The Patriots went into the draft carrying eight selections. By the time Mr. Irrelevant was announced to end the draft, the Patriots ended up selecting nine players. Of those nine players, there were some surprises, and there were some major surprises. The million dollar question is what each player can contribute to the team in the immediate future. While it is extremely hard to say, I took my best stab at it.
Round 1, Pick 29 (Overall: 29th) Dominique Easley, DL, Florida
Easley could have been a top 10 pick in this draft, had he not torn both ACL’s in college. Coming off a torn left ACL from this past season, he will be brought into the rotation slowly and cautiously to begin with. If all goes well, he could have an early-to-midseason impact on a defensive line that is expected to have Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly both returning slowly from respective leg injuries.
Round 2, Pick 30 (Overall: 62) Jimmy Garroppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Garroppolo is a talented quarterback who had a breakout season at Eastern Illinois. Although grabbing a backup and potential successor to Tom Brady was extremely important, and something that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later, the Patriots passed on many players who could’ve helped the team this season. Garroppolo could very well be the next starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, but he won’t see the field (unless something drastic occurs) until 2017.
Round 4, Pick 5 (Overall: 105) Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
The Patriots were looking to improve their interior line going into the draft, and they did just that by selecting Stork. Being versatile is a trait Bill Belichick loves in his players, and Stork brings that being able to play either guard or center. He is better suited at center where he won the Rimington Trophy (given to the nation’s top center). He has a strong chance of beating out Ryan Wendell as the starting center this season.
Round 4, Pick 30 (Overall: 130) James White, RB, Wisconsin
The Patriots had a revolving door of starting running backs last season. With Stevan Ridley’s fumbling problem, Shane Vereen’s wrist injury, and Legarrette Blount leaving in free agency, the Patriots needed to bring another back in. White will bring sure hands to the NFL, having only fumbled twice in over 640 collegiate carries.
Round 4, Pick 40 (Overall: 140) Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Fleming has solid size at 6-foot-4, 323 pounds. He is more of a developmental player who could benefit greatly from sitting in the 2014 season. He’ll have the chance to watch and learn from All-Pro right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Fleming seems to be a player who could have a greater impact in a few seasons.
Round 6, Pick 3 (Overall: 179) Jon Halapio, OG, Florida
The Patriots continued to address their offensive line with the pick of Halapio. He shares a similar toughness of current Patriots left guard Logan Mankins. Like Fleming, Halapio could have an impact down the line, but not in the upcoming season.
Round 6, Pick 22 (Overall: 198) Zach Moore, DE, Concordia-St. Paul
Moore has great size and speed for an NFL defensive lineman (6-foot-5, 269 pounds, 4.84 40 yard dash). His lack of experience, and competition (Divison II) are two things he must work through in the NFL. He could have an impact in 2014, but it will be through certain rotations and packages.
Round 6, Pick 30 (Overall: 206) Jemea Thomas, S, Georgia Tech
Thomas brings special teams experience with him to the Patriots, which could be his golden ticket to a roster spot with the club. His size is his biggest weakness (5-foot-9, 192 pounds). While Thomas will have few, if not any snaps on defense in 2014, he can have a great impact on the field with the special teams unit.
Round 7, Pick2 29 (Overall: 244) Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Gallon produced very well at Michigan, including a 2013 season in which he had 89 catches for 1,373 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also has experience returning kicks, an area the Patriots lacked with last season. With an offense that has question marks, he’ll have a strong chance of making the team, and making an impact.
Coming out of the draft, the Patriots never addressed the glaring hole at tight end. With training just two months away, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots decided to bring in a veteran. Rob Gronkowski is coming into another season rehabbing, and there is no true starter outside of him on the roster.