As part of the penalty handed down by the league for deflate-gate, the Patriots did not have a first round selection in the 2016 NFL draft. However, they did have four compensatory selections awarded to them, giving them a total of nine selections. Below is a table of their selections.
Round Two, Pick 60 – Cyrus Jones, CB Alabama
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Cyrus Jones was the starting cornerback for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2015. He played up at the line of scrimmage as well as off the line. From the snap, he quickly identifies pass or run and will attack the ball-carrier on running plays while shedding his blocker fairly easily. Against Michigan State, he had a nice interception where Connor Cook locked in on his receiver and Jones was in perfect position, sealing the receiver off to the sideline. However, on deeper routes with the ball in the air, he often plays the receiver not the ball.
He lacks the physical size for an NFL cornerback, as he is 14th percentile in height and only in the 11th percentile in vertical jump. Against LSU, he drew multiple pass interference calls where he ran through the receiver without looking for where the ball was. Jones was Alabama’s punt returner and returned four for touchdowns, which not only led the SEC, but the NCAA. He was the NCAA leader with 42 punt returns, and first in punt return yards. Jones is a smart player more than a physically gifted player who can contribute on special teams. The second round selection is about a round earlier than his projection. This is a quality depth add for the Patriots, but I wouldn’t expect Jones to be starting on defense in the near term.
Round Three, Pick 78 – Joe Thuney, OG N.C. State
Thuney is a solid blocker. He sets a solid base for pass protection and will attack the defender on a running play. He will routinely look to block a second defender on the next level as his primary defender is out of the play. Versatility is an asset for the Patriots as Thuney played multiple positions along the offensive line for NC State. On film he doesn’t play as fast as his combine numbers showed, but was in 99th percentile for his 40 yard dash, and 88th percentile in the 3-cone shuttle drill. He doesn’t have the arm length (fifth percentile) or height (15th percentile among tackles) for a starting tackle, but could eventually make his way into a starting guard role.
Round Three, Pick 91 – Jacoby Brissett, QB N.C. State
Jacoby Brissett metrics show that he has above 50th percentile size for an NFL quarterback. However, almost every other metric I could find was below 50th percentile. His Wonderlic score (which is a measurement the NFL uses as an intelligence gauge) was 24, 15th percentile. SPARQ-x, which is a metric of speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness, is in the 25th percentile. I was really hoping that his film was better.
I watched a few of his games on www.draftbreakdown.com and was not very impressed. At times he makes some mid to long range throws with pin-point accuracy, but then will miss a few badly. He has a good long range arm, but doesn’t put zip on the mid-range throws which give way too much of a window for defenders to close on. One of the things I did like about his game was his ability to keep a play alive. By no means is he fast (27th percentile in 40 yard dash), nor is he quick (40th percentile in 3-cone), however he has very good balance to evade contact in pocket, reset his feet and maintain his eyes downfield. This is definitely an NFL-caliber trait that I suspect is what appeals to the Patriots. He will definitely need work on mechanics and be coached up quite a bit. I would be very surprised if he were to beat out Jimmy Garropolo to be Tom Brady’s back-up.
Round Three, Pick 96 – Vincent Valentine, DT Nebraska
Vincent Valentine is a big-bodied defensive tackle who relies mostly on his raw power to be disruptive. He lacks good hand technique to shed above-average blockers. In 2014, versus USC, there was a run right at him where the offensive lineman completely controlled him out of the running lane. These plays were shown in his 2015 film as well. There were a number of occasions where he was able to gain leverage using his power to create issues behind the line of scrimmage as well. The variation in his success will depend on the quality of offensive lineman and whether he can be blocked with good technique into losing leverage. I found multiple reports where his conditioning was questioned and how much he worked to get back from his ankle injury. I suspect if he can maintain proper conditioning, the Patriots would like to use him in the void that Vince Wilfork has left behind in that anchor position as a nose tackle in 3-4 schemes.
Round Four, Pick 112 – Malcolm Mitchell, WR Georgia
Malcolm Mitchell was the lead receiver for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015 with 58 receptions. Mitchell runs a hard line route up to his break using his 4.45 forty speed, and can make quick stops, creating space between defenders on button-curls and come-back type routes. He is more physical than agile after the catch, as seen in his 38th percentile agility score. I really enjoyed Mitchell’s ability to fight for the ball and maintain possession on contested catches. His skill set is a good fit for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, as Brady loves to throw a back shoulder come-back along the sideline. This route has been difficult for receivers like Aaron Dobson and Brandon Lafell, and Mitchell will need to work hard on his timing in order for him and Brady to develop good chemistry.
In training camp, I will be looking closely to see how well Malcolm can speed up his timing on the comeback routes as Brady will be much more demanding than Greyson Lambert, who at didn’t get the ball out nearly as quickly as Brady will. On deeper routes, Mitchell does well to fight for possession, but doesn’t seem to create as much separation as you’d expect with his speed. By far his two best routes were the slant and the curl, while his deep routes weren’t as successful. Early OTA reports indicate that Mitchell will have to fight for a roster spot and really need to impress the Patriots with his study of the playbook. With Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Matthew Slater nearly locks to make the roster, Mitchell will be fighting for the sixth wide receiver spot with Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington, and others. Slater is primarily a special teams ace, and technically listed at wide receiver, allowing the Patriots to carry six wide receivers. It will be critical for Mitchell to make an impact in training camp and show knowledge of the playbook.
*from Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception – Malcolm Mitchell
Round Six, Pick 208 – Kamu Grugier-Hill, OLB Eastern Illinois
Looking at Kamu Gugier-Hill’s size and position, I was a bit apprehensive what impact he might make for the Patriots. However, once I watched his film, I immediately understood what they saw in him. Hill is the dynamic type of player that Bill Belichick loves, and his versatility as a hybrid LB/S is impressive. He is currently listed as an OLB, which is the position he played the majority of the time, but did show good skills in coverage lining up against slot receivers. Watching highlights of him, you see a football player just constantly being disruptive; from forced fumbles, to tipped passes, to blocked field goals. One thing that Belichick loves to do is have his rosters littered with players who provide depth at multiple positions in multiple packages. Hill looks like he could provide OLB, hybrid safety/nickel cornerback, and contribute on special teams.
Round Six, Pick 214 – Elandon Roberts, ILB Houston
Elandon Roberts was an extremely productive linebacker with 142 total tackles (fourth in NCAA) and 88 solo (which led the NCAA). His size stands out on paper, and film, until the ball is snapped. His pursuit and ability to find his way to the ball carrier is impressive. He can hit hard, and has excellent timing to extending himself and lying out to make tackles. I love his ability to wrap up and secure the tackle, which explains why he was so productive in college. The concern for him in the NFL is that he will be faced with bigger, faster, and a higher level of competition where he might struggle to shed blockers.
Round Six, Pick 221 – Ted Karras, OG Illinois
Ted Karras has a big frame for a guard, and uses his strength well to stand his ground in pass protection. His lack of agility and short arms limit his ability to react to a quicker defender and often will miss a block, and just look for the nearest defender to hit, rather try to shuffle or stay in front of the defender. Karras likely provides training camp depth along the offensive line, but likely will struggle to make the 53 man roster.
Round Seven, Pick 225 – Devin Lucien, WR Arizona State
As the leading receiver for Arizona State, Devin Lucien caught 66 receptions for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns. With decent size and mediocre speed, I don’t expect Lucien to make the Patriots 53 man roster, especially without contributing on special teams. Lucien finished 2015 with solid production, however his final three games made up the bulk of his 12-game season. In those final three games, he produced 63% of his touchdowns with five, and 50% of his yards with 534. He had impressive back to back weeks with games of 190 and 200 yards.
Undrafted Free Agents
The Patriots also signed nine undrafted free agents.
|DJ Foster||RB/WR||Arizona State|
|Devante Burns||CB||Texas A&M|
|De’Runnya Wilson||TE/WR||Mississippi State|
|Woodrow Hamilton||DT||Mississippi State|
|CJ Johnson||LB||Mississippi State|
|Cre’Von LeBlanc||CB||Florida Atlantic|
For fantasy, DJ Foster has been getting some interest as a flier, but I didn’t feel he really jumped out and will have a difficult time making the roster. Foster was the third receiver on an underwhelming Arizona State offense, and had only 55 carries as a running back. De’Runnya Wilson once a once high valued devy prospect, and has really fell from relevancy. His combine performance was abysmal and only hope of a roster spot would be as a deep tight end option that the Patriots feel they can develop and refine into a productive player.
Overall, I am most excited about the potential depth the Patriots got out of this year’s draft. I do not see much starting caliber talent from this draft class outside of possibly Thuney at some point down the road. I expected them to draft a running back to be the heir apparent to LeGarrette Blount, which makes me think they possibly held off until a potential deeper running back class is upon us in 2017. As a Patriots fan, I will be watching training camp closely and seeing these battles unfold. Unfortunately, I don’t see much here for fantasy, outside of a flier in Malcolm Mitchell except that Mitchell is carrying much more than a flier cost with a dynasty startup cost of 129 in the 11th round.
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Thanks for the great article Kevin!!!
This was definitely one of the best!
Is there a way all the draft reviews could be linked on a single page? Thank you
Thanks guys! put a lot of time into it.
A really nice draft review. Thank you Kevin.
Nice job Kevin!