New England Patriots 2014 NFL Draft Preview CBS Boston
If there is one thing we learned over his 14 years in New England, it that Bill Belichick loves having plenty of draft picks at his disposal. This year, he has just eight.
Belichick had even less when the 2013 draft kicked off, with Carlos Hyde Jersey just five picks to work with, but trading their first rounder to Minnesota gave them three additional selections over the weekend.
The Patriots head into the draftin a very different situation than the one they faced in 2013. While there are still holes to plug on the roster, there are no glaring needs this time around. Last year, the Patriots entered the draft with giant holes on the defensive line and in the secondary, and a cannon sized need at wide receiver.
This time, they still have needs but they are mostly from a depth standpoint.
Defensive Line:Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are both coming off an injury, as is newly signed defensive end Will Smith. Not to mention, those three are kind of old.
The Patriots defensive line did their best when Wilfork went down early lastseason, but opponents were able to have long stretches of success running the ball against New England, and the Patriots struggled to put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
A rookie wouldn fix those issues, butthe Patriots will likely be looking for some interior help on the line to rush the quarterback, and provide some more depth behind their aging defensive linemen.
Offensive Line: Keeping Tom Brady on his feet will always be a priority in New England, and last year the Patriots weren great at doing that. It not that http://www.49ersofficialnflauthentic.com/authentic-jimmie-ward-jersey.html they had a terrible year, but Brady didn always have time on his side, and he hit the ground hard much more than he would have liked.
The Patriots have a good young core on the line with the likes of Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon, anchored by veterans Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell and All Pro guard Logan Makins. But health has been an issue with Vollmer, and the team could be looking at some more contract drama with Mankins next year, when he scheduled to earn $7 million and have a cap hit of $11 million.
It not a position they address in the first few rounds, but the Patriots should be looking for some young talent on the offensive line.
Tight End:Rob Gronkowski is hurt once again, and doesn even know when or if he return. That leaves Michael Hoomanawanui as the only healthy tight end on the roster. Expect that to change this weekend.
Safety: Yes, even with the addition of Darrelle Revis, the New England secondary Jimmie Ward Jersey still needs some help.
It not as glaring a need as it has in years past, but some more depth at safety or a safety that can really put a hit on opponents would be a welcome addition.
The Patriots also had the 29th overall pick last year, and sent it to the Minnesota Vikings for four additional picks. Those became linebacker Jamie Collins (second round), corner Logan Ryan (third round) and receiver Josh Boyce (fourth round), whilethe fourth pick (a seventh rounder) was in the package that brought LeGarrette Blount to New England from Tampa Bay.
There a very good chance the Patriots do something similar this year, moving out of the first round again to stock up on picks over the following two days. It something Belichick has donetwice in the last five drafts, and 98.5 The Sports Hub Felger Massarotti took a look at those trades earlier this week:
WATCH: Felger Mazz NFL Draft Big Board
But should Belichick and the Patriots keep their first round pick and make a selection around midnight Thursday, here are a few names being mentioned in those famous mock drafts:
ESPN Mel Kiper Jr.:Ra'Shede Hageman, DT Minnesota
The Patriots know their personnel and developmental plans better than I do, I have no doubts, but we both know the age of their best interior linemen is a concern, with Vince Wilfork 32 years old and Tommy Kelly 33. Hageman is the kind of player http://www.49ersofficialnflauthentic.com/authentic-carlos-hyde-jersey.html this coaching staff could turn into something special, and working in rotation this season he could provide some immediate impact as well. He has surprising athletic ability for a player of his size, with great initial quickness which can jolt blockers and disrupt plays from the inside. He also has a long frame and an impressive vertical and will disrupt passing lanes.
ESPN Todd McShay:Stephon Tuitt, DT Notre Dame
The Patriots could use some help along the defensive line, and Tuitt brings good versatility to the table. He is a top 15 player in this class based purely on talent, but there are some concerns with his motor and consistency. At this point in the first round, however, he worth the risk. I also would buy tight end Jace Amaro here. I do not buy Ra'shede Hageman. Too boom or bust. Tuitt's a very strong Patriot kind of versatile tackle and 3 4 end with the ability to play outside, a la Vince Wilfork.
The Patriots need some size and youth on the interior of the OL, and with a possible contract issue with Logan Mankins coming next offseason, the Patriots always plan ahead.