Bob Socci's NFL Draft Preview Show

BOSTON (CBS) – Bob Socci, the voice of your New England Patriots, takes to the Sports Hub airwaves to discuss prospects, scouting reports, team needs, welcome special guests and everything else you need to know ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft every Sunday at 8am through the end of draft season!

In less than three weeks the NFL Draft will commence in Chicago, where Greg Gabriel once served nine years as the Bears Director of College Scouting, part of a three-decade-long career in scouting that also included stints with the Bills, Giants and Eagles. Gabriel was a guest of Bob Socci’s NFL Draft Preview Show Sunday morning.

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Gabriel wrote last week about the final weeks of draft preparation, which had Socci curious about just how much a team’s evaluation of a player can change between now and the draft.

“Not a lot [can change], other than you could prioritize. A lot of times you go through these final meetings and you’re doing it by position and you’ve got a final grade on a guy, but then when you start talking about Player A, B, C and D, through the course of the conversation maybe Player B sounds better for what you’re doing or is a better fit than Player A,” said Gabriel. “When you get to this point in the year the coach’s evaluation starts to come in, whereas in the fall it was just the scout’s evaluation.”

2015 NFL Draft List: Running Backs

Gabriel adds that after the Combine, Pro Days and on-field workouts, coaches have seen more tape and have gotten a longer look at certain players, and since they’re the ones that are going to be working with these players, their insight and opinion could have a lot of influence on a draft board.

“The coach is the guy that works with the player day-in and day-out at the pro level, so he has to feel comfortable [making the draft pick],” Gabriel told Socci. “You can’t draft a player that a coach isn’t going to buy in to. He has to want to coach that player, and if he’s not signing off on the player it’s just not going to sit right with the coach, and chances are that player won’t perform to optimum ability.”

Here in New England, despite the Super Bowl title, those of us on the outside see needs at several positions. Bob Socci read a comment recently from Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, who said his team tries to eliminate the word need, and instead use the word want.

Why is it important to make that distinction?

“You go into the offseason with needs/wants at certain positions, and you’re going to look at the strength of free agency and try to figure it out. You know who you’re going to lose; the players you’re going to try and re-sign and the players you’re not — that part is a given, unless you lose an all-out bidding war on a certain player you’re trying to keep.

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“So now it’s how are you going to get better in free agency? You’ve got to use the strengths of free agency versus the strengths of the draft. Let’s say you’ve got a want or a need at defensive end, inside linebacker and offensive line, well, free agency may offer players in one of those areas and the draft may offer players in the other. You’ve got to play them both together to make sure you take care of everything that you need.”

It seems New England has needs on the offensive interior, the defensive interior after losing Vince Wilfork in free agency, and most notably the secondary after losing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

So in relating that “wants vs. needs” conversation to the Patriots, which of those positions is strongest in this upcoming draft, and which of those are weakest?

“When you’re looking at the first round the defensive line is pretty strong, and there are some good interior defensive line players. In saying that, I could see some outside edge-type players going in the top 10. I don’t see an inside player going in the top 12 or top 12 — that’s where you’re going to start to see them come off the board,” said Gabriel.

“Bill [Belichick] always identifies players as he values his first round picks. Once they get to his selection, if he doesn’t see a guy there that he feels is a legitimate first round-type player, often he trades out and picks up later picks down the road. He’s always trying to get value for his picks based on what their grades say.”

2015 NFL Draft List: Cornerbacks

Gabriel says DT Jordan Phillips (Oklahoma), DT Eddie Goldman (Florida State) and DT Malcom Brown (Texas) are three interior defensive linemen that could fall to the Patriots at pick No. 32. In a few of his mocks, Gabriel has New England selecting Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, who would normally be drafted much higher if not for character issues and a slower-than-expected 40-yard dash time.

“I don’t think it’s an outstanding cornerback class as far as having top talent up top. I think once you get into the middle of the first round on down there’s some good players who all have some sort of hole in them.”

Listen below for the full discussion, including the challenge in developing cornerbacks and much more!

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