The Patriots went into this weekend’s NFL draft with some clear needs, and when the dust settled on Saturday there were nine new members of the team.
So just how many of those needs were addressed? Most of them. Let’s take a look at who the Patriots took and why they did so. We’ll also look at one position of need the Patriots didn’t address.
Cornerback – Cyrus Jones, Alabama (60th overall)
It’s easy to look at players like Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan and say the Patriots are set at cornerback. But that would mean not looking very far into the future at all. Both cornerbacks will be free agents after this upcoming season, and while there’s no reason to believe the Patriots won’t re-sign them, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Cyrus Jones, on the smaller size, listed at 5-foot-10, but plays a physical style and can play both man and zone. A major bonus that had to sway him in the Patriots direction is his special teams capabilities. Jones was an excellent punt returner in college, and if that can translate to the NFL, it’ll take a load off Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola, who are key to the Patriots receiving corps.
Offensive line – Joe Thuney, North Carolina State (78th overall) and Ted Karras, Illinois (214th overall)
That the Patriots went out and took an offensive lineman with their second pick is no surprise. Addressing the offensive line is something New England put an emphasis on as soon as last season ended. Thuney is a versatile lineman that at this stage could be tried at the guard, tackle, or even center position. That gives offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia more to work with as he tries to fix a clear weak link in last year’s team.
Quarterback – Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State (91st overall)
With Tom Brady currently suspended for the first four games of the season, the Patriots went into the NFL Draft without a backup quarterback to Jimmy Garoppolo. Now they have one in Brissett, a bit of a surprise pick in terms of where he went in the draft (most thought he’d go later) but had a great workout with the Patriots. Will Brissett ever throw a pass in a regular season game for the Pats? Who knows. But it might make Garoppolo more expendable if another team comes calling.
Running Back - ?
The one position many thought the Patriots would address and didn’t is running back. Utah’s Devontae Booker was available, but the Pats passed. As it stands, New England goes into the season with LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis as their two main backs, with James White and Donald Brown also in the mix. But as we saw last year, if injuries hit, they’re in trouble.
The rest of the picks:
Third round – DT Vincent Valentine, Nebraska
Fourth round – WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia
Sixth round – LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Eastern Illinois and LB Elandon Roberts, Houston
Seventh round – WR Devin Lucien, Arizona State