New England Patriots: Day 2 Reaction, Grades

Looking back, yesterday made too much sense. The New England Patriots drafted a versatile defensive lineman, one with huge upside (albeit an injury risk), a team captain, and a player for a coach he has a huge amount of respect for (Urban Meyer).

And, since Dominique Easley made too much sense, Bill Belichick realized that he wasn’t living up to his crazy reputation. So he drafted a QB with the 62nd pick.

There are people who will tell you that this pick made perfect sense, that when you find a franchise quarterback you take him. That it’s better to be sure early, than worry late.

But it doesn’t make sense, in the short term or the long term.

 

Some quick breakdowns:

 

62 – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Don’t get me wrong, I like Garoppolo fine. He has tremendous vision and a beautiful release. He’s a big, muscular player (6-2/219) and won the Walter Payton award in 2013, the highest award in the FCS. He’s the Patriots’ model QB prospect, more so than Ryan Mallett, and more so than Tom Savage, AJ McCarron, or Aaron Murray. He’s great.

But why take a QB when there are so many other pressing needs?

Offensive lineman, tight end, cover linebacker, edge rusher – these are all needs that went unfulfilled on Day 2, and are all positions that are dwindling fast heading into Day 3.

Then there’s this to consider. It would appear that, heading into the 4th round, the Texans’ trade for Ryan Mallett isn’t going to happen. There’s still time for something to materialize, but let’s assume not. That means Garoppolo, the Patriots 2014 2nd round pick, will be the third string quarterback this season.

And, even for a pick for the future, this is still a questionable move. Brady is locked into a contract through 2017, meaning that, if all goes well, Garoppolo wouldn’t see the field until 2018, which means resigning him to another contract.

Which raises the question, is he the QB of the future or is he just another Brady backup? If it’s the former, fine, but the timing is iffy. And if it’s the latter, this pick wasn’t worth it. At all.

He’s a great fit, and seems more than willing to play Rodgers to Brady’s Favre for as long as it takes, but this is an iffy pick.

Grade: C+

 

93 – Traded to Jacksonville for 105, 179th picks

I’m generally all for trading back for extra picks. And while that 179th pick isn’t exciting on its own, it can be packaged with one of the other Patriots’ 6th round picks to get up into the 5th if they want.

What I am worried about is what the Patriots might be passing up on in that 12 spot drop.

Speaking of which, here are the three biggest positions of need, in my eyes, and how they can be filled tomorrow.

 

Tight End

I wonder how much of the Garropoplo pick had to do with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro, and Troy Niklas all going in the middle of the 2nd. The Patriots also missed out on CJ Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, and Richard Rodgers in the 3rd.

This leaves the cupboard a bit bare.

Arthur Lynch is still available, so are Marcel Jensen, Xavier Grimble, and Gator Hoskins. And of course, two of my football crushes, Jake Murphy and Trey Millard could be around late in the proceedings.

Also, you gotta wonder, even if just for fun, if Bill Belichick is taking another hard look at Colt Lyerla. Probably not, but still…….

 

Outside Linebacker, with Cover Skills

I’d put this as the most pressing need early in the 4th, not because it’s the biggest need on the team, but there are only a handful of players who can fill that spot effectively next year.

Jordan Tripp and Telvin Smith are still available, the latter’s stock certainly hit by his failed drug test at the Combine. Still both would be tremendous fits for the Patriots and high character, energetic players who can be special teams aces and make plays around the field.

Also, adding a cover lineback to come in on 3rd down would allow Jamie Collins or Dont’a Hightower to rush off the line in certain situations, something that Hightower especially has been eager to do more of. In this way, the Pats don’t need to draft a defensive end right away, as drafting an OLB accomplishes the same thing.

There are other players (Kevin Pierre-Louis, maybe even Aaron Lynch), who could do the same thing, but there’s a big dropoff after Tripp and Smith.

 

Interior Offensive Lineman

Let me start off by saying how horrified I am that Weston Richburg ended up on the Giants. Just the thought of my favorite offensive lineman in the draft snapping the ball to the Lesser Manning Brother is a huge, unbelievable bummer.

That being said, there are a couple of worth prospects still around. David Yankey is the highest profile name, and someone that was expected to go early in the 2nd. He had a bad combine, but he’s a highly intelligent technician who’s equally good in the pass and the run games. He’s a player who can play a bunch of positions and be a great do-it-all sub his rookie year.

There’s also Jon Halapio, Anthony Steen, Wesley Johnson, Russell Bodine, Tyler Larsen, and Gabe Ikard, all of whom could fill the need for a backup, at the very least.

The other note about an O-lineman is the possibility of the Patriots signing free agent Davin Joseph, who visited with the team before the draft. There’s a chance the Pats wouldn’t make him an offer until they saw how the draft shook out, but Joseph would be a great pickup if they don’t make OL a priority in Day 3.

Joseph, a Tampa Bay first round pick in 2006, was a two time Pro-Bowler in 2008 and 2011. He lost most of the 2012 season to a knee injury, and wasn’t the same player last year for the Bucs, ranked as one of the worst guards in the NFL Still, the 30-year-old is experienced, and could still return to his Pro Bowl form in the right situation.

The Patriots are that situation.

Grade: B-

 

 

Overall, two interesting moves, to say the least, but two that puts a lot of pressure on the team to patch some holes on Day 3. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, to be sure.

See you guys back here tomorrow! You can find me on twitter @isportspeters or at isportspeters@gmail.com.

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