New England Patriots' 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMay 10, 2014

New England Patriots' 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

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    The New England Patriots are hoping QB Jimmy Garoppolo (above) will not make any major contributions to the team for a little while.
    The New England Patriots are hoping QB Jimmy Garoppolo (above) will not make any major contributions to the team for a little while.Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots were on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, but with their nine picks over the weekend, they chose to take the long view to keeping their franchise successful rather than the short view to get over the hump and win now.

    That could mean we'll be talking about this draft as one of the bigger success stories in a few years, after these players have had an opportunity to develop and finally get their crack at a starting job. It could also mean we'll be talking about this class in terms of what could have been and the possibility that none of these players have made major contributions to the team in a year or two.

    They clearly identified their needs as the defensive and offensive lines, with trench players accounting for five of the nine picks total. Will those players find a fit in New England, or will they spend the majority of their career on the sideline?

    Here's a look at the good, bad and baffling from the Patriots' 2014 draft haul.

List of All 2014 Draft Selections

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    Dominique Easley, DT (Round 1, pick No. 29)

    Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Round 2, pick No. 62)

    Bryan Stork, C (Round 4, pick No. 105)

    James White, RB (Round 4, pick No. 130)

    Cameron Fleming, OT (Round 4, pick No. 140)

    Jon Halapio, OG (Round 6, pick No. 179)

    Zach Moore, DE (Round 6, pick No. 198)

    Jemea Thomas, CB (Round 6, pick No. 206)

    Jeremy Gallon, WR (Round 7, pick No. 244)

The Good

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    The Patriots made Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo (middle) their second-round selection.
    The Patriots made Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo (middle) their second-round selection.Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    Dominique Easley, DT (Round 1, pick No. 29)

    Two surgically repaired ACLs make Easley an injury question mark, but there is no denying his ability when healthy. The Patriots absolutely needed a player with his skill set to penetrate the offensive line and make plays in the backfield, but now their depth chart at defensive tackle is loaded with players who have health issues.

    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick repeatedly called Easley a "disruptive" defender, and the Patriots have assembled a wrecking crew three-man rotation with Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, who are both closer to the end of their careers than the beginning.

     

    Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (Round 2, pick No. 62)

    By selecting Garoppolo, the Patriots made sure to stay ahead of the curve with regard to finding and developing the quarterback of the future.

    At the very least, he is insurance on Ryan Mallett, who is a free agent after 2014. Garoppolo is not known for his physical tools, but he has a quick release, quick eyes to read a defense and he throws well in rhythm. Learning from Brady for a few years could be the best thing that happens to him.

     

    Bryan Stork, C (Round 4, pick No. 105)

    The Patriots needed depth on the interior of the offensive line. They signed Ryan Wendell to a two-year deal this offseason, and Dan Connolly is under contract for 2014, but the Patriots could still be looking to upgrade at either spot for the long term.

    Stork was an All-American and winner of the Rimington Trophy for best center in the nation. He is not considered a dominating physical interior lineman, but he has the movement skills to operate well in space and in a zone-blocking scheme.

     

    James White, RB (Round 4, pick No. 130)

    The Patriots will have to make some big decisions on the futures of Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley with the franchise over the next nine months. Adding James White to the mix gives them one option if they choose to move in another direction. He has fumbled only twice on his 754 career touches, and he is versatile to contribute on special teams and as a blocker in the passing game. 

     

    Zach Moore, DE (Round 6, pick No. 198)

    At 6'6" and 269 pounds, Zach Moore is an explosive prospect in the front seven and has some positional versatility to play inside or outside, but his true position remains a question mark. If the Patriots can develop his physical traits and find his positional fit, he could be a very valuable pick.

    He doesn't have experience against top competition and will need to add some strength if he's to hold up against NFL competition. For now, he could fill a number of needs as a rotational player in the defensive front.

The Bad

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    Stanford T Cameron Fleming (left) may not see time unless the Patriots have an injury.
    Stanford T Cameron Fleming (left) may not see time unless the Patriots have an injury.TONY AVELAR/Associated Press

    Cameron Fleming, OT (Round 4, pick No. 140)

    It seems that the Patriots seek out a versatile offensive lineman each year in the draft. The 6'5", 323-pound Fleming could see time on the inside, but he has never played the position. He could be injury insurance for Sebastian Vollmer, who has missed 19 games in the past three seasons, but then he won't see time on the field for quite some time.

     

    Jemea Thomas, CB (Round 6, pick No. 206)

    Did the Patriots really need another cornerback? They spent plenty of resources on the position in free agency, and there may not be enough room to keep everyone. Thomas has some position versatility to play safety, so he could figure into the mix there, but he is a bit undersized for safety (or even corner) at 5'9" and 192 pounds.

The Baffling

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    The Patriots already have a surplus of small slot receivers, but added Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon (above), who stands 5'7" and 185 pounds.
    The Patriots already have a surplus of small slot receivers, but added Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon (above), who stands 5'7" and 185 pounds.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Jon Halapio, OG (Round 6, pick No. 179)

    Yet another player with a checkered injury history, Halapio has the potential to be a solid backup and could even push Dan Connolly or the starting spot at right guard (where he started 43 games with the Gators).

    It's interesting, (or should I say, "baffling") that they would look to replace one injury-prone guard with another, but the Patriots can take solace in knowing that Halapio will most likely play through whatever injuries he suffers; he played through an 80 percent tear in his pectoral muscle.

     

    Jeremy Gallon, WR (Round 7, pick No. 244)

    The Patirots have a surplus of undersized wide receivers on the roster. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola have both battled injuries throughout their careers, but the Patriots could probably have served themselves better with someone bigger than the 5'7", 185- pound Jeremy Gallon. In picking the undersized receiver, the Patriots also passed up on drafting a tight end, where they have a need.