Note: With Bruce down and out with the flu, as well as buried under 6 feet of snow, Chris Warner is stepping in today.
By Chris Warner
This week, I’ve resolved to start restricting my views of Super Bowl highlights, though I reserve the right to occasionally blurt out, “Intercepted!” in my best Al Michaels voice.
After watching (and re-watching) New England’s final defensive play, the involvement of certain players sticks out to me.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler picks off the pass, jumps forward, and falls to the ground. Cornerback Brandon Browner, whose aggressive jam of Jermaine Kearse freed up Butler, raises his hand in the air and sprints toward the Patriots’ bench. Dont’a Hightower, who tackled Lynch the play before, rushes to Butler as defensive lineman Sealver Siliga envelops the cornerback in a protective, appreciative bear hug.
As we approach the 2015 draft, remember that each of these players came to New England in a different way. Butler answered the call as an undrafted rookie. Browner arrived as a free agent in March. Hightower came to Foxboro after getting selected in the first round of 2012. Siliga was signed to New England’s practice squad after getting released by Seattle in 2013.
So, as much emphasis as we place on the draft every year, we need to remember that teams get built in myriad ways.
For now, though, a look at this year’s picks. (Plenty of solid sources online, with NEPatriotsDraft.com as one of our current go-to’s):
Round One (32nd overall)
Round Two (64)
Round Three (96)
Round Three (Projected compensatory pick)
Round Four (from Tampa Bay via Logan Mankins trade)
Round Four (128)
Round Six (From Tampa Bay w/ Jonathan Casillas trade)
Round Seven (From Tennessee, w/ Akeem Ayers trade)
Round Seven (From Houston via Ryan Mallett trade)
That makes nine picks, which seems like an awful lot of rookies to add to a championship roster. For now, though, we’ll take a round-by-round look at the types of players the Patriots need and players they’ve selected for that position in previous drafts.
Round One: Lineman (Either Side Of The Line)
With depth issues nibbling at their heels (and knees, and ankles) on the offensive line this year, the Pats will want to add some talent on the interior OL. Securing depth on the DL should help, too.
Past First-Round Picks: Richard Seymour, 2001; Ty Warren, 2003; Vince Wilfork, 2004; Logan Mankins, 2005; Nate Solder, 2011; Chandler Jones, 2012; Dominique Easley, 2014.
Easley has battled injuries, but the Pats’ overall record with first-round linemen shows that they’ll get a contributor at least or a potential starter here.
Round Two: Backup Quarterback (Ha! Just kidding.)
Round Two: Lineman (The Other Side Of The Line)
If they get offense in the first, they get defense in the second, and vice-versa.
Past Second-Round Picks: Adrian Klemm, 2000; Matt Light, 2001; Marquise Hill, 2004; Ron Brace, Sebastian Vollmer, 2009; Jermaine Cunningham, 2010.
Remember that Vollmer pick? I recall having seen his name in some draft magazine ranked as a late-rounder/undrafted free agent who might be worth a look. New England tends to take chances here, and doing so on a lineman seems worth it.
Round Three: Pass Rusher
Yes, it was part of the game plan, and – save for The Juggle Catch and Some Guy Named Chris Matthews – the plan worked, but rushing four defenders made it seem as though Russell Wilson had enough time in the pocket to scan the field, make a chicken salad sandwich, eat it, and complete a pass.
As for the current roster, Rob Ninkovich celebrated his 31st birthday on Super Bowl Sunday (and what a way to celebrate). Chandler Jones wore down a bit and could use a young, dynamic bookend.
Past Third-Round Picks: Shawn Crable, 2008; Jake Bequette, 2012.
Not a perfect record here, but 2015 promises a great deal of rookie depth at this position, making it the right spot to find a solid pick.
Round Three: Defensive Back
Every team would have a drop off after Darrelle Revis, but Logan Ryan and, at times, Kyle Arrington helped raise the region’s consumption of booze and/or Lipitor on opponents’ long passes. Malcolm Butler paid off, big time, and the team should be able to find more talent on Day Two.
Past Third-Round Picks: Brock Williams, 2001; Guss Scott, 2004; Ellis Hobbs, 2005; Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, 2013.
Ryan showed up in spurts this season, while Harmon got the interception that sealed the divisional win vs. Baltimore. He has shown solid range and awareness.
Round Four: Linebacker
As athletic as Jamie Collins is, watching Marshawn Lynch haul in the same wheel route pass that helped doom Green Bay was a difficult way to go into the two-minute warning. New England could look for another speedy, quick linebacker here.
Past Fourth-Round Picks: None.
If Jerod Mayo comes back, and if Casillas continues to contribute on defense, the Pats might look at other positions; however, this seems like a sweet spot to seek out linebacker help.
Round Four: Offensive Lineman
So many injuries at this position. Soo many.
Past Fourth-Round Picks: Greg Robinson-Randall, 2000; Kenyatta Jones, 2001; Rich Ohrnberger, 2009; Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, 2014.
New England’s riding a bit of a hot streak with last year’s selections. Stork starting at center settled down the offense and Fleming filling in as an extra lineman haunted the Colts rushing defense. The club will look to repeat this type of feat on Day Two.
Round Six: Special Teamer
In recent years, the Patriots have picked players in this area of the draft specifically as special teamers. In 2014, New England’s special teams made a serious impact (just ask the Jets’ field goal unit).
Past Sixth-Round Picks: Jake Ingram, 2009; Nate Ebner, 2012.
Ingram couldn’t stick around as a long snapper, but it shows the seriousness with which Belichick takes the position. The team could consider another receiver/returner type like Matthew Slater (a Round Five selection). Or they could wait until Round Seven…
Round Seven: Wide Receiver
Remember back in October when Tom Brady lacked weapons? Four touchdown passes to four different receivers? Sure. I guess we’ll take it.
Past Seventh-Round Picks: David Givens, 2002; Julian Edelman, 2009, Jeremy Ebert, 2012, Jeremy Gallon, 2014.
Not too shabby, considering the contributions of Givens and Edelman to New England’s Super Bowl runs. While the Pats look set at the position, it seems like a good idea to bring in competition for younger receivers like Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. The latter’s greatest contribution to New England’s cause may have been catching a slant pass in front of Malcolm Butler during practice.
Round Seven: Running Back
Pats look loaded here. It remains to be seen if they hang on to Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. They’ll have trouble trying to duplicate the latter.
Past Seventh-Round Picks: Patrick Pass, 2000; Antwoine Womack, 2002.
Pass, much like Brandon Bolden now, played a little bit of everything during his time in Foxboro, from special teamer to pass-catcher to blocking fullback for Corey Dillon (no mean feat at 215 pounds). If New England can find a versatile back here – say, a Bolden with better receiving ability – they should jump on him.
Any thoughts on what position the Pats should look to draft where, let us know below.
You can follow Chris Warner on Twitter at @cwarn89
23 thoughts on “Patriots 2015 Draft Preview (Bare Bones Edition)”
I am not usually one for draft talk but I think if you look at the possible FA’s and project out there is a really good chance the team looses Dan Connolly. I think they need a guard whether they keep him or not. If they loose him then I would not be surprised it they took a guard with their first two picks if the value was there. We learned two things this past year. 1) Cannon cannot play guard. 2) Dave G can coach people up. It does not look to me like Devey will ever be a starter but Flemming could evolve. Still I think they would like to upgrade both guard spots at some point because I do not see Wendell as being GREAT. Good yes, adequate yes, better suited to be in the rotation than the starter.
As for the rest of it…no idea.
oh yeah the o-line coach…remember F&M mocking the talk show host most of the year for coaching on a BB staff?
As a former radio guy used to say “how’d that work out for ya?”.
I believe the Mallett pick from Houston is in the 2016 draft, but I could be wrong. I can’t imagine that Mayo won’t be back. BB loves him and he’s still very valuable. He’s still the “quarterback” of the defense and having him back in that role frees up Hightower to roam around and make plays/take advantage of his considerable versatility. Mayo was pretty much injury free during his career before he got hurt on “football plays” the past two seasons — the klinds of injuries that are simply unavoidable when you play that game for a living. It happens. They’ll probably try to restructure his deal, but I’d be shocked if they part ways with him. My wish list for the upcoming draft would be OL/DL in the first round, a pass rusher in the second, and then using the wealth of picks in rounds 3 and 4 to add depth along both lines and in the secondary. Of course, who here would be shocked if BB went ahead and grabbed a tight end with ANY of their first four picks, including the first rounder? I certainly wouldn’t — afterall, this is the guy who drafted Ben Watson at the #32 spot in 2004 when he already had Daniel Graham (first rounder just two years earlier) and Christian Fauria coming back to a team that had just won Super Bowl 38.
I wouldn’t use any of their picks on WR. There are a plethera of veteran receivers in free agency that if they want to add another piece that would be a better use of their resources. Same at RB. I would focus my efforts on the O-Line first,D-Line and then Cornerback. You have to remain strong at CB even with Revis.
Off topic, but Bob Kravitz just posted a (watered down, weak) mea culpa on Deflategate.
I’ll save everyone the waste of time to read the article and sum it up neatly: He was just asking the question.
My favorite part of the article is when he said his source was really awesome and reliable (or words to that effect). Given that the substance-abusing Colts owner probably was the source, that statement is perhaps more laughable than anything Kravitz has said or written since this whole mess began.
@stoolepresidente has the “Best Of” from Kravitz here:
Aaron Schatz with the most salient point of this whole mess:
Akeem Ayers will be on the roster next season.
Kravitz starts the backing up….
I guess today was the “lets simulate a loss”, since they probably prepared some voluminous notes on that very outcome:
Just heard the beginning of the show. They are closing TB12’s window again. Garapolo has to be ready for 2016. Maybe TB12 will get hurt and he will get some playing time in 15. They really said this.
If need be, Jimmy Football will be ready… Talking about this topic, as if it’s something that the coaches aren’t doing, which is surely how F & YAARM were referring to it, is simply filling endless hours with trolling and mindless second guessing.
Thus proving that for a fan that simply wants to enjoy the team, the games and the league, listening to Felger and YAARM is an act of self-immolation.
For all that I dislike about Felger, I’ve always thought he was a clever guy who put a lot of thought and work into his contrarian arguments. But to do a “What if” show? That’s straight up lazy.
I actually do think they will look at TE. Gronk again showed this year what we already knew: He’s indispensable. So…. stands to reason they need to make him a bit more ‘dispensable’ given his injury history. And, oh by the way, they could use an upgrade from Hoo-man and Wright. There are some good, options in the 3rd.
If there’s a really good TE prospect on the board at #32, and they like him, I have no doubts they’ll draft the guy….and I would have no problem with that. At #32 and coming off a championship season, you’ve got a few “house dollars” to play with on draft day. And like you said, there has to be some Gronk insurance on the roster. Just look at how many times opponents’ DBs went after his knees to “tackle” him this season alone. He barely escaped a couple of really damaging shots because he clearly was looking out for them and anticipated them quite well. But all it takes is one low blow to find its mark…..
They may take a TE but I would be shocked if it is a day 1 or day 2 pick. Besides…if they want a TE why not make a run at Julius Thomas. Seems to me he is a pretty close facsimile of Aaron Hernandez.
Browner is awesome
Gotta go easy on Kanye. After all, he likes to put fish sticks in his mouth, but doesn’t realize that might make him a gay fish.
Joe Sullivan and the Globe with a (not so?) subtle cheap shot at the Patriots…
Their Super Bowl commemorative book is called “Pumped”
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