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In a year when the Patriots did not have many draft picks, they of course found a way to trade their first round pick for a number of later round picks. Normally I would not be happy with them trading down, but in a year where the draft was weaker than most years, I don’t mind the move on the Patriots part. I do have a problem with how they used some of the picks though. But ask any Patriot fan and they will tell you the same thing every year after the draft. They did however make some picks that are very intriguing and those players could be immediate impacts in their rookie years. With training camp just around the corner, here are my 3 players to watch this year.
Aaron Dobson was the second pick for the Patriots in this years draft. He fills a major need in the Patriots offense and is a receiver the Pats haven’t had in a long time. They have taken chances in the past on wide receivers and failed, but those previous players were smaller speed guys (Chad Jackson and Taylor Price). Aaron Dobson is a rare combination of size (6 foot 3, 210 lbs) and speed (4.43 40 time). He also has some great hands and may have had catch of the year in college football in 2012. Dobson spent four years at Marshall and is tied 4th all time in touchdown receptions (24) with Patriot great, Troy Brown. Dobson could come in and stretch the field, as well as be a big target that can go up and get the ball. He is a perfect receiver to compliment the New England tight ends.
It was no secret that the Patriots needed more depth at cornerback. It is also not a secret that Bill Belichick is close with Greg Schiano and loves his former Rutgers players. The Patriots, in the third round, would take the first of the 3 Rutgers players they would draft. Ryan Logan looks like he has all the tools to be a good corner in the NFL. At 83rd overall, the Patriots got good value according to many places that had Logan going earlier. He is the normal size for a corner, and in college was known for his leadership and great ball skills. There is also a deeper tie with Logan and the Patriots. When he came to Rutgers, he roomed with Devin McCourty during camp. He would go on to be close with McCourty and looked up to him as a player and a leader. This is one thing the Patriots really liked about Logan, and after hearing him interview with the Sports Hub, he already sounds like a Patriot. With the reach on Duron Harmon, the Patriots hope they can get some Rutgers chemistry in their secondary with now 2 safeties and a corner back from Rutgers on their roster. Ryan Logan should be a solid player in the rotation, may start a couple games, and hopefully can be a solid corner in the future.
Micheal Buchanan is my sleeper pick for impact rookies this year. For the second year in a row, the Patriots take a player who could have had a first round grade if they did not hit some bumps late in their college career. The Pats took a chance on Alfonso Dennard last year. Dennard was a top rated corner but got into some trouble when he punched a police officer the week of the draft and fell all the way to the seventh round. He ended up starting for the Patriots and being a solid player his rookie season. Buchanan had a different situation, but a similar result. He played along side Whitney Mercilus his junior season. Mercilus would go on to lead college football in sacks with 16 and be a first round pick for the Houston Texans. Buchanan had 64 tackles and 7.5 sacks his junior year and often out played Mercilus. A lot of scouts said if he came back for his senior season and played well he could be a first round pick.
The summer before his senior year, Buchanan got in a fight and ended up breaking his jaw. He lost 20 pounds during the healing process and did not come into his senior season in football shape. He focused on getting in shape, but the extra energy put into that caused him to struggle. He finished the year with 57 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He also was not the impact that he was his junior season. With the altercation and his lack of production his senior season, he fell all the way to the 7th round where the Patriots would draft him 226 overall. Buchanan has said all the right things coming into rookie camps and could end up being a surprise for the Patriot defensive line. If Buchanan can develop and Chandler Jones can continue to improve, the Patriots could have two dominant, young, defensive ends going into the future.