Patriots Get Younger at Safety in Latest PFF Mock Draft
One of the oldest positions on the New England Patriots' roster heading into the offseason are the safeties. The average age for the position, which includes five players (Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, and Terrence Brooks) is 30. With McCourty potentially signing with another team during free agency, the team could use a young, talented safety that can play centerfield for them in a loaded secondary.
During PFF's latest two-round mock draft, New England is drafting exactly that.
They have the Patriots selecting LSU safety Grant Delpit with the no. 23 overall pick. Here is what PFF had to say about the National Championship-winning defensive back going to New England in the first round:
"Delpit is the sort of coverage chess piece the Patriots covet. He has special man coverage ability for a 6-foot-3, 203-pound safety and has all the tools to be a tight-end eraser type at the next level. With Devin McCourty set to hit free agency, safety qualifies as a need as well."
There was a correlation between Patriots losses during the 2019 season and strong tight end play against them. Three of their four losses came against the Ravens, Chiefs, and Dolphins, all of which had strong play from their tight ends. That position combined for 21 receptions for 165 yards and two scores in those games. Philadelphia's Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert also combined for 12 receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown during New England's Week 11 win over the Eagles.
Patrick Chung, a long-time tight-end stopper for the Patriots in the secondary, took a step back in all major stat categories this past season, even when considering he played two less games during the 2019 regular season compared to his 2018 campaign. His PFF coverage grade for this past season was a 55.4, which is over 20 points lower than his grade in 2018 (72.7). Because of that, one of the very few flaws in New England's secondary is their inability to contain talented tight ends.
Getting another safety, even if McCourty did return to the team, is a necessary addition New England needs to make in some way this offseason.