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.
…ok, so on to the draft chatter.
Let’s be honest, none of us really know how any of these college kids are going to perform in the professional ranks. Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Mike Mayock and all those other yahoos may THINK they know. But they don’t know either.
So I’m not going to pretend that I know. I for damn sure don’t. I really don’t even follow college ball too much anyway. I do take joy in Boston College losing whenever I can. But other than maybe a final score, I don’t pay much attention to their actual games. Or certainly their players. What I do know is where the New England Patriots have needs. And we can focus more on that in this space.
I’m not going to do a roster breakdown at this point here either. God knows we do enough of that here already and don’t need another one on top of those.
So anyway, the Patriots have 2 picks in the first, second and sixth rounds and single picks in the third and seventh round.
What do they need? Welp, a little bit of everything, I guess you could say.
What would I do? Glad you asked!
I’d say the top need is linebacker. Someone that can cover, someone who can rush the passer, basically just anyone that is GOOD. Dont’a Hightower is the only player listed at linebacker that really seems to have any talent at all and we know he gets hurt all the time. The team will tell you that Kyle Van Noy is a good player and that other players such as Elandon Roberts are on the rise. But us Patriots fans know better than that.
They should honestly use a bunch of their picks in this draft on linebacker/pass rusher types. Adrian Clayborn is someone who shouldn’t hurt. And the return of Derek Rivers should help as well. But loading up here in this draft, even in the lower rounds, should definitely be explored.
The defense actually should essentially be the entire focus of this years’ draft. The team lost a few key guys on offense in Brandin Cooks, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola and Nate Solder. But the offense will be just fine. The presumed returns from injury of Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell should offset the loss of Cooks and Amendola. And I love the Jordan Matthews signing. Running backs are fungible in New England, as I have said. I hope Rex Burkhead can stay healthy because I said all of last year I wanted to see more of him. Jeremy Hill may pan out here as well.
Left tackle? People are panicking over the loss of Solder. I am not one of them. He is about as average as you can get. He did a decent job for several years there, but no way was I giving him a huge contract to stay. Antonio Garcia was drafted in the third round last year to basically replace Nate this year. The blood clot messed up that plan. That being said, if he is the real deal and needs this year to get his strength back and to be eased back in, can’t they just stopgap here for a year to get by? I think they can. LaAdrian Waddle is no superstar. But I am thinking between him, Cole Croston, Andrew Jelks, Matt Tobin, a mid-round draft pick this year and perhaps Garcia himself as the year rolls on, they can piece it together at left tackle. Add in supposed “offensive line whisperer”, coach Dante Scarnecchia, I am not as worried here as most people.
Tight end? A lot of “experts” and fans are advocating going after another “franchise” tight end, because no one knows what Gronk is going to do, now apparently year to year. And he is getting older. And he is injury-prone. And all that. That’s easier said than done of course. How many franchise-altering TE’s are available out there similar to Gronk? Or Aaron Herna…oops, nevermind. But you get the point. Maybe that guy is already here in former 2nd round pick Troy Niklas. Ok, maybe not, but he was certainly worth the flyer. In any event, I’m not going crazy trying to find the next Gronk. That seems like an impossible undertaking to me.
Defensive Backs? Wouldn’t hurt to take a corner. Unless you think Cyrus Jones is going to make a difference. I would say most of us don’t though. I think between Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones, you have a solid base. But there are still plenty of question marks. At safety, I believe they also have a good base in Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. I know, the Super Bowl doesn’t inspire confidence in any of these guys. But these players should be ok. I’ve heard whispers that some dude named Ryan Lewis, a corner who spent all year on the practice squad, has some promise. But who the hell knows about that? Maybe add a decent prospect or two in the draft. And leaving Jordan Richards off the team in September would go a long way as well.
It’s also time to bring in some competition for placekicker Stephen Gostkowski. But you don’t need to do that during the draft. Or do you?
As I said above, I would use most of the picks on the defensive side of the ball. There is one wild card though…and it’s a big one. That would be the proverbial “quarterback of the future”.
All the draftniks say this is the deepest quarterback draft in some time. If you say so. Again, who really knows? Does anyone really think all these top 3-4 guys are franchise guys? Baker Mayfield was just a mid-round guy a few months ago…perhaps comparable to colossal bust Johnny Manziel. Now there are rumors he will go #1 overall? Yeah…
So Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph, Kyle Lauletta, Luke Falk, blah, blah, blah…can any of them even play in the NFL? No one knows.
That all being said, if the Patriots have done their research, analysis and all that and they themselves have determined who that “next franchise guy” is going to be, my personal opinion is that they should do whatever it takes to get him.
They had that guy in Jimmy G. QB is obviously the most important position on the field. Brady will be 41 before next season starts. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: There is just no track record for 40-plus-year-old starting NFL quarterbacks. Not a good one anyway. Yes, Brady is a legend. Yes, he was MVP last year. Yes, he threw for over 500 yards in the Super Bowl last year. Yes, defenses cannot breathe on a QB these days, so the QB lifespan is indeed longer than ever. Don’t give me the Guerrero stuff, but Brady is admittedly a different animal.
But…he could also fall off a cliff. Like a lot of them do. And then you are left with Brian Hoyer.
Who wants that?
If they have identified their quarterback of the future, go get him.
Those other gaps can be filled in other ways. It’s a smart enough organization, I am not worried about that.
So in summary, what will they do? Well, it’s doubtful they will take all 8 picks in the end, as we know Belichick likes to make deals. They could have 5 or they could end up with 11. If they take the 8 as it stands, I’d do 1 QB, 4 defensive front seven players, 1 corner, 1 OL and 1 TE. Maybe 2 OL instead of the TE.
And zero special teamers. Please.