The New England Patriots have quite a few needs to fill in the upcoming NFL Draft. Coming off their worst season in a decade, the Patriots need to make the most of their 12 draft picks. The entire draft process is a glorified crapshoot, so it makes sense to target positions that net the most valuable returns. The question heading into the 2020 NFL Draft is which positions those are, and how New England can address said positions.
Top New England Patriots NFL Draft Needs
1. Wide Receiver
The biggest problem with the 2019 Patriots is that they couldn’t move the ball through the air on a consistent basis. Julian Edelman did all he could, but the supporting cast of Mohamed Sanu, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, and Jakobi Meyers left a lot to be desired. As of this posting, the Patriots haven’t added any additional pass-catchers of note, and it’s hard to imagine Jarrett Stidham standing too much of a chance with the current roster.
Even if Edelman and Sanu stay healthy and Harry takes a huge Year Two leap, the Patriots still need to add some youth at the position. Sanu’s in the final year of his contract, and Edelman isn’t getting any younger. Fortunately, this is one of the most talented wide receiver drafts in recent memory. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots double down on the position in the upcoming NFL Draft.
2. Tight End
Finding a replacement for Rob Gronkowski is impossible, simply because he’s an unparalleled talent. However, the Patriots need to improve from the 2019 trio of Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo. These three were arguably the worst grouping in football, and the Patriots haven’t signed a single tight end.
Unfortunately, this tight end draft class lacks talent. Adam Trautman is the only one with above-average starter upside, while guys like Cole Kmet, Devin Asiasi, and Hunter Bryant could be average. Average still represents a significant upgrade from the current depth chart, so don’t be surprised if the Patriots add at least one of those names with any of their third-round picks.
Jarrett Stidham looked great in the 2019 preseason, but he’s anything but a sure thing at the quarterback position. The team appears to be content with Stidham under center, but they should add another young backup. Unless you have a franchise quarterback on the roster, you should do everything in your power to try to find that next guy. Taking a quarterback with the 23rd overall pick is probably a mistake, assuming the big three of Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert don’t slip down the board. However, taking a flier on someone like Jake Fromm or Jalen Hurts in the third would probably be a smart move.
Bill Belichick loves linebackers more than just about anything in this world, and the depth chart needs more of them. After losing Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts to free agency, only Dont’a Hightower and Ja’Whaun Bentley remain as proven linebackers. Considering the depth at receiver and the lack of quality at quarterback and tight end, the Patriots should address linebacker fairly early in the draft.
It stands to reason that the Patriots could trade back, select someone like Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen, or hybrid Zack Baun at the end of the first or beginning of the second. With the presumed additional third-round pick, they could grab someone like Willie Gay or Logan Wilson. Just like that, New England restocks their depth chart while keeping enough picks to address their other needs.
The Patriots don’t an immediate need at safety, but Bill Belichick typically addresses his needs before they’re readily apparent. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are both on the wrong side of 30, and Chung started to show some signs of decline in 2019. If the Patriots choose to address this need early, they could probably go after Xavier McKinney or Grant Delpit. Ashtyn Davis makes sense if the Patriots find a way into the back half of the second round, and Terrell Burgess or Brandon Jones offer decent upside at the back of the third.
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