Did the Patriots take too big of a risk drafting Dominique Easley at #29 given his injury history?
Rick: I don’t think this is as big of a risk as most people think. For one, Easley is a long-term guy considering the age that is on this defensive line with Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Easley is very athletic and can get into the opposing backfield. This is a player that without the two ACL surgeries, that would have likely been picked higher in the first round. It was a nice change of pace to see the Patriots use that pick in the 1st Round rather than trade it back and pass on the high risk, high talent guy. Plus, the Patriots did have a need on the defensive line heading into the season. Let’s see if Easley can learn from some of the veterans and be an impact player both now and in future years.
Jason: For a team that has suffered mightily with injuries the past two years (last year especially), it is a huge gamble to bring in another player who has had trouble staying off the trainer’s table. My thoughts on the subject of injury-prone players are well-documented; I think they are a colossal waste of resources since they are least likely to be on the field when it matters most (hi, Gronk). But in this particular case, the risk might be worth the potential reward. Easley has tremendous strength, rare explosive ability and the capability of playing effectively anywhere on the defensive line. If he’s healthy at the right time, he’s the kind of difference-maker who could get this team over the hump in the playoffs.
Kyle: I think Easley is a great pick, and not just because I said back in February that he’d be a good choice for the Pats. When he was on the field he was dominant, playing in the best conference in America. Had he remained healthy, neither CJ Mosley nor Michael Sam would have sniffed a share of the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Derek: I think in an ideal world, the Patriots would have made a trade down and netted a 2014 2nd rounder and some additional picks in exchange for #29. It doesn’t appear that any great offers were on the table for Trader Bill, and so the Patriots went ahead and made a selection. I know a lot of people are down on the pick of Easley, but to be honest, I’m not sure there is a player I can point to and say the Pats should have drafted him instead. There were few potential Day 1 starters available at that point in the draft and I wouldn’t have wanted the Patriots to reach and take a player with a 2nd round grade just because he filled a need. Like everyone else, I’m not thrilled about Easley’s injury history, but thankfully ACL tears are not the devastating injury they once were. At the end of the day, this was a high-risk, high-reward scenario. The Patriots are a good enough team that they will be fine if this pick blows up in their face. If Easley pans out, then this just may be the type of move that puts the Patriots into the Super Bowl.