Thursday, February 19, 2015

New England Patriots on Paper - First draft "Big Board" for 2015

The New England Patriots are in an offseason position that they rarely find themselves in, that of shedding salaries in the short term to be able to get better and stay competitive in the long term.

The main salary that needs to be addressed or dropped altogether is that of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis, who is every bit as good as his $25 million cap number suggests that he is, but that makes him unaffordable to the cap-strapped Patriots.
Could the Pats draft a cover corner like Rollins to replace Revis if need be?

Other salaries that may come into play during the offseason belong to nose tackle Vince Wilfork, oft-injured weakside linebacker Jerod Mayo and potential free agent safety Devin McCourty, who will likely command eight figures on the open market - but it is the Revis situation which will dictate how the Patriots proceed.

The Patriots have until 3:59 PM on March 10th to decide whether to pick up it's option on Revis and pay him a $12.5 Million roster bonus in addition to a base salary and pro-rated signing bonus that will put his cap number at a debilitating $25 Million, or nearly 20% of the Patriots' projected cap number - which is too much for the team to absorb...

...particularly since his presence may have eliminated the best receiver on the opponent's offense, but failed to help generate a consistent pass rush, nor did it do anything to help them in their abysmal coverage underneath on tight ends and running backs.

this is not his fault, but to look at the defense in this manner makes him more of a very expensive masking agent when one considers the other needs that Patriots have on defense - needs that could be very easily addressed with his exorbitant salary in their pockets rather than in his.

In that spirit, and also acknowledging that it is very early in the team-building process for 2015 - not to mention that the World Champions own late draft stock - our Patriots' big board for the 2015 Draft has an initial linebacker flavor, as the teams' biggest issue to tackle is that of pressuring the quarterback while maintaining an edge presence and improving their ability to improve their underneath coverages:

1. Bud Dupree - 6' 4", 264 - OLB, Kentucky

Compared to Jamie Collins in raw athleticism, and may be better in coverage. Raw prospect as far as pass rushing ability, but has all the potential.  Freakish edge setter and blows up screens with the best of them.

2. Shaq Thompson - 6' 1", 228 - OLB/SS, Washington

A tweener who hits like a brick and has rare coverage skills underneath to compete with backs and tight ends - also doubled as running back for Huskies...

3. P.J. Williams - 6' 0", 198 - CB, Florida State

Rated as the best press cover corner in the draft as he typically shut down one side of the field for the Seminoles...

4. La'El Collins - 6' 5", 321 - T/G, LSU
Mean and intimidating brawler who is best at right guard in the power running game...

5. Vic Beasley - 6' 3". 235 - OLB, Clemson

Compares favorably to Akeem Ayers on the weak side,  may be the most explosive edge rusher in the draft...
6. Quinten Rollins - 6' 1" 203 - CB, Miami (Ohio)

Excellent size and athleticism, rare start-stop ability and defends inside out.  Excellent against screens and wheels but many scouts question his desire to play football as he prefers basketball, and shows that type of athleticism on the football field - but perhaps the best pure corner in the draft...

7. Andrus Peat - 6' 7", 316 - T/G, Stanford

Massive and athletic tackle could give either starting tackle a run for their money if money becomes an issue.  Played well along with current Patriot Cameron Fleming...

8. A. J. Cann - 6' 4", 311 - G, South Carolina

Outstanding drive blocker as a left guard, but needs work in pass protection...

9. Jordan Phillips - 6' 6", 334 - NT, Oklahoma

Massive frame, eats up blocks and can rush the quarterback from the nose.  rare speed for a man his size with an exceptional swim move...

10. Eddie Goldman - 6' 4", 314 - DT/NT, Florida State

More of a nose tackle, Goldman doesn't really have a set of pass rushing moves but is as tough as they come to dislodge in the middle...

11. Ereck Flowers - 6' 6", 324 - T/G, Miami

Huge run blocker that doesn't have the feet for the tackle position.  Could turn into a dominant guard...

12. Cameron Erving - 6' 6", 308 - C/G, Florida State

Took over for Bryan Stork at center for the Seminoles and possesses the versatility that made Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell so successful for the Patriots.  A real darkhorse that could fit very well.

13. Eli Harold - 6' 4", 250 - OLB, Virginia

Another darkhorse Jamie Collins type athlete that could dominate on the weakside...

14. Kevin Johnson - 6' 1", 175 - CB, Wake Forest

Was often assigned to the opponents best receiver, but has a history of Brandon Browner type penalties.  Needs to put on some weight to match his scrappy demeanor.

15. Nate Orchard - 6' 5", 250 - OLB, Utah

Pure edge rusher, and offers little in the way of interior run support yet always seems to be around the ball.

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