With the NFL Combine wrapping up, it is time to look at a few new prospects the Patriots could have an eye on come NFL Draft day:
Pick #28 – Nate Solder, OL, Colorado
Their Take: The Patriots address the offensive side of the ball with the top tackle left on the board.
My Take: The site has Aldon Smith taken with pick 17, but Solder is a not a player that is high on my Big Board. He did not have a good Senior Bowl and his 40 time at the Combine was not great. A lot of mock drafts have him somewhere around the 15-20 slot. He started off his college career as a tight end, so he is still learning the game, which New England could afford, but maybe in the second round. Gabe Carimi and Mike Pouncey who we discussed in previous mock draft recaps would be better picks at the offensive line position.
Pick #28 – Jake Locker, QB, Washington
My Take: There is no explanation for the picks on this site, but clearly they need an explanation for this one. The Patriots have too many needs to be even thinking Locker in the first round. Tom Brady is going to be the quarterback of this team for a long, long time and Brian Hoyer has showed progress in his two years with the Pats. Locker had a successful NFL Combine and is back as a first round prospect. However, there is no reason why a quarterback should be taken here. By the way, they have Mike Pouncey being taken at pick 17.
Pick #28 – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Their Take: This is a no-brainer for the Patriots. Gerard Warren and Mike Wright did an adequate job this past season, but an upgrade is clearly needed. Ty Warren returns from injury, and if he’s 100% the Patriots could once again have a dominant defensive line with the addition of Heyward. He played
both end and tackle at times in Ohio State’s 4-3 defense, but has the prototypical blend of size and athleticism to play in New England’s 3-4.
My Take: I am not a fan of Cameron Heyward. The Patriots picked up Marcus Stroud the other day in free agency to help improve the run defense. Heyward reminds me too much of another Ohio State player who was hyped to be a great draft pick. That player was Vernon Gholston. He played in that 4-3 defense that Jim Tressel teaches, so I don’t know 100% that Heyward can come in and get the system right away. Mike Wright will be back from his concussion issues and having Ty Warren back will be a boost. I would rather see the Patriots take a guy we discussed two weeks ago in Akeem Ayers with this pick than Heyward. Go the pass rush route at number 28. This site has Gabe Carimi going to New England at number 17.
Pick #28 – Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Their Take: Offensive line might be the Patriots’ biggest need in the offseason. Tom Brady was sacked 5 times against New York and that’s a huge reason why they lost. This simply isn’t a team that can convert a lot of 3rd and longs which is what sacks lead to. Matt Light is a free agent and they don’t normally give 30+ year old players long term deals so he might not be back next season. Sherrod can play either right tackle (with Sebastian Vollmer moving to left) or left tackle for them
My Take: Sherrod is a good pick here at number 28 over a player we discussed earlier in Nate Solder. Sherrod played offensive line under Dan Mullen, who has great relations with former Florida coach Urban Meyer. As we all know, the Patriots like to take players who know Meyer’s system. Sherrod is a versatile player as the site suggests. However, an interesting development could take place in that Damien Woody might be interested in coming back to play for the Patriots. That would help this offensive line drastically. But, Sherrod would be a great fit here with the 28th pick. This site had Cameron Jordan taken with the 17th pick.
What we are trying to do is look at differet prospects each week. Once April comes around. I will re-post my initial thoughts on Watt, Pouncey, Ingram. But, this is just to look at other possible options from other mock drafts
Two points worth mentioning.
1) I don't see the correlation between Gholston and Heyward. Gholston had to change positions from DE to OLB, and he didn't take well to the new position. Heyward will be staying at DE. If he were moving to OLB, I think the comparison would be more apt. My bigger concern with Heyward is effort and consistency. He seemed to disappear at times. I think he has plenty of starter potential, but limited upside.
2) I think Solder would be an awesome value at 28. I don't think his Senior Bowl performance hurt his draft stock because he didn't really miss any assignments or get beaten badly (he just had NO help around him). From everything I read, he had a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl and did well against Kerrigan. I think he has Pro Bowl potential, and I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed if the Pats took him as high as 17.
I think the #17 should be either Watt, Pouncey, or Ingram. I think you can't go wrong with either of those three as they all fill a pretty big need. Ingram might be more luxury than need, but having a "franchise"-caliber RB can be a lot more beneficial than a lineman.
If the Patriots don't go DE with the #17, I would expect them to do so with the #28. I think the pass-rush is a big area of need and there's O-lineman to be had in the later rounds.
@Bloguin I'd throw a few of the top tackles in that mix for 17 too. If the Pats scouts feel that one of those guys is superior to the rest, it would make sense for them to lock him up there and take the best available pass-rusher at 28.