NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah spoke about the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and answered a few questions about the New England Patriots. Jeremiah believes that the Patriots’ advantage of having both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady atop the franchise makes it easier for other pieces to fall into place- and what pieces they should be looking for.
“When you have the continuity that they have and the elite people in [Belichick and Brady], there’s zero guesswork in how guys would fit and function in what they do,” Jeremiah said. “That’s huge.”
“Looking at them this year, I think getting some more size at the receiver position makes sense,” he continued. “Obviously the tight end position, trying to address that, bring in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, I think that frees them up. If they want to look at some tight ends that not necessarily are the in-line guy, they can find more of that move tight end. Irv Smith is one that comes to mind as somebody that would be a complement to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and have your in-line guy to go along with your move guy.”
Jeremiah also added another Patriots tidbit when discussing the Iowa tight ends. He believes that T.J. Hockenson is a top 15 pick, while Fant is the player more likely to be available for New England.
“In terms of where the floor is [for Fant], I had Noah Fant going to the Raiders at 24,” Jeremiah said about his latest mock draft. “I don’t think he’ll get down that far when it’s all said and done. I think both those tight ends are gone in the top 20, and if it’s not to a team that’s there right now, [and] you look at the Patriots having a need and the Patriots having a lot of draft capital, I would think if either one of the Iowa tight ends started to drop and drift a little bit that that would be one phone call away for the Patriots to go get them.”
There’s a fair question whether or not Fant makes sense for the Patriots who, despite his exemplary physical abilities, was not considered an every-down tight end by Belichick confidant and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. Perhaps waiting for a Smith or Jace Sternberger in the second round would make more economic sense than taking Fant in the first.
Jeremiah also discussed three midround quarterbacks that could be available for the Patriots in Duke’s Daniel Jones, N.C. State’s Ryan Finley, and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, and whether the Patriots might be more interested in acquiring draft capital for next year’s draft class.
“It’s always a little bit dangerous when you start talking about what next year is going to bring because we never know,” Jeremiah cautioned. “But on the surface from what I’ve seen, I think there’s more high-end talent [next year]. I can’t speak to the depth of what next year looks like, and so that’s always risky when you’re putting all that eggs in that basket and if you don’t end up with the top two picks, you don’t get a shot at those guys. That’s the tricky part about next year and trying to acquire some picks.
“In terms of those guys [Jones, Finley, and Stidham] with the Patriots, I’d have them just like you listed them,” Jeremiah said about the order of the prospects. “Jones to me, I don’t think he’ll be there.
“Finley is somebody that -- I was at his pro day, and Nick Caserio was there taking a look at him. He operates the way they like to operate. He’s smart. He’s efficient. He gets the ball out of his hand quick. I think he fits offensively what Josh McDaniels wants to do and likes to do. I think he’d be a great fit there.
“Stidham is one of the true wild cards because he spins it as well or better than anybody in this entire draft class. In shorts, he’d be a top-five pick. Unfortunately it hasn’t clicked on the field like you’d want to see at Auburn. Some of that is the lack of protection. Some of it is an offensive system that’s not great for him. But just throwing the football, he’s a great athlete. I think it’s going to take a little bit of time to develop him, but I could make a case he makes a lot of sense for the Patriots because they’ve got a little bit of time, no pun intended, with Tom there. He’s not going anywhere right now. That would give you a chance to really develop a guy like this with a potential huge upside. Really as much upside as any quarterback in the draft class. Stidham is very talented. So that might be a risk worth taking.
Personally, I would take Finley over the other two players, even if they were all on the board at the same time. I have a third round grade on both Jones and Finley and think Finley is a better prospect, albeit a relatively limited one (high-end back-up caliber).
And, honestly, I think a player like Will Grier would be a better addition than any of those three and would be willing to take him in the second round, just like they did with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Tight end and quarterback are both positions of import for the Patriots and Jeremiah’s feedback is helpful to paint a picture of the draft landscape. New England will not be able to get the top tier talent at either position. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t good players that will be available later in the draft.