Round 1, Pick 23: Connor Barwin, OLB/DE/TE, Cincinnati
Originally, I wanted to place Rey Maualuga here, and have the Pats take Barwin at 34, but there’s two reasons I don’t see this happening. One, I don’t think Maualuga will be around at 23. Two, I don’t think Barwin will be around at 34. Barwin’s stock is simply sky-rocketing after running a 4.47 4o yard dash at his pro day. He has good strength, rediculous versatility, and good pass rush skills. His only problem is that he has only played one year on the defensive side of the ball. Still, there is nothing that tells me that the Patriots couldn’t develop Barwin to become a Mike Vrabel clone.
Round 2, Pick 34: Max Unger, OL, Oregon
Unger is sort of a jack of all trades on the offensive line. He can pretty much play all five positions on the line. He is a smart blocker, makes the right calls as a center, has the short area speed and handwork to excel in pass protection. While he might not be the strongest or gaudiest lineman out there, he is smart, coachable, versatile, and pretty damn good too. Unger could come in and start even as a rookie… where? I’m not quite sure. But he can definitely contribute in some way, shape or form. Offensive tackle William Beatty, if around, is most certainly an option at this pick.
Round 2, Pick 47: William Moore, SS, Missouri
Since the news broke of the Patriots hosting three top notch safeties (Patrick Chung, Louis Delmas, and William Moore), I’ve done some intense research. In the end, it was a really tough call, but I went with William Moore as my guy. Moore is the truest strong safety of the three, is a huge playmaker (at least he was his junior year), and might have the ceiling of an Ed Reed. But he could really bottom out too; he reallly lacked consistency throughout most of his college career. They Patriots could also look towards Wake Forest’s Chip Vaughn at this spot.
Round 2, Pick 59: Jarron Gilbert, DE, San Jose State
At 6’5″, 288 pounds, Jarron Gilbert has both the size and strength to excel as a 3-4 defensive end. But did I mention his athleticism? He is incredibly quick and nifty for a man his size. His potential is through the roof, and he can do this. In all seriousness, I believe that Jarron Gilbert has the potential to completely change the Patriots defense. Yes, he can take double teams. Yes, he can operate two gaps. And yes, he is a big time playmaker. You might not know Jarron Gilbert now, but come draft night, if the Patriots select him, get ready.
Round 3, Pick 89: Cornelius Ingram, TE, Florida
For the longest time, I had Oklahoma safety Nic Harris going in this spot to the Patriots. But after drafting William Moore in this mock, drafting Nic Harris seems to be out of the question. While tight end might not be a dire need at this point, the Patriots certainly need some help for the future. With David Thomas and Ben Watson expiring after 2009, it may be time to look at a potential replacement. While Chris Baker may be the anchor as a blocking tight end for the next five years or so, Cornelius Ingram is a receiving tight end who has the ability to even split wide, which could make for some interesting packages on offense.
Round 3, Pick 97: Aaron Kelly, WR, Clemson
The Patriots are aging at the receiver position. Of their top five receivers (Randy Moss, Joey Galloway, Wes Welker, Greg Lewis, Sam Aiken), the youngest is Wes Welker, who is 28. Why Galloway is a nice short-term stop gap, the Patriots need to look to the future. One player who could provide the young boost at the position that the Patriots desperately need is wide receiver Aaron Kelly from Clemson. Kelly is tall, fast, reliable, and has tremendous upside, as he could become an unstoppable force in the red zone. Inside linebacker Jason Williams from Western Illinois is also an option here.
Round 4, Pick 124: Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty
I have my doubts that Jennings will be around at this point, but reports are that the Patriots are looking to take a running back this April, and reports are also saying that the Patriots have a very keen interest in Rashad Jennings. At 6-1 and over 230 pounds, Rashad Jennings is a real bruiser between the tackles. While he might not be the niftiest, he can break tackles as well as catch the ball out of the backfield.
Round 5, Pick 170: Joe Burnett, CB, Central Florida
Joe Burnett, unfortunately, lacks size. However, he does not lack determination or toughness. He is stronger than you would thing, and has quite possibly the best closing speed in the draft (although his straight line speed isn’t what you would expect from an elite cornerback). He shows great instincts and solid hands as well. He is also great on special teams, particularly as a kick and punt returner.
Round 6, Pick 199: Brian Hoyer, QB, Michigan State
I couldn’t resist going with a quarterback at the magical 199th pick. And realistically, Brian Hoyer could be a guy the Patriots go with here. Hoyer has decent size, but has the arm to make all the NFL throws. His best trait may be his ability to avoid rushers, step up in the pocket, and make throws (although he sometimes holds on to the ball too long, and thus takes the big hit). He certainly has more upside than Matt Gutierrez, and could be an interesting prospect to watch develop.
Round 6, Pick 207: Frantz Joseph, ILB, Florida Atlantic
At 6-1, 242 lbs, Frantz Joseph has the size to be a 3-4 inside linebacker. He also has the character and determination to be a great fit for the Patriots. Joseph is a run stuffer who isn’t afraid to take on any block, and has proved worthy in coverage, although he may lack top-notch instincts. A developmental player who could definitely become a starter one day.
Round 7, Pick 234: Kevin Huber, P, Cincinatti
Huber is a lefty punter who is pretty good at placing the ball within the 20 yard line, although he has a slow release, and lacks elite velocity on his kicks. Still, he has loads of potential and could really threaten Chris Hanson for his punting job.