After an exciting win in Super Bowl 51 the New England Patriots will be picking at the end of the each round of the 2017 NFL Draft. While the draft is a ways away in April, it is always interesting to project who each team might select. One of the more mysterious teams when it comes to the draft is the New England Patriots. It’s hard to know which way Bill Belichick will go when he is on the clock in Philadelphia. You can find the previous pieces on round 1-4 throughout the site. We will now venture into the middle of Day Three of the NFL Draft, which is where things will be crazy, as it’s the last day of the draft. Let’s get into it, starting with round four.
Darreus Rogers, WR, USC
While he played second fiddle to JuJu Smith-Schuster in his past few years as a Trojan, Darreus Rogers has been a very dependable player for USC. He has good size at 6-1 and around 205 pounds, and he is an ideal possession receiver, with good hands. Rogers collected a solid 56 catches for 696 yards (12.7 yards per catch), and had 4 touchdowns in his final year in Southern California. He also showed the ability to block well in the running game when he was asked to. Rogers is also very good at finding the soft spots of zones, which can play a big part in the Patriots’ offense. One thing he has to work on is making catches away from his body and attacking the ball instead of letting it come into his chest. The play shown above is one example of a strong catch, and he should be able to do that more in the NFL. I believe a very good pro comparison for Rogers would be Brandon LaFell: he’s not going to be a superstar, but he can be a very good receiver that gets the job done and keeps the chains moving. Look for him to be on the board for New England, and they should take a good, hard look at him if he’s there in the fifth round.
Dare Ogunbowale, RB, Wisconsin
Another one of the best names in the draft, the Patriots could look to dip back into the Wisconsin running back well with the selection of Dare Ogunbowale. The Badgers employee a committee-style approach at running back, with Corey Clement taking the lead and Ogunbowale being a good change of pace back. Like James White playing behind Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon, Ogunbowale was in the same situation. He shows great burst behind the line of scrimmage, and he has an impressive ability to make cuts around would-be tacklers. He also has some play in the return game, and uses his elusiveness to work around special teamers. His good speed and decisiveness allowed him to rush for 5.6 yards per carry and pick up 5 touchdowns on the ground, as well as 24 catches for 208 yards in 2016. Ogunbowale’s ability to make defenders miss and run past them is impressive, and he would be a very good selection to bolster the running back group for the Patriots without using a high pick on a player.
Paul Magloire Jr., LB, Arizona
The Patriots need help at the linebacker position, and if they could find someone like Magloire in the fifth to produce at a high level, it would be a steal. A recent graduate of Arizona, Magloire collected 81 tackles, with 5.5 for a loss in his final season. After converting from safety, he was able to successfully play the linebacker position at a high level for Arizona. He possesses a similar skillset to Jamie Collins, although he may not be the same freakish athlete Collins was. Magloire would likely be put in a similar role as Collins was in New England, but his coverage ability is much better than that of the former Patriots star. He could still stand to add some strength, as he can get washed out of plays by bigger linemen, but when he gets a straight shot to the ball, Magloire explodes and is a strong tackler. New England would likely be able to steal the former Wildcat from other teams in the draft, and he has the skillset to succeed early and often for the team.
Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska
A four year starter and a captain for the Huskers, Nate Gerry would be a solid addition to a secondary that could be losing a good safety in Duron Harmon. Gerry has had 4 interceptions in each of the past three seasons, and he has collected 241 tackles with 17 for a loss in that same span. He’s a solid coverage safety with decent ball skills, and he can keep up with tight ends trying to work the vertical game. He is also a capable run defender who may need work tracking the ball but can get after the carrier. Gerry could eventually be a solid replacement for Patrick Chung when his contract expires after the 2018 season. The Patriots should look into drafting the former Husker, and the fifth round is an ideal spot to find a player that could develop into a very good player in the future.
Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse
This selection would put to bed that clamoring of fans for a “big bodied deep threat.” Amba Etta-Tawo was one of the most exciting receivers in college football last year, and he had 14 receiving touchdowns and almost 1,500 yards to show for it. He has an extremely impressive ability to track the ball and win jump balls, and his talent with the ball in his hand is uncanny. Etta-Tawo, a former Maryland Terrapin, spent one year with Syracuse, and he clearly capitalized on it. While he is an exciting player, he may need to work on some more technical parts of his game, like route running and run blocking, to succeed in New England. Regardless, this would be an exciting pick and he and Malcolm Mitchell could be the next star receivers for the Patriots in the future if he is selected by Bill Belichick. He doesn’t exactly have the highest pedigree when it comes to drafting receivers, but this one could be a no-brainer.