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Michael McDermott's Patriots Draft Strategy 2016

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Disclaimer: I am not a draft expert nor will I ever claim to be, but here are my 2¢ on what the Patriots might do later this month when on the clock.

Now there's a draft worth exploring.
Now there's a draft worth exploring.
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots will have picks 60, 61, 91, 96, 196, 204, 208, 214, 221, 243, and 250. My top four needs for the team are OT, CB, WR, and RB. The Patriots should be able to get talent at least in 3 of those 4 positions, depending on how the draft board develops.

Pick 60: I expect the Patriots to go OT, CB, or WR.

Strategy: Stay put, take Texas Tech OT Le'Raven Clark

The Patriots most important need is the tackle position. This year's draft is very top heavy, with five players that could start for teams in 2016. The Patriots will inevitably miss out on Laremy Tunsil, Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker, and Jack Conklin due to not having a first round pick. That narrows their draft board to Jason Spriggs, Le'Raven Clark, and Joe Haeg for the 2nd day of the draft. If a player such as Ohio State WR Michael Thomas or someone else that is rated highly on the Patriots board winds up falling into the 50s, all bets are off.

Spriggs has maybe a 5% chance of falling past the 50th pick of the draft, which is where I have the Patriots effective draft range starting. Clark will likely fall into the 50s, although the Patriots should consider using one of their 6th round picks if they need to leapfrog some teams. Joe Haeg is a good bet to last into the 60s, although there is almost no chance he lasts all the way until the 91st pick. If the Patriots went for a tackle prospect, my guess is they wind up with Le'Raven Clark, whose inexperience in a 3-point stance likely took him out of the first round.

Clark has all the athletic traits needed to be a successful franchise left tackle, although they would be grooming for him to play the other side in 2017. Clark will need to work very hard at adjusting to playing in a 3-point stance

Pick 61: I expect the Patriots to trade back with this pick.

Strategy: Move 61 back for a team that also sees a player falling on their draft board and give them the avenue to trade up. Ideally, the Patriots move into the 3rd round and receive either a 4th or 5th round pick.

Acquired 3rd Round Pick: WR, RB, or CB

Strategy: Draft Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell

The 3rd round is the sweet spot for the Patriots to pick up a WR. Three names I like in this range are Malcolm Mitchell, Rashard Higgins, and Mike Thomas. Of the three, I think Thomas has the most upside with his great athleticism whereas Mitchell has the highest floor coming out of a Pro-Style offense at Georgia. The receiver I'm choosing here is Malcolm Mitchell because I think he can also contribute on Special Teams in addition to being the 4th/5th WR on the team.

Mitchell would be on the depth chart as an X WR despite his 6'0" listing. The Patriots have depth at the position, although I suspect not many people would be wanting the X WR position in the hands of Aaron Dobson and Chris Hogan. Mitchell has a 6'3" wingspan, offers solid route running skills, and plays bigger than his size. Plus he can play CB in case of a disastrous run of injuries.

Pick 91: I expect the Patriots to trade this pick for future picks

Strategy: The Patriots would likely want to move this pick for future picks and try to get a 2017 Day 2 pick and a 6th/7th round pick for this year. In previous drafts the Patriots were able to trade a 3rd round pick into the 2nd round of the next draft (2009, 2010). Trade the 91st pick for a 7th round pick and 2017 2nd round pick.

Pick 96: RB or CB

Strategy: Draft Alabama CB Cyrus Jones

The Patriots have Logan Ryan set to become an unrestricted free agent while Malcolm Butler will be a restricted free agent. The Patriots should put a first round tender on Butler in order to keep their AFC Rivals from poaching Butler after the 2016 season, so one spot is solved. Logan Ryan is a solid CB in the right scheme, but isn't a player worth breaking the bank for. I'm not sure if Justin Coleman or Darryl Roberts would replace him as a boundary CB, but the Patriots should try to add depth at the position. I think there is room for another CB on the potential 53-man roster, although having it full of players that don't have a lot of experience is unnerving.

Jones can contribute immediately as a returner and can play inside and outside, which is critical when it comes to depth. Size is somewhat a concern at 5'10" and Alabama doesn't face a lot of prolific passing attacks, but Jones ran 4.49 in addition to a 6.71 3-cone to ease some concerns about having NFL speed. Jones is capable of playing press and is strong in run support both on the boundary and in the slot. The Patriots would like him for his ability to play all four downs.

Results: OT Le'Raven Clark, WR Malcolm Mitchell, CB Cyrus Jones, 2017 2nd, 2016 5th, 2016 7th

This may not be the Patriots final draft strategy, because this strategy is based on how I think the board is going to roll. The draft will wind up playing a lot differently once teams are officially on the clock and the dynamics of a trade are going on.