The Patriots don't have a first round pick on Thursday, but they'll be very active on Friday and Saturday as they're scheduled to make almost a dozen picks. They'll surely make a few trades, but they aren't allowed to trade their compensatory picks, so there will be at least one third round pick and three sixth round picks that aren't going anywhere. The Patriots need help at offensive tackle, defensive tackle, running back, linebacker, wide receiver, and they could also use depth in the defensive backfield. OK, enough talk, let's get to the matter at hand.
The New England Patriots are on the clock:
60. Su'a Cravens- OLB-USC
The Patriots have talent at linebacker and they also signed Shea McClellin in the offseason, but Cravens is the type of hybrid outside linebacker/safety ballhawk that Belichick would love to add to the defense, especially considering how difficult it's going to be to sign all the free agents after 2016 (Collins, Hightower, Sheard). Adding a playmaking linebacker will make the loss of one of those three more bearable.
61. Hassan Ridgeway-DT/NT- TEXAS
New England took a hit to their defensive tackle depth when they released Dominique Easley and let Sealver Siliga go, but they still have Malcom Brown, Alan Branch, recently signed Terrance Knighton, Joe Vellano, and Markus Kuhn. Even with this group in place, they need to find young depth for the interior that can stop the run and help provide an interior pass rush.
91. Alex Collins-RB- ARKANSAS
Collins would provide the Patriots with a bruising back with excellent feet, something they've been missing for awhile. Collins doesn't slow down in his cuts, a talent that is rare and should help him succeed in the NFL. Collins needs to improve in the passing game, catching and blocking, if he wants to become a complete back. With Brady's suspension looming, it certainly won't hurt to have a stable of backs to take the load off of Jimmy Garoppolo.
96. Shon Coleman- OT- AUBURN
If Coleman is selected, he will be the third member of the Patriots offensive line that has dealt with and beat cancer (Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon) after he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2010. Coleman was able to return to the field in 2012, but he was redshirted, something that was a necessity for Coleman to get back into football shape, which isn't easy after battling a disease like leukemia. Coleman is 6'5, 307 pounds and his best strength is, well, strength. He's a beast of a guy, and when he gets his hands on someone, it's over. The Patriots desperately need depth at tackle.
196. Keenan Reynolds- RB/QB- NAVY
Bill Belichick will always have an eye on Navy, and he isn't shy about signing players from the place he grew up. Keenan Reynolds, former quarterback for the Midshipmen, projects to be a running back in the NFL, but you never now with Belichick and it wouldn't surprise me if they try to convert Reynolds to receiver. Reynolds versatility fits right in with the Patriots philosophy and New England gets a solid player in the late rounds.
204. Jihad Ward- DL- ILLINOIS
Ward is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential, and New England has a good chance of helping him take his game to the next level. Ward can play the end on both sides, and he also can kick down inside, a trait that obviously makes him attractive to the Patriots due to their 3/4-4/3 hybrid system. Ward has room for physical growth too; he played receiver and safety in JUCO and now he's a 6'5, 300 pound beast. When he learns to use his body better, he's going to be a force.
208. Ben Braunecker- TE- HARVARD
Braunecker may come from what is considered a small school in Harvard, but he has real ability and a good chance to succeed in the NFL. Braunecker is extremely physical, and he loves to block to the whistle. He can also catch the ball, making 48 catches for 850 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior. New England may have the best tight end duo in football, but Bennett is on the final year of his deal so it makes sense to prepare to replace him in '17.
214. Cole Toner- OT- HARVARD
The Patriots go back to Harvard for their second consecutive pick, this time selecting talented tackle Cole Toner. Toner stands at 6'5, 306 pounds, but he definitely has the frame to add more weight, something he'll do over the next couple years in the NFL. Toner, an All-American in 2015, has been questioned about the level of talent he's faced, but the ability is there and once he gets used to the jump to the NFL game and fixes some of his technique issues, he could be an NFL starter.
221. Kevin Peterson- CB- OKLAHOMA STATE
Here is the Patriots Insider breakdown of Kevin Peterson, published on April 20, 2016.
243. Alex McCalister- DE/OLB- FLORIDA
New England is in need of pass rushers, especially after the trade of Chandler Jones, and McCalister is excellent value at this point in the draft. McCalister is very raw and their were character questions in college, but assuming they aren't red flags like they should have seen with Aaron Hernandez, McCalister is a player the Patriots would be willing to take a chance on. McCalister is surprisingly stout against the run, although rushing the passer is his strong point.
250. Sean Davis- S/CB- MARYLAND
Here is the Patriots Insider breakdown of Sean Davis, published on April 11, 2016
So there you have it, the 2016 Patriots draft in a perfect world. They'll make trades and most likely won't select any of these guys (kidding) but it is always fun to project. For those fans who don't think New England would draft two running backs, don't forget they took Ridley and Vereen in consecutive rounds of the same draft, so there is precedent. There is also a good chance that Reynolds will be a wide receiver in the NFL, and if that is the case, don't be surprised if New England signs an non-drafted running back.
Here are some UDFA's New England could be interested in:
QB- Cody Kessler- USC
WR- Canaan Severin- VIRGINIA
DL- Lawrence Thomas- MICHIGAN STATE
WR- Jalin Marshall- OHIO STATE
FB- Glenn Gronkowski- KANSAS STATE
HB- Keith Marshall- GEORGIA
Join us on Friday and Saturday as we provide immediate updates and player profiles on the Patriots selections.
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