The 2019 NFL draft came and went, and the New England Patriots added ten players to their team along the way. Selecting a blend of potential day-one contributors and developmental options, addressing short and intermediate needs, New England’s haul is seen as a solid one for the team — and Patriots fans mostly seem to agree, even though there are mixed feelings about some of the ten men drafted by the club.
While all ten of the acquisitions were seen as positive in our fan polls attached to the initial article about each signing, some graded out better than others. Let’s quickly run through them, starting with first-round pick N’Keal Harris.
1-32 WR N’Keal Harris
To close out the first round of the draft, the world champions opted to add talent to their receiving corps in the form of N’Keal Harry. The selection addressed New England’s biggest need and unsurprisingly earned high praise from fans: when putting numerical values to the grades (A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, F=5), we can see that the 21-year-old earns an average of 1.57 points. Likely the player with the highest potential for a day-one impact brought in through the draft, Harry enters the world champions’ roster with plenty of expectations.
2-45 CB Joejuan Williams
Despite New England having one of the best cornerback groups in the NFL, the team decided to add even more talent and upside in the form of Vanderbilt’s Joejuan Williams. A tall and physical perimeter cornerback, Williams could be used against tight ends and taller wideouts — and his potential did not go unnoticed by fans, who graded him with an average of 1.97 points or in the solid B range.
3-77 DE Chase Winovich
As popular a draft pick as N’Keal Harry is among Patriots fans, no selection received more universal approval as Chase Winovich’s in the third round: all in all, fans graded the Michigan product with 1.49 points, equivalent of a straight A. Winovich, a versatile, high-motor player, will enter New England’s defensive edge rotation and help replace offseason departures Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn. The expectations are high for him, but so is his upside in the Patriots’ multi-front defense.
3-87 RB Damien Harris
One of the more polarizing selections made by the Patriots this weekend was that of Alabama running back Damien Harris in round three — not because of his talents as a runner, pass catcher and blocker, but because of New England’s roster: running back is one of the deepest position on the squad. Harris was graded with an average of 2.24 points, but will get plenty of chances to prove his doubters wrong: he will likely see considerable snaps as a rotational option alongside Sony Michel from day one on.
3-101 OT Yodny Cajuste
Following the free agency departures of Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle, New England needed to add more depth at offensive tackle — and Yodny Cajuste is just that. The West Virginia product is expected to as a backup swing tackle with the upside to potentially earn a starting role further down the line. Patriots fans are apparently optimistic about his outlook, and gave him a solid B grade.
4-118 OG Hjalte Froholdt
The third most popular pick among Patriots fans is that of offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt: New England’s first pick on day three earned a 1.60-point average in our poll. One of the best pass protectors among this year’s interior linemen, Froholdt is expected to start his career as a backup that could potentially take over a starting role in case left guard Joe Thuney leaves town via free agency next year.
4-133 QB Jarrett Stidham
With their seventh pick, the Patriots decided to add to their quarterback depth chart. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham is a developmental prospect that has obvious upside but needs to get more consistent. New England’s followers seem to like the selection and graded it with 1.94 points — which shows that there is cautious optimism about Stidham’s outlook in the Patriots’ system, and his long-term potential as at least the team’s top backup passer behind Tom Brady.
5-159 DE Byron Cowart
New England traded up twice in the fifth round, with the first such move coming to grab defensive edge Byron Cowart. The former five-star recruit failed to live up to expectations in college but is an intriguing prospect that could develop into a solid NFL commodity if given time and the right coaching. Patriots fans are apparently not fully convinced and rated the selection of Cowart with 2.37 points, translating into a B-/C+ grade.
5-163 P Jake Bailey
When judged by the numbers, the Patriots’ decision to trade up in round five and pick punter Jake Bailey was the most controversial decision of the weekend: the most even of the polls, picking Bailey to compete against incumbent Ryan Allen earned an average of 2.73 points — essentially a C grade. The Stanford product could become a favorite among New England fans, however, given his strong leg and versatility to possible also handle kickoffs.
7-252 CB Ken Webster
The Patriots invested in another cornerback with their final selection: the 252nd overall pick was used to bring Ole Miss cornerback Ken Webster on board, a highly-athletic defender that could give 2018 seventh-round selection Keion Crossen a run for his money. New England’s followers are not quite sure about that, however, and graded the pick with 2.37 points — tied for the second-worst of the weekend behind only Bailey.
All in all, however, Patriots fans seem to like the individual decisions made by the club over the course of the draft’s seven rounds. Whether or not the players will live up to their expectations or prove that they have been graded too low remains to be seen, but it would not be surprising if some of the grades looked quite different one year from now.