5 First Round Targets for the New England Patriotsby Prime Time Sports Talk February 13, 2019 9 comments
It doesn’t matter if your franchise is drafting with a top five pick or if they just won the Super Bowl, the only goal of the offseason is to adjust your roster to gear up for a championship campaign. With a hefty list of unrestricted free agents on the docket for the 2019 offseason, the Patriots will have their hands full with draft analysis as they think about the 12 picks they have for this year’s draft. There is a treasure trove of players that the Patriots could target in the first round that would be able to step in and immediately contribute.
Oklahoma: Kyler Murray, QB
This year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Murray has a unique skill set that allowed him to run a talented Oklahoma offense. There have been concerns about his height and dedication, but he recently released that he will be fully committed to becoming an NFL quarterback instead of an MLB player. Regardless of his size, the athlete is smooth and smart in the pocket and is able to make plays on the ground with his legs. He might sit for a year (or three), but his intelligence combined with Belichick’s wisdom could create a potential franchise quarterback for New England once the GOAT decides to hang up his cleats.
Ole Miss: D.K. Metcalf, WR
Chris Hogan and Josh Gordon are both slated to become free agents during the offseason. While he has had a good tenure in New England, Hogan experienced an incredibly slow year compared to his past seasons. On the other hand, Josh Gordon could be completely done with football. Metcalf, a big body receiver who can make plays on the perimeter and in the red zone, would provide a large target to throw to for Brady when his safety blankets are covered. The prospect is raw and lacks breakaway speed, but with the right coaching could become a solid receiving threat in the NFL.
Iowa: Noah Fant, TE
Even if Gronk decides to stick around for another year, he could be cut due to his large cap hit. Certainly, the Pats and Gronkowski could strike a new deal to keep the perennial talent around, but the tight end position will still be a huge concern for the team. Fant, an athletic route runner who is more of a wide receiver in a tight end’s body, has the ability to contribute immediately on the offense. Still, concerns have been raised about his ability to block. Depending on the right coach, Fant could be a steal for whichever team drafts him this upcoming spring.
Mississippi State: Montez Sweat, DE
Sweat is a big-bodied, prototype pass-rusher who would fit in excellently with the Patriots’ organization. Belichick loves players who can contribute at multiple positions, and it would be easy to see Sweat being worked into multiple packages on the defense. Regardless of if the Patriots re-sign defensive end Trey Flowers to a new deal, pass-rusher will be a top priority for the Patriots entering the offseason. Sweat’s monstrous frame and speed allow him to zoom by tackles, as well as bull-rush guards and centers through the middle of the trenches. Coverage isn’t his specialty, but Sweat does have the physicality to drop back and cover tight ends. He might not be available at the last pick in the first round, but one would imagine New England would love to add him to their defensive unit.
Ohio State: Dre’Mont Jones, DT
With Malcolm Brown and Danny Shelton due to become free agents, defensive tackle will become a position of need for the Patriots. It’s not likely that the Pats let Brown, their starting defensive tackle, walk through free agency, but anything is possible. Even if Brown is resigned, Belichick is all about pass-rushing and penetration, and a good defensive tackle is the base of a strong defense. Jones, who has the build of an outside rusher but the strength of someone who can win in the trenches, will be able to immediately step in and make a difference. The speed he exhibits could be the separating factor for teams looking to draft an interior pass-rusher, but with other talented options at the DT position throughout the draft, Jones could be a late steal for any team willing to spend a first-round pick on him.