SNQB: Breakdown of the Patriots’ Top Three Draft Picks
As usual, the Patriot’s didn’t do anything flashy in the first round. Defensive tackle was their biggest need, so naturally they selected a defensive tackle. Dominique Easley was a bit of a curious pick in my opinion, but not a bad one. There were at least three defensive tackles still on the board when the Patriots chose Easley who are generally considered better than him. At 6’2 and 288 lbs, Easley is smaller than most defensive linemen, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed. Upon watching his game tape, I immediately noticed and was impressed by his ability to penetrate defensive lines up the middle (or on the inside). In Florida’s game against Tennessee, Easley can be seen blasting through Tennessee’s o-line almost as soon as the ball is snapped, every play. Sometimes even too quickly for his own good. What I mean by this is that occasionally his start would be so explosive that he might find himself already behind where the ball had been handed off to (on running plays). However, it is not the job of defensive tackles to diagnose plays while they unfold (that’s for linebackers), and Easley’s explosive penetration will effect the play one way or another, even if he is not the one making the tackle. But for this reason I’m going to label him as better pass rusher than run blocker, as it seems like he always makes his way to the QB. I did also notice that sometimes when rushing on the outside, Easley’s size did become an issue as his speed was neutralized when getting caught trying to move around particularly large offensive tackles.
With healthy veterans Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love, Chandler Jones playing the way he does, and free agent acquisition Trevor Scott, Easley may not be an immediate starter. The Patriots’ are in good enough shape that they have the luxury of allowing their first round pick to be developmental rather than a necessary immediate contributor. However, I can see Easley competing with Trevor Scott for a starting spot and possibly beating him out. Let’s hope that Easley is able to stay healthy, as his double torn ACLs during are a bit of a concern.
Well they didn’t get Johnny Football so they settled for Jimmy Football. Seriously though, I’m a big fan of this pick. A lot of people think it was unwise for the Patriots to have spent such a high pick on a developmental player (Jimmy Football’s obviously not going to be beating out Tom Brady anytime soon or ever) as opposed to someone they “need” right now but as I said above, the Patriots don’t need anybody. As I said in the SNQB’s first post, the Patriots’ are at a point where they need to begin thinking about life without Tom Brady, and so they spent a value pick on a guy that they liked, nothing wrong with that. I will say that I would have thought AJ McCarron to be a better pick (and they could have waited a bit longer to get him), but upon reviewing Garoppolo’s game tape I think I can see what the Patriots’ personnel department liked about him.
The first think that stands out about Garoppolo is his quick release when throwing the ball, as well as the zip that he puts on the ball. This is a dream skill set for quick slant passes and play-action. Speaking of play-action, Garoppolo is very athletic, allowing him to move his feet and extend the play while also keeping his eyes downfield looking for options. His ability to land the ball where only his receiver will be able to get it (AKA throwing the receiver open) makes him an excellent pocket passer, and Tom Brady-esque. His faults begin with his small hands, and while he can put some mustard on the ball at close distances, his arm strength fizzles out with range. His deep ball is very lofted, which can be dangerous against tight press coverage. Garoppolo throws with a three-quarter delivery (meaning a mild side-arm) which at his height means potential for a lot of batted down passes.
With a couple years of sitting back and learning from the best (Tom Brady and Bill Belichick), Garoppolo has the potential to turn into a well developed killer, just like Brady. Then all he would need is a more aesthetic last name… like Brady
After trading out of the 3rd round, the Patriot’s fourth-round pick of Bryan Stork was their third pick overall. Though not particularly exciting, this pick might produce the only immediate contributor of all the Patriots’ drafted players. The play from their interior line has been declining as the age of guys like Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly increases. While labeled as a center, Stork is a versatile inside linemen who can play either center or guard, meaning he could easily replace one the two aforementioned players, as well as the Patriots’ current center Ryan Wendell. Stork would bring size to the center position, which is currently lacking with the slightly undersized Wendell. There is nothing exceptional about Stork, though there is also nothing fundamentally wrong with him either. He may have been a reach in the fourth round, as he was largely predicted to be a 7th rounder or maybe even go un-drafted, but again, the Patriots will select who they like, with no consequence of not getting absolute value.