Friday, May 9, 2014
Setting up Day 2 for Patriots
By Mike Reiss
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- After selecting defensive lineman Dominique Easley in the first round of the NFL draft (29th overall), the New England Patriots enter Day 2 with two selections -- No. 62 at the end of the second round and No. 93 at the end of the third.
"We'll reload [Friday] morning," coach Bill Belichick said. "There are 32 less players and some needs have been filled by some teams. It's a little bit different, but it's basically the same thing."
Offensive line, tight end, running back and defensive end/outside linebackers are four spots that project as potential targets for the Patriots with their next pick.
As for what the Patriots did on Day 1 with Easley, a few final thoughts:
A bit more on the torn ACLs: Easley's knee injuries add to the risk level, but my sense in communicating with others around the NFL is that they aren't the type of thing that would take him off a team's draft board. Instead, it just might knock him down the board a bit.
"Boom or bust" label based on injuries: Mike Tanier of "Sports On Earth" wrote a piece on Easley in early April that was headlined "Boom or Bust." It sums up Easley's situation nicely.
Pro day was a big step. Scott Carter of GatorZone.com reported from Easley's pro day in mid-April and how that was a big step in the pre-draft process for him. Easley said that day the knee was 80-85 percent healed.
Were Seahawks and/or 49ers lurking? When Bill Belichick talked about not wanting to risk losing Easley to a few teams drafting behind them, the thought came to mind that perhaps he was referring to the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks (No. 32), who have stockpiled defensive linemen with success in recent years. The San Francisco 49ers (No. 31) also reportedly spent a lot of time scouting Easley. It seemed as if the Patriots had intel that those teams might have been ready to pounce.
Easley shows how times have changed: Outside of the injury risk, this is my biggest takeaway from the pick of Easley. He is a smaller defensive lineman (6-foot-1 3/4, 288 pounds), at the opposite end of the spectrum of past Patriots No. 1 picks like Richard Seymour (6-6, 317) in 2001, Ty Warren (6-5, 300) in 2003 and Vince Wilfork (6-2, 325) in 2004. If we went back in time to '01, '03 or '04, I don't think Easley would have been viewed as a first-round value or ideal system fit. But playing defense in the spread-it-out NFL requires a different type of player, especially when the Patriots are in their sub packages between 65-70 percent of the time as they have been in recent years. When healthy, Easley can potentially create havoc as an interior rusher and that type of profile now carries added value.