|04.25.13 at 1:42 pm ET|
The 2013 NFL draft generally is considered to lack the talent of the past few years, and that could lead to more teams offering up their picks for future selections. It also could lead to teams looking to find talent that already is in the league and might be available in a trade.
Enter Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The former Arkansas star has had two years learning under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and with the lack of elite quarterbacks in this year’s draft, he is an appealing option (as WEEI.com’s Chris Price covered here last month).
According to multiple reports Thursday, the Patriots have received numerous calls about Mallet’s availability. New England picked up Mallett in the third round in 2011 and reportedly wouldn’t take less than a second-rounder for him.
According to Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe, one team that might have interest is the Browns. New general manager Mike Lombardi raved about Mallett when Lombardi worked for NFL Network, and Lombardi’s son, Mick, was a coaching/scouting assistant with the Patriots and got a first-hand look at Mallett in practices.
(The Browns also reportedly are considering trading up from No. 6 in an effort to land West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.)
The other quarterback on the Patriots roster is Mike Kafka, although the team reportedly has been heavily scouting QBs in this year’s draft.
In 2012, Mallet completed 1-of-4 passes for 17 yards and was intercepted once.
‘¢ The 22nd overall pick that the Rams received from the Redskins last year is said to be for sale. ESPN’s Adam Schefter made the Rams’ intentions clear on Twitter.
The team also has the 16th overall pick and likely would attempt to trade down to obtain more picks. Last season, coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead had a good draft, picking up Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, among others.
‘¢ ESPN’s John Clayton reports that the Vikings “would like to find a way to take Manti Te’o” in the first round. The Notre Dame linebacker’s future is uncertain following his fake-girlfriend issue and his disappointing in the national championship game.
|04.25.13 at 8:07 am ET|
Draft day finally is upon us. Though I still long for the olden days of all-day Saturday, all-day Sunday action, it’s still the best time of the year — even if we have to wait until prime time.
Before we get to the good stuff, I just want to point out that this is my eighth year of doing mock drafts, and it has by far been the most challenging year, for quite a few reasons.
First of all, it’s just a weak class. There are four great offensive linemen in tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher, and guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper. After that, there are some good pass-rushers and two or three plus corners, but the star power in this class is highly lacking. For that reason, when mocking these picks, I found myself frequently coming to spots where the team would want to trade down, but who would want to trade up?
The uncertainty at the quarterback position also makes things tough to predict. There are teams that need quarterbacks, but do they like Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib enough to spend first-rounders on them? The aforementioned lack of star power in this draft applies to signal-callers especially. The guess here is that Smith goes somewhere in the top six picks — to either the Eagles, Browns or a team that trades up — and the Bills make their pick at No. 8 and later move back into the first round to grab Nassib.
Typically, good mock drafts get six picks right, while great ones get 8-10 picks right. The bar should be lowered for this one.
1. Chiefs (2-14) — Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Deciding between Joeckel and Fisher might be a closer call than many think.
2. Jaguars (2-14) — Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Jordan will help a defense that finished last in the league with 20 sacks last season.
3. Raiders (4-12) — Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The safest pick they could make, but remember, Robert Gallery once was considered safe.
4. Eagles (4-12) — Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Joeckel still is arguably the best player in the draft. This would be quite the steal.
5. Lions (4-12) — Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
A true No. 1 corner to team with the re-signed Chris Houston.
|04.24.13 at 2:27 pm ET|
So far, we’ve taken a look at players the Patriots might hope fall to them in the first round and players who would be good fits at No. 29. Wrapping up the 15-player series, here are five players the Pats could reach for at the end of the first round.
These players are in no particular order.
Datone Jones, DL, UCLA
He’s a good pass-rusher with good enough size at 6-foot-4 and 283 pounds. He has experience on the inside, but he’s probably a three-technique in the NFL.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The second-most popular inexperienced foreign track athlete turned defensive end in this draft, right behind Ziggy Ansah, Hunt has a high ceiling as a pass-rusher, though he understandably lacks instincts at this point. The kicker: He stands at 6-foot-8 and a lean 277 pounds and ran a 4.60-second 40-yard dash.
Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen had a miserable pre-draft process, as he’s dealt with knee and ankle issues, reportedly had suspiciously high levels of water in his system prior to drug tests at the combine and had 40 times of 4.71 seconds and 4.75 seconds (which means Margus Hunt is a good deal faster than him). That likely bumps him into the second-round conversation, though he does have better hands than some of the first-round prospects.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The good: He’s big and physical. The bad: He’s big and slow. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder’s lack of speed might outweigh his smarts and what he brings against the run.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
A big-time faller who entered the pre-draft process with a top-10 grade but saw his stock take a mammoth tumble due to poor workouts at the combine and his pro day, Moore might not have the best motor, but he was believed to be one of the top pass-rushers in this draft for a reason.
|04.24.13 at 11:10 am ET|
Earlier on Wednesday, we took a look at five players the Patriots should hope fall to them in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday. Continuing our mini-series, here are five players who would appear to be good fits for the Pats based on where they are picking.
It should be noted that this draft isn’t particularly strong up top, so a lot of the guys that the Pats might want to fall to them might have been available at No. 29 in previous years. Once the the offensive linemen are off the board, there will be a lot of parity in prospects from the mid-first round to the early second.
These players are in no particular order.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Hunter is a true outside guy (6-foot-4, 196 pounds) who has all the attributes needed to be a No. 1 receiver. If drafted by the Pats, he’d be the best receiver prospect of the Bill Belichick era.
Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
If the Patriots want to come out of the first round with a big and physical corner like the ones in Seattle, Rhodes is the guy. There aren’t many 6-foot-1½, 210-pound corners who can run a 4.41 second 40-yard dash.
Matt Elam, S, Florida
He has NFL bloodlines, as he is the brother of former Jets, Browns, Cowboys and Chiefs safety Abram Elam. The instinctive safety is considered a playmaker in the defensive backfield, which should come as little surprise considering he models his game after Ed Reed.
Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
He hasn’t been the most popular name in the pre-draft process, but when there’s a run on corners, expect the 5-foot-10½, 192-pound Taylor to come off the board. Taylor boasts very good speed and knocked the 3-cone drill (which the Patriots value highly) out of the park with a 6.82-second performance.
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The 6-foot-3, 299-pounder gets after the quarterback very well, but there are questions about both his work ethic and his ability to pick up concepts. Short is viewed as a risk/reward player, but we’re living in a world in which Ziggy Ansah might be a top-10 pick.
|04.24.13 at 10:34 am ET|
It’s that rare time of year when the 32 NFL teams are graded by what they’ve done off the field just as much as what they’ve done on it. The last time we watched football, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl champs. Since then, the champs have lost six starters on defense and their best pass-catching weapon. The Ray Lewis-less Ravens are at No. 7.
Once the joke of the NFL, the NFC West looks to be the preeminent division in the league. The Niners take the cake at No. 1, and the upgraded Seahawks, third in our rankings, will be a formidable opponent for the defending NFC champs.
1. 49ers (11-4-1) — I’d like to hear an argument against the Niners being ranked the No. 1 team. They have a ferocious defense and an offense improved by the reliable Anquan Boldin. Right now San Francisco looks like the team to beat in 2013. (Pick 31 in Round 1 of the draft)
2. Broncos (13-3) — Barring injury to Peyton Manning, the Broncos have the AFC West wrapped up. The addition of Welker will make Denver’s offense even more unstoppable. Is there a better receiving tandem in the league than Demaryius Thomas and Welker? (28)
3. Seahawks (11-5) — After the year Seattle had followed by the offseason improvement, I’d expect nothing less than an NFC championship bid. Like many of the top teams in the NFL, Seattle is strong at defense. The D got even stronger with the addition of Cliff Avril. The Seahawks also strengthened one of their biggest weaknesses by adding Percy Harvin at receiver.
4. Patriots (12-4) — Danny Amendola replacing Welker is not an upgrade. The former Rams receiver may be younger and faster, but Welker offered consistency. He stayed on the field and worked well with Brady and the offense. There will be an adjustment period. The Patriots will go into the season with three talented receiving weapons (Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Amendola), but all three are injury-prone. (29)
5. Packers (11-5) — Injuries plagued the offensive line last season. More depth on the line is important, especially with the Packers in a division where they have to playing against pass-rushers like Ndamukong Suh, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers. (26)
|04.24.13 at 8:51 am ET|
Think of this as our way of trying to preemptively save face. We put in months of work saying who makes sense for the Patriots, who to expect them to draft, etc., only to be way off by the time Bill Belichick makes that first selection.
So, as a means of trying to cover more ground and at least be able to say we kind of said the Pats might draft the guy they end up taking, we’re putting together three lists for the first round: five guys the Pats should hope fall to them, five good matches and five players for whom they could potentially reach. We’ll start it off with five players they should hope fall to them.
Guys left off this list include those sure to go in the top 15 (Dee Milliner, Star Lotulelei, Ziggy Ansah, etc.) as well as good players who don’t project well to New England. For example, Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson may very well be a star in the NFL, but he needs to be developed more than the other top receivers in this draft. The Pats haven’t been able to develop a top receiver since Deion Branch, so they’re better off sticking to more NFL-ready players.
These players are in no particular order.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Pats would seem to be set for now with Devin McCourty and Adrian Wilson, but the jury still is out on Tavon Wilson, and Vaccaro has both the smarts and the cover skills to make him a serious difference-maker.
D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
If selected where he’s now expected (early to mid-first round), Hayden might go down as one of the biggest risers in the history of the draft. He was a potential late-round pick after a near-death experience in practice ended his second year of FBS play. Hayden is an instinctive corner with plus ball skills and more than holds his own against the run.
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
With the exception of Armond Armstead (who definitely is something of a wild card), the Pats aren’t getting younger or better on their interior defensive line. Vince Wilfork isn’t going to be around forever, and Williams has drawn comparisons to Geno Atkins.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Instinctive and fast with good size (the 5-foot-11½, 190-pound Trufant ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine), he is the younger brother of 10-year NFL veteran Marcus Trufant.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
This pick would create a bit of a redundancy on the roster given that the Pats signed Danny Amendola, but there’s always room for a talent like Austin. The 5-foot-8½, 174-pounder projects to be an elite slot receiver given his speed and precision in route-running.
|04.24.13 at 7:12 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
School: Boise State
Weight: 192 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All-Mountain West first team (media, coaches)
What he brings: Taylor started every game in his senior year, bringing physical play, athleticism and impressive speed to Boise State’s defense. He’s shown the ability to play both man and zone coverage, excelling at the former, and he reads plays well, recognizing routes and anticipating passes. Observers have noted his fluid hips and ability to pursue receivers in motion. As an aggressive defender, he occasionally can be faked out and take an extra second to recover. He missed four full games and most of another in 2011 with a stress fracture in his leg, although after a full 2012 season in which he stayed healthy, that isn’t much of a concern. He hasn’t played press very often, and some scouts have speculated that he could struggle in that area.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 2
Notes: In 2012 at Boise State, Taylor recorded 51 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and 2.5 sacks. He also had nine pass breakups, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was a team captain in his senior year. He’s been praised for his work ethic, and while some aspects of his game need work, his instincts are good enough to make him one of the more highly sought-after cornerbacks in the draft.
Video: Here’s a look at Taylor in action from a couple of games in 2012.
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