The New England Patriots had a busy Friday night and after a series of trades and picks came away with four players between rounds two and three of the 2019 NFL draft. Let’s collect some reactions from around the league and the media about the world champions’ haul.
Joejuan Williams reacts to getting drafted
Chase Winovich reacts to getting drafted
Winner: Super Bowl teams
Joejuan Williams and Chase Winovich to the Patriots, Taylor Rapp, Devery Henderson, Bobby Evans and David Long to the Rams isn’t really fair. The rich certainly got richer.
Days 2 grade: A-
The Patriots’ interest in Williams was not a well-kept secret -- he had the versatility they needed in the secondary. Giving up a third-round pick to go get him was not a Belichickian-type move, but if they had a first-round grade on him, I won’t blame them for making the deal. They found a steal in Winovich in the third round. He’s the type of high-motor, versatile lineman who will be a factor early on. Harris is an all-around talent who was worthy of a selection 20 picks earlier than his drafting spot. Cajuste has injury issues and doesn’t have the greatest feet, but he could work his way into starting at right tackle. New England could use a quarterback and tight end on Saturday, and should be able to find both.
Pick: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
Analysis: Patriots give the Nashville crowd a reason to cheer by trading up with the team it beat in the Super Bowl to take the big CB. He might not play right away, but he could become a good cover corner for the Pats. Grade: B-
Winner: Patriots, for being the Patriots. Wide receiver N’Keal Harry was a mic drop at the end of Round 1, but then New England took multiple encores by using ample draft capital on Day 2 to manipulate the board in its favor with cornerback Joejuan Williams, edge pass rusher Chase Winovich, running back Damien Harris and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste. The Patriots are once again ahead of the game with their stockpiling at the positions needed most.
Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
He was the captain of my better than team, that tells you what I think about him. I love this kid. The New England Patriots get it. Bill Belichick works the system better than anybody. Belichick the master at work again. Grade: A+
Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan
Winovich is a try hard player who fits the New England style. His versatility will be big in their defense as they look to replace the production of Trey Flowers on the defensive line. Grade: B
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
The Patriots picked up an SEC running back in the first round last year, and here they get a nice player who can mix in behind Sony Michel. They had bigger needs, but with all their picks, might as well take him here if you like him. Grade: B
Yodny Cajuste, OL, West Virginia
The Patriots get some good value here, as Cajuste could have went 30 picks earlier and no one would complain. He needs some developing, but the Pats have the luxury of doing that. Solid find. Grade: B
45. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (VIA RAMS VIA FALCONS): CB JOEJUAN WILLIAMS
The Patriots draft a cover corner in the second round almost every year. With J.C. Jackson emerging as a stellar No. 2 opposite All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, they have no immediate need here, especially given that Patrick Chung often mans the slot. It’s too early to dump 2018 second-rounder Duke Dawson and there’s a lot to like about undrafted fourth-year pro Jonathan Jones, who surprisingly moved to safety in the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick must simply love Williams, because the Pats don’t NEED him and may not even have an active roster spot for him on some Sundays this year. The MMQB’s Albert Breer mocked Williams to the Patriots, saying “Bill Belichick is always looking ahead, and he mentioned in his pre-draft press conference the need to match up with bigger receivers and athletic tight ends. The Patriots have had Patrick Chung in that role for a while.” That could be Williams’s role in the future.
77. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (VIA PANTHERS): DE CHASE WINOVICH
He has stellar physical traits, and his effort and fundamentals (which can be honed) fit well in a Patriots scheme that emphasizes setting the edge and finishing pass rushers late in the down.
87. CHICAGO BEARS [SIC!]: RB DAMIEN HARRIS
This one is a little surprising, as Harris figures to be more of a first- and second-down back, which is precisely what last year’s first-round pick, Sony Michel, is for this team. James White and Rex Burkhead are also under contract to 2021. Still, Harris is a productive player from a storied program, so you can’t outright rip the decision.
101. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (VIA RAMS VIA PATRIOTS): T YODNY CAJUSTE
With no proven backup tackles on the roster, the Patriots decided they’d develop one. Cajuste is a project, but offensive line coach Dante Scarnechia, at this point, is viewed as a wizard.
Patriots select EDGE Chase Winovich (77th overall): Good on the Pats to honor the memory of Shawn Crable.
Patriots select RB Damien Harris (87th overall): Wither the Rex Burkhead era? Harris averaged 6.4 yards per carry in college and just made Sony Michel significantly less valuable in your dynasty fantasy league.
Patriots select OT Yodny Cajuste (101st overall): Tom Brady will play forever as long as the Patriots keep beefing up his supporting cast.
New England Patriots – CB JoeJuan Williams, Vanderbilt
In Joejuan Williams, the Pats get a big physical corner. He was the 88th player on the PFF Big Board, but the Pats get a player who fits their mold and can help to man the spot opposite Stephon Gilmore.
New England Patriots – Edge Chase Winovich, Michigan
The Patriots got great value in edge defender Chase Winovich. The 29th player on the PFF Big Board, Winovich posted back to 90.0-plus grades in ’17 and ’18.
New England Patriots – RB Damien Harris, Alabama
After taking Sony Michel in the first round in 2018, the Patriots select Damien Harris in the third round. Harris and Michel should help share the rushing load allowing James White to continue as the receiving back. Harris was elite at holding onto the ball, only fumbling twice (both in 2016) in his collegiate career on 475 rush attempts, earning an 89.9 and 90.2 fumble grades in ’17 and ’18, respectively.
New England Patriots – OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia
Cajuste is a high-performing pass-protector with all of the tools to succeed in the NFL. He also earned the ninth-best run-blocking grade among draft-eligible offensive tackles in 2018.
Beat Writer Reactions
Williams will be an interesting fit in the Patriots defense. He has the size to cover tight ends. Also, I mocked him to the Patriots in the second round, so I count that as a win.— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) April 27, 2019
Williams is a huge cornerback -- listed at 6-4, 211 pounds. Patriots now have two big press-man corners in Gilmore and Williams, with Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones in the slot, and J.C. Jackson doing it all. Duke Dawson might be on the outside looking in— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 27, 2019
To me, the #Patriots now have what they had with Revis and Brandon Browner with Gilmore and JoeJuan. Let the All-Pro shut down his side and roll the safety towards JoeJuan or use him as a matchup weapon on TEs/big slots.— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 27, 2019
At 6-foot-3.5, Joejaun Williams will almost certainly be the tallest cornerback selected this weekend. Also weighs 211 pounds. He broke up an SEC-high 18 passes with four interceptions last season. He could push Jackson and McCourty for that No. 2 job.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) April 27, 2019
I love, love, love Winovich's game. Covered a few of his games in college. Dude is absolutely relentless. pic.twitter.com/dFKWclJo2z— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) April 27, 2019
First Harry, now Winovich. Belichick is going buck wild making picks that are too fun. Time to go on a run of guards and blocking tight ends to get back on track.— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) April 27, 2019
Winovich is a hybrid DE/OLB who excels against the run, and played TE for a time at Michigan. Sounds like Vrabel— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 27, 2019
Wow. That's a major surprise from the Patriots. Alabama RB Damien Harris in the third.— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) April 27, 2019
The Patriots transformed to a run-heavy team by the end of 2018 and used rookie Sony Michel more than he'd ever been used. The move for Harris makes sense as depth for him. Not much skill overlap between Harris and White/Burkhead— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) April 27, 2019
One of the best things about the Harris pick is he is talented, yes, but also not a lot of tread on those tires, still. Bama used a lot of backs, and he only had 10+ carries 19 times in 54 games.— Adam Kurkjian (@AdamKurkjian) April 27, 2019
Damien Harris was Alabama's starting running back for the last three seasons, but said he played on almost special teams unit, too, especially punt and punt return.— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) April 27, 2019
The #Patriots drafted West Virginia OT Yondy Cajuste at No. 101 overall to conclude their Day 2.— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) April 27, 2019
Powerful dude. Great value.
With their final third-round pick (101st overall), the Patriots select OT Yodny Cajuste (West Virginia). The 6-foot-4 7/8 and 312-pound Cajuste could potentially fill the team's swing tackle role. Now enters the highly regarded Dante Scarnecchia School of Offensive Linemen.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) April 27, 2019
There wasn't a lot of "best player available" for the Patriots. They had specific needs and drafted players to fill them— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 27, 2019
One thing about Cajuste that those who've studied him intently say repeatedly: kid plays with a mean streak. Has that strong punch - a desired trait for Scar.— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) April 27, 2019