With 32 teams selecting from hundreds of players during the NFL Draft predicting your teams picks is an inexact exercise at best. Never-the-less, Patriots fans know where the current team needs lie, and we fans have very definite ideas how and when they should be addressed. So, barring a last minute trade by Belichick, I offer my best prognostications.
Day 1: first round pick #29Dee Ford - Auburn
The first three players above may be a reach since they all are highly rated and may already have been selected before the 29th pick. The Patriots have a significant need in the defensive line where they lack depth at defensive end and their starting defensive tackles are both recovering from season ending injuries.
The Patriots need help at all four positions and should take the highest player on the board, which is the case for both Ealy and Jernigan. I have added an offensive guard to the list because interior offensive line is also a need of the Patriots, albeit, not quite as critical as defensive line. Guard Su'a-Filo is rated higher in ability than Dee Ford and it would be prudent, if he is still available, to take him over Ford at this point.
Dee Ford should be available at #29, but, as mentioned above, his ability is a cut below the other two defensive linemen and guard above him and the Pats should should select any of the three if they are still be on the board. Tight End is also a need for the Pats, but the only one worthy of a first round pick is Eric Ebron of North Carolina, but he should go much earlier. Thus, second round or later should be used to address this area.
Day 2: second round pick at #62
- DE Kareem Martin Florida
- C Marcus Martin USC
- TE Troy Niklas Notre Dame
- DT Dominique Easley Florida
- DE Will Sutton Arizona State
Easley is likely to be on the board at pick #62. Easley provides strength against the run and has an explosive start and pressure against the pass. Players 1 through 3 above are rated higher and may have been already picked, but should be chosen in the order of their value to satisfy other team needs. Will Sutton should still be on the board and picked now if the other 4 have been chosen. Sutton is very agile and sheds block well with excellent acceleration to the ball carrier. He also can slip through gaps to pressure the quarterback.
Day 2: third round pick at #93
Linebacker is also a position in need of help now that Pat's free agents Brandon Spikes signed with Buffalo and Dane Fletcher signed with Tampa Bay. The starting lineup of Mayo, Hightower and Collins is solid, but additional depth should be a focus in the middle rounds. To that end, the following is a list that reaches up in value at various positions as well as provides an educated guess as to the highest value player matching a need that should be available at this third round pick.
- ILB Chris Boreland Wisconsin
- DT Daquan Jones Penn State
- OLB Telvin Smith Florida State
- ILB Yawin Smallwood Connecticut
- DE Demarcus Lawrence Boise State
- DT Anthony Johnson LSU
- TE C. J. Fiedorowitz Iowa
The top three players above Smallwood will probably have been chosen by this point in the third round, but ILB Yawin Smallwood will likely be on the board and will be a good value here. Smallwood can provide good pressure on the quarterback and is athletic enough to help in coverage. He will not be the imitating force against the run that Brandon Spikes is, but Smallwood is a good tackler.