After a round 1 trade the Minnesota Vikings, the Patriots came in to day 2 of the NFL draft with 4 picks, 2 in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The team ended up using all of those picks, and in true Patriots fashion, some of those picks came with some question marks.
With the 52nd pick, the Patriots selected a player that was probably not on many people’s radars (although Pete Prisco did have the Patriots taking him in the first round) with Jamie Collins from Southern Mississippi. Collins is a 6’4” 240 pound linebacker that projects outside in the Patriots’ defense. Not only did Collins have double-digit sacks in 2012 on a team that did not win any games, he also led his conference (Conference USA) in tackles for loss with 20. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Globe, there has been a lot of talk that Southern Mississippi tanked it last year after coach Larry Fedora left for UNC. When you consider that, Collins’ numbers are pretty impressive.
Collins was actually originally recruited to play defensive back for the Golden Eagles but converted to outside linebacker. That gives a little more credibility to the pick when you consider the Patriots’ need for a coverage linebacker; Collins should be able to cover some receivers with his history as a defensive back. Collins has a long resume of being a great athlete. He actually won a state championship in high school as a quarterback in the state of Mississippi.
In the end, Collins just screams a Belichick pick. He’s the kind of player that will be interesting to see how the coach uses him. He is a versatile, smart, hard working defensive player in a position of need for the Patriots. The question then becomes where he was taken. Taking him at #52 could be a dangerous thing, especially if Collins doesn’t work out. There is even more pressure put on Collins as he is the first pick for the Patriots in this year’s class.
Collins does seem ready to come in and contribute, in a conference call with reporters Collins said, “No matter what team you’re on – I’m going to play my heart out.”
Next up for the Patriots was pick #59 and it was time for the team to recognize a position of big need, wide receiver. More specifically, a big receiver. Enter Aaron Dobson from Marshall. Dobson didn’t have mind-blowing numbers in his final season for the Thundering Herd when he was hindered by injury, but he does have some of the best hands that I have seen on film. The play that will be talked about the most is the catch against East Carolina. There are a very select few amount of people that can make a one-handed, back-handed grab like Dobson did in that game.
While Dobson’s bread and butter is getting deep, taking the top off the defense, going up and fighting for the ball (all of which he does well by the way) it isn’t all he does. He absolutely ran some intermediate routes and screen passes for Marshall. I expect Dobson to start right away for the Patriots, if not for his sheer ability, for the lack of bodies the Patriots currently have at the position. The problem then becomes whether or not Dobson will be able to do what so few other receivers have been able to do in New England, create a good rapport with Tom Brady. Dobson does seem ready to go though.
“It’s an exciting time, man. Just to have the opportunity to play in the NFL and play for a great team like the Patriots is just a blessing from the man above. I’m just excited to hit the ground running,” Dobson said in a conference call with reporters.
Next, at pick #83 in the 3rd round, came the only player that I had mentioned as a potential target for the Patriots, Logan Ryan of Rutgers. As I mentioned in my latest mock draft, Ryan took over Devin McCourty’s spot when the Patriots drafted him in the first round in 2010. With that, Ryan seems ready to come in to the system and fit right in.
Ryan is a good tackler, even in the open field. He, like McCourty is pretty strong in the run game. In the passing game he seems to be able to adjust well and has some fair ball skills. He worked well with his hands in the film that I watched.
Before the draft, Ryan had some idea that the Patriots might be the team to call him on day 2.
“The Patriots were one of the teams that worked me out and I knew they needed a corner and I felt like I was the guy for them all along. They have great Rutgers connections, but beyond that I felt like I’m a smart, versatile player and I can do well in that organization and I feel like that is a perfect fit,” Ryan said during his conference call.
The biggest surprise though came with the Patriots’ last pick of the day at #91. The Patriots’ opted to double dip with the players from Rutgers with safety Duron Harmon. Similarly to the Tavon Wilson pick last year, Harmon was not invited to the NFL combine, so he was not on man people’s radars. In the small amount of film that is available of him, he seems like he is very hard-hitter. Honestly there isn’t much more I can say of him on the field. I can say he was a 2-time all-conference player.
This might be one of the most curious picks in the history of the Patriots. While there was some thought last year that Wilson could have been had later, there was also a little bit of talk that he was rising late on draft boards. Harmon was not. No one knew who he was. He could have easily been had after the draft as a free agent. If Harmon was really the best player available on the Patriots’ board, then there is a major problem with the Patriots’ board.
“We thought it was good value when we took him. I don’t know what other teams, how they have their boards stacked or anything else. There’s no way to predict that – 31 other teams. I think you have to take the players you feel like can help your team. That’s what we did,” said Bill Belichick about Harmon in a press conference after day 2 of the draft.
In the end, this was a solid day for the Patriots. I honestly believe that their first 3 picks could be immediate impact players for the team. But I would have to give them a C overall for day 2, that’s how bad I feel about the Harmon pick. If they picked a player like Barrett Jones or Quinton Patton or maybe someone who was supposed to be drafted, I might have given them an A for day 2.