NFL fans rejoice the 2013 season has officially begun — well, sort of. Last Thursday, the New England Patriots did what they do best — trade away their first-round draft pick. The Pats had the 29th overall pick and opted to trade it to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for four in the second, third, fourth and seventh rounds.
New England did fairly well filling the voids the team had coming into the draft. The 2013 draft lacked the flavor of last year’s Andrew Luck sweepstakes that featured the not-so-shabby consolation prize of Robert Griffin III.
New England drafted a hybrid defensive end/linebacker out of Southern Missouri in Jamie Collins. Collins fits the Patriots’ 3-4 mold. The 6-foot 3-inch, 250-pound Collins earned all first-team C-USA honors and amassed 196 tackles and 26 sacks. Out of the draft class, expect him to make an immediate contribution.
New England stayed in C-USA and went a bit out of their comfort zone when they selected 6-foot 3-inch, 210-pound play-making wide receiver Aaron Dobson.
Dobson is a go-getter and will likely be Tom Brady’s cherry-picker with his vertical ability. During his career at Marshall, Dobson made 165 catches for 2,398 yards for the Thundering Herd.
It will be interesting to see where Dobson fits in with the new-look receiving corps of Danny Amendolla, Donald Jones and Josh Boyce (rookie). Boyce is a 6-foot, 206-pounder out of Texas Christian University and is a versatile option at wide receiver. Looking at Boyce’s highlight tape, he reminds me of Troy Brown. Not really tall or big, but he has the versatility to play on the inside or outside.
New England addressed their needs on the interior defensive line by scooping up free agent journeyman Tracy Robertson out of Baylor, and Illinois’ Michael Buchanan. The Patriots will be the third team in one year for Robertson, as he failed to make it out of camp with the Texans and the Lions.
It should be interesting to see if he makes the depth chart.
Buchanan was a seventh-round selection out of Illinois, and, if he performs well in camp, should see time next season. Buchanan posted 4.5 sacks and 57 tackles for the Fighting Illini last season.
This year’s NFL draft lacked any sort of flair. When an offensive tackle is taken in the first round, you know that the 2013 class is extremely weak.
New England did the best they could have with the cards they were dealt. Yes, they could have taken the best available player at 29 when their pick popped up, but that is like comparing a coach who decides to go for it on fourth-and-two to one who opts to punt. It is all a matter of strategy.
Some of the so-called “draft experts” think that the more picks you have, the better you did in the draft. New England has been accustomed to wrangling players who slipped under the rest of the league’s radar.
The Patriots have been a pipeline for Rutgers players looking to make the jump to the NFL, and this year was no different.
New England addressed their needs in the secondary with the pickup of Rutgers’ corner Logan Ryan. One of the positions that the media gave the Patriots flack for was their lack of depth in the secondary.
Ryan looks to change all that and is expected to compete for the fourth or fifth corner back spot according to a Belichick interview with CBS Boston.
Duron Harmon, also out of Rutgers, was selected in the third round. Harmon will battle for playing time at safety and possibly on special teams.
Many experts touted Harmon as a reach pick, meaning they really were unsure of how his success at the college level would transition to the NFL.
New England welcomes former Scarlet Knights inside backer (fourth-round selection) Steve Beaucharnais to the defense. Beaucharnais has the ability to stuff the run, and will provide great depth at ILB for the Patriots.
As with any draft pick, no one really is sure what they are going to get. Teams have an idea of the player they selected, but how they do on the professional stage is yet to be determined.
New England threw a rock into the trade waters when they dealt second-year running back/special teamer Jeff Demps to Tampa Bay in exchange for running back Lagarette Blount.
New England also gave up a seventh-round pick in the deal. Blount saw limited touches in Tampa due to rookie Doug Martin rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Blount will be the fifth running back on the Patriots roster, and will likely share touches with Stevan Ridley throughout the course of the season. Could another Patriots running back be on the move by the time camp opens up later this summer? We will have to wait and see. If you are looking for me to give a draft grade to the 2013 class, it is yet to be determined.
Talk to me around week 3 and I will let you know my thoughts. I learned Monday while driving to a baseball game that Belichick’s son was a walk-on long snapper on the Rutgers’ football team. Could he be providing insight on players to his father?
He could be, but only time will tell the impact this year’s picks will have on the 2013 Patriots. It will be very exciting to see how New England looks this year without slot receiver Wes Welker.
Patriots fans will give him a warm welcome when Denver comes to town for Sunday Night Football on Nov. 24.
Follow me on Twitter @EdNiser.