MayoClinic's Inaugural 2013 Mock Draft ~ V1.0!!
Here's an absurdly early attempt at a 2013 mock for the Patriots. As I see it, some potential areas to address include:
DT. Vince Wilfork will be 31 and has been playing an increasing number of snaps. Age and playing time make him susceptible to injury. As the Grantland article suggess, he is the key to making it all happen. The 2013 draft class is potentially loaded at the DT position (depending on which underclassmen declare), and an extra wide body in the middle would also help with 4-3, 4-2-5 and 2-4-5 schemes.
TE/WR. I personally ALWAYS prefer TEs to WRs, as they have more versatility. And Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will be going into contract years. The 2013 TE class is potentially loaded, again depending on the underclassmen. Most people will consider WR a more obvious need, with a bunch of veterans and only Brandon Lloyd currently signed beyond 2013. I'm not a big fan of drafting WRs high, and would wait until day 2 or 3.
OG/C. Brian Waters will likely retire after 2012. Dan Koppen is nearing the end of the line, and Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly are over 30.
The Patriots currently have only 5 picks for 2013, in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th rounds. I'm also going to assume that the Pats somehow get an extra 2013 2nd or 3rd round pick - possibly by trading Brian Hoyer before the trade deadline. Someone will be QB needy, and will jump at the opportunity to get the inside track on signing Hoyer before he comes a FA. If Ryan Mallett continues to develop, Hoyer is expendable, and he will likely want to go somewhere where he has a chance to start in 2013. I'm also guessing that BB will trade a player or two during training camp for a late round pick. In any case, I'm only going to address the first 4 rounds here. Finally, I'm also assuming that the Pats pick 31/32 in each round.
With those assumptions, here's my VERY early take at 2013 (underclassmen with an *):
*** Trade: The Pats trade #31/32 plus whatever they acquire for Brian Hoyer (or some other player trade) to move up in the first round to around 16-22, depending on the compensation.
1. Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah. 6'3" 325#.
Star Lotulelei is the closet thing in years to another Haloti Ngata, and his play on the field (unlike Dontari Poe) backs it up. He is a massive tackle with an exceptional combination of core strength, explosiveness and agility. The 2012 Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year, Lotulelei is a high character prospect who chose not to come out in 2012 in order to get his degree. He is fundamentally solid, and a smart player. He showcased his athleticism on a fake punt against Cal, catching a 17 yard reception:
Lotulelei is my early 2013 1st round binky, along with Alabama OL Barrett Jones. It's a tough call between the two, but this mock goes with the DT and waits to later to take an interior lineman. It would be perfectly reasonable to go the other way, though. I proposed the trade because I can't see Lotulelei lasting to the late 1st round, but the Pats could easily "stand pat" and take one of the other DTs or an OL at 31/32 and use the extra pick (again, assuming they can get one).
1. Johnathan Hankins*, DT, Ohio St. 6'3" 330#
. Athletic DT who can push the pocket. With Urban Meyer and Mike Vrabel at OSU, BB will no doubt be wel informed.
2. Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama. 6'4" 330#.
An Australian and JUCO product, Williams is a behemoth with massive strength and a warrior mentality - 330# of pure muscle, a weight room fanatic with extraordinary core strength and explosiveness, and sub-5.00 40 speed. A former rugby player, Williams is athletic enough to play anywhere on the DL in 3-4 and 4-3 formations.
3. Kwame Geathers / John Jenkins, Georgia. 6'5" 350# (Geathers), 6'3" 340# (Jenkins).
Both guys are massive DTs with exceptional footwork and movement skills for their size. Geathers could be another Ted Washington.
Given the depth of the position and the talent that I see coming out in 2013, one or more of these guys should be within reach, if not available at 31/32.
2. Levine Toilolo*, TE, Stanford. 6'8" 263#.
Scouts considered Coby Fleener to be only the 3rd best pro TE prospect that Stanford had in 2011, after Toilolo and Zach Ertz (6'6" 254#). Levine Toilolo is a massive, towering TE with exceptional movement skills who will be an elite red zone target and instant mismatch.
Rob Gronkowski will be in a contract year in 2013. I think that Aaron Hernandez can be extended for Jermichael Finley money (around $8M/year), but Gronk will break the bank, and may get the franchise tag for 2014. A TE like Toilolo would provide an insurance policy. He wold also give the Pats a tremendous weapon in addiition to Gronk and Ahern in his own right. Toilolo is a redshirt junior, who missed his sophomore season with a knee injury. He had only 25 receptions in 2011 as the third TE of Stanford's troika, but 6 TDs. He will share time with Zach Ertz in 2012.
1. Michael Williams, TE, Alabama. 6'6" 270#.
Michael Williams is a physical monster at 270#, with tremendous physicality and core strength. He is a crushing blocker, who also has deceptive speed and the ability to get open and stretch the field.
2. Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA. 6'7" 258#.
Another massive TE, the nephew of former Patriot TE Christian Fauria.
3. Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn. 6'5" 250#.
Like DT, 2013 is likely to be very deep and talented at the TE position. In addition to these guys, Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert and Stanford's Zach Ertz will likely go high. Someone will slip a bit.
3. Mario Benavides, OG/C, Louisville 6'4" 301#.
Benavides brings experience, versatility, size, power and processing speed to the center position. He is a 3 year starter who is a tough, durable, smart, mature player with a bit of nasty disposition. He has played through several injuries, and is a leader on the Cardinal's offensive line. The best Louisville OL prospect since Eric Woods in 2009.
With Dan Koppen at the end of his career, the Pats take advantage of a deep OC class to take Benavides in the 3rd round. As discussed above, Barrett Jones would have been my first choice, but he will go in the first round, and DT was a higher priority for me in this mock. USCs Khaled Homes is probably also a late 1st/early 2nd prospect. It's entirely possible that the Pats go OL with someone like Jones in the 1st round and then DT in the second with someone like Jesse Williams or John Jenkins.
4. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson. 5'10" 190#.
OK, I'm obviously throwing darts here. But with Danny Woodhead in a contract year, Ellington is a versatile "flex back" who can line up at RB or WR and make plays all over the field. He runs more aggressively inside than his size would indicate.
Alternatives: Too many to possibly enumerate at this early time.
The 3rd and 4th round picks could easily be switched, depending on how player valuations change over time. I believe both Benavides and Ellington were given mid-round projections for 2012 by the Draft Advisory Committee.
Again, this is absurdly early, and is intended more as "food for thought" than anything else.