Round One of the NFL draft came and went without the first Patriots pick being made. New England traded the 23rd overall selection to the Los Angeles Chargers for their second- and third-round picks, 37th and 71st overall. The Chargers used the pick to select someone many thought would be a Patriots target, linebacker Kenneth Murray. If you followed along while I set up my Patriots 3 round big board, you’ll know that I was not a Murray fan, and was very much hoping he wouldn’t be the pick at 23. It turns out the Patriots agreed with that line of thinking, allowing Los Angeles to make him the 23rd pick instead.
From there, the night went about as well as possible for the Patriots (for me and my board, at least). Half of my first round targets are still on the board, including two of my “slam dunk” selections (RIP the Tua dream though), and only two of the five that were taken went after the Patriots trade. With a busy day 2 where they are lined up to make 5 picks on deck, let’s reset the big board. If you missed the original article, scroll through the link above for descriptions of the categories and why each player was placed as such.
Round One Targets Who Fell
Taken: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama — 5th overall to Miami
Available: Zack Baun, EDGE/LB, Wisconsin; Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Guys to Still be Excited About
Taken: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville — 11th overall to NY Jets; Patrick Queen, LB, LSU — 28th overall to Baltimore
Available: Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor; A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa
Acceptable Backup Plans
Taken: Cesar Ruiz, IOL, Michigan — 24th overall to New Orleans; Javon Kinlaw, IDL, South Carolina — 14th overall to San Francisco
Available: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
We all knew Tua was a long shot, but Miami did just a good enough job of muddying the waters for their intentions that we had to entertain the idea that he could fall. He didn’t, but the real top-2 targets — Baun and McKinney — not only made it to 23, but made it to Day Two of the draft altogether.
The 37th pick is the fifth pick of the second round, and there are five players still available from our Round One big board. The math is easy on that one, folks. The trade-down could prove to be a masterclass in draft play by New England knowing that one of our Round One guys on the fictional board is still available. One more note: Penn State EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos didn’t make the list because I didn’t love his value at No. 23 and didn’t expect him to make it to Round Two. With five of our Round One targets still on the board he still doesn’t make the top tier of targets, but another trade back could change that should he continue to fall, and his value here becomes a lot more palatable.
Taken: Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU — 21st overall to Philadelphia
Available: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson; Antoine Winfield Jr, S, Minnesota; Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Available: Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU; Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State; Joshua Uche, EDGE/LB, Michigan; Michael Pittman Jr, WR, USC
On top of hanging onto half of our Round One targets, we only lost out on one of our Round Two targets, meaning 12 of our top 18 players are still on the board. Given the run on wide receivers, Tee Higgins will get a little bump up in the rankings that come at the end of the article. With four third-round picks now, the “trade up into the second” scenarios have become much more real. With that in mind. Higgins orKmet should be the top target, if we assume either McKinney or Baun are the pick at 37 and the other first-round targets are gone.
The only Round Three target that was taken was Jordyn Brooks, thanks to Seattle continuing its trend of unconventional first-round selections. Nothing much changes with the thought process in Round Three here, except New England may have an extra pick to play with, which gives a bit more leeway to taking a quarterback with the earlier of the third-round picks.
New Top-10 Big Board
The top-2 doesn’t change and has a sizable gap on the rest of the group in terms of preference at No. 37. Tee Higgins gets a bump into the middle of the Round One guys given the run on wide receivers and that he was only in Round Two from the expectation that he would be available, not that his talent didn’t warrant a pick at No. 23 for me. He and Denzel Mims are very similar, but Mims is a far superior athlete, so Mims gets the nod.
Cole Kmet leaps Antoine Winfield Jr. thanks to the lack of safeties to go in Round One (literally none unless you place Isaiah Simmons there), while Michael Pittman Jr. also gets a wide receiver bump and Joshua Uche jumps Lloyd Cushenberry and Curtis Weaver thanks to the slight slide of pure EDGE/DL guys (Gross-Matos and Epenesa, for example), and Joe Thuney still being a member of the Patriots.
For Round Three, I think a wide receiver needs to be added regardless of if they also take one in the second round. This is the sweet spot for value at the position in this year’s draft, and they should take advantage. Obviously a tight end should be targeted if the Patriots don’t go Kmet in Round Two, and if they are going to bring in a quarterback to truly compete for the starting job, these four picks would be the time.
One last note, I am not on board a potential trade-up for Jalen Hurts. Hurts is a great story and incredibly easy to root for, but when you put on the tape, I can’t get past his troubles throwing the ball. He’s a lot of fun, and I would love to root for him, but consolidating assets to do so is a mistake to me. If he somehow makes it into the 90s? Different story.
Who do you want to see taken at No. 37, and who would you like to target later on? Let us know!