With the combine wrapped up, free agency just days away, and the NFL Draft just under two months away, it’s officially the time of year to begin futilely attempting to predict how the draft will play out for the Patriots. In an attempt to fully capture the Bill Belichick draft experience, I have included plenty of hypothetical trades that allow the Patriots to stockpile mid-round selections. Here goes nothing.
1(31)- *TRADE WITH DENVER BRONCOS*
New England receives: 2(40), 4(106)
Denver receives: 1(31)
This is about as predictable as the sun rising. Bill Belichick is low on draft pick ammunition, so unless a player falls into his lap at 31, he’ll gladly move back 9 spots and collect a middle-round pick in the process.
2(40) (from Denver)- Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
In Hughes, the Patriots get a player with solid man coverage abilities and explosive upside in the return game as well. The Patriots need defensive back help, and Bill Belichick loves versatility. Hughes is small, but he can hold his own.
2(43) (from San Francisco)- Dorance Armstrong, EDGE, Kansas
Armstrong was one of my pre-combine crushes that I gushed over in my piece last week, and his performance in Indianapolis has his stock soaring. Interestingly, Armstrong’s measurables and combine performance are nearly identical to those of Chandler Jones:
|Arms||34 3/4″||35 1/2″|
Eerie similarities aside, I think Armstrong can be the dominant pass-rusher the Patriots have been missing since they traded away Jones.
2(63)- *TRADE WITH HOUSTON TEXANS*
New England receives: 3(80), 4(103)
Houston receives: 2(63)
Again, Belichick stockpiles mid-round picks by trading back. Houston doesn’t pick until the third round, so they may want to jump into the back end of round two to grab a player they like.
3(80) (from Houston)- Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
If you’ve read any of my pieces over the past month, you already know how much I like the idea of Lauletta as a Patriot. He showed up well enough at the combine, but didn’t exactly put to rest all of the concerns about his arm strength. Armchair’s own draft analyst Rob Paul thinks Lauletta does everything else well enough that his arm won’t be a liability. If Bill Belichick agrees, he need not look any further for Tom Brady’s next heir.
3(95)- Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa
I outlined last week why I think Jewell fits the old-school Belichick linebacker mold, à la Tedy Bruschi: he’s undersized and not the greatest athlete, but he makes up for it with his instinctiveness. Some of Jewell’s limitations were on display in Indianapolis, as he clocked just 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and logged only 18 reps in the bench press. However, he fared better in the drill Bill Belichick weights most importantly: the 3-cone drill. Jewell’s 6.8-second clocking ranked second in his position group. He can be a spot starter and special teams contributor from day one.
4(103) (from Houston)- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Brown had a…rough…combine week. If you followed the combine, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that he entered the week as a consensus first-round prospect and exited it as a probably day three prospect. The Patriots will view Brown as a developmental prospect with rare size but unrefined technique and limited athleticism. Bill Belichick actually coached Brown’s father, the late Orlando “Zeus” Brown, for a brief time in Cleveland, and later spoke highly of him after coming to New England. Perhaps he sees a bit of the elder Brown in the younger.
4(106) (from Denver)- Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Dion Lewis and Mike Gillislee are probably gone this offseason, which leaves the Patriots with James White and Brandon Bolden at running back. The bruising Freeman had a strong combine showing (4.54 40-yard dash; 6.90 3-cone drill) and was a very productive college player.
4(136)- Jaylen Samuels, TE/RB, NC State
With Martellus Bennett out of town, the Patriots should look to find another secondary weapon for Tom Brady. Samuels is an intriguing player without a true position who could fill the “H” back role that you-know-who used to play a lot.
6(205)- Troy Apke, S, Penn State
Apke had one of the most outstanding combine performances in recent memory last weekend. He finished at or near the top of the leaderboards in every drill other than the bench press. Apke would immediately become one of the Patriots’ best special teamers, and would have a chance to become a rotational safety with time and experience.