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Wives and girlfriends hate us. Others don’t understand. Most call us weird. But, to crazed football fans like myself, the best three day stretch of the year is upon us.
For three days males and (some) females will trade in their work clothes for their favorite team’s t-shirt. Out goes the diet that you promised yourself for your New Years Resolution and in comes an uncontrollable amount of junk food, pizza and in my case a delicious shrimp cheeseburger from a local burger joint in Baton Rouge.
Fans across the world, rejoice. The time is here.
But, before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces that the Carolina Panthers select either of the top two overrated quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton), there’s still some time for our last Patriots mock draft. In the past, we’ve given New England Mark Ingram, Cameron Jordan, Leonard Hankerson to Nate Solder, Adrian Clayborn and Johnny Patrick.
As always we won’t include trades because they are almost impossible to predict. But, for the record, fully expect Bill Belichick to strike multiple deals.
Surprise No. 1. Many feel that the Patriots will go after Alabama running back Mark Ingram. While he would be a terrific option for the Patriots, in my opinion Mikel Leshoure is their No. 1 rated running back. Leshoure was the best running back in the country last season as he ran for 1,697 yards and scored 17 touchdowns for Illinois.
At 5-11, 227-pounds, Leshoure is a powerhouse back that will take the brunt of the carries. He is very powerful and is at his strongest between the tackles. Leshoure would prove to be a great complement to Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield.
The flavor of the draft season for Patriots fans has been Brooks Reed. Not only does the three-year starter at Arizona resemble current Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, but he plays a lot like him too. Reed has a high motor and is credited with a tremendous football IQ.
Adding Reed gives the Patriots one of the best young linebacker corps in the NFL with Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham along side.
Wilkerson is one of the draft’s intriguing prospects. He could crack the top 20, or fall around the 35-45 range. A lot of teams seem to really marvel at his quickness and ability to penetrate on the defensive front. The Patriots haven’t had productive play at the defensive end spot since Richard Seymour’s departure, so Wilkerson definitely fills a huge need for the Patriots.
It’s safe to assume that before the weekend is over, Belichick will dive into Florida’s ever-flowing group of talented prospects. Don’t let Gilbert’s huge frame, 6-6, 330-pounds, fool you. Although big, Gilbert shows nimble feet and has an NFL-ready technique. The Patriots don’t need to worry about the right side of the line with Sebastian Vollmer, but the uncertainty of Matt Light will make offensive tackle a position of need.
Stephen Neal’s departure left a sizable hole on the interior right side. Boling is an underrated guard, who will go on to have a stellar NFL career. Boling has prototypical size for a guard, but his biggest strength is that he can play anywhere on the offensive line. Versatility is the one thing a player must have if he wants to play in New England.
Although the Patriots have a plethora of talent offensively, they are still lacking a deep threat. Harris’ precise route running ability and ability to get open downfield should make him an appealing option at this point in the draft.
The wide receiver need really boils down to what the staff thinks of both Brandon Tate and Taylor Price. If they see something, there really isn’t a need. But, on the contrary, wide receiver could be high on the Patriots’ list.
Follow me on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio