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New England Patriots Rundown: Quinton Patton and Desmond Trufant

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This New England Patriots Rundown contains news about the Jacksonville Jaguars, Desmond Trufant, Quinton Patton, Jermaine Cunningham, and Jonathan Hankins.

1. SB Nation mocked him to the New England Patriots in their 2013 NFL Mock Draft, and now ESPN Boston asked Steve Muench to highlight Louisiana Tech standout wide receiver Quinton Patton.

Patton is an underrated receiver heading into the draft who is gaining steam for most fan bases and in Patriots circles as well. The “Advanced Scouting” running feature on ESPN Boston is quickly becoming one of my favorite 2013 NFL Draft reads, because Muench does an excellent job of breaking down prospects, especially receivers.

Muench lauds Patton for his ability to run routes, stretch the field vertically with his speed, and his body control that allows him to win jump balls. He cites the game in which Patton caught 21 passes against Texas A&M. Patton is a solid wide receiver who can do everything well, even if he isn’t excellent at any one particular thing. I think Patton’s ability to make plays downfield periodically and his ability to get jump balls are two traits that the Patriots are lacking in and would clearly benefit from if they draft Patton. His route-running ability and ability to make plays in the intermediate game and consistently catch quick, timing-based routes (what he did a lot at Louisiana Tech) make him an ideal fit for the Pats scheme as well. Patton is a reach in the first round and probably won’t fall to the Pats in the late second, but let’s hope he does. He’s a solid WR and a good fit for the Patriots scheme, and those are two reasons why SBN likely mocked Patton to the Patriots.

2. Washington Huskies cornerback Desmond Trufant is also a hotly discussed name among New England Patriots fans, and this recent piece from Erik Frenz (one of the best writers covering the Pats and the AFC East out there) spurned quite a bit of discussion. I like Trufant, but he’s starting to get a little overrated and isn’t a great fit for the Pats. He gets burned a bit too much and is not that fast. He’s a good player, but he would be a reach in the first round (I view him as an early second-round guy). Xavier Rhodes would make more sense for the Patriots than Trufant, in my opinion.

3. NE Patriots Draft is grading the 2010 NFL Draft, and Dan Hope gave the selection of situational pass rusher Jermaine Cunningham a “C”. I loved that the Patriots retained him for another season in 2012, but after three seasons in the league Cunningham’s resume is a little underwhelming. He has shown flashes, but he has never consistently put together a solid season. Cunningham’s best year was as a rookie, but he failed to bounce back in 2012. Despite making some disruptive plays, Cunningham struck out on the most important thing a pass rusher needs to do; bring consistent pressure. Cunningham failed to do that, and he deserves an “average” grade. He has talent, but he has never put it together yet and may need to be upgraded in the near future if he doesn’t find his groove soon.

4. Defensive tackle is a need for the New England Patriots, especially one who can rush the passer given the Pats poor pass rush (especially on the interior). Kyle Love is a solid player, but his pass rushing skills leave a lot to be desired. Vince Wilfork swallows up blockers and thus helps the pass rush, but he is also primarily a run-stopper. The Pats could definitely benefit from selecting a true pass-rushing DT, even if he is only used in a situational role.

Daniel Jeremiah has Jonathan Hankins of Ohio State falling all the way down to No. 29 in his 2013 NFL Mock Draft on NFL.com, which is a huge drop for someone who is easily a top-half, first-round value. While Hankins isn’t a true interior pass rusher and is more of a run-stopper, the value at the 29th pick would most likely be too good for the Patriots to pass up on.

5. New Jacksonville Jaguars GM David Caldwell believes the Jags can build around Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback, and the reasons he give are ones that I actually agree with. While I doubt Gabbert pans out, he has only been in the league for two seasons and is extremely young. Most quarterbacks take off in their all-important third year, and Caldwell mentions that. He also discussed the Jaguars free agent policy, which he calls “slow and steady”.

New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley also believes that Gabbert can still be developed, and the Jaguars plan is to move forward with Gabbert and upgrade at other positions. That’s the best plan with a hit-or-miss, unsure group of quarterbacks in this year’s draft, as well as the Jaguars other needs. They can wait and rebuild elsewhere, and maybe Gabbert does end up being something. In any case, it is too early to give up on him. We’ll see how the Jaguars fill out their roster, and it will be interesting to see what they do with their very high first-round draft choice.

This is what Caldwell said about the Jaguars roster-building and draft philosophy, “We’re going to be a draft-driven team. I anticipate building through the draft. That’s our vision … and supplement where we need to in terms of getting some depth through free agency.’’

That’s the right approach for this team.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert David Caldwell Desmond Trufant Football Jacksonville Jaguars Jermaine Cunningham Jonathan Hankins New England Patriots Quinton Patton Washington Huskies

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