New England Patriots fans and reporters think they have it all figured out in the months leading up to the NFL Draft. Then the Patriots inevitably do the entirely unexpected with half of their selections.
The Patriots’ two biggest needs leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft were running back and offensive tackle. The Patriots selected players at neither position, of course.
Check out our biggest head-scratcher, our most unexpected and best picks in our draft superlatives.
Most Athletic: Kamu Grugier-Hill
The Eastern Illinois product ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash with a 1.52-second 10-yard split, 6.89-second three-cone, 4.20-second short shuttle, 38.5-inch vertical leap, 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump and 15 bench press reps of 225 pounds. He has the size — 6-foot-2, 208 pounds — and athleticism of a cornerback, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he plays like a linebacker. He’ll likely begin his NFL career on special teams.
Most Likely To Contribute Early: Cyrus Jones
If Jones isn’t the Patriots’ slot cornerback in 2016, he very well could contribute as a core-four special-teamer and punt returner. The Alabama product can contribute in a number of ways.
Biggest Question Mark: Vincent Valentine
Valentine projected as a seventh-round pick by most draft analysts, but he’s much more highly regarded by NFL evaluators. An NFL scout told NESN.com the Nebraska defensive tackle might be the Patriots’ best value pick in the draft.
Biggest Head-Scratcher: Jacoby Brissett
Many expected the Patriots to select a quarterback in the sixth or seventh round of the draft. Instead, they took one in the third round.
Brissett wasn’t highly regarded by draft analysts, but there’s plenty of reasons for the Patriots to like him, including his size, toughness and mobility.
Strangest Pregame Tradition: Ted Karras
The Illinois guard pours two bottles of water on his head and “yells like a Viking who just reached the shoreline” before games. That’s cool.
Most Sure-Handed: Devin Lucien
Lucien dropped just five passes in his last two seasons split between UCLA and Arizona State. Pro Football Focus said he “may have the best hands in the draft.”
Most Productive: Elandon Roberts
Roberts is undersized for a linebacker at 5-foot-11, 234 pounds, but he led the FBS in solo tackles with 88 in 2015. He had 142 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss, six sacks, one interception, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles in 2015.
Most Unexpected Pick: Joe Thuney
To be totally honest, I didn’t even look at guards heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. Then the Patriots grabbed one in the third round. Huh.
Best Pick: Malcolm Mitchell
The Patriots should be applauded for finally taking a receiver that actually makes sense and fits their needs. Previous highly drafted receivers like Aaron Dobson and Taylor Price came from spread college offenses. Mitchell was in a pro-style offense for five years at Georgia and his strengths include route running and good hands. This is just what the Patriots need in a rookie receiver. He was projected as a third- or fourth round selection, and the Patriots grabbed him 112th overall. Good fit. Good value. Good pick.
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