As far as Draft hype goes, the Supplemental draft has never drawn much fanfare. Certainly it pales in comparison to the regular Draft even for those involved. It's not televised, there's no bevy of Draft guides published right before the event and fans don't even have a place to hang out and cheer or boo their team's choices. But that's where the intrigue of the Supplemental Draft increases.
This year's crop of available talent has a few players who are expected to have their names selected by a team before the seven-round process concludes. Out of the 11 players available, three are worth taking a closer look at for the Patriots. They would fill a need of the team, and two of them could have been first day (possibly first round) selections if they were able to stay in school.
What we've heard via various rumblings in the press and behind the scenes is that New England could select Jared Gaither, the massive offensive tackle from Maryland or they could take a chance on Paul Oliver, the talented defensive back from Georgia. Even Chris Patrick the offensive lineman from Nebraska is an option. Here's why they will/won't use one of their 2008 draft picks on these players.
Jared Gaither: Ht: 6-8 Wt: 324 Pos: OT School: Maryland
How he can help: Gaither is a massive body, as talented as any offensive lineman available in the Draft. His size and his quickness, could allow him to move into the role of left tackle after a few seasons experience. He would be an immediate upgrade to the reserve roster at right tackle where Wesley Britt and Ryan O'Callaghan are competing with Nick Kaczur for playing time.
What's he's worth: Reports indicate that Gaither would have been a first day pick if he were able to return to school for another season. Once believed to have first-round talent by numerous scouts, it's his conditioning and his inability to get back to academic eligibility that have many concerned. Because the NFL is as mentally demanding as it it physically, Gaither is expected to drop to the late rounds in the Draft, if he's selected at all.
What the Pats should do: New England is expected to pass on Gaither, even though they could use him. They might try to sign him to an undrafted deal if he falls completely off the board, but that's unlikely. The teams that have shown interest in Gaither, are expected to use a late round pick to ensure he doesn't make it to free agency. They should let another team make him their pet project; the Pats have enough on the roster already, even if Gaither's upside is significantly greater.
Paul Oliver: Ht: 6-0 Wt: 205 Pos: CB School: Georgia
How he can help: Oliver could be the type of impact player the Patriots look for in the later rounds of the Draft if he falls that far. With a little bit of experience, some time studying the playbook, and an off-season of strength training by a pro trainer, he could move from a reserve DB to starting role for New England. Asante Samuel's unknown future has the team considering roster lineup changes for the 2007 season, none of which would be the ideal situation. Oliver could fill in as a reserve defender until he's developed, and would be one of the answers in a secondary with multiple players scheduled to become free agents in 2008. if nothing else, Oliver would provide an immediate upgrade in talent to a group that included Chad Scott, Randall Gay Antwain Spann and Willie Andrews last season.
What's he's worth: Scouts and draft experts predicted Oliver to be a first round pick in 2008. Because of his difficulties staying in school and his pedestrian performance at his pro day, he'll likely be a third or fourth-round pick.
What the Pats should do: New England should use one of their extra third round picks in 2008 on Oliver this year. They haven't had a lot of success drafting defensive backs in the third round the past few seasons (Guss Scott), and Oliver has more upside. Even though he'll be very far behind the rest of the roster in learning the complicated defensive scheme, and he'll have a long way to go before he'll see the playing field, Oliver's upside is too big to pass on him if he reaches the fourth round. Someone will take him, even if it means red-shirting him his first pro season. It should be the Patriots, but it likely won't be.
Chris Patrick: Ht: 6-4 Wt: 290 Pos: OL School: Nebraska
How he can help: The strength Patrick has could be what gets him selected in the Draft, or signed to a team that needs an offensive lineman. Although he has shorter arm length, the Patriots have a distinct need to upgrade their offensive line, and a young, strong player from a big program could help. Patrick would have to prove his versatility and strength are solid enough to win a job, but he would give players like Billy Yates, Russ Hochstein and Gene Mruczkowski a challenge for a coveted roster spot.
What's he's worth: Projected as high as the fourth round, Patrick will probably fall to the last two rounds or even off the board completely. He 's not fighting academic issues, and he's in shape, so he has both those working in his favor to improve his stock.
What the Pats should do: The Patriots have made few bones about trying to find later round picks that could improve the talent level of the roster. Patrick would do that, in our opinion. The trouble has been that the team's current starters have been able to hold down their jobs because the talent behind them isn't enough to win the starting role. Patrick isn't going to knock anyone out of the starting role in the near future, which means he's probably not worth spending a pick on at this point. If he makes it to free agency, he could be a big help, but there are other teams pursuing him at this point, and the Patriots already selected three offensive linemen in the 2007 Draft with the intention of improving depth on the unit (Clint Oldenburg, Corey Hilliard and Mike Elgin). We've seen them in action and Elgin has the look of a late-round sleeper. The Pats are probably all set there.
Ask An Insider (talk to the people who talk to the players)
Suppermental Draft Update
Pro-Day Workout: Chris Patrick
Pro-Day workout: Clifton Dickson
Pro Day Workout: Jared Gaither
Supplemental Draft Update: Paul Oliver