The New England Patriots 2013 NFL Draft came to a close yesterday, and it’s time to solely grade what went down in yesterday’s four rounds of action (just two for the Patriots). I won’t take into account the Jeff Demps for LeGarrette Blount swap into the grading, and I won’t take into account the laundry list of undrafted free agent signings either. What I will take into account is the selection of TCU Horned Frogs star wide receiver Josh Boyce in the fourth round, and the selections of Michael Buchanan and another Rutgers defensive player in Steve Beauharnais in the seventh round of the draft.
Josh Boyce was the first pick the Patriots made on day three, and he was the best pick the Patriots made on day three in terms of talent (Buchanan was the best value). Boyce has the chance to be an impact wide receiver for the Patriots, and I am huge fan of the Patriots decision to selection Boyce with the 102nd pick.
The Patriots have two wide receivers with excellent physical tools and the upside to be very good wide receivers in this league in Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Dobson is the better prospect of the two and is the one with actual No. 1 receiver upside, but Boyce can end up being a solid No. 2 WR if all goes right. He has great size at 206 pounds, and Boyce is one of the best deep threats in this draft class. At TCU, Boyce averaged 15.7 yards per catch, and he ran a 4.38 forty at the 2013 NFL Combine despite a broken toe. Boyce can be the deep threat the Patriots covet, and his numbers last season should be ignored due to awful quarterback play.
Michael Buchanan had a fourth-round grade on him, and yet the Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end and space linebacker hybrid fell all the way down to the seventh round. The Patriots wisely stole him off the board there, and Buchanan is yet another hybrid DE/OLB that the Pats covet. He should have had a big year in 2012 at Illinois, but his numbers were poor. However, Buchanan is another player with plenty of talent whose numbers should be ignored to a certain extent (Dobson and Boyce’s low numbers are more misleading, in my opinion).
Buchanan should be able to make an early impact on special teams, and he will likely end up being a very good sub-package DE and OLB for the Pats. He needs to work on his technique and bulk up, but Buchanan gets good outside contain, can cover underneath routes well, and he does a nice job getting pressure on the edge.
The worst player of the three is Steve Beauharnais, but that comes as no surprise since he was their last pick at 235 and was not a steal like Buchanan (Boyce had a third-round grade but was picked in the fourth, so he was also a good value for the Pats). Beauharnais is far from a quizzical pick, though, so he isn’t in the mold of third-round selection and teammate Duron Harmon in that manner. There is nothing wrong with taking a guy like Beauharnais who is versatile, intelligent, and had a steady college career. There isn’t much on him, but Beauharnais is pretty athletic and looks like the type of do-your-job player from Rutgers that Bill Belichick likes. If you like a guy enough, don’t let him hit the PFA waters- take him with one of the last picks in the seventh. Some view Beauharnais as a sleeper prospect, and writers like Greg Bedard have raised the possibility of Beauharnais replacing Tracy White.
The Patriots made two very good selections in Boyce and Buchanan, and the Beauharnais pick was an average one overall. In the end, I’m a huge fan of the Patriots third day of the 2013 NFL Draft, and I would give them a solid “A”. They picked up a potential difference-maker at wide receiver in the fourth, they took a guy two or three rounds lower than he could have went in Buchanan, and the pick of Beauharnais is nothing to be upset over either. I like this day much better than the “B-” second day that was pretty good, but it wasn’t as economical as what the Patriots pulled yesterday.
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