We’re just a day away from the NFL Draft, and it’s anyone’s guess whic targets the New England Patriots are going after. With a whopping twelve picks, there are plenty of directions they could take. Although they have plenty of picks they currently don’t have a one in the second round. With that being said there’ll be a target for each of the seven rounds to account for any draft night trades.
New England Patriots Top Targets for the 2020 NFL Draft
First Round: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa [NFL Draft Profile]
Starting off with the Patriots first-round target we have Iowa EDGE rusher A.J. Epenesa. There are plenty of holes that need to be filled on this current Patriots roster, and starting with a solid pass rusher is as good a place as any. Epenesa has been featured heading to New England in several mock drafts, and for good reason. He’s a monster in terms of size coming in at a whopping 6’6″ 280 pounds, with the strength to match his impressive size. He created chaos week in and week out for opposing Big 10 offenses and is poised to tank that to the NFL level. His size and strength allow him to overpower offensive linemen, but he doesn’t just rely on size and strength as his pass rushing technique is sound. He excels in run defense, which the Patriots currently have a need for with the departure of Danny Shelton. Although he’s an EDGE rusher by trade, his ability to shut down the run could allow for him to move around the line and be used in different situations. Having that versatility is a necessity for a Patriots player, and makes him a good target in the first round.
Second Round: Michael Pittman Jr., Wide Receiver, USC [NFL Draft Profile]
Michael Pittman Jr. has been quietly rising up draft boards around the league. His combination of size and great hands make him a perfect fit for New England. He doesn’t have overwhelming speed, but he has incredible hands and does well catching the ball outside of his frame. Although he isn’t the most diverse route runner, he does well with the routes he’s comfortable with. In addition to this Pittman Jr. is a physical runner after the catch and has a knack for breaking tackles. It’s more likely than not he comes off the board in the second round, so the Patriots will need to trade into that round. That shouldn’t be all that hard with guard Joe Thuney and an abundance of mid round picks to play with.
Third Round: Jalen Hurts, Quarterback, Oklahoma [NFL Draft Profile]
Moving along to the third round, where the Patriots currently hold three picks. With that being said the biggest target in this round should be Jalen Hurts. Hurts is coming off an excellent season with Oklahoma, and could be a great value for the third round. Hurts has a big arm and can make plays happen with his legs as well. He’s generally accurate, but not a precision passer by any means. The skills are certainly there, but they need some sharpening before he can be considered a bonafide starter. In addition to this Hurts can learn and adapt quickly having played for several offensive coordinators during his college career. With that being said, he does have a tendency for bad decision making, typically as a result of overconfidence in his arm strength. Despite this, he would be a great fit in New England as someone who could compete with Jarrett Stidham for the starting job.
Fourth Round: Van Jefferson, Wide Receiver, Florida [NFL Draft Profile]
Keeping with the offense, we have Florida’s Van Jefferson. The Patriots need receivers, and Jefferson is a great fit. He is an excellent route runner and has sound hands. He has drawn some comparisons to current Patriots receiver Jakobi Meyers. Jefferson has more outright speed than Jefferson, but overall their skillsets are similar. He has great foot speed and does well at getting deep into cuts and running crisp routes. Outside of his football skillset, Jefferson brings a big frame to the table standing at 6’2″ and weighing 197 pounds. There’s a chance he gets drafted before the fourth round, but if he is available he is an outstanding fit.
Fifth Round: Dalton Keene, Tight End, Virginia Tech [NFL Draft Profile]
Next up is the Patriots fifth-round target, Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene. This year’s tight end class is really weak, but Keene is one of the better players in it. He has solid hands and is a superb blocker. He does his best work as a lead blocker on run plays, which is something New England missed last season. Keene can move around on offense having lined up as a fullback at times in college. Although blocking is his strong suit, he is a capable pass-catcher who does well going outside of his frame to catch the ball. He is also a smart player who does a good job of seeing the field and picking up free rushers when blocking. Keene has one of the most well-rounded skill sets in this tight end class and makes a lot of sense as a mid-round pick for the Patriots.
Sixth Round: Joe Bachie Linebacker, Michigan State [NFL Draft Profile]
The Patriots have four sixth-round picks as it currently stands, but there is one target in this round that stands above the rest. This would be of course, be Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie. Bachie is a perfect fit for the Patriots, with his high motor and solid fundamentals. At this point in the draft you just hope to find players that might stick, and Bachie has the potential to do just that. A two-time captain for the Spartans, Bachie provides leadership on any defense he plays for. In addition, Bachie is a solid run defender and tackles really well. He could slide in a fill a similar role to that of Elandon Roberts as a depth linebacker. New England will certainly be looking for a linebacker and Bachie is a good value target in the sixth round.
Seventh Round: Rodrigo Blankenship, Kicker, Georgia
The Patriots currently don’t have a kicker on the roster. Of course, they could always bring back Nick Folk who did good enough last year, but the draft is a more likely place to get a replacement. One of the nation’s better kickers, Rodrigo Blankenship from Georgia could fit right in with New England. He has a massive leg, banging through 50+ yard field goals with ease. Over the course of his career, he racked up 440 points and made 82% of his field goal attempts. Blankenship is also outstanding on kickoffs being able to place the ball well and if need be kick it through the end zone. There may be some better uses for this round, but with the current kicker situation, it makes sense to take care of it during the draft.