Here are a few early round possibilities for the Patriots in this week’s NFL Draft:
1. Braxton Miller-WR
I don’t think wide receiver is the top need for the Patriots, but I do think the possibility of adding Miller to Tom Brady’s arsenal is interesting. Miller is extremely athletic, and while raw, could develop into a top explosive play-maker in the NFL. He is built like a slot receiver, which is perfect for New England’s system, and he is quick and agile, much like one Julian Edelman, who has emerged as a star in this league.
I’m not saying the Pats should jump on Miller, because they have more pressing needs (offensive line, running back, defensive tackle), but if he slips, I certainly wouldn’t mind the Pats selecting him.
2. Jihad Ward-DT
The Patriots need to replace the interior pass rushing presence of Dominique Easley and Akiem Hicks, and I absolutely love the potential of Jihad Ward. At 6’5 and 297 pounds, Ward is a big dude, but is also very athletic for someone that big. He is quick and explosive off the ball, and while he is far from perfect technique-wise, he has a ton of potential .
With the proper development, Ward could turn into someone much like Easley. A guy that is too quick off the ball for interior offensive lineman, which pushes the pocket back, and creates opportunities all over the place for the entire defense.
3. Shon Coleman-OT
Musket Fire writer Andrew Menice already talked about Coleman potentially going to New England, but I like the former Auburn tackle so much, I’m going to include him here anyway.
The Pats have a lot of good young talent to work with on the interior of the offensive line, and two great bookend tackles in Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. However, they are one injury away on the outside from Marcus Cannon being forced into action again, and I just can’t stomach the thought of that. In addition to that, Vollmer’s contract is set to expire in 2017, so you better believe Bill Belichick is thinking about who is going to replace him if he walks. In my opinion, Coleman could be a perfect fit.
4. Sheldon Day-DT
The more Day slips, the better a value pick he will become. I love how explosive off the ball Day is, and if he can stay healthy (which is obviously a big if), he could turn into that dominant interior rusher the Patriots wanted out of Easley. Day will never be a big run stopping anchor like Vince Wilfork, but with how the NFL is changing, that isn’t what teams are looking for anymore. They’d rather have a great athlete who can disrupt the pocket from the inside.
5. Artie Burns-CB
Cornerback isn’t a huge need for the Patriots, but you can never have enough depth in the NFL, and with Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler both set to become free agents soon, Bill Belichick may already be looking towards the future at this position.
Burns is a big physical guy, and while he isn’t the fastest dude in the world, he can be very effective in press coverage with his length, and has excellent ball skills to boot. Like most cornerbacks that first come into the NFL, he will need time to adjust to the game, but I think Burns could turn into a solid every game starter in this league.