Despite selecting only four players during the 2017 NFL draft, the New England Patriots appear to have addressed all of their needs over the course of the offseason one way or the other. One of the positions addressed was the safety spot, where the team re-signed Duron Harmon to keep its starting trifecta intact.
Other than keeping Harmon in the fold alongside Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, the Patriots did not try to add to the position during free agency or the draft. According to Mocking the Draft’s Dan Kadar, this will change in one year. In his first 2018 mock draft, Kadar has New England go safety in round one:
32. New England Patriots: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh
There’s a reason the Patriots reportedly showed a lot of interest in eventual second-round pick Marcus Maye leading up to the draft. After they missed on him, they could find a safety next draft in Whitehead to eventually replace Patrick Chung.
The logic behind the projected world champions’ selection of Whitehead definitely is sound. While strong safety Patrick Chung is still a starter and among the NFL’s best players at his position, he is getting up there in age: The former second round pick out of Oregon will be 30 by the time the 2018 draft takes place.
Another factor to consider is Chung’s contract status. A one-year extension in 2016 will keep him in Foxboro through the 2018 season; afterwards he will become an unrestricted free agent. With New England typically preparing early for starters potentially leaving, drafting Whitehead as Chung’s heir apparent makes a ton of sense.