Pioli talks draft underclassmen

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
11:45
AM ET
A record 73 underclassmen have declared themselves eligible for the forthcoming 2013 NFL draft.

The group looks to include several top-tier prospects, including a potential player in the mix for the top overall selection, which is held by the Chiefs.

Former Chiefs general manager and Patriots executive Scott Pioli, who will do some television work for NBC Sports Network this week leading up the Super Bowl, shared his thoughts on the top 10 underclassmen to Sports Illustrated's Peter King as part of King's weekly "Monday Morning Quarterback" entry.

Pioli's list was topped by Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, who he categorizes as a "strong candidate for the first overall pick," and also includes four offensive and six defensive players.

Given that the Patriots pick 29th in the draft, barring a trade-up scenario, many of Pioli's top-rated underclassmen likely won't be in play at that time of the round. But two names that caught our eye near the tail end of his list were Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen and Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.

Pioli says Allen may be the best receiver in this class, and notes his high competitiveness and ability to play both in the slot and on the outside. Entering an uncertain offseason as it relates to wide receivers, the Patriots could use a player that fits that mold.

Ogletree lacks conventional linebacker bulk at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, but in a pass-happy league with the need for coverage linebackers, he could be exactly the type of defensive impact player the Patriots need. Pioli says he may have the most upside of any underclassmen in the draft (a sentiment many shared of Chandler Jones before last year's draft), but notes off-the-field concerns that need further examination (he has one documented arrest for a misdemeanor theft charge back in 2010). Certainly the team would have to be comfortable with Ogletree's off-the-field behavior before making an investment in him, but from a physical standpoint, he sounds like an intriguing prospect.

To read the list in its entirety, click HERE.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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