1 (29) - Dominique Easley, DT, Florida; 2 (62) - Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois; 4 (105) Bryan Stork, OC, Florida State; 4 (130) - James White, RB, Wisconsin; 4 (140) - Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford; 6 (179) - Jon Halapio, OG, Florida; 6 (198) - Zach Moore, DE, Concordia; 6 (206) - Jemea Thomas, CB, Georgia Tech; 7 (244) Jeremy Gallon, WR, Michigan
Top Picks Analysis: The Patriots gambled and selected Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley with the 29th overall pick.
Easley is a top-10 talent with a history of significant knee problems playing a position which demands he carries a lot of weight on his 6-foot-2 frame. Easley tore both of his ACLs during his time in Gainesville, Fla., most recently damaging the ACL and meniscus in his right knee last September, cutting short was shaping up as a monster season for the Staten Island, N.Y., native.
Easley has always shown the kind of quick, active hands that are a staple of three-technique stars in the NFL and despite being "undersized" at 288 pounds has always been able to hold his own against the run thanks to impressive core and lower-body strength.
"He was a top 30 pick until he tore his ACL in September," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "He's quick and explosive. A lot of people felt like he was going to drop because of the ACL. This is a typical Bill Belichick pick. The rest of the league discounted his talent, but he'll be in training camp. The Patriots needed defensive linemen and this kid is gifted."
In the second round New England may have invested in the heir to Tom Brady's throne in Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady still has plenty of shelf life left but he is 36 and current backup Ryan Mallett will likely be moving on sooner rather than later.
"This kid's got a quick release, good arm and is very athletic," Mayock said of Garoppolo. "Tom Brady, at his age, and Ryan Mallett's uncertain status forces this pick. This is an insurance policy for an unknown future."
Best Value Pick: Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, the team's fourth-round pick from Stanford, fits very well into what the Patriots do offensively and could develop into a future starter on the right side of the offensive line.
Questionable Calls: Remember it isn't about one knee injury with Easley, we are at two and counting. If the Pats wanted help on the defensive line they could have looked at another player with an extremely high ceiling and no real injury history, RaShede Hageman.
Summary: Call this the risk/reward draft for New England. They could hit it big with Easley and Garoppolo or end up with nothing.
Final Grade: B-
Undrafted rookie free agent signings: TE Tyler Beck, Bowling Green; RB Roy Finch, Oklahoma; DL Micajah Reynolds, Michigan State; LB James Morris, Iowa; DB Travis Hawkins, Delaware; TE Justin Jones, East Carolina; DL Deylan Buntyn, N.C. State; OLB Cameron Gordon, Michigan; LS Tyler Ott, Harvard; TE Asa Watson, N.C. State; DT Seali'i Espensa, UCLA; WR Ja-Mes Logan, Ole Miss; RB Stephen Houston, Indiana; LB Deontae Skinner, Mississippi State; CB Malcolm Butler, West Alabama; S Jeremy Deering, Rutgers; LB Cameron Gordon, Michigan