Two-round mock draft 2.0: Patriots go witih side, athleticism up front
Two-round mock draft 2.0: Patriots go witih side, athleticism up front
By Phil Perry
Let's get this out of the way first: I have no idea what the Patriots will do when they're on the clock at selection No. 60. But I know I'm not alone in my ignorance.
Really, no one can be sure of what's going to happen with the Patriots picks at the end of the second round. Not even Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio can say what they'll do with certainty. There's simply too much unknown. Too much can and will happen -- like, say, 59 other picks -- between now and the night of April 29.
That said, the purpose of these mock drafts (as well as our positional previews) is to introduce to you names that may potentially be on the board when it's New England's turn to hand in its card.
It's far from science. It's a guessing game. And we'll mix up the guesses between now and draft weekend so you're as familiar with as many perceived second-round talents as possible.
Here's how the 2.0 version broke down: A trade occured at the top of the draft that had a ripple effect on the rest of the first and second rounds; the Patriots eschewed size in the backfield for size up front at No. 60; and the duo of Belichick and Caserio zigged when others zagged by snagging an old-school linebacker at No. 61.
FIRST ROUND: 1-5
1. Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Philadelphia makes a splash trade to get coach Doug Pederson the quarterback he wants. The Titans and Eagles swap picks in the first round and Tennessee gets an absolute haul of future picks in return to build depth around Marcus Mariota.
2. Browns: Jared Goff, QB, California
Right off the bat, we've got a little run on the guys who chuck it. Goff is coming from an air-raid system at Cal, and while he may not have the same level of upside as Wentz, he may be more pro-ready.
3. San Diego: Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
With Eric Weddle out, the Chargers are in desperate need of a playmaker in their secondary. Ramsey's rare athleticism and versatility make him arguably the best player at two different positions in this draft class.
4. Cowboys: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Jerry Jones and his team need a presence on the edge to rattle opposing quarterbacks. They land the draft's top pass-rusher and a tireless worker in this former Buckeye.
5. Jaguars: Miles Jack, LB, UCLA
Had it not been for a knee injury, Jack may have been one of the top three choices this year. As it is, the Jaguars get a bit of a steal in the linebacker who can do just about everything in coach Gus Bradley's defense.
FIRST ROUND: 6-10
6. Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Many consider Tunsil the top player in the draft, and at No. 6 his ceiling is too high for the Ravens to ignore. Their defense is aging and needs an upgrade, but general manager Ozzie Newsome knows there will be opportunities later in the draft to infuse that side of the ball with some youth.
7. 49ers: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
You saw this coming, didn't you? The 49ers are in a tough spot at quarterback in that they have a highly-priced one they'd like to move on from but can't. (Can't yet, at least.) Now they're forced to grab Lynch and hope that his big arm reaches its potential.
8. Titans: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Even after trading out of the No. 1 overall spot, the Titans pick up an instinctive cornerback who is ready to step in and start from Day 1. They could use a tackle, but with this selection, general manager Jon Robinson indicates he's confident he can find an offensive lineman at the top of the second round.
9. Buccanneers: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
The Bucs opt to help Brent Grimes and the rest of their defensive backfield not by adding to the secondary but by adding to the pass rush. They can't afford to whiff so they go with Lawson as opposed to Lawson's less proven -- but perhaps more explosive -- college teammate Kevin Dodd.
10. Giants: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Some see Michigan State's Jack Conklin as more of a can't-miss prospect, but Stanley has the ability to develop into a legitimate cornerstone left tackle. Conklin's best fit as a pro may be at right tackle.
FIRST ROUND: 11-15
11. Bears: DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon
This is a dream scenario for Chicago. Because of needs and scheme fits, Buckner has dropped unexpectedly, landing in coach John Fox's lap. He'll be a consistently disruptive 3-4 end of the next five years or more.
12. Saints: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
At 6-feet tall and over 180 pounds, Jackson's speed and ball skills allowed him to make everything he did in college look easy. While the Saints could build up their defense from the inside out, tapping into the draft's tremendous depth at defensive tackle, they instead grab one of the most exciting cover men in the draft.
13. Dolphins: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
With the three best corners off the board, the Dolphins see a significant drop-off at that position and decide to hold off. They choose to grab the best running back in the class, an all-purpose ball-carrier with game-changing skills.
14. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
One look at our last mock will tell you this linebacker's draft window seems incredibly wide-ranging. If Ragland is seen as strictly a two-down player, teams may let him slide down the board. In this scenario, he's deemed a potentially dominant player in the middle Oakland's front seven.
15. Rams: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Though a new quarterback would have been the perfect buzz move for Hollywood's team, there aren't any left that would make sense at this spot. Grabbing the draft's most explosive wide receiver for quarterback Case Keenum is a pretty good consolation prize.
FIRST ROUND: 16-20
16. Lions: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
New general manager Bob Quinn will appreciate this former Spartans walk-on. A dependable pass-protector and a force in the running game, even if he doesn't pan out at left tackle, Conklin could be Detroit's right tackle for a long, long time.
17. Falcons: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
If Joseph's knee checks out (he tore his ACL after four games last season), he could be the choice here. Though he's not Earl Thomas -- who is? -- his aggressive style will fit in just fine on coach Dan Quinn's defense.
18. Colts: Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia
The Colts need as much help as they can get on the offensive line, and there are some good linemen remaining, but they go for a pass-rusher instead. In fairness to them, they need help getting after the quarterback as well, and Floyd has the ability to turn into a high-end pass-rushing outside linebacker at the next level.
19. Bills: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Rex Ryan will be licking his chops to have the opportunity to work with Rankins. Perhaps the most versatile of all the upper-echelon defensive tackles in the draft, he'll bounce around Buffalo's front from snap to snap.
20. Jets: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Even after trading for Ryan Clady, the Jets tackle situation isn't totally resolved. In Spriggs they pick up a player who needs polish but is a physically gifted edge protector.
FIRST ROUND: 21-25
21. Redskins: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
A rare combination of size and quickness makes Jones an enticing choice. Especially now that Terrance Knighton has signed with the Patriots, Washington could use reinforcements up front.
22. Texans: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
The popular pick here has been for Bill O'Brien to get quarterback Brock Osweiler another receiver. However, O'Brien also needs a 3-4 end to play opposite JJ Watt. Butler is the best of what's left. In any other year, he may have been taken in the top half of the first round.
23. Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
If Treadwell ran a quicker 40-yard dash (he clocked a 4.63 at the combine) he would have been off the board much earlier. Still, he has good size and will go up and get the football for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
24. Bengals: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Remarkable coordination and body control make him one of the top downfield threats available. He's not a burner, but he has big-play ability that would be almost unfair when paired with AJ Green.
25. Steelers: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Robinson's college teammate A'Shawn Robinson may one day develop into more of an impact player, but Reed is the reliable run-stuffing 3-4 nose tackle that Pittsburgh needs.
FIRST ROUND: 26-31
26. Seahawks: Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
There are gifted players with red flags available -- Noah Spence and Robert Nkemdiche, for example -- that may interest coach Pete Carroll, but protecting Russell Wilson is the priority. Whitehair played tackle in college but could end up as the best guard in this class.
27. Packers: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Green Bay would love to draft a legitimate inside linebacker to move Clay Matthews back outside, but here they go for an athletic BJ Raji replacement and hope they can land their 'backer later.
28. Chiefs: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
With Justin Houston out for the foreseeable future after knee surgery, the Chiefs will need an edge defender. Dodd doesn't project to be anywhere near the pass-rusher Houston has become, but he flashed ability in that area late last season, and he'll be stout against the run.
29. Cardinals: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Roll Tide, I guess? Kelly's selection makes three 'Bama stars chosen in the last six picks. Adding the top center in the draft will solidify the offensive line in front of Carson Palmer and perhaps propel the 2015 NFC finalists one more round in the 2016 postseason.
30. Panthers: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
With the Super Bowl still fresh in their minds -- particularly the performance of Denver pass-rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware -- Carolina chooses one of the draft's top talents. The catch is, his character concerns also make him one of its riskiest.
31. Broncos: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
At 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, Lee moves like a safety. That makes him a perfect fit as a weakside linebacker who can cover, which the Broncos could use after losing Danny Trevathan to free agency.
SECOND ROUND: 32-36
32. Browns: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
With this pick, Cleveland gets its new quarterback an outside-the-numbers threat who is dangerous with the ball in his hands. He may not be there yet, but Thomas has a chance to be a true No. 1 down the road.
33. Titans: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
He isn't Tunsil, and he may not be a true left tackle, but Decker will do just fine on the right side. The truck load of Eagles picks Tennessee owns helps make up for the fact that Mariota still may not have his franchise blindside protector.
34. Cowboys: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
His very visible level of confidence on a play-to-play basis isn't quite at a Deion Sanders level, but fans in Dallas will appreciate it all the same. He'll back up his swagger with strong man-to-man coverage on the outside.
35. Chargers: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Now that Ladarius Green has moved on to Pittsburgh, the Bolts are in dire need of a young tight end who can one day take over for Antonio Gates, who will be 36 in June. Though Henry may not be the stoutest of blockers, he's the best receiving tight end in the class.
36. Ravens: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds Johnson is a high-motor earth-mover, who has the size to play on the nose but could fill in as an end in Baltimore's defense. Buckner would have been a nice fit in the first round, but to get Tunsil and now Johnson will make coach John Harbaugh a very happy man.
SECOND ROUND: 37-41
37. 49ers: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
In order to try to accentuate Lynch's arm strength and touch, the Niners go out and get a speedster who can occupy safeties in the deep part of the field and hit the occasional "home run."
38. Jaguars: Shilique Calhoun, LB, Michigan State
An explosive athlete with long arms and a habit of getting to the quarterback, Calhoun may be a pass-rush specialist early on. Eventually he'll provide Jacksonville with a valuable complement to last year's first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr.
39. Buccaneers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
They missed out on Hargreaves early in the first round, but Apple is a promising cover man with good size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and speed. He's also not afraid to get his nose dirty in the running game. As a second-rounder who plays a hard-to-fill position, Apple represents pretty good value at pick No. 39.
40. Giants: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
They loaded up on defense in free agency, and now they're trying to catch up on the other side of the ball. Shepard gives Eli Manning the best slot receiver available in this draft. Alongside Odell Beckham Jr., he should be an absolute menace.
41. Bears: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
The Bears already have a young free safety in Adrian Amos, and by selecting Neal they have their big-hitting, athletic strong safety of the future. Chicago will love his no-nonsense style.
SECOND ROUND: 42-46
42. Dolphins: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
There are plenty of technique issues for Burns to clean up, but he has physical qualities that can't be taught. A hurdler for Miami during football's offseason, the 6-foot, 193-pounder ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the combine.
43. Rams: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
A bit of an on-the-field gambler, Cook may benefit from a year on the sidelines in his first pro season. He may not be the face of the franchise the Rams were hoping for in Round 1, but he'll eventually have a chance to start depending on how he develops.
44. Raiders: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
A classic centerfield safety, Bell gives the Raiders another improvement in the middle of their defense. With Ragland and Bell on board, coach Jack Del Rio can feel as though he's building a solid all-around unit on that side of the ball.
45. Rams: Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame
A heady player who can play anywhere along the interior, Martin has the size and technique to potentially turn himself into one of the game's best at the center spot.
46. Lions: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
Quinn, who spent most of his professional life with the Patriots, nabs a player here who seems like a Bill Belichick type. Coming from a big-time program, Bullard is versatile and smart, and he could play a variety of positions along the defensive line in Detroit.
SECOND ROUND: 47-51
47. Saints: Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford
With Jahri Evans out of the picture in New Orleans, coach Sean Payton needs a guard. Garnett moves well for his size (6-foot-4, 312 pounds) and will hammer defenders in the running game.
48. Colts: Christian Westerman, OL, Arizona State
Time to invest in protecting the franchise. Andrew Luck would have liked to have Garnett -- a fellow Stanford product -- blocking for him, but he'll be happy with Westerman. The former Sun Devil could play either guard or tackle at the next level, and he has the athleticism to be very reliable in pass protection.
49. Bills: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Buffalo hopes to strike gold here. Nkemdiche doesn't have nearly the college production that he should given his physical skill set, but when he's motivated, he looks like a first-round talent.
50. Falcons: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
One year after drafting Vic Beasley with the No. 8 overall pick, Atlanta chooses to continue to add to its pass rush in the second round. Ogbah is a powerful edge player with a series of relatively raw pass-rush moves.
51. Jets: Kamalei Correa, LB, Boise State
In terms of personnel on the defensive front, coach Todd Bowles already had one of the more imposing groups in the league. Correa's eye-popping athleticism gives the team a player who will get after quarterbacks from out on the edge.
SECOND ROUND: 52-56
52. Texans: Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
With the ball in his hands Carroo is hard to stop. Had it not been for an ankle injury that limited him in his final season, he may have been taken higher. In Houston he'll become a dangerous No. 2 to DeAndre Hopkins.
53. Redskins: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
General manager Scott McCloughan knows that if he hits on Smith, he could someday have one of the most talented linebackers in the league. Had it not been for a season-ending injury in his team's bowl game, Smith would have been a no-doubt top-10 selection.
54. Vikings: Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M
Is he a guard or is he a tackle? Either way, he's long (36-inch arms) and athletic and should help keep Bridgewater upright if someone can mold him into a more technically-sound player.
55. Bengals: Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State
At 6-foot-7, Nassib is still strong enough to play on the edge in Cinci's defensive scheme. Working with Geno Atkins at defensive tackle, that could be a formidable pair for opposing offensive linemen.
56. Seahawks: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
With the offensive line addressed on Day 1 -- though still in need of upgrades -- Seattle turns to the other side of the ball and drafts another big corner. Howard (6-feet, 201 pounds) will attack the football and create turnovers, but he tends to get a little grabby when things aren't going well.
SECOND ROUND: 57-60
57. Packers: Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona
There's your legitimate inside linebacker to bump Clay Matthews back to the outside. A tackling machine in college, Wright slipped to the bottom of the second round in part due to injuries.
58. Steelers: Sean Davis, CB/S, Maryland
Davis played as big-hitting outside corner for the Terrapins last year, but he could be used as a safety and thrive there as well. The good news for the Steelers? They could potentially use help at both spots so they'll find a place for the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder somewhere.
59. Chiefs: Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State
With Jeremy Maclin on the outside, Miller could come in and be considered the team's top slot option within a year. It's a position that's still relatively new to the former Buckeyes quarterback, but he has all the traits to make it work at the NFL level.
60. Patriots: Le'Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech
Could Clark's technique use some refining? Of course. But what he offers in terms of his physical qualities are hard to match. He measures in at 6-foot-5, 316 pounds, with 36-inch arms and 12-inch mitts. In New England, he'd have an opportunity to watch starters Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer as he gets stronger in the weight room and becomes more of a technician under Dante Scarnecchia. Both Vollmer and Marcus Cannon are headed into contract years so Clark's selection would provide the team with valuable, high-upside depth.
SECOND ROUND: 61-63
61. Patriots: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State
Run-stuffing linebackers are somewhat of an antiquated idea in the pass-happy NFL. Since some consider Perry (6-foot-4, 254 pounds) as a two-down player, he falls all the way to the bottom of the second round even though he's one of the two or three top inside linebackers in the draft class. A team leader for an elite college defense, Perry may not play much as a rookie in New England since the Patriots tend to use two-linebacker packages. But with both Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower going into contract years, Perry could find himself playing an impact role in the Patriots defense in 2017.
62. Panthers: Kalan Reed, CB, Southern Mississippi
An ideal No. 2 corner to pair with Josh Norman, Reed has a nose for the football, adequate size (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) and impressive athleticism. He wasn't invited to the combine, but at his pro day he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and jumped 41.5 inches in the vertical.
63. Broncos: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
With Malik Jackson now playing for the Jaguars, the Broncos will want to reload with a powerful player on the interior of their defensive line. Clark, a former wrestler and a quick-mover at 6-foot-3, 314 pounds, can both eat up blocks and get after opposing quarterbacks. Still just 20 years old, he could be a steal at this late stage.