With the focus now starting to shift into the NFL offseason, let’s have a look at some of the prospects that the New England Patriots could take in this year’s draft.
While the strategy will differ depending on where Tom Brady ends up in free agency, these options are solely based on Brady making a return to New England.
First Round, Pick 23
K’Lavon Chaisson – Edge – LSU
LSU star K’Lavon Chaisson is one of the most impressive pass rushers in this draft, and he’s also quick enough to cover tight ends. 2019 he was the focus of every offense’s game plan to beat the Tigers. His ability to affect the passing game is one of the best in this class at his position.
A.J. Epenesa – Edge – Iowa State
A productive, versatile defender, Epenesa has ideal size (6-foot-6, 280 pounds) and strength to play multiple alignments along the Patriots front. He’s been one of the Big Ten’s best defenders the last two seasons and comes to the league ready to wreck offensive lines.
Third Round, Pick 87
Matt Hennessy – Offensive Line – Temple
With a huge injury taken out of the lineup on the offensive line, the Patriots will take on some depth at the position due to the unknown status of David Andrews’ return. Hennessy is one of the most consistent pass blockers in the country. Excellent coordination with his hands, eyes, and feet. Consistently plays with good balance. Projects well to a zone-blocking scheme. Effective at walling off second-level defenders and reaching three techniques. Could benefit by adding more strength and weight to his frame. He struggles with the bullrushes against power-heavy defensive tackles. He has too much length to keep letting defenders take control of his chest at the point of attack.
Third Round, Pick 97
Thaddeus Moss – Tight End – LSU
The son of legendary wide receiver Randy Moss should be a no brainer at some point in this draft for the Patriots. He fills a huge hole at the tight end position while possessing many of his father’s skill set on offense. The 6-foot-3, 249-pound athlete who is that mismatch that teams want at tight end. Unlike what you might be picturing, the younger Moss is an accomplished run-blocker and physical player over the middle of the field. Plus, how cool would it be to have another Brady to Moss touchdown?
Third Round, Pick 99
K.J. Hill – Wide Receiver – Ohio State
The six-footer is a bit underweight, but nothing a top of the line franchise can’t fix? he is only 192 pounds but is slippery fast in man coverage. Does very well to pressure off-coverage with vertical stem and force defenders to declare leverage so he can work against it. Quick to turn his head to the quarterback and present a viable target with the intelligence and awareness to sit against zone coverage and work as a check-down option. A nifty runner with good body control and foot speed to make the first defender miss in space, but isn’t overly flashy and risk-prone, which leads to mostly positive yardage.
Fourth Round, Pick 122
Jared Mayden – Safety – Alabama
A very experienced defensive back who has a background at nearly every position on the back end. He started his career as an outside cornerback, including throughout his recruiting process. Was moved to safety during the early years at Alabama, and has been a spot rotational and reserve player until this season. In 2019 Mayden has been a consistent starter for the Crimson Tide. He does have a lack of explosiveness, which is why he doesn’t have many takeaways. He can make plays in zone coverage.
Sixth Round, Pick 196
Benito Jones – Defensive Lineman – Ole Miss
The 6-foot-1, 329-pound nose tackle is bound to be efficient in the NFL, possess great lower body balance and agility, while also having a quick first step and being able to take on a double team. However, he has many inconsistent stretches which makes it easy to forget he is on the field and struggles with zone coverage.
Sixth Round, Pick 205
Frances Bernard – Running Back – Utah
Bernard actually started his collegiate career as a running back for BYU. During his freshman season, he was second on the team in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The following year he was switched to linebacker (still at BYU). Bernard was third on the team in tackles that year with 80. Following his sophomore season, Bernard violated team rules and was also arrested on suspicion of DUI. That led to him no longer being on the team at BYU. His backfield background comes in handy when playing linebacker. You can tell he just doesn’t get fooled by certain offensive line movements and is so confident in knowing where the designed gap is going to be in a play because he was once reading the gap as a ball carrier instead of the incoming tackler.
Sixth Round, Pick 213
Aaron Fuller – Receiver – Washington
Aaron Fuller projects as a depth receiver at the NFL who will need to excel on special teams to find a secure home on a 53-man roster. Fuller, for his physical gifts, lacks the physicality to hold up sufficiently on the boundary and the toughness and concentration skills to hold up as a lot receiver working over the MOF as a slot receiver. Fuller’s drop issues are maddening and must be improved upon if he’s going to give himself a chance to carve out a niche role at the next level.
Sixth Round, Pick 214
Josh Metellus – Safety – Michigan
He lacks agility, long speed, and flexibility. He doesn’t read plays well and is always in coverage mix-ups.
Seventh Round, Pick 231
Elijah Riley – Corner Back – Army
An added commodity as a defensive back is his tackling abilities. Highly consistent tackler that isn’t afraid to stick his head in the fan and make tacklers. He does have some limitations in space and in man coverage. Zone defense has been his calling card and a little mixture of man-to-man coverage. Hanging his hat or depending on him turning and running with targets isn’t his area of expertise. Keeping his back to the LOS in zone and allowing him to roam near the line as an extra run defender is where his value will be seen the most.
Seventh Round, Pick 236
Hakeen Adenji – Offensive Line – Kansas
Possesses great coverage, needs footwork help but can read defenses well and protect the quarterback.
What do you think? Let me know on Twitter @porchie11.