The New England Patriots started Thursday’s first NFL draft round with the 23rd overall selection in hand — they ended it without a pick being made but additional capital on the second day getting picked up in a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers. That said, the development of the board over the course of the 32 first-round picks plus the team’s decision to trade back can still have an impact on the Patriots’ roster heading into 2020.
Let’s therefore take a quick look at the winners and losers from Round One.
Winner: QB Jarrett Stidham
After losing future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in free agency, the Patriots were thought to be in the early-round market for a quarterback. While the team could still select one on Day Two, seeing speculated targets such as Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love come off the board in Round One bodes well for the standing of Jarrett Stidham: the second-year man is seen as the front-runner to earn Brady’s former job and Thursday’s developments further solidified his status.
Losers: TE Matt LaCosse and TE Ryan Izzo
No, the Patriots did not select a tight end to challenge LaCosse and Izzo — the only two players currently under contract at the position — on Day One. That said, moving back and picking up the 37th and 71st overall selections along the way puts New England firmly in the territory where top prospects Cole Kmet and Adam Trautman are expected to come off the board. Don’t be surprised if one of them ends up in New England and effectively pushes LaCosse and Izzo down the depth chart or even off the roster.
Winners: WR Mohamed Sanu, WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Damiere Byrd, WR Marqise Lee, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Quincy Adeboyejo, WR Devin Ross
This year’s wide receiver class is considered one of the deepest in recent memory, and Thursday served as proof of that: a total of six wide receivers came off the board in Round One. New England did not select one of them, however, which in turn is good news for the depth wideouts currently on the Patriots’ payroll. While the team will likely add more depth and upside in one of the middle rounds — Denzel Mims, Van Jefferson and Tee Higgins are potential names to watch — the group above did survive the first day of the event without additional challengers being added.
Winner: The Patriots’ offensive line
New England’s offensive line has not earned its spot in the winner-category due to any particular draft developments, but rather the fact that starting center David Andrews took to social media on Thursday to announce that he has been cleared to return to the field. The 27-year-old, of course, missed all of 2019 after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. Getting Andrews back is obviously good news not just for him on a personal level, but for the entire unit and by extension offense.
Losers: DE Derek Rivers, DE Shilique Calhoun and DE Keionta Davis
The Patriots may not have added to their defensive edge on Thursday, but the board developed unfavorably from the perspective of the depth players currently on the team’s roster: Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa, Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos and Wisconsin’s Zack Baun are all still available. Considering that New England owns the 37th overall pick and has plenty of ammunition to move around the board, it would not be a surprise to see one of them ending up with the club — and making the long-term outlook more difficult for Rivers, Calhoun and Davis.