The Patriots 2012 draft was all about moving up to stock up on defensive studs. Bill Belichick broke with his tradition of stocking up on draft picks, moving up to take both Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.
This year’s draft saw the team reverting to the usual formula of collecting draft picks.
The Vikings, quite unbelievably, gave up three picks to take New England’s first round selection off their hands.
Until the 52nd pick of the draft, when the team selected linebacker Jamie Collins of , Patriots fans had to sit an wait. Collins has shown glimpses of real ability in pre-season. He is extremely athletic and has been very good positionally. Collins will be hoping to see a lot of playing time this season, especially with the possibility of Brandon Spikes leaving at the end of the year when his contract is up.
With their own pick in the second round New England selected big-bodied Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson. The 6′ 3″ Dobson has good hands and adds a real outside receiving presence that the Patriots have arguably lacked since the days of Randy Moss prowling the field.
The third round saw New England draft the first of a bunch of Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Logan Ryan. The cornerback has impressed in pre-season in the backfield alongside fellow alumnus of Rutgers, Devin McCourty and will feature this season.
Next in round three New England took their second member of the Rutgers secondary, and the surprise pick of the draft, Duron Harmon. Many people had a much lower draft grade on Harmon than the third round and he probably could have been picked up at least 1-2 rounds later. Harmon projects as a reserve but he has made the 53 man roster, he clearly has something Belichick likes.
Fourth round pick Josh Boyce, the 2nd wide receiver taken by the Patriots in this draft has slipped more in pre-season than anyone else. Boyce has struggled at times and looked very good at others, and this inconsitency has meant his play has been overshadowed by UDFA rookie, Kenbrell Thompkins and Dobson. (link)
With no picks in round five and six it is not surprising that New England drafted DE/DT Michael Buchanan with their first of two picks in round seven. In the final pre-season game, Buchanan played well and probably helped himself to seal one of the roster spots of the players ‘on the bubble’.
The final selection of the Pats 2013 draft was another Scarlet Knight, linebacker Steve Beaurharnais, whom I can’t help but call “Steak Sauce”. Beaurharnais seems to have the versatility that coach Belichick covets, he has some pass-rush ability, is regarded as a good run blocker and plays special teams.
Three UDFA rookies have made the 53 man roster and a fourth would have been a possibility. Wide receiver TJ Moe has been placed on injured reserve (IR) and will be hoping to make an impact in 2014, if not before.
Each of the three UDFA rookies to make the roster has fought hard and showed genuine skill in pre-season, with each beating out a veteran in the position to make the cut.
Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has quickly earned the trust of Tom Brady. While Thompkins does not have ‘stand out’ measurables, he has done everything asked of him in pre-season. Thompkins has arguably climbed above Josh Boyce in the depth chart right now.
Zach Sudfeld has beaten off competition at what was a well stacked TE group, even without Hernandez. Seudfeld had the perennially injured superstar Rob Gronkowski, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui in front of him. With the Patriots only keeping three tight ends Sudfeld making the roster alongside Gronk and the Hooman should not be taken lightly.
Perhaps the biggest surprise (in some corners) is that rookie Ryan Allen beat out the hugely popular Zoltan Mesko to be the punter for the Pats this season. Allen is a winner of the Ray Guy award for the best college punter in the country, so perhaps at a saving of over $800,000 this season maybe it is no surprise at all?