If you think it’s difficult trying to figure out what Bill Belichick is going to do in the first round of an NFL Draft, the real fun in any Patriots draft doesn’t start until the second and third rounds get going.
Belichick loves to trade down and acquire additional picks to use on day two of the draft, hoping he can find some first-round talents who may have fallen for one reason or another. Since 2007, only once has a Patriots draft not included multiple picks in at least one of the second or third round. (And that was the 2012 draft, when the Pats traded up to take Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in the first round).
In the six drafts since 2007, Belichick has drafted a total of 23 players in the second and third rounds. But heading into the 2014 draft, the Pats were only holding their own picks on day 2, so we’re going to assume that they will only make two picks on Friday.
The Patriots draft pick in the second round will be #62 overall, and once again knowing Belichick’s love of flexible players, I’m looking at Notre Dame TE Troy Niklas. The Patriots grabbed Florida DT Dominique Easley in the first round, and grabbing a talented TE in round two makes a lot of sense.
At 6’7″ and 270 pounds, Niklas has great size for a TE. He’s not a great route-runner, but he does have nice hands and the size and strength to block off his defender on the underneath routes that Brady loves so much. Niklas is also a very good blocker, showing decent technique and coming from good bloodlines (he’s the nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews).
There is always a chance that Washington’s Ausitn Seferian-Jenkins, who was projected to be a low first-round pick, will fall to the Patriots draft slot. At 6’6″ and 275 he is even bigger than Niklas, and he might be a steal in the long run as his stock dropped off after a sharp decline in production his junior season.
Running back isn’t thought to be one of the Patriots draft wishes, but with LeGarrette Blount gone in free agency and Stevan Ridley still being fumble-prone, I expect the Patriots draft team to surprise folks by going after a RB in the third round.
Boston College graduate Andre Williams, who came from out of nowhere to lead the FBS in rushing with 2,177 yards. He’s not the flashiest runner you’ll ever see- he’s more of a strong, consistent runner who will make the most of an open hole (a lot like Blount).
Don Ellis started covering sports professionally when he was 15. He attended Ball State University, and some of his past credits include InsideHoops (columnist) and ESPN Florida (The Florida Sports Reporters, SportsCenter anchor) . In addition to running Bullsville.net and writing for The Sports Bank and ChicagoNow (Bullsville), he is also a KHSAA baseball umpire. He’s a 3rd-generation Cubs fan, a Bulls fan since the days of Van Lier and Sloan, and a life-long New England Patriots fan. Follow Don on Twitter @Bullsville.