Hey NFL fans it’s Josh here to tell you what the perfect and realistic 2020 NFL Draft would look like from a die-hard New England Patriot’s fan. The question I always get is were you a fan before they started winning or a bandwagon fan. The photo above is what I always show people as proof as I am a Patriots fan since day 1. Drew Bledsoe was my favorite player and I loved running around the backyard catching passes from my dad pretending to be Ben Coates (a fantastic tight end that used to play for the Patriots). When Drew got hurt and Brady took his spot I was furious. But then he won a few Super Bowls and I was sold and was finally okay with the decision to let Bledsoe go.
So, I am a die-hard from the first time I can remember watching football. I haven’t missed a Patriots game since 2001 and I am active on social media and a huge sports nerd and read up on them and what they are doing every day. I LOVE FOOTBALL. I also love my Patriots. Anyone you ask that knows me will verify this. Now that’s cleared up the point of this article is to tell you guys from my viewpoint what a perfect NFL Draft weekend for the Patriots would look like. We all know the Patriots lost Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon, Elandon Roberts, Stephen Gostkowski, and could be trading Joe Thuney at any time. With all those losses you have to think “How on earth do you fill all of them?” Well, I’m here to show you what a perfect and realistic 2020 NFL Draft for the New England Patriots would look like! Let’s Go!!!!
1.) First Round Pick 23rd Overall- AJ Epensa, Defensive End Iowa
One thing that the New England Patriots never seem to have much off is a pass rush. Yeah, every now and then they have good pass rushers (Chandler Jones, Trey Flowers, Richard Seymour) but they tend to rely on the bend but don’t break philosophy. Well, John Simon, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise, Chase Winovich, Keionta Davis, and Derek Rivers are there current defensive ends on there roster. After this upcoming season, Chase Winovich is the only one out of that group that’s under contract. Let’s be honest that’s an underwhelming group. Epensa would start from day 1 and be an upgrade right away. He can play both defensive end and tackle in the 3-4 and 4-3 defense which is huge since Belichick likes using different schemes and loves versatile players. He also is very good at setting the edge in the run game and has the ability to use power to set up his pass rush moves. Check, check, and check. It sounds like a perfect fit to me. Gives them an instant starter and upgrade right away. AJ Epensa welcome to New England we need you on our defensive line ASAP.
2.) Second Round Pick 39th Overall (acquired from Miami Dolphins)- Antoine Winfield Safety, Minnesota
Another huge need filled for the Patriots. Also, we have a trade here. The Patriots send Guard Joe Thuney and a 6th Round Pick (213 overall) to the Miami Dolphins for one of there two second-round picks at pick 39. Rumors are the two teams are talking and with the familiarity between Brian Flores (The Dolphins Head Coach) and Belichick a deal could easily be struck. The Dolphins have a need at guard, Flores is familiar with Thuney, and the Dolphins have tons of draft capital. The Patriots traded there 2nd round pick to Atlanta last year in a trade for Mohammed Sanu. This trade would benefit both teams. As for Antoine Winfield. The safety position in New England is aging with Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung both getting up there in age. This is the perfect time to draft a potential replacement and let them learn under the two established starters. This would provide the youth the back end of there defense needs. Winfield has high football IQ, above-average range, he’s a good tackler, and he can get to the football from the deep middle and attack the run. These are all traits the Belichick loves and I think Winfield would also make a day 1 impact and add much-added youth and depth to a secondary that is growing older (particularly at the safety position). Another need filled for the Pats.
3.) Third Round Pick 87th Overall- Jalen Hurts, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Yeah, this is one that probably has a few of you rolling your eyes. But, let’s dive into this. Hurts fills a few needs. One, I’m not saying draft him as the next future QB. You can use this guy as a weapon all over the field (like Saints use Taysom Hill and the Ravens used Lamar Jackson). I said in my previous draft article that I want the Patriots to see what they have in Jarrett Stidham. Picking Hurts doesn’t hinder that at all if anything it helps Stidham. A little competition never hurt anyone first off. Having Hurts in the QB room will only push Stidham that much more. But Hurts lining up all over the field on the Patriots offense would be fun to see especially with Josh McDaniels calling the plays. Hurts have a good arm, size, and speed and if utilized properly can be a huge weapon the Patriots haven’t had. Plus, if Stidham ends up not being the guy and Hurts shows progress as a passer in practice and show’s he can run the offense you can always give him a shot. Plus depth at the quarterback position is never a bad thing. You can never have too many good quarterbacks and I think Hurts is a risk New England needs to take. The payoff could be huge.
4.) Third Round Pick 98th Overall traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Tight End OJ Howard
This makes too much sense right? Tampa has Gronk and Cameron Brate at tight end so Howard was expendable. Reports out of Tampa are they want good compensation or they will hold onto Howard. Well, a third-round pick they can use now to upgrade there team seems like good enough compensation. Howard fills New England’s biggest need at tight end. The tight end position last year was awful in New England. Matt LaCrosse and Ryan Izzo? Just stop! Howard is a HUGE upgrade and yes he’s well worth the risk of giving up just a third-round pick. If he clicks and fits in the offense BOOM you got your guy. Use some of that 100 million in cap space the Patriots will have next year and resign him. If not just don’t resign him. This is well worth the risk and a move that would make Patriots fans very happy.
5.) Third Round Pick 100th Overall- Tight End Thaddeus Moss, LSU
Was one tight end not enough for you guys? Double dip time. Let’s just say OJ Howard doesn’t pan out. Well, drafting another tight end not only helps you now but also protects you if that were to happen or if Howard performs so well Bill doesn’t want to give him a huge deal. Moss was a mismatch receiving weapon for LSU in 2019, totaling 47 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns. He has a solid build with quickness and athleticism. Moss could stand to improve his blocking for the NFL, but he could be a mismatch weapon as a receiving tight end. As a pro, he could be a Jordan Reed-type contributor. The guy doesn’t drop passes, is a hard worker, and with New England needing depth at tight end he fills another huge need. The last time the Pats double-dipped at tight end (they got Gronk and Aaron Hernandez) how did that work out for them? The additions of Howard and Moss make what was New England’s biggest weakness coming into the draft now there biggest strength. N’Keal Harry, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers, OJ Howard, Thaddeus Moss, Rex Burkhead, and James White. That’s some firepower on offense. Throw in Jalen Hurts lining up everywhere on top of that. Offense locked and loaded for next year.
6.) Fourth Round Pick 125th Overall- Malik Harrison, ILB
With the losses of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts the Patriots find themselves thin at linebacker. Insert Malik Harrison. In 2019, Harrison had 75 tackles with 4.5 sacks and four passes broken up. He was a solid defender for Ohio State and had a good week at the Senior Bowl. Harrison can play all linebacker spots, can make plays at the line of scrimmage, for a guy his size has great change of direction (he’s 6 foot 3 247 pounds), 66 perfect of his tackles in college were solo and has a background as a core special teamer (You know how Bill loves special teams guys). Harrison just screams Patriots player, doesn’t he? He had a chance to come in a be a starter also. With depth badly needed at linebacker Harrison is a perfect fit and good value in the fourth round.
7.) Fourth Round Pick 139th Overall- Shane Lemieux, Guard, Oregon
Lemieux was a good starter at left guard for Oregon, and he impressed team evaluators in 2019. Lemieux is a decent technician with size and the potential to be a quick competitor in the NFL. At the point of attack, he is a real fighter, and as one source said, “he is as mean as a snake.” Some team sources like Lemiuex and think he could get selected on Day 2, while others have him as a mid-rounder. He is a polarizing prospect according to scouts. With depth at guard needed Lemieux fills yet another need to the Patriots. With Thuney now in Miami and 2019 4th round pick Hjalte Froholdt coming off a shoulder injury that landed him on Injured Reserve. Returning Jermaine Eluemunor who was just resigned is also an option for the left guard spot. That gives the Patriots three options to battle it out for the starting role and can use the other to backup returning center David Andrews and create good depth. You can never have too many good linemen. Depth on the offensive line. Check.
8.) Fifth Round Pick 173rd Overall- Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia
The Georgia “Hot Rod” was on a streak of perfection before a miss in overtime cost Georgia a loss to South Carolina. He hit a long of 50 yards in 2019 and was 27-for-33 – 82 percent. He had three misses in the 40-yard range, going 8-of-11, and two in the 50-yard range, going 3-of-5. Blankenship is the number one ranked kicker in the 2020 draft and with the Patriots cutting long time kicker Stephen Gostkowski they have a huge need there. Adding Blankenship fills that need. I expect them to add a veteran kicker to compete with Blankenship in camp (assuming there is a camp). But at the end of the day the Patriots need a kicker and in round 5 Blankenship or Tyler Bass should be available. Blankenship just has a slightly higher upside. The theme of filling needs continues. Kicker. Check.
9.) 6th Round Pick 196th Overall- Jeff Thomas, Wide Reciever, Miami
Thomas is one of those prospects even though he did not produce much in games over his final season for Miami. Team sources like what they saw out of Thomas in practice and think he is similar to former Hurricanes speedster Philip Dorsett. In 2019, Thomas had 31 catches for 379 yards and three touchdowns, but in 2018, he had 35 receptions for 563 yards and three scores. He ran and worked out well at the combine. With depth needed and with Thomas being comparable to Philip Dorsett (a former Patriot) it’s worth taking a risk on Thomas. He would bring some speed and at worse could sneak onto the roster in camp or onto the practice squad. The Patriots have had luck in these later rounds with receivers before (Julian Edelman anyone?) so this is a pick that could pay dividends or just end up with a guy who stays on the practice squad. Either way it’s worth the Pats especially this late in the draft.
9.) 6th Round Pick 214th Overall- Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State
Per NFL.com scouting: Productive and tough, Bachie is a limited inside linebacker who needs the action to stay in his living room in order to make plays. He is a natural at the position with a feel for flowing to the football ahead of blocks or smartly hanging back when he senses misdirection. His play strength and contact balance are a plus but teams might view them with some skepticism after a failed PED test. He will struggle with man coverage but plays passing lanes from zone effectively. His technique and play recognition will stand out for defensive coaches, but it might not matter if his speed and athletic testing don’t check out. Bachie would add more linebacker depth to a Patriots linebacking core that really needs it. He’s a 3-year starter and team captain and a sure tackler. This guy might be one of those guys that with a little coaching can become a good rotation piece in the linebacking core. Even with the PED test I’d take the risk here in the 6th round. I saw Bachie play a lot at Michigan State and I think he has the potential to be a steal here. Assuming he buys in and listens to his coaches.
9.) 7th Round Pick 231st Overall- Derrek Tuszka, DE, North Dakota State
Per NFL.com scouting: Tuszka is a hard-nosed, physical 4-3 base end with a lack of length and bend but good strength and motor to make play after play. His lack of length and explosiveness wasn’t an issue in college but will likely be exploited by NFL starting tackles. His skilled hands and secondary effort are traits that will help his cause but Tuszka may need to prove he can handle a transition to 3-4 outside linebacker during individual workouts to expand the number of teams/schemes that might consider him. The Patriots at this point are just adding depth pieces. If Tuszka can prove to be able to beat tackles at the NFL level this could be a nice pick and Tuszka could become a rotational piece. He also brings value to special teams. Bill is known for finding gems in these later rounds. We can hope he sticks gold here.
Thank you all for checking out my “Perfect Patriots 2020 NFL Draft” article. You can find me on twitter @jdebord12. I’m always down for some feedback. I think if the Patriots draft goes like this they go into next year with there best possible chance to win games. If Stidham sucks then obviously they will struggle. Then Hurts could maybe get a shot? Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are available too? So many other things could happen. But thanks again for checking it out and have a safe day!!!! PEACE