After a long and entertaining NFL draft weekend, the NFL draft has finally concluded. After months of speculation, prospect evaluation, and rumor mill churning, many teams have added solid additions to their respective rosters. This draft has some Pats fans with many questions regarding these new prospects. To help decipher these questions,Â NE Patriots Draftâ€™s James Christensen stops by to talk all things draft in this Q & A.
What are your overall thoughts on this years NFL Draft?
I was aware that the draft wasn’t nearly as deep as last year’s, but was shocked at how little perceived talent there was. Â The Patriots and Raiders trade was especially telling.
What are your thoughtsÂ on the Patriots draft selections this past weekend?
We wrote up about a couple thousand words over on NEPatriotsDraft.com about each pick and trade, but overall we certainly gave the draft an A. Â The Patriots upgraded many important positions, making their 53-man roster significantly better than last year’s – on paper anyways.
In your mind, what was the best and worst move the Patriots made during the draft?
I’d give the best move to drafting Ryan Mallett. Â The move has been panned by many, asking if he can rush the passer. Â However, we believe that Bill Belichick has extended the Patriots championship by another 10 years with the pick.
As for the worst move, we’re not going to say Stevan Ridley. Â We thought it was a bit of a reach, but we like him as a player. Â Malcolm Williams, however, was a true head-scratcher for us. Â At best, he might unseat Matthew Slater as a special-teams guy. Â It’s hard to rip on a 7th round draft pick, but we though that the Patriots could have taken a prospect with some more upside.
Marcus Cannon, the offensive lineman from TCU, was selected by the team in the fifth round. He has been diagnosed with non – Hodgkin’s lymphoma but is expected to make a full recovery in the next few months. What kind of value does he offer and how do you think he can contribute?
Even though Cannon is expected to be near 100% by the start of the season, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him stashed on PUP or even IR. When he is able to join the team though, we think he can be a dominant run-blocking right guard.
Shane Vereen was a player many thought the Patriots would target. Obviously, the rumors were true and the team seemed to like what they saw. How do you think he can contribute and do you see him taking over the starting role at any point?
I don’t think you’ll ever see Vereen, or any other Patriot running back for that matter, be a true “feature back” any time soon. We see him taking some of Green-Ellis’ role and some of Woodhead’s role, as he is really an all-around back. Â When all is said and done, I think each of the four running backs will perform better with less wear and tear.
Nate Solder, was the top offensive lineman on my board in the pre – draft process. Where did he rank in your estimation and what are his strengths and weaknesses?
We had Solder as a guy that would be a Pro Bowler in year two, just like Tyron Smith. Â Anthony Castonzo and a handful of others might have contributed more in year one, but Solder and Scarnecchia together will be special.
Is there a pick the Patriots made or did not make, that you feel was a mistake?
Like we mentioned before, we would have liked to see some more upside with pick #219 – perhaps grabbing a guy like Greg Romeus or Jeremy Beal. One other thing, even though we had Shane Vereen as our #1 RB for the Patriots before the draft, he will always be compared against Mark Ingram, due to the trade with New Orleans.
Outside linebacker was a position most analysts and fans thought the team would address. Were you surprised the team waited until the sixth round to do so and what are your thoughts on Markell Carter?
We weren’t sure that either of the top two guys (Quinn and Aldon Smith) would fall to the Patriots and everyone else out there had some warts. We though the Patriots would target some in the 3rd and 4th rounds, but Belichick obviously didn’t feel comfortable with guys like Sam Acho or KJ Wright. Â Â Carter looks to be a legitimate speed rusher – excited to see what he can bring to the table.
Are there any un-drafted free agents that the Patriots could be targeting whenever the lockout is lifted?
Absolutely, even though we aren’t tracking where they are signing this year, we do have a list of our Top 100 UDFA’s. Â Some of the guys that jump of the page at New England fans are Terrence Tolliver (WR, LSU), David Sims (S, Iowa State), Joe Lefged (DB, Rutgers) and Ryan Winterswyk (DE/OLB, Boise State).
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