I hesitate to call this a mock draft because I’m not gonna touch the other 31 NFL teams, but “mock draft” is such a buzz word I caved. We’re two weeks from the draft so it’s time to pick my favorites.
What you’ll find below is a no-trade pretend Patriots draft haul. Yes I will completely fill every need as I see it for the Pats with players that I believe fit the system. These are my favorite prospects, so it’s a “perfect world” scenario, where everyone I love falls to us.
17. Cameron Jordan (DE): I think it really comes down to Jordan or JJ Watt at this pick and I think Watt (and maybe both of them) will already be gone. Regardless I lean just a little more in the Jordan camp, and it’s an extremely thin margin and I’d be happy with either. But I believe that Jordan has just a little more versatility, and brings just a little more in the pass rush department than Watt. I also think Jordan isn’t just a DE and could see some time standing up. Overall Watt might be the slightly safer pick, but Jordan seems like he would be able to contribute in a multitude of ways, giving BB lots of options and I like players who allow him get creative.
28. Danny Watkins (OG/C): Despite his age I’ve been high on Watkins for a while now and think he’d come in and contribute immediately. The time to begin thinking about the future of the offensive line is now, especially on the interior. The Patriots can afford the luxury of picking someone who might get 3-4 less years of service, but brings an immediate attitude, and has all the physical skills necessary to play the Patriots style.
33. Nate Solder (T): Solder would greatly benefit from a year with Dante Scarnecchia, and if he could have the kind of rookie year Sebastian Vollmer did where he’s eased in a bit, he’d be well prepared to be an eventual starter on whichever side he’s more comfortable. With him and Vollmer as the bookends of the future the Patriots offensive line would be intimidatingly huge. As a former tight end he has the foot skills necessary to get out and block the slip screens that the Patriots love to run. There might be greater needs but being able to take a talented player like Solder before the true need for a tackle has arrived is a huge luxury.
60. Brooks Reed (OLB): Not sure if Reed will far this fall but I think this 60th pick is the spot to get the OLB coversion guy, whether it’s Reed or a guy like Jabaal Sheard. Reed will contribute immediately on passing downs and can also play special teams to make up for his loss of value on running downs early in his career. I think he will develop into a three down player and brings an energy that would be infectious on the Patriots otherwise subdued defense.
74. Ras-I Dowling (CB/FS): Dowling was considered a top corner prospect before battling injuries in 2010. He immediately would add a potential presence in the slot and could eventually move to Free Safety which will most likely be a major area of need for the Patriots in 2011. The value of getting Dowling in this spot is huge, filling a future need is just icing on the cake. Robert Sands could be another similar option.
92. Johnny White (RB): Like the 60th slot for OLBs, this 92nd slot is a prime place to get any number of quality running backs who run hard. Other guys to consider are Demarco Murray or Shane Vereen. Either way there should be some great backs available in the 3rd/4th round who could come in and be a nice compliment to Law Firm and Woody.
125. John Moffitt (OG/C): The Pats love to pick up developmental OL late in the draft and this year will definitely not be an exception. Moffitt is a favorite of Tedy Bruschi and brings the desired playing temperament. He’ll need some time but could project at either center or guard, which look to both be needs in the next year.
159. Craig Marshall (OLB): I’d love to see the Pats pick up a couple guys who can rush the passer in this draft and Marshall is just that. One way or another guys who can get after the quarterback are always in hot demand. Marshall is extremely raw, but really looks like he could develop into a real good player.
193. Tandon Doss (WR): I don’t see “deep threat” as big of a need as some do, but there are quite a few mid-low round developmental WR projects that I could see the Pats taking a flyer on. Welker and Branch are both entering the last years of their contracts, and it’s always nice to keep the pipeline of receivers Brady is comfortable with flowing.
Now if this was the haul I’d be disappointed not to get an additional developmental lineman or two on both sides of the ball, especially an interior defensive lineman in the Myron Pryor/Jarvis Green mold. That is the disadvantage of having a top-heavy draft. But in all honesty the Pats have such a young roster it’s better to add quality over quantity, because they’ve had a couple years to take developmental guys who need time to, you know, develop. These can also be addressed via rookie free agency.