The second day of the 2019 NFL draft is in the books and it saw the New England Patriots make a flurry of moves to ultimately come away with four players: cornerback Joejuan Williams, defensive edge Chase Winovich, running back Damien Harris, and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste will all wear the Patriots’ uniform next year. Let’s find out how their additions impact the men already on New England’s roster.
Winner: The entire tight end depth chart
Heading into the draft and after the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, tight end was seen as the Patriots’ top need. Two days into the event, however, the club has yet to address the position. While this could very well change today, the second day was a good one for the players currently under contract in New England: Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Ryan Izzo and Stephen Anderson did not see a highly drafted challenger enter the ring.
Losers: CB J.C. Jackson & SS Obi Melifonwu
By drafting Joejuan Williams, the Patriots added a tall and physical defensive back that could basically fill the roles held by J.C. Jackson and Obi Melifonwu in 2018. Jackson, who had an outstanding rookie campaign, played primarily as a press-man corner on the boundary — just like Williams did at Vanderbilt. Melifonwu, meanwhile, was brought on to help against tight ends but never really established himself in that role. Seeing the second-round rookie take his job only seems like a formality at this point.
Winners: QB Brian Hoyer & QB Danny Etling
Given Tom Brady’s advanced age, New England always appears to be in the market for quarterbacks — which by extension is bad news for his backups. So far, however, the Patriots opted against investing in a passer despite being in a position to grab highly-rated prospects Drew Lock and Will Grier. If the Patriots add another quarterback this draft, he will probably not be a roster lock given his draft status.
Loser: RB Brandon Bolden
While Brandon Bolden is primarily a special teamer, one has to wonder how the addition of Damien Harris impacts his standing on the team: Harris has experience playing in the kicking game and offers way more upside as a ball carrier. Bolden knows the Patriots’ system and has leadership skills on his side as well, but those can only get you so far. And even though veteran will likely not lose his roster spot because of Harris, it has become a little less secure due to his addition.
Loser: DE Derek Rivers
As things stand right now, the Patriots have four roster locks among their defensive edge group: Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise Jr, John Simon and third-round pick Chase Winovich will — barring injury — all be on the opening day 53. This means that the rest of the group will likely have to enter a fight for its collective roster life, with Derek Rivers as the biggest name among the competitors. Two years removed from a season-ending ACL tear, the former third-round draft pick needs to finally live up to the potential he showed early in 2017 to make the team.
Winner: RB Sony Michel
The Patriots asked a lot of first-round pick Sony Michel during his 2018 rookie season — and he delivered for the most part. One problem, however, was that the team lacked any viable depth alongside him following the season-ending injury to Jeremy Hill: at times, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had to serve as the starting running back. With Damien Harris now on board, New England has said depth option available and moving forward will be able to lift some pressure off the Michel’s shoulders.
Loser: OT Cole Croston
Yodny Cajuste is a developmental, high-upside project at this point in his career, but he should immediately be considered the front-runner to earn the swing tackle backup job previously held by free agency departure LaAdrian Waddle. This also means that Cajuste, unless the quad injury that kept him out of the combine turns out to be a bigger issue than anticipated or he fails to properly adjust to life in the NFL, will likely push current number three tackle Cole Croston down the depth chart and possibly off the team.
Winners: WR Braxton Berrios & WR Bruce Ellington
New England addressed its need at wide receiver when it drafted N’Keal Harry in the first round, but still remained in the market for more depth at the position. The club did not invest in a pass catcher on day two of the draft, however, which is especially good news for Braxton Berrios and Bruce Ellington — two players who are projected to be on the roster bubble: the Patriots did not yet add an interior/slot option through the draft despite being in a position to pick UMass’ Andy Isabella in round two.