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Should the Patriots have any interest in 2014 first rounders that didn’t have their 5th year options picked up?

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Or should the Patriots stay away?

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The New England Patriots picked up the fifth-year option for WR Brandin Cooks, who was the 20th overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft be the New Orleans Saints. Most teams hope to find a player in the first round worthy of picking up that fifth-year option, but not every team is successful.

Teams needed to exercise that fifth-year option by the end of May 2nd, so we now know which players are not guaranteed a fifth season with their previous team. Additionally, there were three players released by their original team and they are not beholden to their original rookie contracts:

8th overall: Cleveland Browns CB Justin Gilbert
22nd overall: Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel
29th overall: New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley

But beyond these three players, there are six players that remain with their original teams from the draft that did not have their fifth-year option exercised. Would any of them interest you in New England for the 2018 season?

2nd overall: Los Angeles Rams OL Greg Robinson

Robinson has started at left tackle or left guard for all three seasons in the league, but he hasn’t done a particularly good job of it and is one of the worst offensive linemen in the league per ProFootballFocus. He is currently competing for a starting job at right tackle since the team signed 35-year-old Andrew Whitworth to start at left tackle.

4th overall: Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins

Watkins has averaged a solid 66.7 yards per game in the NFL, but he’s missed 11 games over the past three seasons. He has been listed on the injury report 30 of a possible 48 weeks. Since the fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury, the Bills didn’t think it was worth the risk, especially with the franchise tag (should Watkins emerge as a healthy star) a “mere” $3 million more than the option.

14th overall: Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller

Fuller was one of my all time favorite draft prospects so he’ll always have a place in my heart. Fuller started 30 of a possible 32 games from 2014-15 (hip/hand injury as a rookie), but missed the entire 2016 season due to a knee injury that required surgery in August prior to the start of the season and still hurt Fuller in December.

As a rookie, Fuller was one of the worst cornerbacks in the league, but towards the end of the 2015 season, Fuller was playing like a top 10 cornerback per Pro Football Focus.

18th overall: New York Jets SS Calvin Pryor

The Jets replaced Pryor in their long-term plans when they drafted Jamal Adams with the 6th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. Pryor has started 38 of 44 games with 2 interceptions, 14 passes defended, and 190 tackles over three seasons. Pryor was an average safety in his first two years, but saw a sharp decline in performance in 2016.

26th overall: Philadelphia Eagles EDGE Marcus Smith

Smith has played 37 of a possible 48 games with zero starts in his career. He has 18 tackles and 4 sacks over the course of his entire career and there’s a very real chance he won’t make the Eagles roster for 2017, thanks to Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, and 2017 first round pick Derek Barnett.

32nd overall: Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater was the future of the Vikings franchise before suffering a non-contact injury prior to the 2016 season that resulted in a torn ACL and a dislocated knee. There’s a chance Bridgewater might not be able to play in 2017. The Vikings are moving forward with Sam Bradford as their franchise quarterback.

Looking towards the 2018 season, I feel like players that weren’t successful- like Robinson and Smith- wouldn’t interest the Patriots. I could also see Watkins receive an Alshon Jeffery type of one-year prove it deal with a different team; also the Patriots seem pretty set at wide receiver for 2018 with Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell already under contract and Julian Edelman a possibility to return.

A player like Pryor could be an interesting fit for the Patriots as a high-upside reclamation project. Pryor could be another option in the team’s ongoing quest to find a successor for Patrick Chung. When you look at Pryor’s growth and success in the Jets defense in 2014 and 2015, it’s easy to wonder what his potential could be with better coaching and a more defined role.

As for Fuller and Bridgewater, any possible connection with the Patriots would require a clean bill of health for each player, which doesn’t seem like a sure prospect at this point in time. Still, with Malcolm Butler and Jimmy Garoppolo possibly leaving the team in 2018, bringing in Fuller or Bridgewater might not be a crazy idea.

Poll

Which player would you want on the Patriots?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    OL Greg Robinson
    (65 votes)
  • 30%
    WR Sammy Watkins
    (399 votes)
  • 24%
    CB Kyle Fuller
    (324 votes)
  • 28%
    SS Calvin Pryor
    (375 votes)
  • 5%
    EDGE Marcus Smith
    (79 votes)
  • 6%
    QB Teddy Bridgewater
    (86 votes)
1328 votes total Vote Now