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Predicting the New England Patriots’ Draft

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

 

The New England Patriots enter the 2014 NFL Draft with 8 picks and few weaknesses to address.

The AFC runners up from a year ago have used free agency to rebuild their secondary, signing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to match up better against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

The Pats also signed wide reciever Brandon LaFell, pass rusher Will Smith, and brought back breakout star Julian Edelman as they gear up for another run at the Super Bowl.

Without many “needs” to address, the Patriots are a bit of a wildcard in the 2014 draft. Throw in their propensity for trading picks on draft day and annual tradition of selecting at least 1 player that no one has ever heard of, and the Pats are downright unpredictable this year.

But how about a little educated guessing?

Taking a look back at the past 5 drafts (every one since Scott Pioli left and Bill Belichick assumed almost total control over personnel decisions) and looked for trends and patterns in the Patriots’ draft selections.
Some positions have clear measurable guidelines in the Patriots’ eyes.

Trendspotting: Offense

The Pats have selected dissimilar quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Zac Robinson in the last 5 years, so there isn’t much of a trend here. There isn’t much of a need either, with #12 still suiting up on Sundays, although there is a chance the front office could look for a developmental QB to groom behind Brady for a few years.

Julian Edelman ran a 6.62 3-cone at his pro day in 2009.

At running back, the Patriots tend to value the 3-cone time (showing change of direction ability and agility) over the 40-yard dash, but the sample size is limited to Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.

For wide receivers, the Patriots target prospects of all shapes and sizes, but the 3-cone test is again the key measurable pattern. The Pats like their receivers to be able to get open quickly, so a 3-cone in the 6.8 second neighborhood is ideal.

For tight ends, the Patriots have shown no preferences based on size, but they used picks on receiving tight ends that ran sub-4.7 second 40 yard dash times (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez). They’ve also drafted bigger, slower, blocking tight ends throughout the Belichick era, so the fit all depends on the role the Patriots envision the player in.

As far as offensive linemen are concerned, the Patriots prefer tall, long offensive tackles that are at least 300 pounds. For interior linemen, versatility is important, so players that can play center AND guard are good fits for New England.

Trendspotting: Defense

Defensive Linemen are tough to project because the Patriots transitioned from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense in the midst of the 5-year span. Generally speaking, however, they prefer taller players at both end and tackle, with ends needing to be over 250 pounds.

It’s similar for linebackers, as the scheme transition has affected what the Patriots need out of the position. However, their linebacker picks are always over 240 pounds and generally have great 3-cone times.

The Patriots are notorious for drafting so-so cornerbacks high in the draft, but with Revis and Browner joining Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, and Alphonso Dennard in the secondary there isn’t a huge need to take one this season.

Bill Belichick

The Pats usually target cornerbacks with outstanding 3-cone times and a height of 5’11” or taller.

As for Safeties, the Patriots again stick to the 3-cone test as the key, while also paying attention to 40-yard dash time (usually 4.55 or better) and burst in the lower body (shown with good vertical leap and broad jump measurements).

Using the trends of the past 5 years and examining this year’s crop of prospects, I’ve assembled a group of 50 players that history shows have a better chance of being Patriots than players without those traits.  Some of these players are identified as "fits" in part because of the Patriots' habit of drafting players from programs run by coaches in Bill Belichick's coaching tree.  Belichick also has close friendships with current and former college coaches Chip Kelly, Greg Schiano, and Urban Meyer, among others.

The 50 players are featured below, with highlight videos for each prospect included.

Reminders

The draft starts Thursday night with the first round kicking off at 8 p.m. Rounds 2 and 3 are Friday night (starting at 7 p.m.) and rounds 4-7 take place Saturday afternoon (starting at 12 p.m.).

Keep up with the draft and the Patriots all weekend by following and interacting on Twitter with GoLocal’s Jack Andrade (@RealJackAndrade) and Matt LaPan (@Matt_LaPan), both of whom will be at Gillette Stadium.  Be a part of the conversation using the hashtag #GoLocalDraft
 

 

Related Slideshow: 50 Potential Patriots

Prev Next

Tom Savage

Position: Quarterback

School: Pittsburgh

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

A.J. McCarron

Position: Quarterback

School: Alabama

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Carlos Hyde

Position: Running Back

School: Ohio State

Projected Round: 2-3

Prev Next

Tyler Gaffney

Position: Running Back

School: Stanford

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Brandin Cooks

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Oregon State

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Davante Adams

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Fresno State

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Bruce Ellington

Position: Wide Receiver

School: South Carolina

Projected Round: 3-4

Prev Next

Robert Herron

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Wyoming

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Jared Abbrederis

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Wisconsin

Projected Round: 3-5

Prev Next

Kevin Norwood

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Alabama

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

T.J. Jones

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Notre Dame

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Ryan Grant

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Tulane

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Walt Powell

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Murray State

Projected Round: 7-Undrafted

Prev Next

Damian Copeland

Position: Wide Receiver

School: Louisville

Projected Round: 7-Undrafted

Prev Next

Jace Amaro

Position: Tight End

School: Texas Tech

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Position: Tight End

School: Washington

Projected Round: 2-3

Prev Next

Troy Niklas

Position: Tight End

School: Notre Dame

Projected Round: 2-3

Prev Next

C.J. Fiedorowicz

Position: Tight End

School: Iowa

Projected Round: 3-4

Prev Next

Marcel Jensen

Position: Tight End

School: Fresno State

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Antonio Richardson

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Tennessee

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Justin Britt

Position: Offensive Tackle

School: Missouri

Projected Round: 4-5

Prev Next

John Urschel

Position: Offensive Guard

School: Penn State

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Xavier Su'a-Filo

Position: Offensive Guard/Offensive Tackle

School: UCLA

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Wesley Johnson

Position: Center/Offensive Guard

School: Vanderbilt

Projected Round: 3-5

Prev Next

Weston Richburg

Position: Center

School: Colorado State

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Ra'Shede Hageman

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Minnesota

Projected Round: 1

Prev Next

Louis Nix III

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Notre Dame

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Stephon Tuitt

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Notre Dame

Projected Round: 1-3

Prev Next

DaQuan Jones

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Penn State

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Shamar Stephen

Position: Defensive Tackle

School: Connecticut

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Kony Ealy

Position: Defensive End

School: Missouri

Projected Round: 1-2

Prev Next

Will Clarke

Position: Defensive End

School: West Virginia

Projected Round: 3-5

Prev Next

Kareem Martin

Position: Defensive End

School: North Carolina

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Adrian Hubbard

Position: Defensive End

School: Alabama

Projected Round: 3-5

Prev Next

Aaron Lynch

Position: Defensive End

School: South Florida

Projected Round: 3-6

Prev Next

Shayne Skov

Position: Linebacker

School: Stanford

Projected Round: 3-5

Prev Next

Yawin Smallwood

Position: Linebacker

School: Connecticut

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Khairi Fortt

Position: Linebacker

School: Penn State

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Max Bullough

Position: Linebacker

School: Michigan State

Projected Round: 6-7

Prev Next

Phillip Gaines

Position: Cornerback

School: Rice

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Pierre Desir

Position: Cornerback

School: Lindenwood

Projected Round: 2-4

Prev Next

Bennett Jackson

Position: Cornerback

School: Notre Dame

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Dontae Johnson

Position: Cornerback

School: North Carolina State

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Rashaad Reynolds

Position: Cornerback

School: Oregon State

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Terrance Mitchell

Position: Cornerback

School: Oregon

Projected Round: 4-6

Prev Next

Demetri Goodson

Position: Cornerback

School: Baylor

Projected Round: 7-Undrafted

Prev Next

Deonne Bucannon

Position: Safety

School: Washington State

Projected Round: 1-3

Prev Next

Vinnie Sunseri

Position: Safety

School: Alabama

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Brock Vereen

Position: Safety

School: Minnesota

Projected Round: 5-7

Prev Next

Mo Alexander

Position: Safety

School: Utah State

Projected Round: 7-Undrafted

 
 

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Comments:

Would love to see them pick up a quality receiving tight end like Jace Amaro.

Comment #1 by Marie Dawn Christie on 2014 05 07

Glad they obtained free agents Revis and Browner. Belichick's record drafting corners/safeties is pretty horrific. Might be time for him to hand over the GM duties and focus on coaching his defense which has been shaky at best and cost the Patriots at least 2 Super Bowl victories.

Comment #2 by Walter Miller on 2014 05 08




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