Nothing really more to say here, so…the rest:
Locks: John Simon, Chase Winovich
Out: Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Nick Thurman, Tashawn Bower, Nick Coe, Trevor Hill
Comments: Rivers is another guy on the fringe. I feel like he gets one more shot, especially with only two guys in this particular category. Then again, some of the linebackers will play this role, so it’s not really two. Simon is decent but is probably not getting any better. That’s why we are hoping that Chase takes another step forward this season. And not just cuz we want to see his hair. I think time has run out on Wise, however. But somehow, he always seems to stick when his roster spot seems in jeopardy. So we cannot even rule him completely out at this point.
Locks: Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Beau Allen
In: Byron Cowart
Out: Bill Murray, Courtney Wallace Jr.
Comments: Seems like not drafting a defensive tackle almost gives Cowart the last spot here. Let’s just hope Allen is good. The local press loves Guy and Butler has his moments. But it’s not that impressive of a group, let’s be real.
Locks: Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Anfernee Jennings, Josh Uche
In: Shilique Calhoun, Brandon Copeland
Out: Terez Hall, Cassh Maluia, Kyahva Tezino, De’Jon Harris
Comments: Big year for Bentley as we noted in the last piece. And we believe that Uche and Jennings will see plenty of action out of the gate. It would be nice if Hightower continues playing most of the games. Always seemingly banged up, Dont’a has actually played 15 of the 16 games in the last two seasons. You’d think he’d want to be out there in a contract year, so hopefully the trend continues. It’d better. This group is full of a whole lot of unknowns and perhaps special team types like Calhoun. And Copeland came from the Jets, so how good can he be?
Locks: Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams
Out: D’Angelo Ross, Lenzy Pipkins, Miles Bryant
Comments: Really about as cut and dried as you can get. No questions here. People are floating Gilmore’s name as a potential trade candidate, but I don’t see it. He does make a ton of dough and as a result of him being the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, he probably wants more. After this season I could see the Pats moving on from him in some fashion. But if they want to win games this year, the secondary is going to have to be a big part of the game plan. And ditching Gilmore won’t help that.
Locks: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Kyle Duggar
In: Adrian Phillips, Terrance Brooks
Out: Adarius Pickett, Malik Gant
Comments: Brooks has been the odd man out on several projections I have seen thus far. But Bill loves his special teamers. So I think he sticks. Not to mention that Chung took a beating last season, Duggar is unproven and we will see about Phillips. Duggar may not even play much on defense this season if I had to take a stab. Just a hunch. I would guess he needs some transition time as he heads from Division II to the NFL. Maybe it won’t be a long and/or hard transition. We will have to wait and see on that. But he will return plenty of punts though, so he’s going to have that going for him. As long as Edelman isn’t doing that, it works for me. Oh yeah, and as long as Sanu is never, ever, ever back there again either.
Locks: Justin Rohrwasser (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Justin Bethel (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST), Brandon King (ST)
Out: Cody Davis (ST)
Comments: Davis will find himself on the roster to begin the year as well. They gave him a fat 1.5 mil, so he kind of is earmarked for it, no? I just had to leave him off for the number’s sake right now. You know how it works…players get hurt and traded and some turn out to be useless. Then an undrafted guy or three make some noise in camp and they can’t slip through to the practice squad. Or they may actually be pretty good or at least can fill a niche role on the squad on Opening Day. And as a result, everyone’s projections look stupid. Rumor has it that Davis is a pretty good special teams guy, so there will always be room for him on Bill’s roster. I mean, can you ever have enough guys that play solely special teams?
So that is that, another fun exercise for guys like me only probably. With the season months away and training camp not even close, this projection means about as much as all the others out there. Zero. Nada. Absolutely nothing. But that’s ok.
Bottom line, let’s just hope there is a season in 2020.
…because a) everyone else is doing it and b) we are really scraping together things to actually write about in the sports world…
No need for further introduction, except for again, no one is “Way Out” at this time of year, so we are skipping that usual category. Oh, and since we have no idea on who most of the undrafted free agents are at this point, we won’t really comment much about them…not until we get to see a little of them in the preseason anyway. If there is a preseason, that is.
Locks: Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
Out: Brian Lewerke, J’Mar Smith
Comments: If not taking a quarterback, even late, in the draft doesn’t tell the world that the Pats are going with Stidham, I don’t know what else will do it. There is a groundswell of support for starting Hoyer and giving the kid extra games to “be ready”, but why bother? Just give the kid the job and let him run with it. And if he sucks, STILL let him run with it. Because then they may be able to play “Tank for Trevor (Lawrence)” or “Fail for (Justin) Fields”. I doubt it will ever get to that point actually. But we know what Brian Hoyer is. And it ain’t an NFL starting QB. So leave him with the headset and clipboard and let the kid sink or swim. If the Patriot brain trust is apparently that confident in Stidham, shouldn’t the rest of us be also?
Locks: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris
In: Rex Burkhead, Dan Vitale (FB)
Out: Jakob Johnson (FB), J.J. Taylor
Comments: Rex is a popular potential salary cap casualty, as previously noted. But we think he sticks around as the Pats will presumably lean on the ground game more. We gave three options for James Develin in the pre-draft projection, he could be released, put on Injured Reserve or the Physically Unable to Perform list. Didn’t even think of “retire”. Stupid. That one should have been kind of obvious. But that doesn’t lock in Vitale I don’t think. Not yet anyway. And it has nothing to do with Jakob potentially beating him out either.
Locks: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu
In: Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers
Out: Marqise Lee, Gunner Olszewski, Quincy Adeboyejo, Devin Ross, Will Hastings, Sean Riley, Isaiah Zuber, Jeff Thomas
Comments: No way the Pats let Sanu go as a cap casualty after they dealt a second rounder for him and he was useless last season. Byrd is the frontrunner to return kicks, so he probably sticks. Meyers had a good rapport with Stidham last preseason and showed some promise during the year. Hard to believe the Pats give up on him now. Lee seems like a flyer to see if he has anything left. Thomas would have supposedly been drafted if he didn’t have off-field issues. Sounds like a solid practice squad candidate to me. Hastings is interesting because he changed positions in college to receiver from…kicker? How does that happen? Sorry Gunner. Nice story last year. But there are too many waaaaay better options this time around.
Locks: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene
In: Matt LaCosse
Out: Ryan Izzo, Rashod Berry, Jake Burt
Comments: Think they keep the veteran LaCosse around to help bring the two draftees along. Maybe Matty has shaken the injuries and actually has something to show. They could keep Izzo for cheaper. But since he has been largely hurt for his two seasons here and not necessarily good when out on the field, my guess is he can slide to the practice squad for the time being.
Locks: Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), David Andrews (C), Shaq Mason (RG),
In: Marcus Cannon (RT), Korey Cunningham (T), Jermaine Eluemunor (G), Yodny Cajuste (T), Hjalte Froholdt (G/C)
Out: Michael Onwenu (G), Najee Toran (G), Justin Herron (T), Dustin Woodard (C)
Comments: Could be some moving pieces here before the start of the year. If the Pats and Thuney can’t hammer out an extension for some cap relief, he could be dangled. Also, did you know that Cannon has the FIFTH highest cap charge on the books for 2020? The team has about 2 million of cap room left and still need to sign all of their draft picks. Sure, other guys could get released or they could restructure. But if most of his 9.6 mil comes off in a cut, this may be an easy one. Remember how bad he sucked last year?
It’s doubtful the Pats go this route, but I suppose you never know. The four dudes that are “in” aren’t necessarily so. But hard to believe that Cunningham and Eleumunor get axed, despite playing sparingly last season. The team gave up picks to get them. Then again, neither could play over the immortal (and royally horrific) Marshall Newhouse last season, so there is that. They also gave Jermaine a 2.1 mil tender. So maybe they have some hopes for him, in particular. Cajuste and Froholdt were 2019 draftees that spent all year on injured lists. Hard to see them not getting another chance. Though I’d love to find a way to get Onwenu on the roster. Because I think he ends up on it when the real season starts. Just can’t find the space for him on this right now.
Next: Defense and specialists.
Talking about the New England Patriots’ performance in the NFL draft, that is.
Welp, since we’ve been considering that answer over the last week and a half or so, we have some sort of opinion, no?
But ummmmm…nope! WHO THE HELL KNOWS??!
I know, we could pretty much make that assertion after ANY draft in ANY sports league. I mean, how do we know how these guys will pan out several years down the road?
And guess what?
No one does.
Not even Mel Kiper Jr. Or the guys on Boston sports radio this past week absolutely ripping Belichick for his selections. I usually listen to a fair amount of sports radio, to be honest. Shocker, I know! But I couldn’t even listen this week.
Listen, I know with absolutely nothing else going on in the sports world, they have to talk about SOMETHING. And what kind of entertainment would it be if they just agreed with everything the local teams did?
Wouldn’t be much of a show. They know that. And we SHOULD know that.
So let’s look at things a little more realistically. Acknowledging that Bill’s recent draft history has left a lot to be desired as well.
But as we said previously, what teams’ draft history is perfect? Or anywhere near that?
Again, absolutely nobody’s.
I still can’t fathom how Bill still gets ripped for his first rounders the last two years, running back Sony Michel, tackle Isaiah Wynn and wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
I know I wouldn’t have taken a RB or WR where they stood in those drafts, nor an OT that projected in the pros to be an offensive guard. And that players taken after them in their respective years have outperformed them thus far. But what the hell do I know? More than people that scout these players? Nope. And neither do you. And neither does Mel Kiper Jr., for that matter.
No one knows how the player will fit in the system of the particular team that drafts them. Or in the locker room. Or how sensitive they are. Or how they will take to coaching. Or good how that coaching actually is? Or how they will react with a truckload of dollars being thrown at them for the first time. Or their response to facing adversity on the field which they never had to in college or high school. Or all that.
But the people who work for those professional teams should have a better idea than you or me. Or Mel Kiper Jr.
They should anyway. But that’s why some of them lose jobs, I guess.
In any event, I am not giving up on the aforementioned first rounders. Wynn and Harry have largely been injured. Harry could not gain Tom Brady’s trust, not the first receiver to have that happen to him. Michel was pretty good as a rookie, once he got going. He regressed as a sophomore. His line sucked though. And maybe not having a fullback really did affect him. I don’t love the fullback excuse, but again, what the hell do I know?
Perhaps the fact that he can’t catch the ball and therefore when he was in the game, it screamed “run”. But then again, maybe the rope wasn’t long enough after a few drops? Keep throwing to him. And maybe it works eventually? I don’t know. You would think the defense wouldn’t be so geared up to stopping the run when he is in the game at the very least…I would think anyway.
I will say that I don’t see any of that burst that he supposedly came with from college. But perhaps without a knee surgery this offseason we will finally see that in his third year. Or maybe his knees, which everyone knew would eventually become a problem as a professional, are actually shot.
I’m giving him a chance this year anyway. I mean, Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead are still around, so there are other choices. But one is unproven and the other gets hurt all the time. Plus Michel doesn’t exactly make much dough. So let’s see what happens.
Back to this years’ draft.
Yup, another shocker right off the bat. After Bill traded out of the first round (not a shocker), he took a Division II safety at pick #37. WHAT???!! With one of the top safeties in college, at a top school (LSU), still on the board.
I initially thought this was crazy. Not to mention that safety did not appear to be an immediate position of need. I figured that this guy could return kicks and slot right into the departed Nate Ebner’s special teams spot. And that is the best of what we were looking at. Wouldn’t be Bill’s first second round defensive backfield bust, as we all know.
But then I started looking into this kid, Kyle Duggar. He was slated to go in the second round of many mock drafts, so maybe it wasn’t a big a reach as I initially thought? Yes, later in the second round in the mocks that I saw. But one had him at #43, so that was a little promising anyway.
So now, it didn’t appear that this was a similar pick to Tavon Wilson, projected in the 7th, taken in the 2nd. Or Duron Harmon, projected to be undrafted, taken in the 3rd, to name a couple.
And then, I realized that safety may be a bigger need than I thought. Devin McCourty just re-signed for two years, but would it shock anyone if he is done after that? Or even one year, with his brothers’ contract only having one year left? Patrick Chung has been pretty good since he returned to the Patriots several years ago, but took a beating last season and may not be the same guy going forward. Harmon is in Detroit. Terrance Brooks and Adrian Phillips are best known for special teams.
If Duggar can adapt his game to this level over the next two years, adding to what he showed physically to get him to a second or third round grade, maybe he will be something?
Time will tell.
But what about other positions of need?? Or that LSU safety?
As for the LSU safety, maybe he looked good because his team was stacked? Could be.
And the other “perceived” positions of need? QB, TE, WR, OL, DT, LB?
Well, I thought they may take a QB. But late. Someone for the future, not someone to compete with Jarrett Stidham or, allegedly, Brian Hoyer. I didn’t buy the talk that they were using a “premium pick” on a QB. And that’s why they also let guys like Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton sign elsewhere. I think they really believe in Stidham. Yes, Cam Newton is still out there too. But I just don’t see it.
Tight end. They were not taking one that high. Cole Kmet or no Cole Kmet. He was supposedly the best of a weak tight end crop. Doesn’t mean you have to take him. Plus, they got two soon thereafter. Maybe they aren’t that great either. But maybe they will be similar enough to Kmet.
Receiver? I honestly think they are happy with the guys they have now. Hard to believe. But I think, especially without Brady around, they expect Harry and Jakobi Meyers to establish a good rapport with Stidham and make a nice second year leap. Or they are at least counting on it anyway.
O-Line. The starters are back, including David Andrews. So what you would be drafting here is for depth. The Pats have a number of reserves coming back as well though, including two mid-round picks from 2019 that didn’t play a snap last year in Hjalte Froholdt and Yodny Cajuste. And two guys they sent a draft pick for that barely played last season in Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor. So maybe they didn’t need to go too crazy here? They did take a few late round guys that may be ticketed for the practice squad, so there’s that.
Defensive tackle. Maybe they feel like another year in the system helps Byron Cowart, a fifth rounder from 2019. And he seals up the 4th spot in the rotation. Maybe one of the undrafted dudes makes it like Adam Butler did a while back. Maybe they don’t care about stopping the run? I’m not losing a whole lot of sleep about it though. They move defensive ends, linebackers and even safeties around for run support. So perhaps that is again the plan, despite it not working out all that great last season.
Linebackers. The next two picks after Duggar were LBs…done.
So going through it objectively, does it seem like a bad draft at this very point in time? No. Not yet anyway. If these players all suck, then it will be a bad draft. But again, no one knows that now.
The Pats love versatility. They got a whole ton of that in just about all of these guys.
And they got a kicker! Who didn’t see that one coming? The guy may have ummmm…made some questionable tattoo choices, but if he can kick I don’t think Bill cares. If the tattoo is still there come the fall, methinks that will be addressed inside the locker room. And that’s good enough for me. For now, I will take the kid at his word though, that he was simply an idiot when he got it. A stupid kid. No crime in that. That’s all too common nowadays actually.
In any event, supposedly this kid kicked plenty “in the elements”, which of course is important in Foxborough. And probably a big reason that the bespectacled kid from Georgia wasn’t taken by them instead. Though he wasn’t drafted by anyone so that probably says something as well. If the kid doesn’t work out, then Nick Folk and yes, Stephen Gostkowski, will likely be available by the time they figure out if the kid sucks.
One thing I was surprised about was that Bill didn’t make any trades into the draft for next year. He actually traded a sixth from 2021 as part of a trade in this years’ draft to move up. But I guess that is neither here nor there. He’s just going to move around a bunch in next years’ draft anyway.
So was this draft all this bad? Again, we will see. I expect the top 6 picks to provide some value to the team on the field in the upcoming season. Perhaps their seventh pick (mammoth guard Michael Onwenu) makes the squad as well. The last three guys are probably headed to the practice squad if they make it there. That seems like a good percentage of picks sticking on the roster. And then there is the undrafted player or two that always makes it. Not bad on paper I would say.
We will just have to see how much value these guys actually add…long-term especially. Come back in about three years and we can revisit…