Free agency is well underway and the New England Patriots have already made some big moves signing Darrelle Revis and Julian Edelman. Every NFL coach wants to fill all the holes on their roster through free agency, but the NFL draft will inevitably end up filling the final few spots or upgrading weaknesses along the roster. That being said here is my complete Patriots 7 round mock draft.
Round 1 - Xavier Su'a Filo, G, UCLA - The Patriots likely will be interested in upgrading the tight end and defensive tackle position early in the draft, but the Patriots have also spent all offseason gearing up to beat the Broncos and will continue the trend with their first pick. Su'a Filo has premier size to play guard in the NFL at 6'4'' 310 pounds and likely would be an immediate upgrade over Dan Connolly at right guard. If the Patriots want to keep defensive tackles like Terrance Knighton out of Brady's face up the middle they will take the less flashy but more productive pick in Su'a Filo
Alternatives - Austin Seferian-Jenkins , TE, Washington - Jenkins looks almost exactly like Rob Gronkowski from a size standpoint measuring in at 6'6'' 260lbs and would likely fill his role for the beginning of the season. A solid red zone option and a developing blocker Seferian-Jenkins could develop into an elite pass catcher over the middle.
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame - With the news that Vince Wilfork is unsettled at the team Nix III looks like the perfect option to fill the void left in the middle, and weighing 330+ pounds he may be the only player in the draft that could replace Wilfork at nose tackle if he falls to the Patriots.
Round 2 - Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame - With only Michael Hoomanawanui ready to play tight end with Rob Gronkowski recovering from injury, the Patriots simply need to pick up a tight end somewhere in the draft. The best value might be in the second round in Troy Niklas the 6'6'' 270lb tight end out of Notre Dame. Niklas is considered one of the best blockers at his position using his massive size to lead the way on the edge. Niklas also shows strong hands to catch the ball in traffic, a must in the Patriots passing offense. Niklas isn't the most fluid player and will struggle to create space against quicker defenders, but can succeed in the red zone and over the middle where he can use his size and length rather than attempt to run past people.
Alternatives - C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa - Fiedorowicz may be a bit of a stretch in the second round, but when has that stopped Bill Belichick before? Fiedorowicz shows many similar qualities to Niklas blocking and in the receiving game. If Niklas is already off the board the Patriots will take a look at Fiedorowicz
Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State - With Devin McCourty coming off a fantastic season and Duron Harmon/Tavon Wilson already on the roster the Patriots don't have a huge need at safety, however they could use an intimidating factor over the middle and that's exactly what they would get in Deone Bucannon. Bucannon is an aggressive playmaker over the middle that could add toughness to a soft secondary.
Round 3 - Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee - With a variety of undersized defensive tackles on the roster and Vince Wilfork leaving the massive (6'7'' 350lb) Daniel McCullers could be the perfect big body to put over center. McCullers is by no means elite at getting to the quarterback, but in the run game he is immovable. If paired with a more athletic DT in the 4-3 or playing nose tackle in the 3-4 McCullers has a chance to be a legitimate first and second down run stopper.
Alternatives - Cyril Richardson,G, Baylor - The man who just weeks ago was rocketing up draft boards has now settled into most draft boards as a mid round pick. With great size and good push in the run game Richardson could be a solid replacement for Dan Connolly or a project swing guard to eventually replace Logan Mankins.
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut - Not the biggest player Smallwood is a speedy linebacker that could counteract the slower Dont'a Hightower. If the Patriots want to continue to get more athletic at linebacker they may look at Smallwood in the mid rounds.
Round 4 - Dion Bailey, S, USC - As I previously stated the Patriots could use a physical presence over the middle. Bailey has good size at 6'0'' 210 and has experience playing linebacker in college. Bailey shows no problem playing in traffic but also can be a valuable option covering larger receivers or tight ends because of his physical nature. Just about every team is looking for a Kam Chancellor type player after watching him play so well for the Seahawks. Bailey is nowhere near as big as Chancellor but can play in a similar intimidation role over the middle of the field.
Alternatives - Zach Mettenberger QB,LSU - The Patriots must think about life after Brady and could start with Mettenberger. A big strong quarterback Mettenberger resembles the Ryan Mallett pick several years ago. Whether the Patriots draft him to groom under Brady or trade for draft picks in the future Mettenberger has a legitimate chance of going to New England.
Brandon Coleman WR, Rutgers - I couldn't possibly go through an entire Patriots mock draft without including a Rutgers player. Coleman is a massive wide out at 6'6'' 225lb and has reasonable speed running a 4.56 40 time. Coleman could be a big outside escape route for Brady and the offense.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College - With the Legarrette Blount likely leaving for "greener" pastures the Patriots could use another running back in their rotation. Williams was a stud in college and is a no nonsense runner that always falls forward.
Round 6A - Deandre Coleman, DT, California - Coleman has fallen down draft boards recently but could be a steal for the Patriots if he falls to the 6th round. A big long player at 6'5'' 310 Coleman has the size to make it in the NFL. With the versatility to play DT in the 4-3 or DE in the 3-4 he is a stereotypical value pick for Bill Belichick in the late rounds.
Alternatives - Russell Bodine, G, North Carolina - Talent becomes thin in the later rounds but Bodine could be a legitimate project lineman for the Patriots. Bodine plays tough , never lacks effort, and may warrant a pick by New ENgland in the sixth round. The Patriots would likely attempt to groom Bodine much like they did Marcus Cannon.
Ethan Westbrooks, DE, West Texas A&M - Westbrooks fits the eye test of a New England 4-3 defensive end at 6'3'' 267. Likely a project pick out of a small school he would be a "you never know" pick in the 6th.
Round 6B - Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon - Lyerla looks like a perfect low risk high reward pick in the late rounds. A player who probably would go higher if not for character concerns, Lyerla is one of the fasted tight ends in the draft and could be a deep threat up the seam for the Patriots.
Alternatives - Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty - At 6'1 205lbs and running reportedly running in the 4.4s the Patriots definitely should take a look at Aikens in the 6th round. He fits the bill physically, and could be an interesting situation player/project pick.
Corey Linsley, C, Ohio State - The Patriots have had a history of picking undersized centers, and at 296lb Linsley would be considered slim by many scouts, but he had 36 reps at the combine and could be a long term replacement at center.
Round 7 - Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor - the diminutive wide out from Baylor has some intriguing qualities as a 7th round pick, most notably his great speed. Reese ran a 4.40 at the combine and is rumored to have cut that down more at times. Reese likely will never catch a pass in the NFL but could be a heck of an option as a kick returner.
Uani (Devin) Unga LB, BYU - The seventh round isn't going to give teams elite talent, but Unga can provide competition at the linebacker position and depth after losing Spikes and Fletcher.
Where do you see the Patriots going in this years draft? leave a comment below with your thoughts and opinions.