In terms of national draft experts, they don’t get much better than NFL.com’s Mike Mayock. He can be a tad annoying on a broadcast (sorry, Mike), but he absolutely knows his stuff when it comes to the draft, and breaking down prospects.
Yesterday Mayock released the first edition of his top five position rankings, which is a great tool going forward for trying to dissect who the Patriots may look at with their 32nd overall pick in the first round. I’m not going to list all of the players in this article, but you can give the piece a read right here.
What I will do, is focus on the two positions I view as the top priorities for New England as this offeason starts up: interior offensive line, and interior defensive line.
Here are Mayock’s top five rankings for these two groups:
"Interior offensive linemen 1. Brandon Scherff, Iowa2. Cameron Erving, Florida State3. Laken Tomlinson, Duke4. A.J. Cann, South Carolina5. Tre’ Jackson, Florida StateInterior defensive linemen1. Leonard Williams, USC2. Danny Shelton, Washington3. Malcom Brown, Texas4. Arik Armstead, Oregon5t. Jordan Phillips, Oklahoma5t. Eddie Goldman, Florida State"
For some perspective on the draft, per CBS Sports’ big board, Brandon Scherff will likely be long gone before the Patriots get to him, as will Leonard Williams, Danny Shelton, and unless they want to trade up about 10 spots, Malcom Brown and Jordan Phillips. Of course this is all conjecture, but I just wanted to lay out the realistic options for New England.
So based on this, I see the 2015 draft as a perfect opportunity for Bill Belichick to once again trade back, and load up on value. This would especially be true if the Pats want to target an interior offensive lineman early (my personal choice), as I think they could get any of the guys in Mayock’s top 5 aside from Scherff by trading back. If they want to go defense, they will probably have to stay put, or move up a little to snag top talent. However this is a draft loaded with pass rushers, and I don’t think it would be wise to move up to get a pass rusher.
This is just an early look. Things will change dramatically over the next few months. But I can tell you this: assuming the Patriots lock up Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis, I will be campaigning hard for an interior offensive lineman in the first or second round this May.