Although the New England Patriots did not have a first round pick Thursday night, they hold 11 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, including four picks in the first three rounds (picks 60, 61, 91 and 96). The Patriots also hold five picks in the sixth round. With so many picks at their disposal, New England is likely to move around on draft day. Regardless here is a look at several players the Patriots are expected to target this weekend.
OLB/DE Shilique Calhoun (Michigan State): At 6-foot-4, 251-pounds Calhoun was a team captain last year. His physical traits and football intelligence make him an obvious fit in a New England defense that loves to tap into the versatility of edge players. He might not fill an immediate need, but if he’s available at No. 60/61 it might be difficult for the team to pass him up.
LB Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame): Prior to a serious knee injury Smith was considered a top 10 pick, but now much uncertainty surrounds his draft stock. If he slips to the late second round, or even the late third round, the Patriots may be tempted to take a flier on him? However, Dominique Easley, New England’s first round pick in 2014, may serve as a deterrent. Easley came into the draft recovering from a torn ACL and never fully developed like the Pats hoped he would. Easley was recently cut from the team this offseason.
Chris Jones (Mississippi State): One of the more athletic defensive tackles in the draft, he would fall into the Jamie Collins category of selecting a player based more on his physical traits/future projection than a consistent level of production in college.
Hassan Ridgeway (Texas): A former teammate of 2015 first-round pick Malcolm Brown, the 6-foot-3, 303-pound Ridgeway enters the draft after his junior season. He failed to follow up an impressive sophomore season when he was paired with Brown, but Ridgeway’s athleticism and physical traits still warrant consideration.
Devontae Booker (Utah) — Booker totalled 1,261 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and if he is available at No. 60 or 61, he’d be an ideal pick as a potential three-down option. While Dion Lewis and James White serve as suitable 3rd down backs, the Patriots desperately need a consistent downhill runner. Booker had 16 career fumbles however, which is one concern.
Keenan Reynolds (Navy) — The Patriots have invested a great deal of time scouting Reynolds, as Bill Belichick’s affinity for talented, high-intangibles players from Navy is well known. Reynolds played quarterback at Navy, but like Julian Edelman in 2009, he’ll be expected to switch to wide receiver in the NFL.