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Draft day three leaves Patriots needs, options

Posted May 9, 2014

After adding a defensive tackle and backup quarterback over the first two days of the draft, New England heads to day three with needs still to fill.

The first day of the 2014 NFL Draft brought New England an intriguing, athletic defensive tackle coming off an ACL injury in the form of Florida’s Dominique Easley.

Friday night’s second and third rounds of action brought an even more polarizing pick with the addition of Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He may be the heir to Tom Brady. He may be the backup for the next few years. The one thing he likely (hopefully!) won’t do is play a role in the 2014 season in New England.

With Bill Belichick trading New England’s third-round pick (No. 93) to the Jaguars in exchange for picks No. 105 and No. 179, the Patriots made just a single pick on a player on the second day of draft action. That once again leaves the bulk of the team’s projected needs in play as the third and final day of draft action comes about on Saturday.

“Tomorrow we have a total of seven picks,” Belichick said in his press conference late Friday night, looking ahead to rounds four through seven on Saturday. “We’ve been able to pick players that have been productive for us on the third day, hopefully that will be the case tomorrow.”

With that in mind, New England could still be very much in line to target such spots as tight end, safety, linebacker, running back and interior offensive line from the supposedly deep crop of talent that remains available.

Seven tight ends have been picked in the first three round, leaving Georgia’s Arthur Lynch, USC’s Xavier Grimble, UMass’ Rob Blanchflower, Utah’s Jake Murphy and Dixie State’s Joe Don Duncan as some of the top names still there for the taking.

Safety has seen five players selected and there are limited options remaining with the potential to have an early impact in the league. That group would include Stanford’s Ed Reynolds, USC’s Dion Bailey, LSU’s Craig Loston and maybe the best fit for New England’s physical needs, Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon.

No running back was picked in this draft until the 54th selection, with five total players at the position going in the second and third round. But there are still plenty of intriguing options to carry and catch the ball including Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, Florida State’s Devonta Freeman, Tennessee’s Rajion Neal and Arizona State’s Marion Grice, all of whom would be nice additions to the Patriots committee backfield.

With New England looking to possibly add competition and depth to the interior offensive line, Stanford’s David Yankey, Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson, Baylor’s Cyril Richardson, Alabama’s Anthony Steen and Penn State’s John Urschel might be considerations at guard. The center spot still has Florida State’s Bryan Stork and Florida’s Jonotthan Harrison as possible picks.

Inside linebacker has seen just three players picked so far, leaving Stanford’s Shayne Skov, Florida State’s Chrisitan Jones, Michigan State’s Max Bullough, Iowa State’s Jeremiah George and Western Kentucky’s Andrew Jackson as value propositions.

At outside linebacker there is more impressive talent remaining than on the inside, with Arizona State’s Carl Bradford, Utah’s Trevor Reilly, Florida State’s Telvin Smith, UCLA’s Jordan Zumwalt and Notre Dame’s Prince Shembo all waiting to get the call.

Really, though, Belichick and the Patriots could go toward almost any position in the final day of draft action with their seven selections. In the past we’ve seen punters, kickers, long snappers, special teamers and even rugby players get the call on day three. So a wide receiver (Clemson’s Martavis Bryant anyone?) or a defensive tackle (LSU’s Anthony Johnson or Tennessee’s Daniel McCuller’s might fill the bill as run stuffers) can’t be ruled out.

One of the top remaining players is Lindenwood cornerback Pierre Desir, a position that also includes Oregon’s Terrance Mitchell and Missouri’s E.J. Gaines.

All spring all we’ve heard is how deep this year’s draft class is. If that’s the case the Patriots have plenty of chances to dive into that depth seven times on Saturday. It may be the third day of the draft, but as Belichick points out that doesn’t mean the team can’t still add productive, contributing players.

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