After the New England Patriots dropped their second straight AFC Championship Game, a 26-16 loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos, it was obvious that there would be a lot of change in Foxboro. Although the team played monumentally past expectations, and reached the conference championship with a defense that lost half of its starters, the Patriots still see every season as Super Bowl or bust.
With a lot of question marks still left, the Patriots will look towards the draft to fill them. In this mock draft, I will not be incooperating trades, and will act as if the team will select a player with each pick that they have.
1st Round, (29th Overall) DT, Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
The Patriots went through the majority of the 2013 season with rookie defensive tackles. With Vince Wilfork recovering from a torn Achilles, and Tommy Kelly coming off a knee injury, the interior line position becomes a major need. Hageman was Third-Team All American, and First-Team All-Big Ten selection. He has shown the ability to be a great block shedder, leading the team with 13 tackles for loss. He is known more for his run stopping abilities than his pass rushing moves. With injuries plaguing the Patriots interior line last season, Hageman has the ability to make a major impact early on.
* Other Potential Picks: Marqise Lee, WR Southern California and Jace Amaro, TE Texas Tech
2nd Round, (62nd Overall) TE, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington.
With Aaron Hernandez being indicted on murder charges in June of 2013, Rob Gronkowski was left as the only major contributing tight end on the roster. He missed the first seven games of the season with back and forearm injuries, and tore his ACL in early December. With so many question marks there, look for the Patriots to snag Seferian-Jenkins. The Tight End won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end in 2013. He set career marks at Washington, and would be a great addition to a Patriots offense that can lack weapons at times* Other Potential Picks: Weston Richburg, C Colorado State and JaWuan James, OL Tennessee
3rd Round, (93rd Overall) QB, A.J McCarron, Alabama
The Patriots made headlines in early April having invited many of the top quarterbacks to Foxboro for private workouts. Obviously, as long as Tom Brady is on the roster he will be the starting quarterback. Outside of Brady, the Patriots don’t have much in terms of a successor. Ryan Mallett has struggled in his preseason and mop up appearances. McCarron won two national championships at Alabama, and could be the future whenever Brady decides to call it a career.
* Other Potential Picks: Trai Turner, OG LSU and Christian Jones, ILB Florida St
4th Round, (130th overall) LB Lamin Barrow, LSU
Barrow is someone I fell in love with while doing this mock draft. A Second-Team All-SEC selection, Barrow has shown the ability to be a star. He led the team with 91 tackles last season, and shows great cover skills. A major upgrade over the departure of Brandon Spikes, Barrow should be able to fit in well with the likes of Jerod Mayo and Jamie Collins.
* Other Potential Picks: Cameron Fleming, OL Stanford and Craig Loston, SS LSU
4th Round, (140th overall) RB, Jerick McKinnon, Georgia Southern
McKinnon brings something to the table that Coach Bill Belichick loves…versatility. In his college career, McKinnon played QB, RB, CB, and even returned kicks. Has good speed, and is strong between the tackles. With the departure of Legarette Blount to Pittsburgh, McKinnon could push Brandon Bolden as the third running back on the roster.
I decided to only to the Patriots selections in the first four rounds, and will be doing the rest in my second mock draft. Stay tuned!