New England Patriots: 5 Dark Horse 1st-Round Targets at 2014 NFL Draft

New England Patriots Look to Make a Spalsh at 2014 NFL Draft

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The New England Patriots have been very active this offseason, signing such players as Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Patrick Chung. Still, Bill Belichick and company still have a lot of work to do to become Super Bowl Champions in 2015, and they will need a great 2014 NFL Draft to reach this goal. Keeping this in mind, I have identified five dark horse first-round candidates the Patriots should and could go after.

5. Jimmie Ward

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5. Jimmie Ward

Jimmie Ward new england patriots
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New England ranked 30th in rushing yards allowed in 2013, and there is heavy talk that they will pick up a safety to remedy this issue. Enter Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward, who has great quickness, can slot in at cornerback or either safety spot and picked up seven interceptions and 95 tackles in 2013. Ward is expected to go in the early 20s, but if he slips to 29th, there is no doubting the Patriots will pounce.

4. Kelvin Benjamin

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4. Kelvin Benjamin

Kelvin Benjamin new england patriots
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Despite a ridiculous 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame, incredible vertical ability and strength to go with 1,011 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013, Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin is expected to slide to the second round. That is unless the Patriots make him the 29th pick in the draft, which wouldn't be a huge surprise considering they could use a WR-TE hybrid to line up opposite Rob Gronkowski. Keep Benjamin on your radar.

3. Calvin Pryor

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3. Calvin Pryor

Calvin Pryor new england patriots
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Calvin Pryor is another player that could help the Patriots at safety, although most expect him to go between picks 15-20. The reason for this is that Pryor has excellent size at 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, ran an sound 4.58 40-yard dash, and is a great tackler both at the line of scrimmage and off it. In 2013, Pryor picked up three interceptions and 71 tackles, and it wouldn't be surprising to see New England snap him up if he slips to 29.

2. Odell Beckham Jr

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2. Odell Beckham Jr

Odell Beckham Jr new england patriots
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Despite having Tom Brady on board, New England ranked 10th in the NFL in passing yards in 2013 with a lack of impact options at wide receiver holding the offense back. Enter Odell Beckham Jr., who ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, has the on-field quickness to back this up, is a great route runner and can return both punts and kickoffs. Few expect the Patriots to pick up the former LSU Tiger, but he does look like a perfect fit for the organization.

1. Johnny Manziel

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1. Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel new england patriots
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Tom Brady is going to be 37 in August, and there have been whispers of the Patriots getting a replacement sooner rather than later. Johnny Manziel looks like a good option to be this man, as he has already interviewed with Belichick, has a huge arm and could use with some seasoning to move away from relying on running the ball. New England will surely have to trade up to get Manziel, but I wouldn't put it past them to pull off this stunner.


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