With the 29th pick in Pride Of Detroit's 2013 NFL mock draft, the New England Patriots select Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short. TjwGOblue is serving as the Patriots' general manager, and his reasoning for the pick is below.
How do you improve a team that has won its division for 10 out of the past 12 years? A team that has averaged 12 wins in the same span? Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are arguably the greatest winning combination in the history of the NFL but have come up short (at least in the eyes of Patriots fans) in their past seven trips to the playoffs. So where to begin?
I started with identifying the team needs and narrowed it down to three: deep-threat wide receiver, secondary depth and pass rush help. Once I had these three in my head, I began doing some research on the Belichick-Patriots draft history to give myself an idea of if he tends to draft certain positions. After that, I asked the good folks at Pats Pulpit to give me an idea and they gave me the Belichick draft MUSTS when identifying talent: avoid immaturity, combine freaks, undersized players and inconsistent motor. Target guys with a mix of consistent college production, character, leadership, instinctiveness and physicality.
I eliminated the idea of drafting a deep-threat wide receiver. Belichick has only ever drafted one WR in the first round (back in his Cleveland Browns days), and that was with the 29th pick. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, right? Plus the Pats have made some solid veteran WR free-agent signings and are trying to grab Emmanuel Sanders from Pittsburgh.
Looking at the Patriots secondary, they're in better shape but could use some depth. Belichick only ever drafts guys who can contribute immediately with his first-round picks, and I don't think any of the secondary prospects available would be able to step in and contribute. This is, however, contingent on whether Alfonzo Dennard goes to jail, but I don't know the results of the trial quite yet. That left me with pass rush help.
The Pats drafted Chandler Jones last year, finally giving them a legitimate 10-15 sacks threat on the end. Bill has a big man crush on Rob Ninkovich because of his versatility. With Jermaine Cunningham coming back from injury, the Pats are looking okay at defensive end, and I still think there is good talent later on in this draft and free agency.
That leaves me with the defensive tackle position, which is an underrated position to have pass rush help. Vince Wilfork is a beast and often commands two or three defenders on him. Tommy Kelly is a definite upgrade for the position, but both these guys are on the wrong end of 30 at a physically demanding position. Both Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick are on the last year of their contracts and look like better depth players than starters. So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Kawann Short.
A four-year starter at Purdue, Short's career stats speak for themselves: 185 career tackles, 49.5 tackles for a loss and 18 sacks. College production? Check. He has no known dust-ups in college. Character? Check. Short was a two-time defensive captain, elected by his teammates. Leadership? Check. Scouting websites have raved about his ability to sniff out screens, draws and misdirections, as well as his ability to hold the line of scrimmage. If you watch his game tapes, he is a mini-Wilfork out there, often commanding double and triple teams. Instincts and physicality? Check and check.
The only "no-no" on the Belichick checklist is that some scouts have questioned his consistency and motor. After further research, I don't think it will be an issue once he is on the Patriots. Purdue is not a very good program in a tough conference. When you are the only difference maker on the defense, it's easy for teams to game plan around you and is probably incredibly frustrating to continue to play into the fourth quarter when your team is getting blown out. Short showed up 15 pounds lighter to the combine than his listed college weight, so I think he is motivated and ready to compete at the highest level with adequate talent around him. I think with Short starting next to Wilfork, and with a rotation of Kelly, Love and Deaderick, the DT position has instantly become a strength for this defense.
While I think this would be a great pick for the Pats, this is your classic trade down spot for Bill. I do not think anyone would be surprised to see them trade this pick and not even pick anyone in the first round, but with Belichick, you never really know.
Sorry for rambling, everyone. I hope it was at least a somewhat enjoyable read. Go Lions!
Check out the 2013 Pride Of Detroit Community Mock Draft tracker for a look at all of the picks.