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Patriots Day 3 Draft Choices, 2 Wide Receivers, STs Boost

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
April 30, 2016 at 8:16 pm ET

Patriots Day 3 Draft Choices, 2 Wide Receivers, STs Boost(PHOTO: USA Today - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Pats Surprisingly …or not, don’t address Running Backs

The Patriots, as Nick Caserio said on Friday night at his Post-Draft Day 2 presser, may trade away some of their picks on Day 3. On Saturday, they did just that.

The Pats went from eight picks to five, moving one pick into a 2017 4th Round draft pick which will replace the one they lost in the Deflategate punishment from the league. In the fourth round, the Patriots selected WR Malcolm Mitchell from Georgia before picking four times between the sixth and seventh rounds with selections between 208 – 225. One area not addressed in the draft, and glaringly so was running back.

Here’s a quick snapshot of their selections:

Round 4, Pick #112 Malcolm Mitchell, WR Georgia:
Mitchell is a decent sized WR at 6’0, 198 pounds who suffered a torn ACL in 2013. He came back but was limited in 2014, but had a solid season last year despite poor play from the Bulldog’s QBs.

He notched 58 catches for 865 yards (14.9 average) and five touchdowns in his final campaign. He possesses good speed with 4.45 speed in the 40 with good hands and the ability to go over the middle of the field and be productive.

He’s tough, runs good routes but will have to be more physical, as he can get re-routed at the line of scrimmage. He’ll be a 24-year old rookie as well. But if he can develop and catch on in the Pats system, he could be field stretcher horizontally with the occasional deep ball.

Round 6, Pick #208 Compensatory Pick, Kamu Grugier-Hill, S/LB, Eastern Illinois:
Grugier-Hill is another one of those hybrid, safety/linebackers that are the new player du jour in the NFL.  He played at the same small school as Pats QB Jimmy Garappolo.

He’s got good size at 6’2, 215 pounds and runs a 4.45 in the 40 with a 38.5-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. Could the Patriots use him in their sub-packages as a “big nickel” linebacker? Quite possibly. With his speed and explosion, he could cover sideline-to-sideline and be an effective blitzer up the gaps. He’ll make his bones initially on STs.

Round 6, Pick #214 Elandon Roberts, LB Houston:
Roberts is a two-down, run-stuffing inside linebacker who was very productive (88.5 solo tackles, led FBS), for the Cougars.

Roberts is 6’0, 235 pounds and was described as a “coach’s dream” in his scouting reports. He was a tremendous leader on and off the field from Houston and is known as a fierce hitter with an outstanding work ethic.

He’s a thumper in the running game but will be a liability in coverage, hence the two-down capability. He too will make the team initially based upon his STs expertise.

Round 7, Pick #221 Ted Karras, G, Illinois:
Karras is the great-nephew of Lion’s great (and Blazing Saddles fame) Alex Karras. Karras was a 2014-15 Honorable Mention for the All Big-Ten. He’s got good size at 6’3, 307 pounds and was a four-year starter at right guard.

He’s got tremendous strength (32 reps on the bench press), is a physical, gritty presence in the running game but is limited by his athleticism in pass protection. His game day intensity is said to be legendary but plays in control. Only flagged twice in the past two seasons.

Round 7, Pick #225 Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State:
Lucien spent three years at UCLA before transferring to AZ St. He finished the season strongly after shaking off a hamstring injury, catching 35 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns over his final five games.

He runs smooth routes and shows very good hands with the ability to get the ball in traffic. He ran a 4.49 in the 40 showing good but not great speed. He and Mitchell will be locked in a training camp battle with Nate Washington, Aaron Dobson, Keshawn Martin, and Chris Harper for reps and roster spots.

The Patriots improved their depth at WR with the two picks although neither is a true lock to make the final roster. On defense, their two picks will help with depth and be a boost for the special teams. While Karras will join an already crowded crew along the interior offensive line and have to battle to earn reps and a roster spot.

It is interesting to note that two of the positions that were considered among the team’s greatest need, OT and RB were not covered with 11 picks in the draft. Friday’s selection of JoeThuney was thought to be as a tackle, but in his conference call with the media, he told them that he considers himself an interior offensive lineman.

The absence of any running backs in the team’s draft selections has to be considered, moving forward, an area of a glaring weakness. The team was completely ineffective running the ball in 2015 and with LaGarrette Blount as well as Dion Lewis coming off of serious injuries last year, this was an area that needed a serious upgrade. The team signed Donald Brown during free agency but that won’t nearly be enough.

There were plenty of good options available, and with the prospect of Jimmy Garappolo having to start the first four games of the season, being one-dimensional on offense is not going to help his cause, nor the teams at all.

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: 2016 NFL Combine 2016 NFL Draft 2016 Patriots Draft 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Devin Lucien Elandon Roberts Kamu Grugier-Hil LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Mitchell New England Patriots NFL Ted Karras Tom Brady

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