Nate Solder signed with the Giants. It wasn't a surprise that the Patriots opted not to keep him. Solder is obviously very talented, but he's had severe injury problems over the past several seasons, so he was too risky to give a big contract to, despite what the Giants just did. Regardless, the Patriots need a new blind-side protector.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. D.J. Moore, WR - The Patriots acquired this pick in the Brandin Cooks trade, so they might use this opportunity to find a replacement for the new Ram receiver.
2. Taven Bryan, DT - New England must improve its pedestrian pass rush.
Rd. 1, Pk. 31
Justin Reid, S, Stanford
New England's secondary needs help, and I'm sure Bill Belichick would love Justin Reid's versatility. Reid can play all over the secondary, and he fills a need for the Patriots, who like to run three-safety formations.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Rashaan Evans, LB - Evans doesn't have the size Belichick likes out of his linebackers, but he could still be an option.
2. Isaiah Oliver, CB - The Patriots lost Malcolm Butler. They managed to replace him with Jason McCourty, but he's just a short-term solution.
Rd. 2, Pk. 11
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn
The Patriots lost Dion Lewis this offseason, so they'll need to find a new running back to add to their rotation.
Rd. 2, Pk. 31
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are both gone, so the Patriots need a new young quarterback to eventually replace Tom Brady.
Rd. 3, Pk. 31
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
The Patriots replaced the departed Malcolm Butler with Jason McCourty, but here's a long-term fix.
Rd. 6, Pk. 24
Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo
It's not impossible that the Patriots will use an early and a late pick on quarterbacks, as they desperately need to find Tom Brady's successor.
Rd. 6, Pk. 36
Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
Braxton Berrios is the exact type of receiver Bill Belichick loves having in his offense.
Rd. 7, Pk. 1
Chris Warren, FB, Texas
Chris Warren seems like a good fit in New England's scheme, so he could be a late-round pick of theirs.
The Patriots traded for Kony Ealy, but they could use a third edge rusher to go with Ealy and Trey Flowers. New England has also shown interest in Rivers, who could play a Jamie Collins-type role in the team's defense.
Rivers (6-4, 248) ran fast times at the combine and showed some athleticism. As a senior, he totaled 58 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted. Rivers showed his pass-rush skills with eight sacks as a junior and 13 as a sophomore.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Alex Anzalone, OLB/ILB, Florida
The Patriots could use more linebacker depth.
Anzalone was very impressive at times during the 2016 season, racking up 40 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and two passes broken up. He barely played in 2015 because of a shoulder injury that led to a medical redshirt. Anzalone was a backup and had injury issues during his first two years as well.
While sources say that Anzalone is not real twitchy, sudden or explosive, he takes on blocks and uses his hands well. Anzalone is fast in a straight line, but not that quick. He lacks quick twitch change of direction. Anzalone is decent in pass coverage, but lacks good awareness in zone. He is viewed as a third- or fourth-rounder who could develop into a starting inside linebacker; however, there are major durability concerns from repeated injuries in college, so teams could flunk him medically.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Jordan Morgan, G, Kutztown
The Patriots could use some interior offensive line depth and competition. New England has shown interest in Morgan as well.
Sources say that the small-school prospect is a potential third-day offensive lineman who could have risen with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl. He didn't really handle the better competition well and will need development as a backup before starting.
Morgan has good size and is strong at the point of attack. Some team contacts have said they think he could be a lesser version of Ali Marpet, who was a Division III player and ended up being a second-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sources said that Morgan was being graded in the fourth or fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft before the Senior Bowl.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Brad Seaton, OT, Villanova
The Patriots grab some tackle depth and have shown interest in Seaton.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State
The Patriots take some receiver depth and hosted Ross on a pre-draft visit.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Fish Smithson, S, Kansas
The Patriots grab a sleeper safety who could be a steal.
The Patriots could use more talent at offensive tackle after losing Nate Solder. Miller could compete to start at left or right tackle for New England. <br> <br>
Miller (6-9, 309) had a rough start to 2017, but turned in a decent season for UCLA blocking for Josh Rosen as the Bruins' left tackle. Miller has good length to him, athleticism, quickness, and the agility to stay on the edge in the NFL. However, Miller can have problems with speed rushes to the inside, which is in part because of his height and playing too tall. That caused him to have some up and down performances in college. He played right tackle in 2015 and 2016 before injuries ended those seasons early. Miller only played in five games in 2016. Miller has a great skill set with a ton of upside and blocks with a mean streak. He could turn into a special player if he lands with good coaching.
There's not much to say about this pick except that it is where New England grabs their next developmental quarterback to have sit behind Tom Brady while he winds down to the end of his career. Head coach and general manager Bill Belichick decides to go ahead a pull the trigger here after missing out on the first five passers were selected in the top ten selections of the draft. The Pats do possess the 11th pick in the second round, but Rudolph is viewed as a fringe first or second round quarterback prospect with the potential to be a starter at the professional level and waiting till that pick may result in them getting jumped as another team would possibly trade up to select him as soon as pick 32. If the Patriots do not land Rudolph, then the best they could do at quarterback would be Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, Western Kentucky passer Mike White, or Washington State signal caller Luke Falk, all of him are projects and more of mid-round talent players.
The Patriots do have several other directions they could go in if they gambled to pick a quarterback later on; they could be intrigue by the talents of defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, offensive tackle Kolton Miller, wide receiver Courtland Sutton, and edge rusher Sam Hubbard. Belichick decides to go ahead a select the guy who the team has been curiously linked to leading up to the draft.
Mason Rudolph is a guy who fits the Patriots scheme. He may not have the most powerful arm, but he stands tall at 6'5", played 4 seasons of college football, and has the accuracy to excel in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system. The guy threw for 64 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in high school, then went on to throw 28 touchdowns with 4 interceptions his junior year and 37 touchdowns with 9 interceptions as a senior. He led college football with 377 yards per game and maintained an above 60% completion percentage throughout his entire college career. Finally, Rudolph is a winner (a trait the Patriots know a lot about), finishing with a 32-10 record at Oklahoma State. (Rudolph is my number 5 quarterback prospect in the 2018 class)
This is the pick acquired from the Brandin Cooks trade. The Patriots have been linked to various quarterbacks throughout the draft process, but with Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson off the board and it being perhaps a bit too early for Oklahoma State passer Mason Rudolph, head coach and general manager Bill Belichick can look to fill one of the many holes on his roster. The Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in a nailbiter in Super Bowl LII after a questionable benching of Super Bowl XLIV hero cornerback Malcolm Butler. The offseason has seen him depart to the Tennessee Titans. Additionally, the team notoriously gifted quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline last season and then proceeded to trade away wide receiver Brandin Cooks this offseason after acquiring him last offseason. In free agency, the Pats lost key pieces in wide receiver Danny Amendola, left tackle Nate Solder, swing tackle Cameron Fleming, and running back Dion Lewis. New England was able to bring in some talented guys with defensive tackle Danny Shelton, end Adrian Clayborn, running back Jeremy Hill, receiver Jordan Matthews, and corner Jason McCourty. The Patriots are experts at the offseason and being able to build a cohesive roster and normally approach the draft with a best player available mentality. This year will be no different.
New England hasn't had a first round draft pick since 2015, and similarly to the 2012 draft where they selected two stars in linebacker Dont'a Hightower and pass rusher Chandler Jones, they possess two first round selections. Looking at the player pool at this point in the draft, names like running backs Derrius Guice and Sony Michel, linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans, defensive tackles Taven Bryan and Maurice Hurst, and offensive linemen Kolton Miller and Isaiah Wynn are all definite possibilities. However, one has to believe that defensive tackle and running back will not be the position selected just due to value and depth. Instead, the Patriots look to find the replacement to Malcolm Butler and complete their secondary with a new nickel corner that has been so prevalent in today's NFL.
Jaire Alexander should be one of the highest rated players on Belichick's draft board at this juncture with his performance at the NFL Combine and playmaking ability. Alexander led a Louisville Cardinal defense to a NCAA playoff appearance in 2016 with his 5 interceptions and 9 pass deflections. His junior season was derailed by injuries, limiting him to only 6 games, but he was still able to record 19 tackles, 1 interception, and 4 pass deflections. At the NFL Combine in March, Alexander looked like the most NFL ready player at his position during the on-field drills showing fluid hips, a quick backpedal, soft hands, and good lateral movement. He went on to also run a 4.34 40 and 3.94 20 yard shuttle that really boosted his draft stock. Along with the McCourty brothers, 2017 addition Stephon Gilmore, and safety Patrick Chung, New England and Alexander can look improve a bottom three passing defense from last season.
Patriots traded Brandon Cooks to get this pick and they won't waste it on just any prospect no, they use it on former Heisman trophy win and future successor to Tom Brady in Lamar Jackson. Jackson has clearly showed during his time at Louisville that he has speed, arm power and playmaking ability to be a star QB, But what most people say they have a problem with him is he doesn't think like an NFL QB should. The way to fix those learnable problems is sitting behind the GOAT Qb Tom Brady and learning some of his tricks to mix into his spectacular playmaking ability. This would be an amazing pick for the Pats here at 23.
The Patriots could use multiple young defensive ends from this draft. The lack of pass rush was a problem throughout 2017 and killed New England in the Super Bowl. Trey Flowers is in the last year of his contract, Derek Rivers missed his rookie season, and Adrian Clayborn is just a role player journeyman. Here's an end who would be a good fit for New England's scheme. <br> <br>
Hubbard totaled 43 tackles, seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2017. In 2016, he collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted. While rotating into the game as a sophomore, Hubbard showed his potential with 6.5 sacks. He also had 28 tackles with an interception that season. <br> <br>
The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder has a great skill set, but never produced up to it. Hubbard possesses a serious combination of size, speed, and athletic ability that should help him to rise during the pre-draft workouts, however. Some team sources feel that Hubbard was an underachiever and should have turned in a lot more production over his collegiate career.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with Sam Hubbard Going to Patriots
Rd. 1, Pk. 23
Isaiah Wynn, OT/G/C
There were mixed thoughts on Isaiah Wynn in the pre-draft process, as some teams thought he could go in the first round, while others believed he would be taken early on Round 2. I think this is a fine choice because protecting Tom Brady, especially at age 41, is incredibly important.
What's interesting is that Wynn was introduced as a left tackle, and that's why I don't love this selection. Wynn has athleticism, but he lacks the length to be a successful tackle. Sure, there have been exceptions, but history is going against Wynn and his 32-inch arms.
Rd. 1, Pk. 31
Sony Michel, RB
This pick surprises me a bit. Bill Belichick hates when running backs fumble. Mike Gillislee fumbled last year and wasn't heard from again for months. Sony Michel's one weakness on the field is his fumbling. Maybe Belichick thinks he can fix that problem, but if he doesn't, Michel could be in the dog house.
That said, I still love this pick. Michel was my No. 2 running back, as he's a dynamic player with Alvin Kamara-type ability. With Dion Lewis gone, it made sense to bring in Michel.
Rd. 2, Pk. 24
Duke Dawson, CB
It feels wrong to question Bill Belichick, but it's not like he's been flawless in the draft. He's made some mistakes, and I believe this will be one. I don't dislike Dawson, whom we've seen third-round grades on, but I don't know why he felt the need to trade up for him. The Patriots may have gotten Dawson or another comparable prospect by staying put and even perhaps moving down a few spots. Still, the Patriots are at least filling a huge need, so that's important.
Rd. 5, Pk. 6
Ja'Whaun Bentley, ILB
MILLEN WOULD LOVE TO INSERT KIELBASAS INTO CHEWBACCA'S BACKSIDE Grade
And we've reached the point in the draft in which Bill Belichick mails it in and starts taking UDFA players. The Patriots notoriously have a small board, and Bentley certainly is a UDFA prospect.
Rd. 6, Pk. 4
Christian Sam, ILB
Christian Sam has size and athleticism limitations, but he makes sense as a backup player and special-teamer on Day 3. Unlike the Patriots' previous pick, Sam is a draftable prospect.
Rd. 6, Pk. 36
Braxton Berrios, WR
i A- Grade
This pick makes way too much sense. Braxton Berrios is the quintessential Patriots receiver, and it's not a surprise that Bill Belichick is taking him here, as he needed to replace Danny Amendola. I actually mocked Berrios here in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
Rd. 7, Pk. 1
Danny Etling, QB
Bill Belichick has a good eye for quarterbacks, so it wouldn't be a big surprise if Danny Etling pans out. Etling was inconsistent at LSU, but finished the year well. His size and accuracy isn't great, but he could develop into a fine backup.
Rd. 7, Pk. 25
Keion Crossen, CB
As mentioned earlier, Bill Belichick is not afraid to draft UDFA players because of his small board. Keion Crossen couldn't have been on too many draft boards. This late in the draft, this is not a big deal.
Rd. 7, Pk. 32
Ryan Izzo, TE
Some insurance for Rob Gronkowski? Probably not. Ryan Izzo may not make the roster, but if he does, he'll contribute on special teams pretty well, much like another player named Izzo who used to play for the Patriots.