Because the Patriots put collectively a historic free-agent class, a couple of issues got here into focus.
Invoice Belichick clearly noticed that his 2020 crew lacked depth on either side of the ball, which is one purpose why the crew was so aggressive in signing 13 free brokers and re-signing a further eight gamers. By doling out greater than $160 million in assured cash, the Patriots stuffed their roster with recognized commodities. Traditionally, the Pats have been modest spenders in free company after which fill in some gaps by the use of the NFL Draft.
Through the use of such an aggressive strategy final month, nevertheless, the Pats have ensured that their 2021 roster will rely closely on veterans and fewer so on rookies. Proper now, the Patriots have 79 gamers on their 90-man roster. In addition they have 10 draft picks arising later this month.
Following their free-agent frenzy, the Patriots have put themselves in place to wheel and deal throughout the 2021 NFL Draft and might both commerce up or out of this upcoming draft.
Put it this manner: Wouldn’t it make sense for the Patriots to draft 10 gamers after which depart room for only one undrafted free agent?
The Pats normally usher in a stable class of undrafted free-agents to compete with rookies and veterans. These undrafted gamers have led to some gems, similar to David Andrews, Malcolm Butler, J.C. Jackson, Adam Butler and Jonathan Jones. We’re not saying they need to keep away from drafting within the first 4 rounds to take some probabilities on undrafted gamers. It’s clear, nevertheless, that the Patriots don’t want a big rookie class.
Trying on the roster, the Pats have few holes because of their free-agent splurge. Taking the Pats’ 2022 free-agent class into consideration, positions like cornerback and offensive sort out would make sense on this upcoming draft. It’s doable that Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown all play in contract years. The reality is the Pats may not have that a lot room for a rookie to make an immediate influence.
After all, the one place that stands out is quarterback.
With a depth chart of Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala, that is the one place the Patriots actually didn’t deal with final month. With a deep quarterback class and the Patriots choosing at No. 15, we already know they received’t be drafting Trevor Lawrence, who will go No. 1. It’s anticipated that BYU’s Zach Wilson will go No. 2. The query then turns into, what occurs with San Francisco at No. 3? They’ll be drafting both Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance.
The Patriots aren’t in place to get one of many high quarterbacks. That’s why they might have to commerce up. Standard knowledge says that the Pats must package deal No. 15, a 2021 third-rounder and a 2022 first-rounder (no less than) to maneuver up. The issue is that Atlanta (No. 4), Carolina (No. 8) and Denver (No. 9) are in entrance of them and are thought of to be within the operating for the ultimate two quarterbacks. If the Falcons’ plan is to stay with Matt Ryan, the Pats might attempt to commerce up in entrance of the Panthers and Broncos.
The Pats additionally might transfer up within the second spherical or commerce again into the tip of the primary spherical to focus on the subsequent batch of quarterbacks — Kyle Trask, Davis Mills, Kellen Mond and Jamie Newman. Because it stands proper now, the Pats have one decide every within the first, second and third rounds, however maintain three fourth-round picks. That’s sufficient ammo to maneuver up.
There’s one other component to the 2021 draft that must be thought of and it’s the uncertainty of all the things. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school soccer season was shorter for a lot of groups. Some groups didn’t take part. Some gamers opted out. Due to the virus, there was no NFL Mix and there aren’t any pre-draft visits or one-on-one conferences at school campuses. Groups are caught utilizing video requires interviews and, at occasions, previous sport movie to construct their draft board.
Contemplating the Patriots have a deep roster, they’ll afford to package deal picks to commerce up or commerce out into 2022 — the place the hope is the pre-draft course of will likely be again to regular. The 2022 draft can be already thought of to be deeper than this draft.
That’s much more purpose for the Patriots to shorten this draft class, depend on their veterans and achieve extra property for 2022 or package deal a number of picks to maneuver up and seize their meant goal.