Football Memo

AFC East Draft Grades: New England Patriots

Bill Belichick and the Patriots will be in the seat at 29.
Defensive tackle/end Dominique Easley

Defensive tackle/end Dominique Easley

New England Patriots
As usual, the Patriots stunned many with their first selection, taking defensive tackle/end, Dominique Easley. This is why the Patriots took Easley, who is a very risky pick due to his injury history: 1. They need to find a versatile interior lineman that can provide enough of a push inside to bother Peyton Manning and any other top quarterback they’ll likely have to face if they hope to win another Super Bowl. 2. Easley displayed the ability to dominate, and if it weren’t for his two major knee surgeries, would’ve been a top-15 pick. Easley also has enough versatility to play as a 4-3 or 3-4 end. In the second round, the Pats made more jaws drop when they selected quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. This selection is more of a luxury pick for the Patriots, who don’t have many glaring holes. Garoppolo has what it takes to be a quality starter in the NFL, and he will likely be the third quarterback in 2014, behind starter Tom Brady and backup Ryan Mallett, who has just one-year remaining on his contract. Then in 2015, the Pats hope Garoppolo will become a quality backup and show enough development to eventually become Brady’s successor. In the fourth round, New England brought center Bryan Stork into the fold, in hopes of giving the interior offensive line a boost. Stork could push incumbent Ryan Wendell for a starting position, or at least provide versatility and depth at the center and guard positions. Throughout the remainder of the draft, the Patriots added depth at several positions. Fourth-rounders James White and Cameron Fleming bring depth to the running back and offensive tackle positions, respectively. White will likely become a rotational back and, if he shows enough promise, possibly eventually replace Stevan Ridley, who is also in the final year of his rookie deal. Getting defensive tackle Zach Moore in the 6th round, and receiver Jeremy Gallon in the 7th round were value selections for the Patriots. It’s hard to give a high grade to the Patriots, when there is some much risk/reward.
Grade: C

New England Patriots – 2014 Draft Selections
1 (29) Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
2 (62) Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
4 (105) Bryan Stork, C, Florida State
4 (130) James White, RB, Wisconsin
4 (140) Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
6 (179) Jon Halapio, G, Florida
6 (198) Zach Moore, DT, Concordia, St. Paul
6 (206) Jemea Thomas, DB, Georgia Tech
7 (244) Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan

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