The Patriots’ 2018 draft class was decimated by injury, but must be ready to step up in order to defend the Lombardi Trophy.
After winning their third Super Bowl in five years, it’s safe to say the New England Patriots have been elite with their roster. One of the necessary ways to build an elite roster is through the NFL Draft, and Bill Belichick has been a master of finding diamonds in the rough.
With almost absolute control over the roster, Belichick has been able to fine-tune his team into a perennial contender. The majority of the Pats’ 2018 draft class spent time on injured reserve, delaying the anticipation of watching what the rookies were capable of. Entering their sophomore year as reigning champions, these players will be looked upon to step up in order to repeat.
OT Isaiah Wynn
The Patriots’ first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, Wynn was drafted to be the replacement blindside blocker for Tom Brady after Nate Solder left via free agency. Unfortunately, the former Georgia Bulldog tore his Achilles in the preseason, ultimately ending his rookie season before it started. To compensate for the loss, New England traded for San Francisco offensive tackle Trent Brown.
Brown went on to hold down the blindside, and departed earlier this year to Oakland for a record contract, once again leaving the left tackle position open. Tom Brady is the key for New England, and keeping him upright will once again be a top priority in Foxboro.
CB Duke Dawson
Drafted to be the next slot corner in the Pats’ talented secondary, Dawson was sent to injured reserve with a hamstring injury early into the season. Just like with Wynn, the next man up, undrafted free agent JC Jackson, stepped up to fill the role.
Dawson was touted as one of the best slot corners in the country entering the NFL Draft, and combined with his youth, he will be welcome in an already-stacked defensive backs group. He may not earn a significant amount of playing time considering the talent around him, but Dawson has room to improve and the tools around him to do so.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
One of the few players who made it to the regular season, Bentley was one of the most impressive members of the Patriots defense while he was playing. Similarly to many of his draft class members, Bentley ended up on the injured reserve.
Fans shouldn’t be worried about his abilities coming back from injury, but how he grew as a player in his first year as a professional. One of Belichick’s favorite former players, linebacker Jerod Mayo, was brought in this year as a coach. He could be a perfect mentor for the rising sophomore who still has a lot to prove.
WR Braxton Berrios
Last year’s Andy Isabella, Berrios is a slick route runner who excels in the slot. The Patriots wideout corps is badly in need of reinforcements. Berrios wasn’t able to see the field last year, but he was one of the most highly-touted members of the draft class.
Similarly to Chase Winovich, a third-round pick from this year, Berrios has an amazing work ethic that must have been noticed by Belichick. With the ability to contribute as a receiver and a returner, Berrios has the skills to make the final roster.