Here I go with my annual, and mostly futile, attempt to predict the Patriots draft. In the previous posts I've talked about some of the players and some of the reasoning behind the picks, but now I'll try to put it all in the context of the total draft picture. I'm predicting every pick, even though I think it's very likely the Pats will try to trade one of their picks for a pick next year.
Pick 1 (23d overall pick): I expect the Patriots to trade up 3 to 5 spots to target a specific player. With this belief, I think it becomes almost impossible to tell exactly who they'll take. If somebody who should have gone in the top 10 falls to the 18-20 range, I can see the Patriots making a move to try to go after that player. But since we don't yet know who is going to fall, it's hard to predict who exactly they'll go after.
With that said, if the Pats stay at 23 I think they will draft Connor Barwin, LB, Cinncinatti. A lot of people are going to say this is a reach. Bill Belichick scoffs at your notion of 'reach.' Nobody predicted Jerod Mayo to go as high as 10 last year, and that's worked out pretty well. Barwin has prototypical size for a 3-4 OLB, and he's fast (4.6 40). He also plays some tight end. Sounds like a younger version of someone Pats fans know pretty well.
Other possibilities with this pick: If malcolm Jenkins slips below 15, I think the Pats will make a move up and grab him. If off field concerns cause Andre Smith to slide into the high teens, I think the Pats could go that way. If the Pats think Barwin will still be there at 34 (I don't think he will) then they could go with Darius Butler. If a top D-Lineman falls, that could be an answer as well. Larry English will be taken well earlier than expected, and not be an option for the Patriots.
Pick 2 (34th overall pick): Patrick Chung, Safety, Oregon. The Pats won't trade this pick. It's too valuable -- it's high enough to get a great player but low enough to be at a reasonable cost. The Pats have looked hard at the top safeties, and Chung is the pick. He might last until they pick again at 47, but then again he might not. Chung has good size (212 lbs) and speed (4.5) and he's a proven hitter.
Other possibilities: If Darius Butler falls to 34, the Pats might go with him. If they like Moore or Delmas better at safety, they could be the pick. If they didn't pick Barwin at 23 and somehow he's still on the board at 34, then I think he'd be the pick.
Pick 3 (47th Overall): I think the Patriots are very, very likely to trade up from here to get another player at the top of the 2nd round. If they go a way that I didn't predict at 23, I think they'd use this pick to move up and get one of the guys I mentioned earlier. But I'm going to take a wild guess at this one and predict Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State. He probably won't last until 47, which is why the trade up makes sense. This would also be a very likely pick to trade into next year.
Pick 4 (58th overall): The Pats make a big reach here and take Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida, ILB. He'd probably last another 10 picks, but since the Pats don't have another pick in the second round, they take the guy they want.
Other options are Jamon Meredith, the South Carolina O-Lineman who can play 4 positions.
Pick 5 (89th overall): The Pats look for value here. Someone who they liked to go inside the top 75 that has somehow fallen to 89. Or again, a trade up is very likely to target just such a player. Jamon Meredith fits here if they move up. If they don't get McKenzie, they could use this pick to draft Jason Williams, ILB, Western Illinois. And that's what I'm going with here. You'll see him listed as an OLB, but in the Pats scheme he'll play inside. He may not last until 89, so again, trading up to grab him is likely. Cornelius Ingram, TE, FLA is another option.
Pick 6 (97th overall): Since this is a supplemental pick, the Pats can't trade it. So the one sure thing so far is that they will draft a player at this spot. I believe that player will be Brooks Foster, WR, NC. I also like Stephen McGee, QB, Texas A&M with this pick or the next one.
From here on out I think it's impossible to predict, especially since I think the Pats will use many of the picks after this point to trade up in earlier rounds. But I'll still take a shot at them.
Pick 7 (124th overall): Sebastian Vollmer, G, Houston. There's nothing to tie this guy to the Pats that I can find. But the Pats need a guard, and Vollmer is a good value at this spot.
Pick 8 (170th overall): Another compensatory pick they can't trade. The Pats choose Bear Pascoe, TE, Fresno State. The Fresno State connection is alive and well, and the pats can use TE Depth.
Pick 9 (199th overall): I predict there is almost no chance that the Pats actually pick in this spot. They'll have traded it away to move up, or as a piece in another deal. But if they have the pick, they take Derek Cox, CB, William and Mary.
Pick 10 (207th overall): Here's a wild guess. Julian Edelman, QB, Kent State. This guy is a poor man's Pat White. He runs a 4.5 and could see some time at receiver as well as QB, plus he can play special teams. The Pats are at the point in the draft where they can afford to gamble, so they do, and take a wildcat QB, just to terrorize other defenses a little bit more than they already do. You've got to defend Brady, Moss, and Welker, and now you have to prepare for the wildcat, too.
Pick 11 (234th overall): This pick will be traded as part of an earlier deal. If not, then either of the previous two picks could easily fall to this spot, making them an even better value.