The New England Patriots selected a pair of Georgia Bulldogs in the first round of the draft, adding OL Isaiah Wynn with the 23rd overall pick and RB Sony Michel with the 31st overall pick.
There’s a chance that neither fills a position of need- Wynn might be too short to play tackle, while running back wasn’t considered a top priority- and the Patriots still have to address some other holes. They need a quarterback prospect and potential heir to Tom Brady; they could use a linebacker to join Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy and provide some depth; and they add another cornerback to bolster their depth chart and prepare for 2019.
With that in mind, we’re going to highlight the best players available after the first day of the 2018 NFL Draft that could interest the Patriots according to Arif Hasan’s Consensus Big Board, one of the most accurate draft boards available.
The number before the player is their overall rank on Hasan’s big board, so “18” means they were considered the 18th best prospect. I’ll provide names of those ranking inside the top 100.
55 Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
98 Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta
Five quarterbacks went in the first round, including four inside the top ten, so there aren’t many top prospects left on the board. New England opted to take a running back at 31, while Lamar Jackson went at 32, so it seems like the team wasn’t prioritizing the position.
Part of the Patriots strategy with signing Brian Hoyer as the back-up is that New England didn’t need to find a player that could be Tom Brady’s heir in this draft. They could find a high-upside player late in the draft and give them a one-year test drive and if they weren’t happy with the results, they could try again in 2019. That series of events is still in play.
31 SMU WR Courtland Sutton
44 Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk
48 Memphis WR Anthony Miller
50 Oklahoma State WR James Washington
60 LSU WR D.J. Chark
67 Washington WR Dante Pettis
71 Colorado State WR Michael Gallup
80 Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown
84 Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton
94 Clemson WR Deon Cain
On the other hand, there are a ton of wide receivers available for the Patriots. Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell are coming back from season-ending injuries. Chris Hogan is entering the final year of his contract. Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett haven’t shown enough to prevent the Patriots from investing in another wide receiver.
The depth still on the board suggests that the Patriots don’t have to address the position until later in the draft- possibly even in the fourth or fifth round. New England doesn’t have a pick in that range, though, so I would expect the team to try and trade down to pick some up.
40 South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
46 Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
63 Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews
93 Indiana TE Ian Thomas
The top tight ends are still on the board. If Goedert is still available when the Patriots pick at 43rd, then he should be a major option for the team.
Otherwise, there isn’t really a tight end that could win a roster spot currently held by Dwayne Allen- and honestly, I might prefer keeping Jacob Hollister or Troy Niklas or Will Tye over some of the other tight ends in the draft.
19 Michigan DL Maurice Hurst - fell due to injury flag
53 Stanford DL Harrison Phillips
62 Fort Hays State DL Nathan Shepherd
73 USC DL Rasheem Green
77 North Carolina State DL B.J. Hill
79 Florida State DL Derrick Nnadi
86 Virginia Tech DL Tim Settle
95 Alabama DL Da’Shawn Hand
The Patriots don’t have a big need at defensive line with Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton both options to stay on the team in 2019, Lawrence Guy already under contract, and Adam Butler and Vincent Valentine are depth options.
But Hurst is a top 10 talent that fell due to health issues raised at the combine that could be worth a pick. Phillips, Green, and Hand would also be incredible fits on the Patriots defensive line. But, again, this isn’t a big need.
13 Boston College EDGE Harold Landry - fell due to injury flag
47 Ohio State EDGE Sam Hubbard
56 Georgia EDGE Lorenzo Carter
58 Florida State EDGE Josh Sweat
66 LSU EDGE Arden Key
74 USC EDGE Uchenna Nwosu
76 Wake Forest EDGE Duke Ejiofor
81 Rutgers EDGE Kemoko Turay
Similar to the defensive line, the Patriots don’t have a major need at pass rusher. Adrian Clayborn signed a multi-year deal, they spent third and fourth rounders on Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise last year, and there’s still a chance they extend Trey Flowers.
But Landry is also a top 10 talent that fell due to injury issues and could be worth a flier. Hubbard, Carter, and Nwosu are all versatile athletes that could be interesting options in the Patriots defensive front due to their flexibility to play on the defensive line or off the ball.
65 Oklahoma LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
69 Texas LB Malik Jefferson
85 BYU LB Fred Warner
87 South Carolina State LB Darius Leonard
88 Ohio State LB Jerome Baker
99 Iowa LB Josey Jewell
Once the Titans traded up to select Rashaan Evans, there weren’t any top tier linebackers left on the board. The Patriots should look at Warner, Leonard, Baker, or Jewell as potentially great fits at the end of the third round.
18 Iowa CB Josh Jackson
37 Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
42 Auburn CB Carlton Davis
52 LSU CB Donte Jackson
83 North Carolina CB M.J. Stewart
89 Florida CB Duke Dawson
91 Stanford CB Quenton Meeks
92 Alabama CB Anthony Averett
96 Texas CB Holton Hill
38 Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
43 Stanford S Justin Reid
57 Wake Forest S Jessie Bates III
90 West Virginia S Kyzir White
97 Texas S DeShon Elliott
I’m going to group the defensive backs together. There are a ton of quality prospects still on the board and that’s why the Patriots didn’t feel a need to pick one in the first round- they’ll be there in both the second and third rounds.
Jackson is a ballhawk, while Oliver and Davis are also potential #1 cornerbacks in the NFL. Harrison is a good strong safety and Reid is a good do-anything safety. All would be welcome additions at 43rd overall.
Stewart and Dawson are good fits in the third round, while White is a versatile player that could be a lot of fun in the Patriots defense.
The Patriots have plenty of options heading into day two of the draft, with a priority on defensive backs in round two and then all the other positions in round three. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots traded down from 43rd overall to add picks in the third and fourth rounds so they can take advantage of the quality depth on the board.