What the Experts Are Saying About the Patriots' 2013 Draft
After the New England Patriots completed their 2013 draft, Bill Belichick trudged on up to the podium at Gillette Stadium, begrudgingly submitting himself to questions surrounding Jamie Collins, Aaron Dobson, the trio of former Rutgers defenders and the rest of this year’s rookie class.
He seemed happy with the draft—he used the word “exciting,” and I’m still consulting instant replay for the tell-tale upward curling of the lips, but I’m pretty sure he even cracked a smile—but offered little insight as to what level of production, if any, fans can expect from the group.
While he wasn’t quite in midseason form when it came to sniffles, coughs and throat clearing, he was still disseminating vague football axioms at an all-pro level.
And then there was this nugget:
Q: Is there any advantage to having a football player or athlete that has excelled at another sport?
BB: I don’t know.
(Long, uncomfortable pause. Not even crickets, just silence.)
So yeah, Belichick isn’t saying a whole lot. Surprise! (Here's his full presser courtesy of Patriots.com.)
That’s OK, though, draft experts Internet-wide are saying enough to keep stoking the offseason fire. So how exactly did the Patriots fare in this year’s draft? Let’s take a tour of the web for the proverbial word on the street.
Mike Mayock, NFL.com
Mike Mayock seemed to like New England’s draft as a whole, although even he had to admit Rutgers safety Duron Harmon was a bit of a reach in the third round, even though he sees potential there.
“Bill Belichick knows that school like few coaches do. I had him on my board late as a late-priority free agent. I got on him late when I saw some cut-ups. I moved him up my board because I went, 'Wow.’”
He was fairly high on the rest of the Patriots' draft, but two players really seem to stand out to him: DE Jamie Collins and WR Josh Boyce.
He called Collins “one of the most explosive edge rushers in this draft” and added “He’ll…get his hands on the quarterback.”
Referring to Boyce, Mayock pointed out “[he] would have gone higher if it wasn’t for a foot injury this year.” Sounds like the Patriots got a steal with Boyce, especially once Mayock added, “All of a sudden, New England’s gotten bigger and physical on the edge.”
Sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Thanks, Mike.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
I don’t always agree with Mel Kiper Jr.'s reasoning or his picks, but I respect his non-nonsense approach. The guy is straightforward, doesn’t sugarcoat anything and tells it like (he thinks) it is. So what did “the Kipe” have to say about the Patriots’ draft?
Well, he seems pretty underwhelmed. He panned the Harmon pick, essentially saying he was surprised to see the kid drafted at all.
Kiper handed them a C+ grade overall, and in his mind they didn’t land any true impact players.
Per ESPN.com (subscription required):
The Patriots got a pretty good return from the Vikings to get out of Round 1 at No. 29, assuming Minnesota's second-round pick, then adding picks in Rounds 3, 4 and 7. It was about as Patriots as it gets. Jamie Collins was a productive linebacker for a really bad team at Southern Miss, and provides some needed depth. He's a typical Bill Belichick addition, because he should be pretty versatile, and could move either inside or outside, where he could also provide a pass-rushing presence if needed. Aaron Dobson has a chance to develop, but it's a coin flip if he provides much Year 1 impact. What he does offer is a player who can stretch the field and back up safeties. Same with Josh Boyce. Logan Ryan provides nickel depth now, and they clearly see something in Duron Harmon, who was a huge reach. I think New England could have signed him as an undrafted free agent. The Patriots added some interesting players late. Steve Beauharnais is way too good to be sitting there in Round 7, and Michael Buchanan will get a shot to stick because he has some talent but just hasn't put it all together. I don't see a starter out of this draft in the short-term, but they added players with some really good traits. It's just a matter of development now.
I certainly hope Kiper is wrong about Dobson and Boyce since at least one of them will likely be asked to play a key role on offense at some point this season.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Like virtually everyone else, Pete Prisco hates the Harmon pick. Unlike many other experts, he doesn’t see WR Dobson as a good fit, which means of the team’s first four picks, he’s skeptical of two of them.
For what it’s worth, he still gave them props for landing Collins where they did, and based on his comments, he seems to like Boyce even more than Dobson, calling him “a quality receiver.”
“The Patriots traded out of the first round for more picks and then landed a heck of a pick in Collins. They hit on a few others, but third-round safety Duron Harmon was a reach.”
Evan Silva, Rotoworld
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Evan Silva completely ignores Harmon altogether. I don’t think he forgot about him, so Silva appears to be considering the pick either awful or not worth his time. Neither one bodes well.
Silva does, however, laud the selections of virtually every other player taken, so overall his outlook seems pretty optimistic, although he contradicts himself a bit by praising the players only to opine that they won’t help the team win.
So maybe not so rosy after all?
The Patriots entered the draft with just five picks and did well to maneuver down the board, picking up more chances to improve their roster. Collins is an underrated, explosive edge rusher. Dobson had the best hands of any receiver in the draft. Boyce can really run, and Buchanan is talented enough to develop into an eventual NFL contributor. Ryan will play on special teams and may eventually push slot cornerback Kyle Arrington for snaps. The Patriots drafted several solid prospects and could get surprise impact from some members of the group, but New England is a win-now team and I'm not confident this draft will help them get where they want to be in 2013.
Vinnie Iyver, Sporting News
Vinnie Iyver seems pretty high on the Patriots’ draft as a whole, although he has a bone to pick with Belichick’s love of Rutgers players, adding Logan Ryan’s name to his reach list along with Harmon.
Like most experts, Iyver recognizes the potential defensive impact of a pass rusher like Collins and likes how New England filled out its receiver spots with Dobson and Boyce.
For not having a first-rounder, they had a decent haul in the No. 52-102 range. They needed to hit on outside receivers to better stretch the field for Tom Brady, and Marshall's speedy Aaron Dobson and TCU's physical Josh Boyce did the trick. After taking Chandler Jones last year, Bill Belichick got another talented sack artist in Southern Miss' Jamie Collins. Belichick is in tune with Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knight secondary combination of Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon were reaches.
Nate Davis, USA Today
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Of all the expert reviews I’ve come across, Nate Davis’ is the most scathing.
He raises some valid concerns about jettisoning established players like Brandon Lloyd with such a poor track record of drafting receivers.
Picking up all those picks from Minnesota for No. 29 looked like a shrewd barter, but did the Pats invest them wisely? They've parted with two established wideouts (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd) while TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have both undergone recent surgeries. Translation: It may be tough to keep last season's top-rated offense humming. New England's recent draft track record for wideouts and defensive backs — they picked two apiece this year — is decidedly poor
So, he doesn’t like the WR or DB picks, but no love for Jamie Collins? Patriots fans tend to be optimistic about their draft picks, but if Davis is right and history repeats itself, this has the potential to be the worst draft class of Belichick’s career.
Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Burke sums up this entire draft for the Patriots very well with one simple observation, “[They] need WR Aaron Dobson to be a weapon.”
Fans wanted a wideout, and they got two. Now they need to produce on the field, especially when you consider the Patriots passed on several potential studs at the position.
This was a very Patriots draft — a couple of chances on fairly anonymous players, versatile defenders and a host of Rutgers guys. New England traded out of the 29th pick to add No. 52 (OLB Jamie Collins), No. 83 (CB Logan Ryan), No. 102 (WR Josh Boyce) and a seventh-round selection it later traded. Does that collection of players make up for passing on a late first-rounder? The Patriots need WR Aaron Dobson to be a weapon. Oh, and who knows on that Round 3 pick of S Duron Harmon.