Patriots Insider shared the names of some prospects who Patriots personnel either met with at the Senior Bowl, Shrine game or expressed interest in at the NFL Combine. Interestingly, Rob agreed, some of those names do fit the the mold of past Patriots, and/or are good fits for the New England system.
Our Quick Hit Q & A with Rob:
(1) We know the Patriots have been talking to various receivers who are projected from late round one picks to the middle of day two. Bearing in mind the New England roster give us your impressions of the following types of players available in the Draft.
a) A David Givens type clutch receiver, not blazing speed, but fast enough to go deep when needed. Someone whos big enough to be a very solid blocker but with good hands.
Rob Rang: A couple of guys immediately jump out to me for the Patriots in this area: David Ball, New Hampshire and Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame.
b) A Go To guy someone who can be the teams No. 1 target. A guy who will get open even when double covered. A guy who will be available in late round 1 or round 2.
RR: A go-to guy in the late first to early second is always tough, especially since most of the new go-to guys know are the 6-2+ receivers that the Patriots have generally avoided. On a different team with different size requirements I might be tempted to say Dwayne Jarrett or Robert Meachem. For the Patriots, specifically, I like South Carolina's Sidney Rice, USC's Steve Smith, Ohio State's Anthony Gonzalez better.
c) A Slot receiver someone to take Troy Browns spot, possibly returning punts
RR: Wes Welker probably filled this need, but a prospect that fits this description that should be available in the middle rounds is Chris Davis, Florida State.
(2) The next question is regarding Draft prospects the Patriots talked to already. Tell us a little more about the following guys and how they might best help a team.
RR: Chris Davis (FSU) - Quicker than fast athlete with sure hands and good route-running ability. Solid, but unspectacular at the Senior Bowl. Similar player in some respects to former FSU star Peter Warrick, but without the hype.
Brandon Myles (West Virginia) - Speedster who showed surprising hands and toughness at the Senior Bowl. Productive big play receiver despite limited opportunities at WVU due to the offense's reliance on their running game.
Rhema McKnight (Notre Dame) Experience in Charlie Weis' offense an obvious plus. Gifted natural athlete who has struggled with drops throughout his career. Could suddenly "get it" and become a true steal in the middle rounds if he developed more consistency catching the ball and running routes. Needed a big senior season to validate his hype and came through - actually leading the team in TD receptions despite Samardzija getting most of the hype.
(3) If you knew the Patriots didn't have other pressing needs like defensive back, which receiver in the Draft would you pick at 24 or 28?
RR: Obviously this depends on what player remained on the board, at that time. I, personally, am much higher on WRs Dwayne Bowe and Robert Meachem than the more hyped Dwayne Jarrett or Ted Ginn, Jr. Thus, if either of these receivers were available, they'd be the receivers I'd focus on (Bowe then Meachem). If they weren't available, for the Patriots' specifically, I'd likely wait until Round Two to add a wideout as I just don't see any other 1st round worthy wideouts that fit their scheme here (including Jarrett, Ginn).
(4) by the looks of it, the Patriots may acquire a reserve receiver via free agency. In your opinion who would be a sleeper pick for a receiver in the later rounds that may be of interest to New England -- or any team that needs a receiver?
RR: Three late round receivers that I am particularly high on for the Patriots or for any other team include: Jacoby Jones (Lane College), James Jones (San Jose State), and Tymere Zimmerman (Newberry).
(5) What do you think the chances are that the Patriots will trade up or down to get the guy theyre looking for?
RR: This is always a possibility with the Patriots. Not only are the Patriots always looking to maneuver, the two first round picks and so few true needs (outside of WR - which the team doesn't seem to hold in as high esteem as other positions, unlike other teams) gives the team as much flexibility as any team in the league.
Rob Rang is a NFL Draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com.