How the Patriots Must Attack Day 2 of the NFL Draft After Trading with Minnesota
The Minnesota Vikings put a lot of eggs in WR Cordarrelle Patterson’s basket, and Belichick went ahead and looted it. Considering the Patriots got four picks—Nos. 52, 83, 120 and 229 overall—for their late first-rounder—No. 29 overall—it’s hard to argue they didn’t outfox the draft system and any pundit who thought they knew what New England’s draft plans were.
The trade leaves New England with two picks In Rounds 2 and 3, plus a fourth-rounder and three picks in the seventh.
Still, all the eggs in the world won’t do any good if you don’t know how to cook them. So, here’s how the Patriots can throw together a tasty draft omelet and avoid scrambling their picks on Day 2 (Rounds 2 and 3), assuming they don’t have any more trades in the works.
Round 2, 52nd Overall (Acquired Via Trade): Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
With three of the draft’s top quarterbacks still on the board and zero running backs taken in Round 1, Jamar Taylor may end up falling into the New England Patriots’ lap, especially with other quality defensive backs still available to help push him farther into Round 2.
The thinking here is that Taylor was the Patriots’ target all along, and if they can land him with the 52nd pick, it will be a masterful move.
With Aqib Talib only on a one-year deal, Kyle Arrington best-suited to a slot role and Alfonzo Dennard far from a proven commodity, a top cover corner like Taylor would go a long way toward improving a beleaguered secondary—not only in 2013 but for years to come.
If Taylor isn’t available, they can still bolster their defensive backfield with one of the Mississippi State teammates Johnthan Banks or Darius Slay.
Round 2, 59th Overall: Aaron Dobson, WR, Marshall
Part of the reason the New England Patriots’ first-round trade made so much sense is because their position of greatest need—wide receiver—is incredibly deep in Rounds 2 through 4.
With Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and California’s Keenan Allen likely to come off the board before the Patriots’ selection, Aaron Dobson represents the best fit for what they need at the position.
He’s big (6’3”, 210 lbs), fast—he ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at Marshall’s pro day—and has great hands. He would give the Patriots an excellent option on the outside to complement Danny Amendola and take some pressure off their dynamic tight-end duo.
On the off chance Dobson is gone before this pick, Baylor’s Terrance Williams or Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton would be nice consolation prizes. With four picks on Friday, they might even swing for the fences on Tennessee Tech’s embattled Da’Rick Rogers.
Round 3, 83rd Overall (Acquired Via Trade): William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
The former blue-chip recruit didn’t live up to the hype at Michigan State, but the Detroit native has room to grow and hasn’t even approached his potential.
At 6’6”, 281 pounds, the cousin of former first-round bust Vernon Gholston has the size to make an impact as a defensive end alongside Vince Wilfork and Chandler Jones.
Considering speed was never part of his game to begin with—he ran a 4.96-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, per NFL.com—he could probably afford to add some weight to his frame without adversely affecting his game.
Gholston is unlikely to be a major force in terms of quarterback sacks—that will be up to Chandler Jones—but he has a knack for batting down passes (10 in 2012) and making plays in the backfield (30 career tackles for loss in 36 career college games).
If he bulks up, he has a bright future as a 3-4 defensive end.
Round 3, 91st Overall: Trevardo Williams, DE/OLB, Connecticut
The New England Patriots could always pull off another draft coup and pull the trigger on South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore. That isn’t a position of need for them, but he was a likely first-round pick, suffering a torn ACL in each knee in consecutive years, and would represent tremendous value given his upside.
Otherwise, Trevardo Williams makes a ton of sense. One of the Patriots’ most glaring weaknesses in recent seasons has been an anemic pass rush. Even as a situational player, Williams should help rectify that from day one.
He played defensive end at UConn, but at 6'1", 241 pounds, he’s too small to line up in the NFL trenches, but he has incredible burst and upfield speed (4.57-second 40-yard dash, 38" vertical leap, 10'4" broad jump, according to NFL.com.
Those traits make him a natural fit as a quarterback-seeking outside linebacker at the next level. Moving him off the line will keep him from getting caught among the bigger bodies and leave him free to maximize his speed as a rush specialist.
After leading the Big East in sacks during each of the past two seasons, he should thrive in sub packages and as occasional relief for Rob Ninkovich. If you’re looking for a pro comparison, Matt Miller likens him to the Tennessee Titans’ Zach Brown. Best-case scenario, he could be more like the New York Jets’ Antwan Barnes.