Your list of preferred Patriots picks for 2014

Your list of preferred Patriots picks for 2014
May 8, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Fits and value. Value and fits. The Patriots 2014 draft is going to be shaped by what goes on around them. That’s just the way it is when you’re slotted at 29, 62, 95 in the first three rounds. The Patriots will be in “best player available” mode and the best player in their estimation is – quite often – different from the ones draft experts have been carnival barking for the past three months.

With that in mind, what do we know about the Patriots historic preferences? They love production. Proof a player has done things. They like to see good performances on tape against NFL-bound competition. They like players at the top of the draft from bigger conferences (2013’s class being an exception). They like team captains and good leaders. They like quick feet. They like nastiness and versatility. They like special teams ability. They like being able to get recommendations from coaches who know how they operate and what they value.

Here are a group of players that have checkmarks in many of those categories who would seem to be excellent fits for the Patriots.

Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
Projected: Second or third-round pick

A 6-5, 250-pounder who had 25 sacks and 41 tackles for loss in 2012 and ’13 combined. Team captain with a massive hands, 34-inch arms and a 35-inch vertical. He had the best time in the three-cone drill at the Combine among outside linebackers and can play up or down. No injury issues.

Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
Projected: First-round pick

A 6-1, 237-pounder with awesome speed, quickness, explosiveness and production (249 tackles in his sophomore and junior seasons combined). Runs a 4.4. 40. Tremendous in coverage and pursuit. Team captain for Urban Meyer at OSU. No injury issues.

Allen Robinson,WR, Penn State
Projected: Second or third-round pick

A 6-3, 220-pounder who’s just 20 years old until August. Caught 174 balls in his final two years at Penn State playing for former Patriots OC Bill O’Brien in a pro-style offense. Shows good physicality. No injury issues.

Deonne Bucannon, S, Washington State
Projected: Second-round pick

A 6-1, 211-pounder and three-time captain for the Cougars. Led the Pac-12 in interceptions and plays on all special teams. Had 220 tackles his final two seasons and hits like a mule kick. Doesn’t miss games.

Brock Vereen, S/NCB, Minnesota
Projected: Fourth-round pick

A 5-11, 199-pound free safety/nickel corner and brother of Patriots running back Shane Vereen. Great leader and worker who is a special teams weapon and can play both corner and safety. Very intelligent and savvy reader of offenses. Runs a 4.47. Doesn’t miss games.

A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Projected: Second or third-round pick

A 6-3, 220-pounder who quarterbacked Nick Saban’s Alabama team to back-to-back BCS National Championships. Four-year starter and mature leader who is accurate and smart on short and intermediate balls and understands how to play in big games and that the quarterback position is about making the right play as often as possible, not the sexy one. Team captain who went 36-4 as a starter.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Projected: Third-round pick

A 5-11, 230-pounder who ran for 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns his final season at BC. Smart, competitive, highly productive, very respected pounder. Had some injury issues as sophomore and junior. Runs well in traffic and understands pass protection.

Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Projected: Second or third-round pick

A 6-4, 302-pounder who will likely switch to guard in the NFL. Plays fast and mean. Incredible footspeed for a man his size. Can play anywhere on the offensive line. Very professional demeanor and a team captain who never missed a game for Wolfpack.

CJ Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Projected: Third or fourth-round pick

A 6-6, 265-pounder from Iowa where he played under Kirk Ferentz and was tutored by tight ends coach D.J. Hernandez, brother of Aaron. Solid blocker, huge target with smooth athleticism and ability to take on contact.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Projected: Late first or early second-round pick

A 6-5, 240-pounder with an 83-inch wingspan who played in all 28 games for the Seminoles over the past two seasons and made the game-winning catch in the BCS National Championship Game. Goes up to high-point the ball and plays with physicality. Would be a fascinating combo with Rob Gronkowski.

Dominique Easley, DL, Florida
Projected: Second or third-round pick

A 6-2, 288-pound interior lineman who is coming off ACL injuries to both knees. Very explosive player (ligaments included, apparently) who was a team captain and extremely hard worker. It has been opined that, if not for the injuries, he’d be a top-five pick.