By: Steve Balestrieri
The initial open season of big name free agents has come to a close and most NFL teams now are searching for those complimentary pieces that can make or break a season although there are a few big name free agents still out there.
The Patriots did their share of big splashes with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner early in the process and added Brandon Lafell and Julian Edelman to bolster their WR core.
Still, the Patriots are linked to nearly every free agent or trade that comes up. And while they will be signing free agents, it is time for a mock draft at where they stand right now. With that thought in mind, here is Mock Draft 2.0 for the 2014 season. Mock 1.0 can be found here: and had a few interesting selections that fell to the team.
This mock is using an ingenious idea by FanSpeak in which you get to play the GM of any team and using the big boards supplied by different scouting bureaus, FanSpeak, Walter Football or Optimum Scouting. All of these have different ratings for individual players so the automatic generation of picks for other teams differs depending upon ones’ selection.
In this mock, another big board was chosen so the picks will differ significantly which shows how volatile the board can be. The Patriots due to an added pick in the 4th round due to compensatory considerations now have picks in Rounds 1, 2,3,4,4,6,6,7.
Round 1, Pick 29 — Kony Ealy, DE Mizzou:
Ealy is one of the best pass rushing DEs in the draft and falls to NE at #29. Ealy has a long frame at 6’5, 275 and possesses outstanding burst off the edge. His production including 14.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and 3 FFs earned him ALL-SEC honors.
With both Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich both overworked last season logging in 98 and 95 percent of the snaps, the Patriots require an influx of talent at the position to ease some of the burden of those two. Adding Ealy and expecting a 2nd year jump from Michael Buchanan should provide plenty of quality rotation.
Ealy can play 4-3 or 3-4 and has moved up and down the line as well as some snaps as a stand-up linebacker. Versatility is Bill Belichick’s hallmark and Ealy has the great burst to beat tackles at the edge as well as a quick inside spin move.
Round 2 Pick 62 — Troy Niklas, TE Notre Dame:
With only one season as a starting tight end, Niklas is still emerging as a tight end. He was buried on the depth chart behind Tyler Eifert with the Irish and switched to linebacker, but was brought back to the offense last season and produced to the tune of 32 catches, 498 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
Prototypical size at 6’6, 270 instantly provides matchup nightmares for opposing offenses. Loves contact and is an excellent blocker and has good athleticism and can create space with his large frame.
Doesn’t possess the breakaway speed of Rob Gronkowski and tends to round off some of his pass routes but has a lot of upside as a pass threat and will at least initially provide a reliable threat underneath.
Round 3, Pick 93 — Kelcy Quarles, DT South Carolina:
**Last Mock taken in the 4th round**
Quarles is a big interior DL at 6’4, 300 that has the versatility to line up inside at DT or slide outside as a 5-technique. While much of the focus in SC was on his heralded teammate Jadevon Clowney, Quarles was very productive for the Gamecocks putting up 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
Quarles uses a combination of quickness to shoot gaps and strength to bull-rush past blockers. Keeps his pad level low for a big man and can take on blockers at the point of attack.Bill Belichick loves his players to be versatile and Quarles would be a nice addition to the Patriots DL, given that Tommy Kelly is returning from injury as well as Vince Wilfork who may be released prior to the season beginning.
Quarles also has Patriots DNA in his background as his uncle is former Patriots TE Ben Coates.
Round 4, Pick 126 — A.J. Hubbard, OLB Alabama:
Hubbard surprisingly entered the draft after his junior year and had another season of eligibility remaining which most scouts thought he could use.
Large framed and lanky at 6’6, 255 Hubbard has good athleticism and has some versatility as well, playing both OLB and with his hand in the dirt as a DE in some packages for the Tide.
Hubbard could use some extra beef on his frame but holds up well against the run and with his length and athleticism is an intriguing possibility as both a sub-rusher and coverage linebacker.
Round 4, Compensatory Pick — C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE Iowa:
Still on the board at the end of Round 4, Fiedorowicz would be hard pressed to pass up. Suffered in his production due to a run first mentality of the Hawkeyes but is another intriguing prospect.
Versatile, with a huge catch radius at 6’6, 262 Fiedorowicz has decent athleticism and soft hands as well as underrated speed at the second level for the passing game and is an very good blocker in the running game.
With Fiedorowicz and Niklas to go along with a healthy Gronkowski, the Patriots can easily utilize the Two-TE offense that Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels likes.
Round 6, Pick 182 — Vinnie Sunseri, S Alabama :
Sunseri is another surprise underclassman from the Tide who came out early and whose draft stock fell due to an ACL injury suffered in October.
Decent sized at 6’0, 210 Sunseri’s best attributes are his instincts and ability to make big plays at big times. While not the best athlete, Sunseri is a tireless worker who is known as a coach on the field. A film-rat, he’s rarely fooled and is known to call out formations and opponent play calls, which are things Belichick will love.
Very good and alert coverman as well as a physical tackler, Sunseri excels in special teams but at times can be a bit over-aggressive.
Round 6, Pick 190 — Russell Bodine, C North Carolina:
A two-year starter for the Tar Heels, Bodine has decent size at 6’3, 310 and even filled in as a guard for one start in 2013 but projects to be a center at the next level.
Good athleticism and power in the running game and likes contact. Sometimes can be pushed back initially while pass blocking but is quick enough to recover and push defenders back.
Wouldn’t be an immediate starter in New England but would project to be a good developmental project at the position.
Round 7, Pick 221 — Matt Patchan, T Boston College:
Patchan has had a myriad of injuries including but not limited to a torn ACL, a torn pectoral muscle, a broken wrist and a bullet wound in the shoulder has slowed his progression.
Good size at 6’5, 305 with wide shoulders and long arms, Patchan has the look of an NFL tackle. Good athleticism and quickness in the running game but may not have the quickness in his feet to play left tackle.
Plays a bit high at times in pass protection and has been vulnerable to the bull-rush but has the talent to succeed. His major questions are off the off-field variety but could be a coup in the late rounds for the Patriots.
Stay tuned to PatsFans.com as we’ll be keeping readers up-to-date on all the free agency and draft news as it unfolds.