Draft experts and NFL executives all across the league remain confused with the Patriots draft. Passing on Trent McDuffie, Devin Lloyd, Quay Walker, and Jermaine Johnson for a guard? Taking a receiver people expected to go in the fourth round, why two running backs and a quarterback? As the dust settles, people can not forget that teams value positions and players very differently, especially compared to the media. Over the past two seasons, the Patriots have completely changed their roster. The point of this years draft was to get faster, more secure, and acquire two-three players who can start quickly for the New England Patriots.
1-29 OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga
In true Patriot fashion, the team turned heads yet again in the first round. While Cole Strange may become a great pro and reliable starter, the guard position is a place the Patriots could have found later in the draft. Some of the Patriots best guards have come past the second round: Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, Ted Karas, Michael Onwenu. Guard was certainly a need, but not worth a first-round pick.
2-50 WR Tyquan Thornton, Baylor:
Thornton was not listed on the big board or in any of the mocks. This was due to Thornton’s profile not falling under what the Patriots typically draft, which could end up being a good thing. Bill Belichick has only drafted three other wideouts higher than Thornton in the Patriots draft history. The team made it clear that Thornton was their guy, trading up to get him over prospects such as Skyy Moore, George Pickens, and Alex Pierce. The reason: Speed.
While the 4.28 speedster out of Baylor maintains a thin frame, he plays more physical than his size suggests. His release package has potential and his height allows Thornton to threaten corner’s in the red-zone. While the league views the pick as a reach, Thornton’s skillset offers the Patriots something the team did not have before.
3-85 CB Marcus Jones, Houston:
#36 on the big board!
Taken in the fourth round of Mock 1.0
“If New England decides to not invest in a high-end pick in the secondary, Marcus Jones should be their target. His 91.6 kickoff return grade ranked #1 in all of college football. Jones forced 16 incompletions with five interceptions and a 86.6 PFF grade. His speed is his greatest trait and fits a similar mold of a Jonathan Jones. With the receivers New England will play for years to come, this secondary needs speed.”
– Nick Caruso (Mock 1.0)
Some of the NFL’s best receivers excel out of the slot. If New England wants to keep up with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and even Isaiah Mckenzie, they need speed out of the slot. Marcus Jones is one of the fastest corners in the draft and he may even solve New Englands return vacancy. One of the best picks New England made this weekend.
4-127 RB Pierre Strong, South Dakota State:
Taken in the sixth round of Mock 3.0!
“Pierre Strong Jr. is one of the most underrated running back prospects in the draft. Three of his four years at South Dakota State featured 1,000-yard seasons with at least 14 catches out of the backfield. Strong has recorded ten touchdown runs of 50+ yards in his career and plays with an incredible wiggle.
His tape is electrifying, running as an opposing defense’s worst nightmare. While running back is one of New England’s strongest groups, Damien Harris is entering a contract year with James White coming off of season-ending hip surgery. Long-term insurance is needed.”
– Nick Caruso (Mock 3.0)
4-121 CB Jack Jones, Arizona State
4-137 QB Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
6-183 RB Kevin Harris, South Carolina
6-200 DT Sam Roberts, Northwest Missouri State
6-210 G Chasen Hines, LSU
7-245 OL Andrew Stueber, Michigan
1. Confidence in the current Linebacker room
The linebacker group in this year’s draft was deep with tools to succeed at the next level. The Patriots did not draft a single one of them. This says they believe in the group they have. While New England could potentially be without Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Kyle Van-Noy, they still have a lot invested in the position.
For instance, there are players returning from injury like Cameron McGrone and Raekwon McMillan. There are high draft picks from previous years including Ronnie Perkins and Josh Uche. Lastly, there are the players the Patriots acquired this year in Mack Wilson and Jabril Peppers. If New England were to spend another high end pick on a linebacker or two, it would send the message that these players don’t have the ability to start and contribute.
2. Speed on all sides of the ball
Earlier this month, Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh explained his desire for the team to get faster everywhere. The draft puts the Patriots another step forward in this goal. The team now rosters the fastest rookie wide receiver and running back and potentially one of the fastest cornerbacks of this draft class.
3. Insurance for future trades/cuts
The selection of Tyquan Thornton not only gives the Patriots another receiver signed through the 2023 season, it makes Nelson Agholor expendable. Agholor can either secure his spot as a premiere deep threat. playing out his contract or get beat out by a faster, bigger Tyquan Thornton, freeing up cap space for the team.
The Patriots doubled up on running back, a position that appears strong on paper, but needs insurance. Damien Harris is entering a contract year with an injury history, making Rhamondre Stevenson the only true reliable back. Now New England has underrated depth in the backfield.