Six Writers, Six Different Picks
Joshua Huffman (Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota):
My earliest 2014 NFL mock drafts had New England drafting Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. That may still happen because the Patriots offense is at its best when there are two competent pass-catching threats at tight end. If they pass on tight end until Round 2 or later, Ra’Shede Hageman could fit well as a pass-rush defensive end in their hybrid 3-4 defense. They need more pressure from the front seven, especially when they face off against Peyton Manning. Bill Belichick should express interest in coaching up a player with his upside.
Nicholas Pitakos (C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama):
This seems to be a fall out for a player who is touted to go fairly high in the draft, but I just don’t see how many teams will reach for Mosley as he doesn’t fill the biggest need for anyone in the draft up to this point. Even with the New England Patriots, he doesn’t necessarily fill a huge need, but he can be utilized and I think the Patriots follow the “BPA” pattern which is far and beyond Mosley at this point in the draft. Mosley could help sure up the inside for the Patriots for years to come and he is a solid draft pick to have fallen to No. 29 overall. Really, even if the need isn’t there, the Patriots will be getting a stud if they select Mosley at this point in the draft.
Scotty Bakalian (Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State):
It’s tough to figure out which direction the Patriots are going with their first selection. The organization does a great job of preventing information from being leaked to the media. They could address several different positions here or they could consider trading down to acquire more picks as they have been known to do. WR Kelvin Benjamin would be an interesting fit in this New England offense. He is a huge red-zone threat at 6-foot-5 and 240 lbs. Defenses would have fits trying to match up with Benjamin and a healthy Rob Gronkowski.
Stoney Keeley (Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA):
The Patriots like safe picks and need interior offensive line help. The best guard prospect in the draft will be New England’s for the taking. The UCLA product is well-rounded in run blocking and pass protection. Though the Patriots need help at tight end, no prospect here warrants first-round selection.
Matt Ward (Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech):
The 2013 season showed a different Patriots team than we were used to. We had grown accustomed to the dangerous two-tight end sets that they ran with their big, athletic tandem of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. With Hernandez gone for legal troubles and Gronk dealing with constant injuries, you have to think the Patriots will look to add at least one legitimate play-maker at the tight end position. Before a disappointing Combine performance, many analysts ranked Jace Amaro as an equal to fellow draft prospect Eric Ebron. Now that his draft stock has slipped a bit, the Patriots take advantage and grab a savvy tight end who can contribute in year 1. Brady needs more weapons that can be utilized in the short-range passing game.
Russell Griffin (Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame):
The Patriots’ run defense was horrific last year, due in large part to Vince Wilfork‘s injury. Wilfork will be returning next year, but a man of his size and his age don’t always come back the same from a torn ACL. Enter Louis Nix III, a player who has been compared to Vince Wilfork. Nix could learn from the best NT in the business while, also contributing to a DL that needs help. Nix would be an absolute steal at pick 29.