Dec 20, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs tight end Gavin Escobar (88) attempts to elude BYU Cougars defensive back Jordan Johnson (6) in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots on Paper: The dark business of football forecasting


Mock drafts are evil, straight from Satan’s war room.

Or is it the General Managers and Head coaches that are evil, while the mock draft is a relatively harmless way to kill time between football seasons?

Not to mention killing time at work, before dates, etc, etc…

Regardless, the path of least resistance happens to be making your team trade out of the first round and acquire picks in the lower rounds that you’ll never have to publish – so it’s a good thing that New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick does so every once in a while.

And there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again – especially considering that he’s sitting at #29, almost at the bottom of the round.  As you may have noticed in my latest mock draft, I have no quarterbacks going to anyone in the first round despite there being several teams in need of a franchise signal caller…

…or even just a competent one.  Arguably, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Arizona, Kansas City and maybe Philadelphia need new quarterbacks…and you can scratch the Chiefs from this list, as they traded a couple of draft picks to San Francisco for Alex Smith, which makes them the wisest of the group.

That still leaves a list of no less than four teams who will have seen better value with their 1st round picks filling big holes elsewhere because of some arcane gentlemens agreement that no one is going to take a chance on any of these college quarterbacks until the second round…

…which holds as much water as the “unwritten rule” thing that coaches keep bringing up when they do something stupid and need to find someone to blame – like when Tom Coughlin accused Belichick of breaking the mythical rule about not claiming guys put on waivers when they know that it’s just to get the player to the IR.

But Coughlin practically dared Belichick to claim tight end Jake Ballard when Coughlin moronically put his injured player on waivers, thinking he would clear waivers and be placed on the preseason injured reserved list…which was like dangling a cheeseburger in front of Wimpy.

And, right.  We were talking about quarterbacks and ended up on cheeseburgers – which aren’t all that different from each other, except for one will cost you a buck at the drive through and the other will cost you millions in the first round…and this is where the Patriots come into the picture.  Maybe.

Anxiety will mount for these teams, all selecting within the top 10 of the second round, as they will now be looking for their quarterbacks, so someone is going to feel like giving up their second rounder and either a 3rd or a 4th to leapfrog everyone else to snag the quarterback they want.

In my first mock draft, I speculated that Arizona would be that team.  They sit at #38 overall, and have Philadelphia and Jacksonville ahead of them and moving up to 29 would ensure that they get the man that they really want…speculation being one of the deadly sins…

And I’m going to assume that the Cardinals would be willing to give up their 2nd and 4th for that pick.  It may even be possible that they would give us a third, though they would never be able to sell that as an answer to their QB dilemma to their season ticket holders.

So, with the deal in place, the Cardinals would get New England’s 29th overall pick and the Patriots end up with the #38, and also the #59, 91 and 100 with the 2nd and 4th scenario.

But should the Patriots trade down?  For moving down into the top 10 of the second round, they lose their 1st rounder, and gain – at most – an additional 3rd rounder…four picks total in the second and third rounds instead of one each in the first three?

That’s a tough call, but maybe it’s made easier knowing that the draft is incredibly deep in the need positions for the Patriots and, of course, much depends on how they handle free agency.

In Thursday’s part one of this two part article, we determined – well, I determined – that the Patriots’ needs in free agency and the draft are, on offense “A speedy wide out to replace the apparently aloof Lloyd and skilled depth behind Hernandez and Gronkowski”, and on defense “A stud outside linebacker with rush skills and the ability to cover running backs and tight ends, a cornerback to develop under Talib and an athletic and rangy safety to cut the field in half.”

Who could these players be, and in what order?  Only time will tell, and time we have plenty of…

One thing is for sure, conservative and boring won’t make the nut this offseason – not to the fans and not to the team.  The Cap has been set at $123 Million, and the Patriots are a reported $26 Million under that figure, and would increase that to nearly $30 Million by jettisoning Lloyd…

…and in the right hands, that’s a lot of money.  In those hands, there is also a plan for free agency along with offer sheets for several of New England’s own free agents.  In those hands, there is a tentative plan for the draft – tentative because what the Patriots do in the draft will be a trickle down product of what they can accomplish in free agency.

The only speedy wideout worth picking up in free agency is too erratic and too expensive for the fiscally conservative Patriots, so most likely the idea of signing a Mike Wallace is a red herring and New England will need to address this position in the draft – and they’re going to have to address it if they are planning on cutting ties with Lloyd, and for sure if anything happens where Welker gets away…

…and the same goes for any high priced free agent.  Tom Brady said he restructured his contract via the extension because he wants to win.  If there was one free agent on the market that could help him accomplish this goal all by himself, then they would sign him, no questions asked – but there isn’t one.  Therefore, the Patriots must make due with more sensibly priced players that have the versatility to contribute in more than one area.

It also must be remembered that Donte Stallworth is sitting on the IR and still has some wheels.  Julien Edelman will be back as well so we’ll concentrate on a speed merchant in the draft.

Question being, do you want a 1st round talent or a talent perceived to be a lower round quality?  If you want speed, Tavon Austin may or may not be available when the Patriots select in the 1st round, and Keenan Allen will be gone for sure, and to me they are the first round talents as far as value to the Patriots.

Because a deep threat in this offense must be a player who has the range to run underneath Brady’s throws.  Let’s face it, Randy Moss was the only deep threat that the Patriots have ever had with that ability so that Brady could put the ball up in the air with confidence – otherwise he tends to overthrow his targets.

Should the Patriots determine that their best value is to trade down, the following “darkhorse” candidates at need positions are what my gut tells me are proper selections, tentative in regard to what happens in free agency:

Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State (5’11″-185) Early to mid 2nd round

Has it all, except the size.  Quick off the snap with speed to burn and tracks the ball well, able to adjust routes on the fly to position himself to the ball.  Was very effective in the short game, explodes out of his cuts and gains separation immediately and proved elusive and very quick in space…watch the film.  Despite his less than ideal size will become an effective and dangerous weapon in the NFL.

David Amerson, CB/FS, North Carolina State (6’1″-205) Mid to late 2nd round

A hybrid with impressive speed and length and actually played primarily at safety in high school.  A ball hawk with a physical, nasty streak that could prove a fit in a press-based scheme. this physical and aggressive play and his ability to read a quarterback’s eyes would make him a nice fit as a safety in the Patriots scheme.

Khaseem Greene. OLB, Rutgers (6’1″-240) Late second, early third round

Strong and violent, started at Safety but was moved to outside linebacker to take advantage of his intangibles, so he possesses uncommon athleticism and cover skills for the position and seems to thrive against the run as he explodes through the ball carrier.  Very strong and has a penchant for creating the turnover.  Fluid as a cover backer and quick on the blitz, always arrives with violent intentions.

Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State (6’6″-255) Late second, Early third round

Natural pass-catcher with excellent hand-eye coordination and rare body control for a man of his size.  Playing primarily out of the slot, he challenges the seam and plays much faster than his 40 times. Shows the ability to leap and contort in the air to adjust to the ball, making him an effective jump-ball candidate. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder and has good quickness and balance to generate separation against linebackers and uses his size well to make him a difficult matchup against defensive backs. Creative open-field runner, showing vision to set-up blocks, as well as the surprising lateral agility to elude and the speed to pull away for long gains. Can be used all over the formation and could be a dangerous weapon in the Patriots’ system..

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