Patriots seven-round mock draft: Versatility, size added in 3rd round
Patriots seven-round mock draft: Versatility, size added in 3rd round
The Patriots don't have a pick in the first round of this year's draft, but with the selection process less than a month away, they're still the envy of most of the league.
While many teams will feel pressure on draft weekend to fill important roles with proverbial rolls of the dice, the Patriots are pretty well-set with their personnel. They can tinker on the peripheries of their depth charts with 11 selections, including four in the top 100.
Sure, Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio could use a power running back. Of course their cornerback spot could benefit from more depth. You could say the same for their situation at offensive tackle.
Still, by and large, the Patriots will be free to employ a strategy that sees them take the best player available on their board each time they're on the clock, regardless of position.
As far as this seven-round Patriots-specific mock draft is concerned, we'll stay consistent with the second-round picks we gave them in the two-round league-wide mock we posted earlier this week. As was the case then, these are our best guesses at what they'll do.
And while the Patriots have plenty of draft capital with which to maneuver up and down the board, here we'll pretend that they stand pat on the picks they've been handed. Keep in mind, their four compensatory picks (one third, three sixths) can't be traded.
On to the choices . . .
Second round, No. 60 overall: Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Howard (6-foot, 230 pounds) has the size and the playing style to fit in nicely as a between-the-tackles hammer for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He'll run violently, making defenders at the second level earn their paychecks. Oh, and he'll hang onto the football (just six fumbles in 672 career touches) all the while.
Second round, No. 61 overall (from Arizona): Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama
At 5-foot-10, 197 pounds Jones may be best-suited to play in the slot, but he has experience as a press-man corner on the outside against some of the best competition the college game has to offer. He's happy to get involved in the running game, and he's explosive with the football in his hands (four punt returns for touchdowns in 2015). Tough, versatile, from the SEC . . . Sounds like a Patriots pick, no?
Third round, No. 91 overall: Keenan Reynolds, WR, Navy
The links here are obvious. Reynolds doesn't have a set position at the next level just yet -- he worked out at slot receiver, running back, quarterback and punt returner at a recent pro day -- but what he'll bring in terms of his effort, his character and his overall athleticism will be too much for the Patriots to pass on. Some consider Reynolds, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, a sixth or seventh-rounder. But Belichick and Caserio have proven many times before that they work off their own board.
Third round, No. 96 overall (compensatory): John Theus, OT, Georgia
At 6-foot-6 and with 34.5-inch arms, this three-year starter has the length and athleticism that the Patriots like in their tackles. That Theus -- a former teammate of Patriots center David Andrews -- has extensive experience going against some of the top pass-rushers in the country will only make him more attractive in the team's eyes.
Sixth round, No. 196 (from Houston): Blake Martinez, LB, Stanford
The Patriots are stockpiling players from coach David Shaw's program at such a rate that with the selection of Martinez, there will be as many Cardinal players on the roster as Scarlet Knights from Rutgers. Martinez plays like an old-school middle linebacker, but he's a good athlete (6.98-second three-cone drill) and he'll chip in on special teams.
Sixth round, No. 204 (reacquired from Chicago): DJ Reader, DT, Clemson
While Reader's two more heralded teammates on the defensive line (Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd) look like first-rounders, the 6-foot-3, 327-pound space-eater could somehow fly under the radar until late on Day 3. He put up 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at this year's combine (fourth among defensive linemen), and would provide the Patriots with valuable depth as Alan Branch and Terrance Knighton go into contract years.
Sixth round, No. 208 (compensatory pick): Adam Gotsis, DL, Georgia Tech
The 6-foot-4, 287-pounder doesn't fit the typical mold of a Patriots defensive lineman, but he's too intriguing to ignore at this late stage. A former Australian Rules football player from Melbourne, the three-year starter and Yellow Jackets team captain plays with a motor that never stops running. He suffered a season-ending injury last Halloween, which explains his slide.
Sixth round, No. 214 overall (compensatory): Deiondre' Hall, DB, Northern Iowa
Listed as a corner, Hall's best position as a pro could be safety. At 6-foot-2, 199 pounds and with 34.5-inch arms, he has incredible length, and he displayed good ball skills during his collegiate career (13 career picks). The Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year last season may be asked to bulk up before he vies for a regular role in the defense, but he seems to have the athleticism (4.55-second 40-yard dash) and the aggressive attitude to contribute on special teams right away.
Sixth round, No. 221 overall (compensatory): Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern
A "superback" for the Wildcats, Vitale lined up all over the field. The 6-foot-1, 239-pound four-year starter caught the football consistently and ran clean routes. He also tested like a mad man during the combine, putting up 30 reps on the bench, jumping 38.5 inches and running a 4.12-second short shuttle. His versatility could help him make the team, but like most players taken at this stage of the draft, he'll likely have to carve a role in the kicking game in order to stick.
Seventh round, No. 243 (from Houston): Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan
Everyone get your late-round-Michigan-quarterback jokes out of the way now. Good? Good. Rudock ain't the next Tom Brady, of course, but he's an interesting fit in New England. Now that Brady is under contract for four more years, the Patriots may be willing to part ways with Jimmy Garoppolo between now and the beginning of 2017 -- the final year of Garoppolo's rookie deal -- in order to get something for him before he departs as a free agent. In order to get started on the search for the next No. 2, the Patriots could select Rudock and see how things go. The Jim Harbaugh pupil seems to be at his best in the short-to-intermediate passing game, and he's described as an intelligent and highly-competitive individual.
Seventh round, No. 250 overall: Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech
He's not Dion Lewis or Danny Woodhead or Kevin Faulk. Grant is ridiculously fun to watch, though. Listed at 5-foot-6 and about 160 pounds, he faces an uphill climb to make a roster, but he has to be one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in this draft class. He ran an official 4.34-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, which would have been the second-fastest among receivers at the combine this year. Some actually clocked that 40 at 4.1 seconds, which would have put Grant in the running for the fastest pre-draft 40 ever. And he's not just straight-line fast. You can get a sense of his downright laughable quicks here.