A Roller Coaster Ride: Reviewing the Patriots Draft

Welcome to my in-depth draft review for the New England Patriots.  I have already begun writing draft grades for each team (organized by division), but I figured I’d go more in depth for my favorite team.  Plus, I was able to submit this as a critical review for English class.

Read below for my draft grades for the Pats alongside my review.

In addition, I had the chance to catch up with Bob Socci about New England’s draft:

Now, let’s jump right in:

new_england_patriots New England Patriots

Overall Grade: B

Draft Report Card:

 

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Analysis:

Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Patriots should remain elite in 2019.  However, with tight end Rob Gronkowski hanging up his cleats and multiple receivers leaving through free agency, the Patriots still had a few tasks to accomplish coming into the NFL Draft.  

First of all, they needed to find quarterback Tom Brady some receivers.  Going into this draft, Julian Edelman was the only capable pass-catcher on the roster that Brady already has a strong rapport with.  Their depth behind Edelman was limited to Demaryius Thomas (coming off torn achilles) and Phillip Dorsett (has yet to prove himself dependable).  They also added Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a veteran tight end who was signed to help fill the hole Gronk left behind. But ASJ is no more than a temporary solution.  He has been terribly inconsistent throughout his career, and after playing 5 years on 3 different teams, he has never reached 400 receiving yards or 5 TDs in a season.  The Pats will eventually need to find another option there.

Second, they needed to fill some of their other positional needs.  They lack defensive line depth and are in desperate need of an elite pass rusher.  They brought Adrian Clayborn on board for 2018, but he didn’t consistently produce.  They haven’t really had a consistent one since DEs Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich left a few years ago.  The team could also use help at linebacker and in the o-line. Lastly, Brady’s not retiring anytime soon unless his stats suddenly decline.  But they still need time to start planning for the post-Brady era.

I feel the team worked towards achieving all of these objectives, but still could have done more to achieve them.  

There were rumors that New England would consider trading up to draft an elite tight end.  Instead, they opted to wait on a tight end and draft WR N’Keal Harry in Round 1. At #32, Harry was one of their best options, and he fills a need.  Once he gets into a rhythm with Brady, expect to see him starting and producing across from Edelman, so this was one of their better picks in the draft.

I wasn’t a huge fan of their 2nd round trade up for cornerback Joejuan Williams though.  Round 2 is a bit early for Williams; the Pats had bigger needs at #45. For example, they could have taken Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr.  But if they were going to trade up for a cornerback, it should have been LSU’s Greedy Williams. He ended up going to the Browns at #46. He may be a flawed prospect, as he’s not a very physical player and he opted out of visiting with teams prior to the draft.  But he has insane potential and refuses to leave receivers open.

The Pats redeemed themselves in the 3rd round.  After trading their later 2nd round pick, they managed to snag edge rusher Chase Winovich early in Round 3.  At the age of 24, Winovich is an older rookie, but he should still bring the energy to the locker room that Gronk left behind and make an instant impact in the pass rush where Ninkovich previously thrived.  This was the perfect choice for the Pats.

In this round, they also snagged a running back, Damien Harris and a tackle, Yodny Cajuste.  Harris is one of the better RB prospects in this draft, and he was a steal at #87. He has played in committees, but it’s hard to get a lot of opportunities in New England’s four-man backfield, something established in 2017.  As long as Michel is healthy, I’m not so sure they needed a fourth man. But he’s still a decent investment in my eyes.

Cajuste was one of the best tackles on the board and fills a need for the Pats, so I liked the pick.  Isaiah Wynn has yet to play a regular season game after losing his rookie year to an ACL tear, so the left tackle job is anyone’s for taking.

Though it received mixed reviews overall, one of my favorite picks in this draft was the selection of Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham in Round 4.  Stidham may have struggled at Auburn, but he wasn’t exactly a perfect fit for Auburn’s system, and I trust that he’ll fit better with the Pats and is capable of replacing Brady when he retires.

They also took guard Hjalte Froholdt in this round.  This was a bit of a reach, but he does help fill the team’s need for o-line depth.  

I was a bit disappointed at first when the Pats took DT Byron Cowart in Round 5, when better options were on the board.  But since then, I’ve looked further into this pick, and it actually makes sense. It fills a need, and as a former top high school prospect, Cowart has plenty of potential despite underperforming in college.  

On the other hand, it’s hard to argue in favor of the selection of punter Jake Bailey.  First of all, Bailey is a right footed punter, the first right footed punter on the Pats in a long, long, time.  Plus, they already resigned punter Ryan Allen. In baseball, they put right handed batters in a platoon with left handed batters.  Would the Pats consider something similar with punters? Regardless, the 5th round was a bit early to draft one.

Their drafted concluded with the addition of cornerback Ken Webster.  This pick didn’t make much sense, as they had already added depth at the position by drafting Joejuan Williams.  But it’s the 7th round, so I doubt it’ll have that much of an impact in the long run.

Overall I thought this draft class was pretty solid.  Some of the decisions they made were a bit confusing, but that was mixed in with some amazing picks, and it’s hard to doubt Bill Belichick.  This draft class makes a lot more sense now that the Pats have reunited with TE Ben Watson and LB Jamie Collins in free agency.  So if I had to give this draft class a letter grade, it would be somewhere in the B-range.

Stay tuned for more draft grades soon.

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‘Skins Offense Fails, Patriots Proceed To Victory Over Redskins

The Patriots’ offense didn’t put up the monster numbers experts were expecting, but what they did on defense was enough to demolish the Redskins 27-10. It started with a quick drive. The Pats marched down the field and fired to Edelman for a touchdown, even though his lip bled after.

Then, they tried for a surprise onside kick, and…., THEY GOT IT!!!! But Tom Brady ot intercepted off. He was heading for the end zone, but Brady made up for what he’d done by tackling the guy. But thirty seconds later it didn’t matter. Cousins threw to Garcon, and it bounces off his hands, and Logan Ryan came out with it!!!! The Pats ran it more this time. Not just to Dion Lewis, but also to LeGarrette Blount. It was Blount Force Trauma who got the touchdown. 14-0 Patriots.

The Patriots nearly had another solid drive followed by a touchdown, but they struggled in the red zone, and had to settle for a field goal.

The Redskins, however, weren’t able to get it going. It was consecutive 3 and outs, and there were more incomplete passes than completions. It was a nightmare for Kirk Cousins and his offense. Until the Patriots rush defense slacked off a bit, allowing rookie running back Matt Jones to bull through them. But they still had good consistency in the red zone, forcing Washington to also settle on a field goal. Dustin Hopkins, the Redskins kicker, got it, and it was 17-3.

The rest of the half was mostly defense, causing that to be the halftime score. But the offenses picked it back up in the 2nd half. At least later in it. The Pats rush defense had a big play finally, as Rob Ninkovich almost immediately picked up Matt Jones’ fumble, forced by Alan Branch. They then charged to Julian Edelman for 24 yards. Blount Force Trauma then carried the team to the red zone, but they yet again struggled there, and got the field goal. 20-3 Pats.

After a very lazy 3rd quarter, the Pats ran a very long drive that stretched from the end of the 3rd to a few minutes into the fourth. During the snooze-a-thon, an alarming injury took place though. Dion Lewis hurt his knee. It has been announced that he will go through MRI for a possible torn MCL. Brandon Bolden joined Blount to take his place. Blount continued to bull through the banged up Redskins defense, but it was Bolden who got the touchdown, when Blount sat down for a little rest.

Besides Duron Harmon’s additional knee injury, it was a quiet fourth quarter until Kirk Cousins fired to Jordan Reed for a late TD. But Jimmy Garroppollo came in, and all he had to do is take a knee, and New England held on. Despite slight offensive struggles and major injuries to Lewis, Harmon and Vollmer, the Pats held on to defeat the Redskins. The Pats are now 8-0 on their season long “Revenge Tour”. They face the New York Giants at MetLife stadium. Even though the Giants are only okay, they have been known to beat us, from regular season to super bowl, even preseason, if we prepare properly, we can do it and we know it!!! As Belichick would say, “We’re on to the Giants.”

Star Of The Game

I am starting a feature in all Pats recaps where I select a player that had a big day to showcase.  I have provided an image of the player.  He will always be a Patriots player, win or lose.

Star Of The Game: LeGarrette Blount
Star Of The Game: LeGarrette Blount

BLOUNT FORCE TRAUMA!!!  LeGarrette Blount put up monster stats today.  He had 29 rushes for 129 yards and a touchdown.  Blount had drives where he continuously ran for first downs, and bulled through the defense when he did.  LeGarrette Blount really proved himself as the star and impact player of today’s game, and especially because Lewis got hurt, and Brady’s running it more.  He has a bright future because of these reasons as well, which my stars of the game will have in the future.

FUN FACT

The Patriots have scored and 31 straight quarters.  Nobody has done it since 2009.  Only the Colts and Ramms have done it before, and 31 is the record.  If the score in the 1st quarter at New York, they will hold the record.