Patriots focus on balance with 2016 draft picks

The 2016 NFL Draft is in the books, and despite not having a first-round pick, the Patriots found plenty of talent. In all, New England made nine picks, selecting five offensive players and four on defense. Here’s a look at their picks.

2nd Round, Pick 60: Cyrus Jones, DB, Alabama

He might be small, but Cyrus Jones is going to impress Patriots fans. His coverage skills are impressive and he plays bigger than his size. Jones has incredible speed and was a tremendous punt returner at Alabama. But he will be a liability against bigger receivers because of his size (5-foot-10).

3rd Round, Pick 78: Joe Thuney, OL, North Carolina State

Coach Bill Belichick must have seen something he liked at NC State, taking the first of two Wolfpack players here in the third round. Thuney projects better as a guard than a tackle, which could be problematic given tackle is a bigger need for the Pats, but his versatility could be helpful, and there’s a chance he could even find a fit at center. Thuney likely won’t start right away but could eventually be a cornerstone for the offensive line.

3rd Round, Pick 91: Jacoby Brissett, QB, North Carolina State

Weird, right? Tom Brady’s impending four-game suspension clearly established a need for the Patriots to find a backup QB to Jimmy Garoppolo, but the timing was interesting. Still, Brissett was an effective passer at NC State, has the size to succeed and can make plays with his feet. But he’s widely regarded as a project.

3rd Round, Pick 96: Vincent Valentine, DL, Nebraska

At 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, Valentine is in the mold of Vince Wilfork, though opinions varied on his talent level. He’s clearly a player who can thrive in the right system and flop if he’s used in a way that doesn’t fit his skill set.

4th Round, Pick 112: Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia

He’s not flashy, but Mitchell is a steady, reliable receiver with good hands. Mitchell was a highly touted recruit out of high school but battled knee injuries in college. It could be a high-upside selection for the Patriots, who truthfully don’t have a great track record in drafting wideouts.

6th Round, Pick 208: Kamu Grugier-Hill, DB, Eastern Illinois

It’s the second undersized defensive back the Patriots selected (between these two and Malcolm Butler, we’re sensing a trend). Grugier-Hill will likely be a contributor on special teams early on.

6th Round, Pick 214: Elandon Roberts, LB, Houston

His senior year was a bit of a coming out party for Roberts – he had 88 tackles last season. This is another player who will likely make his mark on special teams for the Patriots.

6th Round, pick 221: Ted Karras, OL, Illinois

Karras started all four years for the Illini, though he did have injury issues at the college level. If he’s healthy he’s a good depth lineman.

7th Round, Pick 225: Devin Lucien, WR, Arizona State

Lucien was very productive for the Sun Devils until a hamstring injury limited his play – he had more than 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he’s actually bigger than most of the Patriots’ WRs, but his route running ability has been questioned.

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