On the third and final day of the NFL draft the New England Patriots held 4 draft picks, one at the top of the 4th round and three in the 7th. While the Patriots did pick 4 players on day 3, they did add 4 players that will be able to compete for a spot on the roster come training camp.
After a few trades to start of the 4th round, the Patriots came on the clock with the 5th pick (102nd overall). A lot of people speculated prior to the pick that the Patriots were planning on double-dipping into the wide receiver pool after picking Aaron Dobson in round 1. There were some great names still on the board at the time, Quinton Patton being one of them who I absolutely loved. Instead, however, the Patriots went with Josh Boyce out of Texas Christian.
Boyce is a 5’11’ receiver who has some good size but some elite speed. At the combine, Boyce ran a sub-4.4 in the forty, and that was on an injured foot. That injured foot is somewhat of a concern, but most accounts say that he should be ready to go by training camp. That is big, because the Patriots have had problems developing receivers when they have a late start acclimating to their system (see Price, Taylor).
Boyce described the injury as “day-to-day” in his conference call and says that he will “be ready to go.”
The Patriots did not have another pick for about 6 hours but the war room stayed busy during the lull. Just before 3 o’clock Eastern Time, Jeff Howe of the Boston Globe reported that a trade of RB Jeff Demps was “imminent.” Demps of course was the Olympic sprinter that the Patriots signed to a 3-year deal during last training camp before the injured himself in a pre-season game against the Buccaneers. A couple months ago reports started coming that Demps was trying to split his time between football and sprinting, which obviously did not go over well with the coaching staff in Foxboro. Rumors soon started swirling that the Patriots had put him on the trading block.
Some time after the original report from Howe, it was announced that a trade including Demps did indeed happen. It was reported that the Patriots would ship Demps along with the second of their 7th round picks (229 overall) to Tampa Bay in exchange for RB LaGarrette Blount. Tampa is a logical spot for Demps as they were the only other team to see Demps during the their joint-practice with the Patriots after Demps signed with the team.
Blount lost a lot of playing time this past year after the meteoric rise of rookie sensation Doug Martin. Blount was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010 after falling out of the draft due to behavior issues at Oregon. He had a phenomenal rookie year, totaling over 1,000 yards, and a solid year in 2011.
Blount joins a running back room led by Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Brandon Bolden. He will probably compete with Bolden for snaps behind Ridley and for a spot in some goalline situations. This may be my favorite move of the entire draft; the Patriots get rid of a player they didn’t want, and get someone that can bring a different edge to their running game.
“Excited to have him here, think he’s a good football player,” coach Bill Belichick said during his post-draft press conference of Blount, “He’s had a lot of production and I think he got in a situation last year where they obviously went with [Doug] Martin, but I think he’s a good football player and happy to add him to our team.”
When the 7th and final round came around, the Patriots were left with 2 selections. With the first, they opted to add a little more to the pass rush with Michael Buchanan, a DE out of Illinois. Buchanan was on some pre-season watchlists but had somewhat of a disappointing senior season for the Illini, totaling just 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. Buchanan is an impressive-looking human being at 6’6” and about 240 pounds. He has long arms as well, which I really like in my pass rushers.
Buchanan is a very interesting prospect who I can absolutely see competing for playing time as an edge rusher on passing downs. Buchanan seems like, at least right now, he is just happy to be in New England.
“This was a childhood dream of mine with an organization I always wanted to be with, so it’s definitely a great feeling. It’s truly a blessing,” Buchanan said during his conference call.
With the Patriots’ final pick, Belichick again used his pipeline in New Jersey and selected Steve Beauharnais, an inside linebacker from Rutgers. It was mostly agreed that this was a good value spot for Beauharnais as he was slated to go in the 6th round. Beauharnais was the team captain for the Scarlet Knights this past year and a finalist for the Butkus award, he also had a career high 83 tackles in 2012.
Most scouting reports praised him for his football smarts, saying his called all the signals for the Rutgers’ defensive unit. Aside from even the Rutgers connection, this screams a Belichick pick. He’s a team captain and a smart player that can line up a defense, everything Bill loves in his linebackers.
This marks the 2nd time since 2010 that the Patriots picked 3 players from the same school. That year the team picked Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, and Aaron Hernandez from the University of Florida.
At the end of the day, this was a solid weekend for the Patriots. The team added some great players in the draft that can help this team immediately and got a player in a trade that adds some edge to their offense. The only question I still have is the Duron Harmon pick. That pick is just such a blatantly terrible value pick; it really does hurt the rest of the class. Final grade: C+