Todd McShay of ESPN's Scouts Inc., unveils the fourth version of his mock draft (Insider content) and it goes two rounds deep. He envisions a scenario where the Patriots come away with the following four players:
No. 17 -- DE J.J. Watt (Wisconsin)
No. 28 -- OLB Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
No. 33 -- RB Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)
No. 60 -- OT/OG Marcus Cannon (Texas Christian)
Of landing Kerrigan at No. 28, McShay writes, "He's not athletic enough to play on the outside in every 3-4 scheme but the Patriots like bigger, stronger outside linebackers who can get after the quarterback and Kerrigan has the instincts and motor to thrive in New England's system. The Patriots need to upgrade their pass rush and Kerrigan can do that."
ANALYSIS: This type of first round could be a bonanza for the Patriots -- getting help on the defensive line with Watt (he could be a long-term option at either end spot in the 3-4) as well as the pass rush with Kerrigan (few players in this draft are more disrurptive). Whether Kerrigan plays outside linebacker or not in the 3-4, he could immediately be a factor as a pass rusher on third down, where the Patriots ranked 32nd in the NFL last season. The Patriots often take themselves out of the mix for some of the draft's best rushers because those players are often 4-3 ends, but maybe it's time to rethink that strategy. In drafting Kerrigan, it would signal a shift of sorts along those lines. As for Williams, he noted at the Combine that he had just a few pass protections in college. That could be a concern for the Patriots, who rely heavily on their backs in pass protection and have a lot of calls in their offensive playbook.