The final day of the 2014 NFL draft is here. The first three rounds came and went for the Patriots, and it was a productive, albeit a “quiet” kind of productive, couple of rounds. In the first round they picked up defensive tackle Dominique Easley, and yesterday they took a quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.
So what will happen today? New England still a lot of needs that must be filled, even if the talent in rounds four through seven is nearly as good as the players available in the first three rounds.
Here are their top five needs as of right now, in my opinion:
1. Tight End
2. Defensive End
3. Wide Receiver
4. Running Back
5. Inside Linebacker/Safety
So with this in mind, I think the Patriots will look at drafting for value today, rather than need.
All of the really great tight end prospects are gone. I don’t think drafting one of the remaining guys will help Tom Brady’s offense that much. So instead, I think they should go after a receiver, and then address the tight end position in free agency (Dustin Keller?).
Coming into the draft, I was positive that Bill Belichick would add either Jace Amaro, Troy Niklas, or Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The need for a tight end was just too high for him to pass them up. Unfortunately, none of them reached the Patriots in the second round, and apparently New England didn’t think it was worth it to move up. Now they face the prospect of going into the 2014 season with one tight end coming back from a serious knee injury, and one that is useless in the passing game.
Wide receiver Bruce Ellington is still available, and while the Pats would have to trade up to get him, he may be worth it. Brady needs some additional weapons added to his offense, and Ellington would definitely help.
On the defensive side of the ball, I want to see New England look at Jackson Jeffcoat out of Texas. Jeffcoat is a talented edge rusher, and while he needs some fine tuning, he could be someone that potentially could really help the depth behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
Brock Vereen, the safety out of Minnesota, is also someone to keep an eye on. The Patriots may go after a safety in the later rounds to provide some depth behind Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, and Vereen certainly has talent.
I have been saying this all day long, but I think the Patriots have done most of their damage this offseason via free agency, and the selection of Dominique Easley in the first round of the draft. There isn’t anybody left in this draft that I see that could be a significant producer for New England in 2014. Yes, there is still plenty of solid talent out there that will fit in perfectly as depth players, but in terms of “breakout talent”, I just don’t see it.