BOSTON (CBS) – After trading away their only pick in the first round, the New England Patriots made use of all four of their second day picks and three of the four Day 3 picks they owned in the 2013 NFL draft.
Whether they used those picks wisely will be up for debate for the next few years, but the Patriots filled their roster needs while prompting a few head scratches in the process.
So who are these guys? Here’s a look at the Patriots 2013 Draft picks:
Jamie Collins, Linebacker
Selection: 2nd Round, 52nd overall
School: Southern Mississippi
With the 52nd overall pick (acquired in Thursday’s trade with the Vikings) the Patriots added a versatile pass-rusher to their front seven in Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins. Though he played for an 0-12 team last year Collins was able to put up some numbers for the Golden Eagles, recording 10 sacks and 92 tackles (20 for a loss).
The word versatile was made for a player like Collins, or at least it appears that way on paper. He was a quarterback in high school, switched to safety to start his college career, and ended as a defensive end. 20.5 sacks later, he is now a member of the New England Patriots.
“Jamie is an interesting guy that came into college as a safety, played inside linebacker, played outside linebacker in a 3-4 and then played defensive end last year. He’s been a very productive player in the kicking game. He’s got a lot of versatility, solid player, hard worker, great kid,” Belichick said Friday night of his first selection in the 2013 draft.
There are some questions about his motor and drive on the field, which isn’t hard to imagine when playing for an 0-12 team. But Belichick personally scouted him prior to the draft, so any of those concerns should be alleviated by the coach’s pre-draft presence with Collins.
Collins is seen as a pass-rusher that can also drop back into coverage – thanks to his time as safety – and could give New Engalnd another player to line up with either Chandler Jones or Rob Ninkovich. And with Ninkovich and Brandon Spikes heading into contract years, Collins could be a key piece for the Pats should either veterans leave town.
Aaron Dobson, Wide Receiver
Selection: Second Round, 59th Overall
Just a few picks after selecting Collins, the Patriots addressed perhaps their most glaring need heading into the draft: a target for Tom Brady. Brady has had plenty of success throwing to Marshall products Randy Moss and Troy Brown, so the Patriots are giving him another in Dobson.
“He’s big, he’s fast, he’s got good hands, he’s a strong player; smart, very smart,” said Belichick. “He has some position flexibility and versatility. Catches the ball very well. We’ll see how it goes.”
Dobson reportedly didn’t drop a pass his senior year, and his 6-3 frame gives Brady a big receiver with stellar hands to throw the ball to. The down-field threat says he is ready for the NFL, and a complex offense like the Patriots, and his new head coach agrees.
“He’s a pretty intelligent guy. He has good recall of what [Marshall] did. He had a good understanding and grasp of learning, taking new information, processing that and being able to understand it and apply it,” said Belichick. “Tell him something and then see a play a few plays later and say, ‘What would you do on this play if they did this, they did that’? There’s different ways to measure all that, but he’s a pretty impressive kid. He’s a mature kid. He’s pretty smart.”
Also, he made this catch. It’s just one catch, but that’s a pretty darn good one.
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
Selection: Third Round, 83rd Overall
The Patriots needed to add some depth at corner, and they addressed that need with their third round selection of Logan Ryan of Rutgers. While the Patriots are set with Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington atop their depth chart, Ryan could compete for the fourth or fifth corner spot on the team.
“He’s a good football player in a good program,” Belichick said of Ryan. “He’s been very productive. He’s one of the most productive corners in the draft. Smart; been productive. He’s been in a very good system. He’s been well coached, knows his techniques well, he’s an instinctive player. He’s had a lot of production. He’s tough, he’s a good tackler.”
At 5-11 Ryan has good size, and along with the praise of being a solid tackler (he had 93 of those as a senior), he also had four interceptions last season. If he can’t crack the team as a corner, he’ll likely end up as a special teams contributor.
Duron Harmon, Safety
Selection: Third Round, 91st Overall
This one has everyone scratching their heads. Harmon wasn’t invited to the NFL combine, and most draft sites don’t even have a player profile on the Rutgers safety. Chances are he would have been around after all 254 picks in the draft, but the Patriots went ahead and took him 91st overall.
When the pick was made, NFL Network and ESPN were left scrambling; no one had any footage of Harmon.
“My mother, she was very excited. She was like ‘Oh my baby. Where’s your clips at?’ I was like, ‘Mommy, I don’t think they knew I was going today, so I don’t think they had any clips ready for me,’” Harmon joked on his conference call with the New England media. “She was a little upset about me not having clips, but I think me getting drafted just overtook her sadness about my clips.”
So with little known about Harmon, his pick became a big topic in Logan Ryan’s conference call. His Rutgers teammate tried to shed some light on the man he shared the Scarlet Knights defensive backfield with, and someone he called his best friend at college.
“It didn’t surprise me one bit,” Ryan said of the selection. “He is a great football player and I’m with him and he’s my workout partner. He works extremely hard and he believes in himself, and I believe in him. He has all of the measurables and the speed and anything that you look for. He was a two-time All Big East defender and I think if you were best in the conference two straight years then you’re worthy of being a third-round pick.”
While the pick itself is surprising, it should be no surprise that Belichick is tapping into the Rutgers talent pool. Both Ryan and Harmon know Patriots safety Devin McCourty and defensive end Justin Francis — both Rutgers alum — and the two veterans have spoken very highly of their new teammates.
The fact Ryan and Harmon played together, very successfully, while at Rutgers was also something that intrigued the Patriots.
“They communicated well, played well. Both were very productive, both defensively and in the kicking game, solid guys,” said Belichick. “We’ve had a number of our players here comment on their personal characteristics, so I think we’re getting some high quality guys there as well as good football players.”
While either could be tagged a “reach” pick — especially Harmon — as a third rounder, the Patriots addressed a need in both the secondary and on special teams with the two picks.
Josh Boyce, Wide Receiver
Selection: Fourth Round, 102nd Overall
The Patriots went back to offense with their first pick on Saturday, selecting Texas Christian junior wide receiver Josh Boyce early in the fourth round. He led the Horned Frogs in every receiving category in 2012, hauling in 66 receptions for 891 yards and seven touchdowns.
Boyce was one of the more impressive players at the NFL Combine this year, running a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash with a broken bone in his foot (already in Patriots form, he called the injury “day-to-day”), and he’s been applauded for having a high football IQ — something he’ll need entering a complex Patriots offense.
Boyce, who has already received a degree in sociology, has experience catching passes from two NFL quarterbacks — though he had yet to reach the highest level at the time. He was Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s wide out in High School and played with Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton at TCU.
Now, it’s looking like Boyce will be able to add Tom Brady to that quarterback list. He’s a versatile receiver that can play inside or out, and many think he can be groomed into a solid number-two option.