2014 NFL mock draft: DE Stephon Tuitt to New England Patriots with 29th pick

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With the 29th pick in the 2014 Arrowhead Pride mock draft, New England Patriots GM death2norm selects...

Given the way this draft board has fallen, It's hard to say where the Patriots should go with their pick. If Bill Belichick was making this pick there is no doubt in my mind that he would be trading down with whoever he could. The top talent still left on the board simply doesn't align with the Patriots team needs.

The Patriots biggest needs:

Tight end

When Rob Gronkowski is healthy he is a beast-you can bet he is gonna be the best player on the field for a few weeks each year ... and then he will break his arm, or leg or tear an ACL. That's not to say he won't stay healthy this year, just that he can't be counted on to stay healthy. The Patriots offense looks unstoppable when they have two solid tight ends on the field and there is no doubt the Pats will be looking to add at that position at some point in this draft. Doing so at pick No. 29 is almost certainly a reach however.

Draft candidates:

1. Austin Seferian-Jenkins 6'5, 262 pounds

Pretty quick for a tight end with great size and strength. Not a great blocker but always produced in the passing game. Set several tight end receiving records at Washington. Might be character concerns as he was arrested for DUI in early 2013. Declared for draft after his junior year so he is still young. Pre-Combine many had him rated as a first round prospect.

Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3

2. Jace Amaro 6'5, 265 pounds

Joker tight end that fits the Patriots tight end mold. This guy is never going to be a run blocker. If the Patriots draft this guy you can expect them to put him in the slot and use him as a big bodied receiver (similar to Gronk). Amaro's production was insane! 106 receptions 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns. Another guy that declared for the draft after his junior year.

Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3

It seems like a lot of Pats fans also love Troy Niklas out of Notre Dame but he is just not a first round option to me.

Interior linemen

This line group is average at best with almost no depth. It is obvious they will address this in the draft but would they really reach on a third round rated center to simply fill needs.

Draft Candidates:

Who am I kidding? There just aren't any linemen left with first round grades. There is no question that there is still tons of interior line talent available, just not anyone worth the pick here. The Pats will look to address this need with their second or third round pick. They really need a new center and guys like Travis Swanson, Marcus Martin and Weston Richburg should all be available when they pick in the third round (or later). Barring a trade down, I just don't see o-line being the pick. It's certainly one of, if not the biggest need on their roster but the Patriots did not become perennial contenders by reaching on draft day.

Defensive End / Defensive Tackle

There is a great write-up on Pats Pulpit that shows just how little depth they have on their defensive line.

Chandler Jones led all defensive ends in regular season snaps with 1,142 snaps or 97.9 percent of 1,166 possible snaps. Rob Ninkovich was second with 1,114 or 95.5 percent of possible snaps. Behind those two guys they really don't have much. I'm not sold on their starters let alone the depth along that line. It is apparent that they must do something to address this somewhere in the draft. The question remains whether there is someone on the board worthy of such a high pick?

Draft Candidates:

1. Demarcus Lawrence DE 6'3, 251 pounds

Explosive tackler, impact player throughout college with great production. Lacks the size to be an every down hand on the ground defensive end. Probably more suited to play outside linebacker in the 3-4, which the Pats run. Would be a great fit for a traditional 4-3 team.

Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2

2. Ra'Shede Hageman DT 6'6, 310 pounds

Strong, tall defensive tackle converted from high school tight end. Lacks college production and is seen by most as a raw player that will need coached up. Hard to pass up his size and strength. Was red-shirted so will come into the league as a 24 year old rookie. I think this will play a big role in him slipping a bit in the draft. Hard to pass on his size but when comparing to similarly ranked players who are three years younger it certainly becomes a factor.

Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2

2. Louis Nix NT 6'2, 331 pounds

This dude is practically a Vince Wilfork clone. Just a giant mass of man to clog up the middle. Would most likely be ranked higher had he been able to come out after his sophomore year. He struggled to live up to his sophomore season numbers and struggled with injuries throughout his junior season until he was finally shut down in November requiring surgery to repair a torn meniscus. To me, Nix is just not a prospect I would be interested in. Relies on size to be in the right place at the right time. Good tackler but that's about all your would be getting with your first round selection.

Draft Projection: Rounds 2-3

3. Stephon Tuitt DE 6'5, 304 pounds

Prototypical 5-tech guy. Has some room to grow as an edge rusher. Doesn't bend the edge terribly well at this point but has the size you want in a player at that position. Pulled out of the scouting Combine after x-rays showed he had a fracture in his left foot. The surgery to fix that fracture prevented him from working out during his pro day. Had he been able to work out, I believe this guy would have been long gone by the time the Patriots pick comes around,

Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2

Wild Cards

There are a few players I think the Pats would be interested in due to perceived value or to fill holes on the roster (current or in the near future).

1. Kelvin Benjamin WR 6'5, 240 pounds

Amazing size with insane 83-inch wingspan. Benjamin is a mismatch regardless of his place on the field. Had started this write-up thinking he was simply a physically gifted receiver that lacked production ... not so. His stat line in 2013- 54 receptions, 1,011 yards, 15 touchdowns. That's practically 20 yards per catch and all those touchdowns!

All that said, he played in one of the best offenses in the country so someone had to catch those passes. He is not slow but lacks elite level speed. Great jump ball catcher (duh he is 6'5). Not the best hands and doesn't run great routes. His height also allows him to play a role very similar to what Amaro and Jenkins would give you while allowing for a bit more versatility down the road.

When I started thinking about team needs for the Pats, wide receiver popped in my head almost right away, but once I looked at their recent drafts and the current roster it makes it a bit more difficult to justify spending a first round pick on a receiver. They drafted two wide receivers last year that they thought quite highly of and have Danny Amendola and converted quarterback Julian Edelman as their starters. So its a crowded group, not a great group, but a crowded one. Pre-Combine many had him as their third highest ranked received but has slipped after people had a chance to watch his tape.

Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2

2. Derek Carr QB 6'2, 214 pounds

If this guy played at a better school and had a different last name there is no doubt in my mind that he would be long gone by the time the Pats pick. But he played at Fresno State and his brother was a former first overall pick who many consider to be a huge bust that set the Texans franchise back before they even played their first game. At 6'2, he has decent size but not great. Small hands and played against inferior competition. Took most of his snaps from shotgun or pistol and ran a spread offense. Great at the intermediate throws but can overthrow his receivers on occasion.

That's pretty much where the negatives stop. Dude put up monster numbers (inflated by the offense he ran but still), is a sneaky athlete that can elude sacks and roll the pocket with ease, gunslinger type quarterback with a great arm. This guy honestly reminds me a lot of Alex Smith when he came out of college but Carr probably possess a better arm and lacks some of the football IQ Alex brings to a team. Does Belichick draft Tom Brady's heir apparent in the first round?

Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2

3. C.J. Mosley ILB 6'2, 234 pounds

Highest rated player still on the board. Would be a huge value pick. Great instincts to match great production in one of the best conference in the country. Great character and possesses a great football IQ. Tended to get banged up in college but didn't let it keep him out of games. Good leader that can command a defense. Lacks the coverage skills to turn and run with slot receivers and tight ends. His size means he can probably play any of the linebacker positions if you needed him to. If I was drafting simply best player available at this spot then Mosley would be my pick no questions asked. That said, inside linebacker is just not a need for this team so I'm having a problem justifying this pick.

Draft Projection: Round 1

So yeah ... confused yet? Once you get to the bottom of the first round it gets really difficult to decide where you want to go. It's one of those times where you have to either trust your board or go with your gut and hope the guy you get can have a positive impact on your team in year one. That's where i'm pretty much at -- which one of these guys can help me win next season?

With the 29th Pick in the first round, the New England Patriots select..

Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt

Stats don't lie ... or do they? The Patriots desperately need a third defensive end to add to the rotation. Tuitt has great size and can be worked into the rotation slowly and eventually take over one of the starting roles. I really struggled with this pick, The thought of taking Benjamin really intrigued me because I think Tom Brady would make the kid a monster in the slot. I just couldn't justify the pick given their current roster. I still think they need a big body guy somewhere in this draft and another name to take a flyer on in the later rounds is Brandon Coleman from Rutgers. Actually taller at 6'6 but lacks the production and has a super small frame for his size. Would love to see this guy wearing Chiefs red as well.

So to wrap this up I present you with my full Pats mock so you can see how the holes get filled after taking Tuitt in the first.

Round 1 Pick 29: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

Round 2 Pick 30: Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame-Both Amaro and Jenkins were still available when I picked here but I think both will actually be gone so picked the next best tight end.

Round 3 Pick 29: Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State - Think he could plug in as a day one starter for this team.

Round 4 Pick 30: Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers - I mentioned it earlier, this guy has freak size but is super raw.

Round 4 Pick 40 (COMP): Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia-Don't know if he will still be on the board or not but would be a good fit here.

Round 6 Pick 22: Seantrel Henderson, OT, Miami (Fla.) Giant lineman that will need to work on his technique to become something at the next level. Good depth.

Round 6 Pick 30: James White, RB, Wisconsin - This guy seems to be a late round projection wherever I go. Not great measurables but if you have ever watched him play then you know he can run the rock.

Round 7 Pick 29: Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT, Brigham Young- Will be a 25 year old rookie so he falls this far. Think he could be a solid player.

  1. Houston Texans (kuchiefs13) - South Carolina DE / LB Jadeveon Clowney
  2. St. Louis Rams (chiefsman7588) - Auburn OT Greg Robinson
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Steve The Hedge) - Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
  4. Cleveland Browns (NigerianNightmare) - Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
  5. Oakland Raiders (seein'red) - Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
  6. Atlanta Falcons (chiefstruelove) - Texas A&M WR Mike Evans
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (kswanson) - North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
  8. Minnesota Vikings (kcsno56) - Buffalo OLB Khalil Mack
  9. Buffalo Bills (Aesthist) - Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
  10. Detroit Lions (BuckTheFroncos) - Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert
  11. Tennessee Titans (mrchiefs101) - Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
  12. New York Giants (Akr_baby) - Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
  13. St. Louis Rams (chiefsman7588) - Louisville S Calvin Pryor
  14. Chicago Bears (Ben Mitchum) - Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers (SacramentoDrew) - Texas A&M LT Jake Matthews
  16. Dallas Cowboys (LocoGonzo) - Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan
  17. Baltimore Ravens (Ben S) - Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
  18. New York Jets (Kdub64) - Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks
  19. Miami Dolphins (SayHeyWerd) - Notre Dame OT/G Zack Martin
  20. Arizona Cardinals (Koopaztown) - Auburn DE Dee Ford
  21. Green Bay Packers (kaiser1118) - UCLA LB Anthony Barr
  22. Philadelphia Eagles (Matt in KC) - LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.
  23. Kansas City Chiefs (R2J) - USC WR Marqise Lee
  24. Cincinnati Bengals (Robert Mayes) - Mizzou DE Kony Ealy
  25. San Diego Chargers (TheDudeAbides007) - Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
  26. Cleveland Browns (NigerianNightmare) - UCLA G Xavier Su'a-Filo
  27. New Orleans Saints (BeeRadd) - Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
  28. Carolina Panthers (citadelchief) - Virginia OT/G Morgan Moses
  29. New England Patriots (death2norm) - Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
  30. San Francisco 49ers (Smitty713)
  31. Denver Broncos (craig in calgary)
  32. Seattle Seahawks (misterbrain)
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