Patriots Seven Round Draft Board 2014

After realizing how much time I had been wasting trying to profile individual players for years, and how impractical it would be for me to do something like that again I decided to go for it in one mess. Here I’ve come up with 3 targets or scenarios per round for the Patriots and 3 players that should also be on the radar. If you’d like to comment and call me an idiot for not having your guy on here that’s fine. Just keep in mind that once the picks start rolling in we usually all look like idiots because plenty of NFL teams are run by idiots. Take it all with a grain of salt. These are just my opinions based off what I’ve seen and heard. I reserve my right to change my mind at any time.

Ra’Shede Hageman – DT Minnesota
Build: 6’6″ 310 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.02 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 13 TFL, 2 Sacks, 8 PBU, 1 INT
If you follow the Patskrieg Facebook you know that I’m crazy about the Minnesota DT. He’s an unpolished player but if you follow his tape over the last 2 years you start to see a guy realizing his potential as a force of nature. He was a tight end in high school (just like Warren Sapp) and you can still see the movement skills even at 310 pounds. When you’re buying into Hageman you’re buying his physical skillset and potential. He didn’t play as many snaps as some of the other higher ranked DTs and didn’t have a huge sack total. What he did do was record 15.5 stuffs (well above the average amongst the top of the class) and have 9 batted passes which no other DT even came close to. He’s going to take a year or so working with NFL coaches but he could be absolutely dominant and set up the defense for years to come when he does.

Calvin Pryor – S Louisville
Build: 5’11 207 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 3 (Started as a true freshman)
Relevant Stats: 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, 2 FF, Tackles – 54 UA 21 A

If we’re ready to move on from the Steve Gregory era let’s really move on by drafting his polar opposite. Pryor is a big bruiser safety in the mold of Adrian Wilson (who is still on the Patriots roster). I’m hesitant to put a safety on a very short list of worthwhile first round picks since there are several very good safeties in the first 3 or 4 rounds. However, this would be a chance to put a high end safety on the roster. In three years at Louisville he started 2 and 1/2, caused 8 forced fumbles, and 7 INTs. This is the player everyone wanted DJ Swearinger to be a year ago. I have zero connection as of right now between the Patriots and Pryor. In fact, in classic Belichick fashion they’ve reportedly looked at Hakeem Smith (3 INTs 5 PBUs) who played opposite Pryor at Louisville. There’s your spoiler on this year’s Hipster Belichick pick. Either way, I think HaHa Clinton-Dix is the first safety off the board, leaving Pryor potentially available at 29.

Build: Last year turned 29th overall into a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 7th
Years Used: So so many
Relevant Stats: Batting 1.000 in Pissing Everyone Off

This will go over like a Martin Sheen Boston accent but I can absolutely see it happening, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Given how stacked this draft is I would very much prefer to have multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds rather than take a 1st round pick for the sake of taking one. Bleacher Report already named this the “Worst Case Scenario” for round 1. I’m going to respectfully disagree. Taking a first rounder for the sake of taking one seems materialistic and pointless to me. Be very careful though. I’m giving a thumbs up to a trade that gives the Pats at least an extra 2nd round pick. The price for last year’s 29th pick was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and a 7th from Minnesota. I would expect nothing less. Once we get into the 2nd and 3rd rounds I think you’ll see what I mean.

Also On the Radar:

  • I’m on the fence about Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt. He’s played out of position at DE when he’s built like a DT, but has some of the more evolved pass rushing skills in this class.
  • You wouldn’t see me cry if Belichick took LSU WR Odell Beckham who I’d take well over Mike Evans
  • Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is a large and very talented corner from Virginia Tech who remains a dark horse for the 1st round Stanford’s
  • David Yankey who is graded lower than UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo but would be a better fit in New England because of his zone blocking experience. I’d pass on Louis Nix, and contrary to a lot of mock drafts I think Jace Amaro in the first is a reach. More on both of them in a minute.

I really honestly believe that the 2nd round is the key to this draft. Materializing an additional pick in the 2nd round might make some people unhappy, since it typically means trading out of the first. I think you’ve got 3 players here that if you can grab the lot of them you instantly get better at 3 major positional needs with players who can contribute right away.

DaQuan Jones – DT Penn State
Build: 6-4 322 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.35 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 11 TFL, 3 Sacks, Tackles – 33 UA, 23 A

I may end up looking stupid 3 years from now for saying this, but Hageman is a wish and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones is a must. Speaking from both the tape and the numbers, DaQuan Jones should be ranked much higher than he is. Much higher. John Pollard of Stats LLC put together some very telling numbers about the value of this DT class.

He played more snaps than Nix, Hageman, Quarles, Jernigan, guys who are ranked higher than him. Stamina and conditioning are enormous considerations for grading big DTs. The game is evolving to a point where you can’t just have 1 or 2 down DT’s anymore. It says a lot about an athlete to play at 300+ pounds and be able to play 100+ more snaps than his peers. He also produced consistently across those snaps.

The Penn State product didn’t put up big sack numbers but he made things happen at, and behind the line of scrimmage. Having a stuff differential comparable to Aaron Donald (one of the top rated DT’s in the class) is important. Also, Hageman gets a nod for having by far the most batted balls.

He has a better motor and lateral quickness than Nix and does a better job of keeping square to the line of scrimmage. Jones weighed in at the Combine at 322 lbs and moves much much quicker than that. Unlike a lot of players in the 320+ range he isn’t a top heavy NT prototype with a big gut. His lower body makes for a really massive powerful frame. Jones is a stud and if he’s available in the 2nd the Pats need to go get him. He also gets graded on a curve for having Bill O’Brien as a coach and not turning out terrible.

Troy Niklas – TE Notre Dame
Build: 6’7″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: N/A
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 498 Yards 5 TDs

This likely isn’t the name you want to hear. Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins, and Amaro are the consensus top 3 TE’s. They’re all pretty good but hear me out. Two of them have arrests on their resume, and one played at UNC which has me uneasy to begin with. Flying just a little bit under the radar is Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas, who is a beast in the making. With only 1 year starting experience Niklas was a surprise to end up in the 2014 draft. That’s a concern, but if you remember correctly Gronk only had 2 years of college experience as well. Granted he started both years and put up incredible numbers but he still only played 2 years. Niklas played behind former 1st round pick Tyler Eifert, and was used as more of a traditional TE when he finally got the call to start. So he doesn’t have the outrageous statistical production of the top 3 TE’s but he has more experience as an in-line blocker but with the same impressive hands and ability to catch away from his body as the others do. Everyone is looking for the Pats to draft the next Aaron Hernandez, but I’ve got to ask what’s wrong with drafting another Rob Gronkowski? If it were up to me I’d say let the rest of the league fight over the top 3 TE’s (they don’t even know what to do with them anyways), prioritize your early picks, and grab Niklas in the 2nd, as the rumor is that he won’t last longer than that. If you’re obsessed with drafting Amaro ask yourself if you’re not just being a draft racist and your brain insists you need to replace one hispanic guy with another. The first step to overcoming draft racism is admitting to it.

Weston Richburg – C/G Colorado State
Build: 6’3″ 298 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.10 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

I’ve heard his name mocked to the Patriots a handful of times and I’ve decided to bite. Originally he was a 3rd round consensus, but I had him highlighted as a 2nd round priority. Now, of course, just before I post this rumors emerge that he’s graded by some scouts as the top center in the draft and could be a late 1st. The Patriots re-signed Ryan Wendell but I’ve got to believe that he’s insurance on whoever the future new center will be. Richburg will get downgraded some for the level of competition he faced, but he’s just too good to ignore. Four year starting offensive linemen always impress me because it means they have an advanced intellectual concept of the game. He’s an excellent athlete with an ideal body type for an interior lineman, anchors well and has experience in a zone blocking scheme, started 50 games at Colorado State, and looks like a natural knee bender. He’s fast too and just seems to have a knack for getting to the 2nd level to block. He kind of came out of nowhere and was a scarcely recruited 2 star prospect and a shotputter in high school. He had some kind of eligibility issue in 2009 but put in extra time training and working at his parent’s gas station and eventually made the first team the following season. We know the Pats are fans of that kind of attitude. I think once he got going as a Patriot he could make a case to be a week 1 starter and would be an enormous asset to the run game. Without having met the guy first hand it’s impossible for me to say that he’s a sure thing, but everything he’s put on tape would hint towards it. Rumor has it the Pats have had a private workout with Richburg.

Also on the Radar:

  • I’ve had TCU’s Jason Verrett on just about every draft wishlist I could think of. If he were 2 inches taller he’d be a top 20 lock. But I think he’ll be off the board early in the 2nd if he isn’t gone in the 1st and I see no indication of the Patriots scouting him.
  • Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward is also a big consideration here, and the Patriots quietly attended his Pro Day.
  • Arizona State’s Will Sutton should some love here too because he’s getting less than he deserves in the press. Check him out in the charts above. He produced nicely and maintained good movement even after gaining weight.

Will Clarke – DE West Virginia
Build: 6’6″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.77 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 17.5 TFL, 6 Sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FF, Tackles – 36 UA 14 A

I’ve looked at a lot of 4-3 DEs and as deep as this draft is I’m having a lot of trouble finding one I like. There are speed guys that lack technique, productive players that are just undersized, and the usual crop of one tricky ponies. From the tape I have no idea why Will Clarke is so under exposed in this draft class. He’s 6’6″ 270 lbs and has a lightning fast first step. He reminds me in every way of Chandler Jones right down to the fact that Jones was projected as a 3rd rounder early last April. This is the round Belichick has proven to want to take a chance on pass rushers, even when it doesn’t work out. There’s room for a young DE on this roster and Clarke fits the mold. There needs to be a viable #3 option at DE on this team, and with all respect to Andre Carter (seriously) it can’t be Andre Carter in 2014. Clarke was 240 lbs coming out of high school and ran a 4.80 40. In his time at WVU he put on 30 lbs of mass and at the Combine ran a faster 40 than he did earlier. I absolutely love his potential as a 4-3 DE as a guy who can take some snaps from Jones or Ninkovich.

*Look for #98 playing DE

Davante Adams – WR Fresno State
Build: 6’1″ 212 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.47 – 4.50 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1718 Yards, 24 TDs

If Davante Adams was an inch taller he’d dead set on being a 2nd round pick. He also posted 2 40’s in the 4.5 range that didn’t help him either. Still, Adams dominated for 2 seasons at Fresno State with Derrick Carr throwing to him. He’s leaving for the NFL at only 21 years old opting not to risk starting over with a new QB. Adams still blew me away every time I watched him. My latest deal breaker criteria for grading WR’s is that I don’t even want to look at a WR who can’t high point a football and competing for a ball at it’s apex is something Adams did consistently for the Bulldogs. He’s a natural pass catcher with extremely quick transitional skills. To be a true Patriots WR you’ve got to be tenacious and that’s why I think he’d be a good fit. The 2nd round is potentially going to see a lot of fighting for QB’s, TE’s and offensive linemen. That’s why I think Adams might slip through the cracks and end up in the 3rd. It’d be criminal not to even consider him.

Billy Turner – OT North Dakota State
Build: 6-5 315 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.16 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

If you play for North Dakota State and want to crack the NFL you’d better dominate. That’s just what the 6’5″ 315 lb tackle did. Turner started 56 of his 57 games player at NDS and lead his team to 3 FCS national championship games. He had a lot of positive buzz after a strong Senior Bowl prompting talk that he could find his way into the 2nd day of the draft. I wouldn’t expect him to pressure Solder for a starting LT job, but if Vollmer either didn’t come back or had further injuries in 2014 I think Turner could be a force at RT. He has experience in zone blocking but does his best work as a straight ahead bulldozer. Turner would need some work before being in the conversation to back up Nate Solder, but could be ready for week 1 to plug in on the right side.

Also on the Radar:

  • Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard gets a mention because of his versatility. He didn’t exactly take over games but he played a role similar to Jamie Collins in that he could line up as a DE or a LB at any given time.
  • I’m honestly hoping they shy away from smaller WR’s given the stockpile at home but South Carolina’s explosive 5’9″ receiver Bruce Ellington also gets consideration for having multiple meetings with the Patriots already.
  • Another SC player Kelcy Quarles could be floating around somewhere. I liked Quarles a lot in his gameplay, but really disliked watching him move in the Combine. I thought he ran way too narrow for a DT. Still he’s a physically impressive prospect that the Patriots have looked at up close.

Stephen Houston – RB Indiana
Build: 5’11” 230 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.46 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: Rushing: 753 Yds (6.7/carry) 8 TDs, Rec: 164 Yds

Bigtime sleeper here to the point where I’m getting antsy over the idea of drafting him weeks away. I like the idea of drafting RB’s that come from 2-back systems. It worked with Stevan Ridley in LSU and I see it working going forward. It saves a bunch of wear & tear on the player, and adapts them to the committee back system that we have in New England. Indiana’s Stephen Houston was thought of as a late round pick prior to his pro day. The 230 lb bruiser somehow managed a 40″ vertical and an 11 ft broad jump, which would have bested every RB at the Combine. He averaged only about 140 carries per season, but averaged a career 5.56 yard per carry including a 6.72 his senior year. Houston is a big thick back that genuinely dislikes being tackled. I think he’s a very comparable player to Carlos Hyde but with a little more burst to his first step. The Patriots have a very deep RB core right now even with Blount leaving, but I still think they take a RB somewhere considering both Ridley and Vereen are in contract years. This is a great spot and a great player to take a shot on. Let’s not go crazy but I see a little Christian Okoye in his game. I’ll also throw it out there that he was the first Hoosier to have back to back 700+ rushing yard seasons since BenJarvis Green-Ellis. The Pats have worked out Houston.

Dezmen Southward – S Wisconsin
Build: 6’0″ 2.11
40 Yard Dash: 4.44 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 3 TFL

I’ve written about Southward on the Patskrieg Facebook before and I’m still a fan of his. Southward was only a 2 star recruit out of high school after starting his football career as a senior. He was a starter that year and lead St. Thomas Aquinas HS (alma mater of Michael Irvin and a long list of NFL players) to a national championship. He plays compact and fast, staying nice and low in his backpedal, getting a strong push on his breaks, and waiting for his opportunities. He’s 6’1″ 212 lbs and you barely notice it because of how well he bends. Originally I had FSU’s Terrence Brooks as a 2nd round target, but I like Southward’s tackling and movement skills better so I re-prioritized. Contrary to Calvin Pryor I wouldn’t expect Southward to compete for a starting job week 1. I think that’s Duron Harmon’s job to win or lose (I have no idea what Tavon Wilson did to get in Belichick’s doghouse last year but he was practically forgotten). But you can’t go wrong with a player like this in the 4th or later as he has the potential to be a big contributor. The Patriots were one of a number of teams present for Southward’s Pro Day at Wisconsin, and I believe they’ve also brought him in for an official visit.

Kevin Norwood – WR Alabama
Build: 6’2″ 198 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.42 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 568 Yds 7 TDs

I don’t 100% know where Norwood fits in the 2014 Patriots roster. I don’t know if he beats out Thompkins or LaFell for a WR spot. Quite frankly I don’t know what the ceiling is for him. What I do know is that he’s a bigtime underexposed sleeper that could be well worth the risk of taking a late round flyer on. The Mississippi native was a 4 star recruit out of high school, finishing his senior year with 12 TDs and 11 INTs as a corner. We’re all agreed Odell Beckham is a top tier receiver right? Norwood is 3 inches taller, ran an almost identical 40 (4.48) and has 10 inch hands (tied for 2nd largest at the Combine amongst WR’s). He can catch away from his body, at the apex, in traffic, on the sideline, while getting hit, all of it. He just didn’t get much of a chance in a very crowded Alabama offense that featured future 1st round pick Amari Cooper and a perennial stable of top tier RB talent. Who knows what he could have done if he had been counted on to be the focal point of his offense. Still, he played all over the field at Alabama lining up both in the slot and on the outside. He needs to work on sharpening his route running but he knows how to be in the right place at the right time, and come up with a catch in a tough situation. The Patriots have very quietly met with him.

Also on the Radar:

  • I guess I’ll put Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz here even though I think Niklas has a much higher potential. I’d rank him below Niklas and above Colorado State’s Crockett Gillmore who looks very ordinary.
  • Minnesota safety Brock Vereen brother of some guy named Shane that plays for some team is a Patriots type player (instinctive with leadership qualities) who the team has scouted.
  • Rutgers Brandon Coleman has also been floating around in 4th round consideration, and I’d look pretty stupid if I didn’t at least mention the top rated Rutgers prospect despite a disappointing season.

The Patriots currently do not have a 5th round pick. There are mock drafts out there that have the Patriots picking in the 5th with no mention of this fact. Hit Alt-F4 if you find one please. I’d say they wasted it trading for Isaac Sopoaga, but the truth is Sopoaga wasted the pick for us by being terrible. If you know the Patriots though, you know that they seem to end up with mid round picks no matter what things look like at the start of the draft, so I’ll take a look at some 5th round targets just in case.

Michael Sam – DE Missouri
Build: 6’2″ 261
40 Yard Dash: 4.73 (Pro Day) 4.91 (Combine)
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 19 TFL, 11.5 Sacks, 2 FF, Tackles – 31 UA 17 A. SEC Defensive POY 2013
OOOOOooooooooOOOoo controversial pick. Yes, I’ve gone on record saying that Sam isn’t the type of player the Patriots normally draft. He’s shorter than your average Belichick pass rusher, and I usually skewer similar players for being one trick ponies. However, the more Michael Sam I watched the more I came to realize the fact that he’s underrated if anything. I kept looking for a reason to count him out. I kept expecting top tier DE Kony Ealy to be the reason for Sam’s success. From what I’ve seen, Michael Sam was the star of that defense. I don’t have the numbers but t looked like Sam played significantly more snaps than Ealy and shined in run support as well as just running at the QB. All I’m saying is that there are much worse players to waste a 5th round pick on. PFT reported that the Patriots are one of a short list of teams with a real interest in Sam.

Xavius Boyd – Western Kentucky
Build: 6’1″ 236
40 Yard Dash: “4.6/low 4.7 range”
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 15.5 TFL, 7.5 Sacks, 1 FF, Tackles – 68 UA 35 A
If increasing linebacker speed is on your agenda for 2014 I think Boyd makes for an intriguing pick. He finished his senior year with 15.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks. He’s a sideline to sideline type of backer that likely fits best as a mike linebacker and could upgrade the overall speed of the defense. He was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive POY with 105 tackles. The fourth round might be a reach for a small school prospect but the Bears, Cowboys, 49ers, Raiders, Chargers and Patriots have all interviewed or worked out the former Hilltopper.

Lonnie Ballentine – S Memphis
Build: 6’3″ 219
40 Yard Dash: 4.39
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 5 PBU, Tackles – 37 UA 21 A

You’ve got to wonder where this guy has been hiding. Ballentine is a 6’3 219 lb DB from Memphis that at one time had offers on the table from almost every major SEC school and a pair of ACC schools. He chose to commit to Memphis though, a seemingly strange decision that may have had something to do with having a wife and kid in the area. His triangle numbers are ideal posting a 4.38 and a 4.40 at the Memphis Pro Day. For his height and size those are WR numbers. His play is just what you’re looking for too: fast and physical.

Also on the Radar:

  • Georgia QB Aaron Murray is an obvious consideration. He was a 4 year starter that could be available at a huge bargain after suffering a gruesome ACL injury. He’s smaller than your typical Patriots QB but clearly has the skills.
  • I’d like to see the Pats take a look at USC TE Xavier Grimble. He ran a 4.90 but I think he’s much faster than that on the field. The former 4 star recruit may have still been feeling the effects of a calf injury that kept him from running at the Combine. I’d suggest 5 star recruit AC Leonard who ended up transferring from Florida to Tenn State after a domestic assault arrest, but I’m not down with that.
  • This could also be a good time to pick up a quality special teamer like Rice DB Phillip Gaines (4.38 40), or Liberty DB Walt Aikens (4.37 – 4.44 40’s).

Kenny Guiton – QB Ohio State
Build: 6’3″ 208
40 Yard Dash: 4.78
Years Started: 0.5
Relevant Stats: Pass: 749 Yards, 14 TDs (2 INTs), 68.8% Completion Rush: 330 yds, 5 TDs

A couple thoughts on drafting a QB in this class:

  • Stop mocking Tom Savage to the Patriots. He’s not very good. He played for 3 teams in 5 years, turns 24 this month, and didn’t crack a 60% completion rate until the final of his 5 years in school. Let’s pretend that it takes a little more than playing for a mid-western school and being named Tom to be a starting QB for the Patriots.
  • Which is it? Do you want to WIN NOW! DRAFT HIGH! or DRAFT A QB! WE NEED A NEW TOM BRADY!! Because you can’t have both. If you want a QB in the first round then the other positional needs don’t get met.
  • Words can’t express how little I want Foxboro to be the “The House That Johnny Built” so let’s forget about that too.

This might be a case of doing your UDFA shopping a couple days early but OSU’s Kenny Guiton fascinates me. He saw limited action, seeing action in only 7 games last year, while sitting behind Braxton Miller. Watching him play he reminds me almost of a black Matt Cassel (that’s a compliment I promise): big tall frame, strong arm, and deceptively fast. He wasn’t a slouch with the football either: 68.8% completion rate, 14 TDs, 2 INTs. Those aren’t typical backup stats. Buckeye fans loved this kid, and you can tell why. He’s got a gun and has strangely good downfield accuracy. His mechanics look a little wonky but I think the physical tools and instincts are there. Whether he can grasp the New England offense is something I’ll never be able to tell you, but I like what I see in Guiton a lot more than some bigger names in the middle of the QB class.

Lorenzo Taliafero – RB Coastal Carolina
Build: 6’0″ 229
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 1 (2 year JUCO starter)
Relevant Stats: 1729 Yds, 27 TDs

I’ll be honest in saying that I know very little about this Coastal Carolina prospect and didn’t pay any attention to him until the Combine. I saw Walter Cherepinksy mention to a reader on Facebook that the Patriots liked him, so I put him here. As with most small schools if you want to be taken seriously you’d better dominate, and the 229 lb RB did. 1,729 yards and 27 TDs across 15 games in his 2013 season is certainly what you’d call dominant. He had 31 yards on 8 carries in the Senior Bowl, so he can hang with top tier competition. His lateral movement definitely jumped out at me in the Combine when I saw just how much he weighed. It seemed like he was more of a straight ahead runner at Coastal Carolina, and didn’t really use his hip flexibility to his advantage. I could write more on him but Steelers Depot already did an incredible job breaking him down, and anything else I said would just be ripping them off. They do point out that he’s an exceptional pass blocker, which is usually something young RB’s struggle with.

Jordan Tripp – LB Montana
Build: 6’3″ 234 lbs
40: 4.67 (Combine)
Years Started: 4
Relevant Stats: Tackles – 49 (UA) 51 (A), 3 INT, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 Blocked Kick
Mike Dussault loves Michigan State’s Max Bullough at this spot, at basically the same position, but I can connect Montana LB Jordan Tripp to the Patriots via a private workout, so I’ll go with Tripp here as the Pats could very well elect to replace one speedy Montana LB (Dane Fletcher) with another. There’s a good chance he’ll be off the board well in advance of the 6th round, but I’m just not sure where to put him. He’s a very similar player to Fletcher, quick, rangy, and seems to have a knack for knowing when to make his break on a gap to pressure the quarterback.

Also On the Radar:

  • Texas A&M’s Ben Malena was the Aggie’s feature back but was 2nd to Manziel in yardage. He also ran an unimpressive 4.60 Pro Day 40. He’s much quicker than he is fast and has the tools to be an effective 3rd down back in the NFL.
  • Andre Williams the 230 lb RB from BC got a look from the Patriots and fits the mold of what they’re looking for. He only put up 2100 yards his final season and left as a Heisman finalist if that means anything to you.
  • FSU RB Devonta Freeman is another big RB that the Patriots have looked at. What can I say? I like the idea of drafting a RB here.

Andrew Norwell – OG Ohio State
Build: 6’6″ 315 lbs
40: 5.28 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3 (Backup RT as true freshman)

Who? For reference sake I am normally not an Ohio State mark but let me introduce you to Andrew Norwell from Cincinnati, Ohio. Andrew was a 4 star recruit out of high school and a 3 year starter at Ohio State. He’s not a physical freak (beyond being 6’6″ and 315 lbs) would need some breaking in at the next level but I see a player with the right mentality to play for the Patriots. He’s a find somebody to hit kind of lineman who, even as far back as high school had scouts noticing his fondness for getting an extra shove in. He can play in a zone or power blocking scheme and has experience at RT and both guard positions. After being a first team All Big Ten selection two years in a row I’m a little lost as to how he was a Combine snub, and is basically invisible. That kind of spiteful inertia has worked out well for the Patriots in the past. What grabbed me about Norwell was watching him neutralize Cal’s DeAndre Coleman who is supposed to be one of the top DT’s in the draft. Like I said, he’ll need to work on his quickness, but I like his chances as a depth player in an offensive line that needs to get meaner to get better.

*Look for #78 at the LG position

Dustin Vaughan – QB West Texas A&M
Build: 6’5″ 235 lbs
40: 4.95 (Combine)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 5,401 Yards, 53 TDs, 66.% Comp

6-5 Dustin Vaughan was the only player at any level of college football in 2013 to throw for over 5,000 yards and 53 TDs. He’s a former National Honor Society member, a pre-med biology major… I get it Dustin, you’re better than me. Gawd. Over achieve much? Yes, he’s a D-II quarterback who carved up crappy D-II defenses but he shined enough to be the only D-II quarterback invited to the Combine. There’s a lot to like about his technique. He’s got quick feet in the pocket, a decent arm and has a noticeably quick delivery. One of the things I generally disliked about a lot of bigger name QB’s in this year’s draft is their slow delivery. Some of these guys look like a ride at the Brockton Fair and are way too eager to get in the habit of lofting passing to the sideline or into the flat. Vaughan snaps his passes decisively and goes through his progressions like he’s got somewhere to be. I don’t know what his priorities look like between being 2 players behind Tom Brady on a depth chart, or being a doctor. He could up and leave any time he wanted to and 6 years from now be a proctologist making bank laughing at the idea of carrying Ryan Mallett’s pads to practice. I don’t know. I just think he’s worth a check in the 7th.

Blake Annen – TE Cincinnati
Build: 6’4″ 247
40: 4.41 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 1
Relevant Stats: Rush: 183 YDs 2 TDs
Originally I had Malena here, but I swapped him out with Cincy’s Blake Annen after a Reddit reader accused me of not having “a single tight end” on the list. I actually list 4 TE’s but who’s counting? Statistically speaking, Blake Annen barely existed for the Bearcats. Still, there’s only so long that the NFL will ignore a 250 lb TE that runs a 4.41 (not a typo) 40. Unlike a lot of TE’s with that kind of speed that are basically just out to play basketball on grass, Annen is actually pretty good at finishing his blocks. I’m still trying to figure out just what happened to him in Cincinnati. I kept thinking I was going to find out he was a football walk on after coming to Cincy on a basketball scholarship or something. Wasn’t the case. He was one of the top TE’s in Ohio coming out of high school where caught for 800 yards, so his hands work. The Bearcats had 5 receivers with over 400 yards, so it may have just been a case of not enough balls to go around. Still, the Patriots took a chance on a Bearcat receiver with some sparse production a year ago in Kenbrell Thompkins and that went well. They also took a shot on another super fast/inexperienced TE with Zach Sudfeld the same year which was a disaster. In fact, I still can’t get over how astonished Sudfeld seemed to be every time a football came near him. This is the 7th round though, and the late 7th/UDFA period is where you take gambles on projects like Annen. The Patriots, and Eagles have both worked him out.

Also On the Radar:

  • We know that the Patriots have looked at 6’1″ CB Al Louis-Jean who was a 4 star recruit from my alma mater Brockton High. He started his college career in Miami, had some disciplinary issues, and a season ending injury. He left Miami for BC and it looks like he didn’t get along with them too well either despite putting together some limited but impressive tape. He opted to skip his junior and senior years to declare for the draft (a very Brockton decision of him) but the potential is there.
  • Also coming out of BC is LT Matt Patchan who was a 5 star recruit originally committed to Florida. He had a string of unfortunate injuries that cost him his spot as a Gator. He was able to put in a full senior year at BC and looked great.
  • Going out with a bang I’ll mention that the Patriots and Broncos have both worked out Boise State C Matt Paradis who started 25 games and was a business finance major.
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