BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday night, or for the New England Patriots, it won’t start on Friday night.
At least that is the case for now. With the draft just four days away, the Patriots do not own a selection in the first two rounds and wouldn’t make their first pick until No. 72 overall in the third round. But as we know with head coach Bill Belichick, a lot can change in a short amount of time.
Bob Socci welcomed The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride to Sunday’s NFL Draft Show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and after touching on a somewhat controversial story that hit the Globe on Sunday about Tom Brady’s charitable endeavors, McBride discussed several mid-round picks the Patriots could target when it’s their turn on the clock.
Depth along the edge of the defensive line remains a need for the Patriots, and McBride highlighted Alabama’s Tim Williams as a player New England could target should they get a first or second-round pick via trade (farewell, Malcolm Butler). If they stay put, Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt and Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers are potential mid-round picks.
“They did well having four in the [defensive end] rotation last year, so I think they’ll try to build that up again so they have at least four guys in that rotation so they can keep the fresh against some of these offenses,” explained McBride.
McBride touched on the versatile Jabrill Peppers out of Michigan, who played linebacker, corner and safety on defense and even saw time at running back, receiver and as an option quarterback in Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh. Does he sound like a Bill Belichick pick or what?
“Some boards have him in the first, others have him dropping because of that same versatility question: ‘Where do you stick this guy?’ I see him in the mold of Patrick Chung, who can play up on the line as a slot corner, a strong safety and a cover linebacker, and maybe even a return man,” McBride said of Peppers. “He’s probably the most versatile guy in this draft, and if there’s any team that can make use of him it’s the Patriots.
“Talk about a guy who had the dirtiest uniform every game,” joked McBride.
Update Peppers’ draft stock may have taken a bit of a hit on Monday:
Listen to Socci’s full chat with Jim McBride:
Socci also welcomed Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo to Sunday’s show, who brought plenty of possible selections for the Patriots to the table.
“It wouldn’t be a draft if Bill Belichick didn’t look at safeties. That’s a position he likes to load up. It’s a great class where need and value kind of match up – not that they have a need at safety,” he said. “Adding another versatile presence on the back-end, a guy like Terdric Thompson out of Colorado, a great coverage player who can play in the slot and deep. He just fits that mold for the Patriots.”
Palazzolo also said Xavier Woods out of Louisiana Tech is a potential option at safety for the Patriots.
While the Patriots added Dwayne Allen to the mix this offseason, tight end is another position that Bill Belichick will look to bolster on the depth chart this weekend. Palazzolo mentioned Jeremy Sprinkle of Arkansas and George Kittle of Iowa as possible targets. He also said depth at left tackle could be addressed, with Nate Solder’s contract up after the season, but this year’s draft class lacks immediate contributors at the position and it would likely be a developmental pick for the Patriots.
Listen to Socci’s full interview with Palazzolo below:
Socci also broke down comments made by Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio in the finals segment of the show:
Tune in to Bob Socci’s NFL Draft Recap next Sunday following the draft for complete analysis on all of the Patriots picks!