According to this mock draft, with the seventeenth overall selection the Patriots nabbed California defensive end Cameron Jordan, helping to solidify their front. Now they get a second shot to improve their team and try and find the pieces that will get them back to the Super Bowl.
As stated before, the Pats need most of their help on the defensive side of the ball, but if they can get a good player in their front seven with their top pick, it frees them up to go more with best player available at this point in the draft. And that might become an offensive prospect.
I think that player will be Baylor guard Danny Watkins.
If the Patriots don’t draft a defensive end with their top pick, they could still have the potential to draft one here. Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson is still on the board, as is Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward. Both of those players could be solid additions to their front.
The Patriots are probably hoping that UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers falls to this point in the draft. Ayers could potentially be a good fit on the outside and help bolster their edge pass rush by giving them a good athletic player there. If not Ayers, then the team might be the first to start sniffing around Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed, who has been zooming up boards with many calling him the next Clay Matthews.
They could still try and shore up their secondary with this pick, especially if Miami’s Brandon Harris is still on the board.
Offensively, the Patriots have to figure out what they are going to do with the left side of the offensive line. Matt Light is a free agent that they want back, but he seemingly only has a few more years left. Sebastian Vollmer seems to be the heir apparent there so the team probably doesn’t have to look at drafting a tackle like Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod. But the left guard position is in flux with the team seemingly unlikely to give Logan Mankins an extension this off-season after last year’s bitterness. If that is the case, then someone like Watkins would be a good pick here. He brings that same sort of lunch pail toughness that the Patriots covet. The retirement of right guard Stephen Neal also doesn’t help matters, meaning that even if Mankins is locked up, they still have a need at guard.
Also the Patriots would like to upgrade their skill positions. Running back could use some help, but nobody is worth this pick and it’s highly doubtful that Mark Ingram would fall this far. So if anything, it would be wide receiver. Torrey Smith would be a good option if available. Jon Baldwin and Leonard Hankerson would give them another big, vertical option that they lost when they traded Randy Moss. But it would possible that the Patriots would target another one of those quick, slot receivers such as Troy’s Jerrel Jernigan or Kentucky’s Randall Cobb with this pick. Both flash Welker-like skills to play in space.
Because the Patriots hold another pick five picks later at No. 33, it gives them some leeway with No. 28. It’s possible that some teams may trade back up into the first round to nab a quarterback, and the Patriots are always a team willing to move down. Being able to move down into the early part of the second round and pick up some additional picks could allow them to nab some of these players and shore up other areas later in the draft.