The NFL draft is only a few days away as the New England Patriots, like every other team, will look to find the final pieces to a Superbowl puzzle. Bill Belichick and the Patriots always go into the draft with every spot on the roster filled, that being said the Patriots will still look to upgrade where they can across the roster. Here are the picks the Patriots are working with:
Round 1 – Pick 29, Round 2 – Pick 62, Round 3 – Pick 93, Round 4 – Picks 130 & 140, Round 6 – Picks 198 & 206, Round 7 – Pick 244
Guard – After a disappointing 2013 campaign from Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell, the Patriots need to look towards the future of the interior line. Marcus Cannon can likely fill one of the guard spots but that still leaves the center position in need of an upgrade and the left guard spot open for a successor. The Patriots likely won’t look for an interior linemen early in the draft but will take a developmental pick later on.
Defensive Line – The Patriots defensive line was particularly inconsistent last season without Vince Wilfork holding his ground in the middle of the line, but New England actually finished 6th in sack percentage in 2013. Despite the improved sack numbers the Patriots still suffered from large spells without pressure on the quarterback and will likely look for a penetrating interior linemen in the 2014 draft. If not the Patriots could use another impactful 3-4 defensive lineman that can play along the entire defensive line.
Tight End – After traveling through the 2013 season without a legitimate threat at tight end due to the Rob Gronkowski injury, the Patriots will need another tight end to fill the void of oft-injured Gronk. With established blocking tight ends like Mike Hoomanawanui on the roster the Patriots can focus on a better receiving option like a Jace Amaro in the early rounds or hybrid pass catcher in the later rounds.
Running Back – Not the greatest need around the Patriots simply need depth at the running back position with only Ridley, Vereen, and Bolden as established runners on the roster. Belichick loves security at the running back position so look for a hard nosed runner in the late round like Andre Williams out of Boston College.
Safety – The need at safety isn’t great with All-Pro Devin McCourty covering the deep part of the field, but New England could still use an enforcer over the middle. They could also use some athletic play making that Gregory couldn’t provide.
PLAYERS THAT COULD FIT
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Not a first round pick like the previous two players Fiedorowicz would be a solid back up for party boy Rob Gronkowski. Measuring 6’6” 265 pounds he clearly has the size to play tight end; Fiedorowicz may not be the athlete that Gronkowski is at tight end but he can easily use his size to be a red zone threat.
Xavier Su’a Filo, G , UCLA
Not a sexy pick by any means but the pick that perhaps would fit the Patriots’ needs the most. Su’a Filo is a monster on the interior line especially in the run game and could be a perfect upgrade for Connolly in 2014 and then a replacement for Mankins in 2015.
Ra’shede Hagemen, DL, Minnesota
Coming out of Minnesota the 6’6” 310 pound linemen has all the size necessary to play defensive tackle, but he fits with the Patriots because of his ability to play tackle in the 4-3 and defensive end in the 3-4. Playing a sort of Richard Seymour role Hageman is just the type of versatility that Belichick likes and can help with the interior pass rush.
Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut
Not the biggest need for the Patriots however if the team wants to get more athletic Smallwood is a speedy linebacker that could counteract the slower Dont’a Hightower. Smallwood isn’t the high profile tackle machine, but coach him up and this mid round pick could become a solid weakside linebacker.
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.
Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
With the LeGarrette Blount 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. i mentioned him earlier and that’s because he truly fits the Patriots system, but his measurable are just average so he could be a great value pick in the mid rounds.