Patriots Draft Musings – 4/21
What if Bill Belichick doesn’t have a player he covets, fall into his lap at pick #23 and he can’t find a trade partner to drop down? Who will he select? Everyone knows the team lacks speed at the skill positions. They could use another OT or OC with uncertainties surrounding Marcus Cannon (age) and David Andrews returning from injury. The safeties on this team are old and probably will not be back in 2021. They could use a couple of linebackers to replace Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.
Lets think out of the box about three players that if selected would raise some eyebrows and be a bit of a risk, but with the possibility of high rewards.
Cesar Ruiz – OC Michigan 6’ 307#, 33 1/8th” arms, 5.08 40, 38 BP, 33” vert, 113” BJ, 7.91 3 cone – Ruiz started 5 games as a true freshman for the Wolverines. He was the top OC recruit in the country out of High School. He is tenacious and wins with controlled aggressiveness and solid technique. He gets to the second level with his quickness. He is one of a few players that might be available at #23 that Evan Lazar has a 1st round grade on. The Patriots are the only ones that know if Andrews can come back this season. If he can’t this selection makes more sense. The Patriots have no backup on the roster.
Jeremy Chinn- S Southern Illinois 6’3” 221#, 4.45 40, 20 reps, 41 vert, 138” BJ, DNP 3 cone – Team Captain, 1st Team FCS All American, Academic All American (3.55 GPA), Good Character, 243 career tackles. Wowed them at the Senior Bowl practices. In the box Safety who would play the big nickel and be able to stay with TEs. Has the speed and range to play FS. He had better numbers at the combine than Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma that many have the Patriots selecting with this 1st pick. Could play WLB. Chinn’s uncle is Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater. His 20 reps at 225#’s is one less that the TE’s listed as Pats favorites. Bill Belichick like players from the big 5 conferences because they faced better competition which gives them a leg up when making the jump to the much bigger and faster NFL caliber players. Chinn played in the FCS.
Ezra Cleveland OT Boise St. 6’6” 311 4.98 40, 30 reps, 30” vert, 111” BJ, 7.26 3 cone – Another player that surprised at the combine. His footwork was superior and at his size running under 5.0 is hauling it. Strength numbers are good for such a tall player with 33 3/8th“ arms. Had a turf toe injury that he played through his entire senior season in 2019. Played all 12 games at LT but has the ability to be a good swing tackle. It’s no secret Marcus Cannon is getting up there in age (32 this season) and he has had nagging injuries as he gets older. He has a big cap number that if cut or traded could reduce the Cap Number by $4.5M. That’s enough to sign the entire draft class and perhaps a FA or two.
I quoted some low Wonderlic scores on some players. Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated immediately came to the defense of Justin Herbert stating that he had a 39 score and not the 25 that was reported. My source was the venerable Football reporter Bob McGill. He has 36 years’ experience covering the draft for the Milwaukee Sentinel and now The Atlantic. Well, they both may be correct! It appears the players are given a second opportunity to take the test if they didn’t test out as well as they thought they should. However, scouts rely on the 1st test. Tua Tagailvoa scored 13 on the first test and 19 on the second.
There was quite a stir on Friday when a Twitter poster named Jan Helmkamp posted the Patriots were in serious negotiations with Detroit for the #3 overall selection? This post caught the eye of Zolak and Bertrand on 98.5 the Sports Hub and the rumor blew up. Is this type of deal even possible? Yes, but it would be quite costly. The Patriots would have to include someone like Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore in the deal with their own 1st round pick, #23. I would think DET would also have to throw in a 3rd round pick to make the deal happen. Is this deal as far-fetched as it seems? Not really, especially if the Pats can’t get Gilmore to agree with a long term extension. The DET 3rd round pick would equal what the Pats would get as compensation should Gilmore leave under Free Agency. The one position on the team that has depth is the secondary. Every other position on the team is below average.
I previously talked about how difficult it may be to sign Un-Drafted Free Agents (UDFA) at the end of the draft. Bill Belichick may use that bevy of late round picks (from trades and awarded Compensation picks) to get a head start on those UDFAs by actually making them draft picks. I figure Rounds 1- 5 will be the real selections with what I will be calling priority Free Agent caliber players taken in Round 6 and 7 (6 picks).
Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera stated the new virtual draft rules will make it difficult to make trades. He said that if a trade isn’t agreed to with the first couple of minutes of being on the clock, the Redskins are not going to waste time, and will move on to making their selection. This means trade inquiries will be made well ahead of the pick in question, with the proviso the player the other team wants is still on the board. Belichick has used the days leading up to the draft to make calls to other GMs setting up and agreeing on trade compensation should the Draft Board fall a certain way. Some teams will not want to trade with the Patriots under any circumstances.
This is really going to be an unprecedented draft. TV personalities from three different networks (ABC, NFL Network and ESPN) are going to be working with each other. The league will have 180 different feeds of coaches, GMs, owners and field reporters. They have lined up 58 prospects live from their homes. Each one was given a distributed video tech kit. This included two different camera phones, tripods, lighting and power systems. The league has run three separate tests including a Mock Draft today. Adam Schefter reported the CIN #1 pick had problems. The NFL is using Microsoft Teams software to make the team player selections.
Look for a full 1st Round Mock Draft on Wednesday.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2020 NFL Draft 2020 Patriots Draft Bill Belichick Cesar Ruiz Ezra Cleveland Jeremy Chinn New England Patriots