Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Picking up more Patriots draft pieces

By Mike Reiss

It was a pleasure to listen to NFL Network draft analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis on a media conference call Thursday, as their passion and knowledge of prospects was apparent.

Here were a few picked-up pieces with a Patriots twist:

Second-tier QBs generate buzz. The Patriots are devoting notable time and resources to top quarterbacks by having them in for visits (Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo) and figure to be looking to add to the position at some point. Jeremiah thinks this is a good year to do so. "I think there's a lot of [quarterback] depth in the draft class, and I think we're getting more and more buzz building on this second-tier group as we get closer to the draft," he said, also adding that the wide receiver group is as deep as he can remember and that he also sees plenty of depth at cornerback. Areas that aren't as deep, according to Jeremiah, are edge rusher and inside linebacker. Those are both areas the Patriots figure to explore.

Hageman a challenging evaluation. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman going to the Patriots at No. 29 in his mock draft 4.0, and he's been a popular choice in other mocks. Jeremiah explained how Hageman was a challenging player to evaluate. "He's one of the trickiest evaluations for me in this draft because you can watch games where he does nothing, just completely disappears, then you flip on other games and you see some real dominant stretches, just has a rare combination of size and athleticism, just one of these guys that hasn't put it together."

Why Hyde could fit in New England. Many analysts don't project a running back to go in the first round, but Jeremiah envisions a scenario where the Patriots would pounce. "Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Hill are two big backs that you could make a case. In past years, they'd be first-round picks, but now talking about the position being devalued," he said. "I just wouldn't put it past a team ... a team I'd keep an eye on is the Patriots because the Patriots are always kind of one step ahead of the curve and trying to be creative. I wouldn't be shocked if they just sit there and said, 'OK, everybody else wants to pass on all these running backs; Carlos Hyde is a really good player. LeGarrette Blount is not here anymore, we're going to pluck him, and we've got ourselves a back of the future.'"