With all the overdone first round mock drafts, it is very easy to forget that there are seven rounds to an NFL draft. No team has been better at using all of the rounds to build its team than the New England Patriots.
With four picks in the first two rounds, it is going to be an exciting draft day for Patriots fans.
My attempt at playing God (known in the football world as "Bill Belichick") starts with a mock draft of all seven rounds...including some moves that do not involve selecting players.
First Round: Pick No. 23
Larry English; DE/OLB, Northern Illinois University
The prognosticators have the Pats selecting players like Clay Matthews or Rey Maualuga here, but if Patriots draft history has taught me anything, it's that Belichick never wants who the mockers think he wants.
There is little doubt that English will be available here, and he fits everything the Patriots need—a speed rusher who can play down or up.
English ran a 4.88 40-yard dash at the combine, had 24 reps on the bench press, and ran a 7.26 on the three-cone drill.
English fits the mold of recently departed Mike Vrabel. English needs to work on his upper-body strength off the line in order to become an every-down player like Vrabel, but he should fill in nicely in a rotation with fellow OLBs Adalius Thomas and Rosevelt Colvin.
Second Round: Picks No. 2 and No. 15
Traded to Carolina for DE Julius Peppers
The Panthers have to crack. They have to be realizing the two truths working against them: Peppers is not going to sign with them, and no one wants to give up first round picks for him.
With a wealth of draft picks and not nearly enough space for all of them, the Patriots could pull a draft deal steal and package two of their three second round picks, as well as, I believe, their fourth round pick No. 24, and complete their defense for 2009.
Second Round: Pick No. 26
Cornelius Ingram; TE, University of Florida
Belichick seems to love to pick tight ends, and Ingram has already stated publicly that he is praying the Patriots select him.
The Patriots already have three tight ends on the roster with Ben Watson, David Thomas, and newly acquired Chris Baker, and the Ingram selection would mean a fierce competition in camp to stay on the roster.
Do not count out Baker as the odd man out just because he is the newest addition. Belichick has been known to sign a player and cut him if he is unsatisfactory in camp. My money, however, is on the deeply disappointing Thomas to skip town.
Third Round: Pick No. 25
Jamon Meredith; OT, South Carolina
The Patriots' No. 1 problem for the past decade has been offensive line depth, and adding the mammoth that is Meredith will certainly help that.
Also, with current RT Nick Kaczur getting the call from the fans to leave, a new talent on the end could serve as a wake-up call.
Meredith is an athletic tackle who would be his best on screen plays (which the Patriots love to do). His great speed for a tackle allows him to get to the linebackers quickly, and he has a knack for the cut block.
The Patriots took a close look at Meredith at South Carolina's pro day, and they have been known to take an offensive lineman or two on draft day.
Third Round: Pick No. 33 (Compensatory Pick)
Pat White; QB/WR, West Virginia
What better way to use a free pick than on a wild card?
White is making the transition to wideout, and the Patriots have already held an individual workout with him.
Patriots.com held a debate over whether or not they will select him in an attempt to be a copycat (pun intended) of the Wildcat offense.
The Patriots have shown they are not against using the Wildcat, putting running back Kevin Faulk in the shotgun at the end of last year.
White would serve as a better player to do that, as he would serve as the best option to throw or run.
Fifth Round: Pick No. 34 (Compensatory Pick)
Curtis Taylor; S, LSU
As the end of the draft looms, the Patriots know they will probably have no room for the picks in the fifth round and later.
With that knowledge, they can pick players with pure athleticism and see if they surprise the coaching staff. Taylor fits this mold.
At 6'2", Taylor has the size and speed to play safety and come up to the line and help with the run.
He lost a lot of playing time in 2008 due to his inconsistent play, and therefore his value is depleted.
Only a team with nothing to lose would consider giving him a shot, and with as many draft picks as they have, the Patriots are one of those teams.
Sixth Round: Pick No. 26
Rulon Davis; DE, California
Davis is a former Marine who spent time in Iraq, and he has done nothing but get better since returning to the country. He has shown flashes of round two talent, but he has never finished a season healthy.
At 6'5", he has a combination of size and athleticism that would fit into the Patriots' front seven...if he slips this far.
Sixth Round: Pick No. 34 (Compensatory Pick)
Andrew Means; WR, Indiana
Means fits the exact mold of a Patriots-type player: a two-sport athlete with guts. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds last summer, so it is unclear if he will play baseball or football.
He says football is his No. 1 choice, but the Patriots, with the aforementioned allotment of picks, can afford to take the chance.
As an outfielder, he does a great job of picking the ball out of the air and has no problem going over the middle.
He has a case of the drops, but he could be a reliable special-teams player for the Patriots in the mold of former Patriot Kelley Washington.
Seventh Round: Pick No. 25
Sean Griffin; LS, Michigan
This is almost the surest pick of this mock draft. The Patriots already signed a long snapper in Nathan Hodel (see one of my previous articles on him), but BB loves to give special teams players competition in camp.
Griffin never had one bad snap on punts or field goals in his two years as a starter at U of M, and he showed good speed on kickoffs. Look for the Patriots to call his name for their last spot.