First up is defensive end Trey Flowers, who projects to go 8th overall to the Atlanta Falcons as the second pass rusher off the board. The Falcons original pick of Vic Beasley Jr. went off to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 3rd overall pick.
“With Beasley now off the board, the Falcons turn to the next-best pass-rusher in the class in Flowers,” ESPN writes. “Flowers was a fourth-rounder back in 2015, but PFF grades pointed to a first-round player, and he hasn’t disappointed with grades of 80.9 and 87.8 (14th among edge defenders) over the past two years after a redshirt 2015 season.”
Flowers is one of the best players on the Patriots defense and he’s likely to take another step forward in 2018 and earn a monstrous contract in free agency.
The next Patriot off the board is a new face in defensive lineman Danny Shelton, who goes 18th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs after their original pick (cornerback Marcus Peters) went 7th overall to the Chicago Bears.
“Despite Shelton already having been traded, he has been a productive player, and his presence in the middle of the Kansas City defense would help the Chiefs’ leaky run defense,” ESPN writes. “He graded at 85.2 in 2016 and 81.5 last year, with most of his production coming in the run game.”
Shelton is currently lining up with the Patriots first team defense, next to Lawrence Guy, as he’s the best true nose tackle the team’s had since Vince Wilfork (Alan Branch is more similar to Lawrence Guy in ideal role, in my opinion).
The third and final Patriot taken in the third round is the Patriots original first rounder, but this time Malcom Brown went 22nd overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of pass rusher Bud Dupree.
“While Dupree’s 15 career sacks don’t scream ‘bust,’ he has been one of the worst pass-rushers in the league on a per-snap basis since 2015, as he has only 68 other pressures on 946 career rushes,” ESPN writes. “Brown is a cleaner player and a good fit for Pittsburgh’s three-man front, as he can line up in multiple roles and stand firm against the run, having graded above 80.0 in each of the past three seasons.”
Brown is lining up with the second unit on the defensive line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he, Guy, and Shelton all played the same number of snaps.
But with Brown off the board, the Patriots had to take someone else with their 32nd overall pick and they chose a wide receiver- but not 2015 first round pick Phillip Dorsett currently on the team’s roster.
“With Brown off the board, the Patriots take one of the best slot receivers in the class in [Jamison] Crowder,” ESPN writes. “New England can certainly find a way to get him involved in its offense, despite having good receiver depth over the past few years. Crowder ranked 10th with 535 yards from the slot last season.”
Crowder would be an incredible fit in the Patriots offense as a slot receiver, although I question if he really fills a need. Between 2015 and 2017, the Patriots had that position covered by Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. While Crowder would be a good fit, he certainly doesn’t fill a need on the team.
You know who would be a good fit and deserves a first round grade in a re-draft? How about Shaq Mason, who is still on the board and went in the fourth round in real life. He’s been a top five guard in the NFL over the past two seasons and has clearly proven himself in the Patriots system.
Or what about linebacker Eric Kendricks, who just inked a major deal with the Minnesota Vikings back in April? He’d be an ideal complement to Dont’a Hightower and would have been a nice replacement for Jamie Collins on defense.
Crowder is still a fine player, but I’d much rather add a starting guard or linebacker over a slot receiver in an offense that features Rob Gronkowski and already has Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola on the roster.