I have chosen to stick with the Pro Football Focus Draft Simulator. I feel they update their data based on the mock drafts that are conducted on their site and players are moved up and down the draft board accordingly. This was a curious mock draft since no team wanted the 21st pick or they were so far down (2nd round) that I couldn’t predict if a player I liked would still be available. Therefore there was no one to trade down with.
1st Round Pick #21 – Bernhard Raimann LT Central Michigan – Originally I had CB as the biggest need and there was one player available that I would consider a #1 CB. I chose to go in another direction. Evan Lazar made Raimann his 1st round pick in a previous mock draft and that opened my eyes to this glaring need for the Patriots. Isaiah Wynn is playing out his 5th-year option of his rookie contract. Wynn has been inconsistent. At times he is all world and other times it’s like he never played the position before. Additionally, the Patriots re-signed Trent Brown to a two-year contract. Brown is still questionable due to his injury history over the past two years. Therefore picking a tackle that could be the foundation of the O-line for years to come is essential.
Raimann stands 6’6”, weighs 303 lbs, ran a blazing 5.05 40, ran a 4.49 Short Shuttle, and posted 30 reps on the Bench Press. His arm length measurement is 32 7/8 which is slightly below the desired 33” length. A converted TE, he has the footwork to handle the pass rush. Raimann played very well in two non-conference games against SEC opponents Missouri and LSU. However, he didn’t play well in the Senior Bowl against other top pass rushers. He was unable to anchor his base and was pushed back into the backfield. Also, Raimann is a 25-year-old rookie. He will need a year of good coaching to improve his technique and get functionally stronger. Born in Austria, he came to the US as an exchange student and picked up football.
2nd Round Pick #54 – Jalen Pitre CB Baylor – I did not expect to see the fleet Pitre available with the 54th pick. In almost every draft I have done, Troy Andersen LB Montana St. has been the pick. Pitre has been close to a 1st round pick. He is 5’11”, 195 lbs, ran a 4.46 40, 6.74 3-Cone, 4.15 Short Shuttle, 35″ vertical leap, and 16 reps in the Bench Press. A Hybrid Safety and Cornerback, he has the ability to match up one on one with the opponent’s top receiver and has strong tackling abilities like a strong safety. PFF has him listed as a CB whereas most sites list him as a Safety. The two-time Big 12 1st team All-Conference player was also the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Pitre had 70 tackles, 3 Forced Fumbles (FF), 3 Fumble Recoveries, 2.5 Sacks, 2 INT, and 7 Pass Breakups. He is the only player in all divisions to have 3 FF, 3 FR and 2 INT.
3rd Round Pick #85 – Calvin Austin III WR Memphis – the diminutive wideout, Austin has speed to burn. He is exactly what they need at the slot or Z position. Jakobi Meyers filled that role but he does not possess the ability to separate. Austin is 5’ 8”. 170lbs, ran a 4.32 40, 6.65 3-Cone, 4.07 Short Shuttle, 37” Vertical, and 11 reps on the Bench Press. He showed off his ability to win at the line of scrimmage, consistently putting the DBs in trail position. His ability to run crossing patterns and get yards after the catch is terrific. Additionally, he has Punt Return experience. When opponents kicked to Austin, and it wasn’t often, he averaged 11 yards per PR including a 94 yard TD. This guy is a playmaker and a threat all over the field. He can win on those short arrow routes that Julian Edelman and Wes Welker use to run.
4th Round #127 – Malcom Rodriquez LB Oklahoma State – The former safety turned ILB led Oklahoma St in tackles, as he was all over the field. Rodriquez only stands 5’11”, 236 lbs, ran a 4.52 (4.5 handheld) 40, 39 ½ Vertical, 7.02 3-Cone, 4.13 Short Shuttle, and an amazing 36 reps on the Bench Press. That Bench Press number would have been tops for an Offensive Lineman at the combine. His production at Oklahoma St is off the charts. He finished with 129 tackles in 2021, 89 (in the shortened 2020 season), and 103 in 2019 for a total of 408 over his 5 years at Oklahoma St. In 2021 his 129 tackles were #1 in the Big 12, with 16 tackles for loss #1 in Big 12, his 408 career tackles were #3 all-time in Big 12, 252 career solo tackles #3 all-time in Big 12. He was a 1st team all-conference player in 21. Rodriquez is a tackling machine. I am sure that he would be a key contributor on Special Teams immediately while he learns the nuances of the NFL and the Patriots system. His speed cannot be ignored. If you notice the consistent theme is improving the team speed.
5th Round #158 (Acquired from Miami) Jack Sanborn ILB Wisconsin – back-to-back LB selections. The Badger ILB stands 6’2”, 239lbs, ran a 4.73 40, 4.34 short shuttle, 6.96 3-cone, 20 reps in the Bench Press. Sanborn led Wisconsin in tackles in 2019 and 2020. He had 208 career tackles but was overshadowed by teammate Leo Chenal in 2021. The Draft Network likes Sanborn’s versatility stating “(Sanborn) has, at a minimum, shown he’s cerebral and physically competent in all phases of the position. He’s had success in various stretches as a pass defender (three INTs in 2019), as a penetration player (14.5 tackles for loss in 2021), and as a rally defender to the ball (led the team in tackles in both 2019 and 2020)”. Both LBs are not your usual Patriots type of LBs, but more like what the rest of the league is moving towards. The acquisition of Mack Wilson may be an indication that NE is moving away from the thumper type of LB like Ja’Whaun Bentley.
5th Round #170 (Acquired from Tampa Bay) Eiyoma Uwazurike DT Iowa State – This is a player that has been flying under the radar. You can’t miss his size at 6’6”, 313 lbs, 5.32 40, 7.58 3-cone, 4.75 short shuttle, 23 reps on the bench press. He has 35 1/8 inch arm length, 84 ¾ inch wingspan. According to the Draft Network, “the 2020 season was the first season where Uwazurike was named the starter for the entire season. Going into the 2021 season, Uwazurike was primed for a big year and he had one. He was named First-Team All-Big-12 and recorded nine sacks, proving to be Uwazurike’s most productive season by far. As a prospect Uwazurike is a big, powerful defensive lineman that can generate movement. He is best when he has a predetermined stunt or slant called and he can use his quickness to shoot gaps. Early on, Uwazurike can contribute as a player who disrupts the run”. He is best suited as a 3-4 DE that is a 2 down run-stopper. Uwazurike had a great 2021 season with 9 sacks from his DT position, 43 tackles, and 12 tackles for loss. His height and long arms sometimes work against him and he will need to be coached up.
6th Round #200 Jaivon Heiligh WR Coastal Carolina – Another player that most people don’t know anything about. At 6’1”, 202 lbs, Heiligh ran a pedestrian 4.66 40 at his Pro Day when he was expected to run 4.4. His 3-Cone drill was 7.15 and 4.53 short shuttle. Both numbers are below the Patriots’ standards. The last two seasons were very good for Heiligh. In 2020 he had 65 receptions for 998 yards and 10 TDs and in 2021, 66 receptions for 1128 yards and 7 TDs in back to back 11 win seasons for Coastal Carolina. Heiligh can play and has played all the WR positions. Although he lacks speed, his best position is probably as a slot receiver. The Draft Network had this to say about him, “(Heiligh) has shown to have good hands to pluck the ball out of the air and secure the catch. Heiligh is most comfortable once he has created separation and can really concentrate on bringing the ball in. The aspect of his game that he needs to develop is catching the ball in contested situations or with defenders in close proximity”.
6th Round #210 Decobie Durant CB South Carolina State – SC State is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The NFL, the Senior Bowl, and the HBCU bowl have put a greater emphasis on giving players from HBCU schools exposure. Durant burst on the public scene with an exemplary HBCU combine held during the Senior Bowl week. His 4.38 40 yard dash stood out. At 5’10” 183 lbs, he also ran a 4,42 short shuttle and 7.02 3-cone drill. He had a 2 Interception game against Clemson which made the scouts stand up and take notice. This is a flyer on an athlete that you hope can develop. You can’t teach speed, but if the Patriots coaches are good (????) they can develop a player like Durant and turn him into a Malcolm Butler. Initially, Durant will be a Special Teams player.
DeVante Parker traded by Dolphins to Divisional Rival Patriots
Before we get too excited, we need to look at this trade for what it’s worth. The Dolphins would never knowingly help the Patriots by trading a player to them that could assist the Patriots in making the playoffs or finishing ahead of the Dolphins in the division. What do they know that the Patriots don’t?
Parker has a long injury history, including most recently a hamstring injury that limited him to 9 games in 2021. His stat line was 50 catches for 515 yards and 2 TDs. In 2019 he had his best season while staying healthy. He had 72 receptions for 1202 yards and 9 TDs. That season was under Offensive Coordinator and former Patriots WR coach Chad O’Shea. The significance of that is that O’Shea installed an offensive system similar to the Patriots. The terminology was similar as was the heavy amount of option pass routes. Parker thrived in this system. Parker toasted the Patriots and Stephon Gilmore specifically, in the final game of the 2019 season. He had 8 catches for 137 yards.
An interesting stat was brought up by Michael Felger on NBC Sports Sunday. DeVante Parker led all receivers in the number of contested catches made (69) over the past 5 years. The second was Julio Jones and 3rd was Michael Williams. That means he is very strong on what are 50/50 balls. What it also means is that he is not getting separation. Mac Jones is risk-averse, and if Parker is not getting open, then he is not getting the ball! Parker is not a true #1 WR. He does not have the speed to threaten over the top. Miami chose to pay Cedric Wilson $2M more than Parker and keep him. The Patriots got him because his salary was reasonable and he was under control for two seasons at that reasonable number. The Patriots traded a draft pick they will get as compensation for JC Jackson in 2023 while getting a 5th round pick in 2022 (a deeper draft year). All this for a drop of 67 picks!
From early accounts, it appears that Parker will come to camp with a huge chip on his shoulder. He seems very motivated. The 29-year-old veteran would like nothing better than to bury his old team. Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Parker chose New England when he had multiple opportunities elsewhere. Atlanta, Green Bay, and Houston were in negotiations with Miami and Parker’s agent. Isn’t that tampering when a player is under contract with another team? Patriots were with Miami GM Chris Grier all last week on the Pro Day circuit.
Time will tell who wins this trade. Can Parker stay healthy? Will he be the favorite target of Mac Jones?
Patriots work out Miami QB D’Eriq King
This is a curious link! Patriots defacto QB coach Joe Judge held a private workout of King at his Pro Day. King threw and then worked out at Wide Receiver and caught the ball just as he did at the combine. His 40-yard dash at the Miami Pro-Day is in dispute. My source for all Pro Day workouts is Alex “Punter Apologist” Katson from Neptune Scouting. His spreadsheet is an invaluable resource. Katson lists King’s workout as 4.65. I saw another Internet report that Kings time was 4.48!
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