5 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters for New England Patriots
New England Patriots Look to Reload Heading Into 2014
For most teams a 12-4 regular season and trip to the AFC Championship game would be a great season, but the New England Patriots are not most organizations. With Bill Belichick at the helm and Tom Brady playing quarterback, the expectation for the Patriots is always going to be a Super Bowl championship even if they haven't won it since 2004.
During the 2013 season this run to win it all was ultimately limited by the absence of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski which severely limited the options for Brady to throw to. Additionally, Belichick was apparently not able to find any wide receivers who were over 6-foot to aid getting over the loss of these two physically imposing and extremely talented tight ends. The end result of this was that Brady threw for his least amount of passing yards since 2010, and at times he looked like a lost man.
Moving onto the defensive end of the ball things were not always rosy for the Patriots either. They had a general inability to stop the rush and ultimately ranked 30th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. This inability to stop the run didn't truly come back to bite New England very often, but it is certainly something that could easily be addressed -- and will be knowing Belichick.
As is normally the way of the Patriots, the NFL Draft will be used to go about fixing the lack of options for Brady and the porous run defense they had in 2013. Keeping this in mind, I have identified five draft prospects who would instantly become starters in New England and would help solve the team's issues from 2013.
5. Brandon Coleman
Brandon Coleman looks to have the typical fit of a Bill Belichick late round pick who turns into an All-Pro player and everyone looks around in amazement. At 6-foot-6, 220-pounds, Coleman has astounding size, and despite not being especially quick he does have great vertical ability to be an option on the outside. Additionally, Belichick tends to be quite fond of Rutgers products, making Coleman a likely selection in rounds 4-6.
4. Andre Williams
Despite rushing for more than 2000 yards over the last two seasons at Boston College, Andre Williams sits in the fourth round on most NFL Draft boards. This would make him a low risk pick for the Patriots who could use the physicality, durability and overall ability to find and hit holes in their backfield. Williams would have to fight for carries with Stevan Ridley, but he is rather streaky so this is a competition Williams could win.
3. Jace Amaro
Jace Amaro thrived in the wide open offense of Texas Tech during the 2013 season, compiling 106 receptions, 1352 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, 260-pounds, the tight end has prototypical NFL size, and his ability to find space and run after the catch makes him a perfect fit for the Patriots' system. Picking him up at the end of the first round and teaming him up with Gronkowski in 2014 would again give Brady two great options at tight end which would open up the field for wide receivers as well.
2. Ra'Shede Hageman
Ra'Shede Hageman is an absolute behemoth of a human being. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle has the size, quickness and strength to become an All-Pro at the NFL level. This mix of tools didn't always come out on the field for the Minnesota Gophers, and as a result Hageman is expected to go in the second round. If there is one thing Belichick likes it is a projectable player, and with a little fine tuning Hageman could become a starter and the defensive rush presence the Patriots need.
1. Kelvin Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin has the potential to become the dominant wideout that Tom Brady has never had. Blessed with 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame, great vertical ability and the quickness to find time and space on the field, Benjamin looks like a future star in the NFL. Still, he is a realistic option for the Patriots late in the first-round and would be a guaranteed starter in 2014.