Now that the 2020 NFL Draft is over, its time to evaluate how the New England Patriots fared in their first draft of the post-Tom Brady era.
While New England addressed several of the needs they had heading into the draft, there are some questions marks surrounding the players they selected - or didn't select - to address those needs. That’s why SI’s Andy Benoit gave the six-time Super Bowl champions a below-average grade for this year’s draft.
“Incredibly, the Patriots are just one of two teams that have not drafted a single Pro Bowler in the last five years. (The other is Cincinnati.) Considering they are 2-1 in Super Bowls during that span, we can chalk this up as just a measly fun fact.
“As usual, most of New England’s picks were spent with the future in mind. Kyle Dugger is a bit of a head-scratcher for the simple reason that the Patriots entered this draft with four quality safeties already: the recently re-signed Devin McCourty, do-it-all box player Patrick Chung, grossly underrated ex-Charger Adrian Phillips and the lesser-known Terrence Brooks, who performed nicely as Chung’s backup last season. Brooks is signed through 2020, while the other three are under contract through 2021. But few teams have made better use of diverse secondary talent, which is precisely what Dugger brings. He doesn’t fill a need, but there is no question he fits the scheme.
“The Patriots have a sound front seven given the context of their scheme, but it could stand to have more athleticism on the edges. They made a similar pick to Josh Uche last year, taking his former teammate, Chase Winovich, in Round 3. Don’t be surprised if those two are both on the field in obvious passing situations down the stretch this season.
“Just in case Uche doesn’t deliver, there’s Jennings. You can afford to draft for depth when you have over a dozen picks. This particular pick is an excellent scheme fit; Anfernee Jennings’s sound technique has earned him comparisons to Kyle Van Noy.
"On offense, to fill the still-enormous void left by Rob Gronkowski’s retirement (or his recent trade—either way), Bill Belichick drafted two tight ends just 10 picks apart, though the men could end up playing totally different roles. Though not quite possessing ideal length, Devin Asiasi intrigues as a route runner, particularly down the seams and on play-action—a tactic the Patriots, out of gap-scheme run looks, use a lot for feeding their tight end. Dalton Keene is known for his versatility, particularly as a movable chess piece."
Benoit's grade of New England seems to be because of their questionable decision to choose Kyle Dugger with their first pick in the draft. Selecting a Div. 2 safety with the 37th overall pick seemed like a reach, especially when there were talented edge rushers and linebackers still on the board at that point in the draft.
With that being said, the grade seems a bit too low. The Patriots addressed the linebacker, tight end and kicker positions with talented players, and they also added quality offensive line depth and an elite prospect to develop at safety. However, they didn't draft a quarterback or wide receiver, which is a knock on their overall grade.
Giving the six-time Super Bowl champions a B- grade seems a little more fair.