Going into the draft who the New England Patriots would pick was yet again a mystery. Just about everyone knew Belichick and the Patriots would have a trade along with a questionable pick or two and as expected they did, but what we saw this year out of the Patriots was a draft strategy ready to fill the few holes left on the roster. Although not the sexiest draft, New England's choices likely will affect the team in a bigger fashion down the road, that being said here's my New England Patriots draft grades for 2014.
Round 1, Pick 29
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida - C- : The Patriots are always good for a couple surprising picks and didnt wait long picking Easley with pick 29. Although he likely would be a dominant interior rusher as state in my immediate reaction article. However after tearing both his ACLs in college it makes little sense to take him so early in the draft. The only thing keeping him from being a D is his raw potential, on the off chance he stays healthy he could be a great interior rusher to pair with a bigger DT.
Round 2 Pick 30 ( Pick 62 Overall)
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois - C+: Brady isn't getting any younger so picking a quarterback makes sense especially when there is a set date that Brady will likely be leaving when his contract expires, but a second round pick is a steep price to pay for a team that is loading up again to make another superbowl attempt. Garoppolo is a solid talent and has the ability to step in for Brady in several years, but many analyst (including me) think that other QBs like McCarron or Mettenberger could have filled the role at a a later spot in the draft.
Round 3 Pick 29 (Pick 93 Overall)
Traded to Jaguars for pick 105 overall (fourth round) and 179 overall (sixth round) - B: With the only trade of the draft the Patriots only move back 12 spots, so it is hard to argue against this trade. The Patriots didn't have to reach and decided not to while also picking up another pick, seems like a win when their is no elite talent in the third round.
Round 4 Pick 5 (105 Overall)
Bryan Stork, C, Florida state - B+: The Pick I think is the best of the year is also one of the least entertaining picks from a fan standpoint. Center may not draw a lot of attention in the draft, but thtas exactly why the Patriots were able to grab the 6'4'' 315 pound behemoth of a center in the later rounds. With Wendell and Connolly playing so poorly last season this pick is great value and just makes sense, filling a need and likely Stork will start in the future for the Patriots.
Round 4 Pick 30 (130 Overall)
James White, RB, Wisconsin - C: Although one of the thinnest positions on the New England roster the choice of running back James white on paper s puzzling. Undersized at 5-9 205lbs White doesn't particularly fill the mold of a one cut back in New England, also his low number of catches in college make him look like a poor option as a backup for Vereen as well. With a Physical runner like Andre Williams going earlier in the fourth round the Patriots might have missed with this running back choice.
Round 4 Pick 40 (140 Overall)
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford - B: Playing right tackle in college Fleming is a similar pick to Marcus Cannon several years ago. A player who is 6'5'' 323 Fleming likely will get time in the pre-season at tackle and guard and continue to develop at both positions until getting a chance at a starting role. A good developmental pick in the later rounds, once again good value.
Round 6 Pick 3 (179 Overall)
Jon Hilapio, G, Florida - B- : When you have an opportunity in the sixth round to pick a tough interior linemen off of an SEC team you take him and thats what the Patriots did with pick 179. Not the best athlete or the strongest man Hilapio will give 100% everyday and could develop into a valuable backup across the interior line.
Round 6 Pick 22 (198 Overall)
Zach Moore, DE, Concordia-St.Paul - B : The 6'5'' 270lb defensive end out of the Northern sun division looks like an elite pass rusher in the NFL but doesn't play with the discipline of a professional defensive end. In the sixth round this pick is a great low risk high reward pick in the late rounds.
Round 6 Pick 30 (206 Overall)
Jemea Thomas, DB, Georgia Tech - C : late sixth round teams are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent. Thomas is no competition for the current corners on the roster and also is undersized to play safety, but he plays on special teams and that's what Belichick wants in the late rounds.
Round 7 Pick 29 (244 Overall)
Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan - B- : With a pick so close to Mr. irrelevant it is hard to judge any pick but the Patriots and Tom Brady love slot receivers so why not take a chance on one. Gallon is strong and if he can showcase the savvyness to get open he could grab a solid practice squad spot.