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The NFL draft kicks off in less than two weeks and teams around the league are putting the finishing touches on their draft boards, so it’s time to take a look at some potential fits for teams in the AFC East over the next few days.
Leading off with the New England Patriots, who have picks 27 and 31 in the first round of this year’s draft, the first step to trying to decipher their draft plans is to understand where the age on the team is.
Last year, most pundits predicted a heavy defensive draft. What they got instead were several offensive picks, including two offensive tackles (Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon), two running backs (Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley), and a quarterback (Ryan Mallett).
Looking at why this happened, the oldest players on the team played along the offensive line and at running back. The team desperately needed an injection of youth at those positions, so that’s what the team drafted.
This year, the interior of the offensive line could use some younger players, and at the top of the wide receiver depth chart are a group of players over the age of 30. It’s not unlikely that we’ll see another offensive draft. But, getting a handle on what Belichick is going to do on draft day is easier said than done.
All that said, here are some players who could definitely help the team:
Michael Brockers, defensive tackle from Louisiana State University. Brockers is a behemoth, coming in at 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds. He comes out of LSU after only two years, so he’s somewhat raw in his development, but scouts indicate that he has the potential to be a Richard Seymour type player. However, Brockers is likely going to be off the board in the first round by the time the Patriots pick, so if they covet him, they might have to trade up to get him.
Janoris Jenkins, corner from the University of North Alabama. Jenkins comes with baggage (he was dismissed from the University of Florida because of drug and misconduct issues), but there is no denying he has special talent. Regarded by scouts as perhaps the best cover corner available in this year’s draft, he’ll likely fall because of his off-field issues. With a strong locker room and leaders such as Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, drafting Jenkins might be worth the risk for the Patriots.
Peter Konz, center from the University of Wisconsin. Konz is the best center available in the draft this year. At 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds, he fits the bill in terms of size, but with just 18 reps on the bench press at the scouting combine, Konz will need to work hard in offseason workouts to increase his strength.
Stephen Hill, wide receiver from Georgia Tech. Hill is a big target at 6-foot-5 and has blazing speed to get deep against NFL defenses, running a sub-4.4 40 yard dash at the NFL’s scouting combine. Hill comes from an option-oriented offense and as a result, he didn’t see many passes come his way. His routes might need some polishing, but his potential is enormous. The Patriots have a log jam at receiver, but with so many over the age of 30, it might be a good time to bring in someone to develop and to serve as another big red area target.
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