With nine picks in the 2014 NFL draft, the New England Patriots shook up the depth chart at several positions. Most notably, their selection of three offensive linemen should shake up a fair share of training camp battles.
Now seems as good a time as any to give my perspective on the depth chart as it stands today.
I have not included any of the 15 undrafted free agents the Patriots can sign, but will update when the team announces those signings.
Free agent signings are red, draft picks are blue. I'll follow up with some thoughts.
Some thoughts on the depth chart as it stands:
— Deepest position on the roster: cornerback, though it's no surprise given the team's aggressive approach to free agency. Georgia Tech cornerback Jemea Thomas could factor in at safety, as well. Belichick said he has the ability to work at all three spots, so Thomas' position could change from week to week.
— The positions most lacking depth: linebacker and tight end. Most of the best tight ends were taken off the board by the time the Patriost went on the clock in the second round, with Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Buccaneers), Jace Amaro (Jets), and Troy Niklas (Falcons) all being removed from the board.
—My personal favorite pick of the draft: Dominique Easley. I can get over the two torn ACLs. In this day and age, it's become easier to recover from that injury. When healthy, Easley has the potential to have a J.J. Watt-like impact on the defense. He has good functional strength, especially for a smaller than usual defensive tackle (6-2, 288 pounds). The Patriots are looking for a new breed of inside presence, and weren't necessarily in the market for a Vince Wilfork clone to assume the mantle. A 4-3 front needs at least one defensive tackle that can capitalize on one-on-one matchups. That's what Easley brings to the table.
— It's going to be real interesting to watch the training camp battle at wide receiver. Looks like at least one familiar name is going home. The way I see it, if you can only keep five (not including Matthew Slater, who is a specialist for all intents and purposes): Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Brandon LaFell are the ones to keep.
— Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio listed defensive line, running back and wide receiver as the deepest positions in the draft. The Patriots came away with at least one player at all three positions. File that one under "p" for "probably not a coincidence."