May 13, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: New England Patriots

#2 Dominique Easley, DT, Florida

New England Patriots
Division: AFC East | Last Season Record: 12-4

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: This draft should have been about helping Tom Brady. Improving the interior offensive line, and adding more weapons on offense. Whether it's a receiver or a tight end, Brady could use a big target to throw to.

They don't have many needs on defense, but they should have tried to target a pass rushing defensive tackle early, and probably a strong safety to compete for the starting job. Linebacker and defensive end depth as well.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

29. (29) Dominique Easley, DT
Experience: Senior | School: Florida
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 288 lbs.

Round 2

30. (62) Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
Experience: Senior | School: Eastern Illinois
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 226 lbs.

Round 4

5. (105) Bryan Stork, C
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Florida State
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 315 lbs.

30. (130) James White, RB
Experience: Senior | School: Wisconsin
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 206 lbs.

40. (140) Cameron Fleming*, OT
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Stanford
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 325 lbs.

Round 6

3. (179) Jon Halapio, OG
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Florida
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 323 lbs.

22. (198) Zach Moore, DE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Concordia-St. Paul
Height: 6-6 | Weight: 269 lbs.

30. (206) Jemea Thomas, CB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Georgia Tech
Height: 5-9 | Weight: 191 lbs.

Round 7

29. (244) Jeremy Gallon, WR
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Michigan
Height: 5-8 | Weight: 182 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Dominique Easley, DT (Round 1, Pick 29)
Experience: Senior | School: Florida
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 288 lbs.

Analysis: When you get a top 10 talent at the end of the first round, that's what you call great value. Easley is the best defensive tackle the draft has to offer when healthy. This is a classic Bill Belichick pick.

Most Questionable Pick:

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Round 2, Pick 30)
Experience: Senior | School: Eastern Illinois
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 226 lbs.

Analysis: I question this pick, because they already have Ryan Mallett (a 2011 third round pick) as a backup, though he'll be a free agent after this season. I just feel like Tom Brady has at least three good years left in him, and the Patriots should be trying to build around him instead of planning for the future. Plus, Garoppolo was a bit of a reach here.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Justin Jones, TE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: East Carolina
Height: 6-8 | Weight: 277 lbs.

Analysis: Justin Jones was ruled ineligible this past season due to academic issues. He's a huge, athletic tight end who will get a shot in New England.

Other Free Agent Signings

Tyler Beck, TE, Bowling Green
Roy Finch, RB, Oklahoma
James Morris, LB, Iowa
Travis Hawkins, DB, Delaware
Asa Watson, TE, North Carolina State
Tyler Ott, LS, Harvard
Cameron Gordon, LB, Michigan
Jeremy Deering, S, Rutgers
Deontae Skinner, LB, Mississippi State
Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana
Ja-Mes Logan, WR, Ole Miss
Malcolm Butler, CB, West Alabama
Seali’i Epenesa, DT, UCLA
Deylan Buntyn, DL, North Carolina State

Draft Review:

Analysis: While some thought Dominique Easley was a reach in the first round, I thought he was a steal. He's the 3-technique defensive tackle that the Patriots are missing, but he has the versatility to play anywhere on the defensive line.

I criticized the Jimmy Garoppolo pick, but he's in a great situation getting to develop behind a future hall-of-fame quarterback.

I really liked their 3 fourth round picks. Bryan Stork is one of the few starting centers in this draft. James White, though a bit of a reach, will be a good third down back. Cameron Fleming doesn't fill an immediate need, but he's a power blocker who could kick inside to guard. I liked the value.

With their three sixth round picks, I believe they came away with a future starter at guard in Jon Halapio, a developmental defensive end in Zach Moore, and a versatile defensive back in Jemea Thomas.

Jeremy Gallon isn't the big receiver I thought they should have targeted, but he could become a valuable slot receiver, and a pretty good special teams player.

The Verdict: I think I liked New England's draft more than most. They didn't get fancy. They stuck to their boar,d and got good football players that filled needs. I love that they made addressing the offensive line a priority. I do wish they would have targeted a pass catcher in the early rounds, but I understand that the Patriots already have enough young receivers who they hope can develop.

Overall Grade: B