The 2014 NFL draft concluded with the New England Patriots making some surprising draft selections, much to the dismay of many ardent Patriots fans. Of course fans opinions of the teams' business moves does not impact or matter to the front office of the Patriots, but it does mean they have hope and confidence in the teams' motivations to win another championship. Almost all of the Patriots' selections are extremely versatile and instinctive. After passing up on every top tight end during the 2014 NFL draft, the Patriots faced a fair share of criticism from fans and media. Here is an in depth look at the Patriots draft picks:
The Patriots selected defensive tackle Dominique Easley with their first pick at #29. Although Easley is an undersized player for his position, if healthy he would have been regarded by many as one of the best defensive tackles in the 2014 NFL draft. Learning from someone like Vince Wilfork is certainly something he can potentially be thrilled about. Has potential to play left end off the line and also become a disruptive interior rusher.
2. Jimmy Garopollo, QB, Eastern Illinois (Overall: 62nd)
Senior from Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garopollo was selected as a second round pick and a potential heir to quarterback Tom Brady, who is also his childhood idol. With rumors coming from all around the NFL that the Patriots are thinking about trading fourth year backup quarterback Ryan Mallet to the Houston Texans, the question remains whether Garopollo has everything the Pats are looking for. Garopollo had one of the best statistical seasons for a college quarterback in years, tossing for 53 touchdowns (more than Brady), 5,050 yards (more than Tom Brady) and four rushing touchdowns (more than Tom Brady). Garopollo has a very unique arm and his versatility, being able to run, catch, punt and be a quarterback has definitely caught the eye of Bill Belichick.
3. Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
Fourth Round pick Bryan Storks special versatility skills are what made him a New England Patriot today. He won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center for the national champion Seminoles. The former tight end missed the senior bowl due to lingering injuries he had suffered last season. Listed at 6'4, 315 pounds, Stork is the big, physical player that the New England Patriots need to keep their offensive line as stout as possible.
4. James White, RB, Wisconsin
Listed at 5'9, an undersized running back, likely to fill in a Danny Woodhead type role. With outstanding quickness, agility and special teams abilities, White is likely to become one of the best draft choices in recent years by the Patriots.
5. Cameron Fleming, RT, Stanford
Standing at 6'4 and 324 pounds, Fleming has the potential to become a starter due to his outstanding athleticism, physicality and size. Fleming is a very decisive blocker and needs to be double teamed in most situations.
6. Jon Halapio, RG, Florida
Joe Halapio, a team captain for the University of Florida Gators proved his toughness and earned respect by playing through a torn pectoral muscle in 2013. Listed at 6-foot-3, 323-pound Halapio added to the full crop of offensive linemen could mean veteran guard/center may be cut by the end of the summer. Halapio who is a great, experienced, aggressive young player will add plenty of depth and competition to the offensive line come the summer.
7. Zach Moore, DE/OLB, Concordia
Moore is listed at 6'5 and 270 pounds and has intriguing arm length at 33-5/8-inches. He also ran a 4.84 in the 40-yard dash. Moore holds the Concordia record for sacks (33) and forced fumbles (6) and his long reach produced three blocked field goals. Moore's versatility is among s standout qualities and being able to play on special teams, playing in a 4-3 system or a 3-4 system with linebacker/defensive end capabilities may potentially lead him to become a starter.
8. Jemea Thomas, CB, Georgia Tech
What Georgia Tech corner back, Jemea Thomas lacks in size, he makes up for in performance and skills. His instincts and versatility are among his best qualities. Coach Bill Belichick has also said he has the ability to work at all three spots, inside corner back, slot corner back and outside corner back.
9. Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
The famous saying "its not about the size of the dog in the fight, its about the size of the fight in the dog" fits perfectly with the 5'7 Jeremy Gallon. Gallon has quickly become one of the most prolific receiver in the Michigan Wolverines history, recording 89 receptions (second in team history) for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished his Michigan career recording the third highest receptions (173) and No. 3 on the all-time receiving yardage list (2,704). He has also returned several kickoffs and punts during his time in Michigan. He will definitely be someone to pay close attention to during the OTAs and rookie training camp this summer, and will have something to prove coming out of the 7th round.