New England Patriots' Post-Draft Wish List
The draft has ended, but that doesn't mean the New England Patriots are through picking up some new additions for their team.
In fact, no one does a better job on the rookie free-agency market than the Pats, as evidenced by the contributions made by Kyle Love, Justin Francis and Brandon Bolden in 2012.
The Patriots hit on their needs at wide receiver, defensive end, coverage linebacker and in the secondary, but there are still some holes in their depth that need to be filled out.
The first and easiest place to start would be along the offensive line, but the Patriots should be in the market for just about any player who they think might be able to bring good competition to training camp.
Here are 10 undrafted prospects who might be good fits in New England.
Robert Lester, Safety, Alabama
Yes, the Patriots already took one strong safety-type in Duron Harmon, but it's clearly a position that Bill Belichick holds in high regard. Taking a swing on a polished safety like Lester, who is coming out of an elite program in Alabama, is always a good move.
Lester has better size than Harmon or Tavon Wilson at 6'1", 220 pounds and is not afraid to come downhill against the run game. He has experience playing his share of coverage as well, doing a good job against tight ends in the middle of the field—something the Patriots struggled with.
Bill Belichick always seems to grab a player from the Crimson Tide, and Lester fits what the Patriots have been looking for at strong safety.
Josh Johnson, Defensive Back, Purdue
Despite the selection of Logan Ryan, the Patriots could still use some depth at the slot cornerback position, and Josh Johnson would be an undrafted free agent who would fit the bill.
Though undersized, Johnson is in the mold of Kyle Arrington, and he has the thickness to hold up inside. Ultra confident and competitive, he brings the kind of attitude defensive backs must have in the NFL.
He'd add another layer of depth for the Patriots at cornerback—a position that always seems to get hit with injuries—while also bringing the kind of fire needed for special teams.
Cameron Lawrence, LB, Mississippi State
Cameron Lawrence would fill a similar need that the Patriots drafted Steve Beauharnais for, but at 6'3", Lawrence has a little more size.
Though at 230 pounds, he's a little light to hold up at the position he primarily played in college—strong-side linebacker. He could realistically project to any of the Patriots' linebacker positions in a pinch.
NFL.com had this to say about Lawrence:
Versatile, instinctual player whose feet are always moving. Assignment-sure defender, maintains gap discipline. Has a constantly-running motor, throws his body around to make plays.
That's exactly the kind of player the Patriots would want to bring in as a rookie free agent.
Zach Boren, Running Back, Ohio State
The Patriots haven't had much use for fullbacks in recent years; however, they always seem to bring some into camp to potentially develop. Some think the fullback is a dying breed, but a player like Zach Boren can make you forget that.
He served primarily as a lead blocker—a role the Patriots have used a backup offensive lineman for in recent years—but he also has solid hands to catch some passes. He might not be the next coming of Heath Evans, but he has the kind of attitude required of a fullback and would single-handedly make training camp Okie drills entertaining.
Throw in the fact that he even filled in at linebacker, and he seems like a good player for the Pats to at least kick the tires on.
Chris Faulk, Tackle, LSU
The Patriots are a well-known offensive linemen school led by legendary coach Dante Scarnecchia, and they're a little light on young applicants. Chris Faulk is just the kind of player who could blossom with the great coaching he'd get in New England.
Faulk didn't see the field in 2012 due to a right knee injury suffered in late August. He was coming off a second team All-SEC selection in 2011, so clearly Faulk has talent. He also has the size, length and playing temperament to make a solid right tackle.
The Pats need to add some depth along their offensive line, and Faulk would be an interesting player for them to consider. They've had success with Faulks from LSU before.
Braxston Cave, Offensive Lineman, Notre Dame
The most interesting position that the Pats did not address in the draft is on the interior of the offensive line. Though Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly are still young, the talent and depth around them (outside of Logan Mankins) is suspect. I even thought the Pats might try to upgrade Connolly early in the draft.
Alas, the hole remains headed into rookie free agency, and Braxston Cave could be a good Patriots fit. Extra tough with the intelligence to make all the line calls, Cave plays the way the Pats like their centers to.
His measurables aren't great, but Dante Scarnecchia has done more with far less. He would give the Pats some long-term insurance if Wendell should get hurt or falters.
Mark Harrison, Wide Receiver, Rutgers
The Patriots took three players from Rutgers, why not make it four? Though they also took Aaron Dobson, a prototypical X-receiver, Harrison also fits that mold and would provide another potential target to develop for Tom Brady.
Harrison's arms are a ridiculous 35 inches long, and at 6'3", 231 pounds, he has elite size to go with them. The end result is a competitive player who might not always live up to the potential of his size but would certainly look good catching passes from Tom Brady.
Harrison would immediately round out the Patriots receiving core and give them another player with deep-threat and red-zone potential. They can't afford to not hit on one of those this offseason.
Joseph Fauria, Tight End, UCLA
Was everyone surprised that the Patriots didn't select a tight end in this year's draft? That's become a running joke, but with the health of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez still uncertain, adding some young depth would make sense.
Joseph Fauria's connection to New England goes through his uncle Christian, who won two Super Bowls with the Pats. He has similar size to Gronk, and while he doesn't share Gronk's blocking prowess, he's certainly an excellent red-zone target, catching 12 touchdowns in his last year at UCLA.
He's not as well-rounded as the elite NFL tight ends are, but his size and quickness cannot be ignored. He'll get a shot somewhere.
Ben Cotton, Tight End, Nebraska
While Joe Fauria might represent a receiving-centric tight end, Ben Cotton would represent a blocking-centric one. With great length and a gritty toughness, at times, Cotton was like a third tackle for Nebraska.
He was underutilized as a receiver, but with some time to develop, he could become a suitable third tight end in short yardage situations. He'd be an upgrade on Michael Hoomanawanui in that regard, if he's able to pick up the playbook.
What's unquestionable is his level of competitiveness, which would make him a tough cut coming out of training camp. Belichick loves his tight ends, and Cotton could intrigue him.
Quinn Sharp, K/P, Oklahoma State
Everyone knows the Patriots love versatility, so why not bring in one of the only kickers and punters in college football?
He’s earned All-American honors as both a kicker (2011, 2012) and punter (2010) from the Football Writers Association of America during his career, and was the first specialist to be selected first-team All-Big 12 at both positions. He was named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year in both 2011 and 2012 for his efforts.
If nothing else, Sharp could fill multiple roles on the practice squad while also providing insurance at two of the most underrated positions on the roster. It also doesn't hurt that Quinn has a thick build and even had six solo tackles on returns in 2012.
That's just the kind of stuff Bill Belichick loves, and Sharp would provide great value and insurance.