The Patriots won’t be making a pick in the draft until the second round, meaning the prospects they’ll be looking at will be greatly affected. As the combine approaches, the Patriots have a ton of needs they need to address, and will be looking at this year’s class of incoming players to address some of the problems. Here are 3 players the Patriots should be watching in the combine with their first pick in mind:
- Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech: There is no doubt that the Patriots offensive line was horrible this year, especially down the stretch. That’s where Le’raven Clark could make a huge impact. Coming out of Texas Tech, he has three All Big 12 seasons and has started all four years for the Red Raiders. He will fit into the Patriots pass first offense thanks to Texas Tech’s air raid attack. Clark is already a skilled pass blocker and can play as either a guard or tackle in the NFL. Right now, he is projected to go in the late second or early third round, putting him in a great place for the Patriots to draft him and strengthen their line.
- Dominique Alexander, ILB, Oklahoma: With Jerod Mayo retiring, depth at linebacker becomes a big need for the Patriots defense. Dominique Alexander started at middle linebacker for the Big 12’s best defense and showed off a skill set that will fit the Patriots well. Alexander is undersized, coming in at only 6’0” and 224 lbs, but has elite speed for the position and covers very well, making him a potential three down player. He also has shown that he’s capable in the run game by consistently beating running backs to the edge and evading blockers to stop inside runs at the line of scrimmage. He could play outside linebacker if ever needed. He’s an early third round prospect, but it would not be crazy for the Patriots to take him in the late second round.
- Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: The Patriots will most likely not re-sign LeGarrette Blount this offseason and are in desperate need of a run game. The Heisman winner could make a huge impact for the Patriots’ offense immediately. He has the ability to run through most defenders in the NFL and has shown the speed to break off long runs. He could bring some much needed power to New England’s rushing attack and, in a best case scenario, they could be getting an every down back. Depending on how he performs on the Combine, he may slide down right to the Patriots and become an impact player next year.