- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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(Editor's note: With Mike Reiss on vacation, he filed a "status check" on the New England Patriots' nine draft picks to run in place of the regular quick-hit thoughts feature.)
DT Dominique Easley (first round, 29th overall) -- Coming off two torn ACLs while playing at Florida (2011, 2013), he has been making progress in his recovery and took a significant step by joining his Patriots teammates on the field at practice for the first time on June 19, the final day of mandatory minicamp. The Patriots are hoping the explosiveness and disruptiveness he showed as an interior penetrator at Florida transfers to the NFL level. It wouldn't be a surprise if he's on the field for the first day of training camp. He has taken on a leadership role among defensive rookies.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (second round, 62nd overall) --The Patriots were drawn to his intelligence, toughness and production and the early returns have been as advertised. While Garoppolo had some of the predictable ups and downs on the practice field, he also has been charged with a leadership role among offensive rookies and players seem to respond to him. He has taken advantage of extended reps in spring practices with No. 2 Ryan Mallett (left knee) limited and currently projects to the No. 3 role in 2014 before elevating to No. 2 next season after Mallett's contract expires. His quick release is notable.
C Bryan Stork (fourth round, 105th overall) -- The Patriots are throwing a lot at Stork, who initially drew their interest because of his combination of smarts, toughness and size (6-foot-3, 315). At one point in practice, Stork didn't snap the ball when quarterback Tom Brady called for it, which led him to take a penalty lap. That can be looked at in a few different ways -- no one wants to be sent on a lap, or he's in a good position because he's snapping to Brady. We lean toward the second option because no rookie comes in and plays mistake-free football. Stork, who has also lined up at left guard at times to build some position flexibility, is a viable competitor for the starting center job in training camp.
RB James White (fourth round, 130th overall) -- His playing style was compared to four-year veteran Shane Vereen, and it has shown up on the practice field as White looks smooth running pass-routes and has shown generally reliable hands. Similar to Vereen, he shouldn't be overlooked as a rusher either, although the Patriots haven't truly worked on the running game because there are no full-pad practices in the spring. White (5-9, 204) looks like he'll help the Patriots rather quickly as insurance/a complement to Vereen.
OT Cameron Fleming (fourth round, 140th overall) -- Because of Stanford's late graduation, Fleming joined the team full-time for the start of mandatory minicamp on June 17. His intelligence is reflected in a plus-30 Wonderlic score and he's a bigger, powerful presence who has worked at both tackle spots with his best fit on the right side. Similar to Garoppolo likely learning behind the scenes in 2014 before elevating to a top backup role next year, Fleming seems to be on a similar track as top backup Marcus Cannon enters the final year of his contract.
G Jon Halapio (sixth round, 179th overall) -- A soft-spoken rookie off the field, the former University of Florida blocker plays with an edge and through pain on it. In that sense, he reminds us a little bit of Logan Mankins. That's not to say Halapio is on his way to a Mankins-type career, but he brings an element of toughness and size to the interior of the line. The Patriots have lined him up at both guard spots in an attempt to build some positional flexibility after Halapio was strictly a right guard in college. It wouldn't be a surprise if he competes for playing time.
DE Zach Moore (sixth round, 198th overall) -- While it wouldn't be a surprise if Easley, Stork, White and Halapio carve out some type of niche on the game-day 46-man roster, Moore most likely will be a game-day inactive if everyone is healthy. Coming from a lower level of competition at Concordia-St. Paul, he has intriguing physical traits (e.g. 33 5/8-inch arm length) but is raw. The view from here is that this pick is one made with 2015 in mind more so than 2014.
S Jemea Thomas (sixth round, 206th overall) -- The Patriots have touted his versatility to play in the deep third at safety, while also moving down to play corner at times and in the kicking game. At 5-foot-9 1/4 and 192 pounds, Thomas is undersized and almost reminds me a bit of former Patriots safety Steve Gregory. Nothing really stood out from spring camps, and special teams figures to be crucial for his chances to stick on the roster.
WR Jeremy Gallon (seventh round, 244th overall) -- An undisclosed injury limited Gallon (5-foot-7 1/2, 185 pounds) in spring camps, so we're looking forward to seeing him in training camp. The Patriots have him in the mix as a punt returner. It's a crowded depth chart at wide receiver and if everyone stays healthy, a more likely landing spot for Gallon could be the practice squad.
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