worth a late round flier in exchange for his potential.
2013, 26th overall, Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones. The Packers have moved Jones from 3-4 defensive end, to a 4-3 defensive tackle, to a 3-4 edge defender, and Green Bay still doesn't have a clue on how to use him. He would be a perfect fit in the Patriots multiple-front defense as he could back up the edge players, step up in the sub-packages, and even align with Dominique Easley to generate pressure up the middle.
2013, 29th overall Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Kick offs are going to come into focus, so why not look at a player possibly better than Tavon Austin at kick returns? Patterson has four kick returns for touchdowns over the past three years. While he wasn't an active member of the offense in 2015 with 2 catches for 10 yards, he offers athleticism that the Patriots don't have on their offensive roster.
Personally, I think Jones and Mingo would be the two more intriguing additions. I also think that 2010 10th overall pick Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu could be an interesting mid-season addition to offer depth on the defensive interior.
What do you think?