Due to the Covid-19 pandemic; the NFL put a new and innovative spin on draft day , but that did not stop Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots from being up to the same old draft day antics.
The 2020 NFL Draft went on as scheduled, but due to the global health crisis, the league was unable to hold their draft festivities in Las Vegas as they initially planned.
However, the league was able to come up with a plan that allowed all 32 NFL Head Coaches, General Managers and other team personnel to conduct the draft from the comfort of their homes.
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick was operating from his home kitchen on Nantucket Island.
With a roster that has many holes and questions marks that surround the Quarterback position, the receiving core and various positions on defense that need to be filled after departures from Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins Duron Harmon and Elandon Roberts to name a few.
The Patriots had the 23rd overall pick in the draft. As expected by many, Belichick traded the pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for the 37th overall pick (fifth pick in the second round) and the 71st overall pick (seventh pick in third round).
The move allowed the Patriots to trade down into the second round given the fact that the team did not have a second round pick entering the draft.
Night two of the draft is when the Patriots finally started to get busy as the Pats entered the night with four picks in hand.
With 37th overall pick in the draft, The Patriots took a flyer on Saftey Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne College. He was a Division-II All-American this past season.
Though is does fill a defensive need, the team has many holes to fill on the offensive side of the football.
The Patriots later traded up to the 60th overall pick in the draft after trading spots with the Ravens. The Pats drafted Josh Uche, a Linebacker out of Michigan.
This was a good pick by the Patriots considering they lost both Jamie Collins to the Lions and Kyle Van Noy to the Dolphins via free agency. Like Chase Winovich; who himself moved around a lot between both inside and outside linebacker,. Look for Uche to find a home on the defense either playing either inside or outside.
With the 23rd pick in the third round (87th overall), the Patriots selected Defensive End Anfernee Jennings out of Alabama.
A spot that the Patriots have truly been lacking lately is a true edge rusher. You could be talking about the pass or the run, either ay, the Patriots have allowed too many yards on the ground in recent years. Most recently Derrick Henry lit up the Patriots defense in the Wild Card game back in January.
Hopefully Jennings can be type of rusher can keep running backs at bay and not allowing them to run run along the sideline and force the opposing Quarterback to stay in the pocket and not extend the play.
In another rare instance, the Patriots traded back up with the Las Vegas Raiders for the 91st overall selection. With that slot, the Patriots drafted Tight End Devin Asiasi out of UCLA.
Asiasi is a 6’3″ 279 pound pass catcher that could hopefully blossom what as a very poor Tight End group last season between Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse. Asiasi is no Gronk, but his weight should make him a good middle of the the field option for either Stidham or Hoyer.
The rest of the Patriots draft class is a s follows:
Round Five Pick 14 (159th overall): Justin Rohrwasser – Kicker out of Marshall
Round Six Pick Three ( 182nd overall): Mike Onwenu – Guard out of Michigan
Round Six Pick 16 (195th overall): Justin Herron – Guard out of Wake Forest
Round Six Pick 25 (204th overall): Cassh Maluia – Linebacker out of Wyoming
Round Seven Pick 16 (230th overall): Dustin Woodward – Center out of Memphis
Undrafted free agent: J’mar Smith – QB out of Louisiana Tech
Undrafted free agent: Will Hastings – WR – Auburn
Undrafted free agent: J. J. Taylor – RB – Arizona (Notable; 0 fumbles on 587 carries and 699 total touches including returns – 5’5″ 185lbs)
“This is always a good opportunity to try to improve your football team and I feel like we did that this weekend”, said Belichick at the conclusion of this years draft.
Not every hole the Patriots had was thoroughly filled. Picking up Smith late as an i drafted free agent is nice, but New England still need a marquis quarterback. Aaron Rodgers rumors are stirring now the the Packers took Love in the first round. Stidham and Hoyer are on the roster, but expect Belichick to have a trick or two up his sleeve.
The Pats need wide receiver help as well and went to get it with their undrafted free agent signing of Will Hastings from Auburn. Hasting was at Auburn with Stidham in 2016 and while his numbers aren’t jaw dropping he had 20.2 yards per reception in 2017.
He could be a nice compliment to Edelman, Harry, Myers and the rest of the receiving core. It will be exceptionally nice if Harry can produce in 2020 as a former first round pick .
This appears to be the group that the Belichick is settling for to open up Training Camp in July.