I like to take a look at the weekly 2013 NFL Mock Draft on the FanSided main page, and this week the New England Patriots went in a different direction by taking a defensive tackle prospect who has risen into the first-round on most mocks after an incredible Senior Bowl in which he had scouts oozing at his potential and pass rushing ability.
This DT is Purdue’s Kawann Short, and he would fill a position of need for the New England Patriots. Vince Wilfork is one of the best DTs in the game and a dominant run-stuffer, and the player next to him, Kyle Love, is a solid, young run stopper. Wilfork does a great job of drawing double teams and freeing up the DEs, but Love has a harder time as a pass rusher and is a liability in that regard.
The Patriots could use a pass rushing boost, because their pass rush was inconsistent this season. The pressure up the middle at DT could definitely stand to improve, especially since the two starters are primarily run stoppers.
Short would immediately enter the Pats rotation if drafted by the team, and he makes sense for them as a late first-round pick. His stock hasn’t risen to the bloated Dontari Poe levels of last year, but Short is a big riser and big risers from the Senior Bowl can be risky choices. However, Short is a dominant pass rusher and has rare speed and explosiveness at the defensive tackle position.
He is a good fit for the New England Patriots, but the Pats need to harness all the work ethic they can muster from him. Scouts have knocked Shorts’s motor and for good reason, because he has been known to take some plays off and give less than 100%. That’s why he’s best off in a rotation, but he should get a lot of playing time due to his ability to impact the pass rush.
Alex Okafor, Manti Te’o, and Eric Reid were the three picks behind the Patriots in this mock. Okafor is on my radar for the Pats, and Reid is also a potential option here. I would rather have Matt Elam than Reid, but I have a feeling the Patriots will sign Ed Reed and not select a safety in this draft despite it being a deep class.
Short is a good option here, but I would love the Pats to get their hands on Tavon Austin. That mostly holds true if the Pats cannot bring back Wes Welker.
An important thing to add here is that the Pats have already worked on improving the interior pass rush, and they made a splash by signing CFL star and former USC Trojan Armond Armstead to a futures contract. He is a high upside player who starred at USC and for Toronto in the CFL, and he is a near lock to make the roster. That complicates things further at DT, and affirms my belief that Tavon Austin is the best pick for the Pats at this point in time with the uncertainty at the WR position heading into free agency.
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