Assessing the Patriots Pre-Draft Needs


The NFL Draft appears ready to run as scheduled.  Though it won't be anything like the drafts we are used to, the fact is if the league and its members feel that they can operate the entirety of the draft remotely, and in a safe manner, I don't see any reason not to conduct it.

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So, with the draft a little over two weeks away, people keep pumping out the mock drafts.  Admittedly, my knowledge of individual college football players is lacking, so I decided to take a different approach and just focus on what positions the New England Patriots should draft.  There are plenty of holes this team needs to address, and with 12 picks they have ample opportunities to do so.

The team's first pick comes at #23 in the first round.  We've grown so accustomed to the Patriots selecting in the 28-32 spot, that this is one of the highest picks this team has earned since 2006.  Now, they have drafted higher than #23 on a few occasions since that year, but those were all through picks that they acquired via trades with other teams.

They had the 23rd pick two years ago and selected Isaiah Wynn, but acquired that pick from the Los Angeles Rams when they traded Brandin Cooks.  In terms of picks that this team was awarded based on their performance in the previous season, #23 is the highest pick since 2006.
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Now, what should they do with it?  First answer, use it.  They love to trade early round picks in order to stockpile late round picks.  This isn't the year to do that.  This team needs some young, first round talent.  A lot of the mock drafts I have looked at show the Patriots taking a quarterback in the first round.  Jordan Love out of Utah State has been a popular option, as well as Jacob Eason of Washington.

Here's my take.  If the Patriots believe that Jarrett Stidham is their next guy - and based on the way the team (both players and coaches) have been talking him up, they do - then don't waste a first round pick on a quarterback.  Let Stidham play.  Now, if they have doubts about Stidham, then fine take a quarterback.  However, I'm of the mindset that they believe in Stidham, so they should use that 23rd overall pick to address a different need; there are plenty.

What they need is a pass rusher.  Bill Belichick has taken plenty of guys in the third, fourth or later rounds in previous drafts.  Guys like Chase Winovich, Derek Rivers, Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom.  Under Belichick, the Patriots have taken a defensive end, or edge guy, just three times in the first round: Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Chandler Jones.  I'd say those three picks worked out pretty well.  Time to find another one of those.

There are some edge rushers projected to be available at the tail end of the first round, the Pats should take one.  That's what this defense is sorely missing.  Their top two sack leaders from last year are gone in Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy.  Their secondary is still going to be among the best in the league, but they need somebody to get after the quarterback.

On the offensive side, they need a center.  David Andrews is currently their only center, and his status for 2020 is up in the air.  He's optimistic about a return after missing 2019 with a blood clot in his lungs, and he has received some positive test results from his doctors.  I just think it's irresponsible, and unfair to Andrews, to plan on him being ready for 2020.  Even if he is ready to go, they still need some insurance.  It might be a stretch to take a center in the first round based on current player rankings, but they need to take one with one of their three third round picks. 

Right up there with center is the need for a tight end.  This team cannot possibly go through another season with no legitimate option at tight end.  Now, with Stidham under center, maybe guys like Matt Lacosse and Ryan Izzo will get more targets, but they still aren't great options.  Plus, they were both in and out of the lineup last year with injuries.  Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame is the top tight end in the draft, but New England would likely need to trade up and into the second round to select him.  I'd be okay with that.  Notre Dame tight ends have a pretty good track record in the NFL.  If they don't do that, then a guy like Adam Trautman from Dayton seems like a good third round option.

An inside linebacker to go along with Dont'a Hightower and Ja'Whaun Bentley would be a great option for one of those third round picks as well.

They don't currently have a kicker on the roster, so they certainly need one. If they want to spend a sixth or seventh round pick on a kicker, great.  If not, sign somebody after the draft.

So to recap, here's how I rank the Patriots' needs heading into the draft:

  1. Edge rusher
  2. Center
  3. Tight end
  4. Inside linebacker
These are the positions they need to address without a doubt.  Just please, not another running back. 

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Assessing the Patriots Pre-Draft Needs
Assessing the Patriots Pre-Draft Needs
Boston Sports Syndicate
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