The New England Patriots are notorious for finding talent in mid to late rounds and the 2020 draft was no exception. They are a contender for the most underrated draft class of 2020. They targeted positions that were impact makers and players who were versatile. That aside, this draft class was built off the initial trade down with Los Angeles Chargers and gave up pick 23 to move to 37. They also received pick 71 from Los Angeles, which became another trade piece with the Baltimore Ravens. These trades allowed them to accumulate more picks and take more shots at high upside players. With that said, let’s get into the bevy of picks the Patriots had.
Be sure to check out all of Podloski’s 2020 NFL Draft Re-Grades.
- Round 2, pick 37: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Round 2, pick 60: Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan
- Round 3, pick 87: Anfernee Jennings, OLB, Alabama
- Round 3, pick 91: Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA
- Round 3, pick 101: Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
- Round 5, pick 159: Justin Rohrwasser, PK, Marshall
- Round 6, pick 182: Michael Onwenu, G, Michigan
- Round 6, pick 195:Justin Herron, OT, Wake Forest
- Round 6, pick 204: Cassh Maluia, LB, Wyoming
- Round 7, pick 230: Dustin Woodard, C, Memphis
Best Pick: Michael Onwenu, G, Michigan
Hot take that shouldn’t be a hot take: Onwenu was the best pick, value-wise in the draft. Getting a guy with all-pro potential in the sixth round is asinine. Onwenu was 390 lbs coming out of Michigan and was able to cut down to around 350 lbs. He was able to retain the same power but add more explosiveness. His hand usage and pass blocking improved game to game and even showed up when he played right tackle. He is, simply put, the best player from this draft class for the Patriots.
Questionable Selection: Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA & Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech
The signing of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith is an indictment of what the team thinks about Asiasi and Keene, both of which I had ranked much lower than where they were drafted. They simply did not show enough with the opportunities provided. Asiasi was a receiving project, with excellent natural movement skills and burst. Keene was always more of a versatile blocking tight end, but not sure he was more of a full back than a tight end. Don’t expect much from either going forward.
Late Bloomer: Josh Uche, OLB, Michigan
Uche is the definition of a late bloomer player. The physical tools and athleticism didn’t start to click with the mental game, until late in the season. It’s alright, as Uche is becoming more effective using power and quickness along with the dominant hand usage and counters he has. There’s a lot of development to come with Uche, but also a lot of unknowns, making his development an intriguing watch.
Player to Keep an Eye On: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir Rhyne
Dugger has one of the highest ceilings of this draft class with the physical tools and flashes. The ceiling is a perennial pro-bowler if the development occurs right. Even though Dugger was a Division 2 player, he had the movement skills and body type of a starter in the NFL. With the tools, he was easily worth the second-round pick and is a great fit in the Patriots hybrid scheme. His upside from unreal movement skills and physicality immediately raises the potential of the Patriots’ secondary, where he could be the next great safety/box defender. In a word, the fit is perfect, as he’s going to be a chess piece for Bill Belichick to terrorize offenses with, for years to come.
What They Should Have Done: Take a Wide Receiver Instead of Trading Down
The process of trading down was exceptional and proved to be successful. However, the offense still has significant question marks at wide receiver a year later. In addition, the Patriots have not drafted a good receiver in the draft (except Deion Branch?), and in the past opted to use free agency and traded for receivers. N’Keal Harry was going into his second year after showing nothing, while Julian Edelman was at the end of his career. Jakobi Meyers has developed nicely, but can he ever be a dominant wide receiver? Overall, the picks and decisions made throughout the draft were great. However, the lack of talent in the receiver core was worrying and still has not been addressed. It may have a greater impact this year and in the future to come.
Trading down has long been a Patriots’ MO, and it continues to work for them. To move down and take a swing at multiple upside players is an excellent process. In addition, adding two key starters for the offense and defense makes this draft class higher than the national perception. Onwenu has legitimate all-pro talent if he can continue his ascension. Dugger is what scouts thought, a versatile chess piece that Belichick will utilize to his fullest. Other notable picks being Uche and Jenning of which, who can become contributors to the team. The rest of the class has some developmental upside but is a mystery without more reps. Overall, the 2020 draft was solid and has players with a high ceiling, which will hopefully turn to one or two star players.
Final Grade: B+ (Two Significant and High-End Contributors with Great Upside)
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