BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL Draft is just a few days away, and for fans of the New England Patriots, they have to wonder if it’s even worth watching Thursday’s first round.
The Patriots won’t select until late Thursday evening, 29th overall, and that’s if they even use the pick. New England also had the 29th overall pick last year and traded it to Minnesota for four additions picks, which the Patriots used to draft linebacker Jamie Collins (second round), corner Logan Ryan (third round), and wide receiver Josh Boyce (fourth round). They also traded a seventh round round pick from that deal in a package used to acquire running back LeGarrette Blount from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss joined WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night to chat about the Patriots’ situation heading into the draft, and what they may do with their first-round pick.
Reiss says the Patriots don’t have any glaring holes like they did last year entering the draft, when wide receiver was a must-draft position, but they could use depth players on both the offensive and defensive lines, some help on the pass-rush, and more depth at tight end with Rob Gronkowski recovering from a knee injury.
But Reiss cautions against those hoping that one of those needs will be addressed on Thursday night.
“First thing you have to look at is they trade the pick,” he said. “If they get stuck there and I had to pick a name, I’ll go Stephon Tuitt, a defensive end from Notre Dame. He’s long, heavy and a big defensive lineman — the type you would think the Patriots would go after. He has some versatility, playing both end and tackle, and can do different things. That would be one of the guys who, if they keep the pick, they could go after if he’s on the board.”
Tuitt would give the Patriots some depth on the defensive line, but Reiss doesn’t think he would contribute much to the New England pass-rush in 2014.
“I think he could help them, but it would be unlikely they could step in right away like we saw with Jerod Mayo in 2008 and Devin McCourty in 2010,” said Reiss. “This is a deep draft, but I’m not sure I see a player, outside of a few, who can really come in opening day and be a top guy on the Patriots this year.”
The Patriots worked out a number of quarterbacks this year, leading many to believe they’re looking for the heir apparent to Tom Brady. But Reiss says that is the Patriots doing their homework to gauge the quarterback crop of 2014, and if they do draft a passer over the weekend, it’s to replace Brady’s backup and not the future Hall of Famer.
“[Brady is] signed through 2017 and is still playing at a high level,” said Reiss. “They want to get a quarterback, but not as Brady’s replacement but Ryan Mallett’s replacement. The backup has his contract expiring after this season, and I think they want to draft a developmental guy if the right one is there. They’re just trying to figure out how to value the quarterback position from top to bottom.”
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