In our previous mock for New England, we looked at the positions the Pats could target in certain areas of the draft. We continue that practice this week, making a few tweaks in the wake of certain players’ pro day results.
As of this writing, New England has nine overall picks, including compensatory third- and seventh-round selections.
DAY ONE, Round One: DE/OLB
Possible Pick: Eli Harold, Virginia Defensive End (6-3, 247). Though we’ve considered both offensive and defensive linemen at this spot, there’s nothing wrong with getting some athleticism and production with their first pick. Harold had 54 tackles, seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss last year. He tallied 17.5 sacks in his career at Virginny, and he showed the ability to play off the line. Harold ran the 40 in 4.60 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.16 seconds, both impressive for a man his size.
DAY TWO, Rounds Two and Three: DB, DL, OL
Possible Pick: Ronald Darby, Florida State Cornerback (5-11, 193). We considered Byron Jones in this area of the draft – and if he’s still available in Round Two, the Pats could make a move – but we switched to Darby here. The Seminole had a 4.38-second 40-yard dash (seventh-best at the combine), as well as a 6.94 second 3-cone, a 4.14-second 20-yard shuttle, and a 41.5-inch vertical (also seventh best). Darby made All-ACC Third Team in 2014 with 43 tackles, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble.
Possible Pick: Gabe Wright, Auburn Defensive Tackle (6-3, 300). So, one year after drafting Dominique Easley, would New England spend an early pick on a similarly-built player? We say yes. Wright has special speed (5.07 40) for his size, and, complemented with his strength (34 bench reps) he can prove disruptive. Wright did play at defensive end briefly last year, showing his versatility. He had 24 tackles, one sack, and 10 quarterback hits and was named Honorable Mention All-ACC by the AP.
Possible Pick: Michael Liedtke, Illinois State Offensive Tackle (6-4, 305). We mentioned Liedtke in part two of our combine snubs review, and now we’re putting him here as this year’s Sebastian Vollmer selection. That’s the guy who gets overlooked on most draft boards but catches the Patriots’ eye. What’s eye-catching about him? First, his 4.91-second 40, which would have led all offensive linemen at the combine. Next, his 33-inch vertical jump, which would have come in second. He also showed noteworthy quickness (7.35-second 3-cone) and strength (28 bench presses). For the FCS-level Redbirds, he also showed versatility, starting at left guard as a sophomore and junior before taking on left tackle in 2014.
DAY THREE, Rounds Four Through Seven: DB, LB, OL, RB
Possible Pick: Adrian Amos, Penn State FS (6-0, 218). We used to have Texas State corner Craig Mager in this spot, but some film work (specifically this video vs. Texas Tech) revealed some of Mager’s play that was – as gentleman journalist Mike Reiss would say – not as sharp as we would hope. Amos recently shaved 0.17 of a second off his 40 time at his pro day, down to 4.39. He also showed respectably quick feet at the combine, with a 4.03 20-yard shuttle and a 7.09 3-cone. At Penn State, Amos played cornerback until partway through his junior year. As a senior safety last season, he had 42 tackles, three interceptions, and seven pass breakups.
Possible Pick: Kevin Snyder, Rutgers Linebacker (6-2, 238). We’re keeping Snyder right here because he fits two all-important Patriots draft categories: the Special Teams Guy and the Rutgers Guy. His 4.54 40 at Rutgers’ pro day would have made him the second-fastest linebacker at the combine. His 7.07 3-cone would have tied for seventh fastest LB, while his 23 bench press reps would have made top 13. Though a career linebacker, Snyder has experience as a longsnapper. 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). Time for another double-dip on drafting linemen this year? Sure. Mason was as an All-American, starting at both guard spots over his career. Because the Yellow Jackets run an option offense, he didn’t have a lot of experience in pass protection, so the Patriots will have to judge how well he can make the adjustment. Mason ran an impressive 4.99 40 at his pro day, which would have made him the second-fastest OL at the combine. He also leapt 32 inches high and put up 20 reps on the bench.
Possible Pick: Trey Williams, Texas A&M Running Back (5-7, 195). Considering the Patriots’ recent tendency to pick receivers here, we considered the same, but it seems that New England will have plenty of fast, productive pass-catchers to choose from in rookie free agency (see below). Williams would play the role of third-down back and kick returner. He’s got decent speed (4.49 40) good strength (18 bench presses) and quickness (6.84 3-cone drill). At A&M, Williams rushed 81 times for 560 yards (6.9 avg) and seven touchdowns; he also caught 16 passes for 105 yards and one score. His 24.8-yard kickoff return average (17 for 421) led the team.
THE ONE UNDRAFTED GUY WE KNOW WILL GET A SECOND LOOK
Joe Cardona, Navy LS (6-2, 242). We all know Bill Belichick’s longstanding relationship with football at Annapolis. We also know that the coach has brought in Navy players in the past and kept them on military reserve for years. Cardona, the only long snapper invited to the combine, 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 Belichick. Look for Cardona to get some reps in the spring before moving on to a more difficult job.
TWO MORE POTENTIAL SPECIAL TEAMERS WORTH A SHOT
Marcus Rush, Michigan State DE/OLB (6-2, 247). As WEEI.com’s Christopher Price has been pointing out for years, the Patriots pay attention to player’s 3-cone times (see below). Rush had one of the best at 6.73-seconds, which would have come in second at the combine (for comparison’s sake, cornerback Byron Jones’s 3-cone was 6.78 seconds). His 4.68 40-yard dash and 24 reps on the bench keep him in good company for linebackers. Rush started 53 games at MSU, a school record. In 2014 he recorded 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Raheem Mostert, Purdue RB (5-10, 195). Mostert first got attention as a special teamer his freshman year at Purdue, when he led the nation with 33.5 yards per kick return. That number went down as a senior (34 for 731, 21.5 avg), but Mostert’s speed did not: he won the Big 10 track championship in the 60 meters and 200 meters indoors and both the 100 and 200 meters outdoors. (Anyone reminded of Jeff Demps right now?) That track speed translates to the field, as Mostert ran a 4.38 40 and a 6.90 3-cone at his pro day. Last season, he averaged 5.7 yards per rush (93 for 529) and 6.4 yard per catch (18 for 116).
THREE 3-CONES AT THE TOP
Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon WR (6-3, 204). Williams was credited with the fastest 3-cone time in the NFL rookie class this spring at 6.55 seconds, though that time has been adjusted on his NFLDraftscout.com page to a still-snappy 6.74. Williams averaged 17 yards per catch last season for the Wolves (56 for 950) and scored eight TDs.
Damiere Byrd, South Carolina WR (5-9, 173). Byrd had himself a heck of a pro day, completing a 6.60-second 3-cone as well as a missile-like 4.28-second 40-yard dash (which would have tied him for fastest player at the combine). Byrd snared 20 passes for 308 yards and three TDs in 2014. He got invited to the Medal of Honor Bowl, where he caught a touchdown.
Justin Coleman, Tennessee CB (5-11, 185). The only one of these three invited to the combine, Coleman had a 6.61-second 3-cone to lead all Indy invitees, as well as a 3.98-second 20-yard dash (seventh at the combine). In 2014, Coleman had 42 tackles, four interceptions, and five passes broken up.
AND THE ONE GUY WE SHOULD ALL ROOT FOR
Shane Wynn, Indiana WR (5-6, 167). Call it Danny Woodhead Syndrome, or just Rooting For The Little Guy, but at roughly the size of a junior high schooler, you’ve got to wish nothing but the best for Wynn. A co-captain for the Hoosiers, Wynn flew through his 40 in 4.29. More impressively, he compiled 1,159 yards of total offense last season, including 708 yards receiving and 138 yards rushing (on a measly four carries, no less: 34.5-yard average).