By MyFM's Jake Archer - We are less than an hour away from the 2018 NFL Draft and I wanted to cover some of the names that may come off the board and join the New England Patriots either tonight or in the days to come. Obviously, it's really tough to know what will happen with any team especially the Patriots. This offseason has been a weird one and it'd be fitting to see them do something wildly out of the ordinary like trade up. This year they have eight picks to make, but of course we know that the number could easily change to more or less with a trade. These are the picks they possess as of me writing this...
First Round - Pick 23 (23rd overall) acquired in the Brandin Cooks deal from the Rams
First Round - Pick 31 (31st overall) assigned pick
Second Round - Pick 11 (43rd overall) acquired in the Jimmy Garoppolo deal from the 49ers
Second Round - Pick 31 (63rd overall) assigned pick
Third Round - Pick 31 (95th overall) assigned pick
Sixth Round - Pick 24 (198th overall) acquired in the Brandin Cooks deal from the Rams
Sixth Round - Pick 36 (210th overall) acquired in the deal that brought in Cordarrelle Patterson from Oakland
Seventh Round - Pick 1 (219th overall) acquired in the deal that brought in Jason McCourty from Cleveland
The Pats had acquired other picks in deals but then sent them away for some of these picks and players. Now, with what they have you can see an obvious gap between the third and sixth rounds. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Pats trade back and get a couple of picks somewhere in there. Anyway, the areas of need for the Patriots seem to be quarterback, linebacker, cornerback, offensive tackle and edge rushers. Of course, they could go with a tight end (I wouldn't hate it) or some other position that I'm not going to look into but I'll stick with those five positions being the primary needs. Now, let's break it down and take a look at a few of the prospects that could end up in Foxboro.
I promise, I'm not going to go off on a tangent about Tom Brady's weird attitude that he's had lately or how the Patriots made a gigantic mistake getting rid of Jimmy G. However, the Pats probably do need to start making plans for life after Tommy, so I wouldn't mind seeing them take a QB if they feel he's the right man for that insanely hard job. The problem is knowing who they'll go after because they have almost no pattern with drafting QBs in the Belichick Era. I don't love any QB in this draft, but maybe they do and they draft high. Or maybe they just pluck a guy late, who knows? Here's a few players who could be in the plans...
Lamar Jackson (Louisville, 6 foot 3, 200 lbs)- Let's start with the flashy name who will most likely not be drafted by New England. The only reason I'm putting him in here is because he's been linked to the Pats a LOT lately and he'll likely be on the board when they are selecting. I just don't think they'll go QB in the first round though. They would have to believe so, so much in the kid and although I like Lamar, I doubt he's the guy. Jackson was an absolute electric factory in college as he won the Heisman and pretty much was a one-man team. It seemed like every Saturday that I'd get an update about how he had like 5 touchdowns in the first half. Of course, because of this crazy athleticism, he's been critiqued and people have suggested he switch positions. That's dumb, and it has been with almost every other QB that the pundits have said the same about. While I don't think Jackson is a sure bet to succeed in the NFL, I can see him doing well if he gets in the right situation with a good coaching staff. I know one place that comes to mind...
Anyway, Jackson seems like a smart kid and I'll be rooting for him to succeed at the next level. I hope he gets better as a passer (pretty important as a QB I believe), and I hope he doesn't end up in an organization that mishandles him. I just doubt New England brings him in.
Luke Falk (Washington State, 6 foot 3, 225 lbs) - Falk is another guy that has been linked to the Patriots and projects to go in the late second or early third round. He's talked about as a fit for the system and feels like a Belichick pick. There are two reasons I don't want him at all and one reason why he won't be taken by New England. The first reason I don't want him is because although I know the combine isn't everything (see Tom Brady), I watched him throw to receivers and it was abysmal. Maybe the worst I've ever seen. The other reason I don't want Falk is because he is a Brady disciple. While I can relate to that and I agree that Brady is great, I don't want our backup QB to be in awe of Tom and asking for his autograph. I want our backup to want to put Tom on the bench or get him traded because that will show he's got the fire that is needed to do what we want him to. The reason Falk won't get picked, is because too many people are talking about it. Belichick never does anything that you think he will.
Kyle Lauletta (Richmond, 6 foot 3, 215 lbs) - Well, we want to replace Jimmy G., so why not get a guy that has drawn comparisons to him? Lauletta checks off that box, as well as a few others. He comes from a lacrosse family and played himself, he's also got family who played football at Navy, and he's been heralded as a great leader. While he doesn't have the biggest arm in the draft, he certainly has the other skills and intangibles that you look for in a QB. I'm hoping he's the pick for the Pats.
Okay, so those are just three QBs that could be a Patriot by the end of the week. Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield have been linked as well, but both of those sound like big time long shots. I personally don't want Rosen, and he seems like he'd cost too much, be ready too soon (remember we're looking for a guy that's going to sit for 2 years at least), and clash with what the organization is. Mayfield to me, is drawing way too much buzz and I can't fathom why the Pats would trade up for him. Neither of those will happen and honestly, it's likely Belichick and Nick Caserio don't have their eye on anyone as the long-term guy and won't waste more than a fifth rounder on the position. Let's move on...
I believe this is the single biggest position of need, especially after Nate Solder decided to go join the G-Men in New York. What stinks is the fact that whoever comes in is learning while also protecting an old, immobile QB. Despite the fact that this position is so hard to evaluate, this draft is said to not really have the best talent in this area. Well, luckily the Patriots have the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Dante Scarnecchia to coach 'em up. Let's see who could be getting the job...
Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame, 6 foot 8, 309 lbs) - I don't want to root for a Notre Dame guy, but I will if I must. McGlinchey is said to be one of the top two or three guys at his position in this draft, yet he could still be sitting there for the Patriots late in the first round. He was a 3-year starter for the Irish, he was durable and he is a great run-blocker. He's also got some versatility notes that come up. On one hand, he's got a background as a tight-end which Solder had as well and Belichick may like that. On the other, most people think he needs to switch to right tackle, which is not what we want. Somehow, despite his size and his makeup, no one sees this guy as being elite once he hits the NFL. I'm not fired up about him.
Kolton Miller (UCLA, 6 foot 9, 310 lbs) - Kolton Miller is being projected to go at a million different spots in this draft. He could be off the board for the Pats or still sitting there at their third pick. He's been compared to Nate Solder, and some may even say he's got the ability to be better with some coaching. I love the thought of that. Sign me up!
Brian O'Neill (Pittsburgh, 6 foot 7, 297 lbs) - O'Neill is athletic and has the size you look for but something is holding him back from being one of the top prospects. His Senior Bowl performance wasn't great and he isn't as strong as you'd hope. Still, he's considered to be another guy that could do well with someone like Scarnecchia showing him the ropes.
As you can see, the OT position is not looking so hot this year in the draft. Even some of the best guys are considered to be more right tackle than left tackle, which isn't the worst but isn't ideal. I'd rather keep Marcus Cannon on the right where he has thrived if possible. Let's hope they take Miller and move on to the next position...
Anyone who knows anything is aware that the Patriots need defense, especially in the front seven. So an "edge" which is basically a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker, is sorely needed. That doesn't mean they need a guy who can just get to the QB, but they need an all around player who can rush, contain and drop in coverage. Essentially, they just need good defenders to avoid having the Eagles Super Bowl ever happen again. Let's check out some edge guys...
Bradley Chubb (North Carolina State, 6 foot 4, 269 lbs) - I shouldn't be writing about this guy. He's almost guaranteed to go in the Top 5 picks. Heck, even Bill Belichick famously told him that they wouldn't get a chance to draft him because he was too good! Yet somehow, he's shown me enough to think he warrants a big move and like I said, if there is ever a year that the Patriots do something weird, maybe this is it. Chubb is an absolute monster of a prospect and could end up being not only the best player in this draft, but one of the best ever. Remember how hyped up Myles Garrett was last year? Yea, this guy is better. He's not just a pass rusher as he also defends the run exceptionally and stays in the plays all the way to the whistle. That results in lots of tackles and it's clear this guy has a motor that is second to none. Beyond that, he played some great competition in college and also seems like a smart kid who has drawn inspiration and motivation from his father and brother who both played football before him (his brother is somewhere in the NFL right now, it's escaping me which team). I love his style and although it won't happen, seeing him in New England would be a dream.
Harold Landry (Boston College, 6 foot 3, 252 lbs) - Landry is the local guy, as he comes from Boston College. Obviously, it's easy to see how that would be a cool nugget from a Patriots draft pick, but that's not what this is about. He's still one of the better guys at his position and although he had a down 2017 (after an absolutley ridiculous 2016), the Pats could certainly be interested.
Sam Hubbard (Ohio State, 6 foot 5, 265 lbs) - You know how Bill Belichick likes to draft certain guys from different coaches or programs? Well, Hubbard is an Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano guy so there's your number one reason he's going to be a Patriot. I'm only half joking. Hubbard fits the mold though for a multitude of reasons. He's a former lacrosse player (again, this seems silly but Bill Belichick loves it), he switched to linebacker after playing safety and earning Freshman All-American honors. Once at linebacker he learned how to play on the inside, the outside and up on the line. He's smart (an Academic All-American who could be working on Wall Street) and he's uniquely athletic/versatile. He feels like a Patriot through and through.
Alright, now that we've touched on a few of those guys, let's wrap this thing up with the traditional linebackers...
The Patriots linebackers last year were a who's who of total junk. Once Dont'a Hightower went down, they scrapped together a bunch of castoffs and somewhat made it work until it all blew up in their face at the end. They'll need to get younger and luckily this year's draft has some pretty good options to consider.
Rashaan Evans (Alabama, 6 foot 2, 232 lbs) - As a rule, I'm pretty attracted to football players from the Alabama Crimson Tide. They worked under Nick Saban and are usually the cream of the crop. We've had some success drafting out of there and I'd like to see us put another 'Bama boy next to Hightower out on the field. Evans is a fantastic tackler and can rush really well, but his coverage is mediocre. Bill did work him out personally at the Alabama Pro Day though, so maybe that means something?
Shaquem Griffin (Central Florida, 6 foot 1, 229 lbs) - Shaq Griffin has done more with one hand than most people could do with five. If you don't know, Griffin had one of his hands amputated due to a birth defect but that has not slowed him at all. The guy does seemingly everything well and I'd be ecstatic to see someone who clearly works his butt off, end up on the Patriot's defense.
Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech, 6 foot 5, 253 lbs) - Edmunds is young at only 19 years old, but some say he's still going in the mid-first round. I'm not sure about that but if he's there for the Pats, it'd be an interesting pick to get a lot younger and a lot more talented.
With that, we're finally done. Again, I won't pretend to know who the Patriots will pick or what these players will turn out to be, but I just wanted to highlight some names to look out for. Enjoy the first round tonight, rounds two and three on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. I know I will!