2012 NFL Draft - New England Patriots

Posted Apr 28, 2012

New England Patriots - AFC East, 2012 Draft Selections & Prospects


New England Patriots

2012 NFL Draft Team Analysis - AFC
EAST Buffalo | Miami | New England | NY Jets
WEST Denver | Kansas CityOakland | San Diego
NORTH Baltimore | Cincinnati  Cleveland | Pittsburgh
SOUTH Houston | Indy | Jacksonville | Tennessee

2012 NFL Draft Team Analysis - NFC
EAST Dallas | NY Giants | Philadelphia | Washington
WEST Arizona | San Francisco | Seattle | St. Louis
NORTH Chicago | Detroit | Green Bay | Minnesota
SOUTH Atlanta | Carolina | New Orleans | Tampa Bay   

- 2011 New England Draft Breakdown
- 2010 New England Draft Breakdown  

The Draft Was ... an acknowledgement that the defense needs a whole bunch of help. With the first six picks on defense, and WR Jeremy Ebert the only offensive pick – and he went in the seventh round – this was all about boosting up the weakness. However, the Pats got a slew of try-hard, fit-the-mold types rather than get any real value. Safeties Tavon Wilson in the second round and Nate Ebner in the sixth were horrendous reaches, but Bill Belichick made up for it by taking a chance on Alfonzo Dennard, a top 50 talent with off-the-field issues, in the seventh.
Best Value Pick: CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, 7th round
Worst Value Pick: S Tavon Wilson, Illinois, 2nd round
They Should've ... traded down in the second round. There was no reason to take Wilson in the fifth round, much less the second, especially with DTs Kendall Reyes, Devon Still and Jerel Worthy there for the taking to boost up the mushy interior.
Division Draft Ranking: 4
Overall Draft Ranking: 24

First Round

DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse (Jr.) 6-5, 266
Overall Pick No. 21 CFN Overall Ranking: 114
CFN Analysis: The Patriots really, really need pass rushers, and while Jones might be a top all-around talent. There might concerns about his knee and he might be more of a project than a polished prospect coming out of the box, but he'll be asked to get into the backfield right away for the Patriots at a spot where he can claim a starting job from Day One.

Athletic, he's tall, lean, and moves like a basketball player with a smooth ability to move around the edge. This might be just the start with a frame that can easily handle another ten pounds of good weight and be just as effective. Eventually, getting bigger is a must – he has to camp out in an NFL weight room - considering he's missing the raw speed to fly around the edge. While he brings the effort and he'll work to get better, he's not all that physical and he could use a bit more bulk to end up as a 3-4 end. Likely to be overdrafted, he'll be a good player, but someone is going to be hoping for an elite pass rusher will probably be disappointed.
CFN Projection: Second Round  

First Round   

ILB Dont'a Hightower, Alabama (Jr.) 6-2, 265
Overall Pick No. 25 CFN Overall Ranking: 25
CFN Analysis: He's the type of player who seems to do very, very big things for New England. He doesn't really fit anything the Patriots do on defense, that finding ways to use talent has never been a problem for Bill Belichick. Considering the defense needed a defensive end and an outside linebacker coming into the draft, it's coming out of the first round with both grabbing Chandler Jones and now Hightower. This should be an instant upgrade for a defense that needed just a slight tweaking.

Big, strong, and nasty, he's built to be a rock against the run and to stuff things up on the inside. Tough as nails, he eats up everything that comes his way with an intimidating style that should make him a force. Smart on the field, he always knows where to be at the right time and he always seems to be in the right position to make the key play at the right time. A part of some phenomenal defenses, he got a lot of help surrounded by a slew of top-shelf talents, but he was the leader on the lot. Athleticism will be a problem – which wasn't helped with a torn ACL a few years ago - and he has to watch his weight. Not really a lineman, and not built for the outside in a 3-4, he'll need things funneled his way more often than not. However, he'll be a perfect run stopper on the inside of any defense and could grow into a statistical star.
CFN Projection: First Round

Second Round

CB Tavon Wilson, Illinois 6-0, 205
Overall Pick No. 48 CFN Overall Ranking: Unranked

Alright, Bill Belichick. You might be a super-genius and you might know how to find the right fit for players like Wilson, but … huh? He might be drafted as a corner but he'll probably play free safety and spend most of his time in nickel and dime packages, but he's an awful value selection at the 48. There aren't many safety options in the position-poor draft, but there was absolutely no reason to make this pick here. This is where the Patriots usually trade down to get a guy like this.

With nice size and decent versatility, he could fill a variety of roles and could fit a variety of schemes. He's a corner who can tackle a bit, and he has decent speed for a safety, but he's not a blazer and he's a bit of a leaky hitter in the open field. Around a 4.5 runner, he can move, and he does a lot of the little things right, but he doesn't have a set position. He'll be a good swing backup who'll have a hard time finding a home.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

Third Round

DE Jake Bequette, Arkansas 6-4, 274
Overall Pick No. 90 CFN Overall Ranking: 112
CFN Analysis: There are certain players who fit the New England mold, and Bequette is the exact type of pass rusher with the type of attitude and feistiness to be a mainstay on the outside. While he's not going to be the outside linebacker the Patriots could use, he'll work in a variety of ways and he'll be a productive part of the equation. He'll always be working and always be hustling.

With a constant motor he's always working, always going full-tilt, and he never takes plays off. A strong pass rusher, he's not necessarily a speed rusher, but he gets into the backfield and gets to the quarterback on want-to and desire. Even though he's quick, he's not the prettiest of pass rushers and he's not going to fly around the edge. However, it's over when he gets a line on a quarterback. Just an okay athlete and not a strong enough run defender, he can be shoved around and will be erased if keyed on. He's a smart layer with an interesting all-around game, but he might not have the raw talent to do much more than just be a functional defender. There's little upside, but he should be a solid part of a rotation.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round  

Seventh Round

CB Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska 5-10, 204
Overall Pick No. 224 CFN Overall Ranking: 44
While he's not the athlete that former Husker and first round pick Prince Amukamara is, he moves well and has the size to potentially move over to safety if he doesn't work out at corner. Thick and tough, he beats up receivers and he's not afraid to mix it up – just ask Alshon Jeffery. He's able to make up for his lack of elite speed by getting a jam on receivers and he's able to make up for his okay height with tremendous leaping ability. There are no problems staying with the better receivers, even though he doesn't quite have the raw skills teams would like in a No. 1 coverman. Banged up throughout his career, his style doesn't necessarily translate well to the next level in terms of a long shelf life. Eventually, he might flourish as a fifth defensive back or a free safety, but he'll be good to start out as a No. 2 corner against the bigger targets.
CFN Projection:
Second Round

Seventh Round 

TE Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern 6-2, 241
Overall Pick No. 233 CFN Overall Ranking: 219
Not just a back, he was a Superback, filling a variety of roles for the Wildcats including receiving tight end, fullback, and H-back. A terrific receiver, he can get deep and is a smart route runner who finds ways to get into the open. Productive, he was very good for a long time. Built like a pumped up wideout, he's not a blocker and he didn't do much for the ground game when he lined up at fullback. Durability will be a major problem after suffering through a variety of problems. The versatility will make him draftable, but he doesn't have enough NFL skills to stand out as a starter.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

Seventh Round

WR Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern
Overall Pick No. 235   CFN Overall Rank: Unranked
CFN Projection: Free Agent