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Potential Day Two NFL Draft Targets for Patriots

With the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft finished with, the Patriots will finally have the chance to add to their strong roster via college prospects. Let's take a look at some players who could be on their way to Foxboro.

After some of the shocks, twists and turns that took place during day one of the 2017 NFL Draft, the reigning Super Bowl champions will have a chance to dip into the prospect pool. The Patriots did not have a first round pick and don't currently have a second round pick either (as of this writing), meaning they will still have to wait until the early third round (pick #72) before their first selection. With that being said, here are some players that the Patriots could have their eye as we approach the second night of the already-eventful NFL Draft.

1) Bucknell offensive tackle Julie'n Davenport - While the Patriots signed their right tackle Marcus Cannon to a long-term deal and Nate Solder is coming off arguably his best year as a pro, the team needs depth behind them. Despite the team having time to work out a deal with him, Solder is also entering the last year of his contract too. Behind Solder and Cannon are underwhelming swing tackle options in Cameron Fleming and La'Adrian Waddle. Enter Julie'n Davenport, who started 44 games for Bucknell over the four years of his college career (all at left tackle). Davenport is a raw prospect who needs some coaching but boasts large upside despite coming from Bucknell. With Dante Scarnecchia coming back for another season as the team's offensive line coach, there is arguably no-one better in the league to learn from than "Scar". 

The Patriots went through a full day of workouts with Davenport back in late March, according to Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline. And with many top offensive lineman available going into day two like Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp, Taylor Moton and Ethan Pocic, Davenport could slip through into the early third round for the Patriots. 

2) Ohio EDGE Tarell Basham - The Patriots have shown quite a bit of interest in the small school EDGE rusher. Basham has worked out for the Patriots on two different occasions (once at Gillette, per CSNNE's Phil Perry & once at the University, per Akron Messenger's Jason Arkley). Coming to the draft, EDGE rusher is arguably the biggest need for New England. His 6'4", 269 lb frame is ideal for the position to go along with his highly productive 2016 season (14.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks). Basham was also strong against the run, showing that he is more than just a potential sub-package rusher at the next level. Basham isn't expected to be picked before the third round but likely won't be there at the end of day two, so the Patriots would need to grab him with one of their two third round picks if they want him.

3) Florida cornerback Jalen "Teez" Tabor - Only a year ago, Tabor was talked about as a top prospect in this class and potentially the best cornerback prospect as well. But after a poor testing period in which he only ran 4.62 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and 4.72 at his own Pro Day, Tabor's draft stock is slipping. Not to mention, Tabor has some off-field questions. Those questions & suspicions were only fueled further after his one game suspension last season for "behavior that is not acceptable", according to his now former head coach, Jim McElwain. Talent wise, Tabor oozes with plenty of it as he showed terrific one-on-one ability on the outside and was even a two-time First Team All-SEC. 

Because of his poor testing and off-field questions, Tabor is now available as day two is approaching. He may not necessarily be available come pick 72, but it may not be far-fetched as plenty of cornerbacks remain like Quincy Wilson, Fabian Moreau, Chidobe Azuwie, Sidney Jones and Kevin King remain available. The Patriots have met with Tabor on more than occasion as he had a formal interview with them back in early March according to MassLive's Kevin Duffy and a "top 30" visit with New England (per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport). Cornerback is a need and Tabor showed extremely well in college, so it is conceivable that the Patriots could take Tabor at 72 if he is still available.

4) Central Florida cornerback Shaquil Griffin - Another cornerback that the Patriots have shown interest in, Griffin is certainly not as "high profile" of a prospect as Tabor is. The team even sent Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio to conduct a formal workout with Griffin less than 10 days ago, per Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. Griffin's game is reminiscent of now former Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan as Griffin is known for his physical style of play at the line of scrimmage against receivers and being "aggressive in the run game", according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. Griffin also has 34 pass deflections to his name over his last two years in college, which is indicative of his pass coverage, Griffin isn't expected to be picked until the mid-to-late third round, so he could definitely be there at pick 72. 

5) Florida State EDGE DeMarcus Walker - A player who has been linked to the Patriots for some time, Walker is a highly productive college player at a position of need for the reigning Super Bowl champions. Played at Florida State, Walker had 25 sacks over the past two seasons including 16 in 2016 that led him to being named a First-Team All American. Walker has also met with the Patriots on multiple occasions including in March (per Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson) and in early April (per MassLive's Kevin Duffy), so the interest appears to be there. The biggest question for Walker is whether or not he can succeed as an EDGE rusher full-time in the NFL. Some have suggested him playing more on the interior defensive line. 

Even if that is the case, Walker's potential versatility all over the defensive line could appeal to the Patriots. Trey Flowers has a tendency to kick inside on occasion as well, so it's something the Patriots are familiar with. He may not make it to round three but he has to be a top consideration for the team if he is there at 72.

6) Utah offensive guard Isaac Asiata - Like offensive tackle, the Patriots appear to have both guard spots set in stone with Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney. But behind them, there is virtually no depth as only Ted Karras (2016 sixth round pick) is behind them. Asiata has position versatility as he started for the Utes at right tackle, left guard and right guard during his two year tenure there (he served on a mission for the first two seasons). NFL.com's Lance Zierlein also mentioned that Asiata could play center, which only adds to his versatility to move around the offensive line. The Patriots have longed valued position versatility, especially at offensive line. Asiata plays with a mean streak and plays with a high level of aggression with his ideal size (6'3", 323 lbs). Zierlein also mentioned more than once in his scouting report that Asiata is a "hard worker".

Asiata revealed on Twitter only less than two weeks ago that he was visiting the Patriots as he tweeted a picture of him and former teammate Eric Rowe at the team's facility. He isn't expected to be looked at by teams until the third round (or potentially the fourth), so he seems like a lock to be available at 72 for the Patriots to select.

7) Troy offensive tackle Antonio Garcia - "Another offensive lineman"? Garcia has been talked up throughout the draft season as someone who could be a top prospect at the offensive tackle position given the lack of solid depth available. Garcia was a three and one half year starter at Troy with 42 starts at left tackle. He would've started more games had he not missed half of his freshman season with a knee injury. Known for his high-end athleticism, Garcia's main criticism is his size. He is listed at 302 lbs but NFL.com's Lance Zierlein was told that by sources that Garcia has been below 280 and 290 lbs at points during the 2016 season. Garcia would likely need to add some bulk (and keep it) for him to have the adequate size to play tackle at the next level.

Sirius XM Radio's Eddie Borsilli reported that Garcia met with the Patriots on April 18th, only 10 days ago. Garcia boasts NFL starter qualities but needs some help with his technique and ability to keep weight. He isn't expected to drop into the third round but the Patriots would likely be very intrigued if Garcia somehow slips through the cracks with so many other offensive tackle prospects available coming into day two.

8) Ohio State inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan - The Patriots were able to re-sign star linebacker Dont'a Hightower during the off-season to a long-term contract. But despite the re-signing, linebacker is still a need for the team. They do have Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin and Kyle Van Noy for depth, but someone like McMillan could help solidify the position. A 2015 Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) finalist, McMillan enjoyed a very productive career at Ohio State, being named to the Big Ten's First and Second teams in separate seasons along with being a second-team All American in 2016. McMillan has some questions about his ability to play against the run and as an interior gap player but has the ability to play on the outside and cover receivers as well. 

He revealed to reporters that he had met with the Patriots in mid-March and is expected to be taken sometime in the third round. So McMillan could very well be available when the team picks at 72. 

9) Connecticut strong safety Obi Melifonwu - A fast riser over the past one-to-two months during draft season, it is a little surprising Melifonwu is still available as day two approaches. He is an extremely versatile player who has experience at strong safety, cornerback and even linebacker while at UConn. The Patriots are set at safety in 2017 with Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung as the top three players at the position. But Chung (who plays strong safety) is going into the last year of his contract and will be turning 30 before the beginning of the 2017 season. Huron projects better as a free/nickel safety, leaving a hole potentially at strong safety after 2017. 

Obi is all but a lock to be picked at some point in the second round, out of the range of the Patriots. But considering he has spoken with them at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine (which he confirmed to reporters) and the Patriots holding a private workout with him at his school back on April 20th, it seems the Patriots are very interested in him. He is someone I believe the Patriots could trade up for potentially as they don't have many theoretical spots left to fill on their roster.

10) Vanderbilt inside linebacker Zach Cunningham - Lastly, we have another linebacker. This time in Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham. Cunningham was considered to a be late-first round draft pick only a few months ago but has now slipped into day two. Despite that, Cunningham isn't expected to wait long to hear his name be called. A play-maker for the Commodores, Cunningham was named to the AP First-Team All-American team in 2016 after finishing with 125 total totals (16.5 for a loss). He has some questions about his lower body strength and tackling efficiency as he missed some tackles during his college career. 

At Vanderbilt's Pro Day, Belichick worked extensively with Cunningham and put him through drills as well. As discussed above, linebacker is still a position of need for the Patriots. Cunningham is almost sure to be picked in the second round, leaving it nearly impossible for him to be available at 72. But I believe the Patriots could trade up for someone with so few roster spots up for grabs. Cunningham is a player I'd strongly bet the team would trade up for if they do. 


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