The 2020 NFL Draft runs from April 23 to 25 in Las Vegas. The Patriots, who currently hold the No. 23 pick in the first round, are currently scouting at the NFL Combine to look for players to add to the roster. The last Patriots No. 23 pick was Isaiah Wynn, in the 2018 draft.
With the future of quarterback Tom Brady still looming, many experts are predicting that the Patriots could draft a quarterback to step in as his “heir,” picking Utah State’s Jordan Love as a quality choice. ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes that the team needs to target a tight end, listing Dayton’s Adam Trautman as “an intriguing small-school prospect who opened eyes at the Senior Bowl,” and LSU’s Thaddeus Moss, son of Randy, as “a fun story to follow.”
Meanwhile, LSU safety Grant Delpit was a favorite amongst numerous mock draft boards given the uncertainty of whether safety Devin McCourty will return (reportedly, McCourty and the Patriots will soon meet to discuss an extension.)
Here’s a list of who experts are predicting the Patriots will select:
Jacob Eason, Washington
Mel Kiper, ESPN: “I’m now going with a quarterback for the Patriots, who still don’t know if they’ll have Tom Brady under center in 2020. Even if the 42-year-old free agent returns on a short-term deal, the Pats have to address the position on the first two days of the draft, so why not do it now?…[Eason] has the best arm of any signal-caller in this class, though he can be erratic at times. It’d be ideal if he got a year or two to sit behind Brady, but he has a much higher ceiling that Stidham. Safety and linebacker are other positions to keep an eye on for New England’s top pick.”
Jordan Love, Utah State
Phill Perry, NBC Sports Boston: “Love has the tools to usher the Patriots into a new era at quarterback so long as he can clean up some worrisome decision-making tendencies he exhibited at Utah State. Love does fit the mold of a Prototypical Patriot in many regards…Perhaps with the addition of a bridge quarterback via free agency who could handle things in 2020, Love and Jarrett Stidham could compete to be the answer in 2021 and beyond. That scenario would at least give the Patriots a couple of physically-gifted players on whom to gamble in a post-Tom Brady world.
This pick, of course, would hinge on a Brady departure.”
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Henry McKenna, For the Win: “He’s very accurate, he’s a good decision-maker, he’s cerebral and he’s a hard worker. The Patriots have long valued those qualities more than athletic and freakish upside. Much has been made of Bill Belichick’s relationship with Nick Saban, but the Patriots took two Bulldogs in the first round of the 2018 draft.”
Grant Delpit, LSU
Todd McShay, ESPN: “New England is a little more accustomed to picking at No. 31 or 32, but the bright side of not playing in the Super Bowl for the first time in four years is the opportunity to add a quality prospect with an earlier selection. Some might lean toward Tom Brady’s heir – maybe (Utah State QB Jordan) Love. Some might think about shoring up the offensive line in case Joe Thuney leaves Foxborough.
But I’m going with the rangy Delpit, especially with Devin McCourty not a lock to be back. Delpit didn’t have the best season at LSU, but Bill Belichick and the Patriots would get the most out of him. The Pats need to keep that defense strong.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: “The Patriots could look at an offensive lineman here (see: Michigan center Cesar Ruiz), but they need to add some youth and athleticism at the safety position, as well.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: “He didn’t play as well as expected last season, but he’s still a big-time talent. With Devin McCourty possibly gone, getting a versatile player to take over for him makes sense.”
Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports: “The safety spot in New England is in a state of flux, and Delpit would stabilize that group going forward.”
Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus:“Delpit is the sort of coverage chess piece the Patriots covet. He has special man coverage ability for a 6-foot-3, 203-pound safety and has all the tools to be a tight-end eraser type at the next level. With Devin McCourty set to hit free agency, safety qualifies as a need as well.”
Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado
Michael Dussault, Patriots.com: “If the Patriots are looking to surround Tom Brady with more weapons, Shenault would be an outstanding pick. With ideal size and versatility, Shenault is a beast with the ball in his hands and would give the Patriots offense just the kind of competitive boost it needs. There might be other receivers in this draft who are more explosive or better route runners, but Shenault is the full package and would be a valuable chess piece for Josh McDaniels to play with.”
Also picked by Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report.
Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
Jeff Howe, The Athletic: “Bill Belichick can tap into friend Kirk Ferentz’s pro-ready system and capitalize on Wirfs’ surprising tumble down the board. With left guard Joe Thuney likely to break the bank in free agency, Wirfs can slot into left tackle and give the Patriots a chance to move Isaiah Wynn to left guard.”
Xavier McKinney, Alabama
Phil Perry, NBC Sports Boston: “That’s where I could envision McKinney (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) sliding in. He’s a do-it-all type for the Crimson Tide. He plays in the box. He blitzes. He covers tight ends, which has been a problem for the Patriots at times this year. He led Alabama in tackles this year, forced four fumbles, picked off three passes and broke up five more. With Patrick Chung closer to the end than the beginning, perhaps McKinney could someday fill that type of role.”
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: “Devin McCourty had five interceptions last season but he’s also set to hit free agency in a few weeks. Even if the Pats bring back the 32-year-old, McKinney would be a natural fit to eventually move into the starting role. A versatile playmaker at Alabama, McKinney can line up just about anywhere.”
A.J. Epenesa, Iowa
Micheal Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today: “Another value-based win for Bill Belichick, who would bolster his front seven with a massive edge defender from a Hawkeye program for which the coach has expressed his admiration.”
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: “The Patriots could go a number of directions in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft, with many of them depending on the future of quarterback Tom Brady…A productive, versatile defender, Epenesa has ideal size (6’6″, 280 lbs) 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.”
Curtis Weaver, Boise State
Dan Kadar, SB Nation: “The Patriots tried to replace Trey Flowers last season with third-round pick Chase Winovich, third-year end Deatrich Wise, and veteran Michael Bennett. None of them were very effective. That could lead the Patriots to go after a productive edge rusher like Weaver in the first round.”
Ross Blacklock, TCU
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: “Blacklock is an absolute disruptor in the middle of a defense. The Patriots‘ inability to stop the Titans‘ run game in the Wild Card Round will weigh heavily on Bill Belichick’s mind this offseason.”
Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Vinnie Iyer, SportingNews.com: “The Patriots have a lot of free-agency concerns at linebacker with Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins unsigned for 2020. Murray (6-2, 243 pounds) is an active, rangy playmaker who can be as effective dropping back as he is getting downhill against the run or blitzing.”
Patriots trade their first-round pick to Cleveland for Odell Beckham Jr.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: “Maybe Kevin Stefanski can fix everything, but my gut says the Browns would love to cut their losses by landing a first-round pick in this draft, and the Patriots have to be worried about simply finding a first-round impact guy or finding help for Brady in free agency.”