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UnMuzzled: Who Will the Pats Pick?

Jim Rogash, Getty Images

After what seems like about seven years of pre-draft coverage, the NFL draft is finally upon us.

This weekend’s festivities have no shortage of marquee names, all itching to make it big in the NFL. “Once in a generation talent” Jadeveon Clowney and Texas A&M magician/quarterback Johnny Manziel are just two of the players we’ve heard so much about and we still have no idea where they will land.

Clowney has been frequently mentioned as the most likely candidate to be taken first overall, but the Texans need a quarterback and drafting a Texas boy like Manziel would be a great marketing move for the franchise. It’s also been rumored that the Texans have been shopping the pick with one of the more interested teams being the Atlanta Falcons who currently have the sixth pick.

If quarterback is what the Texan’s value most, a trade with Atlanta would make a heck of a lot of sense. More than likely Manziel will still be there at the 6th pick and if he’s not fellow quarterback Blake Bortles surely will be. In return for trading picks you can bet the Texans would receive plenty of assets from the Falcons, most likely in the form of additional picks in either this draft or ones upcoming. Essentially, if Atlanta wants Clowney as bad as people say they do Houston could make out like bandits by swapping picks with them and still get the quarterback they covet.

Where Johnny Football will go is perhaps the most intriguing story line in this draft. He’s been projected as the top pick on some days and other days it’s been said he could slip to the 2nd and perhaps even 3rd round. Personally, I don’t believe there’s any chance he makes it out of the first round. He is too much of a dynamic player to be passed up on by every team. However, if he’s not taken in the top eight picks there is potential for him to slip, here’re a few of the teams who could try to scoop him up.

It’s been said that if Manziel is still there when the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock there is no way Jerry Jones will pass up the opportunity to draft him. You might say that makes no sense, you’d be right. The Cowboy’s had one of the league’s worst defenses from top to bottom last year and could use help literally all over that side of the ball. However, Jones is not one to make the most practical moves and the chance to draft a Texas native, childhood Cowboy’s fan, and one of football’s most polarizing athletes is something I just don’t see Jones passing up.

If somehow Manziel makes it to the Cardinals at the 20th pick they’d think long and hard about drafting him. People forget Arizona finished 10-6 last season in the NFL’s most competitive division and it’s been proven that mobile quarterbacks play well in that division as both Russell Wilson and Colin Kapernick have had success. Manziel could be exactly what the Cardinals need to reach that next step up to the NFC’s best.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Three of the first eight teams to pick on Thursday night (the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, and Minnesota Vikings) all desperately need a high impact move and a quarterback, Manziel meets both criteria.

The Jags and Browns need to find a way to get out of the gutter and Minnesota needs to capitalize on what few strong years they have left from Adrian Peterson. Even if he’s not the best available player, all three of these teams can’t help but consider the immediate boost Manziel could give them on the field and would give them in revenue. Cleveland also owns the 26th pick in the draft, which is the absolute furthest I believe Manziel could possibly drop. If he’s there at 26 there’s no way the Browns can pass that up.

Now, for the hometown team. As a result of reaching the AFC Championship the Patriots won’t be drafting until late in the first round, but teams have proven lately that smart drafting in the mid rounds can be far more important than a superstar in the first. Also, not that it’s news to football fans, but New England’s own Tom Brady is proof that you don’t need to be a first round pick to make an impact.

In total the Patriots have eight picks (29, 62, 93, 130, 140, 198, 206, and 244) and there are multiple positions they’d like to be able to address. There’re a handful of talented running backs coming out in this draft and none are projected to go in the 1st round.

Come time the Patriots make their second selection there should still be quality backs available and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if they packaged later picks in order to move up and get the guy they want.

Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Washington’s Bishop Sankey are both names that have been floated around.

By resigning Julian Edleman and picking up Brandon Lafell the Patriots receiving core is in decent shape, but this draft is deep with receivers and depending on who’s available this is a position the Patriots will be keeping a close eye on.

One position most experts agree the Patriots will be targeting is the defensive line. ESPN expert Todd McShay’s latest mock draft has the Patriots drafting Stephon Tuitt, defensive end from Notre Dame. Tuitt is not the most naturally gifted, but what Tuitt lacks in intangibles he makes up for in athleticism. At 6’5”, 304 lbs and a 40 time of 4.89 seconds Tuitt is the prototype defensive lineman.

Ra’Shede Hageman, a DT from Minnesota, is another player McShay says would be a smart pick for the Patriots. Similar to Tuitt, Hageman meets all the physical specs for the ideal defensive lineman. With the signing of former Saint’s DE Will Smith the Patriots made a move to sure up their defensive line, but that doesn’t mean that won’t still be the area of their team they’re most looking to improve upon.

Whatever happens, eight picks in a very deep draft should be able to help the Patriots address all of their needs.

We’ve seen franchises transform because of draft night, make sure to tune in Thursday night to see who’s turn it is next.

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