Despite what critics say, the Patriots had a decent draft this year. They originally had 4 picks this year, and they made it 8 by trading their first pick away to the Minnesota Vikings. Many said they should have kept their first round pick to draft Matt Elam or Cordarelle Patterson, but they still got what they needed , and made some pretty impressive picks. The Patriots also traded RB Jeff Demps and a 7th rounder away to the Buccaneers for RB LeGarrette Blount, a high-level running back whose spotlight was taken by rookie sensation Doug Martin last year. Lets review the Patriots’ 2013 draft picks.
LB Jamie Collins, Southern Miss (Round 2 Pick 20)
Jamie Collins, the Patriots’ first pick in the draft, is an outside linebacker out of Southern Mississippi, where they went 0-12 last season. Though the team did so badly, Collins had many upsides as a player. He has amazing athletic ability, and beat out all other linebackers in the lower body explosiveness portions of the NFL Combine. Collins is primarily a pass rusher, and will be used as a defensive end in the Patriots’ 4-3 system. He had 16 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, and 3 defensive touchdowns in his Junior season. He’s a raw player who can rush the passer well off the edge. With some good coaching, Collins could give the Patriots the pass rush that they want to see from their defense, and in turn make the secondary’s job easier.
WR Aaron Dobson, Marshall (Round 2 Pick 57)
Aaron Dobson, the Patriots’ second pick in the draft, is a player that many fans are excited to see next season. Why you may ask? Its simple. He’s a 6’3″ 210 pound receiver who has great hands. What former Patriot receiver might he represent? Randy Moss. Catches like the one in the video above and excellent body control show the resemblance between him and the legendary receiver. The only downsides are that he’s not very fast, and he’s had injury troubles in the past. He does however, reach top speed quickly, and he can use his body size to get the upper hand on a defender. Look for him to become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, and to fill the deep threat role that the Patriots have been lacking for years.
CB Logan Ryan, Rutgers (Round 3 Pick 21)
Logan Ryan, the third pick by the team, is a big, physical cornerback. He is 5’11”, which may not seem very tall, but he the way he plays makes up for his size. He hits hard, and is an extremely effective run-stopper. He has above average agility (which is actually an understatement), and tested extremely well at the NFL Combine. His only downside is his coverage. He is extremely aggressive in coverage, which could lead to holding or pass interference calls, and he sometimes gets burned by receivers because of his slow top speed. He can get beaten by bigger receivers because of his size, and by smaller receivers because of his low speed. These are things that could get much better through coaching though. Logan Ryan possesses the skills needed to be a good NFL cornerback; he just needs to learn how to use them correctly. He’ll probably make it as the number 2 cornerback, dime package, or a transition to the safety position.
Safety Duron Harmon, Rutgers (Round 3 Pick 29)
Another Rutgers player. Duron Harmon was the Patriots’ fourth pick in the draft, and possibly the most surprising. Harmon was a standout on any scouting reports, and did not rank the highest in prospect rankings. He earned a grade of a 50.3 on the NFL.com draft center. He stands at 6’0″ and 200 lbs. There is little information on Harmon anywhere, aside from his basic stats, because he just isn’t an impressive player. Why the Patriots drafted him or what they saw in him is a mystery. He is a dedicated player though, and could make the team as a special teams player. At this point, unless a breakthrough happens, a special teams player is the most that Duron Harmon has going for him.
WR Josh Boyce, TCU (Round 4 Pick 5)
Josh Boyce, the Patriots’ fifth pick, could be considered a late round steal. He has great hands and great speed. His only downside is his size, as he is 5’11” 206 lbs. He is built more like a running back than a receiver, and therefore cannot create mismatches with defenders. Don’t let this scare you though, as he has more upsides than downsides. Boyce is a great route runner who can adjust to make it easier for the quarterback to connect with him. He can also get away from defenders extremely well after the catch. However, because of his size, his ability to break tackles is not the best, though he may not need to because of his speed and quickness. Look for Boyce to make it as a 3rd or 4th receiver.
DE Michael Buchanan, Illinois (Round 7 Pick 20)
The Pats’ sixth pick in the draft, Michael Buchanan is 6’5″ at 250 pounds. He’s a big athlete that has the ability to be a great pass rusher and edge setter. He is an effective tackler, and is great at defending against the run. Likewise, he is fast and can get off the edge quickly to rush the quarterback and apply the pressure. He occasionally loses balance when trying to make extremely athletic moves, but this is typical of a big player. If Buchanan learns his limits and works hard, he could be a starting pass defensive end next year.
OLB Steve Beaunarhais, Rutgers (Round 7 Pick 29)
Steve Beaunarhais is the Patriots’ seventh and last pick of the draft, and also the third player the Patriots selected out of Rutgers. At 6’1″ and 240 pounds, he is an ordinary athlete who has great speed but lacks strength. He is a consistent linebacker who makes up for his lack of athleticism with his good play reads and high football IQ. He is a liability in pass coverage though, and could play well in zone coverage, but he will not be able to cover most NFL tight ends. Look for Buchanan to become a backup linebacker next year if he makes the team.
For more on the 2013 NFL Draft, see our NFL Draft in Review article.