2015 Draft in Review: New England Patriots
The NFL draft is over and it suddenly seems like a long time to wait for the next meaningful event on the NFL calendar. But frankly we’re still excited trying to break down what it all means for each team and so we’re going to share some of that excitement.
That’s right every team is going to have each pick broken down as well as a look at their undrafted free agents. Next up we’re looking at the New England Patriots.
Round 1: Malcom Brown, DI, Texas
One of the harder players to evaluate on film, Brown was a playmaker for Texas, but there were times that he just couldn’t handle offensive linemen once they got their hands on him. He was quick to shed blocks, as evidenced by his 11.1 percent run stop percentage that led the nation’s defensive tackles. He tied for 15th among DTs in pass rush productivity at 6.8, as he notched seven sacks, seven hits and 19 hurries on 387 rushes. His game against BYU in Week 2 was one of the best we saw among defensive tackles last season.
Depth Chart Fit: Brown will rotate at 1-tech and 3-tech along with last year’s first rounder pick Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, and Alan Branch.
Round 2: Jordan Richards, S, Stanford
As many others have noted, Richards likely could have been had later in the draft, so that hurts the overall grade here. He was a solid player, pulling the sixth-best grade among safeties in the class. He missed 10 tackles and one every 8.7 attempts, tying for 29th among draft-eligible safeties. Richards’ best game came against Notre Dame as he showed well against the run while making big plays in coverage.
Depth Chart Fit: Will provide depth behind free safety Devin McCourty while competing for snaps in nickel and dime packages with FS Duron Harmon.
Round 3: Geneo Grissom, ED, Oklahoma
Injury derailed what was turning into a solid season for Grissom. He notched four sacks, five hits, and 11 hurries on 164 rushes while dropping into coverage nearly as often as he rushed (153 snaps). Grissom came back with a solid pass rushing effort in the Senior Bowl, grading at +2.3.
Depth Chart Fit: Grissom can rush the passer while handling basic drops into coverage, so he’ll provide outside linebacker depth when the Patriots play true 3-4 sets.
Round 4: Trey Flowers, ED, Arkansas
One of our favorite players in the draft, Flowers was as productive as any edge rusher in the draft class. He posted the nation’s highest grade against the run while notching the second-best pass rushing grade against power-5 competition. He picked up five sacks, seven hits, and 38 hurries on 365 rushes.
Depth Chart Fit: Flowers is a similar player to current Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich and he’ll provide depth on the defensive line as a run defender with the possibility of kicking inside to DT on passing downs.
Round 4: Tre’ Jackson, G, Florida State
Jackson graded in the top half of the draft-eligible guards, posting slight positives as both a run blocker and pass protector. He surrendered one sack, three hits, and 13 hurries on 555 pass blocks last season, good for a pass blocking efficiency (PBE) of 97.7 that ranked 13th among draft-eligible guards.
Depth Chart Fit: Both guard spots should be up for grabs as starting LG Dan Connolly left in free agency, leaving only a struggling Jordan Devey while the right side is manned by Ryan Wendell who is strong against the run but inconsistent in pass protection.
Round 4: Shaq Mason, G, Georgia Tech
A guard in college, Mason may be viewed as a center for the Patriots. The Georgia Tech option offense creates a difficult evaluation for offensive linemen, but Mason stood out on a weekly basis. He posted the second-highest run blocking grade in the nation among guards, but it’s the transition to pass protection that will be key. His struggles were on display at the Senior Bowl when he surrendered five pressures and posted a -5.1 pass blocking grade. Still, he’s an intriguing developmental prospect.
Depth Chart Fit: If converted to center, Mason can slot in as starter Bryan Stork’s backup.
Round 5: Joe Cardona, LS, Navy
We have little information on college long snappers, but now that Cardona is in the league, our own Gordon McGuinness is the only man equipped to properly chart his progress. Stay tuned.
Depth Chart Fit: Cardona fills the vacant long snapping role for the Patriots.
Round 6: Matthew Wells, LB, Mississippi State
One of the sleepers discovered by the PFF system, Wells made the most of his 645 snaps by grading positively in coverage, against the run, and as a pass rusher. He allowed 48.8% of passes to be completed into his coverage, best among linebackers in the draft classes, while ranking third with six passes defensed. Our own Matt Claassen sums it up well with a very interesting comparison for Wells:
Depth Chart Fit: Wells could find a role as a coverage linebacker and special teamer, perhaps similar to Gary Guyton’s old role with the Patriots.
Round 6: A.J. Derby, TE, Arkansas
Derby is a former quarterback who became a solid option in the passing game for Arkansas. Despite playing only 384 snaps, his receiving grade ranked fourth in the draft class as he dropped only one of his 23 catchable passes while picking up 8.3 yards after the catch.
Depth Chart Fit: With Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler on the roster, snaps will be hard to come by, but Derby will compete with Tim Wright for playing time as the third tight end and potential third down passing game option.
Round 7: Daryl Roberts, CB, Marshall
Their fifth PFF Value Pick, Roberts mixed impressive tape with strong athleticism. His coverage grade ranked seventh in the draft class and he allowed only 29.4% completions on passes thrown between 11 and 20 yards downfield. He did lead all draft-eligible cornerbacks with 10 penalties.
Depth Chart Fit: The Patriots went with a “see what sticks” attitude to the cornerback positon this offseason so Roberts has as good a chance as anyone to see the field.
Round 7: Xzavier Dickson, ED, Alabama
Dickson was a strong run defender on his 568 snaps while grading average as a pass rusher despite his seven sacks.
Depth Chart Fit: Dickson has an upfield battle to make the roster, but his best bet is as a depth piece on the edge as a run stopper.
David Andrews, C, Georgia: Posted the 16th-best pass blocking grade among draft-eligible centers. Andrews didn’t give up a sack or hit, and surrendered only six hurries on 334 pass block attempts.
Devin Gardner, WR/QB, Michigan: Struggled at quarterback last season, but converting to wide receiver where he has some experience from earlier in college career.
Jimmy Jean, CB, UAB: Coverage grade ranked 30th among draft-eligible cornerbacks though he missed nine tackles on only 41 attempts.
Chris Harper, WR, Cal: Dropped only one of his 52 catchable passes, good for a drop rate of 1.92%, good for fifth among draft-eligible wide receivers.
Brandon King, S, Auburn: Played only 63 snaps on defense that included an odd mix of 41 snaps at safety and 22 as a pass rushing defensive end.
Shane Young, TE, Sam Houston State: Played only 22 snaps against FBS competition and didn’t catch his only target.
Vince Taylor, DI, Vanderbilt: Posted a positive grade against the run while picking up only seven total pressures on 189 rushes.
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