The New England Patriots will try to bounce back from their Super Bowl defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles by getting to the big game for the third straight year.
If the Pats are going to contend for another title, they'll have to replace a host of productive players. Malcolm Butler, Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Nate Solder and Dion Lewis are all with different teams, but New England has a chance to restock talent quickly because they have two first–round picks and five in the first 95 picks. Whether the Patriots will select a quarterback to back up Tom Brady also remains to be seen.
After they added to their offensive line on Day 1 of the draft, the Patriots made another addition to the unit before Day 2 began, trading a third round pick to the 49ers in exchange for tackle Trent Brown and a fifth rounder.
How will they use their picks in the NFL draft? We’re breaking down every selection below.
Here's the full list of picks the Patriots hold in the 2018 draft, which will be updated as each selection is made.
Round 1, Pick 23 (No. 23 overall)
Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
Andy Benoit's grade: B+
The Patriots did the right thing: Instead of finding Tom Brady’s replacement, they found someone to protect him. It was needed; Nate Solder is gone and Antonio Garcia, last year’s third-round pick, missed his rookie season with blood clots. At 6’ 3”, 313 pounds, many projected Wynn as an NFL guard—a position in which the Patriots are well set with Joe Thuney and especially Shaq Mason (though Mason’s contract is up soon). Playing devil’s advocate, here’s one question: if the Patriots are returning to a quick-strike, horizontal passing game—and trading Brandin Cooks suggests they are—do they really need to spend a first-round pick on a tackle? The nature of the scheme will protect the QB just as much as a blocker would. But having two first-rounders and two second-rounders makes this an easier trigger to pull.
Scouting Report: An undersized collegiate tackle who will make the transition to guard, Wynn offers excellent athleticism on the interior. He’ll be able to handle himself as a pass protector, and might thrive as a run-blocker in a scheme heavy on outside zone.
Round 1, Pick 31 (No. 31 overall)
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Andy Benoit's grade: A
Another pick, another piece for Tom Brady. The same analysis for the Patriots No. 23 pick (Michel’s teammate Isaiah Wynn) applies here—instead of chasing a replacement for Tom Brady, they tried to find him a weapon. Michel has the traits to of a foundational back. For receiving flex options, James White and Rex Burkhead will still get the nod. Overall, there’s great backfield diversity in New England.
Scouting Report: Part of the 1-2 punch with Nick Chubb in Georgia’s backfield, Michel emerged as one of the stars in the College Football Playoff (222 yards and four TDs on 15 touches against Oklahoma, 98 yards on 14 carries against Alabama). He’s a slasher who fits best in a one-cut scheme, and he’s outstanding when accelerating through the line of scrimmage with true home-run speed. He wasn’t featured heavily as a pass-catcher, but can be dangerous in space and is one of this draft class’s best in blitz pick-up. He can carry a heavy load as long as he improves his ball security.
Round 2, Pick 24 (No. 56 overall, via Bucs):
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
Andy Benoit's Grade: B-
New England mixed and matched in the slot last season, and the hope is that Dawson can stabilize that spot. For that to happen, he must be proficient in man coverage, and it will be interesting to see if he gets reps on the perimeter. Bill Belichick is known for playing DBs in unusual locations.
Round 5, Pick 6 (No. 143 overall) [via San Francisco]: Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
Round 6, Pick 4 (No. 178 overall): Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
Round 6, Pick 36 (No. 210 overall *compensatory selection): Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami (FL)
Round 7, Pick 1 (No. 219 overall): Danny Etling, QB, LSU
Round 7, Pick 25 (No. 243 overall): Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina
Round 7, Pick 25 (No. 243 overall): Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State