After winning their sixth Super Bowl the Patriots are looking to add pieces to their roster to make yet another run. But this year they also had to replace Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski. But instead of filling needs the Patriots took the best player to fill specific roles despite the position. Listed below is the New England Patriots 2019 NFL Draft Review looking at each pick.
1st Round, Pick #32: N’Keal Harry WR Arizona State
It was clear that the Patriots were going to have to replace Gronk’s ability to win contested catches. But most of use assumed that would come from the tight end position. And while the Patriots will still likely draft a tight end or two, they decided to go with Harry to fill that role. Harry isn’t an elite route runner but he understands how to use leverage and can high point the ball as good as anybody in this draft. Look for the Patriots to use him both outside and in the slot and give Brady somebody he can throw the ball up to.
2nd Round, Pick #45: Joejuan Williams CB Vanderbilt
New England loves to have at least one big physical cornerback that they can use to match up against bigger receivers or even a tight end. At 6’4 211lbs Williams almost looks like a linebacker playing cornerback. Playing out of press he’s able to bully receivers and then his length to break up passes. Williams lacks good long speed which prevents him from being a top end cornerback but the Patriots are likely using him in this specific role will be able to minimize that weakness.
3rd Round, Pick #77: Chase Winovich DE Michigan
Lately the Patriots have employed mainly bigger defensive ends and have lacked that speed element off the edge. Winovich enjoyed a very productive senior year and had some first round buzz heading into the draft due to his refined pass rushing technique and red hot motor. Look for the Patriots to use Winovich as a pass rushing specialist early on his career but don’t be surprised if he develops into a starting strongside linebacker giving the Patriots an upgraded version of Shea McClellin who they were able to get some production out of.
3rd Round, Pick #87: Damien Harris RB Alabama
This was a bit of an interesting pick as running back seems to be a strength with last year’s first round pick Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White, not to mention fullback James Devlin. That being said the third round is great value here in the third round and has starting potential. Harris is a decisive one cut zone runner who can get to top speed quick and make subtle cuts to elude defenders. New England runs a different scheme each weak to fit their opponent, so Harris will be a role player but could end up being one of their main backs in a couple of years.
3rd Round, Pick #101: Yodny Cajuste OT West Virginia
Last year in the first round the Patriots drafted a running back and left tackle and in the third round here they took another running back and left tackle. Cajuste is a good athlete for the tackle position whose able to mirror pass rushers but has injury issues in the past and some balance problems. Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is the best in the NFL and can fix Cajuste’s issues while he provides depth and insurance Isaiah Wynn is not able to bounce back from injury. Don’t be surprised when Cajuste is starting along the offensive line in year two.
4th Round, Pick #118: Hjalte Froholdt G Arkansas
Guards are important to the Patriots offense because Tom Brady doesn’t like pressure up the middle. Froholdt is a good athlete who uses it with good leverage to thrive in the run game while also staying in front of defenders in pass protection. Froholdt’s biggest weakness is he lacks good length. He’ll get coached up and could replace Joe Thuney who enters his contract year.
4th Round, Pick #31: Jarrett Stidham QB Auburn
Stidham has been projected to the Patriots throughout the draft process because the Patriots need a long term replacement for Brady and Stidham is full of talent. Miscast in the Auburn offense Stidham projected to be better in the NFL than he was in college. Being able to sit behind Brady and develop under McDaniels could do wonders for him.
5th Round, Pick #21: Byron Cowart DT Maryland
A former high profile high school recruit Cowart started his career at Auburn before needing to leave. Cowart has the size of a defensive tackle but is able to play out at defensive end. However Cowart is a tweener whose not quick and fast enough for end and not strong enough for tackle. New England likes to play bigger ends, so they could use him as an early down run defender at end.
5th Round, Pick #25: Jake Bailey P Stanford
I don’t care if you are the defender Super Bowl Champions or some team that barely won any games, drafting a punter is never a good thing. I mean the Patriots are taking a punter in the 5th round when there are plenty of good positional players still that can make an impact. You can’t tell me guys like Joe Jackson, D’Andre Walker, or Sutton Smith would be better than a punter. Complete waste of a pick.
7th Round, Pick #38: Ken Webster CB Mississippi
A tough minded corner who can play both outside and in the slot can give the Patriots another cornerback capable of playing press man coverage. Webster will have to carve out a role on special teams if he wants to make the roster.
Overall Grade: A
Best Pick: N’Keal Harry
Biggest Reach: Jake Bailey
Biggest Upside: Jarrett Stidham