With the NFL Draft just six days away, rumors, mock drafts, and draft stock analysis is rolling 24/7 on NFL network. The Patriots have a number of picks this year, starting with the 29th pick in the first round and followed by the 62nd, 93rd, 130th, 140th, 198th, 206th and 244th. Most speculate that the Patriots will target four positions, but the order is indefinite; tight end, defensive line, safety and interior offensive line. Arguments could be made to target each of these positions with the first round pick, but today cover32 makes three bold predictions about the Patriots strategy.
1. Bill Belichick will trade the 29th pick…
…unless a top three safety or offensive lineman is still on the board. Belichick has commented that this draft is particularly deep, and he is no stranger to developing lower round talent. Many are calling for Jace Amaro from Texas Tech to be drafted at the 29th position to fill the move tight end spot across from Gronk, but for the frugal Belichick, this could be a stretch. Last year the Patriots traded the same pick to the Vikings for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th round pick, and fielded a strong rookie class. With a sub-par tight end class, and the expectation for a lot of offensive and defensive lineman to be taken early, it would not be surprising to see this pick traded.
2. The Patriots will draft a wide receiver before they draft a tight end.
Let’s take stock of the wide receiving core. Julian Edelman – phenomenal. Danny Amendola – showing sparks when he is not injured. Aaron Dobson – coming off of foot surgery. Kenbrell Thompkins showed a lot of promise, but was non-existent at the end of the season. Brandon LaFell, historically a second or third option, is new to the team. There is still a need for an over-the-top stretch receiver. It is reasonable to believe that the Patriots will fill a depth position with wide receiver, and they should begin looking in the second round. There are a number of sleepers, particularly over 6’2”, and big conference players, who could be steals in Day 2 or Day 3. Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins’ counterpart at Clemson, has already worked out with the Patriots, is 6’3”, 211 pounds, and ran a 4.42 forty-yard-dash. Bruce Ellington of South Carolina is also a big, spread receiver that has worked out the Patriots. Other notables include Kevin Norwood (Alabama) and Jeremy Gallon (Michigan). With Michael Hoomanawanui resigning, and Dustin Keller visiting the Patriots yesterday, depth at wide receiver could garner more attention from the Patriots.
3. AJ McCarron and Katherine Webb will be buying a home outside of Boston.
McCarron was reportedly told that he would be taken between numbers 16 and 25. Past play doesn’t indicate future performance, and although boasting one of the best college careers out of the top quarterback picks, McCarron lacks the big arm and deep accuracy that teams are looking for when taking a quarterback in the first round. What McCarron does have is a winning pedigree. Saban, Belichick and Brady would all help this kid grow into an exceptional NFL quarterback. The time is right to begin grooming Brady’s successor and it has become clear that Ryan Mallet is just not the guy. McCarron could come to New England with the 93rd pick or even the 130th. Once the big names come off the board, quarterbacks tend to be ignored as teams snatch up receivers and defensive depth, which could set up Belichick perfectly to make a decisive move in the late second or third round.