From now until the first night of the NFL Draft, we will examine players at each position and focus on certain players who may be wearing a Patriots uniform. Here are the Patriots upcoming draft picks:
3rd (projected compensatory)
4th (97, via Mankins-TB trade)
6th (via Casillas-TB Trade)
7th (via Ayers-TEN Trade)
7th (via Mallett-HOU trade
With holes to fill on the offensive line, defensive line, running back, wide receiver, tight end and linebacker, the Patriots will once again have an active draft filled with trades. Having nine selections will allow them to pinpoint players they may want and trade up for. We begin our segment on an area that is the second most important on the team- the offensive line. Teams can’t win if they can’t block, no matter who the skilled position players may be.
New England was able to use the 2014 draft to land starting center Bryan Stork, a player that became indispensable to a championship offensive line. The Patriots are solid at right and left tackle and with Stork manning the middle, the area that needs attention is guard. Connelly had a decent season, as did Ryan Wendell, but the obvious weakness was up the middle and this is a draft to add depth to that area. Josh Kline is a decent backup but Jordan Devey does not seem like he's going to make much of a contribution. Sebastian Vollmer isn't getting any younger and has had injury issues in the past, so it would be foolish to ignore the tackle position too.
Speaking of tackles, today's spotlight is on one of the better players in the draft, Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff. Scherff is considered by many to be the top offensive lineman available and may not be around when the Patriots make their selection, but you never know what can happen in the two months leading up to draft day. Scherff is a physical tackle that will excel in pretty much any system, but there is a chance he may not be playing tackle in the NFL. With the measureables, build and nastiness that Scherff shows, he may have to ability to be an All-Pro guard.
Scherff, a 6'5, 320 pound senior, is considered by some to be the top overall player in the draft. He fires out of his stance and is a road-grater in the running game, not to mention he finished his blocks better than anyone in the country. Scherff also has the ability to get to the second level and block linebackers, which is one of the main reasons scouts are questioning whether he would be better off as a guard. Tackles have to get to the second level, but they don't move around as much as guards and Scherff has the quickness to excel in that role.
Scherff didn't have many chances to face top pass rushers in the Big 10 because the schedule simply didn't provide any, but with the coaching provided to the linemen, he should be good to go in the pros. Scherff also has ridiculous power and strength that will make up for any technique issues that happen from time to time. Again, he probably won't be around when the Patriots pick at 32, but if he happens to slip into the teens, don't be surprised to see the Patriots attempt to trade up to land the durable and talented lineman.