As has been the case under Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots were active on draft day, moving around and collecting extra selections. The team traded away their first round pick to the Minnesota Vikings, receiving four choices in return. New England filled several needs but as you’ll find out, not everyone was on the same page in their war room.
Jamie Collins/OLB/Southern Mississippi (Round 2, pick #52): Collins was a feared sack artist the past two seasons and made an unusual number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s a terrific athlete who spent part of his college career at safety. Yet Collins is a much better fit on the outside of a 3-4 alignment versus the 4-3 scheme run by the Patriots. Our understanding is many of the Patriots scouts felt the same way and graded Collins as a last day pick. I’ve heard there was a lot of disagreement over this pick on Friday of the draft as many of the team’s scouts feel Collins is primarily a north defender and will need a lot of work playing in reverse. He possesses the physical talent but does Collins have the fire and aptitude to play in a more complex defensive scheme?
Aaron Dobson/WR/Marshall (Round 2, pick #59): Dobson was one of the highest rated senior receivers entering the season and possesses the size and pass catching skill to develop into a starter. Despite his forty time from the combine (4.44s) Dobson never presented himself as a vertical threat. Nor did he really distinguish himself at the Senior Bowl. Dobson comes with a good degree of upside potential but considering some of the other receivers available to the Patriots (Terrence Williams/Baylor, Markus Wheaton/Oregon State) we feel the 59th pick was a slight reach for his talents.
Logan Ryan/CB/Rutgers (Round 3, pick #83): If Dobson was a reach then Ryan was great value. For months detractors picked his game apart and pointed to his poor forty time but the game film tells a different story. Ryan possesses terrific ball skills, instincts and overall football ability. Looking at the state of the cornerback position for the Patriots and the recent woes of Alfonzo Dennard, expect Ryan to see productive playing time as a rookie.
Duron Harmon/S/Rutgers (Round 3, pick #91): Harmon was another selection that had some in the Patriots war room scratching their heads. From what I’ve been told this was a situation where scouts were overruled and the brain trust made the choice. I was alerted in the weeks prior to the draft Harmon would likely be selected yet no one I spoke with thought he would be a top 100 choice.
Josh Boyce/WR/TCU (Round 4, pick #102): While we ranked Boyce as a 5th round choice, its easy to understand why the Patriots grabbed him in the opening round of the draft’s final day. Boyce offers terrific size/speed numbers and is very natural catching the ball. He needs to play at a high level on a consistent basis and polish his game. If that happens Boyce could develop into a very good third receiver for the Patriots.
Michael Buchanan/DE-OLB/Illinois (Round 7, pick #226): Buchanan performed poorly as a senior and as a result, dropped down draft boards. Though we liked him better as a 3-4 outside linebacker, he’s a good fit for the Patriots as a one-gap end. Its a matter of getting Buchanan to play to his level of ability but it was worth a roll of the dice in round seven.
Steve Beauharnais/LB/Rutgers (Round 7, pick #235): In our opinion Beauharnais is probably the most underrated linebacker in this draft. He’s not a sensational play maker rather a hard-working, versatile linebacker who can fill several back-up roles and play special teams. Considering the limited depth the Patriots have at linebacker, it would be a surprise if Beauharnais does not make the final roster.
Grade: C-. The Patriots traded out of round one and passed up on some of the better cornerbacks in the draft who could’ve made an immediate impact. When they were finally announced on the clock they chose a linebacker who may struggle breaking into the starting line-up. Many from the organization are mumbling about several of the head scratching choices from this collection of picks. It will be interesting to see the final result of how these prospects stack-up against the players New England bypassed.
*As noted by several readers we erred in our report of Aaron Dobson running at the combine. He did not run the forty at the combine but posted his 4.44s from pro-day.