Nov 26, 2011; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive end Dion Jordan (96) against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots: Post-combine Mock Draft w/ Patriots' perspective 1-16


Editor’s note: The confirmation of the Alex Smith trade from San Francisco to Kansas City was made today, and though the 49ers have now 15 picks in the 2013, they are going to be major players in the draft…to the point where I reported a few days ago?  Perhaps not the 1st pick, but I’m going to honor my original thoughts

Now that the Combine is done and we’ve seen all the hype we’re likely to see, I am convinced of one thing:  The San Francisco 49ers are about to blow up the 2013 Draft…

…and be as they already have 14 picks in the draft, their actions are likely to throw the entire process into turmoil.

San Francisco has put themselves in a predicament where they have two starting quality quarterbacks on their roster and can not afford to keep both and still hope to retain their own free agents, and since Alex Smith and his 8.5 million dollar contact are riding the pine in favor of the sensational Colin Kaepernick they are going to have to compromise and deal his rights to the highest bidder before April Fool’s Day….

…and the closer it gets to that deadline, the more the scenario favors the Kansas City Cheifs - because the 49ers can not have him on the books on April 1st, when his contract money becomes guaranteed for 2013, unless they intend to keep him.

Teams can consummate trades at the start of the 2013 NFL business year, which begins on March 12th.

The Chiefs want Alex Smith, but San Francisco 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh says that the team won’t release him, so any team that wants the former 1st overall pick in the draft will have to cough up a compensation package worthy of a ready made starter – which means draft picks…and the only quarterback needy teams with enough draft ammo to pull it off is the Chiefs and Jaguars.

Well, there’s also the Cardinals, but there’s no way the Niners trade Smith to a division rival, and given the fact that new Jags owner Shad Kahn has instructed his employees that they are to build through the draft and developing young players, that leaves the Chiefs.

A second rounder starts the conversation, and Kansas City owns the 2nd pick of the 2nd round, which is essentially like a 1st rounder in this deep draft, so the deal will probably get done there. But that’s not where this ends – the fact remains that the Chiefs need many more things besides a franchise quarterback, so they are also going to be looking for a few extra draft picks by trading out of the #1 overall pick.

So the rich get richer – One could see the scenario of the 49ers trading Smith and their 1st round pick to the Chiefs for the #1 overall and the Chiefs’ 2nd rounder…which means that the 49ers get the #1 pick in the draft, the 34th and also their own second rounder, the 61st pick in the draft while the Chiefs get their Franchise Quarterback and retain a 1st round pick and pick up an extra 3rd rounder in the process.

Confusing?  Welcome to my twisted view of the NFL Draft…

1. San Francisco 49ersStar Lotulelei, DT, Utah (6’3″-320)

November 17, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) lines up opposite Arizona Wildcats defensive lineman Kirifi Taula (75) during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Fast and explosive burst off the snap. Possesses the rare lateral agility to slip through gaps and ruin plays before they even have a chance to begin. Strong anchor and powerful hands allow him to literally toss offensive linemen aside, despite size can also be considered as a five-technique defensive end.  Was not allowed to participate at the combine due to a just-discovered heart condition for which he will be seeing a specialist this week, but if given a clean bill of health, this is the pick.

Patriots perspective: Would team with Wilfork, Armstead, Cunningham and Francis to form an imposing interior defense.  Will heart issue cause him to drop that far?  Would the Patriots take the chance?

2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Barkeveous Mingo, DE, Louisiana State (6’4″-240)

As noted by several scouts, looks more the part of a small forward in Basketball, but is an exceptional pass rushing talent with plenty of room to grow.  Is explosive off of the snap, has exceptional closing speed and aware enough to know when he can’t get to the quarterback and get his hands up.  May be asked to attempt the outside linebacker position, but is expected to be a great pass rusher regardless of title.

Patriots perspective: Mature and football smart, the Patriots would love to get hold of Mingo, though his forte is rushing from where Chandler Jones is already established…an interesting problem to have…

3. Oakland Raiders – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida (6’3″-305)

Chiseled athlete and a run-stuffing presence in the middle. Flashes a terrific initial burst off the snap and acceleration to get past hand blocks, and has incredible hands which he loves to use fighting off linemen and swimming to the ball.  He is raw, but has the potential to be a dominant tackle.

Patriots perspective: See the perspective on Lotulelei, adding that Floyd is a more raw prospect, but possibly would rise to the top pick in the draft were there concerns involving Lotulelei’s potential heart issue.

4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M (6’6″-310)

Impressive more for his poise and maturity than technique, which is excellent.  Doesn’t get flustered and plays with patience, keeping his wits about him and doing what is needed to keep the defender away from the quarterback.  Can handle speed or bull rushers with equal success, laterally quick and Prototypical sized and mobile and blocks effectively in the power game and at the second level.

Patriots perspective: There is not a need for a left tackle but a tackle with all of the intangibles would cause the Patriots to shift…well, nevermind.  There’s no way he’s getting past the Eagles…

5. Detroit Lions – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State (6’4″-255)

Outstanding strength, is a difference maker for a team that tries to reestablish the pocket in the opponent’s backfield.  Can play it whichever way you want, he can finesse you with speed and bend or bull rush you with an inside out move.  Perhaps the most instinctive pass rushers in the draft.

Patriots’ perspective: Dominant pass rush and a perfect bookend to team with Chandler Jones, yet we don’t see Werner making it out of the top 5.

6. Cleveland Browns – Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M (6’4″-250)

Accomplished pass rusher with a variety of moves, impressive speed and closing burst in the pass rush, solid at setting the edge in the run game but could use more muscle mass to inside assignment – instinctive in pass coverage and tackles with a purpose – projects into a 3 down , multiple tool pass rusher that can drop into coverage with agility and awareness regardless of scheme.

Patriots’ perspective:  What’s not to like?  The man is a package deal rush end/coverage linebacker that just needs to add a little muscle.  Again, no way he makes it to #29.

7. Arizona Cardinals – Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan (6’7″-305)

September 8, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen (21) scores a touchdown ahead of Southern Utah Thunderbirds defensive back Tyree Mills (6) during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. The California Golden Bears defeated the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 50-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Has the nasty streak to rival his athletic prowess, mirrors defenders and breaks down to take their angles away, strong in the running game and very smooth in pass protection and could handle both left or right tackle spots in the NFL. Many are projecting that the Cardinals will go with a quarterback here, but new head coach Bruce Arians has publicly stated that he is going to work with what he has in Kevin Kolb and Brian Hoyer. Having Fisher to protect their blindside will help them relax a bit.

Patriots perspective: Would be a keen replacement for Sebastian Vollmer if lost in free agency, but doubtful he would fall that far.

8. Buffalo Bills – Keenan Allen, WR, California (6’3″-210)

Natural big play receiver who lacks elite speed but has many different gears and incredible body control.  Attacks the ball in the air.  Is as precise a route runner as has come out of college recently and is equally effective outside and in the slot.  Creates separation and can switch to an extra gear when he gets in the open field.  Another team that experts feel needs a quarterback, but what they really need are more receiving weapons for Fitzgerald.

Patriots perspective:  Perfect for the Patriots passing game.  Could envision him one one side, Lloyd on the other and Hernandez in the slot with Gronkowski down the seem and Vereen or Demps in the flat.  If he drops as far as the low 20′s would be a value move, but an unlikely scenario.

9. New York Jets – Ezekial Ansah, OLB, Brigham Young (6’5″-275)

Another in the line of annual “JPP” clones, possesses rare skill, size and agility and closes to the quarterback with unrivaled quickness.  His hits have been described as “Shockwaves” and his initial burst to the quarterback isn’t the fastest but may be the most violent in the draft. If there is a knock on him it’s that he relies on speed and technique alone and needs to put on some muscle.

Patriots perspective: A cross section of Chandler Jones length and Dont’a Hightower’s burst, would be an outstanding bookend to Jones and would allow Hightower to play more stunts to the inside where he would benefit from his size and running start on the blitz.

10. Tennessee Titans – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama (6’1″-200)

A ballhawk, is excellent when the ball is in the air, turns head well and locates the ball, then has the ability to get body in position to make the play,  at his best in tight quarters attacking the receiver off the line and delivers heft in his tackles.

Patriots perspective: Again, it would take a miracle for him to drop to the end of the 1st round – and if he did, you’d have to be suspect.  Is an excellent corner that could play some safety in the system given his instincts and violent nature on the football field.

11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma (6’6″-300)A nice combination of smooth lateral movement and a nasty disposition that will serve him well in the NFC West against some of the top defenses in the NFL.  Long arms and sturdy legs and a strong upper body to hold pass rushers at bay.  Started college career as a Tight End and has only player tackle for two years, so his upside is tremendous.

Patriots perspective: Has many of the same attributes as Nate Solder, along with the nasty streak of Vollmer…how can you not like that?

12. Miami Dolphins, Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee (6’3″-205)

Still kind of a raw prospect but the upside is worth the selection for a Dolphins team that needs receivers.  Very physical down the field, and once the ball is in his hands is one of the smoothest playmakers in the class.  Very strong going up after the ball and is precise in route running but could use some work on disengaging and creating separation without pushing off.

Patriots perspective: Another big reciever that is absolutely the growing trend in the league.  He would fit in perfectly in the power game that New England is looking to employ by providing the deep threat that would force the oppositions’ defense to defend the entire field.

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State (6’1″-220)

The Buccaneers need a replacement for Aqib Talib and Rhodes could be a clone without the baggage.  Very aggressive – sometimes too aggressive – in man coverage, but not aggressive enough in run support.  Is powerfully built and attacks the ball in the air.  Knows when to look back for the ball and is considered a ball hawk.

Patriots perspective: This guy is all over the board in mock drafts, but if he comes to New England at #29 they’d have to consider making him a Patriot…He’s as close to can’t miss as the Pats have seen in corners in the draft in quite a while.

14. Carolina PanthersJesse Williams, DT, Alabama (6’3″-320)

Low center of gravity conducive to holding up at the point of attack. Unreal strength, use of leverage and technique.  Played defensive end in his junior year before sliding inside for his senior year, excellent quickness and real aggression and can double as a short yardage fullback, which he has done well with in the past.

Patriots’ perspective: Has the versatility that Bill Belichick desires, and there’s every chance he could slip that far.  Question is, will the Patriots still be at 29 if he got there?  Would the tackle position take precedence over bigger needs?

15. New Orleans Saints – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon (6’6″-245)

Has the body and endurance of a basketball player and will need to add muscle mass but has a rare combination of size, skill and motor.  Violent hitter and has the athleticism to drop into coverage, even covering the slot at times.  A former tight end, has huge hands that he uses well to combat offensive linemen.  A bit of a hot head, but plays within himself most of the time.

Patriots’ Perspective: In the Jones mold, long and lean and never gives up on a play and has the versatility to cover the slot?  Please, that’s too good to be true, isn’t it?  Would fit into the line immediately and allow supreme front seven scheme versatility.

16. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas (6’1″-220)

Prototypical Free Safety size with the pop of a strong safety, brings the wood in run support and has outstanding coverage skills, particularly in the slot where he has shown the strength to jam routes and take the reciever out of the play, and is more a nickleback in that sense, but given his run support makes him an excellent free safety prospect.

Patriots perspective: Has the versatility that is required of Belichick’s system, and brings in one package what Chung and Gregory can not combined:  Solid tackler who wraps up cleanly though sometimes is prone to going for the big hit when he should just wrap up. Has speed and instincts and pops people in the mouth.  Great fit if he falls to 29.

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