The New England Patriots recently hosted a Draft Party that was sponsored by SportsCenter and ESPNBoston that featured a panel of draft and Patriots experts, including ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss, ESPN football analyst and former Patriot Tedy Bruschi, and Patriots Football Weekly writer Andy Hart. The event was emceed by ESPN’s Michael Smith and featured some good insight into what the Patriots are looking for come draft day. There weren’t any new names that popped up, though there does seem to be a consensus as to who would be the best fit for the greatest need in Round 1 at #22 overall:
Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle
McShay and Hart note that Kindle not only fits the size profile that the Patriots look for at OLB, but he also has the versatility that Bill Belichick covets. Kindle can play standing up at OLB and is also effective with his hand on the ground at DE. Sergio also comes from the Will Muschamp defense in Texas, a defense and coach that Belichick has much respect for. Being a big Longhorns fan, nothing would make me happier than to see the Patriots draft Kindle. One problem with that scenario, as Tedy Bruschi points out, is that Sergio Kindle may not be available when the Patriots pick. I don’t think that the Pats would move up to get him, as they likely would have to include one of their three 2nd rounders to move up, and Belichick values those 2nd round picks too much to unload them (though just when you think you have Belichick’s train of thought locked down he does what you don’t expect). Other names mentioned as possible picks were Michigan OLB Brandon Graham, Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas, Boise State CB Kyle Wilson, Alabama CB Kareem Jackson, Florida C Maurkice Pouncey, Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham, and Arizona TE Rob Gronkowski. One interesting note, not mentioned by the panel was Penn State DT (3-4 DE) Jared Odrick. Odrick has been a popular pick in many mock drafts but was not mentioned at all by the panel (at least in the video posted). You can watch video of the discussion by clicking here.
The panel also discussed Round Two possibilities. Positions ranging from LB to WR, to TE to RB were discussed. Some of the names that stuck out to me were Utah OLB Koa Misi, Notre Dame WR Golden Tate, University of Miami TE Jimmy Graham, and Stanford RB Toby Gerhart. Misi is a hard-working LB and has been linked to the Pats in many two-round mock drafts, whether the Pats snag a LB like Kindle in Round One or not. Golden Tate played for Charlie Weiss at Notre Dame so he is familiar with the Patriots’ system and would be a natural fit at WR. Jimmy Graham was not a very productive TE in college but he only played one season. Graham is a former basketball player in the mold of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez and has a ton of upside. The downside is that you don’t really know what he can do, or if he can do it at the pro level. I think that the Pats can get Rob Gronkowski or possibly even Jermaine Gresham in Round Two and would be reaching to draft either player in the first round. Toby Gerhart was a Heisman finalist and is a hard, north-south runner (the opposite of Laurence “Dancing with the Stars” Maroney). I could see the Patriots drafting him with their final second round pick (53rd overall) if he’s still available. You can see video of the panel discussing Round Two by clicking here.