Giardi: Here's who Patriots take in first and second rounds
Predicting Pats' first four picks
The Patriots are officially armed and dangerous. With their trade of Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams, the Pats war room is stocked with oh so many picks - four in the first two rounds, making them just one of three teams that can say that. Trust me, they need ‘em. Despite being a Super Bowl team this past season, the Pats have more holes than your favorite pair of sweats. So, with that said, let’s get to my first mock draft of the year.
First round, 23rd overall: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The choice here comes down to UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller or Landry, the edge rusher out of BC. And for as badly as the Pats need a left tackle, I have all the faith in the world that Dante Scarnecchia has already identified that player and it’s not Miller. That means Landry is the choice. Projected as a potential top-10 pick coming into the season, an ankle injury limited Landry’s production. If his combine numbers are any indication, that injury is now a thing of the past. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder should become an immediate contributor in passing situations, with a strong burst off the edge. His junior year, Landry took the ACC and country by storm, recording 22 tackles for loss (top five in the nation), 16.5 sacks and forcing 7 fumbles. Yes, please.
2018: Draft Reel: Harold Landry, Edge - Boston College
First round, 31st: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Tackle or more defense? Defense, please. No brainer here if this next player is still on the board. The call gets made to Vander Esch, inside linebacker out of Boise State. For starters, the dude is an ATHLETE. Just pop in the tape and see his ability not only to get downhill quickly, but also go side-to-side and drop back into coverage. He absolutely blew people’s socks off with his 2017 season: 141 tackles, 8.5 for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, three interceptions and a freakin’ partridge in a pear tree. He started the draft process as a second rounder. He’s not that anymore. His addition means less Elandon Roberts and less Kyle Van Noy (eventually). That’s a good thing.
2018 Draft Reel: Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise St.
Second round, 63rd: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pitt
This was a little bit of a gamble but the more I’ve watched the tackles in this draft, the more I think I’m seeing Nate Solder coming out of Colorado again. No, it’s not the peyote talking. O’Neill is long (6-7 with 34 1/8-inch arms), lean (297 pounds) and athletic (he ran a 4.82 40 and a 7.14 3-cone drill). He was Delaware’s high school basketball player of the year and a defensive end and tight end as well, catching 33 passes for 614 yards and 8 TDs. He went to Pitt as a tight end but after a redshirt year joined the “fatties” up front and never looked back, starting two years at right tackle then making the move to left. He didn’t have a great Senior Bowl week, but I feel like he’s the classic Scar project who can make an impact before his rookie season is over.
2018: Draft Reel: Brian O'Neill, OT Pittsburgh
Second round, 43rd: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Athletically, he might be better than the tight end who shall not be named, who formed a hell of a 1-2 punch with Rob Gronkowski when they entered the league in the 2010 draft. And with Gronk maybe looking at a year or two more of football, getting a gifted pass catcher at this point in the draft is a steal. Just don’t ask Gesicki to be anything more than a willing but not very able blocker. It’s not why you’re taking him here. You’re making this move because he can be an elite weapon sooner rather than later. His release is much more receiver like than right end and he can separate on both linebackers and safeties. If a defensive coordinator gets cocky and puts a bigger corner on him, Gesicki’s size - he’s 6-5, 247 pounds - and his vertical - 41.5 inches - often means the kid wins. He could use a year in the weight room and strength coach Moses Cabrera will be sure he gets it.