Patriots Defensive Rookie Review: 2013 Draft Trade Netted Two Playmakers

Logan RyanNew England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick traded down yet again in the 2013 NFL draft.

The trade out of the first round appears to have paid off, even if it did tick off fans at the time. The Patriots traded the No. 29 pick to the Minnesota Vikings (they chose wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson) for the Nos. 52, 83, 102 and 229 picks.

The Patriots selected linebacker Jamie Collins No. 52 overall, cornerback Logan Ryan No. 83 and wide receiver Josh Boyce No. 102. They traded the No. 229 pick, along with running back Jeff Demps, for running back LeGarrette Blount.

Patterson was a Pro Bowl kick returner for the Vikings in 2013, but Collins and Ryan proved to be valuable playmakers in 2013. Both players could be starters in their second seasons.

Read more about Collins, Ryan and the rest of the Patriots’ defensive rookies below.

Jamie Collins, linebacker, second round, No. 52: 16 games, eight starts, 302 snaps, 43 tackles, three passes defensed.

Collins got off to a slow start in 2013, but he also was being blocked for a starting role by Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Brandon Spikes. Once Mayo went down with a season-ending pectoral injury, Collins’ role in the Patriots’ defense increased.

Collins allowed 10 catches for 123 yards on 18 targets in coverage. He had four quarterback hits and four hurries as a pass rusher.

Collins’ best game was the Patriots’ divisional playoff against the Indianapolis Colts. Collins allowed two catches on five targets for 12 yards and had an interception. He also had one sack, two quarterback hits and two hurries on nine pass rushes.

If that game against the Colts is a sign of things to come for Collins, the Patriots have a future All-Pro on their hands. Collins will start next to Hightower and Mayo next season.

Logan Ryan, cornerback, third round, No. 83: 16 games, seven starts, 607 snaps, 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 passes defensed, five interceptions, one touchdown, one forced fumble.

Ryan was the Patriots’ rookie of the year in 2013. He made an impact way back in training camp and earned a solid chunk of starts and snaps despite a crowded group at cornerback.

Ryan allowed just 24 catches for 328 yards on 50 targets. He gave up three touchdowns and picked off five passes for a 49.8 passer rating against. Fellow Patriots defenders started calling Ryan “Instant Offense” for his playmaking skills.

If free agent Aqib Talib doesn’t come back 2014, Ryan likely will start across from Alfonzo Dennard. Even if Talib does come back, Ryan will compete with Dennard and Kyle Arrington for a starting role in training camp. Ryan proved to be a playmaker in his rookie season.

Duron Harmon, safety, third round, No. 91: 15 games, three starts, 431 snaps, 31 tackles, four passes defensed, two interceptions.

Duron Harmon was a surprise third-round pick, but the Rutgers safety proved doubters wrong with an impressive rookie season. He allowed eight catches on 12 targets for 99 yards. He didn’t allow a touchdown.

Harmon filled in at both free and strong safety and carved out a role as the Patriots’ dime defender. Harmon has a chance to pass Steve Gregory on the depth chart at strong safety next season. Harmon was praised for his communication skills in the Patriots’ defensive backfield by his teammates.

Michael Buchanan, defensive end, seventh round, No. 226: 15 games, 122 snaps, nine tackles, two sacks.

Michael Buchanan started the season as the Patriots’ third pass rusher, but his snaps dwindled once Andre Carter was signed. He had three quarterback hits and 11 hurries before being passed on the depth chart.

With a solid offseason, Buchanan could earn back his role in 2014.

Steve Beauharnais, linebacker, seventh round, No. 235: Four games, one snap, one tackle.

Steve Beauharnais was inactive for 12 games in 2013. He was used mostly as a special teams player.

With Spikes likely on his way out and Dane Fletcher a free agent, Beauharnais has a chance to earn the No. 4 linebacker spot in training camp next season.

Chris Jones, defensive tackle, Houston Texans’ sixth-round, No. 198 pick: 13 games, 11 starts, 792 snaps, 54 tackles, six sacks.

Chris Jones was released by the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before he caught on with the Patriots. He had four quarterback hits and 19 hurries as a starting defensive tackle.

Jones was asked to play nearly every snap for the Patriots, which was a lot to ask out of a 300-pound rookie. Jones responded well by improving his run defense as the season went along, though his pass rush suffered.

Jones should be valuable depth for the Patriots along the interior defensive line in 2014.

Joe Vellano, defensive tackle, undrafted: 16 games, eight starts, 672 snaps, 54 tackles, two sacks, one pass defensed.

Once Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly went down with season-ending injuries, Joe Vellano’s snaps increased. He played adequately against the run and pass before third-year nose tackle Sealver Siliga passed him on the depth chart.

Vellano will compete for a roster spot in 2014.

Ryan Allen, punter, undrafted: 16 games, 76 punts, 3,491 yards, 45.9 average, 39.9 net average, 29 inside the 20-yard line.

The Patriots shocked the world by cutting Zoltan Mesko for Ryan Allen during the summer. Allen had a great rookie season for the Patriots, while Mesko was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers midway through the season.

Justin Green, cornerback, undrafted: Two games, nine snaps.

Justin Green didn’t allow a catch on one target for the Patriots in five pass coverage snaps. He spent most of the season on the practice squad.

Green has a chance to compete for a spot on the 53-man roster next season.

Kanorris Davis, safety, undrafted: Three games, one tackle.

Kanorris Davis was signed as an undrafted free agent in May. He spent most of the year on the practice squad and played special teams in three games.

Ja’Gared Davis, linebacker, undrafted: One game.

Ja’Gared Davis spent most of the season on the practice squad. He spent one game as a special teams player.

Armond Armstead, defensive tackle, undrafted: Non-football injury/reserve.

The Patriots had high hopes for Armond Armstead when they signed him out of the CFL. He had surgery to clear an infection during the summer and missed the rest of the season, though. Armstead was still spotted around Gillette Stadium, so the Patriots must expect him to contribute in 2014.

If Armstead is healthy, he could rush the passer from defensive tackle on third down for the Patriots. That’s a big “if,” though.

Cory Grissom, defensive tackle, undrafted: Injured reserve.

After having a promising summer, Cory Grissom was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He was spotted at one point during the season in the locker room. His name is misspelled “Corey” on his locker.

Taylor Reed, linebacker, undrafted: Practice squad.

Taylor Reed was signed to the practice squad in December before the playoffs.

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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