By: Steve Balestrieri
Jamie Collins was the 1st draft pick for the Patriots of 2013. (FILE:USPresswire)
The New England Patriots have finished the 2013 NFL Draft and have signed UDFA (undrafted free agents) to bolster the team’s roster heading into off-season workouts and training camp. And like 2012, the team spent the majority of its picks focusing on the defense with five of the seven draft picks allotted to the defensive side of the ball.
Overall the Patriots identified their biggest positions of need and addressed them in terms of the draft as well as free agency. Their team building approach is one that gives equal focus on each and they have seemed to fill the holes on the roster. Now it is up to the players to perform on the field.
Wide Receiver position revamped
Although the only two players selected on offense were wide receivers, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce which was a position of need, Bill Belichick’s draft will ultimately be judged by those two players more so than the five on defense.
Dobson was drafted on Friday night coming from Marshall and more about him and the other Friday night selections can be read here:
With the fourth round pick, the Patriots selected Boyce the WR from TCU who turned in a top-five time in the three-cone drill (6.68 seconds) which is a Patriots measuring gauge but also a blistering 4.38 time in the 40, all with a broken foot.
Boyce is very solidly built at 6’0, 205 and is considered very durable and can work inside or outside the numbers. He’s smooth in and out of cuts, runs good routes and shows good balance. He’ll be looked to along with Dobson of stretching defenses vertically.
Ultimately the two young wide receivers will have to find their way inside the offense’s playbook and that will be up to coaches Josh McDaniels, Brian Daboll and Chad O’Shea to integrate them into the offense. And as we all know, they will have to find the chemistry and trust of QB Tom Brady.
Belichick on WR Chemistry
The Patriots haven’t had a great track record recently of drafting WRs, but it seems on paper at least that the Patriots will reverse that trend. Time will tell once the young players hit the field. Belichick spoke with NFL Network’s excellent draft expert Mike Mayock on the “new look” wide receiver position
“We’ve lost guys for one reason or another, but with Danny Amendola coming in as an inside guy who can also play outside, but primarily an inside receiver…and the two players that we added in the draft with Dobson and Boyce. They’re fast guys that play primarily on the perimeter. They have good size. They’re tough. They’ve shown up in the kicking game and blocking and things like that. They’re smart players that are mature. Hopefully, they’ll fit in well with our offense.
“It will be certainly a new receiving group for us, in our chemistry and timing and execution and all that. They have a long way to go to blend in with some of our other veteran players on the offensive side of the ball. But hopefully those guys will all be able to grow together with our relatively young tight ends and fairly young group of backs, and become productive in the passing game and overall offensively as well.”
Defense Never Rests
With their first pick of the 7th round the Patriots selected Illinois OLB/DE Michael Buchanan. Buchanan was worked out by Belichick personally late last week as he flew to Illinois for a one-on-one workout so his selection should come as a big surprise.
Buchanan has the build for a pass rush specialist at 6’5, 255 lbs with 34 inch long arms. He logged 7.5 sacks in 2011 which fell to just 4.5 last year as the Illini moved to a more reactionary defense which didn’t allow him to fire off the ball.
He’s very athletic and can also drop into coverage if utilized as an OLB but with the Patriots, I’d see him as another pass rush option at DE. He was rated by PFW (Pro Football Weekly) as the #3 ROLB with a projected outlook of a 3-4th round pick so he’s a bit of a steal.
With their final selection the Patriots added another Rutgers player, ILB Steve Beauharnais who was also projected as a 4-5th round player. Beauharnais is versatile and can play inside or outside and has a strong work ethic.
PFW’s assessment says, “a good functional football player with the field smarts, toughness and competitiveness to fight his way into a starting lineup. Ability to play multiple positions…”
These two prospects will join earlier selection Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon on the defense. With the re-signing of CBs Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington much more will be and should be expected for the defense this season.
The team’s biggest needs on defense were depth at CB and at DT, an increase of pressure from the edge and sub-package linebackers who can cover. Those all seem to have been addressed between the free agency period and the draft. Next comes the play on the field.
Draft Day Trade
The team traded KR/RB Jeff Demps and a 7th round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for RB LaGarrette Blount yesterday. Demps never played in a regular season game for the Patriots and announced that he wanted to run track professionally and play football as a secondary choice….not the way to win points with Belichick. With Leon Washington on board as a returner, Demps immediately became expendable. Blount rushed for over 1000 yards in 2010 but has fallen off steeply since.
He’ll have a chance to try to resurrect his career and earn a roster spot in training camp this summer. He’s a big, physical runner who excels in between the tackles. Camp competition among the running backs which wasn’t expected to be an issue just got a jolt. He and Brandon Bolden may be fighting for a roster spot now.
**Update** Undrafted Free Agent Signings
The Patriots have signed 15 undrafted free agents according to Mike Loyko from NE Patriots Draft. The list includes:
- TJ Moe, WR Missouri
- Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada
- Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida
- Matt Stankiewitch, OC, Penn State
- Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Cincinnati
- Ryan Allen, P, Louisiana Tech
- Quentin Hines, RB, Akron
- Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson
- Stephon Morris, CB, Penn State
- Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri
- Chris McDonald, OG, Michigan State (brother of Patriots OL Nick)
- Brandon Jones, CB, Rutgers
- Josh Kline, OL, Kent State
- Kanorris Davis, SS, Troy
- Ben Bartholomew, FB, Tennessee
Loyko did an outstanding job of giving a capsule on each, but he also wrote about what their chances of making the Patriots roster are. For a complete breakdown, read Loyko’s entire article here:
Overall, it was a pretty solid draft by the Patriots, as usual, Bill Belichick passed by the bigger, flashier names and settled upon players who fit the system and their profile. All team needs were addressed and there are still some quality free-agents out there on the market so I would imagine the tinkering will continue.