Patriots Nation Here We Go Again: Draft Day is upon us Tom Bill and the rest of Patriots Nation have another Superbowl tucked into their trophy case and its time to start thinking about one for the thumb.Or i need to grow a longer middle digit.
Hours and hours of tape have been agonized over and both players and coaches have crisscrossed the country for pro-days and official team visits. Everyone involved from GM’s to team Doctors to ball boys have already hit the men’s room, done their “Due Diligence”. Every team still has their “Druthers”. Wish lists are written meticulously across NFL white boards. War Room Plans B – C and D are in place and have been gone over more times than Eisenhower’s plans for the invasion of Normandy, and when its all done we, the writing class, will be there to describe the carnage. Pretty Dramatic, huh? Isn’t that what the NFL is all about people – drama? This once unnoticed mundane exercise known as the NFL Draft was first held in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia. That day there were more bell hops in attendance than reporters. Now it’s a global event. The first pick in that draft? Jay Berwanger never played a down in the NFL (Drama). You can be sure that won’t happen with this weekend’s first pick. And no matter how the “Big board” falls, Bill will have a plan when we all hear the Patriots are “On the clock”. Here’s what I hope will happen.
Rd 1 Pick 32: AJ Cann OG South Carolina
Cann is ALL SEC – that in it self says a lot. After red-shirting his freshman year he went on to be a four year starter in one the toughest conferences in football and a two year captain. Cann is a leader on and off the field and has the size-speed-IQ and a mean streak to excel in the NFL. His hand use is amazing – whether keeping his assignment at bay or moving them off inside running lanes, he never seem to be at a loss with how to handle his business. Last season showed that depth on the O-line is paramount and the drop off after the top two Guards in this draft, I think is too significant to ignore.
Rd 2 Pick 64: Michael Bennett DT Ohio State
You want to upgrade this pass rush – Bennett is the kid to do that. Super quick off the ball using his speed to shed linemen and get into opponents backfields and make plays is this mans game, he’s had seven sacks in back to back seasons and 14 of his 41 tackles last season went for losses. This team needs to get better at getting to the QB, Bennett can give Belichick a versatile lineman who can do that from anyplace he wants to line him up.
Rd 3 Pick 96: Hau’Oli Kikaha OLB Washington
I find Kikaha an interesting ball player; his motor is unquestioned. Like Mick Jagger, once you start him up he’ll never stop. Once again this pass rush needs to improve and when Kikaha left Washington he took the school record for sacks (36) with him. Again, here comes that word – versatile – playing both end positions before moving to OLB last season. Two point three-point stance or at the Buck this kid doesn’t care. He’s a football player – a hard-hitting football player.
Rd 3 Pick 97: Ali Marpet G Hobart College
I hear you out there people – Double Dipping Murph? You said the drop off was to steep after Cann. You bet your ass I’m double dipping and yes, I did, but this is pick 97 not 67. Marpett has been talked about a lot lately and rightly so, but I also think come draft day those talks will cool off. GM’s will think to themselves Hobart? Hobart College? That’s where Don De’Chico AKA Beldar Conehead went to school. Well good, because then this kid will be here at 97. Marpet made his living in college at LT but with his frame he is better suited to the inside. He’s smart and has the drive to turn himself into an interior lineman on the next level.
Rd 3 Pick 97:
Wait Murph you just gave us the pride of Hobart with this pick. Well folks I’m conflicted. I have that right, it’s my byline – don’t like it, get your own byline. These three picks at 96-97-101 are tricky, and when the clock is ticking I may just go this way:
Josh Shaw CB USC
You might remember Shaw for all the wrong reasons. I’m not going to go into them here just Goggle it. What I am going to do is tell you this kid has the skill set to play at the next level, and maybe excel in the Patriots system. He can move from CB to both safety spots and has a good nose for the ball, while not a hawk he breaks up passes; Shaw is not a huge hitter but does not miss tackles. How refreshing – a DB that makes tackles.
Rd 4 Pick 101: Davis Tull OLB Chattanooga
FAST-FAST-FAST. I’m not talking forty times here people, what I’m talking about is speed to chase down runners and drag them to the turf. Tull is a three-time SoCon defensive player of the year – AS A WALK ON. This is a can’t-quit kid that plays with a Brady-like chip on his shoulder that reminds many of Rob Ninkovich. He reminds me of a kid I loved last year: Chris Borland. The only thing that gives me pause is his injury history, but he’s worth the shot here at 101.
RD 4 Pick 131: Tony Lippett WR (?) Michigan ST
Ok here we are people – 130 ballplayers have been drafted lets get funky. Tony Lippett is one of the most fascinating players in this draft. The 6’2 WR (?) – There’s that question mark again – boasts a 66 inch wingspan. That’s a very enticing red zone target. After four years at MSU he left with 149 receptions for 2,247 receiving yards and 15 TD’s. Good – not great numbers. He catches the ball away from his body well and is a great route runner. A solid pick at WR here. So what’s with all the question marks Murph? Well, I’ll tell you. This kid may just be a better CB prospect than he is at WR. Lippett started 14 games at CB during his MSU career – 11 as a freshman and 3 as a senior. With the size and speed of the WR’s across the league, a kid with Lippett’s frame and experience at the WR position could make him a very dangerous CB in the patriots system. Hey it’s worked for Richard Sherman. When he’s not in Arizona anyway.
RD 6 Pick 178: Jacoby Glenn CB UCF
Glen is raw, a red shirt sophomore with great length. A legit 6-footer, he finished third in the nation in 2014 with 7 INT and broke up another 11 passes. A good read and react guy, he isn’t afraid to get his nose in there making 100 tackles over two seasons at UCF. Playing mostly off coverage and zone in college (sound Familiar?) he was named defensive player of the year and a second team All American.
RD 7 Pick 219: Kaleb Eullis DT Mississippi State
I fist saw this man at the senior bowl and I had to dig deeper. Eullis started every game in his college career, playing in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. That kind of experience means a lot. He isn’t a devastating pass rusher, but a run stuffing inside guy who eats up space. To be honest the Pats will need some luck to see him here but hey, what are the Pats of not lucky?
RD 7 Pick 253: Marcus Murphy RB Missouri
No relation people – I have no skin in this pick. Murph may be one of the most versatile players in this draft. Murphy leaves Missouri with 5,112 all-purpose yards and 25 touchdowns – running (16), receiving (2), kick returning (5) and punt returning (2). This kid is a perfect change of pace guy and can exploit a D from the spread. Again sound familiar? He catches balls as easily out of the slot as he does the backfield and almost touched 1,000 yards last season running the ball on just 177 carries.
That’s it folks, a little hope, a little luck and some good karma. Now I know this draft won’t fall exactly this way, but its fun to share this column with you every year. Maybe I’ll get lucky and one or three of these kids I’ve invested so much time in will be wearing a Patriots uniform come fall.
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