Patriots Likely To Pick Athletic QB, Based On Draft History (Mailbag)

Johnny ManzielWhat the New England Patriots do with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft is anyone’s guess.

This is one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory, and it seems that a trade (either up or down) makes the most sense for the Patriots. If the right player falls, however, the Patriots could be in position to grab that perfect defensive tackle, wide receiver or pass rusher.

All of this week’s mailbag questions are about the upcoming draft, so let’s get into them.

How likely are we going to draft @10AJMcCarron ?
–@TheRealCGillan7

I think AJ McCarron is a great fit if the Patriots are looking for a quarterback who resembles Tom Brady, when he was coming out of Michigan. I’m not sure that’s exactly what the 2014 Patriots are looking for, however.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels historically has preferred more mobile quarterbacks (Ryan Mallett was drafted into the Bill O’Brien offense). McDaniels took over as quarterbacks coach in 2004, and while he might not have had a tremendous amount of sway by the next year, Matt Cassel was taken in the seventh round of the 2005 draft. Cassel might not be traditionally “mobile,” but he did play tight end at USC, and his 4.88-second 40-yard dash, 4.06-second short shuttle and 7.20-second three-cone drill are above average for a quarterback.

Kevin O’Connell, the Patriots’ third-round pick in 2008, had 4.61/4.38/7.01 splits coming out of San Diego State, and Matt Gutierrez, an undrafted free agent in 2007, had 4.90/4.28/6.69 splits during the pre-draft process.

Of course, when McDaniels was head coach of the Denver Broncos, he drafted Tim Tebow, who had 4.71/4.17/6.66 splits, in the first round. He also took Tom Brandstater (4.87/4.37/6.93) in the sixth round of the 2009 draft.

McCarron is more athletic than Brady, but his 4.94/4.34/7.18 splits are below average for a traditional McDaniels quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Brett Smith, Logan Thomas and Connor Shaw are among the more athletic QBs in this year’s class.

With all the recent picks at safety, do they draft another this year? Or stick with what they have?
–@mbossi34

The Patriots could go either way with safety in the 2014 NFL draft, especially if they’re serious about converting Logan Ryan from cornerback. The Patriots currently have Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner and Kanorris Davis at the position. The secondary already has improved with the additions of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, and Ryan or Harmon shouldn’t be a drop-off from Steve Gregory at the end of the 2013 season.

Do you the the patriots done with adding new WR or do you see them drafting one?
–@icematty99

Rumors on patriots trading up to land a stud receiver. What do you think? And who?
–@mduguay14

Which reciever best fits their system in the draft?
–@Abdullah12

Do you really feel that WR is a main concern for the Pats in this draft and if so how high do you believe they would draft one
–@MikeyD_31

I can’t see the Pats moving up for a receiver. Do people really expect this and expect that receiver to impact immediately?
–@jdafonte127

I don’t know if you guys can tell, but there’s a lot of interest in whether the Patriots will trade up for a wide receiver in the first round. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman wrote Wednesday that the Patriots want to trade up in the first round for a wide receiver. I similarly have heard that the Patriots are interested in taking a wideout in the first round. This is making some fans very, very, very angry.

Belichick rarely takes the obvious pick, and after adding Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins last year, wide receiver certainly isn’t the obvious pick. But there are a lot of reasons it makes sense.

Dobson was good last year, and he had the best rookie season ever for a Patriots rookie receiver under Belichick, but he was a second-round pick and played like one. Dobson also underwent foot surgery this offseason, which could slow his development.

The Patriots wideouts had a rough go last year, and while it’s assumed that last year’s rookies will improve, it’s also not guaranteed. Free-agent pickup Brandon LaFell can contribute this year, but he’s not a traditional No. 1 “X” receiver, which is what the Patriots likely are still seeking.

Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham can be that type of player for the Patriots, and if they start to fall, it would make sense to trade up a couple slots for them. The Patriots were cooked last season when Rob Gronkowski was out of the offense, and while the Patriots likely will add a tight end, that player likely won’t be as dominant as Gronk.

I think last year’s rookies can improve, but it’s still a dangerous risk to take.

OOh me. Given that Ridley and Vereen are FA after this season, do the Pats take a RB (early or otherwise) in the draft?
–@FFAvenger

NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah said Thursday “don’t be surprised if the Patriots take a running back in the first round,” mentioning Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde by name. While I don’t condone drafting a running back at No. 29 overall, I felt the position was a need for the Patriots even before LeGarrette Blount signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As you mentioned, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are in contract years. Ridley will have to prove his fumbling issues are behind him to get a new contract, and if his issues persist in 2014, the Patriots will need another option to play as the bell-cow back on first and second down.

Surprise 1st round pick? (No receivers lol)
–@JBeezy242

MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill and I discussed on Thursday’s podcast that there really are no surprise first-round picks. I’ll say to watch for some of the projected second-round defensive ends for the Patriots in the first round. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots reached for Scott Crichton, Kareem Martin or Trent Murphy, who are all traditional fits, in the first round.