Defensive tackle appears to be what most experts believe the Patriots will address this week. (USA TODAY Images)
With the NFL Draft now just days away, it’s going to be interesting to see exactly what new pieces are brought into the fold as New England attempts to try and add talent to a group that fell just short of a Super Bowl berth in 2013.
As it stands right now, the team has eight selections, with the Patriots kicking things off with the 29th overall pick in round one when the draft opens on Thursday night. From there they have one in the 2nd round (No. 62), followed by one in the third (93rd overall), two in the fourth (130th and 140th overall), followed by two in the sixth (198th and 206th overall), and one in the seventh (244th).
Looking at the first round, there is certainly plenty of intrigue surrounding who they may target, and the majority of mock drafts continue to point to the Patriots targeting a defensive tackle. Yesterday after looking at twenty different mock drafts that were done over the last week, here’s a quick look at who many analysts in the media believe New England will select in round one.
1) CSNHouston – Dave Zangaro – Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Washington
2) FoxSports – Peter Schrager – Dee Ford, OLB/DE Auburn
3) Times-Picayune – Jeff Duncan – DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Boise State
4) NESN – Doug Kyed – Dominique Easley, DT Florida
5) CBS Sports – Pete Prisco – Joel Bitonio, OG Nevada
6) CSNPhilly – Geoff Mosher – Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
7) CSNPhilly – Jared Sherman – Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
8) CBS Sports – Will Brinson – Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
9) CBS Sports – Dane Brugler – Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
10) Indianapolis Star – Mike Chappell – Louis Nix III, DT Notre Dame
11) CBS Sports – Pat Kirwin – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
12) NJ.com – Darryl Slater – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
13) NFL.com- Bucky Brooks – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
14) ESPN Insider – Mel Kiper Jr. – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
15) ESPN Insider – Todd McShay – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
16)CBS Sports – Rob Rang – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
17) Yahoo! Sports- Shaun King – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
18) Baltimore Sun – Aaron Wilson – Ra’Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
19) Cleveland Plain Dealer – Chris Fedor – Stephon Tuitt, DE Notre Dame
20) FoxSports Ohio – Fred Greetham – Timmy Jernigan, NT Florida State
The vast majority of people seem to expect the Patriots to focus on either Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III (5 people) or Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman (8 people). Eighteen out of the twenty have them taking a defensive tackle, with just two expecting them to grab someone on the offensive side of the football. Surprisingly of those two, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco expects them to use their first round pick on guard Joel Bitonio, which would certainly be an interesting selection. Meanwhile CSN Houston’s Dave Zangaro expects them to grab a tight end.
We’ll find out in the days ahead who they’ll indeed target, but the good news is if history is any indication, their track record since 2008 has been relatively solid in terms of drafting guys who have become important pieces for this football team. 2008 saw them take Jerod Mayo, followed by Devin McCourty in 2010, Nate Solder in 2011, and then Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in 2012. All of these players have made significant contributions, and will also continue to play a key role in the team’s success in the years ahead.
Interestingly enough we saw New England trade out of round one last year, with Minnesota giving up four picks in order to select Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. That left the Patriots’ first selection not coming until round two when they took linebacker Jamie Collins and receiver Aaron Dobson.
Whether or not the Patriots opt to move down again remains to be seen, and history has certainly proven that anything is possible. The bigger question will likely be the value they see available when they’re on the board, which may also even cause them to surprise everyone and potentially address a position fans may not be expecting.
Either way it should be an interesting week, and hopefully whoever they select continues the trend of success they’ve had from previous players who have been taken in the opening round.