The 2020 NFL Draft starts on Thursday, April 23. As a lead up to the draft, we’ll be giving a team-by-team breakdown for positional needs. For each team, we’ll give an overview of each team’s current depth chart and how big of a need each position in the upcoming draft.
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New England Patriots 2020 Draft Picks Overview
Round 1 (23)
Round 3 (87)
Round 3 (98)
Round 3 (100)
Round 4 (125)
Round 4 (139)
Round 5 (172)
Round 6 (195)
Round 6 (204)
Round 6 (212)
Round 6 (213)
Round 7 (230)
New England Patriots Offense
by Rich Hribar
2019 New England Patriots Offensive Ranks
*denotes new addition
With Tom Brady leaving New England, the Patriots will have a different Week 1 starting quarterback for the first time since the 2001 season. As it stands now, the Patriots only have Stidham and Hoyer at the position. Stidham was last year’s fourth-round pick (133 overall) and the seventh quarterback selected in the draft. As a rookie, Stidham threw just four passes, with one being a pick-six in cleanup duty that immediately got him pulled.
The Patriots have endorsed Stidham at nearly every turn this offseason, but could be in play to make a potential move up for a quarterback or staying put and seeing if someone such as Jordan Love or Jacob Eason slide in the first round.
The Patriots have their entire backfield from a year ago under contract for this upcoming season, but they could be in the market to add to the position along the way at some point with one of their bevy of picks in the third round or later.
Sony Michel and Damien Harris are both on their rookie contracts, but both have their warts. Michel has averaged 4.5 and 3.9 yards per touch over his first two seasons in the league while contributing just 19 receptions in the passing game. Harris was selected in the third round a year ago (87th overall), but managed to play just five offensive snaps all season as a rookie.
James White (28-years-old), Rex Burkhead (30 at the start of the season), and Brandon Bolden (30) all have expiring contracts after this upcoming season, with the latter two holding marginal cap hits that don’t ensure their immediate roster spots.
The Good: The Patriots got 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns on 153 targets from 33-year-old Julian Edelman last season. The Bad: The team collectively got 119 receptions for 1,445 yards and 10 touchdowns on 214 targets from the seven other wide receivers that played offensively in 2019. That includes players no longer on the roster in Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, and Antonio Brown. It also includes last year’s first-round pick N’Keal Harry, who only managed seven games played as a rookie (12-105-2).
Harry will be leaned on to take a step forward and deserves more of a rope to produce prior to throwing him into the bucket with other drafted New England wideouts from previous drafts. But Edelman will turn 34-years-old this May while Mohamed Sanu will turn 31 this August. This team needs playmakers in the passing game with Harry unproven and the few contributors they are also counting on being well past their age apex.
If you thought the New England wideout room was looking thin, look at this tight end group. No team threw fewer passes (52) to their tight ends than the Patriots did a year ago, resulting in a combined effort of 36 receptions for 418 yards and two touchdowns. This isn’t the best draft class to have a need at tight end, but New England is at the front of the list of teams entering the draft with a major need.
LT: Isaiah Wynn/Yodny Cajuste
LG: Joe Thuney/Jermaine Eluemunor/Hjalte Froholdt
C: David Andrews
RG: Shaq Mason/Najee Toran
RT: Marcus Cannon/Korey Cunningham
New England ranked fifth in adjusted sack rate (5.3%) but also had the luxury of Tom Brady behind them, who averaged 2.6 seconds per drop back to pass attempt, which was the fifth-lowest rate in the league last season. A change over to a new quarterback could see that number spike similar to what the Colts strong offensive line dealt with a year ago, but the overall offensive line roster for the Patriots is in good shape.
The Patriots got good news with center David Andrews returning to the team after missing the entire 2019 season with a blood clot in his lung. Andrews’s replacement a year ago, Ted Karras, ranked 30th of 38 qualifying centers per Pro Football Focus in 2019. Andrews is under contract for just the 2020 season while Joe Thuney is as well, playing under the franchise tag. RT Marcus Cannon is signed through the 2021 season while Shaq Mason has a long term commitment (signed through 2023) and Isaiah Wynn is on his rookie deal.
New England Patriots Defense
by Dan Pizzuta
2019 New England Patriots Defensive Ranks
interior defensive line
The Patriots got decent production out of Danny Shelton both as a pass rusher and run stopper last season, but he’s now in Detroit with Matt Patricia. Still, there’s a solid rotation remaining on the interior and the Pats will move a few of these players around, such as Deatrich Wise, who can play inside on on the end of a four-man line. Wise only had 101 pass rush snaps last season but had an impressive 17.8% pressure rate, per SIS. New England wasn’t very active in free agency but did sign Beau Allen from the Buccaneers. Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler were both plus contributors last season on a defensive line that was sixth in Adjusted Line Yards allowed, per Football Outsiders.
Bill Belichick has rarely paid a premium for pass rushers and the ability to scheme pressure will be put to the test in 2020. Both Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins are gone and while neither served as a pure EDGE, but they ranked first and fourth in pressure rate on the team in 2019. The Patriots weren’t a great quick-strike pass rush last season as they relied more on coverage sacks. They ranked just 22nd in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate. There’s certainly room for a better pass rusher on the roster but the question is whether there will be a significant investment made.
Another place where the loss of Van Noy and Collins will be felt. New England’s off-ball position also could be considered an on-ball position. Even Hightower last season rushed the passer on nearly 60% of his pass snaps. The Patriots also used dime personnel at the fourth-highest rate in the league last season (41% of plays per SIS), which limits the amount multiple linebackers will have to be on the field.
Stephon Gilmore made his case as the best cornerback in the NFL during the 2019 season. JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones were also among the best statistically and Jason McCourty was a good No. 2 on the outside. This is one of the strongest position groups in the NFL and because of how much the Patriots value coverage, there is always the possibility of another addition. It’s not a “need” but it’s a spot New England will continually target.
With Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, the Patriots are set at safety for 2020. McCourty was re-signed to a two-year deal after it looked like he might leave in free agency. Still, McCourty will be 33 years old this season and is closer to the end of his Patriots tenure than the beginning. Adrian Phillips was signed to an affordable two-year contract and just turned 28 years old in March. That addition will help for the future and with the amount of Dime personnel the Patriots play, but this could still be a sneaky need coming up.