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10 statistics that help explain the Patriots’ 10 draft picks

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NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots made ten selections in the 2019 NFL draft, significantly bolstering the depth of their current roster while adding both starting talent and developmental potential to the team. Every one of the players picked by the Super Bowl winners brings specific strengths to the table, and here are ten statistics — compiled for most parts through Pro Football Focus’ draft guide — that help illustrate them.

1-32 WR N’Keal Harry: 135.4

N’Keal Harry is projected to serve primarily as a physical boundary receiver in New England’s offense, playing a similar role to the one held by Josh Gordon before his suspension last year. Like Gordon, the first-round rookie will likely also challenge opposing defenses deep — and his deep passing numbers from the 2018 season show that he should be up for the challenge: Harry was targeted deep 18 times and came away with 9 catches for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins registered a passer rating of 135.4 when going deep to the new Patriot, the highest among all of the 28 drafted wide receivers. Harry’s 14.9 yards per reception last year also reflect his abilities as a deep threat. When comparing that number to New England’s 2018 receiving group, it can be seen that only Gordon (18.0) and Chris Hogan (15.2) registered more yards per catch.

2-45 CB Joejuan Williams: 48.0

When New England traded up to draft Joejuan Williams in the second round, the team did so knowing that it would get a uncharacteristically tall cornerback that is versatile and physical enough to find success against tall receiver and tight ends. Williams’ success in this regard at Vanderbilt speaks for itself, with one number in particular standing out: he allowed only 48.0% of targets to be completed — 36 of 75 attempts.

3-77 DE Chase Winovich: 11.8

With Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn both leaving the team during the offseason, the Patriots needed additional bodies on the defensive edge. They found Chase Winovich in the third round to provide depth as well as playmaking ability against both the pass and the run. Versus the pass, Winovich registered 53 hurries in 2018 — 5.0 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 34 hurries — but it is work against the ground game that really jumps off the page.

Last year, the Michigan product played 288 run-defense snaps and he registered a stop on 34 of them. His run-stop percentage of 11.8% ranks him fourth among all drafted defensive linemen: only first-round picks Quinnen Williams (14.2%), Montez Sweat (12.7%) and Christian Wilkins (11.9%) were more efficient when it comes to stopping the run than the Patriots’ third pick of the 2019 draft.

3-87 RB Damien Harris: 3.2

Despite the Patriots having one of the deepest running back groups in the NFL, they opted to add to the position with the 87th overall selection. Alabama’s Damien Harris is expected to serve as the 1B back alongside 2018’s first-rounder Sony Michel, and he certainly has the abilities to serve as an early down and goal line runner in New England — one capable of grinding out positive yards through contact, as his 3.2 average yards gained after initial contact in 2018 illustrates.

3-101 OT Yodny Cajuste: 3.0

Yodny Cajuste is a developmental offensive tackle, that is expected to start his career as a backup swing tackle behind projected starters Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon. While he needs to refine his technique especially in the running game, Cajuste has already been quite effective as a pass blocker: West Virginia’s left tackle surrendered quarterback pressures on just 3.0% of his 394 pass blocking snaps last year. All in all, he surrendered no sacks, and only two hits and ten hurries.

4-118 OG Hjalte Froholdt: 1.2

As is the case with Cajuste, pass blocking is also the forte of Hjalte Froholdt. In fact, the Patriots’ first selection of day three was even more successful (albeit while playing a different position): on 418 pass-blocking snaps, the Arkansas lineman surrendered just three hits and two hurries for a pressure rate of only 1.2%. While his run blocking needs some refinement, Froholdt’s fundamentals as a pass blocker certainly make for an intriguing prospect.

4-133 QB Jarrett Stidham: 123.2

The majority of Jarrett Stidham’s passing numbers do not stand out, and are likely a reason why he was still available in the fourth round. One statistic, however, pops out right away: his deep passing efficiency. The Auburn quarterback completed 18 of 51 attempts deep for 681 yards with 8 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Only one other quarterback that heard his name called — new Denver Broncos passer Drew Lock — registered a higher deep-field passer rating in 2018 than Stidham’s 123.2.

5-159 DE Byron Cowart: 2

Byron Cowart’s college career — one that started at Auburn before a transfer to Maryland — was nothing to write home about for a player that entered college as a five-star recruit. Few of his numbers do therefore jump off the page, but one stands out: the versatile lineman, who has experience playing both on the interior and the edge, registered two interceptions in 2018. New England, for comparison, did not see a lineman come up with a pick since Eric Lee accomplished the feat in week 13 of the 2017 season.

5-163 P Jake Bailey: 61.7%

Even though the Patriots re-signed incumbent Ryan Allen in free agency, they brought on some competition (for the second straight year, in fact): Stanford punter Jake Bailey. Allen has the experience, but New England’s fifth-round investment is certainly an intriguing player to watch for his leg strength and his ability to potentially also take pressure off place kicker Stephen Gostkowski as a kickoff specialist.

Bailey succeeded in numerous metrics last year, but one is especially impressive: of his 68 punts, 37 landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. His 61.7% rate on such kicks is noticeably better than Allen’s production in this area last year: New England’s punter saw only 21 of 64 punting attempts (32.8%) set the opponent up inside its own 20. Allen’s directional kicking was always one of his better attributes, so if Bailey is able to challenge him in this part of the game, New England might have someone else back in punting situations this season.

7-252 CB Ken Webster: 22.2

31 cornerbacks were drafted before Ken Webster heard his name called with the antepenultimate selection in the entire draft. Of those 31, only seven rank ahead of the Mississippi defender when it comes to forcing incomplete passes in 2018: Webster was able to get his hands on 6 of the 27 passes thrown his way last year, for a forced incompletion percentage of 22.2%. He furthermore registered a pair of interceptions and surrendered a passer rating of just 58.1 — solid numbers for the seventh-round selection.