Over the past few months, we at BSMW have tried to get Patriots watchers ready for the draft with a steady, accessible stream of info. (By the way, at my age, I’ve grown to appreciate a steady, accessible stream.) Anyway, from reviewing past drafts to categorizing future ones, we’ve tried to set you up for no surprises on NFL Draft weekend – or at least, as few as possible. Selections begin the night of Thursday, April 27 (Round One), and continuing through Friday night (Rounds Two and Three) and Saturday (Rounds Four through Seven).
Though at this point Coach Bill Belichick could make a nice, comfy bed out of his laurels, he refuses to rest on them. In the past, he has cautioned about drafting for need, saying that, if you pick a specific position and miss, then the next year you’re picking for the same position. As examples of how the coach seeks out NFL-proven players over unknown college quantities (and thanks for your column, Mike Reiss), he dealt his first-round pick (32 overall) to the Saints for speedy receiver Brandin Cooks. He bulked up New England’s defensive line by swapping draft picks for Carolina’s Kony Ealy and signing ex-Raven Lawrence Guy. He traded a pick for tight end Dwayne Allen with the Colts. He signed running backs Rex Burkhead (formerly of the Bengals) and Mike Gillislee from the Bills, the latter costing the Patriots a fifth-rounder.
At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded up in the draft and focused on three or four guys, because – just looking at this roster on paper – not a lot of rookies are going to make it to September. But it’s going to be fun to watch.
As of this writing (and with Belichick, aka Trader Bill, this can all change in a matter of minutes), New England has six picks overall, though none on Day One (Round One). They do have two Day Two picks with third-rounders (72 and 96 overall). On Day Three, they have one fourth (132), one fifth (183), one sixth (200), and one seventh (239).
On to the review!
Round-By-Round Review: Back in February, we got over our post-Super-Bowl haze long enough for our annual look at New England drafts since 2000. This list is arranged by round instead of year, a framework that showcases potential trends under Belichick.
Highlights: Well, Tom Brady in Round Six. I mean… duh. (Sorry. That’s something my daughter’s gotten into the habit of saying, and it’s getting to me.) Also, some notable success in the fourth round over the past few years, with players like Malcolm Mitchell, Trey Flowers, Shaq Mason, and James White showing up big on the big stage.
Patriots Draft Preview, “That Guy” Senior Bowl Edition: The “That Guy” series investigates the types of players New England has drafted and makes predictions based on such categories. Posted a few days before the Super Bowl, our first such column of the year pointed out some standouts from the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game.
Highlights: Villanova defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (6-7, 283) at the Senior Bowl and Arkansas end Deatrich Wise (6-5, 274) at the Shrine Game both stood out in the Long-Limbed Defensive Guy category. Also, we’ve liked Mississippi State pass-catcher Fred Ross as a Seventh-Round Slot Receiver since his Senior Bowl performance.
By the way, does no one keep track of official stats at the Senior Bowl? Take a couple of minutes online trying to find Ross’ numbers from that game. I have him catching at least three passes, but I have yet to see a complete stat sheet anywhere. I mean, come on, NFL: how are we supposed to care if you don’t?
Thank you, readers. I needed that.
Patriots Draft Preview, “That Guy” Combine Edition: In light of player testing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in early March, we based certain picks for the Pats on their athleticism and availability in each category.
(See how I’m trying to make this process sound scientific? I assure you, it is not. At least not any more than in a “here’s why heads comes up in a coin flip” kind of way.)
Highlights: Speaking of flipping, UConn safety Obi Melifonwu (6-4, 224) had a 44-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot-9 broad jump to capture our Freakishly Athletic Guy category. Also, defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (6-3, 310) debuted as our Alabama Guy, a position he has kept since.
Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part I: For every NFL hopeful who gets invited to the combine, many more do not. Each player’s pro day gives him a chance to show scouts how well he can perform. As happens every year, we had some contenders who will get invited to camps this summer.
Highlights: Lots of intriguing, athletic offensive linemen, including Alabama State tackle Jylan Ware, who, at 6-8, 317 pounds, ran a 4.92-second 40, and Harvard tackle Max Rich (6-7, 311), whose 7.18-second 3-cone drill would have made him the quickest OL at Indy.
Patriots Draft Preview, “That Guy” Free Agency Frenzy Edition: By the third week of March, we saw some combine snubs’ scores settled and several New England off-season roster additions in place. It was time to take another look at how the Patriots might view the draft.
Highlights: With more moving around than a game of Tetris being played by a birthday-cake-addled child, this column seems as if I were trying to re-establish some sort of baseline. But I did stick with West Georgia linebacker Dylan Donahue (6-3, 248) as a Small-School Defender. As The Back-up Quarterback, I liked Iowa QB C. J. Beathard (6-2, 219) who has the most random Patriots connection you’ll find anywhere. (Hint: Singing and a cowboy hat may be involved.)
Combine Snubs Who Showed ‘Em, Part II: As testing continued throughout the U.S., so did eye-opening performances. Because the Patriots should have lots of roster room after the draft, I’d be very surprised if none of our snubs show up in Foxboro.
Highlights: Iowa pass-catcher/water bug Riley McCarron – all 5-9, 185 pounds of him – would have been top three at the combine in the 40 (4.36 seconds), the 20-yard shuttle (3.99 seconds), and the 3-cone (6.57 seconds). Meanwhile, cornerback-turned-halfback Brandon Wilson (5-11, 198) out of Houston would have crushed combine ball carriers with his 41-inch vertical and 11-1 broad jump, both tops for RBs.
Patriots Draft Preview, “That Guy” Pre-Draft Edition: One last chance to figure out whom the Patriots are looking at for the draft, made more difficult by their many off-season signings and trades. Although I am happy I avoided the pressure of putting up a Running Back Guy category, as Gillislee has found the light within the AFC East Division.
Highlights: I think BYU safety Kai Nacua (6-1, 205) ends up in Foxboro, and I believe Utah special teamer Jason Thompson would fit perfectly with the Patriots. I would never have thought either of those things without their impressive pro day numbers.
Next week, our post-draft summary in the form of our final “That Guy” column of the year, seeing where the new Patriots fit. After that, our annual “Who’s The FA? UDFA!” column, an in-depth look at undrafted free agents whom New England invites to camp. (Here’s a link to last year’s piece.) See you next week.
Chris Warner is excited to watch “American Ninja Warrior” with his daughter, it’s just that, for the last time, THE FURNITURE IS NOT FOR CLIMBING. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org and @cwarn89 on Twitter.