October 23, 2014

Mock Across America, Pick 34

by Scott Benson
[email protected]

picYou remember the mock draft we’ve been participating in, along with other NFL fan blogs across the country. We’ve recently completed the first round and are plowing forward with a second, where the Pats hold picks 34, 47 and 58. Anyway, here’s the action so far:

First Round

1. Lions: waynefontes.com – MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB, GEORGIA
2. Rams: turfshowtimes.com – EUGENE MONROE, OT, VIRGINIA
3. Chiefs: kcchiefsnews.com – AARON CURRY, LB, WAKE FOREST
4. Seahawks: davekriegsstrikebeard.com – MICHAEL CRABTREE, WR, TEXAS TECH
5. Browns: nologoneeded.com – REY MAUALUGA, LB, USC
6. Bengals: bengalstripes.com – JASON SMITH, OT, BAYLOR
7. Raiders: silverandblackpride.com – JEREMY MACLIN, WR, MISSOURI
8. Jaguars: jaguarsgab.com – B.J. RAJI, DT, BOSTON COLLEGE
9. Packers: lombardiave.com – BRIAN ORAKPO, DE/OLB, TEXAS
10. 49ers: ninersnation.com – EVERETTE BROWN, OLB, FLORIDA STATE
11. Bills: buffalorumblings.com – CLAY MATTHEWS, OLB, USC
12. Broncos: milehighreport.com – MALCOLM JENKINS, CB, OHIO STATE
13. Redskins: curlyr.blogspot.com – ANDRE SMITH, OT, ALABAMA
14. Saints: canalstreetchronicles.com – BRIAN CUSHING, OLB, USC
15. Texans: houstondiehards.com – MICHAEL OHER, OT, OLE MISS
16. Chargers: bolthype.com – EBEN BRITTON, OT, ARIZONA
17. Jets: thejetsblog.com – TYSON JACKSON, DE, LSU
18. Bears: blogdownchicagobears.com – DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY, WR, MARYLAND
19. Buccaneers: bucem.com – PERCY HARVIN, WR, FLORIDA
20. Lions (from Dallas): waynefontes.com – AARON MAYBIN, DE, PENN STATE
21. Eagles: igglesblog.com – VONTAE DAVIS, CB, ILLINOIS
22. Vikings: vikingsragnarok.blogspot.com – MARK SANCHEZ, QB, USC
23.  Patriots: patriotsdaily.com – KNOWSHON MORENO, RB, GEORGIA
24. Falcons: falcoholic.com – CLINT SINTIM, LB, VIRGINIA
25. Dolphins: thephinsider.com – LARRY ENGLISH, LB, NORTHERN ILLINOIS
26. Ravens: ebonybird.com – KENNY BRITT, WR, RUTGERS
27. Colts: 18to88.com – PERIA JERRY, DT, MISSISSIPPI STATE
28. Eagles (from Carolina): igglesblog.com ALEX MACK, C, CALIFORNIA
29. Giants: bigblue101.com HAKEEM NICKS, WR, NORTH CAROLINA
30. Titans: musiccitymiracles.com – D.J. MOORE, CB, VANDERBILT
31. Cardinals: raisingzona.com – CHRIS WELLS, RB, OHIO STATE
32. Steelers: steelerstoday.com – FILI MOALA, DT, USC

Second Round

33. Lions: waynefontes.com – JAMES LAURINAITIS, LB, OHIO STATE
34.  Patriots: patriotsdaily.com

That’s right. We’re up again, and we’re leaning defense after our offensive first round choice. So with the second selection of the 2nd round, 34th overall, the New England Patriots select:

DE-LB Connor Barwin, Cincinnati

When stalwart OLB Mike Vrabel was steered to Kansas City as part of the Matt Cassel deal, he left behind a football lifetime of triumphs and a formidable hole in New England’s starting defense.

Vrabel came to the Pats at the onset of their fateful 2001 season and placed an indelible mark on the franchise over the next eight years with tough, versatile play and a certified knack for The Moment. Sadly, these things don’t last forever.

Still, his surprising departure left Pats fans wondering who would replace him in New England’s starting lineup. It was about that time that Vic Carucci of nfl.com claimed that the Pats were close to exchanging this very pick, #34, for Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, the pass rushing all-pro and supposed “other shoe” in the Vrabel-Cassel deal.

Though Adam Schefter and others put an anchor on Carucci’s theory shortly afterward, many Pats fans still hold out hope for a dramatic pre-draft deal.  Those that don’t wait for former rival Jason Taylor, who is said to favor New England over, say, hosting E! Weekend.

We here in the Patriots Daily war room are skeptical about Peppers, and think Taylor might be a nice fit for the last run of the Oughts, but we can’t deal in conjecture. The draft meter is running.

So Barwin is our pick.  We like his athleticism and versatility; we like that he went from being the Bearcats’ best tight end to being their best defensive end in one season. We think that sounds like a quick study who is open to coaching, and that’s a good fit anywhere.

His speed (sub 4.5 40 at his workout), his toughness and mobility, his special teams prowess, and his potential for impact on both sides of the football – much like the man he’ll ostensibly “replace” -  just push him over the top. We’ll overlook the one-hit-wonder concerns (just one season as a DE) – and the double take we did in the direction of Connecticut tackle William Beatty – for the chance at a smart, coachable athlete who has produced at two positions of need.

Barwin has worked out for the Patriots and will visit the team early next week. Pats tight end coach Shane Waldron handled the private workout, hinting that the Patriots may be drafting player over position with the first of their three second-round picks. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t shock the PD War Room if Barwin was the Pats’ first round choice at pick 23.

St. Louis is on the clock.

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