It’s year six of the PatsPropaganda Top-50 New England Patriots Draft Big Board. You can find previous year’s big boards here. As always, the goal is to get as many Patriots picks on this board as possible. Given that the Pats don’t have a first rounder this year it makes things a little more difficult, because I try to be realistic so you won’t find any of the usual top prospects here. Still, the Pats do have enough ammo to move up in the second round, all the way to the top if they choose to, so that gives us a bit of flexibility.
Here’s how I’ve done in the first five seasons of the big board and mock drafts:
The goal is to get 50 percent on the big board, as I haven’t gotten close since 4-of-9 in 2011. Some disclaimers:
- “mm” signifies how many matching measurables as compiled by Doug Kyed of NESN. These are the number of height/weight/testing results that matchup with what the Patriots like at each position.
- The numbers are the scouting rankings from NFL.com, giving us a rough idea of how that site’s scouts project them.
- Prospects who have met or worked out for the Pats are designated with (met) per Pats Pulpit’s great list.
- The list is fluid and will be updated up until the draft. If there’s someone you feel is a perfect Patriots fit LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!
I make no claims to being a scout, but I know what the Patriots like and look for. This is all for fun trying to beat myself. If you love or hate a prospect let me know in the comments, this list will be fluid up until the draft. I’ll drop my single mock draft a week or so before the draft.
Let’s do it!
New England Patriots Draft Big Board
- Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma, 5.77 5102 194 (mm5) – maybe the most Patriots-ready wide receiver in the draft. Polished route running, stop-on-dime ability and a willing blocker in the run game. Size is a bit of an issue, but great burst with both long speed and quickness. Might sneak into the first round.
- Austin Johnson, DT, Penn St., 5.98 (met) – Good size and athleticism, Johnson would fit well on the interior of the Pats’ defensive line. More of an effort pass rusher, Johnson still has the goods to mix single- and double-gapping.
- Jason Spriggs, Indiana, 5.51 (mm 10) 6050: Like Nate Solder, Spriggs is a former tight end and after four years at left tackle at Indiana, that’s probably where he’s headed in the pros. If he can adjust to the power of the NFL game he could possibly make the switch to right tackle and that’s where the need truly lies.
- Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn, 5.84, 6’060 313 – Cancer survivor who plays with toughness and handles himself like a pro already, Coleman is already 25 years old having spent extended time off the field while he was sick. Pats didn’t shy away from this kind of thing with Marcus Cannon (cancer) and Sebastian Vollmer (older prospect), Coleman could be the developmental right tackle they need for 2017, but by then he’s already closing in on 30.
- Joe Haeg, T, North Dakota St. (met) – Good size (6’6″, 304, 33 3/4 inch arms) and athletic performance. Played both sides but coming from a small school will need a year to develop. Sounds like NE would be a good spot for him. He seems like he’ll be right in the Pats sweet spot in the second round, but could go in the third so they’ll have a decision to make.
- Willie Beavers, T, Western Michigan, 5.48 (mm 4) 6040 324, Three-year starter who’s athletic enough to play the left side in the pros. Good burst off the snap, and has the ability to get into space to block screens that the Patriots love. Beavers is just what I’m looking for with the Pats in this draft and he should be available to them if they feel the same.
- Jordan Jenkins, LB, Georgia, 5.91 (met) – Jenkins played both at linebacker and as a pass rusher in the four-man front, a similar role to Dont’a Hightower coming out. He’s got those tweener traits that make some wonder how he fits, but he was a captain and is athletic and strong. He’d fit right in with the Patriots linebacking corps. Not a huge position of need, but a great fit, and one who’d need to play special teams out of the gate.
- Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech, 6.05 (met) (mm 4) 6050 312 – Clark might be better suited at left tackle and that doesn’t fill the need I want. There are concerns about his college offense not translating to the pros, but he has the athleticism that would be an interesting evolution at the right tackle spot. I think that’s where the game is going.
- Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas: The Patriots certainly saw plenty of Ridgeway as they scouted 2015 first rounder Malcom Brown. Some think he’ll be even better than Brown. Good size with unique movement skills, Ridgeway would be an excellent fit next to Brown once again.
- Alex Collins, RB, ARK 5.7 (met) – North-South runner who can also catch, Collins developed into a team leader at Arkansas while putting up big numbers. Biggest concern is 16 career fumbles, a big no no in New England and something that could drop him off this board. Still, he’s just what the Pats need as an early down back to soften up the defense. Stylistically he’s my favorite Patriots fit at RB and a realistic option.
- Kenneth Dixon – LA Tech, 5.69, 5’10”, 210 (mm8) – Determined runner, good speed and hands, but up and down in pass protection. Fights for every yard. Reminds me a bit of Ridley. Seems like this is the guy always atop the running back board who is available when the Pats pick.
- Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers, 5.34 5’117 211 – Yup, a Rutgers guy, but Carroo fits beyond that. Polished route runner with attention to detail and a good combination of speed and quickness. Knows how to set up defenders. Assault charge is a question mark, but on the field Carroo seems to have what it takes to succeed as a WR in NE. Good ability on deep balls, something that could help the Pats’ offense.
- Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh, 5.9 6014 197 – Lined up all over the place for Pitt, including as a returner. Great hands, but isn’t going to be the deep threat some want, but would be bring some size to the Edelman position. Worries about his durability. Smooth runner, not sure if he has the quickness in and out of his routes for the full Pats route tree.
- Devontae Booker, RB, Utah – Do-it-all back with good size (5’11”, 220), doesn’t have a great burst of speed and had six fumbles last season, but can make a cut and go. Also good on short yardage. Tough and determined. Team captain.
- Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame – With huge knee injury issues Smith is likely out for 2016, but he’d be a surefire first rounder if he was healthy. Given BB’s love for linebackers and the patience they’ve shown in the past, I have to think the Pats could easily take a flyer on Smith.
- Joshua Perry – MLB, Ohio St., 5.31 (mm7) – Noted leader, who’s physical at the point of attack, Perry is a good MLB fit. Good instincts and physical, but not a destroyer like Spikes. He seems to see the plays develop and knows where to go.
- Braxton Miller, Ohio State, 5.4 6’013 201 (mm7) – Former quarterback is raw in his route running, but has the smarts to adapt with practice. Unquestioned athleticism with good size. Biggest question is durability and how well he’ll handle an NFL pounding. Tough to read, seems to be thinking on every snap and that tells me with the Pats offense he’d need at least a year to grasp the offense.
- Jonathan Williams, RB, ARK 5.65 – Stock has dropped after a foot injury this past season. Still, good size at 5′ 11″, 225 pounds, will just have to work at lowering his pad level. Another early down pounder, a role the Pats need in their rotation.
- Harlan Miller, CB, SE Louisiana, 5.78 – Fiery competitor who’s not afraid to tackle, Miller played both press and off-man coverage, usually following the top receiving threat. Plays with a chip on his shoulder and fits what the Pats like in the corners and their scheme.
- DJ White, CB, GTech, 5.56 (met)- One of my favorite CB options this year, White is undersized but has played all kinds of coverage and is a captain with instincts. About the same size as Logan Ryan, some thing that’s undersized but he has the aggressive play to overcome that.
- Cyrus Jones, CB, Alabama (met) – Classic undersized but fearless corner who plays special teams that the Pats love, coming out of one of the best programs in the country. Four punt returns for TD as a senior. Has been consistently improving.
- Carl Nassib, Penn St. 5.61 – One year wonder but all the measurables and work ethic. Nassib is seems like an ideal DE fit for the Patriots, but I worry that he’s one of those try-hard guys who can’t win with effort alone in the NFL. Still, his rise at Penn State after being told by Bill O’Brien that he’d never make it has Patriots written all over it.
- Blake Martinez – MLB, Stanford, 5.32 (mm5) – A Captain and highly aggressive linebacker who would fit nicely into the middle of the Pats defense as a mid-round selection. In a potential two-down role, Martinez’s lack of speed in coverage could be mitigated.
- Matthew Ioannidis, DT, Temple, 5.57, (mm7) – Country strong two-gapper, Ioannidis isn’t going to be a flashy player, but is equipped to do the dirty work inside. Non-stop effort, he played both inside and outside and is coachable.
- Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame, 5.55 – Two-year captain who is super athletic with quick hands, he’s in the Easley interior rusher mold. Problem is he is just six feet tall with short arms and has durability concerns. Still, a great teammate and has pass rush skill.
- Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan: Small school receiver but even the scouting reports think he’s the prototypical Patriots slot receiver type. Definitely undersized but there seems to be little doubt he’ll be able to get open in the NFL.
- Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois, 5.57 – Versatility to play inside or outside on the defensive line with good size (6’5″, 297) and long arms (33 5/8 in.). Has the athleticism to do multiple things in the Patriots front. Seems very much in the Chandler Jones mold, so he could make sense as part of a replacement plan.
- DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary, 5.56 – Moved from corner to free safety. Was a team captain and a special teams demon. Question is level of competition, but could be groomed as a Duron Harmon replacement as he enters his last year.
- Sean Davis, S, Maryland, 5.4 – Big frame and a hard hitter who’s played all over the secondary. There are some man coverage concerns but could be groomed for a role that works around his weaknesses. Third-best 3-cone time at combine.
- Justin Simmons, BC, 5.36 (mm 7) – tall SS with cornerback experience. 2nd best three cone, future coach, played both FS and SS, lanky but physical, interesting Pats SS projection, has size for taller slot/TE coverage.
- Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford, 5.43, 6030 216 – Former TE who moved to WR had the best 3-cone, but might lack the pull-away speed that might make him more of an H-back in the NFL. Interesting mismatch player who was underused in Stanford’s offense.
- Joe Dahl, G, WSU, 5.4 (mm 8) – Left tackle who will move to guard has great work habits and the football smarts. Well-balanced player who might not be the mauler the Pats often like, but would do well in their pass protection game.
- Connor McGovern, G, Missouri, 5.37, (met) (mm 10) – Weight room warrior but it translates to the field and doesn’t hinder his athleticism. Can play tackle in a pinch as well. Checks every box the Pats like for the position, but need and value probably won’t match up.
- Dan Vitale, FB/H-back, Northwestern, 4.85* (met) (mm8) – Like projects to an H-back, Vitale has surprisingly nice routes for his size and good toughness. Highly coachable leader, Nick Caserio took time to speak with him privately at Northwestern’s pro day. Checks a lot of boxes and could compete for a third-TE/H-back role in NE’s offense.
- Jake McGee, TE, Florida, 5.3, (mm 1) – Former QB with great hands, McGee’s one season in Florida ended early with a broken tib/fib. Total team guy with the smarts to potentially pick up Pats’ system.
- Aaron Burbridge, WR, MSU, 5.49 6000 206: Emerged as starting X last season, committed to working at his craft and makes the tough catches. Possession target with good size.
- Keenan Reynolds, RB, Navy, 4.96: Making the transition to RB from QB, and has fumble issues, but I just have to put a star Navy player on here because you know he’s on BB’s radar. D-1 record for touchdowns and set FBS rushing record.
- Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Kansas St. (met) (mm6): He’s a Gronk so he’s on here. Committed to blocking and has the desired temperament, but got limited touches in college so that’s a bit of an unknown. But he checks some boxes and the Pats have already had two Gronks, a third has to be a consideration.
- Juston Burris, CB, NC St., 5.42 – Doesn’t have great play speed but is physical, reliable, and experienced. Also a willing run defender, a necessity to play in New England.
- Devon Johnson, RB, Marshall, 5.31 – Played a bunch of different positions, Johnson runs like a “bull in a china shop”. At almost 240 pounds he seems to be in the LeGarrette Blount mold. Injury history needs investigating.
- Brandon Wilds, RB, South Carolina, 4.94 – Tall running back who runs hard, but lacks creativity. A number of small injuries held him back at times in college. Has great hands. Intriguing low round guy.
- Nelson Spruce, WR, Colorado, 5.38 6011 206 – Average speed and quickness but a reliable route runner with soft hands and the ability to make tough catches in traffic.
- Tyler Matakevich – LB, Temple, 6’/233, Productive but undersized. Instinctive and physical despite his limitations. Leader with great work ethic.
- Steve Longa – LB, Rutgers, 5.27. Productive but not overly athletic. Played all three LB positions.
- Dean Lowery, DE Northwestern, 5.2 -Max effort edge player who lacks an explosive quick twitch. Can set the edge but might not have enough to get after the passer.
- Lawrence Thomas, DL, Michigan St. 5.17 (met) – Athletic, try hard guy, but hasn’t put it all together yet. Played linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive end.
- Theiren Cockran, DE, Minnesota, 4.65 (met) – Long defensive end who has rushed the passer both standing up and down. Coaches son, leader, but gets pushed around.
- Michael Thomas, WR, Southern Miss, 4.99 – Hair on fire.
- Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard 5.23, (mm7) – Top performer in all combine drills, Braunecker is a tough blocker who runs quality routes. Coming out of Harvard a bit of a concern with the NFL jump but seems to have all the skills needed.
- Joel Heath, DL, Michigan St., 5.11, (met) (mm10) – Devout leader with good size (6060, 291), Heath checks all the boxes. Classic grinder who was overshadowed in college. Pats love to give these kind of guys a look, especially when they have Heath’s character.