Tom Brady is gone, and from the looks of it, Jarrett Stidham, in his second season after being taken in the 4th round of the 2019 draft, will be the Patriots starting quarterback going forward. This is your new reality. Accept it.The Patriots have also lost a lot of other key pieces on the defensive side, including linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Jaime Collins, Elandon Roberts, safety Duron Harmon, and defensive linemen Danny Shelton. The good news for New England fans is they have 12 picks in this year’s draft to help them replace some of that production and help Stidham be as successful as he can be. With no trades in mind yet, here’s how the Patriots can rebuild through the 2020 NFL Draft.
Pick 23: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State
Defensive end is a spot where the Patriots weren’t particularly deep or strong last season, despite having a top-rated defense. The sack production came primarily from the linebacker spot through a mix of blitzes. Gross-Matos is a young, developing pass rusher who bring excellent size (6’5, 264), speed and strength, along with solid production in one of College Football’s best conferences (8 sacks in 2018, 9 in 2019). Bill Belichick will look and him and see another Chandler Jones type player who can make an impact day 1.
Pick 87: TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
We learned last year that without a talented tight end, this offense simply doesn’t move right. At pick 87, I am not optimistic that my top 2 tight ends in this class, Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet and Dayton’s Adam Trautman, will be here, but there’s a good chance Hopkins is. Hopkins isn’t going to be the blocker that Gronk was, but he’s a very talented route runner who brings a 6’4 frame to the offense, and will give the Pats a receiving threat from the tight end spot, which they desperately need.
Pick 98: IOL Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
Adding depth to the offensive line will be a must for the Patriots, and with Ted Karras off to Miami and David Andrews status up in the air, a new center is also a must. Biadasz lead a talented Wisconsin line and can play center or guard in the NFL. Injuries are a concern but the talent and leadership is a huge plus.
Pick 100: Edge Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
I won’t be surprised to see the Pats double down on pass rush, especially with a player like Willekes still available at the end of round 3. Anther standout Big 10 pass rusher, Willekes adds depth to a thin position and brings great character as well. This kid just seems like a Patriots guy.
Pick 125: WR Gabriel Davis, UCF
The New England offense has lacked a downfield threat for awhile now, and they may find a fix in Davis. After 3 productive years at UCF, Davis’s combination of downfield speed and ability to hand fight for the ball should add another dimension to the Patriots passing game.
Pick 172: LB Logan Wilson, Wyoming
A smaller school gem in this class. Wilson has a solid frame at 6’2 and 240 pounds and is a sound tackler. The Patriots need depth at the linebacker position, and Wilson in round 5 is a very solid addition who should contribute on special teams and as a rotation player in year 1.
Pick 195: S Tanner Muse, Clemson
Muse tested very well at the combine and was a key contributor on Clemson’s defense this past season from his safety spot. The main reason I like this pick, is the hustle. Muse is the guy who doesn’t stop chasing a guy down no matter what. With Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung getting older, adding depth at the safety spot is a must for New England.
Pick 204: LB Davion Taylor, Colorado
An athletic linebacker from a Power 5 conference is the type of guy the Belichicks and Jerod Mayo will like coach up into a solid depth piece.
Pick 212: OT Scott Frantz, Kansas State
You aren’t looking for starter caliber players in the late rounds, you’re looking for guys who can come in, provide depth, and maybe develop into rotation players. Frantz comes from a good program and has good size for a tackle, definitely worth a pick.
Pick 213: CB Stanford Samuels III, Florida State
This guy was highly recruited out of high school but did not live up to expectations at Florida State (to be fair, few have lived up to expectation at that dumpster fire of a program lately). While he didn’t run great at the Combine, Samuels does have ideal length and some promise. He could be a late round steal, or worst case a depth piece in the defensive backfield.
Pick 230: K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
Hot Rod! Stephen Gostowski is gone, and it’s time to find a new kicker. Blankenship has been one of the best kickers in college football over the last few years, and can boot them from in the 50’s.
Pick 241: WR James Proche, SMU
A super productive college receiver, Proche caught 301 passes over his 4-year career, including 204 his last 2 years, with 50 touchdowns and just shy of 4,000 yards. At 6’0 and 193 pounds, he presents a late round steal and much needed depth at the wide receiver position with Phillip Dorsett gone.
Photo: (Barry Reeger – AP Photo)
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