The Pats have spent the last few months lamenting their Super Bowl loss, but with a lot of picks early in the draft (including two in the first and second rounds), they can set themselves up for another title run as long as Tom Brady is pulling the trigger.
New England had one of the worst defenses in football last season, which is uncharacteristic of a Bill Belichick-coached team. Expect them to spend their first few picks with the defensive side of the ball in mind.
What is unique about the Patriots draft is that they have no picks beyond Round 4. Look for Belichick to try and trade back yet again an an attempt to collect more picks and improve his chances of landing a late-round steal.
Round 1, Pick 27: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
McClellin’s stock is on the rise as the draft approaches and realizations about his effectiveness on tape is made available to the public. McClellin is more than just a “try-hard” guy – his is a talented and athletic pass rusher who is smart and scheme diverse.
Now, he is not a DeMarcus Ware-type of pass rusher, but he has all the qualities that Belichick covets in his evolving defense.
Round 2, Pick 31: Devon Still, DT, Penn State
Round 2, Pick 48: Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame
The Patriots need a ton of help in their secondary, particularly at the safety position. In thin class of safeties, Smith is by far and away the best available option at this point in the draft, but he may very well be gone before this pick on draft day. But should he take a bit of a slide, the Pats should pounce.
Round 2, Pick 62: Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Minnifield is very similar to his former teammate and last year’s second round pick Ras-I Dowling in that he excels in zone coverage and in press, while lacking elite speed.
Round 3, Pick 93: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
Norman is a small-school guy with NFL-type ability. Some character concerns will cause him to fall into the third round, but for the Patriot, he is well worth a gamble at this point in the draft.
Round 4, Pick 126: Marvin Jones, WR, Cal
The Patriots have found their short term answer at receiver by signing Brandon Lloyd, but he is not getting any younger.
Jones is an explosive athlete that may need some time to develop. After spending a few years learning how to run routes with Brandon Lloyd, Jones could turn out to be a steal.