Thursday, May 1, 2014
10 Perfect Patriots: OT/G Joel Bitonio
By Mike Reiss
After months of studying the NFL draft, we'll start our list of "10 perfect Patriots", narrowing down the list of prospects to a select group that we feel would be ideal (and realistic) for the New England Patriots, while adding a few draft-related thoughts:
Draft projection: Late first round/early second round
Why he’s on our list: The Patriots haven't drafted an offensive lineman in either of the past two drafts, and going a third draft without doing so potentially threatens the desired ability to feed the pipeline of young talent for the team. Bitonio has played tackle and guard, and some even envision him as a possibility at center, which is the type of versatility a team like the Patriots often values. He plays with a mean streak, is said to have top intangibles and intelligence, is effective on the second level (key in Patriots' scheme, where guards often pull), and has been durable. This would be a safe pick with developmental upside at a spot where the Patriots are undergoing change following coach Dante Scarnecchia's retirement.
A feel for the offensive line class: The tackle group is one of the strongest in the draft, especially at the top. The interior class isn't as top-heavy, although a player like Bitonio might be viewed more as a guard by a team like the Patriots (similar to Fresno State left tackle Logan Mankins in 2005), which boosts that group a bit.