Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
Everybody and their mothers has been screaming various opinions on the direction of the Patriots pick, assuming of course that they don't just trade it away. And rightfully so. There are various directions to go here, with talented players like Jace Amaro, Stephon Tuitt, Xavier Su'a-filo, Ryan Shazier, Demarcus Lawrence, etc. still on the board.
The Patriots made it to the AFC championship where they lost with Brady throwing (or trying to throw) deep balls to the likes of Matthew Slater. That would certainly seem to suggest that a WR or TE is the way to go. But the roster does still have Danny Amendola (when healthy), Rob Gronkowski (when healthy), Julian Edelman, and promising youngsters like Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. Not world beating and in definite need of reinforcement, but probably not need-to-pick-one-in-first-round apocalyptic. The Pats, much like the Saints, can probably afford to wait until round 2 or 3 to take someone to fill the need for receiving options.
Defensive line has been much talked about this offseason as well. Defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly are coming off of major injuries and on the wrong side of 30. The rest of the group is makeshift and was pieced together from scraps as 2013 went along. However, in that makeshift group, Sealver Siliga and Joe Vellano filled in admirably, and are set to provide quality depth this season. Defensive end is also a concern with Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich playing almost every snap last year. They did pretty well, combining for 19.5 sacks, but wore down as the year went along, with declines in production (especially Jones who only had 1 sack and 3 QB hits in the last 5 games of the regular season). A 3rd DE most certainly is in play, but whether it's a 1st round worthy need is debatable.
That said, the Patriots biggest need in interior offensive line. Getting back to the trenches on offense. Logan Mankins is 32, and Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly were erratic and disappointing last year. Connolly is a free agent after this year, not to mention he is 32 as well. The Patriots haven't been able to replace Dan Koppen and Stephen Neal. Brian Waters is gone as well. In short yardage situations, the YPC last year was half of what it was in 2008, which is not good, to say the least. The conversion rate of short yardage runs has also been consistently decreasing each year. And lest we forget the most important part of all, the Patriots' future HOF quarterback was sacked 40 times last year, which was the most he took since his first full season as a starter. That's unacceptable.
Enter Xavier Su'a-filo. He's a good athlete, with great agility and movement skills, as evidenced by his playing half the season at tackle, and doing so competently. He is an effective pass blocker, but can also move well in the run game. He has a strong anchor with great core strength and gets out of his stance well. As a team captain the last two years at UCLA, his intangibles are there as well. His weakness are noted, but not killer. He can stand to improve his technique and awareness, and he has relatively short arms.
Bottom line: All-Pac 12 First Team last year, Su'a-filo is arguably the second best guard prospect in the draft behind Zack Martin. In most rankings, he is tabbed as the best pure guard available. Some overzealous scouts have even compared him to Steve Hutchinson. Su'a-filo's athleticism sets him apart from the rest of the pack. He was a durable 3-year starter at UCLA, with great work ethic and leadership ability. His athletic ability, evidenced by a great Combine, and his technical versatility fit in well with the Patriots' ever-morphing offensive philosophies and diverse schemes. He's got the strength, athleticism, talent, and character. The Patriots tab him and solidify one of the spots on their interior line for years to come.
Thanks to all the CSC members who participated in this year's community mock draft. Without your help, none of this would be possible.
Below are the complete results from our community mock draft.
Catch up with all of the mock draft selections in our 2014 CSC Community Mock Draft Hub.
|Pick||Team||Selection||Team Representative||Approval Rating|
QB Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville
|2||St. Louis Rams||DE Jadeveon Clowney - South Carolina||Kevin Sean Held||57%|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||QB Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M||Alex Swift||59%|
|4||Cleveland Browns||WR Sammy Watkins - Clemson||Shadow Flash||80%|
|5||Oakland Raiders||LB Khalil Mack - Buffalo||Khannar||71%|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||OT Greg Robinson - Auburn||Dave Choate||80%|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||QB Blake Bortles - UCF||russty||31%|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||CB Justin Gilbert - Oklahoma St.||JackMarzullo||50%|
|9||Buffalo Bills||OT Jake Matthews - Texas A&M||Letloosethedogsofwar||88%|
|10||Detroit Lions||WR Mike Evans - Texas A&M||Monkey Poop Battle||49%|
|11||Tennessee Titans||LB Anthony Barr - UCLA||Lostastic||60%|
|12||NY Giants||TE Eric Ebron - UNC||Khannar||78%|
|13||St. Louis Rams||S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - Alabama||hooahsaint2.0||74%|
|14||Chicago Bears||NT Aaron Donald - Pittsburgh||BlackandGold4ever||82%|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||NT Louis Nix III - Notre Dame||saintmanumit||36%|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||DE Kony Ealy - Missouri||Ryan Edwards||63%|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||OT Taylor Lewan - Michigan||Tee Word||66%|
|18||NY Jets||CB Darqueze Dennard - Michigan State||Monkey Poop Battle||62%|
|19||Miami Dolphins||OL Zack Martin - Notre Dame||Letloosethedogsofwar||74%|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||QB Derek Carr - Fresno State||Alex Swift||72%|
|21||Green Bay Packers||S Calvin Pryor - Louisville||BlackandGold4ever||81%|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||WR Marqise Lee - USC||organictallman||66%|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||WR Brandin Cooks - Oregon St.||coldpizza||72%|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||DT Ra'Shede Hageman - Minnesota||coldpizza||59%|
|25||San Diego Chargers||WR Kelvin Benjamin - Florida St.||Lostastic||30%|
|26||Cleveland Browns||ILB C.J. Mosley - Alabama||Shadow Flash||59%|
|27||New Orleans Saints||CB Kyle Fuller - Virginia Tech||Dave Cariello|
|28||Carolina Panthers||WR Odell Beckham, Jr. - LSU||Ryan Edwards|
|29||New England Patriots||G Xavier Su'a-filo - UCLA||Shadow Flash|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||saintmanumit|
|31||Denver Broncos||Alex Swift|