You have a better chance at winning the lottery than correctly predicting who New England Patriots head coach, and general manager, Bill Belichick selects in the draft.
Nonetheless, going by the needs the Patriots have, where they currently stand in the draft and the mold of players Belichick tends to draft, we can attempt (key word: attempt) to decide who Belichick might have on his draft board.
First, let’s remind everyone where the Patriots will, for now, pick in the draft:
3rd round- 72nd overall
3rd round- 96th overall
4th round- 131st overall
5th round- 163rd overall
5th round- 183rd overall
6th round- 200th overall
7th round- 239th overall
Prospects to Know:
Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo (5’10”, 214 lbs): While Hunt is not the LeGarrette Blount type of back the Patriots backfield usually has, and is currently missing, he can be the running back of the future.
He has good size, great quickness and lateral agility, which makes him a perfect fit for the Patriots healthy mix of power and zone running game. He has the ability to go upfield, as well as waiting for an opening to show up and burst through the hole.
Le’Veon Bell’s patience is by far the best anyone has seen in a long time, and while Hunt is not on Bell’s level (who is?), Hunt exhibits terrific patience in looking for a running lane. He also has the ability to ‘get skinny’ and run through tight holes.
A key thing to consider with running backs when scouting for the Patriots is ball security. And Hunt fits the mold as he rarely fumbled throughout his college career.
Hunt lacks breakaway speed, as he only ran a 4.62 second 40-yard dash. He has also struggled with injuries and pass protection, although he is a hard worker and with some time in the system, he can shore up that part of his game.
NFL Comparison: Bulkier Dion Lewis
Draft Projection: Late 2nd-round/Early 3rd-round
Vince Biegel, EDGE, Wisconsin (6’3”, 246 lbs): Here is a classic case of a tweener. Biegel is not fast or quick enough to be a stand up linebacker. Nor is he big, or strong, enough to be an edge rusher.
He was deployed as an edge rusher though, and his production was mediocre. Biegel is fundamentally very sound. He uses his hands very well and shows very good football smarts. You watch the film and you can see that he watches films, just by recognizing the opponent’s tendencies and reacting. Belichick values those type of players.
Biegel does not have the prototypical height or weight for an edge rusher. He can stand to add some lower body strength to keep position, as well as upper body strength to better shed blocks.
NFL Comparison: Slimmer Rob Ninkovich
Draft Projection: 4th-round
Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama (6’2”, 258 lb): Another tweener, but with a more defined role. Anderson was a key member for the Crimson Tide vaunted defense, serving primarily as a passing down edge rusher.
Although he does not play the run well, mostly due to his (lack of) height, he is a smart, instinctive football player, a characteristic Belichick loves.
Although he does not have the ideal height, Anderson has the weight, technique, versatility and football IQ that could help him exceed in New England’s multiple fronts scheme.
NFL Comparison: Ahmad Brooks
Draft Projection: Late 2nd-round/Early 3rd-round
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan (6’5”, 246 lbs): Jake Butt would have most likely been selected in the first, or early second, round if he had not torn his right ACL in Michigan’s Citrus Bowl game against Florida State.
It is unfortunate really, because Butt fits perfectly in the NFL. He will not wow you with size or athleticism, but he is as dependable as they come.
Extremely polished route runner and a smart football player, he is a perfect fit in the Patriot offense.
Butt is an average athlete, who lacks ‘another gear’. He will not threaten downfield, which means he will not create a huge mismatch against linebackers. He also lacks proper technique as a run blocker, as he often has ‘grabby hands’.
All in all, Butt would be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots, who do not have a current need at the tight end position, so he can rehab at his own pace, and can be integrated slowly, and for the future.
NFL Comparison: Poor man’s Jason Witten
Draft Projection: 3rd-round
Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy (6’6”, 302 lbs): While the Patriots do not have a glaring need at offensive tackle, it would be a great decision to pick Antonio Garcia.
Garcia is your classic draft and stash player. He has incredible athleticism for an offensive tackle, but needs to put on a bit more upper body muscle and refine his technique. Who else is better to coach him up than offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia?
Nate Solder, the Patriots current starting left tackle, is slated to hit the open market after the 2017 season and it would not be a surprise if he left, considering top of the line left tackles garner huge sums of cash.
Garcia can learn for a year, while he is in an NFL training program, and has the potential to be a star left tackle, if he can gain some upper body strength and learn proper technique.
NFL Comparison: Jared Veldheer
Draft Projection: Late 3rd-round/Early 4th-round