|Undefeated Mirage Gives Way to Reality of Flawed Patriots Team in OT Loss to Broncos||Gronkowski Avoids Major Injury||Connelly’s Top Ten: Harper Drop, Officials Desperate to be Liked, Run Out Clock||There’s Hope for a Hanley Trade|
The New England Patriots bolstered their roster with an eye to the future in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bill Belichick’s side selected nine players in the selection process in New York City, who will join Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell to the side that lost the AFC Championship side last season.
New England fans will be hoping the additions can help them go one better this time around to win their first Super Bowl since the 2004 season.
The draft will directly influence the odds of each team’s chances next year although these odds will vary from sportsbook to sportsbook – the patriots are 9-1 at most books. Vegas bookmakers are the safest and choosing to play there guarantees you won’t get cheated. If you are considering a new book check the SBR blacklist and do an extensive Google search of the new book’s brand. There are many forums and customer feedback reports helping you to avoid shady operations so you can enjoy the Patriots rise again… without your sportsbook going down. Let’s take a look at the draft highlights.
The Patriots used their first pick in the Draft on the 22-year-old despite him missing the majority of the 2013 season for the Florida Gators. Easley tore his ACL in September of last year, the second time he sustained such an injury which decreased his Draft stock slightly. However, Belichick looked passed the injuries and selected Easley for his production in the 2011 and 2012 seasons for the Gators, where at times he dominated the line of scrimmage.
New England were in need of depth at defensive tackle after Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly sustained season-ending injuries themselves in the 2013 campaign. And although Easley is not a like-for-like replacement his ability to get after the quarterback on third down should ease the burden on the two veteran players. Reports suggest the Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks were interested Easley with the 32nd pick, so Belichick may well have stolen an extremely talented player with the 29th selection.
Reports before the Draft suggested that the Patriots were in the market for a quarterback after they worked out some of the top prospects at the position. Belichick surprised everyone by selecting Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois University to be the potential heir to Tom Brady with the 62nd pick in the Draft. The 22-year-old had a productive career for EIU albeit against the supposed weaker competition of the Ohio Valley Conference and was touted as one of the best quarterbacks available in the Draft.
All being well Garoppolo shouldn’t see the field for the Patriots this season, but he will fight Ryan Mallett – whose contract comes to an end after the 2013 campaign – for the number two spot to be Brady’s backup and prove he could step in if needed. It was an interesting selection by the club and one whose success will not be determined for a long time yet.
Belichick traded out of the third round and into the fourth and picked up an extra pick in the sixth for the Patriots’ 93rd selection. With the 105th pick the club chose to bolster their offensive line with one of the best center available in the form of Stork for the BCS champions the Florida State Seminoles. Stork protected Jameis Winston in FSU’s run to the championship and did his job extremely well, and only injuries in the build-up to the Draft stopped him from being selected higher.
Stork will look to oust Ryan Wendell from the center spot following Wendell’s poor performance in the 2013 season. The 23-year-old is physically bigger than Wendell and will provide tougher competition to the likes of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damion Harrison and Marcel Dareus in the AFC East this season.
White was selected with the 130th pick and should provide instant competition for Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. Both of the Patriots’ running backs have had issues in the past and the selection of White should be a major wake-up call. Vereen’s career so far has been blighted with injury which has stopped him reaching his true potential, while Ridley has had trouble with ball security. White has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and fumbled twice in his college career at Wisconsin.
With their last pick in the fourth round the Pats selected offensive tackle Cameron Fleming out of Stanford. The 21-year-old is a highly-intelligent player and will further bolster the club’s offensive line with Marcus Cannon in his final year of his rookie contract, while starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer has had troubles with injuries. He may not start right away, but will provide competition for the veteran tackle in the future.
The Patriots went back to adding to their offensive line in the sixth round when they selected Halapio from the Gators, their second player from Will Muschamp’s side in the Draft. Competition seems to be the name of the game from Belichick and the 22-year-old should have Dan Connolly looking over his shoulder after an inconsistent year.
In their defeat to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots failed to trouble Peyton Manning in the pocket. Moore was a productive player in the college game for Concordia, albeit playing in the second division. If he can make the leap to the professional game and involve himself in the pass-rush rotation it could be a solid pickup by Belichick.
Following their additions in free agency and with the players already on their roster not many pundits predicted another player to add to the secondary, but Belichick added Thomas out of Georgia Tech. The 24-year-old has the versatility the Patriots can cover and may have enough about him to end the Patriots careers of Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson.
With their final pick New England added another slot receiver to their wideout corps as they selected Gallon out of Michigan. The 24-year-old broke records for the Wolverines and will look to have a similar impact as former seventh-round selection Julian Edelman, although he could turn out to be another Jeremy Ebert who failed to make the roster at the club in 2012.
I these selections have convinced you that the Patriots have what it takes to win the AFC Conference title for the first time since 2011 at +376 and the Super Bowl +900.