Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Patriots Dominique Easley could succeed Wilfork

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They did it. The Patriots actually picked where they were slated to select. The rumors that the Patriots had interest in Florida pass rusher Dominique Easley were true. But while the Patriots seemed sure about the pick by staying put at 29, Easley presents a great deal of risk and reward.

Reward

Easley could look like Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins someday. He has such an impact in the interior and he knows how to push the pocket. And like Vince Wilfork, he can jump around from defensive tackle to defensive end. In a perfect world, Easley will succeed Wilfork. He has that high of a ceiling, and his motor always runs hot. And while he was injured often, he still started 26 of 32 games at Florida.

Risk

He had two ACL injuries — on two different knees (and for the record, humans only have two knees). Toughness and high effort can’t suddenly salvage a man’s knees. Ras-I Dowling slipped in the 2011 draft because of injuries, which was why he landed with the Patriots. So, too did Easley. His ceiling is incredibly high, as mentioned, but if he ends up like Ras-I Dowling, then he’s a bust. Period.

Final Thoughts

Easley is an excellent player with top 10 talent, and he can start slow behind an already strong starting four on the Patriots. But with the injury risk he presents, do not be surprised if the Patriots select another defensive tackle in the first three rounds. They picked two wide receivers when it was a need in 2013, two defensive ends when it was a need in 2012, two running backs when it was a need in 2011 and two tight ends when it was a need in 2010. It would come as no surprise if they doubled up again.

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