We haven’t had a ton of success predicting New England’s draft choices (Jake Bequette in 2012 the lone exception), but we’ve done a fair job figuring what positions they’ll look for in certain spots. We’ll keep that in mind for this spring as we take our shots.
For previous 2015 mocks, you can see our “Bare Bones” positional edition here and our “That Guy” tendencies edition here. For a comprehensive breakdown of past Patriots drafts, click for our “Round-By-Round” column here.
We have New England picking eight on draft weekend out of a possible nine picks, taking their tendency to trade into consideration. (Note: their third- and seventh-round compensatory picks can not be traded.)
DAY ONE, Round One: DE/OLB
Many (including myself as of a few days ago), considered a defensive lineman with this pick, and – though I can’t see anything wrong with getting Carl Davis from Iowa, for example, I can’t overlook the impact that linebacker/pass-rusher Jamie Collins has had on this defense. The free-agent addition of Jabaal Sheard shouldn’t get in the way of bringing more athletic, pass-rushing talent into New England’s front seven.
Possible Pick: Eli Harold, Virginia Defensive End (6-3, 247). The Patriots saw something beyond the rawness of linebacker Jamie Collins in 2013, and they may see a similar something in the athletic and productive Harold this year. He had 54 tackles, seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. Totaled 17.5 sacks in his Cavalier career (his Cavareer? No? Okay). Has shown the ability to drop back in coverage. Ran a speedy 4.60 seconds in the 40 and 4.16 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle.
DAY TWO, Rounds Two and Three: OL, DB, DL
A little of this and that for the next two rounds, filling out positions of need while bulking up the future of the roster.
Possible Pick: Tre Jackson, Florida State Offensive Guard (6-4, 330). If New England’s looking to bulk up along the interior of their offensive line, the massive Jackson fits the bill. The big fella started 42 games for the Seminoles, reaching All-American honors last year as a senior. Jackson earned consensus All-American honors and was named MVP of the South Team at the Senior Bowl in February. Played alongside current Patriot center Bryan Stork.
Possible Pick: Byron Jones, Connecticut Cornerback (6-1, 199). Jones failed to stand out in his combine 40-yard dash (4.57 seconds), which remained about the only unimpressive thing he did in Indianapolis. Jones put up an I-need-video-evidence-that-this-happened 12-foot-3-inch broad jump (and here’s that video evidence). Just for comparison, jump two feet along the ground. Now lay down a basketball hoop and jump 10 feet to the rim. You’re still short three inches. Jones added a 44.5-inch vertical leap (second-best at the combine), along with a super-quick 3.94 20-yard shuttle and 6.78 3-cone. Jones played in only seven games for UConn last season due to injury, but he managed 24 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD) and four pass break-ups.
Possible Pick: Derrick Lott, Tennessee-Chattanooga Defensive Lineman (6-4, 314). The Patriots seem as willing as most to draft smaller-school athletes (see defensive end Zach Moore out of Concordia last year). Lott, a transfer from Georgia, ran a 4.99 40 at the combine and benched 30 reps, tied for seventh among D-linemen. In his final year for the Mocs, he made First Team All-Southern Conference, tallying 41 tackles (13.5 for loss) and six sacks. He has the size and quickness to play anywhere along the line.
DAY THREE, Rounds Four Through Seven: DB, LB, OL, WR
Considered tight end here (Rutgers’ Tyler Kroft), but Scott Chandler’s signing had us looking at other areas. Looks like the Pats will consider doubling up on a few positions, which has worked well for them in the past: they took two offensive linemen in the fourth round last year, and got a starter (Bryan Stork) and a consistent contributor (Cameron Fleming). We wouldn’t be surprised (and fans might appreciate) the Patriots using these picks to trade up, as the talent of New England’s current roster makes it tough for eight potential rookies to stick around.
Possible Pick: Craig Mager, Texas State Cornerback (5-11, 201). Well, before 2014 training camp, we’d never heard of Malcolm Butler, either. Mager had a noteworthy combine performance with a 4.44-second 40, a 6.83-second 3-cone, and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump – all top 10 for combine corners. Mager started 48 games for the Bobcats, finishing up as a senior with 63 tackles (two sacks), 10 pass break-ups, and three interceptions.
Possible Pick: Kevin Snyder, Rutgers Linebacker (6-2, 238). Snyder fits two all-important Patriots draft categories: the Special Teams Guy and the Rutgers Guy. He ran a nifty 4.54 40 at his pro day, which would have made him the second-fastest linebacker at the combine. Also had a 7.07 3-cone (tied for seventh fastest LB) and 23 bench press reps (top 13). The career linebacker also showed scouts his longsnapping abilities by the banks of the Raritan. In 51 games for the Scarlet Knights, Snyder had 229 tackles, including 63 in 2014 (1.5 sacks). He also broke up five passes last year.
Possible Pick: Shaq Mason, Georgia Tech Offensive Lineman (6-2, 304). Hard to ignore the photo seen here of former Patriots line coach Dante Scarnecchia taking snaps from Mason, who tried to show his versatility after playing only guard at Tech. Also hard to ignore Mason’s status as an All-American, his starting at both guard spots over his career, and the fact that his status may be affected (in a good way, from New England’s point of view) by the fact that the Yellow Jackets run an option offense. Mason ran an impressive 4.89 40, which would have made him the fastest OL at the combine. He also leapt 32 inches, and put up 20 reps on the bench.
Possible Pick: DeAndrew White, Alabama Wide Receiver (5-11, 193). Now, do the Patriots necessarily need another wide receiver in camp? Maybe not, but they’ve got a recent history of nabbing smaller pass-catchers in the seventh round (Jeremy Gallon of Michigan in 2014, Jeremy Ebert of Northwestern in 2012, some guy named Julian Edelman of Kent State in 2009). His 4.44-second 40 time would make him one of the faster receivers in Gillette, while his 6.97 3-cone drill and 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle would show his relative quickness across the middle of the field. With 40 receptions at Alabama, White trailed only Amari Cooper in 2014 (albeit by a ton: Cooper had 124). White had 504 yards receiving (12.6 avg) and four TDs.
THE ONE UNDRAFTED GUY WE HAVE TO CONSIDER
Joe Cardona, Navy LS (6-2, 242). Will the Annapolis product get to play in the NFL next year? Nope. He has at least a two-year, full-time commitment to the military. Will Bill Belichick invite him to camp and keep him on military reserve? It wouldn’t be the first time. Cardona stood out as the only long snapper invited to the combine. He ran a 4.91 40 and put up 30 bench presses. Another fact to consider: Cardona was the conference MVP for his high school lacrosse team (Granite HIlls in El Cajon, CA), which can only endear him to the lax-loving Belichick. One free trip to Foxboro, coming up!
THREE UNDRAFTED PLAYERS TO KEEP IN MIND
Looking for versatility at various positions, and underdog labels to go with them.
Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo DL (6-5, 290). Described as “relentless,” Sokoli had a heck of a pro day for the Bulls, running a 4.84 40, leaping 38 inches, putting up 31 bench reps and completing a 7.19 3-cone. He had 32 tackles last year as a D-tackle (three for loss) and six pass breakups. Sokoli moved to the U.S. from Albania at nine years old and played football in high school, manning all sorts of positions: defensive end, tight end, offensive tackle – even punter and kicker.
John Lowdermilk, Iowa SS (6-1, 210). As much as we talk up the relationship between Belichick and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, Coach Bill has never drafted a player out of Iowa. We don’t expect that to change this year, but Lowdermilk could get some rookie camp consideration. His 103 tackles led the Hawkeyes last year. He also had three interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.
Jamon Brown, Louisville OL (6-4, 323). The monolithic Brown first gained our attention at the East-West Shrine Game. He was an All-AAC First-Team left tackle (with experience at right tackle) who reminds us a bit of current Patriot lineman Marcus Cannon in his size and position flexibility. The Cardinal ran a 5.09-second 40 at his pro day, which for a man his size is flabbergasting, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.36 seconds. Might end up as a guard but could get a look at the right tackle spot.
As usual, we’ll go back to our board in a few weeks. What’s the one move or player you’ll be looking for at the end of April? Let us know below.
Chris Warner tweets about sports, television, and the complexities of life at @cwarn89