What experts are saying about the Patriots’ 2019 NFL Draft approach

A top pick spent on the defensive line appears likely.

NFL Draft 2019
The 2019 NFL Draft starts Thursday at 8 p.m. –The Associated Press

The 2019 NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. Thursday for first-round selections. The Patriots own the No. 32 pick, which will be the final pick of the first round. Rounds two and three of the draft will be conducted Friday night, and the final four rounds take place Saturday afternoon.

Overall, the Patriots have 12 picks across the draft’s seven rounds, including five picks across rounds two and three.

Here is what NFL experts project for the Patriots over the three-day NFL Draft:

Jeff Howe, The Athletic: “Spend high-round assets on the defensive line and a tight end, as well as a tackle, if the value lines up. Add one wide receiver who should be viewed as a lock to make the team… Pluck a quarterback, at minimum for competition purposes. And if there’s a willing trade partner, attempt to turn current assets into better picks in 2020.”

Advertisement

Howe’s Patriots draft breakdown features the following main points:

  • Pick the best player available at No. 32 between defensive line, tight end, or offensive tackle.
  • Use at least one Friday draft pick (they have five) on defensive linemen.
  • Acquire at least one tight end overall: Howe identified five players (Jace Sternberger, Kahale Warring, Dawson Knox, Josh Oliver or Kaden Smith) as likely to go in the second or third rounds.
  • Get an offensive tackle at some point: Howe wrote Kaleb McGary and Tytus Howard could be available at the end of the second round or early in the third. If not there, he expressed the Patriots should find one with their picks in Rounds 4-7.
  • Trade into a favorable position for a quarterback in the 2020 draft: According to Howe, next year’s quarterback class could potentially be a great one. He suggested floating the No. 32 to teams that project to struggle this season for a first round pick in 2020. If not that, Howe advised that Belichick draft a QB at some point anyway to keep the competition fresh behind Brady.
  • Acquire a receiver in round two or three: The Patriots need wide receivers. Howe wrote the draft features strength at that position Friday night. The Patriots have an arsenal of picks in those rounds.

Tom E. Curran, NBC Sports Boston: “If the Patriots do deal out of the first round, their preference almost certainly would be trading into next year. If they can get a team to send them a first-rounder for next April when the quarterback crop is expected to be much better… the Patriots would then have multiple first-rounders.”

Curran is concerned with how the Patriots’ choices this weekend highlight the plan at quarterback. He wrote there is a “perceived talent dropoff” after the first dozen or so picks, making a fair argument to trade No. 32 up and grab a better player, or down to acquire more assets. Those assets could be a 2020 first round pick, delaying the Patriots’ plans to acquire a Brady successor once more or even acquire Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen.

If Belichick does go out of his way to draft a quarterback Thursday or Friday, it’s an indication the Pats will commit to developing that player as a potential starter, wrote Curran. He also “wouldn’t be surprised” if Belichick uses No. 32 to draft a wide receiver.

Andrew Callahan, MassLive: “New England’s needs on the defensive line align perfectly with the strength of this year’s draft class. It only makes sense that the best Patriot to come out of this week will play either defensive tackle or on the edge.”

Advertisement

Bill Belichick has traditionally used top draft choices on defensive players. Callahan does not expect that to change Thursday or Friday and predicted the Patriots will grab a pass rusher on Thursday or Friday. His bolder ideas lie on the offensive side of the ball.

Callahan predicted the Patriots will not pick a tight end until the draft’s later rounds, citing the only prospects at the position who project to make an impact as rookies (Iowa’s Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson) will likely be gone before the Patriots’ first-round pick rolls around. He also advises the Patriots take two wide receivers on Friday to replenish the position and diminish the harm of one receiver pick flopping.

Buy Tickets

Callahan believes the Patriots will acquire a 2020 first-round pick, either by way of trading No. 32 or one of their two second-round picks.

Mike Reiss, ESPN: “Patriots will double dip at wide receiver.”

Reiss identifies wide receiver as one of the Patriots’ top needs and writes Belichick has found success drafting multiple players at the same position in the past. Ideally, Reiss sees the Patriots acquiring at least one receiver with experience returning punts for increased versatility.

Patriots.com’s updating list of first-round mock draftsA majority project the Patriots to draft a defensive lineman at No. 32 or trade the pick.

The Patriots’ website has run an updating list of 15 first-round mock drafts from NFL experts since January. The overwhelming consensus as of the most recent updates projected the Patriots drafting a defensive lineman (7/15 project this) at No. 32 or trading the pick (4/15). The Broncos, 49ers, and Giants were identified as teams the Patriots might make a deal with.

Advertisement

Two experts projected the Patriots to draft a quarterback at No. 32: ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected the Pats to pick Duke’s Daniel Jones as of April 11, while another expert predicted Belichick to pick Drew Lock from Missouri.